Struggling financially can feel isolating, and there’s nothing fun about it. The good news? Many Americans have gone through hard times and reached the other side. Here are some tips for staying out of and getting out of poverty.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
Starting With the End
A formerly impoverished commenter took to the internet to share their long list of tips for avoiding financial ruin, hoping to help others going down a similar path. Both poverty-stricken and finance-savvy individuals added their tips to the mix.
1: Don’t Roll the Dice
Firstly, the original poster leaves the audience with a warning. While it’s easy to ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ when it comes to gambling, “worse things can and will happen,” the regretful spender says. “Do not gamble.”
2: Beg, Borrow, and Steal
Early access to your paycheck sounds like an offer you can’t refuse, but know such loans are highly predatory. “They kick people when they’re down,” the original poster warns. “They’re not there to help you. They’re there to make an obscene amount of money on the neediest people in our society.”
3: Credit Card Caution
If you have “bad credit,” don’t take out another credit card for a quick buck. “You’ll get approved for a $300 line, and instantly, they’ll charge you a fee, and your available balance will be $250,” they explain. Then, you’ll max it out in one day. “It’s not worth it.”
4: The Only Exemption
It’s tempting to claim tax exemption for a bigger paycheck, but you could be digging yourself into a hole. “The IRS gets their money no matter what,” the original poster says. “All you’re doing is screwing yourself later and harder because the tax man charges interest if you’re late.”
5: Big Bucks for Beer
“Stop going to those bars that charge $8 plus tip for a beer,” adds the original poster to their growing list of ways to avoid poverty. It’s nice to unwind with a beer or cocktail, but it could be breaking your budget for no reason. “You’re crushing yourself. You can get the same beer at the grocery store in a six-pack for 1/5 the price.”
6: Eating Your Paychecks
Everyone needs to eat, but making expensive choices that add up fast is easy. To avoid spending too much in one category, “Set a food budget and do your best to stick to it,” advises the original poster. “This is an absolute must.”
7: Revved Up
One of the ways to steer clear of poverty is to avoid taking out an expensive lease or buying a shiny new car unless you can truly afford it. “There are plenty of used cars that will get you from A to B,” says a wise person. “No one, and I mean no one that matters, cares what car you drive to work. Get yourself a cheap, reliable car.”
8: Avoid Expensive Dating
Obviously, you want to impress when taking a new love interest out on the town. But don’t spend beyond your means, cautions the original commenter. “The best first dates I’ve had were in natural environments where we both felt comfortable, and truthfully, not a lot of money (if any) was involved.”
9: Student Savings
Struggling students always appreciate extra money. If you receive a financial refund at any point, try to save it. “You’ll hate yourself when all the rich kids want to go on spring break, and you can’t go,” the original poster says. But it’s worth it to avoid falling into poverty.
10: Chop It Off
Another tip to avoid breaking the bank? Save your pennies by nixing your premium stylist. “I’ve been to barbers that charged $75 and barbers that charge $15. Zero compliments ever. It’s just part of being a man,” says one person.
11: Thrifty Threads
The original poster shares that saving on clothes doesn’t have to mean thrift shops. “I’m actually okay with you splurging on something comfortable that you will wear regularly,” they said. “But for the love of god, if you spend $55 on a t-shirt because it says ‘Guess’ on it, you’ll never make it out of debt.”
12: Hustle Hard
Working your way up the corporate ladder may not sound ideal, but finding a well-paying job is a surefire way to avoid poverty. “You will likely need to start at the bottom and work your way up,” advises a commenter who’s walked the talk. “It took me ten years of struggle before I got promoted and had some wiggle room.”
13: Roomies for a Bit
Unfortunately, when your funds are low, you don’t have room to be picky with your living situation. The original poster says you must live in a sketchy apartment, find roommates, or find a high-paying job to afford your own place. “If you spend more than 30% on rent, you will be stuck in the debt trap,” they add.
14: Make a Plan
Many commenters agreed that the original poster put together a solid list of tips. “Creating a budget would be the biggest thing I could add,” one saver said. “You will trick yourself into thinking ‘well, I can afford this’ when you really can’t just because you haven’t looked at your budget.”
It may sound harsh, but a few people needed to share that reliable birth control is important. “Children are extremely expensive,” one parent said. “Do NOT have children too early,” another added.
16: Lending a Hand
One saver learned from experience that it’s a bad idea to loan people money you can’t afford to lose, even if they’re friends and family. “Lending money to family/friends was one of the most expensive lessons I learned. I’ve been burned in the past,” they said.
17: Secondhand News
One online shopper says scouring the internet for used versions of things you’re looking for can help you save big. “Sometimes, there are a lot of items that are barely used and still in good condition. I got an open box Magic Keyboard for almost half the original price.”
18: Frequent Flyer
Next time the cashier at the counter asks you if you’d like to sign up for a rewards system, think twice before saying no. “If you find yourself shopping regularly at a shop or brand, take advantage of the point system, card, or discount if they offer any. This will add up a lot in the long run,” a clever shopper says.
19: Knowledge Is Power
One person believes it pays dividends to understand how consumer culture affects our daily lives. “It’s not that people shouldn’t buy things that make them happy or have a collection, but people are often marketed solutions to problems that may not exist for private entities to make money.”
20: Swallow Your Pride
There’s nothing embarrassing about utilizing programs in place to help you, urges a commenter. “Make sure you are enrolled for all benefits you are entitled to.” They admit that “it is complicated on purpose, so it takes some tenacity, but those programs are there for you and paid for by you, so use them.”
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