What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Being Poor and in Poverty?

Updated on August 31, 2016

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.

Who knew? Being poor can be a good thing!
Who knew? Being poor can be a good thing! | Source

Benefit From Poverty with Assistance

Government 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.

A church organization tries to eliminate poverty in the UK.
A church organization tries to eliminate poverty in the UK. | Source

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.

Living in poverty is very difficult, but it helps you develop skills and build strength and endurance.
Living in poverty is very difficult, but it helps you develop skills and build strength and endurance. | Source

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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Shasta Matova

    What do you think? What are other pros and cons of being broke?

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      • profile image

        Waqar Ali Baloch Adv 3 weeks ago

        No doubt that poverty is a curse and its one of the main reason of any crime in our sociaty.

        The only way to remove poverty is Struggle in your deeds

      • profile image

        Mohammed imran 8 weeks ago

        Poor people who R mine friends also. They lack financial education which is biggest obstacle for them to break this poverty line.

      • profile image

        Richard Dong 2 months ago

        Good to read!

      • profile image

        Nice answer 5 months ago

        Nice answer

      • nina64 profile image

        nina64 6 months ago from chicago, Illinois

        I for one don't like being this way. What started out as a two income household ended up to being a single mother struggling to take care of her family. But I'm not about to let that stop me. Yes, it was very hard in the beginning but I learned to adapt and survive. Great hub.

      • profile image

        Jemimah 10 months ago

        Thanks ...very helpful

      • profile image

        Beth 16 months ago

        This article was so full of crap advice it should come with a roll of toilet paper. "Hang in there." Really? As though we have a choice. Get help from churches, neighbors, friends. Uh huh. Because everyone is just dying for the chance to take their money and give it to someone else. Government assistance? Not if you worked all your life and then suffered two catastrophic illnesses/injuries in your family. You make too much (by a few dollars a year) and never mind the nearly one MILLION dollars in ongoing medicals costs.

        Something tells me the author lives a VERY comfortable life doling out ridiculous advice about topics he's never experienced.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

        Thanks peachpurple. Sounds like you are wise indeed, having learned the hard way. Glad you are spending wisely and being tolerant.

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        very true indeed, when you are poor, you learn to spend wisely, use wisely and learn to tolerate, voted up

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

        Thank you for your comment Bob. I respect your opinion and understand that it is not easy to get out of poverty. In fact, it is quite hard work. But I did do it, so it is possible. The key is to focus on your education and keeping a focus on getting the promotions. In fact, when I got a promotion at work, I would ask my boss what it would take to get the next one. No stealing required.

      • profile image

        bob 3 years ago

        this is the dumbest shit I've ever read. your an idiot for posting it, you've never been poor if you think you can just walk out of it, it doesn't work. period. the only way you can get rich is stealing from everyone like the rich do.

      • profile image

        erick hazard 4 years ago

        poverty is a disease and it should be eliminated at all ways

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

        That's so true Tamara. It is scary to allow yourself to pass the income limit on your benefits, knowing that you will have to be on your own without help, and sometimes you may wind up having even less than you would with benefits, but it is the only way to get out of poverty. Thank you for your suggestion.

      • tamarawilhite profile image

        Tamara Wilhite 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

        To get out of poverty, don't let the income limits on benefits hold you back. If you never work full time, never take the higher paying job, you'll never get out of poverty.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

        Thanks idigwebsites. I think we should be proud of having gone through the struggle of poverty and not be ashamed of it. As you mentioned, an advantage of having gone through it is the knowledge that you are capable of going through those kinds of obstacles.

        Thanks Don Fairchild. That's true, it is a big advantage to learn how to live frugally, and if you continue to do that even when you start getting more money, you can wind up being richer in the long run.

        Thank you for your comment inthethirdperson. I am sorry that you didn't agree with my advantages of being poor. I found them to be advantages in my life. Hopefully you have found other advantages that are not listed here. I am glad you liked most of the tips section.

        Thanks Bibi. I am glad you liked it.

      • profile image

        Bibi 5 years ago

        I loved this sooo much that i've printed it and hope to present it to other people...poor people.

      • inthethirdperson profile image

        In The Third Person 5 years ago from Maryland

        I couldn't find one advantage of being poor that was listed,that I agree with. They examples were actually quite bizarre to me. Within the tips section,I liked all of them listed except the "hang in there" part.

      • Don Fairchild profile image

        Don Fairchild 5 years ago from Belgrade, ME

        I like your style, we are also frugal people. We liked to put total emphasis on our ability to "make do". By being creative and thinking outside of the box, we are able to do just about anything that people with a huge budget might do. Our generation didn't like to be dependent on others for assistance, so we would work it out for ourselves.

        And one big advantage to doing all this frugality is that you eventually end up being quite rich in the long run.

      • idigwebsites profile image

        idigwebsites 5 years ago from United States

        At least when you get to be well-off, you know the value of money -- well, anything, I guess! If you're on your right mind, you will be thankful (and not ashamed at all) that you were poor once and if you fall on hard times again (which I hope will not happen), you know how to stand up to and overcome those challenges. Voted up and useful. :)

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

        Thanks ienjoythis. Living minimalistically, you are getting great training on how to live frugally. I hope you use these skills you are learning throughout your life.

      • ienjoythis profile image

        M Carnahan 5 years ago from Nevada

        As a college student, I certainly know what it's like to live minimalistically. A great learning experience for sure. Great hub!

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

        Thanks for your comment sweepeasmom. I can see why you would feel ashamed, especially if others blame you for being in that situation, but you are a stronger person for having gone through it, and that situation made you the way you are. I am proud that I went through the struggle, because I know I can overcome it, and now I live frugally even when I have money so I don't have to go through it again.

      • profile image

        sweepeasmom 5 years ago

        I am ashamed that I was ever poor and now that I am not I'm doing everything in my power to forget that I ever was. I never wanna be without money and nice things ever again! In my opinion nothing good ever came out of me being poor. I felt worthless and discusting when I was.

      • butterflystar profile image

        butterflystar 5 years ago from A Place of Success :)

        I loved this hub:)

      • Availiasvision profile image

        Jennifer Arnett 5 years ago from California

        Millionaire tips, thank you for the warm welcome to this site. We both share a passion for frugal, simple living with the goal of financial freedom. I love your hubs and will check back frequently.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

        Thank you for your insight Availasvision. Resourcefulness, adaptability, and generosity are learned traits of the poor.

      • Availiasvision profile image

        Jennifer Arnett 5 years ago from California

        The poor have the gift of being reseourceful. They can't just go buy something when they need it. They make it or use something supplemental. They can cope better with their circumstances and surroundings. Some of the happiest people I have met have been endowed with a big heart but very few economic resources.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        Thank you for reading and commenting nina64. While it is not fun to go through, being unemployed gives you a new perspective and teaches you a great deal. I am glad you were able to find a job and have not forgotten the lessons you learned. I think that continuing to live on the lower income and saving the difference is a great way to help for those feelings that you can slip again.

      • nina64 profile image

        nina64 6 years ago from chicago, Illinois

        I can truly relate to your hub. Once upon a time, I was considered poor due to lack of employment. During that time, I learned to appreciate what I had for me and my family. Nine years later, I take nothing for granted and thank God for all that I have. Being poor is such a humbling experience and it gave me a much different perspective on life. Now I try to watch how much I spend and I try to be as frugal as possible whenever I can. Sometimes, I still feel as though I'm one paycheck from being in poverty. But, I will continue to take one day at a time. Great hub.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        Thank you carozy. When I went to college and almost everyone was richer than I was, I was initially having low self-worth and feeling sorry for myself, until I realized that I had strengths because of my background that these people did not have. I had perspective - and the little things didn't bother me as much as it bothered them.

      • carozy profile image

        carozy 6 years ago from San Francisco

        I liked your insightful article and the advice you've given I think is truly helpful.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        kshimmel - you know, I feel sorry for them too, even though many of my friends are envious. Thanks for reading and for your insightful comment.

      • kschimmel profile image

        Kimberly Schimmel 6 years ago from North Carolina, USA

        I have to agree that being poor helps develop skills and habits that are very useful. I feel a bit sorry for those who have never been poor, since they won't know how to cope if they ever fall upon hard times.

        I know how to darn socks, wash cloth diapers, sew anything, and cook with dried beans--things I wouldn't have learned if I'd been born Paris Hilton:)

      • ehsan121 profile image

        ehsan121 6 years ago from Karachi

        It is really meaninigful hub, Thanks for sharing Millionaire Tips:!

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        Thank you ITcoach. That's true, not all poor people get benefits, especially those in other parts of the world. I would like to think they get more help from charities and other people, but then I like to believe the best about everyone.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        Thanks for reading and commenting Sherry. You're right it is easy to get used to living high and let your expenses higher to fit your expanding income, but if you keep your expenses low, you are able to accumulate a savings account and get wealthier much more quickly.

      • Sherry Hewins profile image

        Sherry Hewins 6 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

        You are right Millionare Tips, when your fortunes improve it is easy to get used to living high and forget those lessons you have learned.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        Thanks Ashantina - you are forced to learn being frugal pretty quickly when you don't have the cash. The key is to use these lessons when you recover.

      • Ashantina profile image

        Ashantina 6 years ago

        ...so true. Experiencing poverty can be a great learning curve to achieving wealth quicker by being frugal :)

        Great hub MT!!

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        msviolets - I am sorry you are going through a hard time. I do not know of all the available services, but here is what I would do.

        Go to Job and Family Services (or the equivalent in your area), and ask them. If I qualified, they would sign me up for benefits and food stamps. If I had children, I believe they do Aid to Dependent Children as well. Then I would contact my heating company for energy assistance. On their form, they give you a list that asks you what other benefits you get, to see if you qualify. Try those places. Once you get one service, the other services come easier. There is also a service that gives you free basic cell phone service.

        Mostly, talking to other people who are in your shoes will be the best way to find the resources in your area.

      • msviolets profile image

        msviolets 6 years ago

        How do you find out about services you might qualify for, though? I find that in seeking ways to improve our situation, sometimes the resulting frustration and depression simply doesn't help.

        It's hard to have financial challenges, but you're so right in the fact that it increases one's creativity and internal strength. Great hub, thanks for sharing!

      • rlaha profile image

        rlaha 6 years ago from Spartanburg, SC

        Yes, life is a learning process. Thanks!

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        riaha - thanks for visiting and commenting. Consider this a learning experience that will help you grow stronger.

      • rlaha profile image

        rlaha 6 years ago from Spartanburg, SC

        This is a great hub. As a "poor" college student, I have often felt upset or sad that I cannot afford to go out and have a nice meal once in a while with my husband. He is also a grad student so we are basically just living on his stipend (which really isn't much). Food stamps have been a big help and we were lucky to be approved for them. I just hope that once I graduate I can find a decent paying job so that we won't have to use the food stamps.

      • AllSuretyBonds profile image

        AllSuretyBonds 6 years ago

        I agree with a lot of things you have written here. One big advantage to being poor may be when you finally get out of that and you become wealthier you appreciate the things you have. You do not take little luxuries for granted.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        Thank you, successful blogger. I found that my experience as a poor person helped me a great deal in acquiring wealth.

      • successfulblogger profile image

        successfulblogger 6 years ago from Los Angeles,Ca

        Very insightful.