Here Are 16 Things People With Privilege Don't Understand About Being Poor
"How physically uncomfortable it is."
1. "How inaccessible education can be. Stop harshly judging people who don't have a degree. If I could afford college, I’d probably be working on my third, because I truly love education. And I realize that lots of people have to go into debt to pay for school, but even being able to do so is a privilege."
2. "People need to understand that poor people are allowed to enjoy their lives. Like, 'if you can only afford a 10% tip, you don’t deserve/can’t afford to eat out,' 'if you can’t afford it twice, don’t buy it' (which is not bad advice, but poor people are allowed to save up for a big tag item and splurge on themselves), and 'people shouldn’t be able to buy junk food with food stamps.'
"It constantly pushes the idea that you need to work harder, work more, and are not allowed to take a day off/take a vacation if you're poor, because you haven’t 'earned' it yet. For some reason, it’s offensive for poor people to get some pleasure in life."
3. "Being poor as a kid meant reusing bathtub water so we didn’t have to run the hot water heater for another tub full of water. Also, it sometimes meant heating water on a wood-burning stove and dragging it up the basement steps to the bathroom so we could have a nice, hot bath. Being poor was not only difficult, it was dangerous."
4. "If something breaks unexpectedly, you may just have to live without it, because you can't afford to replace it anytime soon. For example, my phone and computer are both over five years old and have been acting up recently. I'm terrified of them breaking, because then I just won't have a computer or a phone anymore."
5. "The vicious cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. It's not about not budgeting properly or living above your means. It only takes one thing out of budget to knock everything out of alignment, and this does happen. After that, it's hard as hell to NOT live paycheck to paycheck going forward."
6. "It’s so easy for people to say 'get a career' as if we don’t work full-time already. I have a career, it’s still not enough. I’m tired both physically and mentally."
7. "Being poor can be so socially crippling, especially if you’re the only poor one out of your friends. You end up missing out on most social activities because they almost always cost money, and people who have never been in that situation aren’t always understanding."
8. "We can't really buy in bulk. It's not just the extra cash to buy the larger amount, even though it would save money in the long run. It's also living in tiny spaces, so there's no place to KEEP the bulk supplies."
9. "You sometimes keep your house a bit cooler in the winter so you can stretch the propane further, and you take quicker showers to save electricity. Good times...not."
10. "Just when you’ve managed to save a bit of money, a big ticket item breaks. Never fails. My dryer just broke right after putting money into my car."
11. "You wind up spending more money to be poor. If you've got less coming in or damaged credit from even just one decision that didn't work out, lenders and other companies are saddling you with higher interest rates and payments, for anything from phone plans, to credit cards, and car loans."
13. "Having to not pay a utility 'in full' because you need food for your family, or gas to get to work. Sometimes, it’s an either-or situation."
14. "The things you hold onto because 'I might need this one day' or 'this could be useful,' and you can't afford to buy it again, or if you do, you just feel incredibly guilty, wasteful, and stupid."
15. And finally, "I have to add how physically uncomfortable it is. You're constantly too hot or too cold, wet, or too tired. You're wearing shoes that hurt your feet and clothes that don't fit very well. You're hungry, you're sleeping on a poor quality mattress...the list goes on."
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.