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People Are Sharing The Things Others Don't Understand About Being Poor, And It's Eye-Opening

"Money is practically all you think about."

Recently, Reddit user u/192335 asked people to share what others generally "don't understand about being poor." Here are some of the top-voted responses:

Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

1. "Being poor is fucking exhausting. It's draining, mentally and physically, and everyone needs a win sometimes. Sometimes that win is finding a way to just afford a meal out or a movie. Yeah, you do have bills to pay, but everyone needs a breath of fresh air sometimes. A struggle needs a break every so often."


2. "Money is practically all you think about. Money does not buy happiness, but not having money certainly buys constant anxiety."


3. "It takes two to three times longer to get anywhere on the bus than in your own car. That means leaving for work earlier and coming home later. In many places, the buses don't run as often on the weekends. Grocery shopping on the bus means just getting what you can carry, which means going more often, which means more time wasted waiting."


A woman sitting alone on a public bus

4. "If you have a bank account, you probably have to pay a monthly fee because your balance is too low. If you overdraft, they charge you another $35 even though they can see you've got nothing in there."


5. "The fear. Fear of something unexpected you haven't budgeted for. Fear of a knock at the door from a debt collector. Fear of having to choose which of your children can eat more than once today. Fear of having to choose which days you go hungry so your children can eat at all."


6. "You can have a job and still be poor. You can have a job where you earn $1,000 each month, but if your rent is $600–$700 each month, you spend $100+ on food (assuming you don't have to take medicine or something similar), your bills, car insurance (if you have a car), and gas for your car, what do you do with what's left after that? You can't do anything."


A calendar with multiple reminders to "pay bills"

7. "Everything you buy has interest attached to it, because you’re NOT using that money to pay off debts that you definitely have."


8. "When we save up money, something happens that forces us to use that money we had saved, which starts a hard-to-break cycle."


9. "When you are a kid, the boredom. All of my friends had interests. BMX, hunting, ninja stuff, action figures, and video games. And their parents fostered their interests and provided funds to grow in their hobbies/sports. I had some stuff, too, but never had the sort of continual investment to pursue something like a hobby or interest. Everything was secondhand, bootlegged, pirated, half-working, etc."


A little girl sitting alone on a couch

10. "Just because you're poor, that doesn't mean you automatically get welfare. You can make just slightly over the line and still be poor. My mom only made $1,000 a month, but it was still too much to get welfare."


11. "That being physically safe is a luxury, not a given. It can be dangerous to not be conscious for a couple of hours. When you're homeless and sleeping somewhere, you're not thinking about tomorrow; you're thinking, 'What if I get woken up, and there's a knife to my face?'"


12. "That poor people can't take advantage of sales or bulk purchases. They literally spend whatever they earn on basic necessities. Being poor is a vicious cycle, and it takes many sacrifices to get out, if ever."


A bulk warehouse store

13. "We can’t be fad minimalists. We don’t let go of most of our stuff because, yes, we might need them in the future, and we’d rather not buy them again."


14. "Ninety percent of the time, you cannot fail or make a bad/wrong decision. If you do, it will take years and years to recover from that."


15. "Constantly having to move because your job demands it, or because rent got too high. One to two years is how long I’d stay in one house as a child. I never bothered with friends, because I knew I wasn’t going be around them for more than a year or so."


A man carrying moving boxes into a moving truck

16. "I can't just 'quit my job' to 'find something better.' Interviews take time that I don't have. I can't just skip work to go for interviews."


17. "Good, healthy food is fucking expensive after bills, and cheap food makes you feel like shit."


Organic fruits and vegetables at the grocery store

18. And finally, "Poverty is not just bad decisions — poverty is an ENVIRONMENT. It's bad roads. It's poor city and county governance. It's a lack of generational wealth. It's a lack of access to a grocery store, a doctor, a bank lender, a dentist, plumbers or electricians, a lawyer, a school, a car lot, both financially and geophysically. It's despair in your landscape through forgotten and abandoned buildings that once housed businesses and families, now left to rot, while you're too poor to leave. It's watching others struggle while you yourself are unable to help, because you can’t keep your head above water either."