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Dealing with being "poor".

I wrote "poor" instead of poor because I do have a job and its not like I'm starving or anything, but I am in debt and find myself having to get a second job if I want to not be in debt anytime soon. I also want to go back to school and move out of my dads house (I'm 21, not like that really matters, but..). I don't know how possible it will be to work two part time jobs and go to school, so I will probably have to put off school even longer but it seems like the longer I wait the less likely it will actually happen.

Anyway, it sucks and I know (I hope, at least) it's only temporary. I would really like to hear stories from your own lives if you are in similar financial distress. Taliking about it and knowing other people have been there too makes it help a little. To me at least.

First off, I sympathize. Big time. and yeah, the best way to sum it up... it just f'ing sucks. I've never been this poor. Ugh. So, what we do... we eat crap food. Not the best for our bodies, but right now it's the only option. Lots of nachos, rice, beans, pasta. The only time I have fruit is when I get it from an extra tray at the hospital. We eat frozen veggies. Um, lots of frozen pizza. I was damn near vegan, then we moved up here and have no money. Now cheese is so inexpensive, I eat it on almost a daily basis. I know... ick. and i'm putting off school because of it too. I work my ass off changing linens and emptying bedpans. Yeah. My advice? Do NOT move out of your Dad's. Even if you have to pay a bit of rent, it'll be so much better than paying rent, and bills, and all that crap. I'll be thinking about you man, good luck.


There was a time when I was feeding two adults on $10/wk and washing our clothes in the bathtub b/c we couldn't afford to use the machines in the complex, which were cheaper than any of the laundromats in town....

Now, I'm in better, yet similar boat....No job now for 3-4 months, and my b/f has just come back up, is in his second week of his new job, so now I'm feeding 2 (where the both of us are trying to GAIN weight!) on $25/wk..... Top it all off with gas prices, and cats that used to be able to eat the cheap stuff now needing the more $$$ food due to health issues....= savings dwindling at a massive rate to the point of me no longer being able to qualify for a new place....(I really need to move out of my current complex....neighbors are getting worse and worse/scarier and scarier, and the insulation SUCKS!!!)

How I'm dealing: "cutting" my quinoa w/ a 3:1 ratio of quinoa:rice; buying dried beans vs canned; selling my corporate/consumer soul with those cards to get the best deals (I've also found that my closest grocery store's card program can also link to my mileage plan for the airline I frequent--Hey, if I'm gonna sell my soul, I might as well get the best deal for it!!); eating more quinoa/bean mixtures vs. meat analogues; NOT using my AC, instead using fans and not turning on any lights 'till sunset where I then open the windows, only to close them at sunrise; limiting my driving, and planning my routes into a "circuit" so that I can get the most errands done in as little driving as possible; but still allowing myself $10/wk or so for "fun" whether that be my netflix plan, or a pint of ice cream, concert, or a new shirt, I make that purchase with the knowledge that it is my "treat" for the week/month, and then sticking to it!


I feel you! I'm "poor" and just plain P O O R! I was working dick jobs for years trying to scrape by--finally decided to get my ass back in school to make something of myself--5 year, 3 degrees later I am over $50,000 in debt and live off of student loans and the measly $50 I make every two weeks as a part time life's rough man--but you gotta just keep plugging away and try doing the best you can. School will eventually pay off (I hope), and until I have real money to properly live off I skimp every way I know how--I buy all my cloths from a salvation army, my produce at the farmers market, get canned food from my parents (a long with a few extra bucks for here and there), no cable, no health insurence, and I ride a bike to work instead of driving my car...that sits in my parking lot with the lowest insurence I can legally put on it! It sounds a lot worse than it is--it sucks being poor, but I figure it's the best time in my life to be this bad off--one day I'll be Dr. Capture (as pinkierbell pointed out to me earlier :) ) and hopefully be a lot better off.

hang in there and learn to stash those pennies!!!!


In self reflection....

If a friend needs something and can't get it, I get it for them.

If an animal is in need, I give.

If I see something I know a friend or family member would love, I get it.

Yet, for none of the above do I have money.  Just puts me deeper in debt.  But my heart wants to give to others.

OK, I have rambled and made myself feel worse.  I sponsor a little girl in Honduras with Foster Parent's Plan monthly.  I would sooner slit my throat than give to her.  Same goes for Greenpeace, PETA, IFAW, Amensty International, Alzheimer's, etc.  I don't think I can give up my charities.

Suggestions please.

Hugs and Veg On,


For my charities, I save my change, every year I wind up accumulating $20+ in pennies alone it seems.... It's not much, but given my financial situation, it is better than nothing!!

For friends, that goes into my "fun/just cuz" funds. If I've already spent it.... too bad, maybe next time, or I'll put a certain amt away each week for such item and save it for they're birthday/x-mas, etc....

Sorry I don't have much else to offer...


my advice, although i can't imagine you're gonna like it (i'm just up front about stuffs, no dancing around the issues with me)... you HAVE to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. FOR THE MOMENT... ditch the charities. You can still send the little girl money, but as far as greenpeace and the rest, stop. And there's obviously nothing you can do for the pet situation, although you most definitely can stop yourself from getting any more. I am admittedly not a pet owner. I have crazy allergies, and I've always lived in apartments that don't allow it, but I'm just not one of those animal people, so I can't understand the need/want to have a bunch of furry lil' friends. to each his/her own.  as i touched on in the accountability thread, stopping the cigs will help, not to mention it'll be much healthier for you! that's always a plus.


ledzepfan, the school and work is doable.  Back in the Cambrian when I was in my early 20s, I lived in my parent's home, worked 60 hours a week at Subway sandwich shops, and took 12 hours of college classes.  I did this for nearly 2 years because I had to.  It was minimum wage and no overtime because the man who owned the shops (6 franchises) put them under different corporation names so that he could work us more than 40 hours without paying overtime.  My grades were all As and Bs.  Did it suck?......BIG TIME! I had no life for 2 years but you can do just about anything for the short term.  It all depends on how much you want it and what you're willing to give up to get it. 

Maybe you could just try the double job plus school for one semester and see if you feel like you can handle it.  Or you could start out taking just a couple of classes with the two jobs and see if you feel like you can handle more.  I know it sucks to be in debt, and to feel like there is no way out...especially in this economy, but you can dig yourself out of that hole.


I've been poor all my life. My parents had a large family and a small income, even after my mother got a job (the minute I, her youngest, started first grade). My husband is not an ambitious man (ha! If he had been, he'd never have married me!) and aside from that, he was a travel agent in a country that depended greatly on tourism in those days and yet ill-treated the workers in the tourism industry. Aside from that, he lost his job 3 times in 10 years, through no fault of his own. The bosses would see all that money, lose their heads, skim their own businesses and shut down, leaving the employees hanging.

You learn about what's really important to you. I've never but once been on a real "vacation" (the kind where you go away for at least a week, see something different and stay in a hotel/motel)--because we preferred to have books etc. in the house. I am not a slave to fashion (which is almost a capital sin in this country where shopping is the religion). I buy cheap, comfortable clothes, or get them second hand. Over the last few years, I have been able to create my own tutoring job. It has dry times and floods, but it helps.

When my DH finally got a disability-retirement, he decided to spend his severance pay (not nearly what he was owed, but never mind) on doing a bit of much-needed maintenance and decorating. The apartment hasn't been touched for the last 18 years or so, and there have been some raised eyebrows, particularly in my faith community, that we, the "poor folks" of the group, actually have splashed out on new wardrobe, painting, curtains and the like. A person I had considered a friend up to then actually told me not to let it go to my head, because I might forget what's really important in life!! (When she and her husband earn like 3 times what we do, and have 2 homes and 3 cars. For 2 people.)

It can be hard to study and work at the same time but it can be done. Set goals for yourself, write them down and keep a notebook to stay on track and encourage yourself. At the age of 21 it's alot easier than it would be at 30 or 40. Take advantage of your energy and drive because as you get older it gets easier to just accept the status quo and drift along. Best to take fewer classes so you do well in the ones you take, and work to get out of debt, because the interest will eat you alive. My DH used to be a credit junkie and it is NOT good. The redecorating etc we have done has been on a cash-only basis, that way the hydra doesn't return.


Have any of you ever thought about public aid? I know society looks down upon people on government assistance, but sometimes you need it. It sounds like some of you would definately qualify. I know I'm eligible for medical and food stamps, but I'm going to get benefits at my job next month, that is if they don't fire me before then.


i'll join the 'poor' club.  i have a full time job, and get paid over minimum wage (barely), but after rent, electric, gas, water, car payment, gasoline, food (!)...  i'm barely scraping by.  i wanted to try to get food stamps, but i make just over the amount for eligibility.  after just finishing my masters' degree and mostly living off of students loans, plus whatever crappy part time jobs i worked, i'm realizing i made more as a full time student than i am as a full time employee at a law firm.  what!  granted i'm just the receptionist, but still...  plus, in november, my student loans are going to have to start being paid.  and i'm well over $60,000 in debt.

i've been trying to buy fewer fresh veggies, as much as it kills me...  and eating more tofu instead of fancy meat analogs.  most of my money goes towards food.  i pay the grocery bill for me AND my ever-hungry bf, plus we have a live-in friend right now.  plus 2 cats.  i dunno...  buy store brand food as much as possible, that'll help a lot.  try to walk or bike instead of driving.  you said you live with your dad, so maybe you don't have to worry about utilities, but i am an absolute nazi about lights being turned off and rationing water.  in the winter we use space heaters and put plastic over the windows of our drafty apt instead of using the much pricier gas heat.

i wish more than anything i could save some money after all the bills, but it's just impossible right now.  i've been wearing the same 5 shirts to work for the past 6 weeks.  not that it matters to ME that much...  but it'd be nice to like...wear something different once in awhile. 

oh well.  it'll all work out in the end.  at least we're not homeless.


We're on the poor side of things.. all our bills are paid on time, and we aren't living paycheck to paycheck, and we don't have credit card debt, but we also don't have extra money to blow on things like "vacations" or "futon replacements." I am careful about grocery shopping and try to make everything from scratch because it's cheaper. I drive as little as possible to save on gas, and we don't ever go out to eat or go to the movies.

We are saving for a house though, so I guess we could have a hell of a good time if we blew our downpayment savings. In the long run, I think a house is more important. Once I'm finished with my PhD, I'll be able to get some sort of a "real job" that pays real money and then we should be ok again. Just sometimes I'd like to be able to buy myself some clothes that fit without feeling guilty about spending money for something I don't *really* need (my current clothes FIT, they're just a few sizes too big, so they look messy and I almost lost my shorts running across the street the other day  ;D).


While I wouldn't necessarily call myself 'poor', I am a student and right now trying really hard not to get into any more debt than I have to. I'm in my final year with (hopefully) a master's degree to follow that so obviously I'm being very careful with my money. Plus, after a year in Russia where food prices tend to be cheaper and books and CDs are MUCH cheaper than in the UK, I'm really feeling the pinch now that I'm back home. is a British site but it's got some great tips and ideas for living on a budget. I recommend it :)


I had a job for  year and a half that barely made my living expenses. 
I received preliminary foreclosure notices and sacrificing food for myself in order to feed my animals.
I kept a positive outlook and was in constant search for a better paying position.
It took some time but I made it.

Here are somethings I still adhere by:

buy bulk.
cook at home, pack a lunch.
find free things to have fun. eases the mind.
dumpster if you can get with that.
sell random things on craigslist.
stay focused, keep positive.


I know I'm not reinventing the wheel here, but:
First, Comparison shop!! Make a list of the stuff you buy on a regular basis (bread, milks, legumes, pasta, whatevaaaah) and price at the shop you use, and the shops you don't. You may be surprised. It may well be worth the money to go to different places for different stuff. We do our major shop every week together at LIDL (they have excellent quality fresh fruit and veg, too) but for some reason their herbal teas are Very expensive and not good quality...they adulterate their chamomile tea with Roman chamomile which is bitter and recommended for external application more than drinking! But I can get herbal teas at our local upmarket supermarket chain very cheaply. Go figure.

Buy basic. If it comes in a brightly coloured plastic bag with big letters on the front--it's not really food!  ;D JK, but a lot of times the more loudly it's packaged the less food value there actually is.
Buy fresh, in bulk if poss. Store stuff like flours, legumes etc in tightly-covered glass jars to avoid weevils etc. propagating in your whole cupboard if you should get a bad batch (and it happens, even in trusted shops).

When it comes to condiments and stuff to make your food tastier, plan to buy one or two each month or so until you have the "must have" shelf filled. For example soy sauce; I buy 5 litres at a time and it lasts me forever. Then the next time I might get some rice wine vinegar, or lime pickle, or whatever. One jar can last a long time, and this way you space out the purchases.

More is not necessarily better. I learned this in buying besan. Bargain-hunter to the bone, I went for the cheaper 2 lb bag...and realised it would probably go bad before I can use it all! For one person, it's like a year or so's supply. So I gave a friend part of it, and still have besan out the wazoo. The difference in price isn't justified if you end up tossing part of it because it went rancid before you could use it...and with no big freezer available, it's a valuable lesson.

Make large batches of soups, stews etc. and freeze half. Then when you're rushed you can just defrost something. Portion it out into meal-sized containers for however many you'll be feeding.

Decide what's most important and go with that. I don't wear makeup, don't care much about fashion, but love movies. So my clothing budget is minute, and  I watch for DVD bargains and do the second-hand book run about once a year. I also offer to relieve my student friends of any English books they have that they don't want to keep or haul home with them when they leave. As we only go once a year, taking the train down to the coast, having a meal and doing the book run is also our "all summer in one day" vacation. A lot of people don't understand this, but I'd rather buy films and books I can read/watch again and again than spend the same price on movie tickets for 2. I never buy a film I'm not friends with. (I have done that about twice and lived to regret it.)


mehh, I'm joining the club.  I also have a full time job but after all the bills esp STUDENT LOANS my monies is practically gone!  Really stinks to be in this sort of position...keep a high head fellow poor veg*ns things will look up eventually.


Some people, like monks, choose to be poor. They say with lack of choice comes freedom and acceptance and a quiet mind. Maybe there's a way you can find some benefit from it. They also say that the more you have, the more you want, and that we're always looking to the future instead of living in the moment, as a result. I did that a ton in the past, like.. putting life on hold until I was able to deal with it. It's one way to cope..

I've been through periods when I lived off like a dollar a week. I found I did things, attended events and interacted with people in ways I never would have if I was not in financial distress.  Great perspective and makes you realize what's important.

Just adding a different perspective. I know how stressful and hard it can be, and I hope it passes for you soon (which it will).


So, today during my lunch break, I went to the Steak and Shake across from Wal Mart to get an application (they have a "Now hiring servers all shifts" sign on the billboard). As soon as I saw the "kitchen" area, I had flashbacks to working at McDonald's (for two years!) and bolted. If I can help it at all, I refuse to work at another fast food place! Not just for my pride, it's very unvegan and totally against my morals to pawn disgusting unhealthy food that I myself would never eat. And I'm over smelling like I swam in a vat of grease after I get off work.

My plan is to go to every single non fast food place I can think of and if I don't hear anything from any of them in a week, I'll hit the fast food joints.

Also, I arranged to have $50 from my pay check to be put into my savings. I figure if I don't touch it and keep it up for the rest of the year, I could have quite a stash. I also plan to put $50 from my future second job pay check into savings.


for years, I worked a babysitting/nanny service.  you told them the hours you could work each week, and they called you with the jobs available.  I made great money for that type of work.  I did regular siting jobs, worked parties, took kids to opryland, to the dr. to karate, etc etc.  I did this long after college, and off and on when I needed extra money


Don't let the current situation of being without ruin your mentality.  All of your hard work will pay off in the end.  I grew up in a "poor" situation and it was pure hell. I am glad that I did though, because now I know how to cherish people and simple things.  We are such a consumer driven society that if you don't have everything that your neighbor has, then you are considered a "has not".  Look in the mirror each day and proclaim that today will be better than yesterday and tests and trials only come to make you strong. 

Cabbage, carrots, potatoes, frozen veggies and rice go a long way.  The other day I made mashed potatoes, green peas and baked beans and my children proclaimed me "Top Chef".  See, it's how you start out that makes the difference.  I hope my rant made sense to someone out there.  ;)


I applaud all of you hard working, people with integrity and pride and respect!  Having these experiences will build charachter and give you values you well keep with you all your lives, you will all be successfull and respected by your peers!  I am far from "poor", luckily my husband has a good job and I am able to work a little and mostly stay home with my kids, but I still buy all my clothes at goodwill, make my own jam and can all summer long for the winter months (and freeze a ton of veggies too) pinch and save as much as I can,  I don't even have a credit card.  All this I do out of habit, probably from growing up so poor, we never had anything.  I clip coupons, cook and pack lunches,  I rarely buy anything new and am carrying the same purse for the last 3 years.
As a family we are very frugal, we spend time together and our entertainment is at home most of the time, biking, playing outside, spending time together.  On our recent vacation, I packed picnic lunches, snacks and drinks and we only spent money on gas-stopping for picnics in parks, while the kids played-what fun! Again, I am proud of all of you!!


Woohoo! Well, I don't know if this has anything to do with me being poor but, I just applied to an online college and the application fee was waived because my dad is still in active service with the Army and I can get a 50% grant for tuition! Today is certainly turning into a good day! Which will only continue until I go back to looking for a second job.



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