15 Unexpected Skills You Learn Growing Up Poor

What was your childhood like? Growing up in poverty might seem like a disadvantage at first glance. However, the life skills acquired in these difficult times can be incredibly valuable. The following are fifteen life skills you develop when growing up poor.

1. Repairing Your Belongings

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One of the first skills you learn when growing up poor is the ability to repair broken belongings like appliances, clothes, . Unlike wealthy people, who may feel comfortable discarding their broken items, people who grow up poor understand that not everything that's broken should be thrown out. Your repair skills wouldn't be limited to your own personal effects. Many people who grew up poor have admitted to collecting damaged electronics and furniture for more affluent neighborhoods, refurbishing them, and giving them a new life.

2. Making Meals with Leftovers

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An invaluable skill learned from growing up poor is the art of making meals with whatever is left in the pantry or refrigerator. Though this would often involve combining seemingly random items, it would typically result in a delicious dish. Many of these recipes were quick meals passed down from one generation to the next. Unlike the wealthy, who struggled to put together a meal with a few ingredients, you know how to be creative with your meals. 

3. Not Being Picky with Food

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You likely aren't a picky eater if you grew up in a household where food was often scarce. Unlike people from more affluent backgrounds who would turn up their noses at certain dishes or balk at having the same dinner two nights in a row, you wouldn't have into these issues. Your diet's adaptability helps you immerse yourself in cuisine wherever you go.

4. Losing Everything Doesn't Scare You

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Experiencing poverty firsthand eliminates the fear of financial loss. Having already navigated the challenges of living with little, the prospect of losing everything is much less intimidating. On the other hand, wealthy people often harbor a deep-seated fear of losing their financial status. 

5. Buying Used 

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When a wealthy person makes a purchase, buying used products to save money never crosses their mind. However, someone who grew up with less would understand there's a lot of value in purchasing pre-owned items. They know that the age of an item does not affect its quality if it is well maintained and can appreciate the amount of money saved by buying used items.

6. Gratefulness

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Gratefulness is one of the most profound skills a person could develop. When people come from humble beginnings, they develop an appreciation for everything they have, knowing that many others are in even worse situations. This mindset reduces the desire for more and creates a positive outlook on life. Wealthy people often operate through tunnel vision and struggle to recognize their privilege.

7. Resourcefulness

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Resourcefulness is second nature when you're in a financial bind. It's important to learn how to find creative solutions to your problems at a young age when you're growing up in a less-than-ideal situation. For example, you learn to budget and compare prices. The ability to think outside the box and make do with what's available is an innate skill for people who grew up in poverty; however, this skill does not come naturally to many affluent people.

8. Generosity

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If you come from a community where everyone faces similar hardships, you recognize the importance of generosity. There's a strong sense of loyalty to your community when survival means sharing the little you have and having that reciprocated when you are in need. People tend to ohelp one another when they are in a pinch. 

9. Resilience 

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Life is full of ups and downs and often requires many workarounds to overcome difficulties and stretch resources. Learning how to brush off inconveniences and disappointments is all part of growing up with less. Resilient people won't let setbacks derail their overall outlook on life. They continue to push through no matter how hard life becomes. 

10. Making Do

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Making do means to manage to live with what you have, especially when it isn't enough. It means being able to adapt and keep moving forward when things aren't going your way. It also includes making the most of the little you have when resources are scarce. This is a valuable skill, especially in emergency situations.

11. Street Smarts 

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Growing up in less affluent neighborhoods often mean developing street smarts. You need to know how to quickly assess potential danger and avoid conflict. Unlike people from wealthier families who may be more naive about some things, people who grew up with less have more worldly experience.

12. Empathy for the Poor

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Experiencing poverty firsthand creates a deep empathy for others in similar situations. You would more likely want to extend aid to people experiencing homelessness, people struggling with addiction, and anyone facing financial hardship. On the other hand, people from wealthy families don't understand the plight of the poor and may not have the same level of empathy that you do.

13. Adaptability

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Adaptability is a skill honed out of necessity when growing up poor. Plans will often change because of financial constraints, and there will be a need to adjust. On the other hand, someone who grew up in an affluent household would not face a similar issue and may not be as flexible as you are. Adaptability is a useful skill both in your personal and professional life, allowing you to navigate uncertainty with ease.

14. Grit 

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Grit is a strength born out of hardship. When growing up in a less-than-ideal situation, determination and grit will carry you through the occasional shame and hardship. It isn't easy growing up poor, but it teaches you that you can still be strong despite your circumstances. This perseverance isn't something that people who grew up in wealthy families understand.

15. Entertaining Yourself

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If money isn't an object, you can find several ways to entertain yourself. However, if you grew up in a less fortunate household, you need to learn to entertain yourself without spending a lot of money. You find joy in doing simple things like reading, drawing, or exploring nature. You create your own games and use your creativity and imagination instead of using money.


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She started her blog, The Money Dreamer, when she realized the 9-5 job was not the lifestyle she wanted anymore. After designing for a while, she wanted a more meaningful life, which was freedom, so she decided to venture out. She took action so that she can live her dream life and decided to help people to live theirs by helping them how to save, budget, and invest.

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