'Pulling Yourself Out of Poverty': How Struggling Redditors Turned Their Lives Around

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Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Despite the United States’ immense wealth, around 38 million people still live in poverty. Much of that poverty is structural, the result of discrimination and the country’s paltry social safety net. But in the face of this stark reality, a group of Redditors have shown that it's not impossible to escape the cycle of poverty in America. In a thread posted to r/PovertyFinance, these Redditors explained how they reached financial stability, sharing tips for other Americans struggling to make ends meet.

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1. Take Care of Your Mental Health

Research has shown that poverty can both stem from and exacerbate mental illness. Two Redditors shared their direct experience with this link between economic instability and mental illness, with one crediting depression treatment as the catalyst for change. 

After years of homelessness and addiction, they were finally “able to hold down a job” after they received a prescription for clinical depression in jail. “I started thinking about the future instead of just dwelling on the present,” they share, adding that government programs were also helpful.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
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4. Get Educated

Redditors repeatedly cited education as a huge factor in escaping poverty. The data are clear, too: Well-educated Americans earn more and have far lower unemployment rates. Just take a look at high school graduates versus college graduates. The median American with a high school diploma makes $853 a week, while the median weekly earnings for college graduates is $1,432, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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5. Live Within (or Below) Your Means

One phrase continually came up in this thread: Live within (or even below) your means. “The more you live below your means, the more you have to invest,” one commenter advises, echoing others. That means you might have to pinch pennies for years before you can enjoy life’s pricier pleasures.

Related: 36 Money Myths You Need to Ignore

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San Luis, CO: Man Walking Past Cannabis Shop

9. Skip the Vices

According to a WalletHub study, the real cost of smoking cigarettes over a lifetime ranges from $2.22 million to $4.1 million. That’s accounting not only for the many packs of cigarettes smokers buy but also for healthcare expenditures, income losses, and other costs. It makes sense, then, why Redditors discourage picking up vices like alcohol, cigarettes, or cannabis, all of which could damage your health and finances.