Dealing with Poverty

How to live when poverty comes to you

Poverty is not a pleasant subject. We all wish it would go away. We don't like seeing pictures of people living in poverty. We especially don't like it when we are the ones living in poverty. However, poverty is a reality. Most people go through a period of being poor, and struggling to survive. Some even struggle with it their whole life. There is a lot of discussion on why people are poor and how they can escape poverty. Here, I want to define what poverty is, the sources of poverty, and finally how to deal with it when you are the one going through it.

What is poverty?

Many think that poverty is something that happens in third world nations. Many would argue that there is no true poverty in the United States. However, I propose to you that poverty is relative to the society in which a person lives. Yes, poor people in wealthier nations can always see people worse off in poorer nations, but that does not explain away an individuals struggle for daily survival. Even though a poor person in the United States may be in better living conditions than someone in Ethiopia, they still struggle for daily survival because the cost of living in the United States is much higher. This fact causes it to be more difficult to obtain the financial resources needed to live.

So, what is poverty? Poverty is the financial condition in which an individual is not able to sufficiently meet their physical needs or the needs of their family. When someone has to make choices to go without true physical necessities, they are living in poverty.

Following are some signs of someone living in poverty:

1. Making tough choices

Many have to make a choice between eating a meal or paying a utility bill. Some choose between going to the doctor or eating a meal. Some have to choose between meeting a physical need and paying for a car repair so they can continue to go to work. There are many other difficult choices people must make to survive another day without plunging into financial ruin. The reality is that the choices that many must make are hard and cause much pain.

2. Necessary debt

I tire of hearing that debt is always bad and that you can get out of debt. This simply is not true for some. I have lived in poverty and have had to get a loan I could not make payments on or put money on a credit card I could not pay just to make it one more day on necessary physical needs, such as food and doctor bills. Some are in debt due to no fault of their own. They had no other choice if they were going to survive.

3. Fight for survival

Those living in poverty find themselves on the brink of financial ruin. They begin to fight for survival. In the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith, the character being portrayed was Chris Gardner, a man living in San Francisco in the 1980s. He became homeless, due to lack of income. He developed a fighter mentality. Once when trying to obtain shelter for himself and his son for the night, a man cut in line, causing Chris to lose out on shelter. At that point he got in a physical fight with the man, and got his spot in line back. There are other ways in which those in poverty will fight to survive, but fight for survival becomes a reality for the poor. Even pursuits like hub-pages, and other adventures can be a sign of fighting to survive, not to come out on top.

4. Survival mentality

Many work and live to be on top. Those living in poverty often work and live with thoughts of survival in mind. They have no dream to be the best or to achieve greatness. They have one thing in mind and that is surviving for one more day. Their struggle is a daily reality, and they don't bother with financial success, because it seems so far out of reach at the moment.

5. True concern for needs

Most of us worry about something. We may worry about getting a dreaded disease, whether we will ever get that promotion, or some other thing that truly bothers us. However, the poor have true concern whether their physical needs will be met or not. They are consumed with thoughts of worry, even panic, over income and if their job will hold out one more day. They often worry about losing their job, for if they did they would have no resources to draw on until another job came along.

Causes of Poverty

There are many opinions given by well meaning, but ignorant people on why a certain individuals are poor. Often, the poor are very hard working people and are not to blame for their situation. Following are some of the reasons people find themselves living in poverty.

1. Lack of work

When good jobs are in short supply, an individual may find themselves unable to find a good paying job. They could get a job, but the available jobs are poverty wages. It isn't necessarily that people are picky, but that they understand that many jobs aren't worth the time due to the extremely low salary that is offered. There are other circumstances that cause many to not be able to find adequate work.

2. Lack of adequate income

When a poor person finally obtains good income, they often have so much debt and back payments from the past that it takes a long time to even get back to zero, let alone make progress. This can cause a person to remain in the cycle of poverty. Too, a person may be working hard, but for whatever reason, the income is just not enough. Often they cannot take the time necessary to look hard for a good paying job, because they cannot afford the time off of work. Again, a cycle is in place that is difficult to escape.

3. Circumstances beyond control

Many are in poverty due to circumstances they cannot control. Maybe it is a divorce that leaves a mother with children to raise without adequate financial resources. Some find themselves in a lawsuit they don't deserve, but lack the resources to obtain a good lawyer, and therefore unable to defend themselves in court. There are a myriad of circumstances that can lead to poverty that are not the fault or within the control of the individual or family that it affects.

4. Bad choices

Yes some are in poverty due to bad choices such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, bad investments, chasing false dreams, or other choices that are the fault of the individual. Too, laziness causes some to live a life of poverty. These people need to learn the value of hard work in order to improve their situation.

5. Lack of compassion

Many are stuck in a cycle of poverty and cannot get out of it themselves. The one thing that could get them out of poverty is a financial break. However, there are many with the financial resources to help these people, but they selfishly consume their money on themselves. I encourage you to look around and see those in need around you and reach out and help them. They are not necessarily looking for a hand out. They just need that one break that will give them enough to make progress ahead. Don't look to the government to do anything about it. They have proved for a long time now that they are not the answer to poverty. Churches need to step up to the plate and give to the poor rather than spending money on buildings that are over the top with architecture. Churches could learn to do without all the modern conveniences and techie tools, so that the needs of the poor around them could be met. Too, neighboorhoods could make a difference in the fight against poverty. If you have a neighbor struggling with poverty reach out to them in love, and help them any way you can. You may not be able to change the world, but you can change their world for the better.

Dealing with poverty

If you find yourself living in poverty I want to give you some tools to help you deal with it. My goal is not to give you advice on how to overcome it. I may deal with that in another hub. Here, my goal is to give you tools you need to deal with the present situation you find yourself in.

1. Understand that you are not alone

There are hundreds of millions of people all over the world who live in poverty. The struggle is to think that you are the only one. You are not. You are part of a mass group of people who find themselves in poverty, though these people are valuable individuals.

2. Get out of the zone

When you are in poverty, there is real temptation to think only in the moment for survival. Learn once again to see the big picture, and to look ahead. Remember that there is more to life than making money. Develop those relationships in your life. Take walks in the park, which is free, and enjoy life. Some day we will all die. You can't take your money with you, so don't make money more important than it really is.

3. Enjoy life

Poor people can be happy. They can enjoy life. There are so many enjoyments in life to be had that don't involve money. Take joy in the little things. Enjoy your family, and give your children a legacy of love, which is worth far more than riches.

4. Recognize that poverty has its advantages

Yes, there are advantages to being poor. The poor have the opportunity to appreciate the simpler things in life that the rich often overlook. In fact the Bible states that God has chosen the poor to inherit heavenly riches (James 2:5). This does not mean that all poor people will be in heaven, but Jesus did say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to make it into heaven (Matthew 19:23,24). Why? Because they are so focused on obtaining earthly wealth, that they have no time to invest in true eternal wealth. Remember, that when God walked the Earth in the Person of Jesus that He chose to live in poverty.

5. Remember what money cannot buy

Money cannot buy happiness, love, peace, fulfillment, thankfulness, family, friends, and many other things that truly brings meaning to life.

Poverty is a reality in this world. It doesn't have to destroy us. As we help each other, there will be less poverty. Also, as we keep our focus on the important things of life, poverty will not have the last word.

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Comments 47 comments

pcdriverdoctor profile image

pcdriverdoctor 8 years ago

Thanks for a great hub!

imdemeter profile image

imdemeter 7 years ago

I wanted to add that many of the people who find themselves in financial trouble to the point of loosing their homes etc it due to a sudden illness or disability. Mental health problems are also a contributing factor. Combine an illness, mental health issues, loss of employment and no family to help out; a combo for poverty. This is not unrealistic and happens everyday. Lack of compassion is certainly a great point. I appriciate your article.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 7 years ago Author

imdemeter- thanks for the insight. That was a good point on illness. Often people will find themselves without insurance and making a little too much for government help, so all doctor bills come out of their own pocket.

meghan 7 years ago

thanks 4 posting this, my family is going through poverty because my dad lost his job, and its been really tough on us,but we are still very happy that our family can still enjoy the simple things in life, i still hope my dad can find a job before thing get worse, thanks again

john  6 years ago


Gretchen 6 years ago

Thank you for writing this. I have already come to the realization that my poverty is not all negative. My children will grow up being more sensitive to other people and understand what really is important. Caring for other people in real need. I also have recently come to understand that hand outs don't help those of us in poverty. We all need to work hard to get what we really need, and that is not financial, it is to have a schedule and be productive, what ever that may be.

Helen A. Lerion 6 years ago

A Good topic to discuss and learned the poverty descriptions by this webpage. Poverty can't explained by a cave man. Their system was very different by our present civilization culture. The mountainous people can't even identify what's poverty is. If we compare them to us, we could easily identify the meaning of poverty, rather than them. I meet a family, which the lived a far away place, I give them gifts of fashioned clothing, but to my shock of my mind, they throw it, and exchanged it for a simple cheap cupcakes. therefore I realized they were not affected by the poverty terms, of shelter.They were satisfied of their leaf home roof handmade. They importance of poverty was a system which define of any cultures, variation of terms and applications. Usually in the city, losing homes, no jobs, no fashion clothing, no cars, were called in poverty line. Poverty could be related to greed if not meet. In reaching them those in poverty line household, lets make sure, its the product of food, the farm for livelihood was accepted even to all cultures of lifestyle either in the city or in the corner of the earth..thanks.. Just my opinion shared comment by Helen A Lerion..

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 6 years ago Author

Helen- Great insight! Thanks for the comment.

skye2day profile image

skye2day 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

You have a fantastic hub here. There is one with all power that would be God. I know where you come from and I to have lived in poverty. Since you wrote this hub times are getting more difficult. God is the only reason I am here in peace and not beside myself. I have less then I have ever had but more joy and peace then I have ever had. Money does not buy joy and peace and no one can take it. It comes form the Lord in knowing who he is and who we belong to. Green does help that is for sure. When I really got it 'that God is my source and He will never leave nor forsake me and will supply my needs according to His Riches and Glory' He has done all that which He promises in His word.. We live in a fallen world. Christ is calling many to call on Him. He is creator of all and owns it all anyway..

Please read 'happy life' and or 'window washer' you might enjoy. You put much hard work into your hub of love and

I pray for solutions to so many needs. Those that 'have much will be asked by God to give much.' This of course is not always the case, many hang on and do not give. Many give all they can and it seems not to mmake a dent but if one life can be Blessed with a hug or smile and a buck Glory to God. At the least the one that gives is Blessed in joy. I wish I had plenty of green you would want to be on my block. Many Blessings Michael.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 6 years ago Author

Sky2day- Very encouraging comment. Since writing this hub I have become homeless and that with a family. We serve the homeless in our city on the street level and God has allowed us to walk that path. What a blessing! I have more joy now than before we were homeless. Your comment is truly inspiring. I hope to write more hubs on the topic and other topics in the future but I am having to step back for now due to not having as much access to the computer.

gf 6 years ago

thanks 4 posting this

Priyanka Mamta Kumar 5 years ago

i think if the govt are aware of this increase in poverty they should atleast help this people by increasing employment or creating a workshop for them

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

priyanka- thanks for the comment. I believe that the government is actually the source of much of the poverty that exists by oppressing people. I am a passivist when it comes to government and don't believe that the government has any answers. Private organizations and individual people are the ones with the greatest power to make a difference in poverty. The battle against poverty can begin to be won as each person reaches out to their neighbor in love.

Goodpal profile image

Goodpal 5 years ago

Poverty can make people truly compassionate and better human beings, despite all the negative publicity attached to it. Sometimes there are situations beyond our control; for example, ill health, sudden loss in business, accidents, deaths, natural calamities and so on. Such incidents can throw us into hardship and in the opposite direction of prosperity. Therefore, when poverty is taken as a form of hardship and a challenge there is opportunity for personal growth.

Thanks for writing on this topic.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

Goodpal- what a great attitude. Unfortanately, with extreme wealth in the Western world, we struggle to see the value of poverty. Instead of looking down on those in poverty as being less human, we must look on them as fellow humans and walk with them through their hardship.

Anon 5 years ago

I truly understand what it is like to live on both sides. When growing up I had everything provided for me, and whatever I wanted I had, fast forward to now and I'm married, but unemployed. My husband's job is a smidge above min wage, and our bills are just piling up. We struggle to pay our rent and often go without food so we can stretch our money. I really don't know where to turn to anymore, our church has helped us so far but every time I go back to ask for more help, I feel that they are more reluctant to give. I have been struggling to get a job, but even if I get an interview there always seems to be someone with more experience. I want to start a family but one more mouth to feed would be impossible. I just don't know what to do anymore. It is hard to socialize when everyone wants to go out, but we're negative $300 in our checking and our cards have been deactivated.I have applied for medical assistance through the state, but I need to prove that I am disabled and therefore unable to work to receive any kind of help.I refuse to lie about my ability to work, but with my depression, and without any medication I feel like things are just 10x harder.Our families will not help because they feel that they are being enablers.My husband and I are good people, we don't smoke, drink, do drugs, or participate in anything illicit... I want to know when if ever someone would just do something small to help? Maybe invite us over for dinner so we can get together without a bill, maybe send us an encouraging note, or offer their ear? Just something small! I don't want your money, I don't want to take your food, I don't want to inconvenience you, and most of all, I don't want it to be the topic of our discussions. I know that I sound like I am venting, and it's true I am a little, but I really want people out there to know, that even if you've done your research and know what the ratio between the impoverished and the wealthy you will never truly understand poverty. Poverty is knowing that your dreams will never come true, but trying to achieve them anyway. It sucks.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

Anon- I totally understand everything you are saying. My family has not struggled with rent, we actually have been homeless for most of the last year. We get attacked, ridiculed, and judged constantly by others though we are hard workers. However, we have found a few who support us and say nothing negative to us.

Please email me and you can vent some more if you need to, and I will share with you what we have learned and some ideas to help you.

Stephen Davies 5 years ago

Yes poverty is sometimes due to unforseen circumstances like illness etc etc but most of the time its due largely to lazy stupid losers who cant get off their arses and work hard.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

Stephen- Do you know a lot of poor people, so that your comments are informed or are you sitting on your ass judging them?

The fact is, poverty is a worldwide problem caused so often by government oppression, domestic violence, divorce, death, and yes some are lazy, but Most work very hard.

Nike is very guilty of using sweat shops to make their shoes, which keeps people who work very hard in poverty.

So, let's get all the facts first, then make informed judgements that leads to action to eliminate poverty.

Rebecca 5 years ago

I am doing an exhibition topic on this and it had a little help.

Diana 5 years ago

I am also doing an exhiion topic on poverty and this helped me too. You got it all wrong though. They cant take long walks in the park if they are trying to get food and money. but it was very useful. thank you

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

Rebecca- That's good to hear.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

Diana- Thanks for the input. As far as the walks in the park. One thing I have taught the homeless to do that I work with is to take 10 minutes a day and laugh or do something relaxing. It helps them keep their mind balanced as they struggle to escape poverty.

Goodpal profile image

Goodpal 5 years ago

Poverty is basically a human issue rather than a money issue. I truly empathize with those living without even the basic needs for survival. Feelings of constant frustration, helplessness, and disparagement are the faithful companions of poor souls. Looking at some of the comments, I felt like mentioning two of my hubs on poverty:

I again thank you for touching on an issue of human suffering.

Hendrika profile image

Hendrika 5 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

Poverty affects different people in different ways. For some it can make them draw closer to God and for others it drives them away as they struggle to survive on a daily basis. You mental health is also going to play a role in how you cope with poverty.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

Goodpal- Thanks for the feedback. Thank you for your writings on poverty. We need to have compassion for the poor.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 5 years ago Author

Hendrika- Yes, your mental health will either help or hurt you in times of poverty. We need to come alongside those struggling mentally so that they can escape the situation they find themselves in. There are so many who have no friends and would love to have just one person who loves them.


Goodpal:I agree with you,poverty is human problem which needs to be solved among humans them selves

and i take it to be adisease mind becouse if you stop thinking abaut what you're to do en you keep your self domant you end poor.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

Drichima- that is a good point. Many people lose focus of their goals, and they lose their purpose in life and end up poor, because they gave up and stopped living.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

ramboruiz- thanks for the input. Yes, poverty is a daily reality for much of the world. Ignorance- yes, you are so right.

PattyG 4 years ago

I believe this is a great issue. I have visited many developing countries and poverty is everywhere, many people living in or around these sort of communities don't think much of it, but from a standpoint of someone coming in from a very wealthy childhood with no struggles it makes me realize how ungrateful many people are, as am I. For a fourteen year old girl living in one of the most wealthiest neighborhoods in the city I never really understood what poverty was, but this really made me feel very fortunate and I would love to learn about how I can help.

Of course everyone struggles with different things, but I really couldn't imagine what people must be going through with having to make life threatening decisions such as the ones people in the comments have said. I'm very lucky I found this article, it had very good points and was very educating. Thank you so much.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

PattyG- appreciated your comment. One way to help is to walk with those in poverty. Mother Teresa is a good example. She did not just serve in a soup kitchen. She lived among the poor.

ben 4 years ago

thanks for putting this up i had been swinming in povert since my pqrents die i have one brother which i tqke and a sister which they live with me before i used to blame people,govt for my life after i read this topic i feel gulty for my life becuse i am blind to see my future pls i need your words of encouragement and financal asiseting this my email

Midget 4 years ago

I was born poor. but i've always dreamed of being rich. i'm still poor and depressed as hell i'm at my wits end. Dont mean to sound mean or evil but i feel like its messed up God wont allow us to enjoy no riches until were dead. assuming we go to heaven. Who ever claim to be happy poor is stronger then me i been poor for 27 years and i i feel like offing myself more and more. even worst this is the longest i ever went with out a job. sick of it no wonder we have criminals in this world. REAL HARD TO BELIEVE IN A GOD THAT WANTS YOU TO STRUGGLE YOUR ONLY LIFE AWAY

Jesshubpages 4 years ago

Being poor is an advantage. Though I am considered a poor family man in the measure of material wealth, I could say I am blessed. Through pain, discomfort, and in want, I could see God who is awesome in His faithfulness.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

Midget- First, I'm sorry to hear of your struggles. I came from a well to do family, but have lived my adult life in poverty. I love where I am now. I don't miss having everything, as it is a curse. Keep in mind that God, when He was on earth was a homeless man. In the Bible the Apostle Paul wrote about his joy in being poor so that he could make others rich, talking about spiritual wealth. Don't give up. The Bible says that the rich have only Hell to look forward to when they die. God is against the rich, but loves the poor.

downunderndownnout 4 years ago


i am american and have been trapped in australia with my children. due to family laws and an archaic system that does not truly take in the best interest of children (nor do they bother tying that interest to the interest of the responsible parent), I am a plane trip away from a much better life for me and children but am not 'allowed' to take them (for even a visit!), all because the deadbeat dad said...'no'. I have no support here at all and the job market is horrific. I have been applying right and left, going for even coffee shop jobs, anything...when I have a college degree. The ex is not made to pay child support due to the laws here..or lack thereof. Basically due to his whim to continue to abuse me years after leaving him, my children and I are thrust in poverty. We are a plane trip away from tons of support, I can more easily get a job and it is ripping me apart as my kids have no family here to speak of. I went from being a bit of a yuppy puppy in the 80s and 90s to financially and emotionally destroyed by a monster, who appears to be sanctioned by the courts. I was literally told in open court by the an 'independent childs lawyer' (who didn't even know the sex of my children or their names) my own barrister...that I DID NOT COUNT. I just want to thank you for this site. I am trying so hard to accept my current fate and keep going for the kids sake and my own sanity. I am up at night worrying about what to feed the kids for school lunch..when I can buy them a school outfit as they have few and they are ripped...if i will get another eviction notice...when my shoddy car will break down...I feel I am in hell on earth against my will in what should be a first world country with the concept of equality considered..yet my hands are tied and my feet bound, it seems. Anyway, thank you for some inspiration. I never wanted poverty and I work so damned hard for someone facing it. hrose

Hendrika profile image

Hendrika 4 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

downunderndownnout, I can really feel for you. I know it is hard to keep believing when things are so bad. My husband and I are also really down and out, with no hope of ever recovering. We are surviving thanks to the help of our children. So, we all have to cling to what Jesus has done for us and know that even though we cannot understand it, believe me I cannot, but I simply have to keep faith otherwise you have nothing left.

I know how hard it is to have grown up privileged and then end up in poverty, that is where we are. What I am trying to say is, even though we cannot understand our despair we be worse without God. The reason I am telling you about our own situation is so that you can know I am not speaking from the outside, I am in there as well.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

downunderndownnout- Wow! A true example of how the systems oppress people. The good news is that God someday will take out those systems and create a world of equality. But, what to do for now. I will pray for you. I was homeless for awhile and only by a miracle was I able to get out of it. Feel free to email me so you have a friend in this journey.

Hendrika- Thanks for the encouraging comment.

cheri 4 years ago

it amazes me that for months i have been trying to find these families in the back hills of west virginia in desperate need of help and cannot find any information

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

cheri- I live on the West Coast so I don't know what to tell you. However, my wife is from there, and I've been there. These poor families are everywhere. They are usually found way out on one lane dirt roads. Then, there are the poor in Charleston and Huntington too. Williamson has a large amount of poor in the surrounding area too.

D'Angelo 4 years ago

Michael I commend you for your heart, compassion, blog, & love for God!!!! I just wrote a research paper on poverty in America, and in the process of looking for solutions I ran across this blog. It touches my heart that someone else feels as I do. You remind me alot of my father, also an author, and a man after God's own heart. If you ever get a chance, you should check out his book,

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

D'Angelo- I will check it out. Thanks for the comment.

storm elliott 4 years ago

money doesn't buy happiness, but it does cure hunger. and yes often people end up in poverty due to disabilities and illness. it can take 2 years to get SSD. and then many people make uncaring judgemental assumptions. it takes a thick skin to accept being on SSD.

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 4 years ago Author

storm elliott- Yes, I know that SSD is difficult to get onto to. I disagree that money cures hunger. It used to be that food was free, but in our modern society we have to go to a supermarket to buy food at very high prices. I believe that the cure for hunger is dealing with the systems that cause hunger to begin with.

OneilPowers 2 years ago

truly a Great writer , this article really give me a new perspective on the issue of poverty and a more vivid description on poverty , thanks a lot , looking forward for your next article .

Michael Davis profile image

Michael Davis 2 years ago Author

Thank you so much

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