Top Lessons I Learned From Growing Up Poor

When you grow up poor, you can learn valuable life lessons. As a young Latino, I have learned many lessons from my parents and family members as they struggled to provide food, clothing and housing for me and my family. As a child, you learn the value of a dollar and how money doesn’t necessarily mean that you are happy. My childhood was a happy one, despite the fact that I did not have all the toys, gadgets and electronics that my friends at school had. I am a better person for the way I was raised and hope I can instill these values into my own children.

Money doesn’t buy happiness
From an early age, I realized that money doesn’t buy happiness. We had little money but we were always happy. We may not have gotten to go the movies or out to eat every night, but our family is close and were always together. I always had someone to play with and learned how to use my imagination, making anything a fun and exciting toy.

Kids are mean
There, I said it. Kids are mean. When you are poor as a child, you are treated unfairly by at least one child in your lifetime. Kids who have money do not understand what it is like to have only one or two pairs of jeans or one pair of shoes. Because they do not understand your poverty, they can be mean. Saying mean things or acting out towards you. I learned from an early age that kids are mean and had to work hard to try and feel good about myself rather than dwell on the fact that I had less than others.

Find your own self-worth
Because I dealt with mean kids and having less than others, I had to find my own self-worth. I had to tell myself that I am the same as everyone else and am worthy of love and happiness. When you do not have the same opportunities as others, it can make you feel worthless or less than. By staying positive, I was able to carve a path for myself, feeling good about what I had, even though it was less than others.

Work hard
If I learned anything from being poor, it was a strong worth ethic. Nothing is free and if you want to earn money, you have to work hard. I watched my family members work long hours just to provide a simple meal on the table. This has driven me to have a strong work ethic, no matter how small the job.