Things Poor Kids Know

Being poor is tough. Whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, it doesn’t matter. But being poor doesn’t impact anyone worse than the kids who are raised in poor households. These are some of the lessons that poor kids have learned.

We go to the doctor when we’re sick, but mom doesn’t.

We have to move a lot because sometimes we can’t afford the rent.

I don’t always tell my mom when I need school supplies. I can tell it makes her 
nervous.

Having to print something for school gives me anxiety. Our printer doesn’t always have ink. It’s easier for me to just get a bad grade on the project than admit to the teacher I can’t afford to print.

Ditto homework that requires the internet. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t. People say “use the library” but there’s not always gas money to get there and they are only open one evening a week.

Healthy snacks are expensive. Ramen noodles are cheap.

My grandmother criticizes my mom for not feeding us more healthy food. What she 
doesn’t understand is that healthy food usually costs a lot more.

We can never get the chicken nuggets at McDonald’s. We have to order from the 
dollar menu that mom calls garbage food.

I don’t wear different clothes every day.

We have to buy all white socks because if one gets lost or torn up, it may be a 
while before we buy more.

I sometimes dread the summer and weekends because at school, I eat two meals a day.

I’ve never tasted any of the cool cereals that my friends talk about.

When I get money from relatives for my birthday or Christmas, I use it to buy 
things I don’t want to ask mom for, like
hair products and underwear.

My hair nearly always get too long between haircuts. I got sent home from school 
once because of it. Mom cut it herself.

Other kids make fun of my clothes.

I know what it’s like to be really cold in the wintertime.

We wear our jackets and gloves in the house in the winter.

I got my first job babysitting when I was 14. I couldn’t spend the money. We 
needed it for bills.

Sometimes we have to put stuff back in the checkout line because we don’t have 
enough money. The cereal always gets put back first.

Cashing a check is hard if you don’t have a checking account. You have to pay to 
cash it.

I’m an expert on what can and can’t be bought with SNAP and WIC.

One Christmas, we had no money so we went to the Dollar Tree where everything 
is a dollar Mom gave us each $5 and told us to go shopping for each other. It was 
the weirdest and funnest Christmas ever.

I didn’t do as well as I should have in math classes because I couldn’t afford the 
calculator that was required.

I couldn’t be in Boy Scouts because we couldn’t buy the uniforms.

I couldn’t be in Girl Scouts because we couldn’t afford the books and patches.

You can make a whole meal out of gravy and white bread.

White bread is usually cheaper than wheat bread.

Spending the night at a friend’s house is awesome. They always have plenty food.

We eat a lot of: potatoes, beans, and cheap bread.

My mom lies about not wanting seconds.

We take blankets in the car because the car doesn’t have heat.

I’ve never had a birthday party.

One winter when we ran out of propane and couldn’t buy any for a week, mom 
made us one huge bed in the floor in the living room. She brought every blanket in 
the house and we stayed in there all the time staying warm.

We’ve never met our doctor. We go to a clinic and a nurse sees us every time.

If we go to the grocery store and pay with money, the clerks are nice. When we 
pay with our food stamp card, the clerks are rude.

We know that if we go to college, it’s going to cost us a lot of money because we’ll 
have to get loans. Poor kids have to pay a lot more for an education.

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