I Enjoy Being Poor

By Maureen K.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would like being poor, I would have called you crazy. Both my husband and I had just lost our jobs and we were just coming to the realization that we were no longer going to be able to live the life of luxury that we had been living up until that point. In one fell swoop, we had gone from being able to afford basically anything we wanted to being poor.

I must admit that the first 6 months weren’t pretty. There was a lot of resentment and complaining deep inside that came out much too often. It wasn’t fair that I couldn’t have everything that I wanted or that I had to make sacrifices that I never had to make before. It was a rough period and there was a lot of shouting, accusing and bad attitude as we were adjusting to our new financial circumstances.

But a funny thing happened after that. Once we began to adjust to not having the money we used to have, being poor wasn’t nearly as terrible as I had imagined. In fact, there were times that I downright enjoyed it.

I get to spend more time with my family: Since we no longer have the money to pay for entertainment that used to occupy our time, we now entertain ourselves. That entertainment has come by spending more time together.

Life has slowed down: When we had a lot of money, there always seemed to be a rush about everything. We needed to go there, we couldn’tmiss that. The lack of money has made me (and my entire family) a lot more relaxed and easy going.

We have a lot more family projects: When we had money, we were more of a group of individuals that a family unit. We each did what we wanted and often ignored the other members of the family. Now that we are all required to stay home a lot more often than in the past, we have come together and do family projects. We recently repainted my daughter’s room together. In the past, we would have hired out this work to others.

We play a lot more games: We do play more games as a family like scrabble and cards, but we also turn a lot of the ways we save money into games. For example, we now have a contest where we see if we can cut the amount we pay on our utility bills each month. If we succeed, 50% of the savings we manage to save is used to go out for a meal, ice-cream or some other treat.

I now know our needs: I thought I knew our needs when we had money, but I had been greatly mistaken. Technology and habit blinded me from reality. The fact is that there is very little that we actually need: shelter, clothing, healthy food and water, a safe neighborhood. A lot of the gadgets and toys that I once thought I would die without turned out to not be necessary at all.

We eat better and together: Meals used to be on the run, usually prepackaged and often eaten outside the house. When we could no longer afford to do this, it was surprising how much better we began to eat. I cook a lot more from scratch and we have a lot more meals as a family unit than we used to.

We waste less: When I look back to when we had money, I am shocked at the amount that we used to waste. I didn’t think I was wasteful then, but now that we must use as much as we can, I realise that we were incredibly wasteful.

Life is more fun: I can honestly say that life is a lot more fun that it was when we had more money. There is a lot less stress now that we have learned to live with the amount that we make and knowing that even if we don’t have a lot of money, we can still get by.

This is not to say that I hope to always live this way. it can be tough being poor and having to make decisions about how to spend a limited amount of money that I would rather not. However, I do hope that when we are making more money and can afford a lot more than we can today that I can remember the new found attitude that I have and the joys that I may have never found had I never been poor.

Do you have a story about saving money or earning money that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it.

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23 Responses to I Enjoy Being Poor

  1. jamie says:

    Hey, nice article. I’m glad you’ve cut back on stuff. One thing though…usually “poor” is reserved for people who sleep on subway grates in Philly with no shoes. What you’re experiencing is just how most of us have to live everyday. 😛 Good luck and nice post!

  2. john says:

    I went through this about 10 years ago. Eventually you’ll get back up and making good money again – it’s cyclical.

    The difference is – I hope – as it was with me – next time you don’t spend it as fast as it comes in.

  3. Inneedofhelp says:

    I am not sure that “poor” is the right word in this article, as poor is really subjective.

    What you describe is having enough to get by, but frugally, where the emphasis is more on family and love, than on status and superficial items and whatnot.

    However, growing up poor—to me that means getting food from soup kitchens, not having enough to eat, having clothes that have been stitched and restitched, is NOT fun AT ALL. And I would not want to raise my future children like that.

    I am ok with being able to have a roof over my head, clean and tidy clothes on my back, an emergency fund, and food on the table. I think that would be comfortable to me, and i wouldn’t care if I were driving an old car or not being able to take extravagant vacations.

    But being really poor, I don’t think that is something that causes joy. Most of those living in poverty right now would probably agree.

  4. Jackie says:

    While poor was maybe not the right word, the gist of your article was great. It’s amazing the turns life can take and I’m proud of you and your family for turning a negative into a positive. You could have still been wallowing in your diminished (financial) circumstances instead of realizing that it’s taught you to be a closer family.

    Good on you.

  5. Nice article.I admit sometimes we need to lose something to get something.I’ll go for family first than money.

  6. nor says:

    blessed are the poor for they will inherit the kingdom of God

  7. Noel says:

    Frankly, its just how you define it. In the US and most of the western world, we have just too much on our plate that we don’t really need. Still we get it because our money can buy. I feel like more than half of the world lives like as you say here, more than 1 billion people sleep hungry every night. And you are none of these so I doubt if you can really call yourself ‘poor’. Certainly, glad to know that you managed to cut down, may it be due to the job loss.

  8. Annie Jones says:

    I’d have to agree with many of the others who’ve commented that saying you’re poor may have been poor phrasing. You are still living very well compared to many people in the world…many people in our own country, in fact.

    I am, however, so happy that you’ve discovered the simple pleasures in life. Some of us have always lived this way…either out of necessity or because we just like the slower-paced, more enjoyable lifestyle. I’d have to say for us, it’s a little of both.

    Here’s hoping you’ll continue to enjoy the simple life even after your financial situation improves.

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  10. ppindia says:

    I Agree the title of the article is not correct. Losing your job does not make you poor. Poor means having to struggle to get basic things like food, clothes, water, shelter etc.. which you may or may not get. And may be having to make a compromise say between getting new clothes or good food or Holiday and sending your kids to school.

  11. Gail says:

    You have obviously learned some valuable lessons that I trust will stick with you and your children for a long time!

  12. Heather H says:

    We live like this not out of necessity but out of making good choices and we are not poor, we have a large house and fancy car, our kids do chores, value money, do not waste and are happy with clothes from goodwill and I have also started upcycling. I coupon and rebate and we even cut cable and make 6 figures so its a good way to live even if you are not forced to and helpful in the track towards being more green as well! Frugal is a better word for this article, we are not poor far from it. Frugal should be a positive word.

  13. Hazel Watson says:

    People may disagree with your use of the word “poor,” but for a title, it really demands attention. It certainly got mine!

    And…relatively speaking, you may feel “poor” after being more affluent.

    I do agree with whoever said: “I may be broke, but I’m never poor. Poor is a state of mind.”

  14. valletta says:

    The word isn’t “poor”.
    The word is BROKE!
    Big difference 🙂

  15. David says:

    You’re absolutely right. Being poor alleviates a lot of unnecessary responsibility. Your entire life is freed up to just surviving at whatever level you can. The government will supply food, shelter, and medical needs. You supply getting your life and home in order. Your kids can go to school free and get grants to go to college later on. All us upper middle class folks don’t know what we are missing. Most truly poor people don’t even know they are poor. My family was poor in the 50’s and we never missed one day of family fun. We were together and supportive of each other. Life was good. Now 40 years later, and $110K
    each for my wife and me, life is HELL.

  16. hmmm says:

    Sounds like you’re not really “poor” but just less well off than you’re used to. When you are truly poor you don’t get the luxuries of more family time because you are so busy trying to make enough money to feed yourself and trying to get from one place to another on the bus in the rain. I know there are a lot of people out there that would like to think that poor people don’t have it that bad and that way they don’t have to harbor any guilt for the life of excess that they possess, but let’s not delude ourselves. Being poor sucks.

  17. Hate poverty says:

    I am living proff of losing it all in one swoop. From owning 3 homes and a landlord to just lose it all to the banks. Homes are no longer an investment in America. The American dream is dying. The middle class is becoming welfare and dependent. The rich getting richer and the poor get to “Service” them. Being the “help” is degrading. I find no joy in being poor and not being able to buy school clothes and the simple things like underwear or a backpack for my kid. Kid yourselves as much as you like. The bottom line is it’s a stuggle to remain upbeat and “pretend” life is normal. We still need basic essentials. It is a horrible place to be. yes, I can play board games with my family then go cry in my pillow wondering when my nighmare life will change. All this hogwash of how wonderful it can be. You must not be wearing my shoes at all. Your still going to french reataurants and buying clothes at department stores. Instead of the salvation army and still thinking “wow, 3 dollars for those used jeans is too high”. Please people. One can find more time with your family when poor, however the kids know it sucks, the parents know it sucks. Trying to figure out how cheap can we go to feed our family for the night and wondering about how we are going to do it the following day is a pure nightmare. Buying food at the dollar store is not Happiness for me. Other comments listed here obviously are not in my position to speak on this matter.

  18. Dan Conner says:

    I prefer working low-wage jobs (9-13 dollars per hour) that allow me more time to spend with my friends, family and my dog.

    I was earning over 55k a year before I quit and started to simplify my life. I moved to inner-city to take advantage of public transportation. I walk to my destination if the distance is less than 5 miles. I no longer own a cell phone, television or computer (currently using my friends). I eliminated politics from my life as well, since politics is nothing more than a stress-inducer. I only read the local paper.

    Have you ever noticed that we spend so much time doing things to please random strangers? We buy a new car so strangers will not criticize our older car. We buy the latest clothing styles to avoid being judged by strangers. We try to gain specific job titles to prevent strangers from laughing at us for having more common job titles.

    Some people may call me lazy, but I don’t care anymore. I work enough to survive. I will not allow myself to spend the majority of my living years stressing over work, bills and retirement.

    Most people in this World earn less than an American who is below the poverty line. Also, most of them own only a fraction of what an American below the poverty line owns. Get this; most of them are happy.

    We are responsible for most of the additional stress in our lives. You don’t have to be a product of your environment. We are not powerless over this money-obsessed, over-consuming, geographical phenomenon. Poverty is relative. Live simple and enjoy life. Stop doing things to impress others and unnecessarily boost your ego. You wouldn’t need an ego boost if you didn’t put so much emphasis on status and image. I have never met someone in their 80’s who stated that they should have spent more time on the clock.

  19. Alfredo says:

    Hey Dan, I agree completely with your comment, its exactly what I want to do with my life.

  20. Allison says:

    Well said.

  21. alison says:

    Hi David

    i read your response and can really feel your pain
    if it really that bad
    just let me know i’m sure i can turn that around for you 😉

  22. alison says:

    that will be because you live in America. with no sense of all being in it together because like us in the uk you are not

    take a look at the child well being chart. all the countries where the gap between the rich and the poor is huge… they are the countries that our children are the most unhappy a child’s happiness is a great way to assess a nation my country the UK came at the bottom of that list
    yet the Ukraine came above us as did many more equally treated societies the reason for our unhappiness is capitalism. and its going to get allot worse pretty quickly if we do not address this … the only people who can address this are us who sit here complaining or work our buts off and stay quiet. cause no fat cat is gonna budge till they realize there is not slave left who will do their dirty work they are quids in . i cry too i cry cause i just want my children to have what others have or what the media would like us to think that all others have as the norm

  23. Dave G. says:

    It’s really not that bad being poor in America. For one thing, it’s easier to get food stamps now. Bargain shopping at thrift stores is fun. You can buy older electronics at a mere fraction of the original price. You can rent movies and read books from the local library for free with a library card. With an older computer equipped with a simple dial-up modem, you can go online and read newspapers, and even educate yourself for a low monthly cost. Coupon clipping is also fun. If you’re really good at it, you can save up to 75 percent off your grocery bill! Taking the city bus is reasonably cheap. It’s fine as long as you sit near the front of the bus. You can meet a lot of new friends at the bus stop. You’re not living in the hustle and bustle of the rich people, so there’s far less stress at tax time. There are just so many things you can do for free and still enjoy life. I th9ink I may even write a book on the subject.

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