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What I Learned from Inheriting $150,000: Growing up in Poverty and Earning $14 an Hour

Poor People Are Not Stupid: Lessons from a Windfall


A woman from Texas wrote to the Moneyist in September 2018 asking for advice on how to invest her small windfall of over $150,000. She earned $15 an hour and didn’t have a college degree, but she paid off her car, bought a tiny home, topped up her retirement portfolio, invested in emerging markets, maxed out her IRA, invested in safe stocks and ETFs, and spent some on dental work in Mexico.

Five years later, she shared an update on MarketWatch and revealed how she is doing beautifully. She got a job opportunity that pays her almost $4,000 a month, lives frugally, and has improved her quality of life by living in her tiny home. However, she also shared how she faced judgment and condescension from people who couldn’t believe how someone with her education level could be in her financial situation.

Poor People Are Not Stupid

The woman from Texas is not the only person who has faced judgment and condescension for being poor. Many people assume that poor people are stupid, lazy, or don’t know how to manage their finances. However, the reality is that poverty affects people from all walks of life. Poor people are not a monolithic group of uneducated, illiterate, or irresponsible individuals. They are nurses, teachers, cops, lawyers, and many more who struggle to make ends meet despite working one or multiple jobs.

The financial crisis in this country is not just about personal responsibility. It’s about systemic issues such as unchecked capitalism, corporate greed, and predatory lending practices that prey on vulnerable individuals and communities. When corporations buy up single-dwelling homes and raise rents dramatically, it affects everyone, not just the poor. When banks and lending institutions charge obscenely high interest rates, it affects everyone, not just the poor.

Lessons from a Windfall

The woman from Texas’s story is a testament to the power of a small windfall. Instead of spending it all on material possessions or squandering it, she invested in herself and her future. She paid off her car, bought a tiny home, and topped up her retirement portfolio. She invested in emerging markets and safe stocks and ETFs, and spent some on dental work in Mexico. These decisions helped her weather the pandemic and land a job opportunity that pays her almost $4,000 a month.

The lesson here is that investing in yourself is empowering, regardless of how much money you have. You don’t need to be a Warren Buffett to start investing. You can start with as little as $25-$100 and watch your money grow over time. The key is to have a long-term vision, be disciplined, and seek out resources that can help you achieve your goals.

Living frugally and mindfully is another lesson from the woman’s story. Living in a tiny home taught her how to be efficient, mindful of her space, and mindful of herself. It forced her to focus on what truly makes her happy and improved her quality of life in ways that money can’t buy.

Related Facts

– According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 34 million Americans lived in poverty in 2019, with a poverty rate of 10.5%.
– Poverty affects people of color and women disproportionately, with Black and Hispanic Americans and single mothers having higher poverty rates than the national average.
– The wealth gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S. has widened significantly over the past few decades, with the top 1% owning more wealth than the bottom 50% combined.
– In 2020, the U.S. saw a surge in the number of people living in poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact.

Key Takeaway

The key takeaway from the woman from Texas’s story is that poor people are not stupid. They are not lazy or irresponsible. They are hardworking individuals who face systemic obstacles that limit their opportunities and trap them in poverty. The solution to the financial crisis in this country is not blame or judgment. It’s empathy, awareness, and systemic change that address the root causes of poverty and inequality.


The woman from Texas’s story is a powerful reminder that small windfalls can transform lives, and investing in yourself is empowering. Poverty is not a personal failure, but a systemic issue that requires systemic solutions. Poor people are not stupid, but often face judgment and condescension due to misconceptions and stereotypes. It’s time to start having honest conversations about poverty, wealth inequality, and systemic change that benefit everyone, not just the rich.

Denk Liu
Denk Liuhttps://www.johmm.com
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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