Fear of living in poverty

I will be first to admit that it is always in the back of my mind. It is well controlled, but there are nights where i wake up scared. How do you deal with this fear? My personal Mantra was to never stop learning, and always stay ahead of the game, but as i am getting older the fear rises.

Living in poverty is a blessing many do not realize. The clarity of life and what life is about is never as clear as when you have to rely on the goodwill of others. The inability to go out and buy a burger and beer and need to eat beans and rice with water brings you close to God.

I voluntarily lived in poverty in community life at Madonna House in Combermere Canada for 9.5 months from 2013 - 2014. I would recommend it to anyone seeking to gain meaning in life. It is a Catholic community but they accept people of all faiths to live and work in community life. If you have no where to go and need a strong community to live, love, laugh, learn, and love God, email them for a stay and the only minimum requirement is you stay for a minimum of a week and max of a year (if you want to stay longer, you have to join).

Their motto is Pax + Caritas: Peace and Charity.

Everybody has this fear to a certain extent. I can imagine it being especially harder if you have mouths to feed.

For a lot of us here, its only a fear and not reality. One day, for some of us, it may become a reality and that’s a whole other conversation.

Personally, I have plan B and C. i.e. est. 2yrs to find a new job if I get laid off… and i’ll calculate how much I need to save to get my by for that time period. I know a lot a decent amount of people with student loans and limited career prospects - I can’t imagine them paying them off, starting a family, and buying a house. Downside economic risk is real for these people. I worry about another economic crisis because these people already are at the tipping point.

Reading r/personalfinance and r/studentloans doesn’t help.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” - Nietzsche

Yeah, I see what you’re saying about living in poverty being a real blessing. At our church we used to do voluntarily do a 30 Hour Famine fundraiser to raise money for starving children. What a lot of people don’t realize about starvation is that it’s a really great dieting technique and it makes you really appreciate burgers again when you go back to being a normal person immediately after. So in a lot of ways, being malnourished can really be a great cleanse.

In a similar way, camping in the summers has taught me that being a refugee can really be a great way to be in touch with the outdoors and get back to the basics.

I mean, c’mon.


There is no such thing as “voluntary poverty.”

try every single religious order in the Catholic Church … you give up all of your possessions to follow God.

Many other religions do this as well. If we are bound by the material things in the world, how can we spiritually progress?

Positivity goes a long way. Put regular prudence aside, there is no benefit in worrying about what might happen. Fear can have a lot of negative effect on behavior and subsequent outcomes so it makes sense not to indulge it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take practical steps to avoid negative outcomes, but once those steps are taken your work is done. Focus on the positive potential outcome. Some go even further and meditate on a powerful positive statement - “I will achieve such and such goal” (specific, not nebulous).

I also think many of us could benefit from a reorientation of our idea of success and failure. Outward success can be random and simply may not be possible for everyone. But outward success does not equal happiness. Self-mastery on the other hand is open to just about everyone. Everyone can choose to learn how to learn, control their emotions, tap into their intuition, develop their spirituality, cultivate an attitude of non-attachment. People who develop along these lines tend to regard themselves as happy regardless of life circumstances. they also tend to develop a desire to help others and make the world a better place.

I don’t mean to sound preachy. I know all of this is easier said than done. But the research I’ve done indicates this is a path to robust happiness.

EDIT: forgot the biggest one, mental toughness/resiliency.

I used to be the same way… until i started family and had kids. My fear always has to do with providing for my family, rather than for myself. I am not afraid of failure, but rather of failing others. I think to have a will of power to convince yourself you won’t fail others is on another level than convincing you won’t fail yourself… but in general i agree Positive Mental Attitude is key, and i hug kids and thank G-d every night to ensure i never take anything for granted

Cook own food, don’t buy expensive top 2 shit. Biggest expenses are housing, transportation , and food. Also, you better hope you don’t get cancer.

think about it, once you find yourself in a disadvantageous situation would you rather be an internally successful person or one who derived his value from outward success? The former has the tools to persevere and potentially overcome. Even if you don’t return to the same level of outward success you have not failed your family because you remain a positive and loving father, which is what children need most.

The latter has his self worth shattered and is likely to become bitter and cold towards his family.

So I try to focus on developing self mastery because those are the characteristics that will be most needed in a downside scenario. I can’t control most of the things that could potentially put us in that situation. I can only control how I react to it, so that’s what I focus on.

FTR I have 2 kids.

Fear is something that has crept more and more into my sense of wellbeing. I have the privilege at this point in my life, at the age of 37, to have not only reflective satisfaction with my life … but also a current appreciation for it. At this point I know what I want out of life and that I know I am getting it. However, all of this has been contingent on a line of work that I will have to phase out of in the next few years. Then what? I always wanted my lifd to be continuously open to further exploration and tangents (as it has been) I fear I will find myself in a situation where I no longer have the excess resources of time, energy, and funds to purse the kind of life where the adventure is always ahead of me. So, yes, poverty is part of that fear… but not the bottom line of it.

When I am good spirits is it easy to recognize all of avenues available to me that could bring me the life I want. However, when I am down and tired it is easy for me to focus on despair and fear of being forced to live an unsatisfying life just to survive. That kind of sentiment seemed reflected in Bruce’s letter. It brought up feelings of sadness and fear for myself.

One of the most important things I remember from college psychology is then the mind is tired and sad it tends to selectively remember only those other similar feelings. I always manage to que that bit up when I am down.

I think an extended support system helps to alleviate this fear as well as the humility to ask within the support system for help. I am blessed with many people who would help if I asked and I for one don’t like asking. To be honest, when I have asked in the past for help, it has strengthened the relationship rather than weakened it. I come from an upper middle class family with many people in the US and most of my relatives in Australia (i’m half Australian). I could pretty easily get dual-citizenship and just relocate to Sydney or something in a place by the beach with my Aunt (who is extremely well off). I really haven’t known what its like to be without an extended family and support system, but I did read the letter as well and it made me very sad to think of living in a world where you’re orphaned and have to completely rely on the goodwill of friends when you gain the courage to embrace humility and swallow your pride to get by. It is something that I would have a hard time doing to be honest as I am a stubborn, pride-filled, sinner. With that being said, when I have embraced poverty (voluntarily - yes Greenie), it has been one of the hardest things and one of the most fulfilling. But, as someone who has experienced severe depression to the point of a suicide attempt, ICU, and later inpatient therapy, I can say with absolute surety that severe depression is the ‘inability to construct a future’. At the time, I had many resources at my disposal. I had a support system, but I had an immense feeling of failure and hopelessness to the point that I just wanted to be done with this life and meet my maker to see his goodness for eternity. I sat on the beach at Cardiff Reef in Encinitas, CA and took the 300 pills and watched the sun set, hiding slightly behind a bush. I blacked out and woke up in the ambulance and later the ICU. The problem is both psych and spiritual in nature. Sometimes one or the other or both. I know he is up there smiling for all the love and support and we know he is not in pain anymore, writing a TLDR for us to read for eternity when we go up there to meet him. :slight_smile:

I’m more afraid of being too comfortable than falling into poverty.

Anyone here can go and duke it out at the car dealership and make a decent living, esp after getting promoted to management.

There is also always becoming a plumber yes wink

You don’t want to just save money though. The balance is in finding and spending according to a suitably conservative projection of your long term spending ability. You will have some shortfall risk, just like any risk - car accidents, falling down in the bath, disease. etc.

I don’t know if temporarily living in some commune counts as poverty. You still had potential for the future and were able to make a choice to exit those circumstances. Poverty to me is hopelessness, a lack of freedom and independence, and having little potential for a better future.

Succinct. A roof over your head, the ability to communicate, means to feed yourself and company of good people makes you the envy of more than half the world.

Perspective is always useful :).

Poverty is many things, but it is not hopelessness. Hopelessness strikes the rich and the poor alike.

I don’t agree it is a lack of freedom or independence either - that is stability.

What is a better future? Monetary gain? I disagree again.

What I am saying is, it is different if you have potential to escape impoverished circumstances, for instance, if you are young, have a college degree, and could pursue opportunities if you chose to.

I understand what you’re saying, but I think we are going back to the question of ‘what is the meaning of life’ and ‘what is our purpose in life’.