Author Topic: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?  (Read 9731 times)

JanetJackson

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #50 on: July 16, 2017, 05:25:38 PM »
I was raised in a one-income family until my mother found work at around age 11 for me.  They'd calculated the cost of childcare + travel to childcare (we lived in a pretty darn remote area of Ohio) and decided to have my mother stay home with us until my brother was old enough to babysit me.
My father was laid of at least three times that I remember, probably more, but he has a high school (I'm not sure he finished though) education and worked in the only steel shop in radius (it was still about 40 minutes each way).  He eventually made it to retirement there.  My mother made it to 11 months from retirement, and her 20 year+ employer that she drove almost an hour each way to.... dissolved her position.  It just happened last week and was heartbreaking to hear about.  She was so proud of her work there and was pretty crushed by this.

So... long story short, we had food pantry groceries, salvation army for holidays generally, and played with trash that my dad brought home from the shop for the most part (he would bring home the steel spools- these HUGE tubes that were basically gigantic toilet paper rolls, and we'd get inside and roll down the hill in them- SO FUN).  There just weren't any jobs for them to change to, and they couldn't afford to move us... so we endured it, and they're doing "ok" now, for the most part.

I think my experience with poverty did shape me.  My father was obnoxiously bitter toward people with money, and made no attempt to hide it.  I remember noticing this even as a kid.  I felt bad, because I could see that he was trying to dig us out... but just kept slipping into the hole he was digging.  He used to sometimes take the "long way home" from when we were visiting our grandparents so that he could drive through the partially gated subdivision of the wealthy people and tell us these elaborate stories about their evil greed.  I remember even as a 6 or 7 year old, trying to argue with him that some of them could be good people... he was having none of it.  He worked third shift, and learned to specialize on a machine, which made him valuable to the company... but he would come home from work and basically tell "war stories" about how their was no AC in the building and it was 104 in there, or how it was below freezing and he couldn't operate his machine while wearing gloves.  These conditions at his shop improved over time, but then he got frustrated with all of the safety measure bureaucracy at his shop... he was never happy.
Even now, two years into retirement, I have to stop him on the phone (I do not live in Ohio any more) because he'll start ranting about the shop... and he's been gone for over two years. :/

I think my experience has made me a little bit jaded, to be honest.  It's something I work on very very hard because I do not want to stereotype people... but I feel like I have seen people in positions of authority or perhaps wealth(?) squash my very hard-working parents a lot over the years... and when I find out someone was, say, "born into money"... I have to check my assumptions HARD before I get to know them so I can be sure I am being open.

I also think my experience has helped me a lot in terms of frugality.  We used cloth diapers, had a garden, didn't have AC until after I moved out, reused plastic bags, had no debt, etc.  and those things have carried on into my life. 
I do have weird eating habits and consume as if there is food scarcity a lot.  When I was a teen I developed pretty rampant anorexia and no one seemed to notice because we didn't have much food available to begin with... and now, if there are bagels at work... you'd better bet your sweet butt I am putting two in my handbag and freezing them for later, even though bread makes me feel sick (I might have some kind of gluten thing, who knows?).  I find that I can't eat a meal without clearing the plate... and although this hasn't led to obesity or overweightness on my part, I can see how it could if I didn't have an active lifestyle.

This thread is really interesting, and I hope to learn more from many different perspectives.

whatupjeffy

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #51 on: July 16, 2017, 08:31:37 PM »
Well, I can't say I was not poor in terms of money. However, I experienced poor status in mental. And that was such a stress for me. I think it shaped me a lot on doing everything.

libertarian4321

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #52 on: July 17, 2017, 12:10:02 AM »
I grew up fairly poor.  My parents qualified for welfare (though they were far too proud to ever take it).  But we weren't "no food in the house" poor, because my mom was so tight she could make a penny scream for mercy.  Bought just about everything on sale, then used a coupon on top of that.

But we never had the "cool stuff" that other kids had- toys, clothes, shoes, money for activities, etc.  But rather than make me extravagant as an adult (as it does with some formerly poor kids), it's had the opposite effect on me.

I'm happy living a very middle class lifestyle, because that is far more extravagant than the way I grew up.  To me, living middle class, feels like living the dream.  Or something like that.

I'm a multimillionaire.  I can afford all kinds of worthless "status" crap that I don't need or want. 

I'm happy driving my 16-year old truck, shopping at Walmart, and drinking boxed wine.  I'd rather have a 7-figure portfolio than a BMW 7-Series.

Leave the "status" purchases to the poor people (wanna be's) who usually can't afford them.


Laura33

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #53 on: July 17, 2017, 10:48:22 AM »
Yeah, the comment about never being able to trust that the future will be better than today hits home, although I never associated that with growing up poor.  The worst part of it all is confirmation bias:  everything bad that ever happened, was, see, I'm snakebit, I'm just not the kind of person good things happen to.  I remember after I had gotten married (which I never thought would happen) and had an awesome job and life was *finally* going my way, and I realized that I had all I had ever wanted and maybe things had turned around.  And then DH's company went under and we had to move and I had to quit, and then we decided to make the best of it and have kids and then had two years of infertility and miscarriages.  And all I could think was: see?  That's what you get for starting to believe things would turn out well.  It took me another 10 years (and a *lot* of Dr. Phil, who finally helped me realize I have more power than I thought I did) before I stopped feeling like the Sword of Damocles was hanging over my head.

That also explains the fundamental money disconnect between me and DH.  He grew up UMC, and has this (to me) incomprehensible view that things will work out -- that it's ok to spend money, because he can just go earn more if he needs it.  WTF???  Don't you know that horrible unknown bad things lurk just around the corner?  Caused a lot of head-butting early on. 

But the irony is, after 20+ years, I can say:  he was right.  I think there is real power in (realistic) optimism, and I wish I had learned that earlier.  At a minimum, it would have saved me a lot of stress waiting for the other shoe that never dropped.*

*To date.  Knock on wood.
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Northern gal

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #54 on: July 18, 2017, 11:18:56 PM »
Thank you so much for sharing, everyone! So much food for thought, I can't even quote all the best bits, there are too many. Reading some of these things brought tears to my eyes in a "yup, that's another blind spot i just discovered" kind of way.

I started reading whitetrashcash's journal and lots of great content there too. Btw, I remember Donald Trump firing a candidate on the apprentice because he had jokingly referred to himself as "white trash". Oh, the irony!

I loved the cracked article too, it is very accurate.

I'd say things I have kind of worked through:

Spend while you can - i moved through that phase quickly and am now a super tight penny pincher (The other extreme)
Invest minimal effort at work - I kind of moved the opposite way. I initially studied and tried super hard to get scholarships etc. then, through subsequent jobs I noticed being too efficient makes you unpopular and overworked. With 5 months to go at work, I'm probably back in the minimal effort camp
Spend for the short term - I LOVE to stock up on everyday items on special. It makes me feel really abundant to have 10kg of rice in my pantry and 3 litres of dishwashing liquid under the sink. I never realised just how weird that is until this thread. Perhaps that is me tipping the scales the other way and hoarding but it's honestly one of my greatest joys in life.

Things that have come up for me in this thread which I need to work on

Allowing myself to ask - I remember once walking past an ice cream shop and asking mum for a paddle pop. I would have been 6 or 7. She completely freaked out at me in the middle of the street. "How dare you ask? Don't you know we can't afford it?" I don't think I could ever put myself in a situation where I need to ask someone to pay for me. I'd probably pretend I don't want anything.
Accepting gifts - I hate receiving gifts.
Enjoying nice things - i just can't. A life coach once told me to set aside 10% of my income into a self-care fund. I still shudder at the thought, it made me so uncomfortable. I am so so glad to now have my 70% savings rate target as an excuse to be cheap with myself.
Having friends over - because it was never an option growing up, I usually come down with a massive anxiety attack beforehand. Spontaneous visits are out of the question of course. That's in spite of being a real extrovert.
Shmoozing with rich people - no. I am 'different', you see. Again I wonder whether mustachianism is just my excuse of the day to rationalise that deeply ingrained sense of alienation.
Eat as if  food was scarce - obsessive plate-clearer. Buffets are terrible too.
Choose the "possible" predictable career - a thousand times yes.
Trust no one - I am absolutely incapable of letting anyone take care of me, especially men. That may masquerade as emancipation, DIY queen etc. But underneath it I really have to work on my ability to receive.

And finally

"Now what?" Yes! That feeling of "oh ok I might be safe now - now what do I want to do? Who am I?"

If my life hadn't started the way it did, who would I have chosen to be? What part of it is salvageable, now, at 37?

« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 11:33:10 PM by Norgirl »

Cali Nonya

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #55 on: July 19, 2017, 11:49:23 AM »

Accepting gifts - I hate receiving gifts.


+1.  OMG, you spelled that out.  I had always just thought that was because my family never really was that materialistic.  But it is probably because of the loss of income and the knowledge that we really couldn't afford it.  To this day, I really can't deal with gifting.

Zoot

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #56 on: July 19, 2017, 12:20:14 PM »
Posting to follow, and to remind myself to share some stories of my own when time presents itself.

Double Yu

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #57 on: July 19, 2017, 12:44:20 PM »
I'm one generation removed from poverty - my mom grew up poor, sometimes hungry, dealing with her mother with psych instability. Luckily for my mom and her siblings, my grandmother later married a stable, loving man who was able to provide for the family. It was after my mom had already moved out, but my mom was resilient and so I had a slightly lower middle class upbringing. There weren't a lot of frills and I was aware of not having the 'latest greatest' that my peers had, but my mom (and dad) did it, she overcame her childhood travails with grace and compassion for those in need.

I don't know what she did/said, but I made sure, growing up, that I was always really careful to not cost my parents more than necessary, to not ask for extras. Maybe it's just me, satisfied with simple pleasure, but I did always have the sense that you never knew what was around the bend and that we were probably kind of closer to "not quite solvent" rather than "on an upward swing" - so better to have a fully stocked pantry, limit expenses, don't waste anything.

My husband grew up in post-revolutionary China, during an era of famine and social upheaval. He was hungry frequently but being the one boy, to the two girls, he sometimes got extras. (He and sisters get along very well, so I guess there were no hard feelings about that). His mother was a genius at re-using/repurposing things, at hiding small family treasures from the authorities. Their experiences drew the family together - they trusted themselves and helped each other out. I have great fondness and respect for my husband's family and took to my mother-in-law's frugal ways like a fish to water as they weren't too different from my own tendencies even if different in custom/detail.

To this day, my husband eats fast (he knows it and knows why) and he's sometimes leaned in the direction of wanting to buy more expensive things (tech, etc) just because he could - I see that as an attempt to salve an old wound. Some of those, as this thread shows, are hard to move past.
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Caoineag

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #58 on: July 19, 2017, 02:55:53 PM »
+1 to accepting gifts. My father was very proud and emotionally manipulative so accepting gifts from extended family was seen as greediness (as in, "the only reason you want to hang out with your family is so that you can get stuff" so I developed the mindset that if I refused gifts, then no one could accuse me of greed when I really just wanted to be able to spend time with people I cared about). I was a teenager before I actually understood that my father accusing me of greediness was more a reflection of his greed then a statement of who I am.

Northern gal

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #59 on: July 19, 2017, 05:44:22 PM »
@calinonya: that's where it gets difficult, knowing what truly is personal preference and what is a scar.

I'd say for me, if something just leaves me cold I assume I just naturally don't have a preference for it. If I feel intense negative emotions, ie feel triggered, anxious, sad, angry, or superjudgemental of people who do thing x, etc I tend to think there is more behind it. It's harder for positive emotions, say I feel really good about my stash sitting around in cash at 1% interest. Then I see what stocks did and although I know I should invest I feel so scared.

@Double Yu: your mum sounds amazing. I can't even begin to fathom what your husband went through, but also his family. It must be so hard when you have to decide which one of your kids to feed. I'm glad I won't have to make that choice.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 06:16:00 PM by Norgirl »

Double Yu

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #60 on: July 19, 2017, 07:25:54 PM »
@norgirl, I was struck by your experience asking for the paddle pop (popsicle in the US?). Sometimes it just takes one moment to create a lasting *something,* doesn't it? Totally off topic, but I remember being chastised for "talking too much" in school (and to be fair, I probably was) but some adult's comment triggered something in me, some shame, so that it took me years to unravel issues of voice (metaphorical as much as physical) and some deep seated incapacity to speak up when I don't feel I'm being heard.

I'm always impressed when people cultivate awareness in themselves and work to stop old cycles from manifesting. This thread is filled with the small ways (and large) that each of us have made efforts to do that, but I just want to give a shout out to the kids we each were - who made it this far. Bravo!
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LibrarianFuzz

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #61 on: July 19, 2017, 09:15:31 PM »
+1

Had many years of extreme poverty, both as a child and as an adult.

Now, as a member of the professional class (after putting myself through 14 years of college while working up to 3 minimum wage jobs at a time - especially difficult because I could not afford a car for many years), this has left me unable to relate to my coworkers. It's also a huge impediment to being in a relationship because I cannot relate to the backgrounds of most people.

I struggle with very quirky issues. I realize I probably need to go to counseling.

I'll give you one example:

A few years ago, the key to my apartment bent at a very odd angle while I was turning it in the lock.

The blade part of the key was on the verge of breaking off from the bow.

My apartment gave me a replacement key for free.

Replacement keys typically cost $5.

New key. Everything should be good, right? Just throw away the damaged key.

Yet...I couldn't throw away the bent key. Could. Not. Do. It.

I tried. I even took it off the key ring and held it over the trash. Then I had a freak-out and put it back on the key ring.

In fact, I couldn't stop using it. Yep. That's right. I could not stop using the broken key.

I had been given a new key for free...but what if something happened?? What if I lost it, or it broke? Then I'd need to pay the $5.

I became anxious. This new, free key was like having $5 in my hand. Better "save" it. Because what if something happened to it, and I didn't have $5 to get a new, third key?

Even though I knew my thinking was not right, I thought it was better to continue using the broken key because later I could use the other key, prolonging the (virtually nonexistent) possibility that something would go wrong with the second key, and I'd need to come up with $5.

For many years of my life, coming up with a spare $5 was impossible as coming up with $500,000. I know that is just not relatable to most people. Maybe it would help if I mentioned that I come from a drug addict family and had no parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/siblings to provide a helping hand - or a loan of $5 - if need be.

So I kept using the broken key.

This is crazy, right?

Of course, a few days later, it broke off in the lock.

The apartment complex had to call a locksmith and pay like $150 to get the key out.

I told them I had accidentally left it on my keychain.

Of course I had meant to throw it away.

I had used it by mistake.

I was very sorry for the inconvenience I had caused them.

I couldn't tell them the truth. I sounded like a crazy person.

And then I sat down and cried after the locksmith let me in because I had known this could happen. Logically and rationally, I knew it could break off in the lock. Yet somehow, I couldn't have stopped myself from using that broken key anyway. Because in my mind it was possibly saving me $5 in the future. And that $5 was so important that the only choice that made sense to me was to keep using the broken key.

A while back, I read some interesting studies that suggested living in poverty can actually give you PTSD. I don't know if I have PTSD, but poverty has altered my thinking and choices in ways that definitely do not seem in line with the general population. Because of my past, I feel isolated and different than most people, and they can't relate. I'm always trying to "hide the crazy" so I can blend in with my middle-class peers who don't seem terrified of not having $5 when they need it.

JanetJackson

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #62 on: July 20, 2017, 06:43:39 AM »
Oh my gosh, this was so familiar and a little painful to read.  I've done so many things like this before, and then broken down about them.
I don't have an answer for how we move on from these types of behaviors, but just know that you're not alone.  In fact, I have a shirt that rubs my armpits until they bleed, AND a replacement for said shirt (very similar to the key situation), but can't bring myself to get rid of the first shirt because it's "like having that extra $10" that I spent on the back up shirt if I just conserve it.





+1

Had many years of extreme poverty, both as a child and as an adult.

Now, as a member of the professional class (after putting myself through 14 years of college while working up to 3 minimum wage jobs at a time - especially difficult because I could not afford a car for many years), this has left me unable to relate to my coworkers. It's also a huge impediment to being in a relationship because I cannot relate to the backgrounds of most people.

I struggle with very quirky issues. I realize I probably need to go to counseling.

I'll give you one example:

A few years ago, the key to my apartment bent at a very odd angle while I was turning it in the lock.

The blade part of the key was on the verge of breaking off from the bow.

My apartment gave me a replacement key for free.

Replacement keys typically cost $5.

New key. Everything should be good, right? Just throw away the damaged key.

Yet...I couldn't throw away the bent key. Could. Not. Do. It.

I tried. I even took it off the key ring and held it over the trash. Then I had a freak-out and put it back on the key ring.

In fact, I couldn't stop using it. Yep. That's right. I could not stop using the broken key.

I had been given a new key for free...but what if something happened?? What if I lost it, or it broke? Then I'd need to pay the $5.

I became anxious. This new, free key was like having $5 in my hand. Better "save" it. Because what if something happened to it, and I didn't have $5 to get a new, third key?

Even though I knew my thinking was not right, I thought it was better to continue using the broken key because later I could use the other key, prolonging the (virtually nonexistent) possibility that something would go wrong with the second key, and I'd need to come up with $5.

For many years of my life, coming up with a spare $5 was impossible as coming up with $500,000. I know that is just not relatable to most people. Maybe it would help if I mentioned that I come from a drug addict family and had no parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/siblings to provide a helping hand - or a loan of $5 - if need be.

So I kept using the broken key.

This is crazy, right?

Of course, a few days later, it broke off in the lock.

The apartment complex had to call a locksmith and pay like $150 to get the key out.

I told them I had accidentally left it on my keychain.

Of course I had meant to throw it away.

I had used it by mistake.

I was very sorry for the inconvenience I had caused them.

I couldn't tell them the truth. I sounded like a crazy person.

And then I sat down and cried after the locksmith let me in because I had known this could happen. Logically and rationally, I knew it could break off in the lock. Yet somehow, I couldn't have stopped myself from using that broken key anyway. Because in my mind it was possibly saving me $5 in the future. And that $5 was so important that the only choice that made sense to me was to keep using the broken key.

A while back, I read some interesting studies that suggested living in poverty can actually give you PTSD. I don't know if I have PTSD, but poverty has altered my thinking and choices in ways that definitely do not seem in line with the general population. Because of my past, I feel isolated and different than most people, and they can't relate. I'm always trying to "hide the crazy" so I can blend in with my middle-class peers who don't seem terrified of not having $5 when they need it.

LibrarianFuzz

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #63 on: July 20, 2017, 10:00:52 AM »
Thank goodness for the internet.

Now I know that at least one other person in the world thinks the same way/does the same things! I would never talk about this in real life.

I feel like a million times better now. Thanks for sharing about the shirt! I totally get it!

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #64 on: July 20, 2017, 10:12:55 AM »
100%

I grew up in a 1 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn during the late 80's and early 90's.

My dad worked 80+ hours a week in a blue collar job.

Once I reached high school we moved closed to the suburbs and into a house.

While growing up, money was always tight and as a result I started working ~12 years old to afford many of the things I needed/wanted.

Those habits and behaviors I learned growing up helped shape me into a pseudo mustachian before I even started learning about financial independence.
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Cali Nonya

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #65 on: July 20, 2017, 10:17:46 AM »
I think there is a bit of a fine line on the 'making do'.  My example would be much more minor.  Several years ago I dropped my coffee grinder and the cup/lid broke.  This was a cheapy $5 walmart grinder to begin with, and I am now a well established career women.  But the dumb lid only broke in like 3 pieces, so I taped it up, and it still worked.  My fiance was adamant about getting a new one (very minor cost), but I said, let me just keep this one a little longer, it still works.

And it does still work.  Damned broken lid coffee grinder has been taped up for I think 6 or 7 years.  And it's a crappy grinder that doesn't do a particularly good job.  But it's what I have, so it's what I use.

Now the rational voice says, this is because we had to do without after my dad died.  That is why I keep a usable but damaged coffee grinder.  But I think this is more of a strength.  The line between using past pain for strength to past pain being a weight, is very very fine.  Now don't get me wrong, I have my triggers, but since my past is dealing with the death of a parent as a child, I am more triggered by the death, not the poverty that came later.  (Basically to this day, I just loose it if something reminds me of when I saw the EMT's carting of my dad after they couldn't revive him with the shock paddles).

But yes, I still re-use zip-lock bags when I can (keep all grocery bag, brown bags, etc), I'll make starter flower pots out of yogurt jars, I collect 'good' glass jar with lids so I can re-use them.  It's been 22 years, I still have some of the free-bee dorm cast-off furniture I started with.  But I don't see it as bad.  There has been several times when things could be donated to another young person just starting out, and I can part with old things.  During moves there have been old broken items that I could realize really were at the end of their useful life and headed to the dump.

But I would rather be someone like me.  I grew up with handed down things, and I honestly don't mind handed-down things.  In my first year of college I dated a guy from a well off family.  At the start of the following year, he would buy all new clothes, and fold up and throw out all his clothes from the previous year.  There was a less well-off student who came across a stack of clean good clothes, just sitting in the trash-can, so of course they were used.  That (expletive) jerk would point and laugh when he saw someone wearing his old clothes.  Needless to say, I did not stick around him much longer, but when I think about it, I would take my more painful past than be someone like that.

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #66 on: July 20, 2017, 07:39:18 PM »
Amazing thread.

I didn't know it at the time, but I did grow up poor. Food ran out at the end of the month. I (and my brother and sister) went without needed dental care. I remember being teased terribly in fifth grade because I only owned two pairs of pants. I walked to school, in Wisconsin, through the snow every day but never owned a pair of boots until my boyfriend (now husband) gave me a pair one Christmas when we were in college and I was still walking to class all winter in tennis shoes. When I was 8 and my friend's little sister died, my dad said our car couldn't be part of the funeral procession. We went to the cemetery later, and drove all around until we found where she'd been buried.

I was well into my 30s before I started to see how my habits and choices were shaped by those experiences. Both my husband and I chose remunerative careers and the drive of never feeling good enough pushed me through professional school near the top of my class. Together, we gross nearly 350k annually now, but I haven't bought new underwear in years. We still live in WI, but I don't own a winter hat or scarf.  A few years ago, I traded in a 12-year-old Mazda for a new Camry and felt guilty for weeks. I keep absolutely everything in case I need it later - I just recently started donated things that have been unused in the back of my closet for 20 years.

I have a hard time spending money on myself. Where I all-too-freely spend money is on the kids. Private school. Vacations. Sports, clubs, more shoes than they really need. We talk about what my childhood was like, and I try to help them understand how good they have it, how much security is worth. But how do you value security when you've always had it? They have little hardship in their lives, thank the Lord, but I fear they will grow up spoiled and without the self-reliance they will need when life knocks them down, and everyone gets hard knocks eventually. I do what I can to teach them, and hope I'm doing enough.

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #67 on: July 24, 2017, 03:45:38 PM »
I know someone who has billionaire parents. Literally billionaires.

He does not technically have the money yet, but it is functionally his.

I have done the math on what even 1 billion yields in passive unearned income. It weirds me out to the point where I can barely interact with him.

I find myself wanting to share stories with him about what it is like to be poor . . . or even a normal work-a-day paycheck to paycheck person. . . but somehow I just can't do it.

wenchsenior

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #68 on: July 24, 2017, 04:19:43 PM »
I know someone who has billionaire parents. Literally billionaires.

He does not technically have the money yet, but it is functionally his.

I have done the math on what even 1 billion yields in passive unearned income. It weirds me out to the point where I can barely interact with him.

I find myself wanting to share stories with him about what it is like to be poor . . . or even a normal work-a-day paycheck to paycheck person. . . but somehow I just can't do it.

We have some social acquaintances like this.  They are 1%ers.  Names that you might know and that have their own Wikipedia pages.  Most of them are perfectly nice and pretty normal in standard conversation, but it is definitely a radically different world they inhabit than 'normal' world.  We've observed that the billionaires mostly do try to teach their own kids how fortunate they are, and what opportunities they have for philanthropy, meaningful work, etc.  But growing up that wealthy creates its own particular challenges and psychological stress.  Also, the 1%ers have close friends that are like, 10%ers, often friends from college. And THOSE people really feel the difference between lifestyles. Such as, the 1%ers are constantly inviting them to go on trips and stuff...often generously hosting the 10%ers and everything, but even with the bulk of the costs covered the 10%ers really struggle...both with a feeling of guilt at not being able to pay their own way, and even with the cost of plane tickets and 'extras' for their family, when the invites come regularly.  They may be 10%ers, but they still  have to budget for trips, etc.  They've told us...they feel weird about even saying anything to the billionaires or deciding when to accept and when not to. They know that cost of plane tickets, dining out, etc. don't even register on the 1%er radar...hell, the 1%ers have private family jets and private family yachts that they use. But even if they flew commercial, that's like buying coffee at Starbucks is to me. 
« Last Edit: July 24, 2017, 04:22:35 PM by wenchsenior »

shelivesthedream

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #69 on: July 26, 2017, 06:28:36 AM »
PTF.

MrsPete

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #70 on: July 26, 2017, 09:09:28 AM »
Spend for the short term - I LOVE to stock up on everyday items on special. It makes me feel really abundant to have 10kg of rice in my pantry and 3 litres of dishwashing liquid under the sink. I never realised just how weird that is until this thread. Perhaps that is me tipping the scales the other way and hoarding but it's honestly one of my greatest joys in life.
I can relate to that.  I pay attention to sales flyers, and I always have a dozen cans of tomatoes, various types of beans, etc.  I have rice and other grains stored nicely in glass mason jars.  I have a dozen dishwashing liquids under the sink and just as many shampoos in the linen closet.  I'm careful about rotating stock, and everything I "hoard" is purchased cheap-cheap-cheap. 

I most definitely feel "safe" having basics on hand, and I know very well that part of this comes from the years when I had to wait for a paycheck to buy more food or rationed the last inch of shampoo from the bottle.  I don't necessarily think it consciously all the time, but two thoughts are in the back of my head:  1) I may not have money next month, and I'll be very happy to have these products on hand.  2) This product may increase in price /may not be on sale again for a long time, and I'll be glad that I'm still using the pennies-on-the-dollar cans.

Trust no one - I am absolutely incapable of letting anyone take care of me, especially men. That may masquerade as emancipation, DIY queen etc. But underneath it I really have to work on my ability to receive.
I definitely relate to this feeling.  My dad left us and never looked back, and that's a big reason I opted to work instead of staying home with my kids.  Today, after years and years of marriage, I don't have that "can't take" attitude with my husband ... but I have it with everyone else on the planet. 

And then I sat down and cried after the locksmith let me in because I had known this could happen. Logically and rationally, I knew it could break off in the lock. Yet somehow, I couldn't have stopped myself from using that broken key anyway. Because in my mind it was possibly saving me $5 in the future. And that $5 was so important that the only choice that made sense to me was to keep using the broken key.

A while back, I read some interesting studies that suggested living in poverty can actually give you PTSD. I don't know if I have PTSD, but poverty has altered my thinking and choices in ways that definitely do not seem in line with the general population. Because of my past, I feel isolated and different than most people, and they can't relate. I'm always trying to "hide the crazy" so I can blend in with my middle-class peers who don't seem terrified of not having $5 when they need it.
I have some of that same "must preserve the new, nice item as long as possible" in me too.  In this situation, I think I would've carried the new key ... but I most definitely would've saved the old, inferior key as a "back up".  I could not have thrown it away, knowing that it could possibly have saved me $5. 

In fact, I am doing something like that now.  I have a work ID, which gets me in the door and I am required to wear -- so it's a need, something I use literally every day I work.  Mine is over a decade old, and is literally taped in half.  I should have a new one made ... but they want $5 for a new ID, whereas they'll give me free plastic ID holders all day long. 

But I would rather be someone like me.  I grew up with handed down things, and I honestly don't mind handed-down things.  In my first year of college I dated a guy from a well off family.  At the start of the following year, he would buy all new clothes, and fold up and throw out all his clothes from the previous year.  There was a less well-off student who came across a stack of clean good clothes, just sitting in the trash-can, so of course they were used.  That (expletive) jerk would point and laugh when he saw someone wearing his old clothes.  Needless to say, I did not stick around him much longer, but when I think about it, I would take my more painful past than be someone like that.
First thought:  Money aside, how much effort went into buying a whole new wardrobe every year? 

Second thought:  I dated a very wealthy guy in college.  We were well suited in many ways, but our methods of looking at money were so very different.  Yeah, on the outside, he looked like he was frugal -- liked to go to dinner with a coupon, searched out used textbooks, was careful to maintain clothes, etc. so they'd last.  But he didn't have any concept of "not having" his own personal car, a safety net with his parents, etc.  And I came to realize he saw himself as "saving me" somehow.  That relationship didn't last. 

I have a hard time spending money on myself. Where I all-too-freely spend money is on the kids. Private school. Vacations. Sports, clubs, more shoes than they really need. We talk about what my childhood was like, and I try to help them understand how good they have it, how much security is worth. But how do you value security when you've always had it? They have little hardship in their lives, thank the Lord, but I fear they will grow up spoiled and without the self-reliance they will need when life knocks them down, and everyone gets hard knocks eventually. I do what I can to teach them, and hope I'm doing enough.
I could say much the same thing.  My kids are adults now, and they've grown up to be frugal, reasonable spenders.  It's true that they have not experienced financial hardship in their lives, but I worked VERY HARD at teaching them to spend wisely ... and the lessons took. 
« Last Edit: July 26, 2017, 09:14:21 AM by MrsPete »

Catbert

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #71 on: July 26, 2017, 11:22:07 AM »
I grew up poor, but poor in a different way than many of you.  In the 1950s my father graduated from engineering school with a wife and baby (me).  An engineering degree should have been the ticket to a middle class life.  Unless said engineer is a raging alcoholic so that the next 14 years involved losing multiple jobs and houses to foreclosure.  4 more children got added to the chaos (remember this was the 50s).   The worst part was we never knew if money would come home on payday of if it would be drunk/lost before then.  We always ate although sometime it was potato soup made from potatoes and water. 

Things actually got better when my father abruptly (at least from my perspective) left the state.  My SAHM went on welfare and started working as a nurses aid.  Welfare was a major improvement b/c my mother was the child of the depression and could squeeze a penny.  Food commodities (this was before food stamps) ran the gamut from fine (flour, cornmeal) to okay (canned chicken and government cheese) to in edible (powdered eggs and some sort of canned loaf of meat that even the neighbors dog wouldn't eat).

The biggest positive lesson I took from all this is to never rely on a man (or anyone else) to support you.  I got a job out of high school and attended college  at night.  I've always looked for stability of the sure thing rather than taking a change.  That led to getting a government job and retiring 37 years later. 

I can relate to many of the stories above...keeping a full pantry...saving things "for good" or rainy day...keeping things beyond their useful life...not asking for things...not knowing how to make friends...

The end of my parents story is my mother died young while my father (still drinking and smoking) made it to 79.  Gee, did I mention I learned early that life isn't fair?

 

Imma

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #72 on: July 26, 2017, 12:26:51 PM »
[h 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.

Wow, I never knew anyone else did that! I grew up poor as well, in a strange situation. We weren't in the situation that we didn't have a stable roof over our heads (although my parents nearly had their house repossessed after I'd moved out) or were food insecure, thankfully. My dad worked on the family farm parttime and also had a job in a local business and we had a large garden at home as well. My mum was a SAHM and a lot of food came from our family's farm, our own garden or from neighbours. My family had cows and we kept chickens and rabbits. As a young child, I never felt poor because we always had clothes and had really big three course dinners at night (of course they worked hard, so they had to eat a lot of food) and I had so much fun being outdoors all the time and playing with the animals. 

When I was about 8, I started to notice the difference with other kids in school. I knew we had the best food, but I also started to notice that my mum made everything from scratch including the bread, that she spent so much time putting up all of the produce from our garden. She made all of our own clothes and I remember that when my dad would wear out his shirt at the elbows, she would take the shirt apart and use the fabric to make a tiny shirt for my toddler brother. Any clothes that weren't handmade were hand-me-downs. I went to school in a fairly affluent area and that's when I started noticing my clothes weren't fashionable, that other kids had "things" like stickers and notebooks and comics. I also remember I held on to my stickers for forever. I had this paper notebook that I would put my stickers in (of course not actually "use" the stickers, that would be a waste! ) I would glue the back of the actual sticker sheet in the notebook and just look at my sticker collection. I would get paper notebooks from people on my birthday that had pictures on the front and I thought it would be a waste to use them, so I kept them. I found them recently and I'm now giving my Tweety and Tazmanian Devil notebooks to a friend's kid. I held on to them for years, waiting for the special occasion to use them and it never happened. I was a big reader and at that time the library was free for kids so I went there a lot. Whenever I did have money, I would buy books and I did the same thing with the bags! Those books were my most treasured possession then and I still have them. Not entirely coincidental they are the entire series of Little House on the Prairie. 

During the BSE crisis, my family lost the farm and my dad also lost his office job. My mum went back to work and quickly started to make more money then they'd used to have. My dad also found a job again after some time, but he never earned as much as he used to and the reversal of roles caused a lasting resentment. My mum was always a very hard worker so she'd get up at 6 in the morning and prepared both breakfast and dinner from scratch before she left at 7.15 so she'd have the meal ready when we all came home at night. She also still did all of the housekeeping, while also progressing in her career. My dad couldn't handle it and started to spend a lot of money on himself (we were never sure where it went) which caused a lot of stress for us and for my mum, who went right back to her old ways of stretching money as far as she could. As at that point we didn't have the farm anymore or the time for things like baking our own bread, that's when I really started to feel poor. We never had money for anything and the last week of the month was tough. I remember my mum secretly hiding away the money from her paycheck so she had money for food and bills because my dad would spend literally any money he could get his hands on.

I was always a saver, not a spender, and I used to babysit for money before I was old enough for a retail job. When I graduated from high school, I chose to work and study parttime so I wouldn't have to get a student loan. I chose something that seemed practical (law) instead of something I really enjoyed (law school is not a big deal in here like it is in the US). I fell ill with a chronic illness at some point in high school and my parents were not able to support me through that - I don't mean financially, I mean mentally. That's when I knew I was always going to have to depend on myself and not others to get somewhere. I saved up religiously so I could move out as soon as I could and have always survived, somehow. I have gained a strong set of skills and survival instinct and I know I can help myself out in almost any situation I'll get into.

I'd never thought I'd find a partner who'd accept me for what I am, but he also grew up poor. In fact, I think he grew up a lot more poor because his parents had a very negative attitude, were money illiterate and didn't have any type of real skills. They basically worked entry level retail jobs for their entire life and when they came home they'd sit in front of the TV, eat rubbish and smoke and drink. They were also in a lot of debt. He always hated that negative attitude so much and he still hates complainypants people most of all. Also, the kids went without a lot of things, including shoes and clothing, so his parents could smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. People think it's petty because smoking and drinking are legal, but he and his siblings went without because of their parents addictions and he still holds that against them.

I do notice there are a lot of people I just can't relate to, mostly those who have (financially) supportive parents. Of course it's not their fault they grew up with money, but many aren't aware how much they rely on their parents. Even when they don't actually get supported montly, they know if there's a problem they can always ring their parents. They know they'll get a big inheritance when they're older. They can't imagine why anyone chooses a career they aren't 'passionate' about. I was actually told a few times that taking a parttime degree while supporting myself showed a 'lack of true interest' in my subject. If I'd had true "passion" I wouldn't have minded taking out a student loan. It's not their fault, but they just don't know what's it like to struggle. I don't mind my upbriging as it has given me a lot of strength and resilience in return, but it's a fact I'll never think lightly about the future. We're going to pay our home off early even though we only pay 2,2% interest on the mortgage, because we need that feeling of having a home no one can take from us. I'll always have a pantry full of staples and a small supply of soap, yarn and needles and I still repurpose old textile. I'll never rely on a man for money and I'll never give a guy access to my stash. We have a shared bank account for joint bills and the mortgage, but we keep our stash in our own accounts. I'll happily support him if he's in trouble that he didn't cause on purpose, but he can't touch my stash.

MrsPete

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Re: Poverty in childhood - did it shape you?
« Reply #73 on: July 27, 2017, 06:19:20 PM »
We weren't in the situation that we didn't have a stable roof over our heads ... food insecure .... worked on the family farm ... My mum was a SAHM and a lot of food came from our family's farm ... I started to notice the difference with other kids in school ... Any clothes that weren't handmade were hand-me-downs ... . I went to school in a fairly affluent area and that's when I started noticing my clothes weren't fashionable, that other kids had "things" like stickers and notebooks and comics ... I was a big reader and at that time the library was free for kids ... I'd never thought I'd find a partner who'd accept me for what I am ...
Wow, we are like 90% the same person.