I believe the poverty issue in the U.S. has to be approached differently than what’s considered “true poverty” in 3rd world countries, which makes many people at our poverty level seem very wealthy in comparison. In those situations, money for food and medicine could solve a lot of immediate needs where people literally are trying to survive until their next meal. Here the situation is more complex and has a greater range on what’s considered the poverty level.
I think the problem key word in this topic is “surviving.” When you’re in survival mode in anything, all you can think of is immediate needs. You don’t save money, and you don’t look at your life long-term. What needs to be done is teaching people how to overcome poverty in addition to surviving it, which is a totally different mindset. There’s a major difference in “learning to fish” than just continuing to accept “fish” without gaining knowledge.
Still, I don’t want to downplay what people here on going through as if it is no big deal. I know what it’s like to be in that situation. I grew up in it, and changing your life around doesn’t happen overnight. It’s extremely frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re trapped in a cycle and don’t know how to get out of it. The truth is however if you have a sound mind and the desire to get out of poverty, you can find a way.
Other people may or may not believe in you. It really used to bother me that after working so hard to get into college (a combination of scholarships and student loans) to have to sit in a sociology class and listen to how the odds were against me on ever making it from one social level to the next. Sometime you just have to make up your mind that you’re not going to be what everyone else expects. Part of the problem with these studies is it’s hard to scientifically measure the power of the human will to get out of a situation if a person wants it bad enough.
It took me about 5 years worth of hard work and study, but my income has nearly tripled from age 19 to age 24. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll actually be able to do what most people would consider retirement around age 30. (I’ll still be writing and doing what I like to do, but I won’t need a job.) No one in my family was wealthy. I just made the decision that I was tired of being poor and would do whatever it took to get out of it.
If you’re an adult, seeking out information about how to change your circumstances is still possible. Public libraries carry almost all the business and personal finance books sold in major bookstores. If you’re willing to learn and apply what you learn, you can make it out. It may take you several years and everyone makes mistakes along the way, but it’s not as impossible as a lot of people make it out to be.
It is my hope that anyone at the poverty level that’s reading this will at least consider that there’s more to life than just “surviving” it. You do have something to offer to this world if you just give yourself a chance. That really goes for all of us.