18 Life Skills You’ll Have If You Grew Up Poor in America

Growing up in poverty in any country presents its challenges, including in America’s fluctuating economy. The silver lining is that these circumstances impart valuable life lessons and provide insights into characteristics such as resilience, creativity, and resourcefulness. Here are 18 life skills unique to those who grew up poor in America.

Effective money management

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Those who have grown up poor in America, or anywhere else in the world, often become adept and wiser with their finances. They tend to budget and stick to it more competently. They learn to prioritize their spending and expenses and stretch every dollar further. In addition, they are more cautious to avoid any debt while saving.

Appreciation for second-hand items

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Growing up in poverty fosters gratitude for the value found in thrift store items. It’s not about saving money; it’s more about recognizing the potential in things that others may have thrown away. Purchasing second-hand items can help with many things besides saving money, such as helping the environment, discouraging packaging, and supporting local businesses.

Building and nurturing relationships

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We often take our relationships, communities, and friendships for granted, but those who have grown up poor are inclined to find value in theirs. They find it important to maintain and support their networks and establish strong bonds with other people.

Needs over wants

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There is a difference between a need and a want, and those who grew up poor acquire the innate ability to differentiate the two easily. This ability guides them to make practical and sensible decisions about purchasing items they don’t want but, more so, ones they need. They don’t invest in unnecessary items but rather stick to what’s essential.

Creative problem solving

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Finding solutions to challenges they encounter is one of the shared traits among those who grew up in poverty in America. Often, in this situation, resources are scarce, and developing a knack for thinking about the best and most profitable solutions comes easy. Creative problem-solving can also help improve analytical skills and critical thinking, further helping them in other areas of their lives.

Engaging in do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and basic repairs

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Fixing household items or doing personal repairs can be expensive, so many poor people choose to handle these tasks themselves. This also adds to their personal skill levels and sense of independence.

Recognizing the value of education

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Many of those who have grown up in poverty appreciate and understand the value of education and learning new skills. They appreciate that education can get them out of their circumstances and find ways to upskill themselves, either through free courses or by saving up to obtain certifications or degrees to further their lives.

Effective time management

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Balancing both work and school life is important to those who have grown up in low-income families, and their levels of responsibilities are often more developed than those who have grown up with money in America. This results in an extraordinary ability for time management from an early age, which also helps to reduce stress, achieve goals, and increase productivity.

Ingenuity in cooking

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Because of the lack of resources, your cooking skills become more creative. Those who have grown up in low-income families learn how to use minimal resources and ingredients to make healthy foods. They don’t waste money on take-outs or buy junk food but tend to lean toward simple, nutritious food items for their overall sustainability.

Circumnavigating government and community resources

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Individuals who are facing the challenges of living in poverty find out about external resources within their neighborhoods that can help them. Some of these include community initiatives that help the poor and food assistance programs that provide food stamps. Out of necessity, they develop and take the initiative to make the most of these and seek help wherever possible.

Facing adversity with resilience

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Resilience is one of the main personality traits of those who have grown up poor in America. The ability to become resilient is highly valuable and can help overcome life’s challenges and obstacles. They have the capability of recovering quickly from difficulties that may come their way.

Finding joy in small pleasures

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Often, people who have more than they need and an ample supply of money every day don’t appreciate the little things in life. Practicing gratitude and finding joy in small pleasures is key for those who don’t have enough money to get by. Both the small and big things in life bring them happiness, and their sense of appreciation for things is heightened.

Mastering negotiation skills

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When money is scarce, your negotiating skills are forced to be heightened. One skill that many poor people have is being adept at negotiating the prices of various items, which can prove highly beneficial when you can’t afford to buy things at their full price. Negotiating skills are always helpful to learn at a young age, not just for poor people but for everyone.

Developing empathy for those facing hardship

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Empathy, which is different from sympathy, is the aptitude to have understanding and compassion for others. This is one of the main things that becomes apparent to those who live in poverty-ridden situations. They understand what others are facing if they are going through similar challenges and try to help them as best they can, even through simple gestures like being there for others and supporting them.

Cultivating self-reliance

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Bouncing back from difficulties that life may throw at you is also another skill unique to those who grew up in America. This self-reliance and resilience are seen in many people, making them more independent individuals.

Recognizing the value of work

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Appreciating the value of your work should be inherent in many people, but those who take for granted having a job could learn a thing or two from those who don’t have that luxury. However, when poor people do get a job or some kind of continuous work, no matter how small or big, they tend to be more disciplined regarding their work ethic. They know that if they put in the effort diligently, there’s a possibility of changing their circumstances for the better.

Being mindful of environmental impact

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Our trash has been negatively impacting our environment for decades, and with new products, retail stores, and goods manufacturers opening up every year, it’s getting worse. People forget that they can either help or hinder the environment, and one mentality of those who have grown up poor is their understanding of this. They are a lot more mindful of their environment, help conserve waste, and are responsible for their trash, making sure to discard it correctly.

Appreciating gratitude and maintaining optimism

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It’s often difficult to stay optimistic in distressing situations, and many don’t have the capability of doing this. However, for those who grew up poor in America, the ability to remain positive and be grateful for everything is imperative. They learn to find ways to be content and keep a positive outlook on life as often as they can.

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