It’s estimated that about 1 in 6 American children live in poverty. This could be for a variety of factors, but the reality of living without enough money to get through the day is something that many people face. This situation may lead to food insecurity, or the difficulty to put enough food for every family member on the table each day.
One Reddit user asked others online “For those who grew up poor, what did you consider a luxury?” And answers flooded in from people who had experienced some form of economic stress in their childhoods. It’s surprising to see what some people consider to be unnecessary luxuries, especially if you’re able to afford those things. So if you have everything mentioned below, you can be very grateful!
“Being able to get candy at a store.
New school supplies.
Brand name food.”
Story credit: Reddit / ExperienceHendrix
“I remember in 8th grade on my birthday at school one of my teachers asked me what gifts I had received. He asked in front of the whole class, I excitedly shared that I would be getting contact lenses. My parents let me choose one thing that I wanted and I desperately wanted to stop wearing the broken glasses I had, which I usually didn’t wear. One of the boys in class made a comment like “contacts aren’t a present..?” And my teacher had to explain to him- again in front of everyone- that for some families they were too expensive not to be a luxury. After that experience I worked two and three jobs in high school so I could buy myself and my brothers the things we needed. The first thing I bought with my money from my first job as a hostess at a diner was a queen size bed because my twin mattress was about 20 years old and at 15 I was having back problems and issues with rusted springs poking me.”
Story credit: Reddit
“My Mom had 7 children in 10 years, 1950-1960. I remember having a whole bottle (those smallish glass ones that came out of the machine for 10cents) of soft drink to my self instead of sharing 1 bottle between all 7 of us. I was perhaps 5 years old. I still remember this as the best thing ever.”
Story credit: Reddit / someonesgoat
A Full Fridge
“Having a fridge full of food.”
Story credit: Reddit / lxshr
Time With Your Parents
“Parents staying home. I was always alone.”
Story credit: Reddit / Public_Personality_2
“A hot shower. Cold showers were always available, but when you scraped enough cash to get some diesel fuel and get the burner to kick on long enough to have a hot shower man, absolutely nothing better.”
Story credit: Reddit / imthescubakid
I was a kid and one year for Christmas when I was young, before I could recognize that I was making any kind of larger point, I said that I wanted my parents to just give my presents to the kids who didn't have anything. But I didn't know that I was one of those kids. I wonder what they thought when a kid said that to them. I wonder if it hurt them or inspired them.”
Story credit: Reddit / AbstracTyler
“For my school's spirit week, they had a "thrift shop" day, where most everyone dressed in old ratty clothes, or the weirdest stuff they could find in a thrift shop. Needless to say, as someone who's clothes were 80% second hand, it was an eye opener.”
Story credit: Reddit / VenessaIndelicato
“My mother used to consider any kind of cereal a luxury, they only had one box a month.”
Story credit: Reddit
Heat in the Winter
“Being allowed to turn on the heat during the winter, and also being able to hire a professional to fix broken appliances, plumbing, etc”
Story credit: Reddit / theabsoluteunit420
A Bedroom to Yourself
“Having my own bedroom”
Story credit: Reddit / Psychological-Low-20
Air Conditioning in the Summer
Sometimes we had a jacked up old window unit that would cool down my parents room on the hottest of summer nights and we would sleep in sleeping bags on their floor.
Sometimes it was broke.
Sometimes it just wasn't hot enough to justify running it.
Never during the day though, that's what the library was for.”
Story credit: Reddit / AllieKat7
“A new winter coat. I don’t remember having a new winter coat until I was probably 14 or 15, they had always been hand-me-downs from my cousins. They were usually at least ten years old by the time I got them and the stuffing would be all clumped up.”
Story credit: Reddit / stephers85
“Restaurants were definitely somewhere at the top of my list. I lived through the tail end of Apartheid in South Africa so we weren’t allowed into restaurants. Also, non-iceberg lettuce. Dairy products, like a full glass of milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, flavored milk. Lawns.
A dining table and family meals at the table. Vacations that didn’t involve staying with relatives.”
Story credit: Reddit / CaliAnywhere
“Renting a movie from blockbuster the first weekend of every month. My brother and I got to pick any movie we wanted as long as it wasn’t rated R. On really special nights, we even got a 2-liter bottle of Sprite for the family to share.”
Story credit: Reddit / Lovebot_AI
Not even kidding.”
Story credit: Reddit
“My mom bought me the bag of chips I wanted as a birthday present.”
Story credit: Reddit / TellMeYourSecrets3
Buying New Clothes
“Buying new clothes. [These] days I justify ordering all kinds of dumb stuff online but I’ve always felt a mental block on buying new clothes. It feels like an unjustified luxury because I always got by on second hand clothes and free tee shirts”
Story credit: Reddit / punnypotatoes
Meat for Dinner
“It's a long time ago - but when I was young (about 6-8 years old) back in the early 1960's we had meat once a week for the family dinner - on Sundays.”
Story credit: Reddit / redditreader1924
“Taking a bath. I mean we bathed every night, but it was by heating up water (that we would go to the park down the road to get in 5 gallon jugs) and filling up a mop bucket to wash off with. Staying over at a friend or family members house and getting to take an actual shower was amazing though.”
Story credit: Reddit / Competetive_beetle
A Real Christmas Tree
“Mom's are the best, she is a boss. My mom was single and I was the youngest of 3 children so I only ever got hand me downs. At Christmas time we couldn't even afford a tree so she made one out of lights on the wall and asked us each which 1 present we wanted the most. She somehow always made it happen. Years later she told me it was her lunch money she saved for weeks by not eating. She gave everything for us and always did her best. My mom lost her battle to colon cancer in July of 2017. She fought for 3 years and went through 7 rounds of chemotherapy. I was lucky enough to be there and take care of her during it all and was with her the moment her heart stopped. It warms my heart to feel so much love from you all and helps me to know that humanity will always prevail. Please stay safe and continue to be amazing human beings.”
Story credit: Reddit / @DatSkrillex
A New Sofa
“My parents won 1500 bucks at a lottery once. They bought a new sofa (to replace a 25yo sofa), a phone, and we went to a mid-range steakhouse, first restaurant for whole family. I was 20.”
Story credit: Reddit / @lniko2
A $6 Recorder
“I don’t know if anyone can relate, but in about 3rd maybe 4th grade, me and my twin brother had a music class where we were both required to buy a recorder. (Like a plastic flute thing) well my mom said we didn’t have the money so my twin brother and I tore the whole house up in search of $6 for two recorders. We brought a ziploc bag full of change pennies, nickels, dimes etc.
I think the teacher felt sorry for us, cause she paid for our recorders when the rest of the students left the room. Gave us the ziploc bag back.
Thank you Mrs. Albrecht”
Story credit: Reddit / @vvMario
Eating at Restaurants
“going out to eat at a restaurant”
Story credit: Reddit / @nhenderson7
A Bedroom Door
“Grew up pretty poor in Arkansas in a trailer. I literally got a door to my bedroom for Christmas one year. It probably still was the best gift I ever received.”
Story credit: Reddit / @swion
“Man, new school supplies! An actual Trapper Keeper is all I wanted.”
Story credit: Reddit / @Blad514
My Own Bed
“I got pretty excited to be given my own bed”
Story credit: Reddit / @TheRavingRaccoon
A Clean Carpet
“Staying at someone's house who wasn't poor, like a relative or friend. Their house was also so clean, beautiful, pictures on the wall, knick knacks on the counter, and carpet you could play on because it was clean.
I spent my entire teenage years hiding where I lived.”
Story credit: Reddit / @smashingpumpkinspice
A 50 Cent Cookie For Lunch
“In middle school I was on reduced school meals so it would be .40 for lunch. So my parents would always give me 2 quarters every morning for lunch, now the cafeteria would also sell cookies which wasn’t part of the lunch set for .50 each. So saving .10 each day I could afford one cookie by Fridays lunch. Good times”
Story credit: Reddit / @E_SUN1
Anything That Isn’t on Sale
“Until the age of 12, I thought that you weren’t allowed to buy things that weren’t on sale. My mom only bought things when they were on sale and/or she had a coupon, so I thought that the “non-sale” items weren’t being sold.”
Story credit: Reddit / @tabularasa1996
“In high school, my boyfriend (who became my husband) and his family picked up pretty early on that I was poor, and that my family was pretty dysfunctional. They really let me into their family and took care of me in a sweet, not pity, way.
I was super into art, so his mom found a neighborhood art teacher that did like basically small group art classes and it was so so cool. Anyways she usually charged like $100 for all the supplies, time, etc. My mom knew how excited I was, and I never asked for anything so she told me to ask the teacher to wait until her next paycheck. The teacher was like “sure!” By the time I brought that check to her, I think my boyfriend’s mom talked to her, and she ripped it up and said I got a “scholarship” for the class. Honestly it gives me such good vibes thinking about it till this day.”
Story credit: Reddit / @bageltricloud
A Fair Lunch
“School parties where everyone brought something to share for lunch.
If you don’t bring something, you don’t get to participate...”
I brought two carrots after not being able to afford school lunch for two years. Even the teacher laughed at me. My young self just decided that day that some people don’t deserve lunch.”
Story credit: Reddit / Undeniably-Milton
Story credit: Reddit / LameFossil
"We're ordering pizza for dinner"
Story credit: Reddit / MabelleMaclean
A Nice Suit
“My folks always had three meals a day for us but clothes were always a treat.
It might be a pair of pants and a shirt but my folks always made sure it was something that we were able to pick out and it always felt so special. They sacrificed a lot for it.
In fact, my Mom told me a few years ago that in order to provide that my parents didn't buy new clothes (or much of anything) for well over a decade when we were younger.
With my first real job out of school I was able to take my Dad to a shop and have him pick out a suit of his choice and get it fitted. He's confessed that it's one of the moments that's really stuck with him; he still has that suit and has worn it to both my sister's and my weddings.
But yeah, some of those feelings and habits don't really go away. Regarding clothes, they still get worn till they can't be patched anymore and I loathe to throw them away.
I gotta stop there because this is actually making me surprisingly emotional.”
Story credit: Reddit / cleardiddion
But now as an adult and knowing how cheap pancakes really are, I think my mom just didn't want to make them”
Story credit: Reddit / Josie13209
“Going places during school vacation. The kids would be all like “what!? you’ve never been to xyz amusement park!?” No, Trisha. My family doesn’t even have a car.” Which is another luxury to me.”
Story credit: Reddit / lillithfair4
Not Feeling Like a Financial Burden
I grew up pretty poor (no TV, no toys, but had a Sears catalog). My dad got in a serious accident when I was in 4th grade and almost lost his life. He won a small settlement from the community college he was working at and I was able to buy new clothes for the first time in my life. Before this all I ever had were hand me downs from my cousin and donation clothes from the church. Most were worn to the point of having patches on the knees.
The worst part about getting new clothes for the first time is I felt terrible the whole time picking out new clothes because I always felt like a financial burden to my parents. I remember going to Miller’s Outpost and picking out typical 80’s clothes (OP, TnC, etc.).
It’s funny how growing up poor affects my everyday choices, for better or worse. I’ll never outgrow some of the feelings I had as a poor kid and I feel for any kid who has to endure a childhood of poverty. It will affect them and their choices for the rest of their life.”
Story credit: Reddit / pewpewdeez
“Electricity lol. Thanks for paying the bill this month, mom.”
Story credit: Reddit / throway82459301
“I see nobody says this but going to the dentist or any doctor at all”
Story credit: Reddit / leiniar1234