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Lessons Learned from a $150,000 Inheritance: My Experience Growing up in Poverty and Earning $14 an Hour

Poor People Are Not Stupid: Learning from a Windfall

Recently, a woman from Texas wrote to the Moneyist to ask how she should invest her windfall of over $150,000. She explained that this amount was life-changing for her, as she didn’t have a college degree, worked for $15 an hour and earned an additional $10 per hour from her part-time job, and paid $1,050 for rent. She paid off her car, bought a tiny home, invested in various portfolios, maxed out her IRA, and spent some money on dental work in Mexico. Five years later, she shared an update with MarketWatch readers and reflected on her progress and the lessons she learned from the experience.

Empowering Poor People to Invest

One of the profound beliefs she expressed was that more Americans making less than $50,000 a year should have access to financial advice. She emphasized that empowering this demographic to invest even small amounts of money can fill them with a sense of pride and determination. She acknowledged that she might never be a Warren Buffet, but what matters most is seeing her accounts grow.

A Blessing in Disguise: The Pandemic and Her Job Opportunity

She also shared how the pandemic had been a blessing for her personally, as she landed a job opportunity that increased her income to almost $4,000 a month after taxes. She lives frugally and invested most of her earnings, including health insurance, long-term disability insurance, full-coverage car insurance, and pet insurance. She loves this job and is happy every second she’s working, which shows that being financially secure can lead to happiness and contentment.

Tiny Home Living: A Mindful and Efficient Lifestyle

Her tiny home has been one of the greatest decisions she’s ever made. Living in a small space has helped her to be more mindful of her surroundings, and has improved her quality of life in ways other than financial. She intends to continue living in tiny homes even when some mobility issue forces her back into a conventional dwelling. Tiny living makes people more mindful not only of their living spaces, but also of themselves and how they live in their spaces.

Poor People Are Not Stupid

She emphasized that poor people are not stupid. They’re not illiterate country bumpkins who struggle to work a computer. Poor people are from diverse backgrounds and have varied professions. Many people with higher education levels also struggle financially. The financial crisis in America exists because of unchecked capitalism and the exploitation of people through excessively high interest rates and high rent costs by lending institutions and corporations. She believes that by empowering poor people to invest, they become more financially secure, and this in turn reduces their struggles.

Related Facts

  • There are currently 34 million Americans in poverty even after receiving pandemic relief fundings. (Forbes)
  • 17 million households in America have no bank accounts or very limited banking services. (NPR)
  • In 2019, the median income for households registered at $68,703, and it was $58,827 for white households, $45,438 for Black households, and $56,113 for Latino households. (Pew Research Center)

Key Takeaway

Empowering poor people to invest, even with small amounts, can provide a sense of pride, determination, and happiness. Living in a small living space can offer mindful living, is an efficient way of living, and can lead to an improved quality of life. Poor people are not stupid, and they come from diverse backgrounds and professions. Unchecked capitalism creates a financial crisis in America and exploits people through excessively high interest rates and high rent costs by lending institutions and corporations.


The experiences shared by the woman from Texas depict the reality of many Americans living in poverty. The lesson here is that investing, however small or big, can transform a person’s financial standing, and a mindful and small living space can bring about a sense of happiness and satisfaction. There is a significant difference in poverty across races and ethnicities in America, and capitalism and lending institutions and corporations must consider the consequences of exploiting people who are struggling financially. Poor people are not stupid but rather determined and hardworking citizens deserving of financial stability and support.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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