Family or Marriage Finances & Money

Thinking Poor?


Hi I’m LivingAlmostLarge (LAL) from LivingAlmostLarge and LAL Musings. I’m a twenty-something DINK who writes about my journey to financial freedom. I hope to one day achieve financial freedom and live large.

Is it possible to achieve financial freedom and live large when just working a 9-5 job? I hope so. Because most books say true financial wealth is built from owning your own business. But I’m thinking, living within your means, spending wisely, and planning carefully will allow me to achieve living large.

Thinking Poor?

I never thought I was poor growing up. I never felt as though I had less than others. I always felt like I had so much. I seriously had no idea that people had so much more than what I had. I always had food, clothes, shelter, and my family around. My life was very rich and fulfilling. I never felt deprived.

But “DH” (dear husband) grew up feeling very deprived. His parents made quite a lot of money compared to many others families during the 1980s, but they were stingy. He never had an allowance and often felt like his parents were the cheapest people in the world. They often complained about money and made their children feel like they were “poor”. They would complain about waste and constantly make the children feel that they were worse off than everyone else, though with a dual income family of professionals they were easily middle class.

My in-laws also did a lot of things I consider cheap, not frugal, including setting up an allowance system for the children but then refusing to pay the children. It made my DH wary of trusting people to keep their word about payment. Or my MIL would put the allowance in the “mommy bank” and when asked for it at a store, she would say the money was lost or not receivable. So my DH constantly felt they were “poor” and could not afford anything. He would beg for money and worked for his dad at his business but was never paid.

Thus my DH grew up thinking he was poor. Yet since he’s become an adult and paying his bills he’s realized that they were actually pretty well off. That his parents had money, but they would treat their family cheaply and made their children believe they were poor. When in truth they were middle class. And how can a working couple be poorer than a single income parent?

My DH says if you believe you are poor, you act poor. And you pass on this belief to your children. You believe that you cannot afford anything, that you must stretch every dollar because you aren’t “worth” spending money on. That your “wants” show your avariciousness.

I’ve broken him of that belief. That anything above and beyond austerity is “greedy”. The reality is money doesn’t buy happiness, it’s just a means to get closer to it. And you should teach your children a balanced approach to spending and saving. And teaching them to think poor can be just as detrimental as teaching them to keep up with the Joneses.

Do you think poor?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Interesting idea. I guess I never thought of myself as “thinking poor”.

    You are right though, I had the same thing growing up… we ‘sometimes’ had an allowance but rarely ever got any money, we always slaved away at chores for nothing, we were always denied things at the store (though probably because we didn’t deserve it due to behavior).

    I had the same realization in college. I thought I grew up poor since we never got any money for spending and my parents always complained about how little money we had. Come to find out we were really not bad off, they were just cheap.

  • Funny. Mr Chiot’s and I grew up in a similar circumstance. My parents (having chosen a profession in charity work) didn’t make much, but they felt fortunate for what they had. We lived below the poverty line but never knew it. They refused help (like free school lunches for us) because they felt if they could make due without it they should. We grew a HUGE garden in the summer and canned & preserved all of our own food. My dad hunted for meat to and took on small side jobs for extra cash. We never felt poor, but we understood what it was like to live within a budget. My parent would give us a set amount for school clothes and we had to bugdet it out.

    Mr Chiot’s grew up in a household that always complained about being poor but always had money for frivlous thing (cable, eating out, etc). They lived paycheck to paycheck and needed help from relatives for large unexpencted expenses. His family always made more than mine, but somehow never had enough. He had to start working as soon as he could to earn his own spending money and in high school he had to get a job to buy his own groceries & personal items.

    Now, my parents are set for retirement because they were smart with their money and still live frugally. His mom is still broke and is expecting us and other family members to support her. Interesting.

  • It’s a good lesson for parents to teach but I think they may have taken it to the extreme. I understand the concept, but don’t necessarily agree with the tactics. I was fortunate that my parents could afford most things for me growing up. But I respect how they handled different money situations. I had an allowance, and was taught responsibility. I also essentially had to earn allowance by helping out with house chores. If I wanted something, I was taught to save up for it. Look for coupons and sales. There are different approaches parents could place on children and no one is the one and only way. I think teaching discipline and balance and hard work with money and to show how to appreciate money is the best way.


  • Good post! Identifying where your pre-conceptions about money come from is the first step in developing a healthy financial life as an adult!

    I feel like I did grow up poor. We never got an allowance, there was sometimes a promised cash bonus for getting A’s in school. By about 7 or 8 years old I knew we couldn’t afford lunch or medical care or glasses on our own and more than a few Christmas’s it was obvious we were the recipient of church or toys for tots gifts, especially after my parents divorced.

    I don’t remember if we ever got to buy things in the store, not anything more than a stick of gum. I see kids in the store pitching a fit to get such and such toy/action figure/princess doll and I think that can’t be the way to do things.

    Because of growing up this way I was driven to finish college and get into a career that I knew would make me better off than my parents. After a few years of living large off the money my husband and I were making, buying a house and getting into some debt, I started to learn about finances, budgeting, savings for the future etc. I am now trying to turn it around and live without consumer credit cards (once they get paid off). I am excited to bring my new knowledge to my children when we have them, and give them a head start that I never had.

    I don’t think of “thinking poor” as a negative for me, it balances nicely with my husbands tendency to splurge. When we need to buckle down and save money he hears me out and when we are in need of small/medium/large splurges I often agree that it was money well spent.

    Money definitely won’t buy happiness, but knowledge can! Something I read a while back that has really stuck with me is getting out of the “we can’t afford it” mind-set and into the “I chose to buy a truck so I need to spend less on dinner/movies/happy hour”. This is all based on knowledge and making/identifying your choices instead of feeling like it is all out of your control. A good lesson for everyone regardless of their upbringing!

  • @Kimi – Kind of sounds like a scam. I’m glad it is working great for you though I would prefer to understand the principles behind what the program is telling me to do and manage it myself.

  • Danielle,
    That’s the beauty of this program. If you do your due diligence, as I have, you will understand the principles behind what the program is telling you to do and in point of fact you do manage it yourself and are in total control of all of your finances at all times. I love the total full view of my financial picture at all times and the fact that it is a proprietary web based program and learns and reacts to one’s lifestyle which makes money moves based on true cost factors and allows one to make better financial decisions. I am not one to pour over an excel spreadsheet especially when there is a program that will do it for me and, more directly, due to factorial math. I feel it is a service well invested in toward my own debt free living and will continue to share the opportunity with others. Once you have an analysis done then you can see, for yourself, prior to any purchase, and if you even qualify, what the service can accomplish for you. I thought it was too good to be true at first but when I saw the math well, numbers don’t lie and I took a leap of faith and grasped this new paradigm shift in the way I bank and am getting ahead as guaranteed. Have your analysis run and we’ll talk more.

  • Thanks to CleverDude to publishing my post. But it’s not about teaching children money management really. It’s more about teaching children how to view money.

    And being “Cheap” can be detrimental. And not paying someone an allowance that is “promised” is breaking your word. And if you have no honor or no value in your word, what lesson about honor and values have you taught your children?

  • I agree. Micah’s parents were very poor…he remembers when they crossed the poverty line. And he thinks that no child should know just how poor their parents are (or how rich, really). His father has been fighting a long battle with depression pretty much forever and exposed him to a lot of worrying aloud that they’d never have money to pay the bills (compounded with phone calls from debt collectors when they didn’t) as well as general lamentations that it was all worthless.

    Pretty much scarred him. But he also knows that even if we were poor, we could survive, get by, and do better as his parents have eventually done. So he’s taken some good stuff out of that.

    Sometimes I want to yell at his dad for having children if he was going to expose them to such overwhelming negativity and obviously couldn’t support them until the oldest was in his teens. But that’s not constructive and he’s already sad enough.

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