15 Not So Obvious Signs of Growing Up Poor: Do Any Resonate With You?

By Krystal Brown

Growing up under financial constraints can leave a lasting impact on an individual, shaping their perceptions and habits for years to come. While some signs of childhood poverty are obvious, such as a lack of material possessions or the inability to take lavish vacations, there are several more subtle indicators that may not be immediately apparent.Whether you personally resonate with these indicators or seek to understand the experiences of others, these signs provide a deeper insight into the hidden challenges of a modest upbringing.

Sharing a Bedroom

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If you had to share a bedroom with your siblings due to limited space or financial constraints, it could be a sign that your family was dealing with financial difficulties. Many families share rooms to save on rent or housing costs.

No Cable or Satellite TV

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Having basic cable or satellite TV packages can be a luxury for some families. If your family only had access to free-to-air channels or couldn’t afford additional entertainment subscriptions, it could be an indicator of financial limitations.

A Cupboard Full of Leftovers Containers

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Recycling and repurposing would have been essential when you were growing up poor which is why you would have had dozens of containers filled with leftovers in your refrigerator. Leftover containers would not only be filled with food, but there would also have been fabric offcuts, stationery items that have been picked up as freebies, and candy that was given away at store promotions.

Not Attending High School Events

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Having to say no to social events at high school would have been the norm when your family was short on money as even the smallest of things like coach travel was too expensive. Saying no was always easier than explaining that you could not afford a fancy meal out to celebrate the end of the year.

Bargain Hunting

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If you are always on the lookout for a bargain and are great at haggling the chances are that this behavior has been ingrained in you since you were a child. Your parents would have taught you how to survive by making your money stretch as far as you can which means shopping the bargain buckets, waiting for the sales, and always waiting for a discount code.


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Did your parents constantly save coupons from magazines and store brochures? If so, the chances are they were trying to save every dollar they could to ease the strain on the monthly outgoings. The chances are you have got into the habit of couponing.

Never Eating Out

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If your parents were struggling with money you were most likely not to have eaten out at restaurants a lot. A treat may have been a takeout or perhaps a trip to a local fast food chain rather than a nice restaurant where you could have a great family meal.

Financial Fears

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Being in poverty means being on edge about your finances all of the time. If there was friction at home because your parents were arguing about money it would have been very worrying but their arguing would have been born out of stress and fear.

Wearing Hand-Me-Downs

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If you were growing up in poverty and you had siblings you 100% had to wear their hand-me-downs. There would have been no money in the budget for new clothing so clothes would be patched up and made for the next person in line.

Bulk Buying

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If your Saturdays were spent buying bulk toilet rolls and washing liquid in Costco it would have been so your parents could save some money. Bulk buying is often done when there is money in the pot so that there are supplies when going through dry periods.

A House Full of Blankets

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To reduce energy consumption you likely grew up in a house with blankets in every room. It would have been made out that you were having a fun, snuggly afternoon under layers of blankets but in reality, your parents could not afford the fuel to heat your home.

Repairing Everything

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Nothing got thrown away in a poor home so you would have noticed your parents sewing socks and fixing-up furniture way before the days of upcycling. Nothing was thrown away in the hope that it could be fixed up and used until its last breath.

Thrift Store Shopping

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Secondhand clothing, furniture, toys, and kitchen appliances would have been the norm if you grew up poor so half of your weekend would be spent at the thrift store. These days, thrift store shopping is all the rage but you may have been embarrassed by this when you were younger.

Personal Birthday Gifts

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If your parents found it difficult to buy expensive presents for birthdays and the holidays you may have received personalized gifts. Instead of the latest computer games or bespoke doll house, you would have got a token for a home cinema trip or a picnic at the park with your favorite foods.

Being Told Things Are Overpriced

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As children, we ask out parents for a hundred things a day, whether it is a second bowl of cereal, a new toy, a magazine, or everything we see in the grocery store aisles. While all children will be told not a lot, if you grew up poor you will have constantly been told everything was overpriced.

Zero Tolerance for Waste

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As well as repairing everything in sight, there would have been no excuse for wasting food, materials, fuel, junk found in people’s yards, and everything else your parents could lay their hands on.

Vacationing at A Relative’s House

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When there is not enough money to heat a home there is very little chance of nice vacations, which meant that as a child a trip to a relative’s house was all the vacation you got. If your parents biked up a weekend away at your aunt’s house, they were doing all they could do to give you a similar experience as your peers.