18 Things People Do if They Grew Up Poor

Living with no money is hard—there’s no denying it. However, growing up this way, though difficult, can lead to many beneficial habits that people keep throughout their lives. In this article, we’ll explore 18 things people often do if they grew up poor. 

Bargain Hunting

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Excelling at finding the best deals is an important part of life when you’re tight on money. Prioritizing discount shopping and hunting for bargains is a great way to stretch your dollars further, and this is usually something people with poorer backgrounds retain from childhood.

Highly Resourceful

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People who grew up without money tend to be adept at DIY repairs and improvisations, often finding creative solutions without having to spend anything. When they do have to buy something, they shop frugally, often making use of thrift stores and keeping an eye out for the best deals.

Averse to Debt

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CNN reports that living in a financially volatile household as a child can have a lasting influence on someone in adulthood. One of the ways this can manifest is through an aversion to debt. People who have been through difficult childhoods opt for saving over spending to avoid financial obligations.

Value Education

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As they couldn’t afford lucrative education while younger, many poorer people value any opportunity to learn. They often self-educate in order to advance their life prospects and strive for academic improvements later in life, such as going to college at an older age than their peers.

Frugal Eating

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One side effect of growing up poor is opting for affordable, simple meals, even when their financial situation improves. This habit results in rarely eating out and preparing food at home instead, with the cheapest options available from the supermarket—a great way to save money!

Appreciation for Necessities

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Most people take necessities for granted in their everyday lives, but people who grew up poorer than most absolutely do not. They tend to express gratitude for simple things like warm meals or stable housing and recognize the value of every item, regardless of its cost.

Hardworking and Persistent

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Hard work and persistence have always been a part of life for those who grew up with less, with a robust work ethic being vital for success from a difficult starting point. Persistence in the face of challenges and an understanding of diligence are important qualities these people possess.

Savings for Emergencies

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According to CNET, our relationship with money as adults is rooted in childhood, and a “rainy day” fund is a common habit for people who grew up with less. This allows them to prepare for unexpected financial downturns. Not a bad habit to keep at all!

Joy in Simple Pleasures

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Many people take the simple pleasures in life for granted, but people who grew up poor find happiness in small, everyday joys and value experiences and relationships over material goods. This results in a heightened sense of gratitude and contentment with life.


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Reducing and reusing waste is an invaluable skill to many who grew up frugally, as being able to repurpose items cuts down on costs. These people are inventive in finding new uses for old items and maximizing the utility of their possessions.

Delayed Gratification

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Delayed gratification is an essential trait for being successful in life, and those who came from poor childhoods are accustomed to waiting and saving for larger goals. They usually practice patience, avoid impulsive purchases, and plan their spending.

Waste Not, Want Not

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As shared by Bon Appétit, growing up with food insecurity can lead to lifelong habits. Utilizing everything to its fullest potential and making the most of what they have, regardless of quantity, is a common trait for people who grew up with less.

Emotional Attachment to Possessions

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A harder childhood results in keeping possessions longer and caring for them meticulously. Poorer people often value items not for their monetary worth but for their personal significance and sentimental value—something that all of us should learn to do!

Empathy Towards Others’ Struggles

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With a harder past than most, people who had a poor childhood are highly empathetic to others facing hardship. This is due to understanding and sharing many of the same problems as others. Their empathy leads to a willingness to support and assist those in need.

Mastering Negotiation

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Nasdaq claims that poor people have certain advantages over the wealthy and middle class. One of these is an effective ability to bargain for better prices and terms. Using negotiation as a tool to manage financial constraints is an important skill for many people.

Environmental Consciousness

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Due to an emphasis on avoiding waste, a habit that has been instilled in them since childhood, poorer people practice sustainability by conserving resources. They understand the long-term benefits of environmental mindfulness and are often more aware of the impact their lifestyle can have on the world.

Community Orientation

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A strong sense of community and collective support is important to those from less wealthy households. This usually continues into adulthood with a belief in helping others and an active engagement in community initiatives and support networks.

Appreciative and Optimistic Outlook

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Despite past hardships, the formerly poor maintain a positive perspective and practice gratitude consistently, appreciating every success. Using their background as a foundation, they grow and improve, always remaining hopeful for the future—an incredible outlook that many of us need to embrace.

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