Man Shares How Growing Up Poor Affects His Spending, Many Others Chime In

Person reaching hand into wallet
Unsplash | Derick Anies

When you grow up poor, it can be incredibly difficult to shake old habits once you have a few dollars in your pocket.

Once you finally — finally — make enough money to not have to live paycheck to paycheck, it's a huge relief. But what do you do with that money when you've never properly budgeted before?

One man on Twitter shared how growing up poor affects his spending as an adult, and it certainly struck a chord.

Brandon kicked things off with this tweet.

Brandon described a common experience for people who grew up financially insecure: since he has more money than he did growing up, he wants to treat himself to quality goods. But since he wants to treat himself to quality goods, he feels guilty because he isn't really budgeting.

Terry Pratchett always has wise words.

This quote from author Terry Pratchett sums up a certain part of the human experience in a nutshell. It's both an endorsement for spending extra for quality products (like Brandon does), as well as an indictment of the self-perpetuating nature of poverty.

About that Pratchett quote...

This is a fair point for sure. That said, the people who are chasing trends are often investing in fast fashion, not quality fashion. They may be buying a new pair of shoes every week, but they're probably not aiming for quality.

Wealth doesn't last forever.

Sure, the ultra wealthy probably don't have anything to worry about. But for the average wealthy person, circumstances can change. Consumer debt increases every year, to the point that Americans now hold a whopping $15.31 trillion in debt collectively.

We spend a lot of time worrying about being rich or poor.

Wealth and poverty are the two extreme ends of the spectrum. It's all too easy to worry about being poor, or worry that you're not rich enough, when the reality is that most of us sit somewhere in the middle.

I'm not so sure about this.

Mainstream culture's fascination with the hustle mentality has taken a hit in recent years, but it's still there. This person seems to be saying that it's as simple as making lots of money while having great mental health.

That may be the goal, but getting there is the problem.

If you don't understand...

This tweet puts it perfectly. If you grew up poor, your family likely had to budget — but you didn't really have to budget, since you were a kid. Now, as an adult, it isn't like you're going to have innate budgeting skills.

So many factors go into our trauma.

Food insecurity is, sadly, quite prevalent in the United States. Not having enough food on your plate has a negative psychological effect, one that doesn't fully go away even if you're no longer in a food crisis.

The echo effect lingers on.

Do you have a grandparent or parent who dealt with food rationing during wartime, or food shortages in the years after a war? These experiences have a way of manifesting themselves later in life, as this study shows.

Should we live in the moment?

No one wants to live a life where they can never spend money on fun things. But no one should be spending all their money on fun things. Where's the line? This is essentially the crux of the issue.

"You're welcome."

The self-congratulatory tone here isn't great, but there's still a kernel of truth here. At the end of the day, while it's important to understand our traumas, we eventually have to figure out a way to budget, come hell or high water.

Make peace with it or change it?

I feel particularly seen with this tweet, as I had a comfortable middle-class upbringing. But internet shopping is so satisfying and so easy that it can be hard to say no to myself at times.

Sometimes you just overthink every dollar.

When it comes to bills, rent and mortgages, we just accept that we'll have to pay a substantial percentage of our earnings in order to keep a roof over our heads. But optional purchases are a different story. Sometimes, it gets to a point where it's all too easy to stress over every single dollar.

A different kind of financial problem.

This person saves — which is good! But it seems like they save so they can just spend it all later on. This actually gives them more in common with Brandon than they think. Both parties have anxiety over what they're spending their money on, only this person adds in the saving step.

It's hard to spend big chunks of cash.

Back to the bills/rent/mortgage example: it's totally common to spend $800 or more every month on your home, but dropping this kind of change on a tangible item just feels different. The anxiety of worrying about that $800 laptop breaking can be too much at times.

Sometimes, indecision saves us.

Personally, it almost feels like a relief when this happens to me. I get all geared up to spend money, then overthink the purchase. Eventually my indecision wins out and I go home with nothing. It can be kind of a good feeling.

Some people who grew up poor learned valuable lessons from the experience.

It's important to be aware of our luxuries and our luck, and to not take anything for granted. As for how to grow up poor and just become an adult who makes smart financial decisions? It's a process.

Here's a rule of thumb.

Not gonna lie: this budgeting is kind of depressing, since it only budgets "whatever is left" for fun purchases. But if your goal is to become a responsible budgeter, you have to eventually draw the line somewhere.

There are different ways to go about it.

I once had credit card debt. It was a relatively small amount, but the stress of carrying it would keep me up at night. There are ways to leverage it to your advantage, but it can also be a source of anxiety.

How do you budget?

Person reaching into a wallet
Unsplash | Derick Anies

How did your upbringing, whether it was rich, poor or somewhere in the middle, affect the way you spend money as an adult? Let us know what you think of these tweets, and share your own experiences, in the comments with us.