Worker Who Grew Up Poor Now Makes $18,000 A Month But Doesn’t Know What To Do With Their Money

Financial literacy is a learned skill.

Woman working on finances fizkes / Shutterstock

The tenets of the American Dream are based on independence, wealth, and the way those two things are connected. The more money a person has, the more access they have. With wealth comes the ability to determine how you want to live without someone else dictating the terms.

The narrative of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps isn’t as common as American myth-making would have us believe, but it does happen, and one individual asked for advice on how to maintain financial stability after an increase in their income.


A worker who grew up poor is now making $18,000 a month but doesn’t know what to do with their money.

They wrote to the subreddit r/money, wondering how to navigate making more money than they ever have before.

“I grew up pretty poor, by American standards,” they said, explaining that they received free school lunches and their family used food stamps.

They described their family of origin as having little financial literacy or opportunity, writing, “My parents worked low-income jobs, and we never talked about money or credit.”

“I have worked to get out of that bad financial situation my whole life,” they added.

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They shared that the highest income they ever made was $54,000. But, in the form of a true American success story, the side gig they started to supplement their income has grown into a full-fledged business.

“Within the past year, my income went from $54,000 to $200,000, and I don't know what to do with the money,” they wrote. “I don't want to waste it.”


They noted that their only real debt is a car loan and are wondering how to manage their new $ 18,000-a-month income. “Where do I put this money so it can grow?” they asked.

Commenters were curious as to how the worker made such a huge jump in income. In the comments, they answered questions candidly, sharing that they studied coding and then built a small tech business that’s continued to grow.

They spent ten years studying, worked 20-hour days, and got “no sleep,” all to find themselves in a totally novel position: Having an income they never imagined.


People told the newly-wealthy worker to live within their means, max out their retirement funds, and put money into a high-yield savings account.

“Never assume you will always earn as much as you do now,” came one sage piece of advice. “There are things out of our control — You might earn way less in the future or nothing [because] something might happen to you, so you're not able to earn money anymore.”

While their comment could come off as negative, it’s grounded in reality. We can’t predict how our futures will unfold. There are endless kinds of emergencies that can drain a person’s bank account, from major medical issues to an unexpected economic downturn across the world.

In an ideal world, people should build up their savings, even if they're already living within their means.

Many people thought the worker should create an emergency fund, determine how much money they’ll need to keep their business going and save for retirement as much as they can.


Woman working on finances fizkes / Shutterstock

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A financial advisor came to the comments to give their perspective on how the worker should navigate their newfound wealth, saying, “Everything depends on what you want in your life and the goals that you want to achieve financially.”


“You should have multiple baskets,” they insisted. 

They recommended having a high-yield savings account, “Especially for when it comes to emergency funds or any quick cash you may need for the number of things that can pop up in life.”

They noted that in order for the worker to grow the money they have now, there are different types of accounts and the decision comes down to what their long-term goals are.

The worker thanked them for their guidance, saying, “I have never had a 401K or any type of retirement account for that matter. I just lived paycheck to paycheck like everyone else. So, this is all new to me.”

One person offered the worker praise and appreciation, commenting, “Just wanted to say it just in case nobody has, but I am truly proud of you.”


Financial literacy is a crucial skill, yet it’s not something we’re automatically taught in the course of our lives.

So much of how we navigate money depends on how we were raised. If we were brought up without a solid understanding of personal finances, changing our deeply ingrained habits can be a lifetime of work.

Our relationship to money is always emotional, even though we’re told it shouldn’t be. As the financial advisor explained, the more clearly we can define what our financial goals are, the more likely we are to reach them. 


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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture and all things to do with the entertainment industry.