Stupid Habits You Form When You’re Poor

I’ve recently grown up, purely in the sense that I have a real, big girl job with a significantly larger and more steady paycheck. I will forever be an immature child but that’s neither here nor there. Since securing said paycheck, I’ve noticed several habits I’ve had to overcome in an attempt to normalize myself.

Buying and sometimes preferring shitty food

When you’re poor: You tend to get paid less frequently so when you do have money you take care of necessities like food first. However this also means you buy en mass and stockpile food like squirrels until you get paid again, so you need shit that won’t spoil. This means canned vegetables and frozen T.V. dinners. People always point out how poor people tend to be fat without realizing the reason is because they’re consuming dirt-cheap, processed crap. You get so used to this, you actually start to prefer it.

When you start making money: I still maintain that Target’s dino-nuggets are the best form of chicken in the world and I’ve only recently stopped buying Pasta Roni dinners. When you move on to fresh vegetables your taste buds freak the fuck out. What happened to the squishy, salty green beans? Then you have to get used to frequent grocery store trips because fresh stuff spoils really fucking fast! It’s annoying, and you want to go back to your comfortable ways, but you force yourself to resist so you won’t die of a heart attack at 40.

Extra money must be spent immediately

When you’re poor: You get one big check a year, your tax return. But you’re so used to revolving around a bank account close to $0 that you don’t know how to handle the extra dough and you’re poor again within a month thanks to all the new things you wanted but couldn’t afford on your work income alone.

When you start making money: It takes practice, but you eventually learn to better manage your money. I won’t lie, I still struggle with this.  If an unexpected check dropped in my lap right now I would almost instantly be looking for a new car to put an end to my tumultuous 6 year relationship with Metro Transit. At the same time, I’ve managed my finances well enough to finally be able to pay my own way home for holidays instead of mooching off my parents, something I was supposed to have been cut off from after graduation, which is a nice feeling.

Going overboard on gift-giving

When you’re poor: You don’t give a lot of presents, and when you do they’re of the dollar store variety. This makes you feel guilty for receiving the presents you actually asked for. It’s worse when people tell you not to buy them things. Or, the worst of all, you want to buy a present for someone and they say “that’s OK, I don’t really need it.”

When you start making money: You want to be Santa Claus all year long. You buy everyone on your list exactly what they wanted and then some. You go so overboard you almost send yourself back to the poorhouse, but damn do you feel awesome!

You become an obsessive penny counter

When you’re poor: When you live check to check, there is not a cent unaccounted for. You don’t have 50 bucks in your bank account, you have $48.67. You have to know the exact amount so you can determine if your next beer purchase will send you into overdraft, because then you’re fucked. You know exactly how much you can pay Xcel so they won’t shut off your power and how many packages of ramen you can buy to sustain you until the next pay day.

When you start making money: You stop caring about exact numbers and start rounding off bills and your checking account balance. You actually open a separate account for these vague numbers, it’s called a savings account. Every now and then the creeping terror of not knowing exactly how much money you have seizes you, so you’ll panic and check your balances. You then revel in the fact that you really had no reason to worry and relax. Until the next panic attack strikes.

You only buy for the short term

When you’re poor: You buy exactly what you need and no more. You skip over the 2-for-1 deal on laundry detergent because you’re not out of laundry detergent yet. Same goes for clothes, you buy new ones only when the old ones no longer fit you. New shoes? Only if the soles have completely disintegrated and all five toes are poking out, sales be damned.

When you start making money: You realize that was a stupid way to prioritize buying things which probably ended up costing you more money. Think about it. You didn’t take the awesome, buy in bulk deal so when you actually need to buy detergent because you’ve already worn all your dirty underwear again turned inside out you have to take whatever jacked up price the store wants to charge you. This is another hard one for me to break. I still only own two pairs of jeans, and feel so guilty when I shop for more I never end up buying a pair.

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One Response to Stupid Habits You Form When You’re Poor

  1. Sonja D. says:

    Haha, yes! I saw an article like this on Cracked, but I related to all of it. Especially this part.. it made me laugh: “When you start making money: You stop caring about exact numbers and start rounding off bills and your checking account balance. You actually open a separate account for these vague numbers, it’s called a savings account. Every now and then the creeping terror of not knowing exactly how much money you have seizes you, so you’ll panic and check your balances. You then revel in the fact that you really had no reason to worry and relax. Until the next panic attack strikes.” I do that about once a month for sure, but usually the weeks between paychecks. For instance, today I paid my middle of the month bills. I’m content because I still have a happy amount in my account, but then I forget that Direct Tv and Progressive are still unaccounted for because they are auto payments. Shit.

    I also have a really hard time buying anything for me. I have 4 items hovering in my amazon cart that have been there for MONTHS. I can’t bring myself to buy them. I have no problem going to buy a handle of rum, but when it comes to clothes, cds, movies, anything… nope. Can’t do it.

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