Everything You Need To Know To Climb Out Of Poverty, From A Former Poor Person

Everything You Need To Know To Climb Out Of Poverty, From A Former Poor Person

I’ve been poor.

Bouncing a check for a $20 pizza poor. Sleeping in an elevator for a night when I was out of town poor because I couldn’t afford to pay for a 1/4 share of a cheap room and was too proud to take charity poor. Living on a bag of potatoes and 33 cent burritos because I had $10 to eat for a week poor. Wearing shirts with holes in them, borrowing money and getting angry about $2 bank fees poor.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Today, I do what I want to do. I went to New York City for my birthday this year because I thought it would be fun. When I had a good friend that showed me a picture of a horrible bed she was sleeping on with springs poking out of it, I bought her another one and had it delivered to her house. If I don’t like an employer these days, I just leave because I like to work, but I don’t have to work for anyone I don’t want to work for. I wouldn’t classify myself as rich, but I’m sure as hell not poor anymore either.

It did take a while for me to slowly but surely pull myself out of that level of poverty though.

Some of that is natural because unless you are part of a family-owned business, have the right connections, or are going into a particularly lucrative profession, you probably aren’t going to make a lot of money in your first McJob out of college. Do you know what I was doing in my first job with a psychology degree and a minor in communications? Working as a Wal-Mart portrait studio photographer. I worked several crummy jobs like that as I saved up a nest egg. Most people will have to go that route. Unless you are very good or very lucky, you are not going to have the same things your successful parents had after a lifetime of work at 60 when you’re 25-years-old and that’s okay.

Beyond that, what I did do right early on was trying not to make a life-altering mistake. Like what you may ask?

Like going to jail. Getting on drugs or becoming an alcoholic. Getting a girl pregnant out of wedlock. Going deep into debt. Skipping health insurance. At the time, I thought of it as avoiding a big mistake, but there is actually a much-discussed formula for avoiding poverty that covers a lot of those same things and works for 98% of people.

Let politicians, schoolteachers, and administrators, community leaders, ministers, and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children. Our research shows that of American adults who followed these three simple rules, only about 2 percent are in poverty and nearly 75 percent have joined the middle class (defined as earning around $55,000 or more per year).

These are important things to drill into young adults because as people who’ve done it can tell you after you run the Titanic into the iceberg, your options get limited in a hurry. Once you are in that situation, some people will tell you the only way to fix them is with all the government help you can grab.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, government cheese sucks, government housing is crime-ridden, and dealing with bureaucrats to get your welfare check is not only miserable, but it also tends to keep you poor because it transfers the responsibility to someone else to fix your problem – and guess what? Despite all the rhetoric you hear to the contrary, the government doesn’t care if you live or die. In fact, if you’re poor, they’d generally prefer that you did die for economic reasons.  The only reason politicians talk about how much they care about poor people is that they think it may sucker you into voting for them.

You can read the rest at BizPac Review.

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