4 Things Being Dirt Poor Taught Me About Life

I grew up dirt poor. My family was on government assistance. After high school, I couldn’t afford to go to college. I started working minimum wage jobs. Living like a pauper through my 20s and 30s taught me a few things about simple living and minimalism.

We usually had enough to eat, but our house was in disrepair when I was a kid. As a young adult I never lived in a space more than 700 square feet. And those spaces were usually shared with one or two others. I was dirt poor. I didn’t make more than $10,000 in a year until I was over 30. Sounds tough, doesn’t it?

Guess what? It wasn’t half bad. I was generally happy. I made ends meet and I didn’t really have too much to complain about. Being dirt poor taught me a few things.

4 Things I Learned From Being Dirt Poor

  1. Money doesn’t buy happiness: Sometimes I look back on my dirt poor days and long for that kind of simplicity again. I didn’t have much, but I was happy. I had a roof over my head, even if it was a trailer or a studio apartment. My stomach was rarely empty. I had plenty of good friends. That’s about all one can really ask for.  
  2. Friends go a long way: Pooling resources is an excellent way to go. When you’re living on a part-time job that pays minimum wage, it’s near impossible to make it by yourself. There were times when three of us lived in a one-bedroom house. But we had each other, food, a guitar, and some great times.
  3. It’s easy to live in a small space: As an adult, I’ve never lived in a house more than 1500 square feet. I can’t imagine ever needing more than that. When you don’t make a lot of money, you don’t buy much stuff. You learn to be frugal. You only buy the stuff you really need. That makes it simple to live in a small space.
  4. Books and music will keep you sane: Reading and playing music are not expensive hobbies. But they’re hobbies that broaden your intellect and intelligence. They also keep you busy. Music gave me hope and inspiration during the hardest times. Reading kept me sane through several years of poverty and my late-start college days. Music and reading are still two of my biggest pastimes.

From Being Dirt Poor To Purposefully Living With Less

Being dirt poor wasn’t so bad because I made the best of what I had. Intentionally living with less is simply doing the same thing. Learn more through these reads: 

Consider these things:

  1. How much do you really need?
  2. Are you willing to live with less?
  3. What really makes you happy?
  4. Will you start letting go of excess?
  5. Will you start today?

Go To The Next Lesson


James Ewen
Articles: 362