Formerly Rich People Share Their Experiences After Becoming Poor

This is a topic that most people don’t hear much about – probably because we don’t want to imagine going from rich to poor. Especially in America, poor to rich are the tales we like to celebrate, right?

There are always lessons to be learned in life, though, so if you’re curious what it’s like falling from on high and landing with the rest of us, these 15 people are ready and willing to share.

15. You always look at the totals.

 “Being able to afford a reliable car and gas are luxuries.

Going from driving new cars and using gas charge cards without looking at the bills to driving a 15-year-old vehicle and paying for gas with any spare cash you could find was shocking.”


14. A rude awakening.

“I grew up very privileged because both of my parents inherited a ton of money when they were young. I went to a very expensive summer camp, everything I owned was designer, and we owned a second home in the Hamptons. Everything changed after my father walked out, though. He blew through every cent and we had nothing left. He couldn’t even pay child support. For the first time in her entire life, my mother had to get a job.

The two of us ended up selling everything and moving to a studio apartment in a bad neighborhood. The transition was really tough, especially for my mother. She lost her friends and no longer had access to her favorite hobbies. She even became suicidal at one point.

I want people to know that while this kind of transition is definitely a ‘first world problem,’ it’s extremely painful and traumatic. Be nice to these people and help them when you can.”


13. Bounty is the quicker picker upper.

“Keeping your home and car clean is hard to do when you can’t afford cleaning supplies, since any spare money after bills goes to food like bread, bologna, peanut butter, ramen noodles, eggs, and water drink powders.

And Bounty is as strong as they say. You can even use it to scrub dishes or as a washcloth in the shower!”


12. There’s always a silver lining.

“We moved to Los Angeles from London in the ’80s. My dad was offered an ownership stake in a company with some family friends. We moved to a really nice house near Calabasas. I was 10 years old and living the life. My friends were all rich, and we got to do so many amazing things and meet some really famous people.

The whole company was a fake. Some guy who was wanted by Interpol fooled my dad and a bunch of our family friends. My parents lost everything.”

We moved to a tiny house, ate Grape Nuts for dinner, and had to scare the cockroaches by turning on the lights. I went to my old rich friend’s birthday party, and he and all my old friends asked me not to come over anymore because it made their parents feel sad.

My parents worked multiple jobs, started their own company, and ended up giving us a wonderful middle-class life. My best memory, though, was when we had nothing and had that house full of roaches.”


11. It can be hard to stay healthy.

“I used to have medical, dental, vision, and life insurance. Now I don’t because I can barely afford food. When I broke my glasses, I luckily had an old pair I wear now.

I used to get my teeth cleaned every six months, but now it’s going on three years. I’m lucky my teeth are in good shape.

I gave up on annual bloodwork and prescriptions for my heart and thyroid. I went from 215 pounds to 154 pounds because I only eat once a day, and I’m hoping the weight loss helps with my conditions.”


10. There are tough choices.

“My family was odd. We had money and lost it, and got money again briefly before losing it once more. We went from flying first class to having to decide between replacing pants with holes in the crotch and buying new food.

I remember my mom literally crying because I was bullied for that in school, and a friend of hers actually stepped in to provide new clothes so my mother wouldn’t have to ration our food.”


9. You pick and choose.

“I’m now willing to forgo necessary medical tests because I can’t afford them, or the treatment that would follow.”


8. You learn to accept help.

“I grew up a quite comfortable and very spoiled kid. I think the biggest thing that has shifted is the discomfort I have when people who make so much more than I do respond to me declining to go to an event or grabbing a bite after work by saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get you’ without a thought.

I totally used to be that person, so I know most of the time it isn’t coming from a place of malice or intentionally making you feel bad.

When I used to do it, it was because I wanted to spend time with the other person, but now I understand and feel like immediately offering to pay for someone versus thinking of an alternative is such a weighted response.

It’s almost like my personhood, interests, and boundaries have less value because the other person and their money outweigh me.”


7. It’s a hoarding situation.

“Things like ketchup packets, sauce cups, Sweet’N Low, creamers, etc., at restaurants and gas stations become so much more valuable.

I never thought I would be so excited to get something for free that was that small.”


6. It can buy freedom from anxiety.

 “Money. Really. Can. Buy. Happiness. Granted, there are a lot of other aspects of your life that need to be lined up to achieve true happiness. But the difference in stress levels between being well off and being on the low-income end is HUGE.

When I was married to a wealthy business owner, I don’t know that I ever even knew what real stress felt like. Now the pressure of bills, groceries, insurance…the burden on your brain is so heavy and never, ever goes away.

As happy as I am with my new life, it’s impossible to truly enjoy anything without that constant financial worry getting in the way.”


5. You re-think your standards.

“Quality of food.

You ask yourself, Can I afford breakfast? or How much can I spend on food in one day? Can I make it on $10?”


4. There’s definitely a learning curve.

“Having to learn when to do things, more so than what or how to do things, has been the biggest learning curve.

Like, I knew generally how to do laundry and how to budget and stuff, but figuring out how often to change my sheets and wash my towels, when seasonal sales come on to get a better deal on big purchases, when produce is in season (and thus cheaper), and even when to restock on something has been a whole ~thing~.

It’s so much information to keep track of! I feel like I constantly have a million things I need to remember to do versus being able to just buy whatever, whenever, or have someone like a housekeeper keep track of it.”


3. Like being punished.

“Paying the ‘poor tax’ was my first lesson.

My car insurance was $117 a month but only $520 a year if you could prepay.

I had no idea how much more expensive it was to be poor.”


2. You learn how to pinch pennies.

“Before, something I really took for granted was driving. Becoming poor shrinks your world — literally. The gas you use running errands adds up really fast when money is tight.

We were lucky enough to own a car still, which was important, since we lived in an area with little to no public transportation options. But unnecessary errands and trips were out of the question.

We couldn’t go to certain stores anymore, our employment options were limited by how far away they were (couldn’t afford a commute), and we visited distant relatives way less frequently. My mom even made us stop going to our family dentist because he was one town over, and this was a doctor we’d been seeing our whole lives.

Even just driving to the other side of town to pick up a friend became a big deal financially. It was really humiliating, since I was the only one in the friend group who ever asked anyone for gas money.”


1. Like a game of chess.

“I am no longer able to pay all my bills at the same time.

I have to maneuver due dates versus paychecks.”


These are super interesting tidbits, don’t you think?

If you’ve been through a similar experience, tell us in the comments what it was like for you!