Poverty isn’t limited to the stereotypical image of food stamps and homelessness; some Americans with fancy cars and shiny things are closer to poverty than they are to wealth. Financially responsible folks turned to an internet forum to vent about the things poor people do that prevent them from becoming wealthy.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Status Symbols
A person who grew up in a poor to lower-middle-class household says that “buying things as status symbols” is a mistake people make that keeps them poor. They give the example of their dad purchasing a new cell phone twice per year because of his insecurity about not having things his friends have.
2: Spending Credit
A formerly “really poor” person who has mostly pulled themselves out of poverty reflects on the many things they did wrong, labeling them as “stupid” while also acknowledging they didn’t have the education to know better. They said having a short-term versus long-term mentality was the biggest issue for them, particularly when it came to taking out Payday loans and purchasing with high-interest credit cards.
3: Want vs Need
The same formerly poor commenter says that changing their mindset around a want versus a need was a huge game-changer to get out of poverty. “You don’t NEED a new pair of shoes,” they argue. “You want them.”
4: Pride Downfalls
Based on one commenter’s experience, pride sometimes plays a role in preventing poor people from building wealth. “Pride doesn’t feed you, clothe you, or keep the lights on,” they say. They explain how they have friends struggling financially but refuse to apply for food stamps, welfare, unemployment, and more because they see it as humiliating.
5: No Savings
Whether it’s a lack of education or willpower, not saving money is a classic habit poor people have that prevents them from building wealth. A commenter explains that poor people rely on credit cards to extend their “wealth,” forcing them to be in a constant cycle of doing all they can to pay off minimum monthly payments.
6: Renting to Own
Renting an item to own is a terrible idea and one that prevents the poor from rising above their situation, says one commenter. They have a coworker who rented a TV for $28 per week for 11 months. The result? His $400 TV ended up costing him $1,200.
7: It’s the Little Things
To one person, it’s all the little expenses, especially little but overpriced expenses, that keep poor people in poverty. They give the example of check cashing fees, which may not feel like a lot at the moment but add up over time.
“If you can barely afford one kid, what makes you think having a couple more is a good idea?” asks a commenter who believes kids are a driving force of what prevents the poor from building wealth. From their point of view, people with fewer kids are the ones who have a relatively easier time pulling themselves out of poverty.
9: Avocado Toast
Avocado toast is something poor millennials spend their money on, says one person. Another person disagrees, saying that if one makes avocado toast at home, it offers bang for one’s buck from a caloric standpoint.
10: Stupid People Tax
“I always heard the lottery was a ‘stupid people tax,'” says a commenter. Point taken.
11: Monitoring Is for Kids
One person who grew up in a poor household says that a tell-tale sign of someone who can’t build wealth is when their “finances are never monitored.” They describe this as a figure-it-out-as-it-happens mentality, with people living “day to day, month to month, year to year.”
12: Mumbo Jumbo
A person who says their parents are poor believes it’s because of their poor choices. They say their parents go out to eat at least twice per month because it’s “romantic,” and they spend tons of money on vitamins, which their child describes as “mumbo jumbo” since they have a relatively well-balanced diet.
13: A Better You
A person who views themselves as financially savvy believes that everyone, including poor people, needs to invest in themselves to be more attractive to employers. They don’t believe a college education is necessarily the way, saying instead that people should consider getting certified at a trade school.
14: Give Me Expensive
One of the worst things some poor people do that prevents them from becoming wealthy is buying expensive versions of items, according to one commenter. They describe their best friend complaining about not having extra spending money but consciously opting for the most expensive options of the things she buys.
15: Emotional Choices
Making decisions in the excitement of the moment rather than from a financial base is what keeps some people poor, according to a friend who watched her bestie insist on getting married the same year her boyfriend proposed to her. The problem? The engaged couple is struggling to pay their current bills and keep food on the table.
16: Substance Abuse
Having a substance addiction is both expensive to maintain and challenging to get out of. Many people cited alcohol abuse and illegal substances as the reason for people not being able to build wealth.
17: Mindset Shift
Aside from people who have circumstances beyond their control that are keeping them poor, one person believes what stops people from getting out of poverty is the mindset that when a large sum of money arrives in their hands, they think about the ways they can spend it rather than save it.
18: Fast Food
The “fast” in fast food doesn’t make up for how bad eating out can be on a poor person’s wallet, implies one commenter. They stand firm that cooking at home saves money, helping poor people pocket extra money.
19: Religious Complacency
According to one person, religion plays a role in keeping people in poverty. They blame the “God’s plan” mindset, causing people to be complacent with their circumstances. They point out that residents from countries where religion plays a large role in society tend to be poorer than less religious and more prosperous countries like Scandinavia.
The Flip Side
A commenter tongue in cheek says that something poor people do that prevents them from building wealth is “refusing to be born with any wealth.” Another person chimed in. “I feel you; I was such a stubborn fetus.” The point? The circumstances one is born into greatly impact the ease or lack thereof of building wealth.
Education Is Everything
Education makes a huge difference in whether a person will live a poor or wealthy life, argues a person who says many people have no clue what it’s like to be poor. They explain how some kids have parents who don’t have the time or knowledge to help them with their homework. Furthermore, getting higher education is costly, and medical issues, a car breaking down, and other emergencies can derail a poor person’s efforts to lift themselves out of poverty.
A Different Kind of Expensive
“Being poor is expensive,” states one person. Case in point? If a car needs repairs costing $500, a poor person is left with the choice to either continue driving the car, racking up even more money in repairs it’ll ultimately need, or pay for the repairs with credit, which will accumulate interest.
An Early Departure
Passing away at a younger age is part of the reason poor people are prevented from becoming wealthy, states a person who appears to be bringing up the grave but true situation some people in poverty face. Statistically, a low socioeconomic status leads to more illness and people passing away at too young of an age.
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