Author Topic: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?  (Read 5950 times)

Norgirl

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Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« on: July 11, 2017, 02:06:15 AM »
I grew up in a poor and unstable environment. Food was often an issue, as was safety and I felt profoundly different to other kids.

As a young adult, I had to slowly learn many behaviours, such as investing in myself through education, delayed gratification etc.

Now that I have achieved a certain level of wealth, I'm starting to question whether other learned behaviours no loner serve me. For example, my extreme risk aversion makes investing difficult.

Were you poor growing up? Did it shape you?


AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2017, 02:59:27 AM »
I grew up in a weird kind of poverty. We had the big house, the cars, the private schools but there was never any money for anything. There wasn't food in the cupboards to make a normal meal, and I distinctly remember having to borrow my brother's track pants because I had literally no pants at all to wear. We would head off on holidays that appeared indulgent but always end up in the same place with relatives that didn't really want us there, and we never actually did anything but walk around the place and bicker. I had to scrape up pennies for the bus, or walk to school. We had all the trappings but none of the substance. No one looking at our family would think we were destitute but on the inside we absolutely were. I had actually poor friends who always had bus money and an actual meal for dinner. And they always had something other than their school uniform to wear, even if it was second hand! I'm completely estranged from my parents now.

Now I have some of the substance and none of the trappings. I always have a lot of meal ingredients around and lots of second hand clothes. I kind of learned how to run a house from a distant relative when I was in my 20s.

I also have a problem with risk.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 03:02:05 AM by AnnaGrowsAMustache »

Linda_Norway

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2017, 04:47:23 AM »
Like Anna, I grew up living in a big house in a fancy neighbourhood. But my parents couldn't sell their old house for several years and had a finanially tough time. We didn't have money to go on vacation for the first 12 years of my life. After that my mother went working again and things got better. My father always drove the eldest car in the neighbourhood and sometimes helped neighbours on their painting projects.

Things I have learned from it:
- Camping in a tent is the normal way of spending a vacation. Hotel vacations are extremely luxury and extravagant.
- Don't take up loans for anything else than buying a house. Now, as an adult, I can imagine some more good reasons for taking up a loan, but at least I have always realized that consumer loans were never an option.
- Dont' be posh/don't care about brands.
- Food is something you make at home. Although my mother now (widowed) buys a lot of prefab food. But she was never the most Mustachian of my parents.
- I don't like having a mortgage. But I do invest in stock.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 05:50:58 AM by Linda_Norway »

slod1

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 05:29:47 AM »
I grew up with very little money, but my parents always made sure there was food and clothes for us. There were no nice holidays or fancy cars, but we grew up happy with what we had.

I lived my life pretty much the same in my 20's, taking whatever job I could and not really knowing what to do to better myself.

It's only in the last 5 years since I have had children that I have changed my outlook on life. I no longer just want to 'get by', I want my family to have everything that I never had, and I am working every spare minute to make it happen.

Laura33

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2017, 06:28:57 AM »
This is a hard one, because I can only talk about the things I have realized, and I'm sure I still have blind spots.  And I also have to weigh what I thought as a kid with what was probably reality.

My impression of childhood was that we were poor.  The things that I remember were running the calculator at the grocery store to make sure we didn't exceed our food stamps, used shoes from the thrift store, and my mom choosing the "practical" used bike instead of the cool one I wanted.  But in reality, there were only a few years with food stamps; after that, she got her Ph.D and got a stable job and got remarried.  But I still heard "we can't afford it."  She was just anti-consumerist.

Meanwhile, my dad had the opposite lifestyle -- engineer, remarried a country-club-society woman, and spent every penny he earned maintaining that lifestyle.  So it was a very split-personality life, going to Christmas at my dad's and seeing my half-brothers with a giant pile of toys, but only a few for me; me struggling to earn scholarships and working at the deli to earn money to pay for school, while my brothers got free rides.  In reality, I learned later on that it was my stepmom who was insistent on the best for "her" boys, and my dad was trying to look out for me as best he could (e.g., lying to her about having to keep paying child support).  But at the time, there was a lot of hurt and feelings of unworthiness and not mattering.  [I do tend to complain a lot that DH is a spendypants, and he is, but he has also helped me learn that wanting a cool toy doesn't make me a bad person, and that spending on something frivolous is purely a financial choice, not a referendum on my worthiness to own such a thing]. 

So I ended up with very mixed views of money.  Basically, I grew up wanting all the stuff my brothers had, as proof that I was just as important as they were; but then I also felt guilty for wanting that stuff, because it was all plastic consumerist bullshit that my mom scorned.  I was absolutely determined never to be poor again (cue Scarlett O'Hara) and so pursued a career with good money potential, and socked a bunch of it away.  But it was out of fear more than anything, and sometimes I wonder what other options and paths I missed when I had my head down solely focused on the safe path to keep me from being poor. 

And then, when I finally realized I had enough money that I wouldn't ever be poor, I was at a loss.  I mean, that drove me for 30 years -- now what?  What do you do when that driver goes away?  Who am I?  Still working on that one.  But I have loosened the purse strings on a few things, like a month-long vacation a few years ago, and a stupid car that I adore.  It actually took a lot emotionally for me to do that, but in the end I don't regret either.  And yes, I realize the irony of "it's awesome, I blew money on unnecessary stuff, and it was fun" on this board.  But I think being frugal because you are constrained by fear and unworthiness is just as unhealthy as unthinking consumerism.  The reality is that I learned to save but never learned to spend appropriately, because all spending beyond the most basic was a character flaw.  And that served me well -- we have saved a lot, and we are now FI and could quit whenever we wanted to.  But now it's time for me to learn to use those resources appropriately -- not driven by stupid impulsive consumerism, but also not driven by fear and shame.
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1967mama

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2017, 06:36:55 AM »
Posting to follow

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 06:39:05 AM »
Yes, I grew up poor. As a result, I keep spending as though I'm poor, haha.
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Caoineag

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 08:16:19 AM »
Yes, but in my case it was probably helpful not hurtful for the most part. My family came from middle class to upper middle class and we were the poor branch for both sides. But since it wasn't entrenched poverty just temporarily low income, my mother instead taught me how to make the money last and the value of an education so I didn't have to have the low income. I will say that it made me seek financial stability over experimentation so I do occasionally wonder what career I might have tried if I hadn't been so focused on good, steady money. I also admired the people willing to take gap years prior to college and career breaks but knew it would give me a heart attack to do anything that risky without being financially independent. I was definitely determined never to be poor again but I have absolutely no interest in glitz or luxury so there was never any striving to prove to others my worth.

As to investing, as long as I understand how it works, I am set. I understand stocks and so am comfortable with a highly aggressive investment style. I consider investing the most effective anti-poverty measure I take.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 08:20:00 AM »
My journal on the forum is pretty much almost entirely about coming to grips with the impact that childhood poverty has had on me. I don't think I will ever fully escape its influence. Even now that I'm technically upper class, I have a lot of anxiety about money and food and stability in my life.

LifeHappens

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 08:33:32 AM »
I heartily recommend WTC's journal if you're interested in the topic of moving from poverty to the middle class. He's a great writer.

I grew up in a lower middle class, paycheck-to-paycheck environment. Things got better as I got older, but I did learn some enduring lessons. The most pertinent one to my current financial situation is: Never Be House Poor. I've always kept my housing costs below 30% of my income and it has served me very well over the years. I've also avoided debt for anything except education and housing.

On the other hand, I have spent a metric crapton of money to give myself the experiences I didn't get as a child - travel, nice(ish) clothing, a fun car, boats(!!!) and lots of other luxurious fun.

prognastat

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2017, 08:48:13 AM »
I don't know. I like to think it did, but then I see my younger brother and he turned out completely opposite from a similar upbringing and situation.

I wouldn't say we are "poor", growing up in the Netherlands even if you are poor you generally you still have a roof over your head, get 3 meals a day and get to go to decent schools. So it's definitely not the kind of poverty that can be experienced in countries with less of a social safety net.

However a good example is I was a huge gamer growing up, but when new consoles would come out the only way to get enough money to buy one would be to save the small amount of allowance, later as a teen part time jobs also, for over a year leading up to Sinterklaas(Dutch Christmas effectively, also in December) sell the old console and games I had purchased for it to add to my savings then convince my whole extended family(I have a rather large extended family) to pool all their money they would spend on a gift for me with my parents and the money I had saved to be able to get a new console as a gift. This ingrained a very strong sense of saving paying off in the long run in me.

Maybe the fact I did this and my siblings were able to "enjoy the fruits of my labour" by playing on the consoles I bought by putting in this hard work is why they did not turn out the same way as me.

Squirrel away

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2017, 09:10:15 AM »
I have a lot of anxiety about money and food and stability in my life.

Yes, I do too, I remember my mother telling me that we might lose our house when I was in my early teens and I still worry today that it might happen to me.

ysette9

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2017, 09:56:29 AM »
This is a fascinating topic for someone like me as an outsider. I definitely grew up comfortably, but when my mother lost her high-flying job when that industry collapsed and went back to school, I remember being very stressed about money as a kid. I didn't have context to know that we could still afford the mortgage and food on the table; I just knew that we had a lot less than we had before and that my mother was stressed about it. I can only imagine how kids would internalize this when growing up in real deprivation.

As a third-party observer, I find my husband's family to be an interesting case. They immigrated to this country when he was in grade school and started over again with nothing (family of 5 sharing a 2-bedroom apartment with others kind of thing). My husband, the  youngest, is the most financially successful of his siblings and also the most frugal. He has been a good influence on me reining in my spending. His sister, the next most financially successful, can't seem to save much of anything and does a great job stimulating the economy, as we put it. :) I don't think I had ever seen one person own so many clothes in my life before I went to visit her. It is impossible to separate out the differences in character just by being different people, but I find it interesting that they grew up in the same household and seem to have such different approaches to money. She will invite us to join her on her ski trips and whatnot and we always politely decline, citing the long drive and the fact that our kid doesn't like the car. The truth is that it also is because we don't want to spend that kind of money, even though we have much more than she does. Just different priorities. She is living an outwardly more successful life than us.
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prognastat

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2017, 10:02:38 AM »
This is a fascinating topic for someone like me as an outsider. I definitely grew up comfortably, but when my mother lost her high-flying job when that industry collapsed and went back to school, I remember being very stressed about money as a kid. I didn't have context to know that we could still afford the mortgage and food on the table; I just knew that we had a lot less than we had before and that my mother was stressed about it. I can only imagine how kids would internalize this when growing up in real deprivation.

As a third-party observer, I find my husband's family to be an interesting case. They immigrated to this country when he was in grade school and started over again with nothing (family of 5 sharing a 2-bedroom apartment with others kind of thing). My husband, the  youngest, is the most financially successful of his siblings and also the most frugal. He has been a good influence on me reining in my spending. His sister, the next most financially successful, can't seem to save much of anything and does a great job stimulating the economy, as we put it. :) I don't think I had ever seen one person own so many clothes in my life before I went to visit her. It is impossible to separate out the differences in character just by being different people, but I find it interesting that they grew up in the same household and seem to have such different approaches to money. She will invite us to join her on her ski trips and whatnot and we always politely decline, citing the long drive and the fact that our kid doesn't like the car. The truth is that it also is because we don't want to spend that kind of money, even though we have much more than she does. Just different priorities. She is living an outwardly more successful life than us.

It's similar with my younger brother where I save and am relatively frugal, yet he makes a large income, but spends just about all of it. Thankfully he at least doesn't go in to debt.

jillinsandiego

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2017, 10:03:13 AM »
Oh my goodness, yes. Things were good for awhile when my dad made decent money (in sales, in the computer industry), but my parents never saved anything. My mom was a compulsive buyer of stuff and my dad was a smoker and alcoholic. When he lost his job (company restructuring) there was no margin for error. We lost our house and spent 8 months homeless; either camping, living with other people, split up in different homes while my dad lived in his car, etc. From that point on, there was never stability. I remember utilities being shut off, getting food from the food bank at church, the stress of not being able to answer the phone because it was always a creditor.

I would say it definitely shaped me. I resolved that I would never be poor, and got straight A's all through high school, eventually putting myself through college to get a degree in electrical engineering, while working 30+ hours per week to make sure I could eat. The fact that my children will never know that type of instability is a huge, huge deal to me. We live in a HCOL area, but my husband and I both have 6 figure engineering salaries, and we have a safety net. If we had to sell our house and move to a LCOL area, we could retire now (albeit rather frugally). Knowing we have the basics covered is a massively important to me.

anonymouscow

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2017, 10:14:43 AM »
I grew up lower class, I am sure it shaped me.

At the time I hated having all my clothes come from thrift stores / yard sales, clipping coupons, my underwear drying on the clothes line, packing my lunch, riding in beat up cars, never going on vacation, never eating out. My parents took some other frugal things a little too far sometimes. I grew up with this shame around spending money. I never really understood why with all the frugal things we still never had any money.

Now I don't mind so much of those things, I shop at the thrift store and pack my lunch because I can, not out of necessity. As an adult I don't really want that much "stuff", so that is not much of an issue. I still think being cheap is ingrained in me, cheap as in a bad way, not necessarily frugal, I try and realize the difference, but sometimes that is just my default when it comes to things.

Cali Nonya

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2017, 10:29:22 AM »
As a small child I was very typically middle-class.  Both my parents were educated, though after marrying and having children my mother became a SAHM.  My father had a civil job working for the military, so stable but not high income.  We had a typical "starter home", an older smaller 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom in a middling area of the city.

But when I was 10, my father died.  He was the sole income earner, so after that we went into a sort of middle-class life but extremely cash poor (well below poverty level).  My mother managed the situation well, she paid off the house with the death benefits and we sort of coasted through with the small amount of survivor benefits.  As a family we lived a sort of extremely frugal way, which is sort of tough on those awkward teen-age years.  But it laid a great foundation for understanding finances.

I would say for myself personally, my background has mainly affected my out-look.  I tend to worry about the worst outcomes (since they do happen), and I find it very hard to have a positive or optimistic out-look for the future.  How that affects money, is that I would never retire at the basic 4% rule, I just don't trust that bad things won't happen.  Also, I think the loss when I was young made me realize at a very innate level that material things are not what matter.  "Things" are no replacement for people.  But I will admit if I think back to the teen years I was resentful that I could not have stuff like everyone else at school, but that didn't really hold me back (and probably formed quite a bit of my drive).  It probably also helped to keep me so focused on academics, since I knew that I would have to study well to get out and get to something different.

Duke03

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2017, 11:06:29 AM »
Coming from a large family we where poor.  Of course the bigger issue was father let my mother handle all the finances and that was a disaster.  To this day my mom is still horrible with money.  When people ask me how I became so good with money I have to tell them the honest truth.  I looked at everything my parents did growing up and did the complete opposite.  We never missed any meals and wore a lot of handy down clothes, but it always seemed like we lived pay check to pay check.  Today as an adult I can't stand the thought of living pay check to pay check.  I was force to for awhile when I was getting started, but that was the biggest motivator I had to grow my stache.  It drives my wife insane that even today I still tell myself I'm poor to keep my motivation up.  When she ask to buy something I just tell her we are too poor.  She just rolls her eyes knowing how much money we have in the bank.

MrsPete

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2017, 12:04:05 PM »
Oh, yes, growing up poor shaped me.  I've come a long way, but a lot of those "never enough" thoughts are hidden deep inside me.  I tend towards hoarding food.  I sometimes have trouble understanding why people pass up better paying jobs for intrinsic reasons.  And the item with which people on this board would likely take issue:  Although I technically have enough to retire right now, I am still working a couple more years because I feel the need for a larger-than-average financial buffer. 

Looking back, I was heavily restricted in my college choices -- and it was 100% money related.  Never sure that tomorrow would be better than today, I wouldn't borrow, and as a result I didn't take the best path for myself.  If I had it to do again, I could make better choices between 18 and 22, and that would've started me on a better path ... but my mother pretty strongly didn't want me to go to college straight out of high school, so she provided me with no guidance -- even threw obstacles in my path.  I understand that she didn't have money to give me, but I am still angry that she didn't support me emotionally.   

On the other hand, I can now spend modest money on myself (for example, just this morning a 3.99 shirt from Goodwill) without fighting an ongoing "do I really, really need this?" battle. 

As I look at my siblings, four of us have done well.  Though our financial success varies, we four have escaped poverty and are middle to upper middle class ... but we have one sibling who -- though she is academically eons ahead of the rest of us -- is what you'd call working poor.  She lives paycheck to paycheck, cannot maintain a vehicle, owns nothing and is in debt.  She will work 'til 65 -- if able -- then live on Social Security.  I often wonder how four of us "made it out" and one didn't. 

MrsPete

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2017, 12:06:03 PM »
I would say it definitely shaped me. I resolved that I would never be poor, and got straight A's all through high school, eventually putting myself through college to get a degree in electrical engineering, while working 30+ hours per week to make sure I could eat. The fact that my children will never know that type of instability is a huge, huge deal to me. We live in a HCOL area, but my husband and I both have 6 figure engineering salaries, and we have a safety net. If we had to sell our house and move to a LCOL area, we could retire now (albeit rather frugally). Knowing we have the basics covered is a massively important to me.
Change the details a bit, and I could've said this. 

Vegasgirl

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2017, 12:13:25 PM »
Yup, grew up poor.  My mom was married and divorced 3 time by the time I was nine.  My saving grace was that I lived with my grandparents on and off for many years especially during the most influential ones.  I feel like they instilled their financial values in me.  When the mortgage was paid off there would be a mortgage burning party and steak for dinner ! They lived within their means and on a cash basis - with a little splurge here and there.

I move out at 18, bought a condo at 19 and worked two jobs for several years.  Went to college at 25 (when I could afford to pay for it myself).

I straddle the fence now between "I've worked hard so I deserve it" and " I still don't have money for stuff and feel broke all the time"  it's weird.  I want the material things but have no problem guilt tripping myself out of it.   All I know id I'm done in two years !!! Can't wait !!! 

Zamboni

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2017, 12:48:29 PM »
Yes, I am shaped.

My neighborhood was sort of a free-for-all in terms of unsupervised kids (all of us latch key, in a couple of cases with parents gone for weeks at a time.) I experienced the range of American poverty . . . from starving artists suffering from simple financial ineptitude (my own parents) to the completely uneducated, transient, no food, "we'll stay here until we are evicted" mindset.

As I child, I witnessed the intelligence and creativity of many children in poverty. In many cases, unfortunately, I watched it get worn down over time. I also saw adult versions ranging from hopelessness and despair to probably every version of attempts by a parent to get out of poverty.

What did all of this do to shape me? Perhaps I am more (or less?) compassionate? Perhaps I know better than to equate wealth with intelligence? Definitely my optimism about the future seems somewhat muted. It has left me somewhat irrational about certain things relating to money, and that seems to be a theme on this thread.

skip207

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2017, 02:21:48 PM »
Yep.  Look after number 1.  Trust no one.  Keep your mouth shut and head down.

So that's what I do.

Padonak

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2017, 07:01:09 PM »
I grew up in a poor country and a poor family during an economic crisis. We used to grow our own food. Without it, we would probably not have enough to eat.

I managed to move to the US and get a pretty good education and a decent job. This is a very short version of the story. My path to relative success was a difficult one and involved moving to different countries and cities, taking advantage of many opportunities, prioritizing career/money over other aspects of life, losing contact with friends, etc.

In terms of how it shaped me, i agree with skip207 who put it very succinctly: "Look after number 1.  Trust no one.  Keep your mouth shut and head down." Probably a bit exaggerated, but there is a lot of truth to it. I believe I am very resilient, but also quite jaded because I grew up poor and dedicated most of my life to getting out of poverty.

I am naturally frugal. I hadn't eaten at a restaurant before age 18 (a few visits to cheap cafeterias don't count). My parents have never had a car so I don't have one either (I used to have one for about a year when I absolutely needed it to commute to work, wouldn't have bought it otherwise). I'm ok living in small apartments for the rest of my life. While I ocasionally enjoy certain nice things and exotic trips, I can do without them. As a result, the 'stache I need to retire much smaller compared to what most people need. If I retired now, I would probably be ok for the rest of my life, but I'll keep working for awhile because I like to play it safe. Being risk averse is also a result of growing up poor.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 07:06:07 PM by Padonak »

LaineyAZ

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2017, 07:18:30 PM »
Cali Nonya,
your phrase "...I just don't trust that bad things won't happen" describes me.  I grew up in a family of 8 dependent on my father's (sole breadwinner) working class income, and as author Rick Bragg said, You know that things can turn to shit in a second.
One extended layoff, or one accident leading to disability, or younameit, your fragile economic boat sinks.  Fortunately my siblings all made it and managed to keep ourselves afloat or better in our working years.  Still there was that sigh of relief when I retired and started collecting my pension and social security this year.  Childhood poverty/financial fragility never really leaves you.

LearnTo

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2017, 07:38:22 PM »
Yes, I think it did.  We were never on welfare or food stamps per se, but my parents ran a seasonal business (a variety store near a lake) and there were no good options for supplementing income the other 6 months of the year.  My brother was special needs, so for that and financial reasons, we did no traveling and not much socializing, just w/family in the area.

What I have never forgotten, is the year I learned my parents had to go begging to the local banker for a loan to get them through each winter, instead of being able to save up anything from the summer's business.  So at that point I realized "we" were always behind the 8-ball, spending the next summer paying back the winter loan, and so on.  It could not have been more clear, that even in a tiny town of 300 people, we were not equal to the banker and his social class.

Not quite a Scarlet O'Hara moment, but at some point I vowed that I would go further than anyone would have thought regarding my subsequent education and income, and I did.  Without this early experience with feeling "less than", I don't think my motivation would have been as high.
Nowadays though, the aftereffect is that I still don't feel equal when associating with the upper/social class.  (They would say, "It's because you aren't, daahling!").  Oh well!

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2017, 08:06:09 PM »
While I identify with a lot of what is being said, growing up poor gave me a lot of gifts, too. I tend not to spend a lot of time worrying about what others think. My mom instilled shame in us for being poor (and truthfully we come from some pretty trashy stock) which really crippled me for a long time, but I eventually decided to embrace being the poor, weird, smart girl instead of being ashamed. I reframed being poor into a quirk instead of letting it be an albatross and that has served me well.

I all so think it empowers me...I know how to survive if crap hits the fan. I am not afraid of hard work or menial jobs. I know how to make things, grow food, and stretch a dollar. I know how to survive on very little. I hope I don't have to ever live in poverty again, but I conquered it before and can do it again.

I don't want to glorify poverty...it sucked, but I try to focus on the positive ways it shaped me.


Raeon

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2017, 09:29:11 PM »
I'm actually curious as to how many of us who grew up with less will accidentally spoil our children to compensate.  As a result we could be raising anti-mustachians in our own households simply because we don't want them to go through what we did.  Is it possible to teach your kids financial responsibility when it is a purely optional endeavor?  I think if any group can do it, it's this one.

I have actually seen the spoiling happen in my life with a family I know.  The parents complain about how the kids don't know the value of money but it was their own fault in making it too abundant for their children.  I just nod, stay quiet, and tell myself, "I know better, that won't be me."  Unfortunately, I also know that once you have kids, your radical ideas and plans are worth dirt.  I'm hoping to start a family next year with dw... this whole topic is one of the things that I continue to worry about.
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accolay

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #28 on: July 11, 2017, 11:41:25 PM »
I don't really belong in this discussion since I didn't grow up poor, not really. When I was small we didn't have a lot, but over time there were six kids but my father had better pay. My dad was not frugal. He was cheap- he grew up poor. I'm pretty sure now that he was hoarding all the money in investments. He has always had some weird idea about what things cost now vs what he thinks they cost in 20-years-ago-dollars. Our grandparents always took us shopping for clothes and usually did Xmas presents and stuff. Only a couple of family vacations while I lived there. I don't remember there ever being discussions about finances. Our house always had some construction project that took years, or never completed. Looking back, I remember my parents would always nickle and dime themselves on things like vehicles. Neither myself nor my siblings (as far as I know) ever had discussions about preparing for or going to college, only the offhand joke from my father about kicking us out at 18. I never remember any discussions or wisdom given about having savings or how to use credit (except from grandma "money's made to be spent." Not great advice coming from a depression area hoarder)

I had to learn about money on my own while working jobs in my teen years and especially after I left the house for the military at 18 i.e "if you spend all your money, you wont have any" and "if you don't have any savings in a jam you're going to be screwed." I think my upbringing in the military made me more risk averse, more frugal and much more of a saver than did my upbringing from my parents. But I do find that sometimes I want to do stupid things like my parents did with my money and it's helpful to have a Better Half to have these discussions to sometimes even come to a decision. If only someone could have mentioned the MMM savings style 25 years ago...


MoonLiteNite

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2017, 03:01:04 AM »
I grew up sleeping on a concrete floor, doing dishes in the bathtub, no AC in south texas and walking 2miles to church
Christmas was just the time we got new socks and maybe a shirt. And birthdays meant we could go to the beach or maybe a yearly trip to mcdonalds!

Sure as hell did!

When i was 13 my dad got a better job, we had moved to another city, had a house with an AC, i got a real bed, and we had a kitchen sink!!!
I knew then i would not end up like my parents did! And that i would ALWAYS have an AC set to 68 degrees all summer long!

oh and i did get a matress on the floor when i was 7 or something, that conret thing was rather shortlived, but yeah i didn't actually have a real bed until i was a bit older

edit:
But it had its good things, i never had cable TV, never had a video game system (had PC but didn't buy video games), never got a new bikes, new clothes, almost never went out to eat, we rented movies like once a year. So i learned to live cheap! My bikes were found on the side of the road.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 03:04:17 AM by MoonLiteNite »

anonymouscow

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2017, 05:06:49 AM »
I'm actually curious as to how many of us who grew up with less will accidentally spoil our children to compensate.  As a result we could be raising anti-mustachians in our own households simply because we don't want them to go through what we did.  Is it possible to teach your kids financial responsibility when it is a purely optional endeavor?  I think if any group can do it, it's this one.

I have actually seen the spoiling happen in my life with a family I know.  The parents complain about how the kids don't know the value of money but it was their own fault in making it too abundant for their children.  I just nod, stay quiet, and tell myself, "I know better, that won't be me."  Unfortunately, I also know that once you have kids, your radical ideas and plans are worth dirt.  I'm hoping to start a family next year with dw... this whole topic is one of the things that I continue to worry about.

My SO spoils her kids sometimes, in my opinion.

I think most of the time it makes her feel better, being able to buy new things, rather than her kids really caring if they get new clothes.

She gets them the latest smartphone, it gets put on a payment plan, 30 dollars a month for 2 years, then the kids asks if he can sell his phone so he can have the money.

The latest thing is a bike, she wants to get a new bike for one kid. The last one he left outside without riding for weeks and it got stolen. Why buy something new that he probably really doesn't want, won't take care of, and you can find a higher quality used bike for less than a lower quality new one? She says she knows but she wants to get it because it's new...

I'm not saying to never buy anything new, but why not do it when it makes sense?

Stubblestache

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2017, 05:16:06 AM »
There's a great Cracked article about growing up poor. The guy who wrote it grew up well below the poverty line and reading it, it's kind of amazing how many shared experiences there are:
http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/

I was lucky in that my family never wanted for the basics, but I was definitely the poorest among my friends. this was kind of a blessing as I learned that
1/ keeping up with the Joneses is stupid (because for many years it was impossible for me and other people will always have more)
2/ the value of saving up for stuff. i used to save pocket money and even a fraction of my lunch money to buy video games. This has done me a solid as an adult because it's given me a lifelong aversion to credit - i'd much rather just wait until i can buy something outright.

Laura33

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #32 on: July 12, 2017, 06:34:23 AM »
I'm actually curious as to how many of us who grew up with less will accidentally spoil our children to compensate.  As a result we could be raising anti-mustachians in our own households simply because we don't want them to go through what we did.  Is it possible to teach your kids financial responsibility when it is a purely optional endeavor?  I think if any group can do it, it's this one.

I wouldn't say I have spoiled my kids to compensate -- when I was a kid, I resented the rich kids who took everything for granted, and I vowed I would never have kids like that.  But I will say there were challenges that my background didn't equip me to know how to handle, and so I had to figure it out along the way.  E.g., my knee-jerk reaction was to say no, with the justification "we can't afford it."  But I realized when DD was little that that was a total lie, and I couldn't say that without undercutting my credibility with my kids.  So I had to change the way I approached it, from the simplistic to the more complex "that's not how we choose to spend our money," with discussions like how we were saving it for their college and our retirement and family vacations and stuff like that.  And I gave my kids allowances fairly young, and then made those "extras" totally their call, so that they could learn that there are always tradeoffs with money.

The other thing we do is live in a "regular" neighborhood with homes well below what some dumbass would lend us the money to buy and send our kids to the local public schools.  I want their peer group to be kids who expect to work for what they get, instead of having a fancy lifestyle provided by the Bank of Mom and Dad. 

But, yeah, there are days when I want to throttle her, because she has so much more than I ever did, and she can take everything for granted as all good teenagers can.  But then I remind myself that of *course* she takes it for granted, because she has never known anything else.  So while she can intellectually understand that the vast majority of people on the globe have far less than she does, she doesn't really "get" it like you do when you have lived through it.  But, you know, she's overall a good kid -- she always wants stuff, perpetually broke, but at the same time has a job and knows she needs to earn what she wants to spend, and in fact *wants* to earn her way because she wants to be independent.  And I have never, ever heard her be snooty about being comparatively wealthy; if anything, she is embarrassed about being better off than her friends.
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Rural

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2017, 06:58:28 AM »
I did. I never went hungry myself, but I know now that my mother went without so I could eat. Gifted canning jars (plus some lids and paraffin) kept us going at least one winter.


My parents were on a steep upward vector, so my younger sibling saw a much more secure scenario than I did. But there was a long way to go on that steep vector - my father went into the coal mines at age seven. My mother's family had more money and fewer children, but still they were a family of six on a mechanic's income.


It has definitely affected me. I hoard food, no question about it. We paid off our mortgage so our home couldn't be taken away (also the right mathematical choice since it was a land loan at 7.5%, but we'd have paid it off even if it weren't).


My husband's background was very similar (mill town in his case, raised by grandparents who lived through the depression). So we understand one another very well. That helps, I think. We calculate risks together, and we both know we can survive on nearly nothing. We've both developed the survival skills one develops when one must have them, and these reduce our living expenses even more. (Building the house on that land we bought with a mortgage is one example.) Poverty shaped both of us, for good and for ill. What has helped is recognizing that, talking about it, and consciously planning out how to use that background when it's helpful.

MrsPete

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #34 on: July 12, 2017, 10:28:46 AM »
Cali Nonya,
your phrase "...I just don't trust that bad things won't happen" describes me.
I usually say the very similar, I don't trust that tomorrow will be better than today.  It's why I've always been nervous about taking on debt, why I've always felt "safer" when I have a pantry full of food, plenty of warm clothes for next winter, etc. 

My children, who have certainly not been spoiled, but who also have never known financial FEAR, don't have this same mentality. 

LaineyAZ

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #35 on: July 12, 2017, 10:48:58 AM »
Raeon,
For raising children I think it's a fine line between making them aware of money management and making them afraid of economic instability.
I recall being worried about whether our family could afford to pay the water bill.  I was 7 years old.  I know it was my mother's anxiety and discussion about bills that I absorbed, and no one back then thought to protect a child from these types of adult issues. 
I think the guidelines should be to be honest and say, No we can't afford a new bike but we can get you a used one next month, vs. OMG you kids better stop using so much water or we can't pay the bills and it will be cut off. 

havregryn

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #36 on: July 12, 2017, 01:08:20 PM »
I grew up in a poor country with parents who were terrible with money. I feel my entire life was forever shaped by this experience and not in a good way. I find it even hard to think of myself as frugal, I think I am pathologically anxious about not having money which makes me appear frugal on the surface.
I grew up living in this constant fear that something might break down because whenever it did my parents acted as if someone died. I remember my father using "we can't afford it" as an excuse for pretty much anything. I got a scholarship when I was in high school and I remember my father not letting me have the money because we were "too poor and he needed it". In a way the fact that this was not entirely accurate (we sure were poor compared to most people here by the very fact of living in a failed state but for the local context my parents were among the better off) made it worse (especially in retrospect).
As a result for me it was always an absolute must to spend less than I earned and I practiced that in even the most extreme of conditions (there was a period in college when my monthly budget was about 150$ and I still treated it as if I had a 100 and that's it (still living in a third world country hence not entirely undoable but still badass) ).
On the other hand now I really find myself in a situation where I think I can't enjoy being in a comfortable financial position because my mind is so messed up from all of this.

moonpalace

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2017, 01:14:31 PM »
I started off living what felt like a pretty middle-of-the-road life in a poor town, then parents got divorced when I was 7 and both moved separately to a very very rich town. Both of their economic situations got much much worse at the same time, due to the divorce and other things. Dad was particularly hard hit for years afterward because he quit his job and tried to start his own business which went nowhere but he kept trying for almost a decade.

We went from renting a decent house in the poor town to a series of crap apartments (some privately owned, some Section 8) in the rich town. Memories of evictions. Sleeping on the floor. Hunger. Cold. Damp, small apartments that always smelled bad and you could hear the neighbors fighting, having sex, and you could smell them cooking dinner. No privacy. Sneaking into neighboring farmer's field at night after the potato harvester went through, gathering the missed potatoes. Lots of shoplifting food in middle- and high-school. Deep embarrassment about where I lived, so I never had friends over. Lots of shame about not going on vacations, not having the right clothes, etc. Anger at my parents about all of this.

Worked my butt off in high school to get good grades and managed to get scholarship offers to places I wanted to go. Chose a small liberal-arts college mostly because it gave me the best financial aid package. But then that dried up a bit after the first year. Moved off campus into a cold, damp, shitty apartment where I slept on the floor but it only cost $175/month. Eventually got evicted because my dad didn't keep his one promise: to pay my rent. Almost dropped out at that point but a professor convinced me to take a year off instead. Eventually finished up with a degree.

Anyway, those experiences shaped me fundamentally and in ways that I'm still coming to understand at age 41. Lately the stuff that I'm dealing with the most is my absolute, non-negotiable need for financial security for me, DW, and kids, and my need to know that DW is similarly dedicated to that. She grew up in a completely (like, *completely*!) different scene, with plenty of money, and that difference really comes out when we talk about this stuff. There's an urgency about it for me that she will probably never feel.

This thread is really helpful to read; one doesn't tend to hear or share these sorts of stories in everyday life.

Keep on keepin' on, y'all!

mp

effigy98

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2017, 03:49:38 PM »
Yes. I hated being hungry and cold in the winters. I told myself I will do everything in my power to stay out of the situation when I'm older. I started working at 12 yrs old and never stopped. Being poor as a kid drove me harder then anything else to self teach and succeed at difficult jobs.

jillinsandiego

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #39 on: July 12, 2017, 04:22:52 PM »
I'm actually curious as to how many of us who grew up with less will accidentally spoil our children to compensate.  As a result we could be raising anti-mustachians in our own households simply because we don't want them to go through what we did.  Is it possible to teach your kids financial responsibility when it is a purely optional endeavor?  I think if any group can do it, it's this one.

I have actually seen the spoiling happen in my life with a family I know.  The parents complain about how the kids don't know the value of money but it was their own fault in making it too abundant for their children.  I just nod, stay quiet, and tell myself, "I know better, that won't be me."  Unfortunately, I also know that once you have kids, your radical ideas and plans are worth dirt.  I'm hoping to start a family next year with dw... this whole topic is one of the things that I continue to worry about.

This is actually something that concerns me greatly. On the one hand, I want my children to feel secure. Been evicted repeatedly and being homeless, constantly wondering if/when it will happen again, is not something I will allow to occur to them in their childhood. But, I worry we over-compensate, going well beyond security. Like you, moonpalace, my husband comes from an entirely different background (upper/middle class, not really wanting for anything although not over-the-top spoiled), and the way you put it about the sense of urgency that you have that your spouse doesn't, well, I sure can relate to that.

I have three kids; the oldest is 16 and the younger two are 5 and 7. We have people in my family (my mother and sister) and in my husband's family (two of his sisters and their husbands) who make atrocious financial decisions, and my oldest has seen the consequences. He knows we don't have cable, we drive old cars, we don't shop on a whim, never live beyond our means, etc. As a result, we have a strong emergency fund, strong retirement accounts, and we have taken some pretty epic trips (travel hacking is a new and enjoyable hobby for us!). I am not terribly worried about him at this point, although I do see a sense of entitlement in him that we are working hard to address.

I worry more about the two younger ones, as we only moved to our affluent neighborhood 4.5 years ago, so that's really all they will remember, whereas my oldest will likely remember the 2 bedroom condo and modest 3 bedroom homes we had before. We love our neighborhood (and our 2 mile commute to work), but I struggle often with the concern that the perspective the younger kids will have is skewed. I am thankful to have the opportunity to be concerned about over-compensating; I don't ever want them to know the insecurity I did in my childhood. But, I really don't want them to be spoiled, entitled brats, either.

Dr. Pepper

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #40 on: July 12, 2017, 07:20:36 PM »
Grew up in poverty like most people seem to have on this thread, definitely shaped my view on stuff. My parents were financially illiterate, I remember us having no heat/water/food living in a condemned trailer park with nightly rats and roaches, and them buying cable from a door to door guy and borrowing electricity from our neighbor with an extension cord to run the TV.  Later when they got a windfall from disability they squandered it all within about 6 months , 2k for a vacuum, trips, TV, car etc and we were right back in the same spot living month to month. I remember at one point my parents got about 6 months behind on rent, somehow the landlord allowed that. We were nearly homeless, and would have been if not for the help of family. Both parents died at relatively young ages, mom 48 and dad 67 about a year apart, they did not have great healthcare, and did not make healthy choices. Leaving me to take care of their funeral expenses and my brother....

I definitely had a view of scarcity for a long time. I started working at 12, and basically did nothing but work and study to try and find a way out of that mess. I eventually got into the Army and later professional school. Despite being at a disadvantage due to the circumstances I described above, mainly having to raise a child and work full time ,in the process, did relatively well, and now my income puts me in the top 5%. Really I have met no one I can relate to with this stuff, most people I have met in the professional sense, came from good homes and were wealthy. As a result I really don't relate to many of them.

Now that I have kids I definitely worry about them being entitled, and not having the drive needed to succeed. I don't buy duplicate toys, so they have to learn to share. The best I can do is remind them how lucky we are, and to not take anything for granted and be thankful. I do that almost daily, because it crosses my mind that much.  And as Charlie Munger says, to not feel sorry for yourself, it's totally unproductive and solutions come from working the problem and consistency of effort.

MrsPete

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #41 on: July 13, 2017, 07:23:57 AM »
Raeon,
For raising children I think it's a fine line between making them aware of money management and making them afraid of economic instability.
I recall being worried about whether our family could afford to pay the water bill.  I was 7 years old.  I know it was my mother's anxiety and discussion about bills that I absorbed, and no one back then thought to protect a child from these types of adult issues. 
I think the guidelines should be to be honest and say, No we can't afford a new bike but we can get you a used one next month, vs. OMG you kids better stop using so much water or we can't pay the bills and it will be cut off.
Yes, I was raised with a solid fear of economic instability.  I was taught that wanting things was BAD and ridiculing others who wanted things /had spent foolishly was acceptable.  I didn't want to repeat those lessons with my children, so instead of saying, "No, we can't afford ___", I've frequently told them, "That's not how we choose to spend our money". I've often talked about spending on things that have long-term value rather than temporary pleasures.

 

frompa

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #42 on: July 13, 2017, 03:36:28 PM »
Yes, it shaped me.  I grew up in a large family, surrounded by extended family, in a very small town where everyone knew everyone, and where there wasn't much money to be made, no matter how hard you worked.  Although there were certainly families in town who were well off, most of the people I grew up with seemed the same kind of poor as we were.  We all wore hand-me-downs, were on public assistance as the work/layoff schedules of our parents required, never went on vacations, and the like.  But, I think what I learned from all of that was the relative irrelevance of material wealth, because being surrounded by our larger families, we saw people help each other out and share what little there was.  We kids had the run of the mountains that surrounded our town, we had relationships with aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and all the "honorary" aunts and uncles who were family friends, our play was largely unsupervised and very creative -- and it was an extremely rich childhood. We knew that there was no chance of buying stuff, and even though a few others in town had stuff and got stuff, we didn't whine about it -- we learned to make things, and satisfied our requirements through that creativity.  I don't want to sugar coat it -- poverty sucks, without a doubt.  And when I turned 17 and left town, I did not go back to live there.  It's fascinating to me that our parents, who never went beyond high school, raised all of us with the expectation that we would go to college.  And each of us did -- we worked our way through, with zero $ assistance from the family, because there just wasn't any $ to be had.  I learned financial management in a hands on way, as did all of my sibs, and now we are basically all fairly secure, and seemingly content with our frugality. 

10dollarsatatime

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #43 on: July 14, 2017, 03:13:18 PM »
My family was definitely below the poverty line when I was much younger.  I never had to go hungry... Between food stamps, the bishop's storehouse (the LDS church's way of taking care of their members), and the HUGE garden we put in and put up every year, there was no worry of that.  But there was certainly no money.  I heard 'can't afford it' all the time.  Clothing was from thrift stores or handed down from mom's friends or people in the ward.  I always knew that if I wanted something, I had to pay for it myself, which means that from a young age I was always hustling.

Things changed when I was a teenager.  My mom finished school and became a teacher.  My dad went through a bout of unemployment but then found a stable job that he still has 20 years later.  Money comparatively abounded.  Cars were purchased.  The kitchen was finally remodeled.  So on and so forth. 

But it was too late for me... I remember being reprimanded for not asking for money to go to Lagoon (an amusement park) Day when I graduated high school.  I didn't want to ask my parents for the money because "can't afford it" was so ingrained by that point, I couldn't ask for or spend money on something so frivolous.

These days, I know I hoard food.  I garden and put up what I can.  I purchase too much when it's on sale and stash it in the freezer.  I'm getting better about this... actually using the food I put up.  (I did refuse to eat ramen for years after I moved out...)

I'm still hustling.  Even though I have a secure job that pays pretty well, I feel like I need to have a backup.  Although since I've found MMM, my hobby job money has found purpose, so that's nice.

And I still have issues making large purchases.  I found MMM because the sudden debt from my house purchase was giving me stabbing stomach pains.  Only in the past few years have I learned to balance price with quality (which means I no longer buy the cheapest tires for my car... or those $2 camisoles from walmart.)  I've been threatening to fix up my terrible kitchen for at least three years now, but the cost gives me the shakes (even though it's all DIY pricing).  I've finally come to terms with it, and will hopefully get to it in the coming month.  But spending the money is stressful.

Gone_Hiking

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #44 on: July 15, 2017, 07:27:04 PM »
What strikes me is a common thread that cruises through all these great stories.  An experience of poverty and instability instills drive for security.  I grew up in an average family for the area, not dirt poor, but one with no savings whatsoever.   I went through a bout of hunger and pulling things out of a dumpster during college.  More than twenty years later, like many here, I still  feel the need for security.

Keep writing'em - I love to read more.

JLR

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #45 on: July 15, 2017, 07:44:09 PM »
I all so think it empowers me...I know how to survive if crap hits the fan. I am not afraid of hard work or menial jobs. I know how to make things, grow food, and stretch a dollar. I know how to survive on very little. I hope I don't have to ever live in poverty again, but I conquered it before and can do it again.

I've found I feel the same. It has given me some sort of resilience. I never want to live that life again. I never want to be without a good winter coat. But I know I've done it before and it can be survived.

It has probably left me to over compensate. I have 5 'good winter coats' (4/5 bought on a deep sale or secondhand). I hoard food on sale (a throw back to buying from whatever was marked down at the end of the day, so we could eat??) I am struggling to pull the pin and buy the shares because I love the safety net of cash in the bank.

JLee

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #46 on: July 15, 2017, 07:49:06 PM »
I've found myself more willing to spend money than I was as a kid.  I used to hold onto stuff to use later - I remember as a child, keeping stickers for so long that they fell off of their sheet, with no stickiness left.

I'm much more willing to spend money / use stuff now than I was then. I've spent far too many years depriving myself of things because I wasn't sure when I'd get more, and now that I don't have to live that way, I've definitely noticed that I have moved past that.  Certainly a detriment to how much money I could be saving, but in my mind money is a tool.  If I don't use it in a way that aligns with my priorities, what good is it?

MrsPete

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #47 on: July 16, 2017, 07:57:46 AM »
I always knew that if I wanted something, I had to pay for it myself, which means that from a young age I was always hustling.
That was a frustration in my childhood, and my circumstances were unusual:  I WANTED to find a way to earn money as a teenager, but it was pretty much impossible in my very rural area.  I wanted to babysit, but I never could find jobs -- in retrospect, I could've worked harder at putting the word out at church.  I would've helped on a farm, but everyone tended to have 4-5 kids, and they weren't hiring outsiders (plus I didn't have transportation to anyone else's house).  Once I was old enough, I would've worked retail somewhere, but literally everything was at least 20 minutes by car, and I had no transportation.  I searched but never found any ongoing way to earn as a teen. 

I was frustrated that I asked my parents for help in finding work as a teen, and they refused, saying that I was needed to babysit my four siblings after school (for no money, of course) ... but later they helped the younger children in finding teen work /drove them back and forth to retail jobs (though they did charge the younger kids for the rides).  It's tough to be the oldest. 

What strikes me is a common thread that cruises through all these great stories.  An experience of poverty and instability instills drive for security.
Oh, yes, such a need for security. 

I've found I feel the same. It has given me some sort of resilience. I never want to live that life again. I never want to be without a good winter coat. But I know I've done it before and it can be survived.
Yes, I went to college -- walking everywhere -- in $2 fake Keds from Kmart.  I know how to cut cardboard insoles after the soles have worn through.  I always had a coat, but I didn't always have an umbrella.  I remember crying bitterly when someone stole one of my college textbooks (it was my own stupid fault, and I learned in a hurry), and I had no-no-no possible way to replace it. 

Yes, I learned to be resilient, but I also was fortunate not to have had any real tragedy:  I walked home from work in a big city, and I was never the victim of a crime.  I lived in awful apartments where drugs and crime were rampant, yet no one ever broke into my apartment.  I lived with five people in a two-bedroom apartment, and the management never figured it out.  I was hungry frequently, but never so much that my health suffered from it.  I am fortunate that I stayed resilient instead of dead. 

I've found myself more willing to spend money than I was as a kid.  I used to hold onto stuff to use later - I remember as a child, keeping stickers for so long that they fell off of their sheet, with no stickiness left.

I'm much more willing to spend money / use stuff now than I was then. I've spent far too many years depriving myself of things because I wasn't sure when I'd get more, and now that I don't have to live that way, I've definitely noticed that I have moved past that.  Certainly a detriment to how much money I could be saving, but in my mind money is a tool.  If I don't use it in a way that aligns with my priorities, what good is it?
Oh my goodness ... are we the same person?  Yes, when I got something nice -- such as stickers -- I held onto them tightly, and sometimes the item in question was ruined by waiting ... so I got no use out of the item.  One thing that comes to mind, and in retrospect it's stupid:  When I did have a bit of money and made a purchase, I saved the bag ... and if I was going to buy two items, I'd often have one of my brothers hold my first purchase, and I'd go back into the store to make a second, separate purchase just so I'd have a second bag.  I kept the bags and kept them folded neatly in my nightstand drawer ... so that when I needed to carry something to school, I'd have a "cool store bag" available.  I really did hoard everything and did use every resource I had to make it as a poor kid in the Affluent 80s.  In retrospect, I was pretty pathetic.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 08:02:39 AM by MrsPete »

SpareChange

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #48 on: July 16, 2017, 02:33:01 PM »
It instilled a well calibrated, value oriented compass for navigating the consumer world. It also stroooongly shifted my utility of wealth to freedom, security, and time. I didn't develop any hoarding tendencies as some others attest to, but rather a streak of minimalism.

My parents were not good with money. Even when we had decent income, we always seemed to be a car breakdown away from catastrophe. They were always stressed out and fighting about money. I really have no idea where it went because we never had any fancy stuff lol. My dad hated his job, but continued to work it because he couldn't find anything else that would support us. He wasn't treated well by his coworkers. He felt trapped, and became depressed and volatile. Gained a lot of weight. He would yell at us over little things almost daily, throw stuff around the living room, etc.

Eventually the decision was made to move to a different state cold turkey. That didn't pan out as my parents were not able to secure employment quickly enough, so after a short period we moved to rural east Texas, where my dad's family is from. For 3 years the four of us lived in a 20ft x 12ft storage building. We nailed insulation between the studs, but never covered it. We had one light bulb, a card table, four of those folding metal chairs, and some foam to sleep on. We used a camping stove to cook with, and a cooler in lieu of a refrigerator. No plumbing, so my sister and I would carry gallon jugs a few hundred feet down the road to a faucet on my uncle's land. Creditors would call 4-5 times a day. My dad, who is ABD in physics, went to work in the tool department at a Sears 50 miles away. Mom would take on office temp jobs here and there. I remember becoming interested mutual fund investing. Sounded like a swell idea, even if I had no money to indulge in it. 

After 3 years, it was obvious we weren't getting anywhere, so moved to DFW and lived in a tent for a month or so until we had retail jobs. I paid the rent on the house we ended up getting into, and came just shy of being able to count my parents as dependents for tax purposes that year. I started college. They moved on to better jobs. Things got better. A whole lotta people on this planet had it worse than I did, so I don't feel any need to complain. Just lessons learned.




wenchsenior

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #49 on: July 16, 2017, 04:50:13 PM »
This thread is fantastic, and it is such a pleasure and an education to read all your stories.  DH comes from poverty and is one of only a handful of people in his extended family to attend college, let alone work in a high-compensation, professional STEM field. It instilled some truly impressive grit and work ethic, but also some unusual anxieties about money or physical objects.  It's so interesting to hear others' stories. 
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 06:09:39 PM by wenchsenior »