People who have watched their parents struggle are sharing their personal experiences of being poor.
The income divide between the rich and the poor is bigger than ever and the pandemic has widened the gap further. While the rich amassed more wealth, the poor struggled to put food on the table. According to the US census, the official poverty rate in 2020 jumped 1.0 percentage to 11.4, from the 10.5 percent in 2019, making it the first increase in poverty after five consecutive annual declines. Those who have grown up privileged and with access to resources and social capital will quite never understand what it means to be poor, and the daily struggle that comes with it. Being poor is a fight for survival day in and day out, and it involves prioritizing money just for what will get you through the day. One Reddit user asked others to share what 'rich kids' will never get and many shared their from their personal stories. Here are some of the replies that we came across:
All my gifts for Christmas and Birthdays were something I needed or would need and had to be bought anyway. Like clothes, shoes, or school supplies. Never, never anything fun or just because I wanted it. I also had to steal my first real bra because I'd outgrown my training bra. I'd even snipped the elastic all around to provide more stretch but it wasn't working anymore and people were commenting on it. u/freckledjezebel
I remember coming back from summer vacation and dreading going back to school for the mere fact I had nothing interesting to share about the summer. All my classmates would talk about their vacations and I would make something up so I wouldn’t sound boring. u/scared_difference_24
Watching your mom have to put items back as there is not enough money to pay for everything. u/Poenkel
Having dinner and knowing that your Mum isn't eating, not because she isn't hungry, but because she's making sure her kids have food first. u/DragonsLoveBoxes
A lifetime of clutter because it's so hard to throw anything away even when you're no longer poor. u/HermitWilson
Being astounded that other people see not giving or buying gifts on Christmas as inconsiderate, unthoughtful, or even just unnatural because growing up all you had was each other. Mcdonald's as a very special occasion. u/Mantisbrain
That it never goes away. I went from being homeless growing up to have a very comfy six-figure job. I still find myself acting as if I am always living on the edge of homelessness again. Thinking I can't try new foods because if I don't like it, then I won't get dinner. That I'm a bad person for throwing out things instead of trying to reuse them. I get serious panic attacks I think I did badly at work because my brain still tells me I'm one paycheck from the street.u/Asexualaccountant
Those kids I went to school with will never understand that I was so poor my family couldn't afford to use the laundry machines in our building. So often times my dad would just get a big cheap bottle of dish soap or some bars of Irish spring, and that soap was for laundry, dishes, and bathing. Also that those TV dinners were a godsend. Getting 20 banquet tv dinners for 10 bucks meant eating good for a few days. u/Wanderinggenesis
I don't mean that casual "I guess I should eat..." feeling, I mean that hollow, cramping pain deep in your stomach, the hunger that feels like your own body is eating itself from the inside out and that drives you crazy to the point you'll eat anything you can chew through just to try and keep the pain away. Nobody should have to feel that, poor or not, especially a child.u/Korbah
Wearing the same sh*t to school almost every day. u/skelatorshed. And not buying anything trendy because you know anything you buy will have to last a few years -u/Gloomycamel650.
My school had different color lunch tickets for free and reduced lunches back in the 70s and the teacher would sneer as she handed them out. My face would turn red and I couldn't understand why — now I do. They had educators back then who had no business working with kids. I always try and help pay off past due lunch balances when I hear about it. I don't get why we lunch shame little kids. u/Chateaudelait
When I went to school (in the '70s), at lunchtime, we had to stand in line in the hall before going into the cafeteria. They made those of us on "free lunches" stand in the back of the line. It was quite humiliating.u/Birdguy64
I have an aunt who always offered financial help if I ever needed it. The one time I asked her for a small amount just to buy some food etc, and the conversation she had with me made me cry so hard afterward I considered giving her the money back. Some people will never know how hard it is to summon the courage to ask for help. And then have it thrown in your face? Is a sandwich before bed worth it? u/winters_girl.
I had a girl pretend to be my friend at school so that I would invite her to my house for dinner. She and her group of mates then bullied me for living in a small house. She was the richest girl in school. Lived in a literal mansion. Just cruel what she did. u/Fragilebird90
Clothes. You wear what you have, and you wear it out. Yes, this is the same bathing suit as last year, you judgemental b*tch. I have a steady job, savings, and a closet full of clothes. I still wear everything like I did when I was 7. You wear it until it is visibly stained, or noticeably smells. And you don't ever throw anything away, because you might need it again. Or if you do give clothes away, you give them to another neighborhood child. Every single one of your neighbors is as bad off as you, they will not turn away clothes that fit. u/Iamtheboomstick
This actually is painful to type, but, here goes. Sometimes, only being able to see your mother for fifteen minutes a day when she picks you up or drops you off at school because she has to work 18 hours a day just to support you. Having to wear shoes from Pay-Less because your mom can't afford anything better. Having to borrow food from other kids at school because your mom can't afford food, and the school lunches aren't free. Having to sometimes go a day or two without eating at all because you lost your food stamp card. Only having 12 channels of TV, and that TV is 30 years old, and only 14 inches. Having to watch other kids get everything they wanted for their birthdays, just so you can kind of pretend it's your birthday party. -u/DamionStJames
Not having vacations. I'm in my thirties now. Work in tech. Work thing they had some trivia game and one of the questions was both "(senior leaders) A and B went to this same ski lodge last so and so." Had been functioning as the team 'ace' with the more brainy questions- for that I just leaned back and went "Welp, no help to us here; I don't know any ski lodges" My whole team, baffled prodded me going "wait, you don't know any? Just guess the one you went to as a kid with your family." So . . . explained to like 3 other adults that poor families don't do that. I had never had a family vacation. Winter meant hauling firewood. u/Sekret_one
Showing up early to school, not cause you’re a nerd, but because free breakfast and you hate your home. Not hosting slumber parties because you’re embarrassed of your house. u/Nicholkola
Even though I am years beyond it and have a good job. I have gotten past most of it except for two things. Guilt over spending anything on myself even if I need it (work clothes for example) Food waste. I am more likely to eat the oldest leftovers in the fridge so they don’t go bad or overeat if there is just a bit left than to throw it out. I know this is detrimental to my health but haven’t stopped because throwing something out makes me stressed.
A lot of poor addicts are addicts because they need the escapism of it. Lifting people out of poverty is the biggest mental help you can give someone u/DannyDetito
Watching your parents stress over money and not really being able to help shape your entire childhood. Everything you get has a layer of guilt attached, even though my parents did the best they could to shield me from it. That's why I still compulsively avoid luxury items in my 30s. My wife does NOT have this problem haha. The space wealth occupies in my head is very odd. My family always told me that money wasn't the key to happiness, so it really confused my young brain to see my mom crying about it. u/Mercurialmagician