What if you are poor? The purpose of this post is to put things in perspective and ideas. I am all for making money. I often say I am an unrepentant capitalist. However, that is not what life is about. If you ever worry about money and poverty, remember, money comes and goes, but time only goes.

(to God) – It may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not… Oh, dear Lord. You made many many poor people. I realize, of course, it’s no shame to be poor… but it’s no great honor either. So what would be so terrible… if I had a small fortune?

One of my favorite musicals is Fiddler on the Roof. The above quote summarizes how a lot of people feel. Especially in the USA where a lot of people have expectations about wealth and lifestyle.

Poor market

When I have less money I buy things at local markets or make it myself. Here is a farmer's market for cheese where I live in Kraków..

Where are some reasons why it is not bad to be poor

  • There is a power in being powerless. Think about it. A Jesuit Priest in College who lived and worked in Latin America, told me this and I have thought about it. I think he was into Liberation theology such as Gustavo Gutierrez. It is a little radical but here is an interview about remembering the poor.
  • Being poor is relative – Me, living in both Eastern Europe and the US for a large part of my life can honestly say, the poor in the USA are like the super rich in other countries. For example, when I was at the US Embassy in Warsaw going an immigrant visa for my wife, I saw these Ukrainian farmers there who just won the green card lottery for the USA. They looked like Ma and Pa Kettle, with very basic farmers clothes, they were in their 50s at least. Lady at the embassy (via a translator) asked them in Ukrainian if they spoke English.  They said no. She asked them is they had an education. They said no. She asked if they had any job or assets. They said no. Even with the crisis in the USA, in my mind there is a 0.00% chance they will have any economic troubles in the USA. I know it for a fact. I live in Eastern Europe and I know how people are and how rich and easy the USA is even in the poorest areas compared to Ukraine for example. The USA still is the land of dreams, if you are humble and not greedy.
  • Being poor just means you do different things, like focus on your family and read books, learn languages, learn to play musical instruments, study art and drawing or take walks, bike instead of joining the gym or having a car. People really do spend the day in a cafe reading a book.  This is what people in Eastern Europe do, there is no flood of iPods here but also very few people go to psychologists or take antidepressants, in fact almost no-one. Life is like it was 100 years ago, but no one is starving.  In my observation life has a sweeter quality than when I live in the USA among cars and gadgets and other distractions. I am not saying the USA is bad at all, I am moving there as I want to buy a house, I just observing that being poor is no shame and certainly less boring than being rich.
  • Being poor is cool. Movies to music videos portray the poor or at least the common man as nobel and the rich guy as fat and greedy.  Now in reality this is not always the case at all. However, I know many rich people who have lost touch. I know many poor people who have no pretenses and you just feel comfortable abound. They accept you. ‘God loves the common man, than is why he made so many of them’- Abe Lincoln.
  • Small homes and apartments promote family closeness, literally and figuratively. People here in general live in 500 sq/ft living quarters for a whole family. Families are closer here, large spaces and homes are fun but are not always optimal for family relationships, especially teenagers.
  • Contrary to popular belief, rich guys do not get girls. The guys that I know with high-powered careers and jobs never got a fraction of the girls my friends did that had whatever jobs or no jobs. And when a rich guy gets married he often has a high maintenance wife. I can not tell you how many bullets I dodged when I live in Beacon Hill Boston, girls who judged guys by their title or position in society, even subconsciously, please.  I am so happy I am married to a simple farm girl with no expectations about money or wealth and loves me for richer or poorer. ‘I have wealth in my friends ‘ – Shakespeare.
  • Jesus said ‘blessed are the poor’. How can you argue with this?

Let me know what your thoughts are about money? I have a similar post here which is a little more detailed on being poor.  What is your relationship with money?  I like making money, I have a blog about money, but it is a tool not an end. When we stand before our Divine master we will be asked ‘what you do with the money he lent you’?