While the United States is considered to be one of the richest countries in the world, it has a huge wealth gap—more than 34M of its residents live in poverty. Many of them are facing financial struggles every single day and can easily see the privileges others are lucky to have.

So when a couple of users asked people who grew up in low-income families to share things that the rich would never understand, it sparked quite a conversation on the r/AskReddit sub. Whether it’s talking about household items, chores, or food on the table, commenters quickly started telling the unwritten rules they had to live by.

Take a look below at some of the most illuminating answers we collected from the thread. And after you’re done, don’t forget to check out our previous posts about the subtle signs that show a person is rich here and right here.

#1

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand That it never goes away. I want from homeless growing up to having a very comfy six figure job. I still find myself acting as if I am always living on the edge of homelessness again. Thinking I can't try new foods because it I don't like it then I won't get dinner. That I'm a bad person for throwing out things instead of trying to reuse them. I get serious panic attacks I think I did bad at work because my brain still tells me I'm one paycheck from the street.

AsexualAccountant , The Lazy Artist Galler Report

OhForSmegSake
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Oh this needs to be number 1. I went through pretty bad poverty years ago- dumpster diving for food, stealing from neighbour's veggie patches and fruit trees, begging for $$ on the street just to keep a roof over our head. Recently the main earner in my household lost their job and I've already found myself eating one meal a day to make things stretch, looking at what I own that I can sell, taking notice of who nearby grows fruit and veggies. I dont feel the hunger pangs anymore and I've lost 10kg in the last 2mths. We're not even desperate for food or money yet but I'm already in poverty mode.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#2

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand True hunger. I don't mean that casual "I guess I should eat..." feeling, I mean that hollow, cramping pain deep in your stomach, the hunger that feels like your own body is eating itself from the inside out and that drives you crazy to the point you'll eat anything you can chew through just to try and keep the pain away.

Nobody should have to feel that, poor or not, especially a child.

korbah , cottonbro Report

Rosa Leff
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And just how unbelievably loud the rumbling is!

View More Replies...
View more comments

Bored Panda reached out to the Redditor Leroy_Spankinz whose question “What’s something you’d find in a lower class home that rich people wouldn’t understand?” amassed more than 15.5K upvotes and 9.6K comments. The user was kind enough to discuss the idea behind this thread and the conversation that it sparked. 

Leroy_Spankinz told us that they post on r/AskReddit a lot and are always interested to hear others’ thoughts and experiences. “I think a lot of people, the majority even, grow up in financially strained households,” they said. 

“I wanted to hear about all of the different ways poorer families learned to adapt, and what they have in common with each other. Wealthier households just don’t have that same kind of creativity, and that was the basis for the question.”

#3

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand It’s expensive being poor.

saltierthancats , Emil Kalibradov Report

Bexxxxx
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yep. I’ve paid way more in bank fees this year than friends who make twice as much as I do. Not to mention having to buy smaller quantities of things (4 rolls of TP instead of 24) so paying more per item. If I’m short on a bill payment they charge me more so now I’m even more behind. I wish I knew how much extra fees I’ve paid over my lifetime for being broke.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#4

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand A lifetime of clutter because it's so hard to throw anything away even when you're no longer poor.

HermitWilson , Alex Russell-Saw Report

They shared with us that one of their parents was very poor while they were growing up, and the other was financially secure. “I asked that question just because I’ve seen the differences between those households myself and I wanted to understand how other people viewed those differences as well,” Leroy_Spankinz explained. 

The user also mentioned some examples that come to mind when discussing the differences between low and high-income households. In the former ones, you could find “a drawer full of condiment packets, a pile of old napkins from various fast food restaurants, old Slurpee/BigGulp cups used as normal kitchen cups, stuff like that.”

Meanwhile, wealthier households just buy the “proper” version of such items “and are even disgusted when they see other people living with these.”

#5

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand Seeing your mother wear 20+ year old worn out clothing and what amount to rags she collected from hospital visits, all so her child could have the best. Then the sadness of not being able to spoil her when you finally have your own money because she passed away too young.

Well... I just made myself sad lol

Nivasha , Joshua Fernandez Report

#6

“You didn’t make good choices, you HAD good choices.”

They seemingly always try to downplay the headstart they get, and how it boosts them throughout their life, versus someone who didn’t have that.

PringlePasta Report

Bexxxxx
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

“You didn’t make good choices, you HAD good choices,” wow I’ve never seen it worded like that and I love it

View More Replies...
View more comments
#7

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand I've got one: not having vacations.

I'm in my thirties now. Work in tech. Work thing they had some trivia game and one of the questions was both "(senior leaders) A and B went to this same ski lodge last so and so".

Had been functioning as the team 'ace' with the more brainy questions- for that I just leaned back and went "Welp, no help to us here; I don't know any ski lodges"

My whole team, baffled prodded me going "wait, you don't know any? Just guess the one you went to as a kid with your family"

So . . . explained to like 3 other adults that poor families don't do that. I had never had a family vacation. Winter meant hauling firewood.

Sekret_One , David Vives Report

Adam C
Community Member
11 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

During class teacher asked which was the last movie I saw in Cinema. " I have never been a cinima ever" I was 14.

View More Replies...
View more comments

Leroy_Spankinz was truly impressed by how respectful and constructive the comments were: “It was so cool to provide a space for people to learn and laugh together over all the little things they didn’t know they had in common.”

We also contacted the author of another thread, Bobtheglob71, who was curious to ask people from low-income homes about things “that ‘rich kids’ will never understand.” They told Bored Panda that they came up with this post after spending a lot of time browsing the r/AntiWork subreddit, a community dedicated to discussing job-related struggles.  

#8

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand This actually is painful to type, but, here goes.



Sometimes, only being able to see your mother for fifteen minutes a day when she picks you up or drops you off at school, because she has to work 18 hours a day just to support you. Having to wear shoes from Pay-Less because your mom can't afford anything better. Having to borrow food from other kids at school because your mom can't afford food, and the school lunches aren't free. Having to sometimes go a day or two without eating at all because you lost your food stamp card. Only having 12 channels of TV, and that TV is 30 years old, and only 14 inches. Having to watch other kids get everything they wanted for their birthdays, just so you can kind of pretend its your birthday party.

Damionstjames , Indira Tjokorda Report

Hannah Edwards
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Some mothers having to work abroad and not seeing their children for months at a time.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#9

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand Watching your mom have to put items back as there is it not enough money to pay for everything.

Poenkel , Oleg Magni Report

Wouldiwas Shookspeared
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And really hoping your mom didn’t put back the hominy (I like hominy)

View More Replies...
View more comments
#10

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand Having dinner and knowing that your Mum isn't eating, not because she isn't hungry, but because she's making sure her kids have food first.

DragonsLoveBoxes , jamie he Report

Libstak
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My dad did this all his life. Mum would make enough to feed an army every night just so dad would eat at all. He even wanted us to have plenty of leftovers in case we got the munchies, he was the one with the munchies cos he never ate enough dinner just in case and then ate properly once we were sleeping.

View More Replies...
View more comments

Bobtheglob71 noticed that there were quite a few posts expressing hatred towards people who were born into wealth and “was curious to see what everyone else thought.”

The user disclosed that they didn’t grow up poor: “This question was also partly made so that I could see others’ views on life based on what family they were born into. I’ve learned that the ‘rich kid’ doesn’t experience just about any of those things that people answered.”

#11

A lot of poor addicts are addicts because they need the escapism of it. Lifting people out of poverty is the biggest mental help you can give someone

DannyDetito Report

#12

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand When I went to school (in the '70s). At lunch time we had to stand in line in the hall before going into the cafeteria. they made those of us on 'free lunches' stand in the back of the line. It was quite humiliating.

BirdGuy64 , Adrian Sampson Report

BM85
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This kinda sh!t wouldn't fly today. The meal is only free to the child, someone is still paying for it! Shame on everyone who thinks its okay to make a kid/human feel less than. some real w@nkers out there.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#13

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand My ex was wealthy and never understood why I don’t answer phone numbers I don’t recognize. We just never did that at my house, and now I understand it was probably to avoid debt collectors.

cmconnor2 , Priscilla Du Preez Report

#14

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand Sleep for dinner.

Leeono , Daria Shevtsova Report

juni
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Slinkman. No. Sleep for dinner means there is sleep for dinner. Not food for dinner. Not matter when you come home. It means no food.

View more comments
#15

Even though I am years beyond it and have a good job. I have gotten past most of it except for 2 things.

Guilt over spending anything on myself even if I need it (work clothes for example)

Food waste. I am more like,y to eat the oldest leftovers in the fridge so the don’t go bad or overeat if there is just a bit left than to throw it out. I know this is detrimental to my health but haven’t stopped because throwing something out makes me stressed.

Mueryk Report

#16

Clothes. You wear what you have, and you wear it out. Yes, this is the same bathing suit as last year, you judgemental b****.

I have a steady job, savings, and a closet full of clothes. I still wear everything like I did when I was 7. You wear it until it is visibly stained, or noticeably smells. And you don't ever throw anything away, because you might need it again.

Or if you do give clothes away, you give them to another neighborhood child. Every single one of your neighbors is as bad off as you, they will not turn away clothes that fit.

IamtheBoomstick Report

Caiman 94920
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I learned to sew on an ancient machine when I was 12 because the hand me downs that I got from a family friend were all the wrong colors (pale pastels) and stodgy styles (think preppy type stuff when everyone was wearing peasant tops and bell bottoms)

View More Replies...
View more comments
#17

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand Back in the Dominican Republic, my mom would lean a chair against each exit door at night and put metal cups on top of the chairs. If someone tried forcing the door open, the metal cups would fall — alarming us of the danger. That was our 'security' system for years.

JohnnyEdwrd Report

#18

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand What a luxury laundry is. Those kids i went to.school with will never understand I was so poor my family couldn't afford to use the laundry machines in our building, so often times my dad would just get a big cheap bottle of dish soap or some bars of Irish Spring, and that soap was for laundry, dishes and bathing. Also that those tv dinners were a god send. Getting 20 banquet tv dinners for 10 bucks meant eating good for a few days.

WanderingGenesis , RODNAE Productions Report

Lav Oravaf
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

for my experience, a cheap and better version of one soap for all is marseille soap. works splendidly for washing anything, and it's gentle on our body.

View More Replies...
View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#19

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand All my gifts for Christmas and Birthdays were something I needed or would need and had to be bought anyway. Like clothes, shoes, or school supplies. Never, never anything fun or just because I wanted it. I also had to steal my first real bra because I'd outgrown my training bra. I'd even snipped the elastic all around to provide more stretch but it wasn't working anymore and people were commenting on it.

freckledjezebel , Adrian F Report

El muerto
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

that's why I never complain about getting socks or nothing for christmas...you get what you get, and if it's good, is great

View More Replies...
View more comments
#20

A lot of people are mentioning being deprived of food and clothes, so I'll mention other things. People who grew up umm not poor often don't understand how come I've never been ice skating. Or roller skating. I don't know how to swim, because I didn't have any means to pay for swimming classes or pool entry (no swimming pool at my school). I could never participate in any after school activities, because even if they were funded by a nearby town, I had no way to get there. My hobbies were writing awful poems and drawing with s**tty crayons, because it was free. I didn't have any video games, except of pirated The Sims. We've never been on vacation as a family. I never went to a summer camp. If you are rich, these things are a given. They are normal. Also, so many knock offs. Knock off toys, knock off cereal, Tesco Value everything. Also, toilet paper was a luxury.

CarolynEarle Report

DKS 001
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

cut up rags or washcloths as toilet paper. Rinse in sink, wash and reuse

View More Replies...
View more comments
#21

Cold hot dog on piece of bread. Turning off every light in the house except the room you're in. Window unit ACs. Space heaters. Little storage space. Little freezer/fridge space. Microwave as only way to cook food. Saving all extra napkins/utensils/condiments. No working bath/shower in home. No washer/dryer. Leaky roof. Makeshift insulation made of bubble wrap and tin foil for windows. Blankets over windows instead of curtains. Sprinkler on roof to keep it cooler in the summer. Dirty laundry because you have to wait to get quarters. Rationing quarters, rationing food, rationing everything. Always have a mental list of things you can sell to get quick cash in an emergency. Torn/worn clothes/bedding. Wearing the one good bra constantly. Laundry day outfit. Spaghetti. All. The. Time. Foods with long shelf life. Chips in dishes. That one thing (or few things) that's just literally held together with duct tape. Stuffing down the trash to make sure you get full use out of each trash bag. The sack of other sacks. The car that you'll drive until it can't go anymore, if you have a car. Moving a "spare" lightbulb from one room to the other so you can delay buying more. Holding on to food past it's expiration date even though you won't eat it in the foreseeable future but what if you NEED it? Squeezing the s**t out of the toothpaste. Adding water to the drop of shampoo in the bottle. Delaying medical care. Having to put down pets yourself because you can't afford the vet doing it. Baking soda as carpet freshener. Febreezing everything if you don't have money for the wash. Using paper towels as toilet paper. Using paper towels as tissues. Using paper towels as plates. Negotiating with the electric/water company so that they don't turn off your utilities before you get paid. Lots of blankets in winter. Hanging clothes to dry. Washing clothes by hand. Washing dishes by hand. Taking a "rag bath." F**ked up teeth, can't afford dentist. Some long term ailment that you put off seeing a medical professional about because it's not an emergency, just an inconvenience. Reusing ziploc bags. Buying paper folders vs. plastic ones. Cinnamon, sugar, butter tortillas for desert. Hand-me-downs.

rain-E-daze1 Report

Nugua
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

“Turning off every light in the house except the room you're in." Isn't that normal?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#22

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand 'There's a trick to it' is a phrase to indicate something is messed up, but not enough to fix it. See also: 'Ya gotta jiggle the handle.'

ModernSwampWitch , Sam Clarke Report

O Santos
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My Dad’s favorite phrase. I bought a lawnmower behind his back—he fixed them and gave me one—because I didn’t want to deal with “the trick”. I was scared to tell him because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

View more comments
#23

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand Buying kids clothes that are too big so they last a couple of years.

pokemontrainer-anna , Md Salman Report

Adam C
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Mom: "Buy size M." Me:" I'm 17 and stoped growing since 15"

View more comments
#24

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand I remember coming back from summer vacation and dreading going back to school for the mere fact I had nothing interesting to share about the summer. All my classmates would talk about their vacations and I would make something up so I wouldn’t sound boring.

Scared_Difference_24 , Kobe - Report

Carrie Laughs
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I dreaded our drama classes because of this. After the long summer holiday we had to stand up in drama class and speak about what we had done during our summer break. I had nothing. Lived in the middle of nowhere and only had my sister to spend time with - we'd cycle for miles but that doesn't make for an interesting speech.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#25

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand Why your parents are incredibly strict and won't let you go anywhere or do anything.

My mom never allowed me to go with friends because she knew I wouldn't be able to afford hanging out with them. I always thought she was just really strict, but really she just wanted to spare me the embarrassment.

twentythreeturtles , Emil Kalibradov Report

athornedrose
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

i remember my mom having to explain to a classmate's mom that she couldn't spot my mom money for me to go out with her and her daughter because she had no idea if she could pay it back. classmate's mom was all class and never let her daughter bring it up again, but would occasionally buy stuff for all the girls in class to make sure i got toys or hair ties and such

View More Replies...
View more comments
#26

Amount of time feeling powerless.

Hot_Bite Report

Mewton’s Third Paw
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Self blame, blaming your parents for even having you, defeat, feeling trapped, feeling like the only poor person in a world where everyone is just casually going to the dentist and doctor and having a new shirt or jacket every so often. Feeling suicidal, wanting to give up. It’s very very difficult.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#27

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand Yogurt and other grocery containers used as Tupperware. A bunch of basins for hand-washing clothes in the bathtub.

madeto-stray , Christina Vlinder Report

ZAPanda
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

we do this with the tupperware thing. We have a lot of reusable containers. It saves the environment a bit.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#28

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand I think Western poor houses would tend to be more cluttered. You can't rebuy things easily, so you end up keeping around doubles of things you already have, or extra things you aren't using but might need sometime. You don't know if you'll be able to afford it in the future.

madeto-stray , Jeffrey Hamilton Report

Miss Frankfurter
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My mom grew up in the depression. Her phrase was "Don't throw that away, you never know when we might need it." We never did, but it was always there just in case.

View More Replies...
View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#29

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand Diluted dishwashing soap that doubles as hand-washing soap.

dawnangel89 , cottonbro Report

OhForSmegSake
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Diluted shampoo for handsoap is less harsh on hands. Diluted dish soap is good for washing clothes.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#30

30 People From Low-Income Homes Explain The Things That Rich Kids Would Never Understand When it's really hot in the South, it can be hard to sleep. I keep a mister water bottle by the bed and mist the sheet before I go to sleep, and periodically cool off through the night.

dolphinwaxer , Jp Valery Report

May
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I live in Denmark, where aircon is very rare, because it usually only gets uncomfortably hot for a couple of weeks a year - and I do the same.

View More Replies...
View more comments

Note: this post originally had 89 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.