12 People Share Tragic Memories of Growing Up Poor

5 months ago

When parents can’t afford essential things, life can become tough. Having little money growing up affects everyone involved. Even after becoming adults, those who experienced such circumstances often recall particular situations that stayed engraved in their memory.

  • We were very poor growing up. You never ate the last of anything without asking first. Portions were small and limited. When I was 11, I was invited over to a then friend’s house. I was floored by their house and furnishings — very opulent compared to mine.
    Lunchtime came. Her mom had set the table for sandwiches, with everything laid out: three different breads, various meats, condiments, and fruit. At my house, lunch was a sandwich with day-old white bread, peanut butter, and jelly. Sometimes we would have thin-sliced meats. We were only allowed two slices of meat per sandwich.
    So, at this friend’s house, I made my sandwich with one slice of ham because it was much thicker than the stuff at home. The mom kind of freaked out and yelled, “What kind of sandwich is that? You need to put more on it; that’s not enough.” I explained that’s what we do at home. They were horrified and ended up sending me home with a “care package” of food.
    My parents never let me go to her house again because they were embarrassed I told them we were poor. © OriansSun / Reddit
  • When I was maybe 9, my mom bought me a bunch of second-hand clothes and said she had a coupon for fabric, so she was going to make me some shorts to go with. They were super-duper ugly, and I whined, saying, “Jessie says that she gets $50 at the beginning of the school year to buy her clothes, and she can buy whatever she wants. Why can’t I do that?” My mom burst into tears and said, “Because I don’t have $50 to give you.”
    I have still never felt as guilty as I did when she said that, and I made sure that I never said another bad word about the clothes she made me. My mom was a rock star of a mother despite all her flaws. © chantilly_lace1990 / Reddit
  • I remember my dad always getting really excited about very cheap, mundane foods like plain puffed rice cereal, bologna sandwiches, and unflavored steel-cut oats. He would get us all amped up about it, and we would want to eat it instead of the more expensive stuff we really wanted because of how much he talked it up. Now that I am older (and as a father myself), I don’t think he actually loved all these things that much. Instead, my parents just didn’t have the money to buy all that expensive food to feed three growing boys. They sure made the best of it, though. © Rebelsoul3480 / Reddit
  • When I turned 15, my dad kicked me out of the house and said, “Don’t come back until you have a job.” Little Caesars was hiring that day, thankfully. Looking back, I realized he needed the money, and I wasn’t getting the message.
    Throughout high school, I always gave him my paychecks while working two jobs. The money was supposed to be “for college,” but it was actually to help pay rent. I didn’t know that until I turned 40. © jawshoeaw / Reddit
  • I grew up in a trailer. In fourth grade, a girl was having a birthday party and needed addresses for invitations. The next day, she told me her parents uninvited me because I lived in the trailer. That was a new thing I learned I was supposed to be embarrassed about. © ohnoooooooooooooooo / Reddit
  • On Christmases, I would always log out of my social media because I didn’t want to see all the other kids posting their lavish gifts. I pretty much dreaded the holidays altogether growing up because I knew I wouldn’t have the things they did.
    Also, never getting to build long-lasting friendships due to being switched schools every other year because we were always being evicted. When other kids would say, “That’s my best friend since preschool,” it filled me with jealousy. I never got to have that because of the constant evictions. Instead, I was always the new kid. © Sl***ed_out / Reddit
  • We grew up in a rural area with no city water, and our well was hand-dug and over 100 years old. At some point, I guess the water table shifted or something, so it was challenging. We didn’t have water to spare. I grew up taking “baths” with about 2–3 inches of water in the tub, max.
    There was no shower. Sometimes, we’d get some kind of algae in the well, and have to dose it with chlorine bleach. Then, we couldn’t drink it or cook with it for a while, but would still bathe in it. After I left home, it was a real shock to have long showers. © DontCareTo / Reddit
  • I was invited to a sporting event with my friend and her family when I was about 10. She told me the ticket was $7, so I rounded up all the change I could find. I barely had the $7 and no extra.
    We stopped on the way to the game to eat, but of course, I didn’t have enough money to eat. I just told everyone that I wasn’t hungry. It was fine; I was just happy to be going along. I kept waiting to give her the money for the ticket, but she ended up never taking it from me, even though I offered a few times. © aswoff / Reddit
  • My mom and I used to search for coins around our apartment, so I could go to the pool a few kilometers away with friends, on a gifted bike. My mom also used to cry during nights because we didn’t have any money. Then, my mom didn’t eat much for a few months because she wanted to buy me an Atari, so I could be a programmer. I’m now a successful programmer. © Unknown user / Reddit
  • We used to visit people right at dinner time. Growing up, I always thought Mom had some ridiculous timing. Turns out, they couldn’t afford to feed my sister and me dinner, so we’d pop in on some close friends that had enough. © beegeemeegee / Reddit

  • We were poor when I was growing up, had no medical insurance, and going to the doctor was something you did only if bleeding to death or in convulsions. I had just gotten a new pair of glasses when I bent over, and one of the lenses fell out and shattered. I was too terrified to tell my parents, and a friend of mine suggested that I remove the other lens and just wear the frames until we figured out how to get them repaired. I was blind as a bat without my glasses, extremely nearsighted, but out went the other lens, and I went around in a world of blur for about a week.
    Another friend came to see me, and in front of my mother, poked her fingers through my glasses frames and asked where my lenses were! My mom was shocked and told me that I didn’t have to do that, and we went and got new glasses for me that day. Crazy! © ShermanOakz / Reddit
  • I remember my mom crying one day about how she had to get silverware out of the trash that she found for us to use. I didn’t know about this, but it was really upsetting to find out as a kid just how bad things were. I couldn’t buy all of the $1 items other kids got at school during book fairs or extra items for lunch. I’m really grateful for everything my mom has done for me now, though, and I try to do as much as I can to support her. © LtWolf926 / Reddit

Some Hollywood stars have experienced poverty in their own pasts, and now they are dedicated to assisting those who are less fortunate. Find out how kind and generous they are here.


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