What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Being Poor and in Poverty?
Pros and Cons of Being Poor
Are there any advantages to being poor?
This may be a weird question to ask. Being poor is difficult, and you are often struggling day to day making tough financial decisions and trying to find ways to make ends meet. You often have to do without things that may be considered necessities by some. Most people will think that being broke is simply awful, and there aren't any advantages.
Are there advantages to being poor? Yes there are many.
What are the Advantages of Being Poor?
When you are poor, you will probably be able to get some assistance from a variety of sources. You may get help from the government, community organizations, or from friends and neighbors.
Benefit From Poverty with Assistance
When you are poor, you are qualified to receive assistance. You can apply for help from governmental agencies and social services. You might be able to get monthly stipends, help with your rent, heating assistance, and food stamps. You may be able to get free medical services. You do not have to file a tax return when you are poor. Or you may be able to get the earned income credit and receive more back in taxes than you paid. Your children may get free or reduced lunch at school. They may get lots of financial assistance to go to college or other school. You may also be able to get job training.
Assistance from People
Besides assistance from the government, you are also more likely to get help from church members, neighbors, and family members. This is especially if your poverty is due to a catastrophe or something that is not due to your own mistakes. If your house burned down, or if you have a medical problem, others are likely to want to help you.
Sometimes this assistance may come in the form of cash, but it can also have many other forms, such as an offer to live with them, assistance with food and transportation. It almost always also comes with advice, which may or may not be helpful.
Assistance from Community Organizations
There are community organizations that have set up programs to assist people with various problems. There are many different types of organizations and the programs are even more varied.
When I was younger, I worked for an organization that helped Cambodians settle into the country. We helped people find apartments and furnish them, find jobs, and learn English.
It may take some time to find the organizations and programs that meet your particular need, but it might be worth the effort. The local United Way, the local directory, the governor's office, and your friends and neighbors may be able to direct you to the resources.
Benefit from Poverty by Developing Skills
When you are poor, you develop skills that someone who is wealthier does not have the opportunity to learn. You know how to cook your own food, clean your own house, and do basic home and auto repairs, because you cannot afford to outsource that work. There are many things you can learn simply by doing, and when you are poor, you have learned to do a lot for yourself.
You may have learned how to juggle schedules when you have more than one job at a time.
You know where to find help and how to coordinate the many resources in a way that works best for your situation. You also understand the importance of a good network, and probably have strong ties with the community. You will often trade favors with friends and family.
When you are poor, you learn to make do with what you have. You are creative with finding ways to do things in an economical fashion. You also know how to do without many things that other people consider necessities.
When you are poor, you do not feel the need to keep up with the Joneses. Even if you wanted to, you couldn't afford to. You buy less stuff, which helps keep your house cleaner, and makes it easier to move from your current location to another one when the landlord threatens rent increases.
Since you buy less stuff and use less energy to save money, you are also better on the environment, and have a smaller carbon footprint.
When you are poor, you develop personal strength. You know you are capable of facing adversity, because you have had lots of practice. You know that you can handle the tough times, because you have gone through them and survived.
If you are unemployed, you have free time. Even though you may feel uncomfortable about not working and guilty for having free time, unemployment gives you time to spend with your children, to clean the house, pursue additional education, and enjoy inexpensive hobbies.
The biggest advantage is that handling adversity makes you stronger.
What are the disadvantages of being poor?
Just like there are advantages, there are many disadvantages of being poor.
You can become dependent on the help you receive. Most of the help uses an income range as a criteria of people they are willing to help. If your income is close to the outside range, it may be scary to try to increase your income, because you know you will stop getting help, and sometimes the amount of help you are receiving is greater than the initial increase in income.
Some people will look down on you because you are poor. They may think you are lazy, fat, or stupid. Many people feel shame when they are poor.
When you are poor, you may forgo nutrition for calories just to save money. By eating a lot of starches, you may gain weight. You may also have medical issues that are unresolved because you cannot afford to go to the doctor for preventative checkups.
When you are poor, you tend to have a limited network. Poor people tend to live around and mingle with other poor people. These people cannot afford to help you very much since they are barely trying to make ends meet themselves. They also lack the skills and network to help overcome poverty.
Maybe it comes from the shame, and maybe it is what causes the poverty in the first place. It feels like it is harder to get out of poverty, because you don't have positive role models to show you the way. If you don't see people going to jobs that they like, that are able to buy the things they want, then you may not see the benefits of working. Even if you know there are benefits, you may find it hard to learn how to write a resume, or make connections that help you find the resources to get out of poverty. With the help of the internet, I hope that some of these resources are more available.
Being poor can lower your morale and make you feel unworthy. When people aren't willing to give you a job, or pay you more, you may think that determines how much you are worth as a person. Even though you have the time to clean your house, you may not have the motivation to do so. You may find that it is too expensive to fix many things that go wrong in the house, and let them go. Over time, you may habitually learn to live with problems, even problems that are cheap and easy to solve. You may develop a mentality that forgets that most problems can be solved. It is easy to get depressed under these circumstances.
When you are poor, you have to do without many things that you want, and sometimes even things you need. Your credit may be bad because you are not able to pay your bills on time, causing you to pay late fees, and increased interest on loans, if you can even qualify for loans. You might have to make decisions that are bad for you in the long term, just to get cash in the short term, from payday lenders, tax anticipation loans, check cashing places, and pawn shops.
Poverty causes stress, and the stress will often be seen in relationships, as the family members argue on how to best to juggle the bills, and deal with the problems.
Tips on Surviving Being Poor
Dealing with poverty is difficult. But I do know from experience that it is possible to get out of it. Here are some Millionaire Tips on how to get out of poverty.
Take advantage of services. I have worked with several governmental agencies who were disappointed when no one was using the new service they had created. These programs are out to help you, and if you qualify, you should certainly take advantage of them. There is no shame in taking what is offered to you.
Hang in there. While you may be feeling low or unworthy or shame, keep in mind that you are not a person who abuses services. It would be stupid to not take advantages of services that are offered. What you are doing with honesty and sincerity is not wrong. You are simply getting some help in getting out of a rough spot. You will get out of that spot soon, and will stop using the services as soon as you are able.
Plan your way out. Get some job training. Education may be your key to getting out of poverty. Focus on your job and work on getting promotions. It is very scary to step out of the assistance cocoon, but it is a necessary step. Just like moving out of your parents' home is scary, because you are out in the world, possibly without a net, so is being out in the world on your own without assistance. Yes, you will struggle - you may have fewer resources for a time, but with perseverance, you will be able to get to a point where you can take pride in the fact that you do not need them.
Get advice. Get advice from people who have gotten out of poverty, who have the type of job you want, and even from people who are successful but have never been in poverty. Even if you don't know these people yet, you should try to contact them. Most people would be honored that someone is seeking their opinion.
Don't ever forget. You learned many things when you were poor. Don't forget that you you do not need to keep up with the Joneses, that you have strength that others who have not had your experience don't have. Don't forget your skills to economize and make do with less money. You can leverage your skills and strengths to get richer faster. Since you know that the minimum amount of money you need to get by is pretty small, you can save the rest and get your savings account bigger much faster than someone who is used to living the cushy life. Becoming richer day by day might actually be easier for you.
Want to know more? Please see my other hubs for ideas about saving money and achieving financial success.
© 2011 Shasta Matova
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