Self-imposed Poverty



A friend posted this image on her Facebook wall of the present she just wrapped.

It made me think of this trend that’s popular right now, to intentionally make or buy things that look cheap.

I like to watch interior design shows, and it amazes me how many times someone will buy furniture pieces that, to me, look like you should be able to get them for $20 or dig them out of a dumpster, but it’s considered trendy.

Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money. Getting something new that wasn’t a hand-me-down or a used donation was the best feeling in the world.

I don’t understand why you would want to buy things that look like you can’t afford to buy things. I also hate aging furniture. When you’ve never owned a new piece of furniture, and all your pieces are ACTUALLY aged and showing wear and tear, you want things that look new and beautiful.

But apparently when you have the money for things, you want to buy or make pretty furniture look old and used?? I just don’t get it.

Another trend along these lines is with wrapping presents. It’s considered artsy to wrap with brown paper and twine/string. However, when you grew up wrapping presents in paper bags and the Sunday comics, all it says to me is “I couldn’t afford wrapping paper.”

I also know a lot of people like homemade gifts. And while I enjoy making things for others, I’d rather buy presents because I never could afford to, and because there were many years my parents couldn’t afford to buy things for us, so I associate homemade gifts with poverty.

I think it’s interesting how your experiences color the way you view different things like these.

2 responses »

  1. I was poor as a child, too. These days I’m an over gifter, probably as a means of compensating for all the years I wasn’t able to fully participate in gift-giving events. But I still live a simpler, more minimalist life. I learned that it didn’t matter what I did or didn’t have, happiness was my choice. It sounds cheesy, I know. But poverty showed me the beauty in the world. So many people helped us and many of them didn’t have much more than us. Now that I’m financially comfortable I try to do what others did for me as much as possible. It helps me feel better about the times we struggled knowing I’m making somebody else’s battle a little easier.


  2. Yes. I have all sorts of habits shaped by poverty from childhood. I absolutely refuse to tell my kids to carefully unwrap their presents, without ripping. The whole point of wrapping them is so kids can rip them open, right? I don’t want them to remember having to surgically remove their presents from wrapping so that we can save the wrapping for next year.

    Liked by 2 people

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