20 People Share What Life-Changing Thing Helped Them Leave Poverty Behind

Published 8 months ago

The rich keep getting rich and the poor keep getting poorer because of how the system operates. It makes things incredibly difficult for someone struggling financially to break out of their situation. 

But some people manage to make their way up regardless of what is trying to keep them down. Whether through sheer dumb luck, a helping hand or making the changes necessary to open the door for money to enter your life, folks shared what worked for them personally to help break out of a life of poverty.

More info: Reddit

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One phone call.

Short version – I was studying programming and got pretty good at some niche stuff that was in demand. I was pretty worried/afraid of the unknown but my gf was suddenly pregnant and she hit me with the ‘It’s now or never to get off your a*s’ and I took it to heart.

I finally put my resume out and applied to a few jobs. Got a call a week later.

Here’s the cool part, at the time I was making about $25k/yr – the person on the phone offered me $70. But I’d have to move 6 hours away and be able to start within 7 days.

I took it.

I was so excited to be making $70k.

Before the call ended the recruiter said ‘Well I’m going to put you down for $80, I have some wiggle room I left in to negotiate and I also get a little extra the more you make’.

I said that sounds great..

Then as she’s closing the call she says she’s got me down to start in 7 days, at $80hr.. see you then.

The reality is I took the job happy at $70k, but she meant per hour. She then upgraded me to $80/hr without me asking, and before the call was done I was making $165k/yr on a job that I had accepted for $70k.

By the end of the year I had made $275k with the overtime, basically 10x’ing my income all from that one call.

Image source: drteq, Christina Morillo


As a former banker and Financial Adviser the best advice is have an actual plan. I’ve seen so many people, even ones who make great money, who are always totally broke and can never achieve their goals because they have never taken the time to sit down and formulate a realistic plan to get there. They just have a dream and go through life always assuming “it will happen eventually”.

My wife and I set a goal to be mostly retired and living on our sailboat by 40. She used to roll her eyes at me when I pulled out my notebook every month or 2 and completely reevaluated every step in getting there. Well I’m sitting here typing this from my boat on the way to the Caribbean at 39.

Image source: Offshore3000, Bich Tran


Taught myself a second language between the ages of 16 and 17, impressed some Rotarians and they whisked me away from the horrors of the trailer park and made me an exchange student. So then instead of being a trash man or at best a truck driver, I became a linguist.

Of course later in life I reverted back to abject poverty but that’s a different story.

Image source: rrosai, Leeloo Thefirst


Learned a trade

Image source: another-horny-guy-, Burak The Weekender


Being at the right place, at the right time, talking to the right people.

You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you don’t know how to play the social game, and have a lot of luck it sadly isn’t going to happen.

Image source: ClearRefrigerator519, Timur Weber


Hard work and a huge dose of luck. I was a rock star at my former job. My former boss got a new job offer, and he asked me to follow him to the new company. I got a ~$15k/year raise doing the exact same job. But that job never would have existed if he hadn’t taken the job he did. He created it for me. 12 years later and he’s long gone but I’m still here, and making just shy of double what I started off at after a few internal role changes.

Image source: lollipopfiend123, Sora Shimazaki



Hard work and a huge dose of luck. I was a rock star at my former job. My former boss got a new job offer, and he asked me to follow him to the new company. I got a ~$15k/year raise doing the exact same job. But that job never would have existed if he hadn’t taken the job he did. He created it for me. 12 years later and he’s long gone but I’m still here, and making just shy of double what I started off at after a few internal role changes.

Image source: Kitchen_Victory_7964, Sudipta Mondal


Live like you only get half of your paycheck and throw the other half in a saving account you don’t touch

Image source: holyarsonist00923


Might sound harsh, but I dropped the group of people I was hanging with.

They all had no aspirations or drive to do anything or get out of the small town we grew up in.

I knew that if I stayed in that circle of people, I wouldn’t go or do anything with my life.

That was 8 years ago now.

I got a college degree, have my own house, and make $120k a year. Everyone back at home that I left still isn’t doing anything

Image source: HackJarlow23, THIS IS ZUN


Made about $30k in the GameStop stock bonanza then proceeded to spend it it all on a master’s degree. I’m no longer broke, but the feeling still lingers. I like to call it “phantom poverty.”

Image source: oc974, cottonbro studio


Married my way out of it. I had no idea her family were doing well because they live so frugally, but when I moved in with them to “save money” after marrying her as they put it, I was put in charge of managing everyone’s bills and credit cards.

When I saw my father and mother in laws bank accounts, I at first thought it was a mistake, but when I raised it with my wife she was like like no that sounds normal. I nearly fainted.

I know for bloody sure that their grandkids are going to want for nothing.

Image source: An_Draoidh_Uaine, Taras Budniak


I got completely clean. Then got a non-union apprenticeship, then went union

Image source: Cremefraiche007, Los Muertos Crew


After we married, my husband and I bought a small home at the time when it was low interest, we ate cheap and at home, when we had too we cut back on luxuries (Netflix, etc.)We did not go out to bars or night clubs, we paid our bills on time and we didn’t spend money we didn’t have. And we worked our butts off. Now my husband owns the business we work for we have three homes (two we rent out) and I became a stay at home dad.

Image source: Glittering_Dinner118, Karolina Grabowska


Grew up in poverty, trailer, no power, no food a lot of the time, hoarding food when I got it, watering down milk, etc.
Joined the USAF, got a B.S., broke my body, went to war, PTSD etc., saw friends die, almost died myself, medically retired 10 years later. Had to reinvent myself when I got out by changing careers since I wasn’t qualified to do the job I was doing in the military (very common) nor was I physically able to anyways. 8 years and 5 jobs later, I work for the government making 6 figures. So yeah. That.

So f**k everyone who say all you have to do is work hard or just get a better job. Everyone I know is still back home besides one (and he’s in the USAF Academy).

Still live like I’m broke and still do a lot of the things I did when I was poor. So does my wife. It doesn’t leave you, really. No matter how much money you make.

Image source: Bladorthin37, Adam Axon


I grew up with addicted/alcoholic parents. I’ve worked every day since I was 16 and stay far away from my family. My wife and kids are my rock and keep me working hard and pushing to be better. Pro tip: leave your small town and never look back. Take control and grab life by the horns.

Image source: ForlornCouple, Chris F


I’m a child of poor immigrants. I just happen to love science and especially mathematics. I obsessively studied it because it was cool. Enrolled in a community college because I wanted to learn more before getting a “grown up job.” One thing lead to another and now I’m a faculty at a university.

I think people should choose something interesting and focus on doing it well, learning, and developing as a person for a few years. After a few years, then decide if you want to continue or not. If not, then look for ways to use your new skills to take a step in a different direction.

Working hard and having a growth mindset is huge. But I have to acknowledge that I was **super lucky** that I just happen to love mathematics. Mathematics is one of those things that everyone needs yet everyone refuses to learn so I have a lot of opportunies.

Image source: supersaiminjin, Karley Saagi


Grew up poor. I am good at learning and my country has affordable education. Getting into university is a matter of getting a diploma from the right level high school, which I did. I then went to university and got a good job. I now pay more in taxes than my education cost the government.
It should be that simple anywhere.

Image source: Xaphhire, Clem Onojeghuo


Quit drinking. Turns out it’s tough to get out of crippling debt and the cycle of homelessness if you’re slowly killing yourself with alcohol. I was suddenly able to hold down a job and be a reliable, dependable, contributing member of society. I’ve got a fiancée, just bought a house in a decently middle-class suburb of a major city and have hobbies, interests and commitments that I honor.

Outside of overcoming addiction, the biggest learning for me has been not allowing my spending to increase as I make more and more money.

Image source: hucksley, energepic.com


I worked hard, didn’t spend much, put money on the side when I could, worked even harder, tried doing many different things to earn money, diversify baby !

Then my mom gave me 100 000€ because she sold her house for way more than what she paid for it in the 80’s and had money to spare.

So I bought a small house in a village where life is cheap, and now I just work part time. Crazy how life is so much easier without mortgage or rent to pay.

PS: if you wonder, the working hard and harder never gave me anything, I was still desperately poor, everything I did either failed or brought such little income it barely paid my bills.

Image source: GussDeBlod, Roberto Hund


I mean I’m less impoverished and less broke? I got on disability. Got tired of trying to work like everyone else and get punished and passed over because of my health issues.

Like, if I’m heading towards homelessness because my health won’t allow me to work 40hrs a week on site then call me disabled I guess.

The thing is, if more places allowed remote work I could work fine.

Image source: BarbarianFoxQueen, Kuncheek

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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