Social Question

Harper1234's avatar

What is a good book describing poor people and what they do to survive?

Asked by Harper1234 (545points) 1 month ago

We are lucky to make it pay check to pay check. I was wondering how really poor people make a life for themselves and would love to read about it. Any book suggestions?

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54 Answers

jca2's avatar

There’s an author Barbara Ehrenreich who has written several books showing what it’s like from the poor person’s perspective. She actually spent a year working in Walmart and some other low paying jobs and wrote about what life was like. If you Google her, you can learn more about her and her books.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Peyton Place comes to mind.
To Kill a Mockingbird.
The Grapes of Wrath.
In those days, tho, I don’t think poverty was viewed as a moral failure.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Winters Bone, its a movie, too but the book is better.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Angela’s Ashes.

kritiper's avatar

“The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck

stanleybmanly's avatar

Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich “On not getting by in America”

filmfann's avatar

The Good Earth
The Pearl
The Grapes Of Wrath

ucme's avatar

Hired by ucme…it’s a living!!

janbb's avatar

The Glass Castle by Jennifer Walls

jca2's avatar

Just reading this article someone posted on FB and it references a book about a woman who worked at Amazon, McD’s and a call center (for research purposes):

https://nypost.com/2019/07/13/inside-the-hellish-workday-of-an-amazon-warehouse-employee/amp/?__twitter_impression=true&fbclid=IwAR1HVrT-sZkeWxSBxRDf3E66qDvyZgMe38M0IFJzM0TVuBUyZmAnbeG-0Mc

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Actually our beloved Auggie’s blog sums it up neatly.

Patty_Melt's avatar

The title sounds like a different topic, but it is how people of lesser means can build for themselves, and mistakes to avoid.
The Millionaire Next Door has lots of helpful advice. I found some real good sensible tips.

SmashTheState's avatar

Someone posted this question to me. Worked at WalMart for a year! Oh my god, that’s practically like forced labour in the Siberian tundra or a generation spent breathing black dust in the West Virginia coal mines! That’s almost as horrible as middle class kiddies forced to eat ramen noodles occasionally while in college!

If you want to know what poverty is really like, probably the most accurate depiction I’ve seen is the show Trailer Park Boys. It’s hilarious to watch if you’re actually poor—not liberal-suburbanite poor, but actually poor—because every character is like a caricature of people you know. Good Times was sometimes pretty good too. Abbie Hoffman’s Steal this Book is a little dated, but still worth reading. And Bukowski’s work is more about the drug culture which runs parallel to poverty, but still a good read.

Kropotkin's avatar

@jca2 So none of those authors are poor, or actually writing from a poor person’s perspective.

Rather, they’re bourgeois poverty tourists, never truly suffering the stress of poverty, but doing it for “research” so they can write a book about their experiences.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

They never actually experienced the dispair.

jca2's avatar

OK guys sorry for not meeting the proper criteria. Re-reading the details, I don’t see that it specifies that the book must be written by a poor person.

jca2's avatar

And as far as Barbara Ehrenreich goes, I’m not the only person who suggested her.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

We’re just pointing out that people who actually experience it have a unique perspective. It wasn’t meant as a criticism of your suggestion.
Remember that book I Am Black?

janbb's avatar

@Kropotkin FWIW, Ehrenreich is a well-respected sociologist and reformer. She is not a “poverty tourist.”

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

The life of the Buddha has some parts about being poor, but even he started out with being a rich nobelmans son.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Rossane (now called the Connors) bepicted a modern family sqeeking by.
Example is when they would refill the brand name cereal with cheap generic cereal to fool the kids into eating the cheaper cereals.

janbb's avatar

@Kropotkin I would have thought you could do your own research but here you go. She’s a Socialist and an activist who uses many ways to write about America’s injustices.

jca2's avatar

I clicked on @janbb‘s link and it didn’t work so here’s another link for you, @Kropotkin. I see just from a cursory glance that her father was a miner.

http://barbaraehrenreich.com/barbara-ehrenreich-bio/

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m just curious about what exactly you are looking for. Are you looking for ways to cut expenses or can you afford bills but not food? If you’re looking for others experiences to improve your own lives, just ask us that, many of us have been poor at one time or another and most of us got out of it thru sheer determination to succeed.

For myself, there were weeks in college I ate burrito’s or cereal every night, working two jobs back to back, living in a crappy studio apt, spending nothing on anything unnecessary.

When my husband couldn’t work, again I worked two jobs to pay bills alone, had no frivolous spending and a very lean budget. But I got through it, he’s back to work and medical bills are paid off. Even on a lean budget, I was able to make monthly payments to pay down his portion of medical. At one point I even had two judgements against us, and paid those off on one salary, along with current scripts, etc…

My husband was a contractor and he said a lot of the mexican crews would live in one room, eat the same thing day after day, sometimes even trading sleep times on the same bed/ mattress, so they could save to send money home. Working long, hard days with zero rewards.

I guess what I’m saying is that unless you want to give in to despair and just allow everything to weigh you down, try to become more aggressive at saving yourself. Have an extra bedroom, rent it out for extra money. Have an old junk car, sell it to the can man. Have things sitting around worth anything, sell them. Have expenses you can’t really afford, like cable, home phone, Netflix, etc….cancel them. Can’t work, but can you donate plasma? I can even help you save money on your water and electric bill with tricks I’ve learned. The biggest lesson for me was learning the difference between Need & Want.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

“The difference between need and want….” indeed. You would be amazed at how much of the stuff you think you “need” you only actually have because it’s convenient. Foil, for example. Plastic food storage bags. Plastic trash bags. Paper towels. I never bought those things when I was poor.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_lll Yes, funny what we can do without. :(

I gave a needy person a box full of hotel shampoo/ conditioner and tiny soaps, and you’d have thought they won the lottery. Just being clean is a luxury. It was sad.

I’ve also seen an old lady on disability eat cat food, because she couldn’t afford to feed herself and the cat.

I’ve been around illegal squatters (vacant property, no electric).

I’ve seen homes so roach-infested the dogs were biting at them to keep them off of their bodies. I literally had to keep my purse on my lap and feet up on the chair, it was terrible.

Our country’s poor is just as sad as anyone else’s, if people care to see it instead of ignore it.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

That’s one of the biggest bitches. The government swamps you with food, but there is virtually no help with cleaning supplies or toilet paper or female necessities or anything that isn’t food.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_lll Yes, that’s why food stamp fraud is so prevalent in some areas. You go buy your friend 100 worth of food, then they give you 50 (more/less) dollar cash for necessities. Or booze, or drugs. I’ve seen it a lot. Even back in the day with paper food stamps.

Doesn’t help when classes ask for cash now instead of letting kids bring school supplies either.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

What? The kids have a list of school supplies they need to buy.

jca2's avatar

My school, too. A big list that’s got big quantities of everything. 60 pencils, etc.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

And 5 boxes of Kleenex per kid. My DIL just texted that they.are charging $70 per kid for books and activity fees. WTH??

jca2's avatar

That’s ridiculous.

Probably in lieu of putting it in the tax bill.

janbb's avatar

Not sure how my link about Ehrenreich got screwed up but I was in a hurry. Let’s see if this one works right. The OP did not ask for only personal narratives about living in poverty so I think sociological studies were also relevant.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_lll Here, they are asked to bring $30, then they pool supplies for whomever needs them. No more school supply shopping and parents hate it. Been a few years now. So if you buy your child top notch things, they could still end up with generics.

jca2's avatar

At my daughter’s school, they have a fundraiser on a website where you can pay for a “school pack” that’s about $70 and it has all the items on the list, except maybe a calculator.

I go to Walmart and Staples and probably pay around $30 for everything.

When I was little, we didn’t have this. Our moms just sent in what they thought we needed. A few pencils, a pencil case, some glue, crayons, etc.

jca2's avatar

Never tissues or anything like they want now.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Same here.
And thatv acticity charge…if they go to the zoo they still have to pay to get in.

jca2's avatar

My daughter’s school, when there’s a field trip you pay a set amount for it (includes admission, bus, etc.).

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Well yeah. I’m just sayin that this $25 activity fee is in addition to that.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Indeed,the activity fee covers very little, but helps teachers identify for future reference which kids need help meeting financial requirments.
Where my daughter attended primary school, teachers kept a list of kids who were late bringing their payments for activities and other expenses. When the holidays rolled around they had a list to give the office of which kids to receive care packages of good and Christmas gifts.
Apparently there were individuals, churches, and businesses who contributed items and cash to cover those lists.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Huh. How come none of that kind of help.was around when I could have used it?

Patty_Melt's avatar

It was in Reno.
They have something for teachers too. Do you have anything like this? Teachers, office supply stores, and other contributors donate surplus, used, damaged packaging items and such to a central stock location. Teachers are the only shoppers there, and they can take whatever they need, free.
The schools had a lot going on I was opposed to, but I thought that was a brilliant repurposing idea.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

This was in the 90s. If they had stuff for teachers I wasn’t aware of it. All lesson plan materials came out of my pocket.

Patty_Melt's avatar

It was a very helpful program every community should consider.
I helps reduce classroom costs a lot.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I’ll approach the district with the idea. Maybe they have something I just don’t know about.

janbb's avatar

I wanted to post a hilarious link to a comedian’s rant about buying school supplies but the link shows my FB page. If you have FB, try searching for “Woman buying school supplies” and you can click on the one with the dark haired woman.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I don’t think they can get it if they aren’t on your friend’s list. That’s why when I want to post something I find it on Youtube.

janbb's avatar

I think you can do a general search for this since it wasn’t original to me. However, I’ll see if it’s on youtube as well.

Good suggestion Dutch – here it is

Dutchess_lll's avatar

That was hilarious!!! “And they don’t even get to hit your kids!”
Good point tho!

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Dutchess_lll's avatar

Has anyone said Angela’s Ashes?

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s somewhere about

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