9 Life-Saving Tips That Helped Me Get Out Of Poverty

I'm not a millionaire yet, but these tricks made the biggest impact on my wallet in a good way.

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As many of you know, I’m a self-made person.

I’m not a millionaire yet, but I do live in a nice apartment and am currently working my way out of both tax debt and credit card debt. Considering that I started off homeless, it’s been a hike.

One of the most common things I rant about is how much the chips are stacked against the working man.

Our education systems don’t teach finance. Our jobs don’t pay enough. There’s a legit class war going on.


My advice may not be usable for everyone, but I’ll give you my two cents on what made the biggest impact on my wallet in a good way.

RELATED: 7 Most Common Causes Of Longterm Poverty I’ve Witnessed

Here are 9 life-saving tips that helped me get out of poverty: 

1. Stop relying on your job to make ends meet

Does anyone else feel like a hamster on a wheel when they talk about their jobs?

When I was poor, I relied on jobs to make the bills. The problem was I kept getting let go from them — no matter how hard I worked. I felt like a hamster on a wheel. I kept running harder and harder, but I was getting nowhere.


If you’re stuck like that, then you already know that feeling. It’s aggravating, especially when people sniff and say, "Get a better job."

My solution? I started taking on clients and started freelancing. I now both model and write freelance. It doesn’t always pay the bills fully, but I found a level of stability there that I couldn’t find with a job. After all, when you start your own business, you own it. No one can fire you.

Even if you have only a spare hour a day, start to search for freelance gigs or start selling services. It will make a huge difference.

2. Learn tax laws

When I was first starting out in the world, I filed taxes. One time, I owed $500. I couldn’t pay it. I didn’t know what to do and I was totally flummoxed. I asked the tax preparer and she blinked and said, "Well, pay it."


…How? I was making $1000 a month and survived on that by sleeping in a car! There was literally no way that I could just pay that. No one told me anything.

Today, I know that I should have contacted the IRS and asked for hardship forgiveness. Or, I could have asked for an installment plan. No one told me that. Instead, that $500 grew because I was scared to send in my tax forms and I ended up having to pay over $1000 in tax bills for it.

Getting up to date on my taxes and learning my rights as a taxpayer helped immensely. In many cases, you might be surprised at what you find out about deductions.

3. Ask for help

You have nothing to lose if you ask someone for help. A lot of the best opportunities I got were because I asked someone if they could get me in the door. A lot of raises I received only happened because I asked for them.


But, this isn’t just about jobs. It’s also about welfare and benefits programs.

When I was broke, I really wish someone had told me about some of the benefits I could have had. I also wish I took my time to get more well-established. At one point, I was living on a state-paid hotel pad until I got a room for $400. I was proud to get off welfare but ended up homeless again because it was an illegal rental.

Seriously, look up state and city programs in your area. You would be shocked at what you can get — even if you’re middle income. There are free sobriety groups, free food banks, clothing swaps, and more.

One of the smartest things I ever did was rub elbows with social workers and accountants. They showed me a plethora of programs that helped me learn more and do more with my life.


RELATED: I’m A Successful Professional Who Grew Up On Welfare — And It Literally Saved My Life

4. Master a skill that helps you make something out of nothing

Writing is a great example of a skill that makes something out of nothing. It costs nothing to write and you can do it from anywhere. If you get good at writing and know how to market yourself hard, you will end up making a pretty decent income. I like to write, so it works out well for me.

But, it doesn’t have to be writing! You can make something out of nothing with any of these skills:

  • Art: GIMP and AI is a thing. I just wish I was more artistically inclined, but I always failed art classes after 8th grade.
  • Coding: Yes, computer programmers and developers are always going to find money in this economy. Any sort of developer work, coding, or IT will be golden. I wish I still had this skill set, but my brain got fried from it on a PCP bender in my 20s.
  • Modeling/Acting/Dance: I still use my modeling as a form of promo for my books. I also still occasionally get paid to model in magazines, so it works out. Modeling, acting, and dancing are great forms of income if you’re young.
  • Video Creation: A lot of YouTubers started off flat broke and started to gain followers. The same can be said of TikTokkers, for better or worse.

On a similar note, you should look into both sales and marketing. The better you become at both, the less you have to worry about making ends meet.


PRO TIP: I’ve also seen people make a ton of money from pet care, childcare, cleaning, and lawn care. 

5. Never engage with anyone who criticizes how you make your money

"Oh, you’re a writer?"


"What newspaper?"

"None right now. I switched online."

"Oh. You’re one of those. I thought you were a real writer. Let me guess, you have a great American novel coming out too?"

Yes, this was a real conversation I had. No, I don’t talk to that person anymore.

I’ve seen job shaming and income shaming happen a lot in my life. It’s a symptom of a person who is unhappy with themselves.

When I worked as a sex worker, I had a lot of people tell me I should stop doing it. I kept telling them I didn’t have a job that I could fall back on. They kept telling me to drop it anyway. Sure. Cool. Guess I’ll starve as God intended, right?


I don’t talk to any of them anymore.

Make no mistake about it: How you make your money is YOUR business. Yours. Not anyone else’s. Not even your spouse’s.

A person who tries to push you to quit a job, especially when you’re in a fiscally precarious position does not have your best interests in mind. People who have something to say about how you put food on your table have no business sitting at your table. If they want to judge, they can do that on their own time … far, far away from you.

6. Give people an opportunity to prove themselves, then act accordingly

A lot of people claim to want to help me on projects but don’t actually do anything. I recently found out it’s not just me. Most people say they want to do something, but don’t pony up the labor when the time comes. Then, they cry about how they aren’t doing anything.


Recently, my husband’s friend wanted to start a wedding entertainment company with him. My husband is a DJ, and his friend has lighting. My spouse agreed, then asked his friend to get a list of the equipment he has so that he can market it to people. The list never came.

So, what did my husband do? The same thing I would have done: he dropped his buddy from the project and quickly started marketing his own thing. He’s right to do so. Why would he trust someone that didn’t actually bother to take that first step?

If his buddy was hired to do lighting and chose not to show up, my spouse would be the one who looks bad. Needless to say, that bridge is burned but my spouse doesn’t have to worry about carrying dead weight on his project.

When I meet people, I let them show me how much I can trust them. If I see someone who is hungry and willing to work with me, I’ll immediately start promoting their stuff and offer to team up with them. If they're all talk, I might hang out with them, but they’re not going to work with me on a project.


RELATED: 6 Things I'm Doing Instead Of Investing That Will Make More Money

7. Don’t let school get in the way of your education

Did you ever notice how many people rely on schools to teach them everything they need in life? That’s not a wise choice. Truth be told, you can learn anything you want without a proper school to do so.

School is the bare bones, people.

You’ve got books, YouTube videos, free tutoring sessions, and even online forums that are there to help you make the most of your education. My advice? Use them. Don’t pay big bills just to get into a school.


Take an opportunity to learn a new skill every day. (Currently, I’m learning Mandarin!) In many cases, those fringe skills I learned in passing were what helped me get a client, become a better writer, or even save money on repairs.

Knowledge isn’t just about opening up opportunities or saving money. It’s the one thing people can never take away from you. They can take away your home, your degree, your car … But they can’t take away what’s in your brain!

8. Pool knowledge and resources

If you want to see how much wealth can be generated through sharing, go to the underground rave scene. I was always floored by how much a community was able to work together there. A lot of my friends live in the projects. Some are homeless. Despite this, my scene throws parties that take as much as $20,000 to throw.

The scene taught my husband how to DJ and produce music to a degree that got him a record deal. When one of us gets hurt or sick, the entire scene goes helps out. There are a lot of people out there who were able to get shelter by squatting in warehouses and gutted nightclubs thanks to the rave scene — myself included.


Pooling money, skills, and resources with friends is the easiest way to curb expenses. If you want to save money on food, buy in bulk and split it. If you want to save money on insurance, put together a group organization and buy group insurance.

Want to learn a skill? Ask a friend to teach you how to do something. Need time away from kids? Ask a friend to watch them, then repay the favor by watching their pets.

Obviously, not everyone can be trusted. Once you see someone is using you and not pulling their own share, stop working with them. Eventually, you’ll find a core group of ride-or-dies that you can rely on. Stick with them.

9. Hang out with people who make you better

"Better" can mean anything from being more mentally stable to learning new ways to make money, to inspiring you.


Your time is precious. The time you spend with others might as well benefit your life rather than take away from it.

I love to network because it’s an investment that always pays dividends. Networking is how you get discounts you normally wouldn’t get, entry into exclusive groups, and news about things you normally wouldn’t hear about. Network like your life depends on it because sometimes, it does.

RELATED: Can Money Buy Happiness? Research Says Yes — If You Spend It On These Things

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.