People who grew up without much money often display these subtle behaviors

Growing up without much money can have a profound impact on a person’s behavior, often in ways that are subtle yet telling.

While every experience is unique, there are certain patterns and habits that can give away someone’s humble beginnings, even when they’re no longer in that situation.

This isn’t about stereotypes or assumptions, but rather about understanding how our past shapes us.

In the following article, we’ll explore 9 subtle behaviors often displayed by individuals who grew up without much money.

And remember, these behaviors are not negative, they’re simply different responses to the world shaped by unique experiences.

1) Value for money

One common behavior among those who grew up without much money is the tendency to seek value for every penny spent.

This isn’t being miserly or stingy.

It’s understanding the worth of money, and ensuring that it’s not wasted.

They might spend more time comparing prices, looking for deals, or thinking twice before making a purchase.

This isn’t because they can’t afford it, but because they understand the effort behind earning each dollar.

Whether we realize it or not, our financial upbringing often shapes our spending habits in subtle ways.

For those who grew up with less, the value of money is understood in a way that others might not fully grasp.

2) Resourcefulness

When you grow up without much money, you can’t always afford to replace things the moment they break.

You learn to make do, to fix, to repurpose.

I’ll share a personal example.

Growing up, my family didn’t have the luxury of replacing our old television when it started acting up.

Instead, my dad took it upon himself to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

He’d spend hours tinkering with it, and more often than not, he’d manage to get it working again.

This instilled in me a sense of resourcefulness that I carry with me to this day.

I find myself looking for ways to fix problems before considering buying something new.

For instance, when my laptop started overheating recently, instead of rushing out to buy a new one, I researched the issue, found a solution online, and fixed the cooling system myself.

3) Wealth insight

Perhaps the most significant behavior displayed by those who grew up without much money is the understanding that money isn’t everything.

Yes, money is important.

It provides security, opens doors, and allows us to experience certain things in life.

But it isn’t the be-all and end-all of happiness.

Those who grow up without much wealth often understand this deeply.

They know that true wealth lies not in bank accounts but in relationships, experiences, and personal growth.

They realize that contentment comes from within and that no amount of money can buy happiness, peace of mind, or love.

This profound wisdom often guides their decisions and shapes their approach to life.

4) Gratitude

One of the most profound behaviors displayed by people who’ve grown up without much money is a deep sense of gratitude.

When you’ve struggled financially, you learn to appreciate the small wins and the simple pleasures in life.

Gratitude isn’t about being thankful when everything goes right; it’s about finding reasons to be thankful even when things are tough.

It’s about recognizing the value of what you do have, rather than focusing on what you don’t.

People who grew up with less often carry this sense of gratitude with them into adulthood.

They might express it in small ways – a heartfelt thank you, a moment of quiet reflection, or an expression of appreciation for something that others might take for granted.

5) Financial literacy

Perfectionism 2 People who grew up without much money often display these subtle behaviors


When money is a constant topic of concern during one’s upbringing, it can lead to a heightened sense of financial literacy.

This means understanding how money works, how to budget, save, and make informed financial decisions.

People who grew up without much money often have to learn these skills early.

They might have observed their parents juggling bills or had to contribute to household expenses at a young age.

This early exposure often leads to a deeper understanding of financial matters.

This isn’t to say that everyone who grows up in wealth lacks financial literacy – far from it.

But those with less affluent backgrounds may have been forced to understand these concepts out of necessity, leading to increased financial savvy in adulthood.

It’s a valuable skill that can greatly contribute to their financial stability and success later in life.

6) Empathy and compassion

Experiencing financial hardship can be tough, but it can also cultivate a deep sense of empathy and compassion.

Understanding what it’s like to struggle makes it easier to relate to others in similar situations.

People who grew up without much money often have a heightened awareness of others’ hardships.

They’re often the first to lend a helping hand, understanding that everyone needs support at one point or another.

This empathy extends beyond just financial matters.

It’s about recognizing the shared human experience, knowing what it’s like to face challenges, and having the compassion to support others in their journey.

These qualities make them not only great friends and family members but also valuable members of any community or organization.

7) Humility

Growing up, I remember how my parents worked tirelessly to make ends meet.

Despite their efforts, we lived a modest lifestyle, which instilled in me a deep sense of humility.

This is a common trait among those who grew up without much money.

There’s a lack of entitlement, a respect for hard work, and an understanding that success isn’t handed to you on a silver platter.

This humility often extends to their adult lives, regardless of their current financial situation.

They tend to be less flashy or showy about their accomplishments or possessions.

Instead, they value hard work, perseverance, and resilience.

This modesty and humility is not a sign of weakness or lack of ambition.

Rather, it’s a powerful testament to their roots and the values they’ve learned along the way.

8) Flexibility and adaptability

When you grow up without a lot of money, you often have to adjust to changing circumstances quickly.

Whether it’s moving houses, switching schools, or adapting to a tighter budget, these situations require flexibility and adaptability.

This is a behavior that often carries over into adulthood.

Those who grew up without much money are typically good at adjusting to new situations, thinking on their feet, and making the best out of what they have.

This flexibility can be a significant asset in many areas of life, be it personal relationships, professional scenarios or unexpected life events. 

9) Resilience and determination

Above all, growing up without much money often cultivates an indomitable spirit of resilience and determination.

Facing and overcoming financial struggles can instill a deep belief in one’s ability to handle life’s challenges.

This resilience is not born out of choice, but necessity.

Yet, it becomes a powerful trait that enables individuals to face difficulties head-on, persist in the face of adversity, and continually strive towards their goals.

Moreover, this determination often drives them to create better circumstances for themselves and their loved ones. 

Final reflection: The power of perspective

The nuances of human behavior are endlessly fascinating, often deeply influenced by our personal experiences and backgrounds.

For those who grew up without much money, these experiences can shape subtle behaviors that persist into adulthood.

These behaviors – from valuing money, being resourceful, to displaying empathy and resilience – are not drawbacks, but powerful tools honed by their unique journeys.

This isn’t glorifying struggle or hardship.

It’s acknowledging the strength, resilience, and determination these experiences can foster.

It’s recognizing that our past, while it doesn’t define us, plays a significant role in shaping who we become.

These behaviors are testament to the fact that adversity can breed strength, that scarcity can foster resourcefulness, and that humble beginnings can lead to a rich tapestry of life experiences.

As you go about your day-to-day interactions, take a moment to reflect on this.

Every person you meet carries a story etched by their unique experiences.

Understanding this can enrich your perspective and deepen your empathy towards others’ journey.

Picture of Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling has a background in entrepreneurship, having started and managed several small businesses. His journey through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship provides him with practical insights into personal resilience, strategic thinking, and the value of persistence. Ethan’s articles offer real-world advice for those looking to grow personally and professionally.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.