The Advantages of Growing Up In Poverty

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Those who struggle with poverty, while growing up, see the world as a very different place than those raised in the middle-class or in wealthy households.

In my Rich Habits Study, 41% of the 177 self-made millionaires were raised in poor households. Yet, somehow they managed to break out of their poverty as adults.

Ironically, according to my research, being poor actually endows you with certain advantages over the middle-class and the wealthy.

More Willing to Take Risks

One of the common denominators among all of the self-made millionaires in my study, was the need to become comfortable with taking risk. Growing up poor forces you to take risks in the pursuit of wealth. Overcoming the fear of taking risks, therefore, becomes a habit.

With respect to my Rich Habits self-made millionaires, the fear of taking risk resurfaced only after they accumulated their wealth. At that point, the fear of losing their hard-earned wealth motivated them to hire wealth advisors, insurance agents, CPAs, Estate Planners and other financial advisors to help them preserve their wealth. So, becoming rich actually lowered their tolerance for taking risks, risks which could potentially decrease their wealth.

Desire to Change is Great

Poverty can either beat you down or make you stronger. For the self-made millionaires in my study, it made them stronger. That’s why they were in my study – poverty motivated them to achieve.

Their desire to become successful and rich drove them to transform themselves. This desire to change motivated them to learn what they needed to know in order to succeed. It also forced them to develop and perfect superior skills in order to earn more than their competition.

Superior Work Ethic

A hard work ethic is a prerequisite to success. Those who are raised in poverty, have no choice but to work hard. Thus, the poor develop a hard work ethic. When you are able to combine that hard work ethic with your dreams and goals, what a powerful combination!

If you grow up in an environment of comfort, you might be less willing to do the hard work success requires.

Failure Doesn’t Scare You As Much

One of the downsides of failure, is that failing at something can put you in the poor house. When you grow up poor, you don’t fear poverty as much, because it is something you are familiar with and something you survived. Therefore, failure does not frighten you as much and, in fact, emboldens you to take risks.

Poverty Removes Rose-Colored Lenses

When you grow up poor you see things through a much different lens. You know life can be very hard when you are poor. Things can and do go wrong. You know that because you experienced that growing up in poverty. The experience of poverty allows you to see things as they really are and not allow yourself to be blinded by unrealistic rose-colored optimism.

Being anchored in reality, allows you to see potential pitfalls ahead of time, which enables you to navigate and pivot around those pitfalls. Those who are not raised in poverty, might see things as they wish them to be and be blind to reality, until it hits. And when it hits, it’s always a surprise, leaving you ill-prepared to deal with that reality.

Comfortable With Failure and Setbacks

Those who struggle with poverty become familiar with failure and setbacks. Consequently, when things go wrong, as they often do in the pursuit of wealth, those raised in poverty don’t raise the white flag and surrender. Rather, they see failure and setbacks as normal and something that can be overcome.

Accustomed to Sacrifice

Growing up poor means you are unable to possess the things non-poor people take for granted. Poverty forces you to become accustomed to doing without. This actually is a great advantage. The pursuit of wealth always requires sacrifice. Sometimes for many years. If you’re accustomed to sacrifice, it’s less painful and more tolerable.

Frugality is a Habit

The poor have no choice but to be frugal with their spending. They forge the frugality habit at a very young age. And, as you know, habits are hard to break. This frugality habit, therefore, follows the poor into their wealthy adult lives.

Growing up poor is not necessarily a disadvantage. Poverty forces you to develop certain traits that can actually be leveraged to your advantage, helping you in the pursuit of your dreams and goals.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
 
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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Comments

  1. shripad joshi says:

    Hi Tom, Yes this is correct if you take life in right direction the poverty makes as very strong to deal with problems

  2. Is it right to say that money is the only measure of success? A financially poor or middleclass person can very well succeed in so many fields like sports, music, painting etc and can still feel accomplished.

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