People Who Grew Up Poor Share the 20 Ultimate “Poor” People Hacks

Life’s thrown us a curveball, and our bank accounts might be staging a rebellion, but fear not! We’ve got something up our sleeves- a treasure trove of tips and tricks that will have you grinning ear to ear as you outsmart the very concept of scarcity.

Being broke? It’s not a limitation; it’s a canvas for creativity!

One Redditor asked, “People who grew up poor, what was your best “poor” hack?” This received an overwhelming number of responses, but we have made a list of some of the most interesting hacks for you!

1. Cleaning 

young housewife cleaning on white.
Image Credit: ipag collection/Shutterstock.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “You can use vinegar, baking soda, or dish soap to clean almost everything. You don’t need to spend money on a bunch of specialty cleaning products. Also, don’t throw away torn/stained clothing or towels. These are your new cleaning rags. Now you don’t need paper towels.”

Another replied, “I agree wholeheartedly with the cleaning advice. White vinegar, bleach, rubbing alcohol, and/or dawn can clean almost everything. **Side note: do not ever mix vinegar & bleach.”

Say, what’s up to Vinegar, the superhero of the cleaning world. This stuff can tackle soap scum, funky smells, and even those pesky water stains. Mix it with water in a spray bottle, and you’ve got a homemade cleaner that will give those expensive sprays a run for their money.

2. Clothes

Women shopping in thrift store.
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First, let’s break it down- thrift store clothes aren’t just clothes. They’re fashion time machines, taking you on a journey through the ages without costing you an arm and a leg. Do you want to rock that vintage ’80s windbreaker? Done. How about those ’90s overalls that scream “Fresh Prince”? You got it. 

One said, “Pick up some cheap thrift store sweaters, coats, hats, and gloves. They don’t need to look great; wear them inside to save on heating bills. If you’re really cold, just keep layering on more clothes. Summer clothes, winter clothes, all of it.”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “I’ve gone to thrift stores all over the country, and they’re still very… VERY cheap compared to new. Jeans for less than 10 bucks, where new they’d be 80.”

3. Do-it-Yourself

Repairman with tools
Image Credit: pressmaster via DepositPhotos.com.

We’ve all been there. Broken chairs, leaky faucets, and things that refuse to work. But guess what? Watching tutorials and doing repairs yourself lets you save a whole lot!

A Reddit user wrote, “Before you pay to have something repaired, watch YouTube and see if you can fix it yourself. Try to borrow the tools to do the job. Clean the tools before returning them in a timely manner, and it’s more likely they’ll lend them to you again.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “You can literally save thousands of dollars by repairing household items by watching youtube tutorials.”

4. Sleep

Young beautiful woman sleeping on bed on blue background
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When you catch those much-needed Z’s, your body’s doing all sorts of ninja moves to repair and rejuvenate itself. And you know what that means? Your brain’s too busy overseeing this makeover to send those hunger signals.

This user shared, “Sleeping can help you in forgetting that you’re starving.”

Another added, “Especially if you sleep on your stomach or lay on a pillow.”

5. Beans and Rice

Healthy food: rice with red beans in a bowl close-up on the table.
Image Credit: AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock.

You’re staring at your empty fridge like a blank canvas, and your wallet gives you that “good luck, buddy” smirk. But hold up! Before you hit the panic button, remember the dynamic duo- beans and rice.

One said, “Beans and rice are actually quite nutritious.”

Another replied, “Red or black beans and rice combined have 11 amino acids which makes a complete protein. Fiber, carbs, protein, vitamins… Combine with ground sausage, onions, and peppers, sprinkle of Frank’s red hot (remember. On a budget) d**n near delectable.”

6. Water

Fitness woman drinks water from bottle on the beach near the sea
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A discerning Reddit user commented, “The best advice I can give for that is to drink a lot of water. It fills up your stomach for a while.”

Another person said, “Always put salt and sugar in the water if you do this. I would never recommend the abovementioned advice, but if you don’t add these two, you can die from drinking tons of water while you’re starving.”

And let’s talk about cost- water is basically free. We mean, it doesn’t get more budget-friendly than that, right? Forget those fancy drinks with names you can’t even pronounce. Water is the OG zero-cost superstar that’s available 24/7, rain or shine.

7. Art Openings

Happy couple looking at modern painting in art gallery.
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A Reddit user wrote, “When I was poor and young, I would go to art openings for the snacks and free wine.”

Another added, “That’s a good hack or newly opened stores, I did an art show when I got out of college at my local library, and some dude got HAMMERED from the wine I got. It was really awkward.”

And here’s the secret ingredient- confidence. Walking into an art opening like you own it is the key to unlocking the snack treasure. Act like you belong, mingle with the art crowd, and let the free goodies come to you.

8. Food Bank

Volunteers hands putting grocery products, foodstuff to food donations box
Image Credit: Veja/Shutterstock.

The food bank is the ultimate proof that you can score delicious eats without swiping that plastic card.

One said, “Find the nearest food bank and get yourself some food. There’s no shame in that. In my experience, they never gave you any expired/government-type food; it was all good quality stuff. I remember I got a whole chicken once. It fed me in my roommate for about a week; the rest of the food lasted through the month.”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “I volunteer for a food bank, and you’d be surprised at the amount of fresh produce/baked goods we throw out because not enough people come!!! If anyone reads this: believe me, absolutely no one is judging; we want people to visit !!”

9. Calorie per Dollar

Supermarket shopping cart full of groceries, sale and retail concept.
Image Credit: Stokkete/Shutterstock.

The money/calorie ratio isn’t just about snacks. It’s about every meal, every food choice you make. It’s your guide to navigating the grocery store aisles like a pro, avoiding the wallet traps that want to lure you into spending way more than you should.

This user shared, “Look for money/calorie ratio to avoid overspending.”

Another replied, “That reminds me of when I was a poor student and knew exactly what the cheapest ml of alcohol was. It was some cheap vodka that sold for 3.5€ a bottle.”

10. Saving Up from Restaurants 

Excited young brunette woman girl in casual white clothes, eyeglasses posing isolated on pastel blue background.
Image Credit: ViDI Studio/Shutterstock,.

A Reddit user wrote, “Stock up on napkins, sauces, utensils, whatever you can while grabbing something off the value menu at whatever fast food you choose. Most employees don’t gaf. I’ve never paid for red pepper flakes in my life, thanks to cheap pizza. Most of the freebies you can use with cheaper regular dinners like ramen or potatoes.”

Another added, “This has become harder. Fast food is stingy AF with ketchup & napkins. However, more pricey, chipotle is the only place I can think of that still has stacks of napkins available – unlike places like Subway where you have to take 1 napkin at a time.”

And here’s the best part-  it’s practically free. Yep, you heard us right. All these napkins, sauces, and utensils are budget-friendly souvenirs from your dining adventures!

11. Foiling

man wearing red tshirt looking upset
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This user shared, “Foil over your windows if you don’t have air conditioning to keep the heat out.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “A layer of plastic sheeting that they sell to seal windows for cold insulation will also increase the ability to “keep cold in”. Bad physics explanation but consider the reflective foil plus the extra insulation for maximum help. Even better, fewer windows, although that sucks.”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “God, I almost forgot I had done that back in my student days…. It actually works amazingly well.”

But hold on; there’s more to this foil frenzy. It’s not just about keeping the heat out; it’s about creating your very own shady oasis. You’re transforming your room into a cool sanctuary where you can escape the scorching outdoors

12. Share

Skeptical brunette woman looking at camera
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Sharing what you have isn’t just about giving away your extra snacks or spare change; it’s about building a support system that will have your back when times get tough. 

A discerning Reddit user commented, “Share what you have with the right people, and they’ll share what they have with you.”

Another replied, “This one came around for me big time. Back when life was still good, I would occasionally give my neighbors a little pot of what I was cooking because I always ended up making too much. Then one day, a neighbor came over unannounced and saw that I was eating a bowl of plain rice for dinner, and immediately she could tell I was hitting on some hard times.

I ran out of money because my business tanked during covid, and losing my dad made me too depressed to get a job. I was ashamed of people finding out how far I had fallen, but they did, and their reaction was not at all what I expected. Now they keep asking me every now and then how I’m doing, and I end up joining dinner sometimes.

Life is slowly getting back on the rails again for me, thanks to my sweet neighbors having my back during tough times. Point of the story; Be kind to others, and you shall receive kindness in multitude when it matters. Caring is an investment.”

13. Fuel

Close up of asian old man wearing helmet is cycling a bicycle in the park - enjoying sport or hobby living healthy.
Image Credit: aslysun/Shutterstock.

Using a bicycle is giving gas money the ultimate smackdown. You’re saving those precious dollars that would’ve otherwise gone up in smoke, and instead, you’re pedaling your way to financial freedom. It’s like a budget win that’s going to have your wallet doing the happy dance. 

One said, “Use a bicycle whenever You can and save gas money.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “My husband has a bike he put a gas engine on. Half a gallon gets up to 200 miles. He uses it for work whenever the weather permits. Saves us probably $200+ a month on gas.”

14. Fishing License

Dad and son fishing outdoors in front of a lake house.
Image Credit: AboutLife/Shutterstock.

Having a fishing license opens the door to many awesome experiences. You’re not just catching fish; you’re catching moments, bonding with buddies, and creating stories that’ll have you grinning from ear to ear. 

A Reddit user wrote, “Fishing license. I had almost nothing as a kid, but I remember long and great days spent fishing for the cost of a fishing license (I’d save over the winter). I used to dig worms up under leaf piles, had a super basic pole, and leftover line people would throw out. Just a nice way to spend a day outside and have food without paying for it.”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “To expand on this a bit, when I was 16 and had to get my first fishing license, my dad insisted that I spend what was at the time a whole week’s paycheck and buy a lifetime resident’s license. It was around $150 back in 1987. I have no idea what they are now, but even if they’d averaged $10/ year, I’ve saved over $200.”

15. Soap

foam in the hands, soap bubbles in the palms, the concept of washing, cleanliness, hand wash.
Image Credit: Leka Sergeeva/Shutterstock.

This user shared, “When soap runs out, fill the bottle up with water a little bit.”

Another replied, “Even better, rather than topping up at the end where you have a tiny bit of soap in quite a bit of water, keep topping up with water periodically while you’re using the soap. Keeps the soap-to-water ratio higher, and you can eek it out much further.”

That diluted soap will still do its job, foaming up and cleaning like a champ. You’re not sacrificing cleanliness for frugality; you’re making a savvy choice that keeps you feeling fresh and fabulous while keeping your wallet intact.

16. Coax Cable

Group of Coaxial TV Cables with Connectors
Image Credit: Flegere/Shutterstock.

A Reddit user wrote, “If you have a coax cable lying around from some type of electronic you can connect one side to the back of your TV and cut the other and expose the wires on the inside. Bend them so it’s shaped Iike a “Y” and wrap the point of the “Y” with a flat piece of tin foil a couple of times, and it will work as an antenna so you can watch judge judy.”

Another added, “You can also shove a paper clip in the coax port, and it’ll work as an antenna. It won’t work well, but it’ll work.”

And here’s the cool part- it’s easier than nailing that high score in your favorite video game. Seriously, all you have to do is plug that coax cable into your TV’s antenna input, give it a tweak or two, and boom- you’re tuning in to TV heaven.

17. Safety Razor

Serious guy shaving his beard
IMage Credit: Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “In terms of shaving, buying a safety razor with a brush will pay for itself in a few months compared to insane blade refills. Shaving soap and razors are super cheap(if you don’t get the way marked up s*** with the “manly” branding). I get razors that cost like $8 for a hundred off Amazon. One blade will last me a few shaves.”

Another replied, “Cartridge shaving is a scam. Safety razors with a good blade are much cheaper and a better shave.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “Yesss!!! Also, get yourself a safety razor. The handles can be found pretty cheap on Amazon. Then after that, you’ll only spend 5 bucks on a pack of blades. There’s definitely a learning curve to using them, but once you get it, the shave is just as good or even better than a Mach 5 or something like that.”

Now, let’s talk long-term perks: using a safety razor isn’t just about getting a smooth shave; it’s about embracing sustainability like a pro.

18. Remember the Prices

close-up view of young woman shopping groceries on online supermarket with her mobile phone.
Image Credit: McLittle Stock/shutterstock.

Alright, imagine this: you’re at the checkout, items all lined up, and the cashier scans that cereal box with a price that makes your eyebrows do the limbo. But hold up, before you let that price, your memory muscle kicks in- the right price you spotted on the shelf!

One said, “Remember how much a price is supposed to be and politely point out when it rings up wrong. 

Storytime: My mom sent me to the store to buy dish soap. I got to the cashier, and it rang up different from the shelf price. The manager checked; sure enough, it rang up wrong, and I got it free. I took the money my mom gave me and rented a movie my family wanted to see.

Gave my mom the movie first, and while she was freaking out, handed her the soap and explained what happened.”

Another added, “We got lucky one time, bought a can of tuna, it didn’t ring up at all, we were like “There wasn’t a price on the shelf, but the other types were this price” and the cashier was just like “You know what, if they can’t be bothered to make sure this stuff rings up at a price and put a price up I’m not gonna be bothered to call a manager to deal with it, you can just have it.””

19. Family Planning

Happy mother with newborn baby right after giving birth
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Family planning isn’t just about saying “no” to having a family; it’s about saying “when” and “how” to make it work for you. 

This user shared, “Watch your parents and learn that the only way to thrive is not to have kids or get married and at the same time stop the generational trauma that’s been inflicted upon your forefathers all the way down to you.”

Another replied, “I felt this deep. I’ve never had kids or married and think a lot of this is my deep-seated issues of growing up in poverty and not wanting to end up in that as an adult.”

20. Library

In library. Pretty blonde woman standing with books in library.
Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock.

A Reddit user wrote, “THE LIBRARY. Growing up, my father had three failed businesses, and a household of 7 lived off of my mom’s single income. The library was everything, books, movies, stories on tape; later it was the source for very low-cost dial-up internet access.”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “If you have a bunch of roommates, libraries can be nice, free, quiet, climate-controlled places to get downtime.”

But hold on; there’s more to this library love affair. It’s not just about the free stuff; it’s about the sense of community and belonging. You’re not just borrowing books but becoming part of a space where learning, creativity, and connection thrive.

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Woman as a driver eats and drinks during the car ride and is therefore careless and distracted.
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.

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