Poor People Are Not Stupid: Lessons Learned From a Windfall
When a woman from Texas inherited over $150,000 in 2018, she sought financial advice from the Moneyist on how to invest her newfound wealth. She was making $15 an hour and didn’t have a college degree. Fast forward five years, and she has made significant strides in building her financial portfolio, paid off her debts, purchased a tiny home, and invested in emerging markets, among other endeavors.
However, what she wants to emphasize is that people who earn less than $50,000 per year are not represented enough in the financial-advice world. She suggests that advice columns should cater to people who can only invest small amounts, which can be empowering. She also notes that poor people are not stupid, uneducated, or lazy; they’re simply trying to make ends meet and achieve financial stability.
The Blessing in Disguise of the Pandemic
The Texas woman notes that the pandemic brought a job opportunity that changed her life. She now makes almost $4,000 per month after taxes, one of the highest-paying jobs she’s had. She notes how grateful she is to have a job that makes her happy every second she’s working. Her frugality has also contributed to her success. She lives off of about $1,800 a month, which includes insurance policies, leaving the rest of her income to savings and investments.
She’s lived in her tiny home for a year and says it has changed her mindset on what makes her happy. She intends to live in the tiny home until it’s no longer feasible, forcing her into a more conventional dwelling.
Poor People Are Not Stupid
The Texas woman takes issue with the judgmental and condescending comments she received in response to her previous letter. Some suggested that she couldn’t be in the financial situation she was in because of her education level. However, she notes that many “poor” Americans are well-educated, working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
She believes that capitalism and the unchecked power of corporations contribute to the financial crisis in this country. When corporations can buy up homes and raise rents and banks can charge obscenely high interest rates, it creates an environment of exploitation. People are forced to work multiple jobs to afford basic necessities, which limits their opportunities to build wealth and financial stability.
- According to the UC Davis Poverty Center, more than 34 million Americans live below the poverty line, which is $26,500 for a family of four.
- In 2020, CNBC reported that nearly 40% of Americans couldn’t cover a $400 emergency expense.
- The United States has one of the highest income inequality rates among developed countries.
Poor people are not stupid. They’re fighting against systemic barriers to achieve financial stability, which can often include working multiple jobs and making difficult financial decisions. They need more representation and advice tailored to their specific financial circumstances to empower them to take control of their finances.
Personal finance is not one size fits all, especially for those living in poverty. The Texas woman’s experience highlights the importance of recognizing and addressing the financial needs of people from diverse financial backgrounds. Advice columns and financial institutions need to understand and acknowledge the unique challenges faced by those with limited financial resources, rather than making assumptions or judgments based on social status or education level. Everyone deserves access to financial stability and resources, regardless of their income or social status.