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19 Signs You Grew Up Poor and Didn’t Necessarily Realize It

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In youth, thoughts of poverty and wealth seldom enter one’s mind. Children revel in simple joys, requiring little to feel content. Yet, as we grow older, our perspective expands, and we become conscious of the privileges and luxuries that might have eluded us in our childhood.

Someone asked online, “What’s something a poor kid would understand, but would utterly confuse a rich kid?”

1. Not Being In A school With Trips And Vacations

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Some schools were the complete package, with trips and vacations; some kids couldn’t afford it. Others didn’t even know such things were available for school-going kids.

A user says, “Watching the rest of the class go on class trips or vacations while you stay home and/or work.”

Someone adds, “Going to a school that even offered this in the first place, lol. I had no idea this was even a thing until I was in my 20s.”

2. The Real Meaning Of New

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Individuals who didn’t have much during their upbringing often received many “new” clothes and toys. It wasn’t until many of them reached adulthood that they realized “new” meant unused, not just something they hadn’t possessed before, but rather something that someone else hadn’t used either.

3. Internet at The Library

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There was internet in the library, and that’s the only place some people could access it. We may not have known it, but wealthier people had the internet at home.

4. Checking Prices Isn’t “Normal”

18. Cute Squid for Dinner (text: A man shares that his wife is an animal lover and was delighted to get to play with local squid in a glass bowl at dinner at a Chinese Restaurant. Sadly, he shares, “Two courses later they reappeared... as entrees, floating on a glass plate lit up from below and arranged to look like they’re swimming.” They’re married but she still gives him crap.) 19. Tattoo Diss (text: A man shares an ironic encounter with his now wife, “On my first date with my wife, we got to talking about tattoos. I have a rule that if I have an idea for a tattoo, I sit on it for a while to see if I really would still want it. I mentioned this to her and explain how glad I am that I do this because otherwise I'd be covered in Tool (the band) tattoos or some "other dumb shit". She rolled up her sleeve to show me that she had the lyrics to one of their songs tattooed across her arm.” Oops.) 20. Moving During Busy Season (text: One man say she had a great first date but then got super busy with work for over a month. By the time he got back in touch, she has moved to another city. Oops! Thankfully, he reports they did long distance and eventually got married.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Some people are never bothered by the price tags; they just pick and drop things into the cart. That’s one way to know if you’re rich or not.

A user says, “My cousins are upper middle class, and I went shopping with them during one of the only times I spent the night at their house. Not only were these 12-year-old girls astounded that my mom only gave me $10 to spend while there, but they couldn’t at all understand why I was checking the prices on everything we saw. Their parents just bought them whatever they wanted most of the time.”

5. Food Is Your Love Language

Couple Snuggled Under Duvet Eating Breakfast
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You haven’t known real poverty until eating when hungry isn’t an option. Many grown-ups who grew up struggling to get food are now very wary of hunger and will do anything to make sure other people don’t experience it.

A user states, “My entire identity revolves around food. I use my spare “fun” money on food now. I give gifts of food, I take friends out to eat; I give people their [favorite] snacks and candy bars as little surprises. We never had enough as a kid, we went hungry every da*n day. And now, I express myself through food.”

6. Paying Bills Early

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The concept of bills typically doesn’t enter most kids’ lives until well into adulthood, but some begin learning about bill payments before turning 18.

One user commented, “‘Getting a job before the age of 18 to help pay the rent’ was a clear sign that they weren’t from an affluent background.”

7. Caring About The Height Of Your Gas Tank Line

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Some people have never had their car filled to a full tank or above the half-tank line. For the most part, the car would be sustained by prayers in the race to the fueling station from the moment the fuel light comes on.

8. Parents Helping With Bills After 18

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For some people in the US, 18 is the age cap when parents stop sorting out their bills for them. Some are even required to move out and be independent. Imagine growing up and discovering that some people still get their bills paid by their parents.

9. What Informs Your Choice Of Food

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You buy food today because you love it (and need to eat), but for some people, food choice is based entirely on the price and its ability to fill your tummy.

One user says his measure of poverty was “Buying food, not for taste or preference, but for the price point and how filling it is.”

10. Getting Clothes A Size Bigger

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Poor families always got clothes they could grow into, not particularly fitting ones.

An online contributor says, “I remember when we would go shopping for school clothes, it was at Walmart or Kmart and it was always the sale items and 1 size up so we could grow into it.”

11. Where Do You Find Hamburgers?

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Some people are so rich that they have hamburgers in their houses. Not everyone could afford this, as one user narrates.

They say, “When I was a kid, I thought hamburger buns were available only at places like McDonald’s.”

12. Laundromat Boredom

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Spending hours at the laundromat on the occasional weekend when everyone’s clothes were ripe and ready for a good rinse.

13. Constant Money Anxiety

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One user shares, “Every time you get a little bit ahead, an extra $100 dollars or so, and being able to relax and breathe a bit. Next day something goes catastrophically wrong with the car, or an appliance, or an unexpected late charge on something you forgot about. It never ends. One step forward, two steps back.”

14. “Sandwiches” for Dinner

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Parents have to be creative when their bank account is at zero. One writer recalls, “Sugar sandwiches for dinner. Butter, sugar and bread. We thought it was like dessert for dinner but my mom told us recently it was because we didn’t have any food.”

15. Powdered Milk

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Fresh milk in a jug can be too expensive on a strict budget, many poor families settle for instant carnation milk that can last a long time in the pantry. If you grew up drinking this, you’re family probably struggled with finances on some level.

16. Candle Nights

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A user writes, “Being really young and getting excited about the “power cut”, lighting candles etc. when really it was because we couldn’t afford electricity.”

17. Buying Your Own Shoes

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One man recalls a friends confusion when he explained that he couldn’t afford a new pair of shoes at the moment, even though his current ones were “ugly.” His friend wondered why his parents couldn’t just buy him a pair.

18. Missing Out on Adventures

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A user shares, ”How bad it feels when a non-poor kid (even up to adulthood) mentions doing something expensive casually or worse, makes a big deal about you never doing it.”

19. Watered Down Shampoo

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Need toiletries to last longer? Try watering them down like some families did to stretch their dollars.


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