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Moxie

Growing up poor

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I have finally concluded I will just never be a person to whom it occurs that I could buy something. The habit of jury rigging or doing without is just my default.

 

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We never went hungry but my parents lived robbing Peter to pay Paul (not literally robbing!), not paying a bill until it was way past due, etc. One day it occurred to me that my kids have never encountered a bill collector. When the power goes out they assume it is a power issue and not that the bill wasn't paid. It is a hard way to grow up.

 

My dd has braces. We can afford the in house interest free financing for her partial set of braces. We didn't even need to agonize over it. She needed braces. She got braces. No lost sleep or unpaid bills.

 

We don't have much extra but I really felt like we had made it to be able to put braces on our dd. I found myself about to tell her not to brag about her braces to the other kids. LOL. She would have thought I was insane but it was a really big deal.

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My parents both had a mental illness.  My dad actually had a somewhat decent paying high skilled job in a factory (back at a time when one could develop in demand skills without spending thousands on an education), but they had to spend most of their money on medications and medical care.  They paid more for health insurance than my husband and I do now because my dad's employer didn't pay much of it.  My mother could not work due to the severity of her illness.  My father couldn't always work either.  Sometimes they were both hospitalized for months and my sibling and I were shuffled around among family members who were quick to let us know how much they did NOT want to be helping (my lazy ass parents who must have been faking their illnesses).  The reasons for poverty are very diverse.  It's not always about making bad choices.  Did my parents make bad choices being born with a mental illness?  I suppose they made a bad choice having kids (except people don't work that way as you know and even poor mentally ill people do stuff like fall in love and want children). 

 

Has this all made me thrifty and good with money?  Nope.  Not at all.  And I have never shopped in a thrift store.  Neither did my parents.  We mostly just went without many necessities.  (My parents did not grow up poor and never really had the mindset of poverty.)

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We don't have much extra but I really felt like we had made it to be able to put braces on our dd. I found myself about to tell her not to brag about her braces to the other kids. LOL. She would have thought I was insane but it was a really big deal.

When my kids were in public school, they sent out a notice for free dental care for public school kids who could not afford going to the dentist and was limited to a certain number of kids due to availability of volunteers.

 

From a news article https://www.mercurynews.com/2013/05/18/free-san-jose-dental-clinic-draws-more-than-2000-many-spend-night-in-line-waiting-for-fillings-extractions-root-canals/

“For the first time in San Jose and just the third time in the state, the California Dental Association operated a free dental clinic to anyone willing to wait, marshaling more than 1,700 volunteers — including 800 dentists, hygienists and lab assistants.

 

More than 2,000 people, many traveling by BART and bus from the East Bay and beyond, waited for hours on end. Some arrived as early as Thursday evening.

...

In 2009, during the height of the state budget crisis, the Legislature cut almost all funding to adult Denti-Cal, which is MediCal’s dental program, leaving 3 million low-income adults uninsured. Funding for the California Children’s Dental Disease Prevention Program, which provides preventive care in school, was cut at the same time.â€

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I'm disgusted that dental stuff is given such low priority compared with other medical things (and that it is not covered by health insurance).  Dental insurance is a joke. 

 

 

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<snip>

 

This is a bigger ticket item, but dental/orthodontic care is the place that I totally relish in being able to provide.

I totally understand. I never miss a dental appt. and make sure my children get regular cleanings and dental work.

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DH and I both grew up poor, but we have vastly different experiences and approaches to life. I grew up with a Depression-era mantra of 'use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without'. DH with the idea of 'buy it now before you don't have the money later'. They've both shaped us into different people. But I also think a bigger difference has to do with our genders. I grew up with the idea of putting myself last, as did a lot of other women. We're apologetic. We don't take first, we take left overs. It's something that is hard to overcome, even when it is necessary.

This! My dh is all about 'buy it now'. I'm mostly a 'do without'. Or at least agonize over it. I'm a pay the important bills first and figure out the rest. Dh is buy the food and needed clothes first... the utility companies will get their money... (um, yeah... when I force the issue). I get a reaction if I see a utility company van on our street.... is it coming to our house? Are we up to date? Did we forget an arrangement?

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My moment of triumph is filling the gas tank. When I was a child, one of us kids would have to take in the money, usually  $5 in hustled change or a few 'found' dollars, in to the gas attendant and have the pump set to the amount we had; we dare not go over because there was no other money to be had.

 

I feel like a queen every time I can fill the gas tank. Having the money to fill the tank is one of my benchmarks for financial well-being. That doesn't mean, however, that I actually fill the tank. DH is constantly reminding me to get gas. It's just knowing that I can fill the tank if I want to.

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When I was in my twenties, I always felt out of control at potlucks. I would gorge myself with free food, feeling embarrassed but still overeating.

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Took me forever to not always do this.  I also did this with food.  What is hard to realize is in the end you don't really spend less money.  But if you need something and don't have the money, you go with the cheapest thing because that's the only option.

 

Although I don't necessarily know what makes a quality item and am often skeptical about expensive things assuming they aren't better simply for being more expensive.  So there is that as well.

 

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that stainless steel flatware from the Oneida outlet store is going to last a heck of a lot longer than some cheapie set from Walmart. That was our first big fight after getting married because he was appalled at the price. Well, we still have that set 19 years later and it's in decent shape. The Walmart cr@p he thought I should've bought probably wouldn't have lasted a year.

 

Edited by Crimson Wife

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I do tell my husband that often the customer is just paying more for the brand name. However I had to have my clothes (including school uniforms) tailor made, shoes custom made, watches customized for my small wrist since I was a kid so I have gotten used to being critical on quality. My husband’s current job has included quality control as part of his job for the past few years so now he has gotten more critical when inspecting goods instead of me telling him all the defects that I spotted.

 

My primary school classmates who could not afford rain boots used plastic bags to cover their school shoes as they walk through flood waters to get to school. They use old newspapers or used cardboard boxes as an umbrella. Wellington boots are usually bought and worn by butchers as rain boots were still considered a luxury compared to wearing slippers (flip flops) to school or work and then changing to shoes there.

 

I agree city poverty and rural poverty are different. An aunt had a big rural home and any homeless relatives could just sleep at her big shed at night and use her big living room and kitchen facilities in the day. She could also grow enough food to feed her family just enough to not be hungry. It was however easier for my city relatives to find temporary odd job labourer kind of jobs because city folks were more willing to pay for services instead of DIY. When my cousin needed extra income fast, she could find lots of low paying but decent babysitting jobs because the number of people (and daycares) who needed a last minute babysitter in a densely populated area is just higher.

Flip flops and gumboots cost about the same here... $7 from Kmart... You might get flip flops cheaper on clearance at the end of the year maybe.

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I did not grow up poor but dh did. His mom was divorced by the time dh was 8, and he was the oldest of 6 at the time.

I could not figure out why he wouldn't get rid of the old pool table the church owns in our basement (we live in a rectory). The stand even broke, and he wanted to fix it instead of just tossing the unused behemoth. Turns out having a pool table is a symbol of having made it; growing up, a man with a pool table was seen as unbelievably rich, at least in his experience. I moved into a house with a pool table when I was 13. No biggie.

It's funny what different things mean/symbolize to us.

 

On a funny note--we had a friend who used to say that he never thought he was poor, growing up, because he could always go to the kitchen any time he wanted and fix himself a ham sandwich. How can you be poor when you can have a ham sandwich any time you want, he'd say. Took til he was in his early 20s before he learned a ham sandwich actually has ham on it.

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This! My dh is all about 'buy it now'. I'm mostly a 'do without'. Or at least agonize over it. I'm a pay the important bills first and figure out the rest. Dh is buy the food and needed clothes first... the utility companies will get their money... (um, yeah... when I force the issue). I get a reaction if I see a utility company van on our street.... is it coming to our house? Are we up to date? Did we forget an arrangement?

I notice this with some of dh's extended family. They wouldn't be as well off as we are. Bordering on homelessness and utilities cut off at times. But the kids will all have new nice up to date clothes and toys, where ours will be using hand me downs and eBay second hand stuff.

 

I don't think they are wrong necessarily to live that way it's just different. I don't seem to be able to get that mindset. If all the bills are paid and the credit card is reasonable we might get new clothes or paint the house but if not we make do with what we have. I think in part it's to do with the big expenses of life being overwhelming and I achievable so going for the small victories helps them deal with life.

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It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that stainless steel flatware from the Oneida outlet store is going to last a heck of a lot longer than some cheapie set from Walmart. That was our first big fight after getting married because he was appalled at the price. Well, we still have that set 19 years later and it's in decent shape. The Walmart cr@p he thought I should've bought probably wouldn't have lasted a year.

 

It doesn't take a brain surgeon but it does take exposure to different brands and quality items to truly know the difference. With the internet and online shopping it's a bit easier to do today but 20-30 years ago, not so much. I wouldn't have known what Oneida was when I was younger and I certainly wouldn't have been able to go to an outlet store. I think the nearest outlet center (I couldn't tell you if it had an Oneida store) was over an hour away and that wouldn't have been feasible because of the fuel expense to get there and back. So, if I needed silverware, the Walmart selection would have had to make do.

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Flip flops and gumboots cost about the same here... $7 from Kmart... You might get flip flops cheaper on clearance at the end of the year maybe.

Flip flops were a dollar from Chinatown. Gumboots were a few dollars more from the same stores but they were really useful for walking in wet markets or flooded streets.

 

Flip flops at Old Navy sells for $1 at least once a year.

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It doesn't take a brain surgeon but it does take exposure to different brands and quality items to truly know the difference. With the internet and online shopping it's a bit easier to do today but 20-30 years ago, not so much. I wouldn't have known what Oneida was when I was younger and I certainly wouldn't have been able to go to an outlet store. I think the nearest outlet center (I couldn't tell you if it had an Oneida store) was over an hour away and that wouldn't have been feasible because of the fuel expense to get there and back. So, if I needed silverware, the Walmart selection would have had to make do.

 

At the time, we were living in a place where the outlet mall was on the outskirts of town so maybe 10-15 minutes longer a drive than Walmart. And it wasn't like I was buying the flatware at a department store like Macy's.

 

Even at Walmart, though, there are better and worse quality sets. I just checked their website and they sell 18/10 stainless steel sets by Mikasa, Pfalzgraff, Reed & Barton, and Oneida. Those aren't what DH had wanted me to get, however. He would've argued those were "too expensive" just like the set I got at the outlet store.

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I notice this with some of dh's extended family. They wouldn't be as well off as we are. Bordering on homelessness and utilities cut off at times. But the kids will all have new nice up to date clothes and toys, where ours will be using hand me downs and eBay second hand stuff.

 

I don't think they are wrong necessarily to live that way it's just different. I don't seem to be able to get that mindset. If all the bills are paid and the credit card is reasonable we might get new clothes or paint the house but if not we make do with what we have. I think in part it's to do with the big expenses of life being overwhelming and I achievable so going for the small victories helps them deal with life.

Well, I should mention the kids don't have up to date clothes particularly. We use second hand shops a lot. But when he was a kid he was the kid with holes in his pants and very few clothes... and not much food.... so that is his priorities as well as the occasional big thing.

 

My parents divorced. My Mom had a low income but was careful with money.... I never felt poor at her house. My Dad had a higher income (until he didn't..... he had periods of unemployment.) And no money sense at all. He was/is also a hoarder. He would buy pool table (yes, symbol of wealth) - and it was greatly sale - one month, water cut off the next.

 

We have had utilities cut off in our family too.... my ability to fight for the bills being paid waxes and wans.... it is such a hard juggle. My kids have mostly not experienced it (my step kids have a lot) but it is often one missing payment away. When our child tax (Canadian) gets messed up it is a disaster.

 

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I'm disgusted that dental stuff is given such low priority compared with other medical things (and that it is not covered by health insurance). Dental insurance is a joke.

Mine this year was going to be $22 a week and covered basically nothing. It’s probably better for me just to put the money in savings and use it for dental bills.

My health insurance is supposed to cover pediatric dental visits, but they always find some reason to reject the claims.

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This thread is so relatable.

 

I didn't know that you could buy hamburger and hot dog buns when DH and I married. It just never occurred to me that buns were things sold in markets. DH can't eat a hot dog or a hamburger without the appropriately shaped bun. Mystifying.

 

Growing up, we always were getting calls from creditors. Mom could never control her spending... And still can't. DH and I are both professional, and we are financially careful. Unfortunately, enterprising bill collectors have started calling us (mom doesn't have a phone, so she gives out our home number). I cannot believe how a phone call from a bill collector can reduce me to a shaking mess, even though the debt is not mine and I don't usually know where she lives or how to get ahold of her. It is the trauma that just doesn't end.

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I always feel guilty when I pay to have things fixed when I might be able to do it myself.  Sometimes I feel stupid after paying someone to fix what I might have been able to fix myself.

 

It took a lot of self-restraint to not take apart my computer and see if I could fix it last August after I spilled coffee on it.  (I did take it partway apart but was afraid to go all the way.)  I can't afford to lose the data in the computer or be computer-less for more than half a day (which could happen if I made a mistake in taking it apart).  But I was tempted.  I have done it before with passable results.

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This thread is so relatable.

 

I didn't know that you could buy hamburger and hot dog buns when DH and I married. It just never occurred to me that buns were things sold in markets. DH can't eat a hot dog or a hamburger without the appropriately shaped bun. Mystifying.

 

Growing up, we always were getting calls from creditors. Mom could never control her spending... And still can't. DH and I are both professional, and we are financially careful. Unfortunately, enterprising bill collectors have started calling us (mom doesn't have a phone, so she gives out our home number). I cannot believe how a phone call from a bill collector can reduce me to a shaking mess, even though the debt is not mine and I don't usually know where she lives or how to get ahold of her. It is the trauma that just doesn't end.

Tell me you ate hamburgers and hot dogs with sliced white bread. We can’t have been the only ones. Edited by Moxie
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My parents both had a mental illness. My dad actually had a somewhat decent paying high skilled job in a factory (back at a time when one could develop in demand skills without spending thousands on an education), but they had to spend most of their money on medications and medical care. They paid more for health insurance than my husband and I do now because my dad's employer didn't pay much of it. My mother could not work due to the severity of her illness. My father couldn't always work either. Sometimes they were both hospitalized for months and my sibling and I were shuffled around among family members who were quick to let us know how much they did NOT want to be helping (my lazy ass parents who must have been faking their illnesses). The reasons for poverty are very diverse. It's not always about making bad choices. Did my parents make bad choices being born with a mental illness? I suppose they made a bad choice having kids (except people don't work that way as you know and even poor mentally ill people do stuff like fall in love and want children).

 

Has this all made me thrifty and good with money? Nope. Not at all. And I have never shopped in a thrift store. Neither did my parents. We mostly just went without many necessities. (My parents did not grow up poor and never really had the mindset of poverty.)

(((Hugs))))

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You are my people.

 

I was in a serious bicycle accident when I was 7 (on a borrowed bike). I staggered home and tried to sneak into the house to bandage myself without being seen because I knew it was hospital-level bad and we had neither insurance nor money for medical care.

 

When my parents found me in the bathtub, they did, indeed, take me to the ER. I remember crying because I was terrified that we wouldn’t have enough money for food because of my arm. My mother ended up doing some crazy work swap with a doctor so I could have the necessary PT. I have no idea how they paid the ER.

 

When I was 10, I scalded my arm with 400 degree oil from a food pantry pack of military surplus hamburgers. There was no doctor visit for those burns.

 

Every time I take my children to the doctor, I am grateful, but also a bit terrified.

 

My dad was mentally ill. He would randomly come home at an odd time and announce he’d quit his job. Every time my husband comes home unexpectedly, I panic a little.

 

I was fourteen the first time I bought clothing from a store (instead of opening a hand me down bag). The item? My first bra.

My friends marvel at my very simple wardrobe. I just can’t buy myself clothes.

 

And food? I might overbuy (yes, yes I do). I’m not an emergency preparedness person by any means, but you’d think I was if you looked at my cupboards and freezer. And I stock much less than I used to.

 

We’ve had some VERY lean years since having kids, but never like my childhood. I’m so thankful for that.

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My moment of triumph is filling the gas tank. When I was a child, one of us kids would have to take in the money, usually $5 in hustled change or a few 'found' dollars, in to the gas attendant and have the pump set to the amount we had; we dare not go over because there was no other money to be had.

 

I feel like a queen every time I can fill the gas tank. Having the money to fill the tank is one of my benchmarks for financial well-being. That doesn't mean, however, that I actually fill the tank. DH is constantly reminding me to get gas. It's just knowing that I can fill the tank if I want to.

This reminds me of how every time I asked Dss to put gas in my car he would ask 'how much?' I was always confused....um, until it is full? I asked Dh why he always asked me that and he said it is because Ds's mom was always just putting the bare minimum in her car.

 

Our gas situation wasn't on the front end....mom would fill up a tank....but it had to last a certain amount of time.....so we might not could go visit friends Sunday afternoon because the gas had to last all week.

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My husband has these reactions like some of you, and I think I need to be more understanding. I don't have this background or this reaction at all.

 

He often lashes out in a generally foul mood if there is any kind of unexpected expense, or even a reasonably large planned expense. It's like he has the "head knowledge" that all of these things are easily covered, but something is just gnawing away at him anyways.

 

It comes out in him finding any purchase-adjacent flaw (person, object or mild peeve at the wrong time) to be irrationally angry about. His reactivity usually fades when one of us notices that it's probably a manifestation of his discomfort with spending anything on anything. I'm usually frustrated and dismissive, but it sounds like that's pretty unkind of me. Compassion is called for.

 

My DH is similar.  He doesn't generally get angry, but he is often on edge and he does seem to have a fear gnawing away at him any time we have to make a large purchase or do anything unexpected. It took me a long time to understand why he is this way and that I had to let him work through his process. 

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Tell me you ate hamburgers and hot dogs with sliced white bread. We can’t have been the only ones.

 

We did that a lot. Hot dogs weren't so bad but hamburgers get the bread mushy.

 

(BTW, Eddie Murphy has a bit about this.)

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We weren’t poor but solidly middle class. At least that’s what I think. But there are two things I will note.

 

1. I was really glad that my dh called my attention to the difference between a good bargain and cheap. We are still wearing comfortable shoes we bought for a lot of money 25 years ago as opposed to the way I grew up with cheap uncomfortable shoes (for adults!) that lasted two years. I’m not saying I haven’t wasted my share of money, but it wasn’t by buying good quality in things that need to or can last. It was my being greedy— my bad. And it is interesting to me that we are both adjusting our quality standards downward now that it is less likely our shoes NEED to last 30 years. ðŸ˜

 

2. Here is the thing that I realize now that I never did understand, having grown up middle class but having a larger income as I got older: I don’t “get†what the upper class “getsâ€â€”so even if I have the money of the upper class, I don’t have the mind-set. I don’t know how to plan a top-flight career. I don’t know how to navigate the world in the way the upper classes do. It’s hard to explain. Maybe The Great Gatsby touched on this.

 

I have a friend born to the silver and she is a gem...and not a snot...but I run across issue after issue where I realize that she sees through a different lens.

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Yes to all of it.  Bread bags in the shoes, government cheese, immunizations from the mobile van that came to the elementary school for certain kids, dental check ups at school for certain kids, mom crying in the dark when I got home from school because the power had been turned off and so on.

 

Dh didn't understand school clothes shopping.  He didn't understand that once a year, in September, you went to the feed store and got 2 pairs of jeans, three shirts from the thrift store and sneakers from Kmart.  If you needed a winter coat it went on your Christmas list for the grandparents.  My mom made my sisters & I simple skirts & jumpers from inexpensive fabric or cut down from larger clothes from the thrift store.  At the end of the school year the jeans became your summer cut offs.

 

When I was in high school I took "Consumer Economics."  That was where I learned the term "check kiting," and that it was illegal.  We had been doing it since I was 8 years old.  It went like this:  My mom would give us a personal check for $50 and send us in to the grocery store that took the longest time to cash a check (5-7 days) to buy a gallon of milk.  We'd get the rest of the money in cash.  Mom would then deposit the $49 in cash into the bank and we'd go to the next grocery store with a personal check and buy $20 worth of groceries and write it for $20 over in cash.  And around and around we'd go cashing checks and getting cash to put in the bank, keeping one step ahead (or not.)  Until I was in high school I had no idea that this was not normal.  Now when it takes a long time for a check to clear I get antsy.  What if something happens?  What if I forget and my checking account drops below and is overdrawn?   

 

I still struggle with these things, but I am thankful that my parents drummed into me that education was the way out.  

 

Amber in SJ

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I have struggled, as a parent, to learn to recognize when I'm having an emotional response rather than an objective one when my child breaks things like kids do. A while ago my DS lost a piece of clothing at the park. Objectively it wasn't a big deal, it was cheap to buy and cheap to replace, we are very comfortable and can easily afford it. But I felt so much fear and such an intense urge to shame him for it. I kept it together, but my goodness, it was a wakeup call to me to notice how often I feel the urge to lash out when something like that happens, when something is broken/wasted, etc. It's been difficult to notice how this type of... I almost want to say brainwashing? is still present in my life. Really challenging, and I'm the one having it! So I can imagine that it's difficult to observe and live with in a spouse. Your post is a good reminder to me to be more clear with my own spouse when the crazy comes over me. Sigh. 

 

I was on the receiving end of this.  My parents came from the Old Country where wasting food was not a thing.  So when mom asked how I had enjoyed the beautiful, nearly perfect, orange she put in my lunch (yes, I can still picture the orange), and I answered that I threw it out, well she let me have it.  Not physically, but she gave me a lecture and a talking to that I remember to this day.  It made an impression.  So many years later I told her what an impression that episode had, and she felt ashamed for making such a big deal over a stupid orange, but I really felt like I learned a good lesson about the value of good food.  And it was difficult to share a kitchen with a DH that had no sense of that value, and no problem with throwing things in the garbage.  

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Halloween costumes.... I was always trying to figure out stuff that could be done with nothing. One year I was a 'teenager'... I wore a jean jacket I had... my sister put makeup on me. One year I was a blind person (sunglasses and a white coathanger straightened up)...

 

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This reminds me of how every time I asked Dss to put gas in my car he would ask 'how much?' I was always confused....um, until it is full? I asked Dh why he always asked me that and he said it is because Ds's mom was always just putting the bare minimum in her car.

 

Our gas situation wasn't on the front end....mom would fill up a tank....but it had to last a certain amount of time.....so we might not could go visit friends Sunday afternoon because the gas had to last all week.

We have to do that at times a day or two before payday.... trying to figure out where we need to go, versus other needs, and compard to how much money we have left....

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My mom ended up with a fantastic reputation of being able to stretch a dollar. When I say to her ' well we never had utilities shut off she looks a little wild like she doesnt believe me....but then she thinks and says well that one time the phone was almost shut off but so and so helped out.,,,

 

I really feel for those of you who had utilities shut off. I sometimes think my mom learned and lived by the Dave Ramsey philosophy of the 4 walls....

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My mom never did. Nor did we ever have paper napkins. We were allowed to have a half sheet of a paper towel if absolutely necessary (before they started making them that way). We used to think it was so neat when we stayed with our childless double-income aunt and uncle and they had paper napkins. Sometimes they even had designs on them! Lol. Now, I have paper towels in 3 rooms, a box of tissues in every spot possible, and paper napkins to spare! Even if they are the cheap store brand. :-)

I honestly don't know that paper towels/tissues etc were available in NZ when I was a child. We all used hankies and rags. Some were bought ones but most were old prices of sheeting etc that had been hemmed. I knew one family that used toilet paper but the parents were Dutch,

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A lot of your story sounds similar to mine. I was 14 when my dad died though my parents had been separated for several years and my mother started working once they separated. Her waitress job paid very little but was getting alimony and child support, both of which were instantly gone. Panic. However, though their divorce became final 2 months before he died, for whatever reason Social Security considered her a widow. I think it had to do with how long they had been married. She got a small check plus my brother and I also got survivor's benefits. We also got VA checks until 18 or 21 - I don't remember. One of them, either SS or VA went to 24 if you were in college. I was so mine continued. My brother's stopped. My dad did have a life insurance policy without which my college education would have been difficult at the least. Again my brother made a less responsible choice with his half. 

 

My mother remarried a few years later and things were better. Then one day while she was grocery shopping he left. She came home and all his things were gone. He left a note saying he just decided he didn't want to be married anymore. Since she was working and we weren't his kids, there was no alimony or child support. Panic. 

 

 

 That must have brought back some traumatic memories. I would have panicked too.

 

Same here. My brother made some less than stellar choices even though we had the same childhood. I think personality and the age you are when you experience the hardships makes a difference in how it shapes you. Yes, yes, yes to that last sentence. I cannot vilify the poor for being poor. It's never just as simple as pulling up your bootstraps. Breaking the poverty cycle is complicated and difficult and one can rarely do it without some kind of help or intervention

Yes, yes it is.And both my husband and I are conservatives/libertarians but one reason we have stopped supporting my local congressman is because of his intransigence and his refusal to vote for FEMA aid that was requested to aid Florida, Texas, CA, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, etc. Not only was that incompassionate but also probably hypocritical since I bet he has championed for federal disaster money for our state in the past.  Both my dh and I also can't stand politicians who won't negotiate about anything basically but draw lines in the sand everywhere. Obviously we have different views on how to help impoverished people politically but in practice probally not.  Because while we vote certain ways, much more important is how we spend our time and resources. My greatest joy over having my dh make more money now is that we can help more, much more and all three of my kids have a heart for the downtrodden and less able than them. And though I thought I would get my dh home more now that he can't work over 40 hours, it seems that he filled extra time in doing volunteer work and my son spents a large part of his free time doing volunteer work.  I just hope that my health continues to improve (thank you Humira) and that next year I will be able to start volunteering more-- though I am really sad that it isn't a good idea for me to go back to tutoring elementary students since I just got so sick so often doing that.

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Tell me you ate hamburgers and hot dogs with sliced white bread. We can’t have been the only ones.

 

We didn't eat American hamburgers but a Polish variant which is hamburger shaped which is also good cold.  We would eat those on rye bread.  I was born in this country but my parents didn't take me to fast food.  They never took us out to eat except when they had to on our vacations.  Mostly we went to state parks and rented a cabin and cooked there. They did a lot of things to make us not realize that they were financially stressed.  Like we went to the beach every year- it was a long day trip.  We went to Lewes State Park in Deleware.  Lower cost, nicer place than taking us to the closer, but much more expensive or with tempting stuff Ocean City MD.  We packed those sandwiches and other food and went.  We had a great time. But we would get a postcard maybe as a vacation momento usually not anything more.  

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I'm very thankful that our lean years are over. Financial stress is tough on a marriage. But, I'm also thankful for the lessons that I learned through those years. For my kid's sakes, I hope that they also need to learn how to do without things and how to budget at least for a season in their lives. I do think it helps to build empathy and gratitude.

 

For the record, I still prefer to shop at Salvation Army even though we don't "have" to!  I think the selection is much wider. It's like getting about 50 stores in one and I still like bargains. :)

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We weren’t poor but solidly middle class. At least that’s what I think. But there are two things I will note.

 

1. I was really glad that my dh called my attention to the difference between a good bargain and cheap. We are still wearing comfortable shoes we bought for a lot of money 25 years ago as opposed to the way I grew up with cheap uncomfortable shoes (for adults!) that lasted two years. I’m not saying I haven’t wasted my share of money, but it wasn’t by buying good quality in things that need to or can last. It was my being greedy— my bad. And it is interesting to me that we are both adjusting our quality standards downward now that it is less likely our shoes NEED to last 30 years. ðŸ˜

 

2. Here is the thing that I realize now that I never did understand, having grown up middle class but having a larger income as I got older: I don’t “get†what the upper class “getsâ€â€”so even if I have the money of the upper class, I don’t have the mind-set. I don’t know how to plan a top-flight career. I don’t know how to navigate the world in the way the upper classes do. It’s hard to explain. Maybe The Great Gatsby touched on this.

 

I have a friend born to the silver and she is a gem...and not a snot...but I run across issue after issue where I realize that she sees through a different lens.

 

I've experienced this, too. Until I met my DH, I always bought the cheapest variety of anything I could find. Now, I shop around and I'm grateful that I can choose between brands of food or clothing and make a decision about what's better. 

 

About your second point - the mindset - YES! I read an article about this that really made an impression. The basic point was that poor people are savers - they are really skilled at saving their money and living on less, but they never expand their money. Wealthy people have the money to risk... like on investments and trying out unlikely careers and such.

 

I definitely see the connection between poverty and living low-risk. It makes it really hard for people to ever escape being poor.

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It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that stainless steel flatware from the Oneida outlet store is going to last a heck of a lot longer than some cheapie set from Walmart. That was our first big fight after getting married because he was appalled at the price. Well, we still have that set 19 years later and it's in decent shape. The Walmart cr@p he thought I should've bought probably wouldn't have lasted a year.

 

 

Unless you've never heard of Oneida. 

 

I dunno, I have bought many items at Walmart that have lasted a long time. Not everything they sell is crap.

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Unless you've never heard of Oneida.

 

I dunno, I have bought many items at Walmart that have lasted a long time. Not everything they sell is crap.

We’re still eating off dishes that my mom got through Lucky’s stamps (grocery store) for free. I’m pretty sure our cutlery came from Target 20 years ago.

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Unless you've never heard of Oneida. 

 

I dunno, I have bought many items at Walmart that have lasted a long time. Not everything they sell is crap.

 

 

QFT.

Although when I was a kid we called it 'Wal Mart fall apart.'  LOL

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Halloween costumes.... I was always trying to figure out stuff that could be done with nothing. One year I was a 'teenager'... I wore a jean jacket I had... my sister put makeup on me. One year I was a blind person (sunglasses and a white coathanger straightened up)...

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Tapatalk

I was bubble gum and I wore all pink!

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Walmart sells Oneida btw.

 

We didn't have Walmart when I was a kid.  It was Kmart and they REALLY sold crap stuff back in the day.  Like I said, I have bought many decent items at Walmart. 

 

 

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Tell me you ate hamburgers and hot dogs with sliced white bread. We can’t have been the only ones.

Uh oh...if I'm still doing this? My parents grew up honest to God hungry and barefoot. I grew up in the '70's. I wadn't hungry but dad hunted, we had a garden and the family raised hogs at my uncles farm we butchered. Honestly I never felt bad about hand me downs, etc. By the time I cared in jr. High I worked to buy anything I thought I had to have. Maybe it is in whether it bothers you or not. I'm using my mom's, grandmothers' and MIL'S dishes, glasses, furniture, etc. It works fine. I'm happy. S'all good. *typed on my 10 yo computer :)

 

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Tell me you ate hamburgers and hot dogs with sliced white bread. We can’t have been the only ones.

 

We did all the time. Wonder Bread. You can't get much whiter white bread than Wonder Bread. :tongue_smilie:  Actual buns were a treat and we usually only had them at someone else's house.

 

Probably the only reason we didn't do the bread bag thing is because when we moved to Florida bread was still packaged in cellophane wrappers. If they had started using plastic bags while we still lived in NJ I'm sure my mother would have done that.

Edited by Lady Florida.

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My other experiences:

 

-Saving the S&H green stamps my dad collected as a trucker (and was given by other truckers) so we could turn in the books at the local S&H green stamp store for Christmas. For many years, this was the only way we had anything under the tree. I was so proud of how my dad and I worked together to gather those stamps.

 

-I was called "Scraps" by the teen group at the church I attended because I never had any money on the outings and I waited until everyone had finished with their pizzas or nachos or whatever and then asked if I could have the left overs.

 

-We were on a first name basis with the women at the consignment stores on the air force and army bases because that is where we did 90% of our shopping.

 

-We went to a restaurant once a year when relatives visited. It was called The Royal Fork (now gone, of course) and was near downtown Colo. Springs. It was a buffet and I remember always being in awe of the amount and variety of foods. I would stuff myself until I couldn't walk. It was better than Christmas.

 

--

I have often wondered if my reactions to certain situations are based on subconscious recollections of growing up poor. Like my addiction to food. And it's not even great food.  

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I remember layaway.  I hated layaway.  Once put a jacket on layaway that I was very thrilled to be getting.  I (yes I) went there weekly to pay for it little by little (it was by no means an expensive jacket...from a store that sold stuff that was even worse than Kmart) and on the day I went to get the jacket they had misplaced it.  *sigh*

 

 

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I can relate to so much of this thread.  Grew up poor with a single mom who didn't have a high school diploma until I was old enough to remember when she got it.

 

Never kleenex, only tp and the roughest, cheapest tp.  I have allergies almost year round so that was torture.  

 

 

No hamburger or hot dog buns, we always used white bread.

 

No rain boots or snow boots even unless we were lucky to have hand-me-downs from someone.  I used to get hand-me downs from my older brother, which seriously sucked.

 

Halloween costumes put together from whatever real clothes were available.

 

I still have a hard time with some things.  The kids don't have any "extra" shoes.  Dd has one pair of semi-dressy boots for church, snow boots, and sneakers that the dog actually ate the velcro so she needs new ones but since she won't wear them much before spring I'm holding off on buying new ones.  Which is silly because we could easily afford them.     Ds only has sneakers and snow boots because he won't wear dress shoes anyway.

 

I usually make their Halloween costumes and I always try and have real clothes as a base because it kills me to spend money on something they wear for one day.  Dd was a character from a game this year and I painted white leggings and a white long sleeve t-shirt.  She wears them as regular clothes now, even with the paint on them (I don't make her, she likes them).  

 

One of my pairs of Uggs that I've had for 10 years completely ripped on the inside so the heel support sticks out.  I have no thoughts of replacing them but there really isn't any reason I couldn't.

 

Oh yeah, and eating out anywhere feels extravagant and going to the movies is a big deal.  We never did either when I was a kid.

Edited by Where's Toto?
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Ok I'm seriously baffled by the Walmart comment.  There is literally nowhere else to shop where I am.  It's either Walmart or the mall.  Which...the mall.  You'll pay three times as much for stuff.  But I really have no complaints about Walmart's stuff. 

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I remember being afraid to go home at times because of things that happened that were out of my control. I knew my mom would be angry and I would be punished.

 

The one that I remember the most was my sophomore year of high school. I played tennis (with a thrift store racquet that should have been retired for years; probably why it was in the thrift store) and needed new tennis shoes. My mom bought a pair from Kmart. Kmart sells tennis shoes (sneakers) but not TENNIS shoes. These shoes were so cheap and inappropriate that the first day I wore them to practice they developed holes and were broken down on the sides. I was upset because I knew my mom had spent money we didn't have on them and she was going to be angry and I needed another pair of shoes. I ended up quitting the team and didn't finish the season because I couldn't get another pair of shoes. If  I recall correctly, I tried to blame not playing on an injury. At least that was a respectable reason for not playing.

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