Here’s Why It’s Actually More Expensive To Be Poor

Being poor is expensive and frugality can be hard to afford. Here are a few things that cost more when you’re poor and a few steps to take to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

it's more expensive to be poor


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It’s Harder To Be Frugal When You’re Poor

Toilet paper costs 5.9% more when purchased not in bulk or on sale

Healthier food costs about $1.50/day more than less healthy choices

Car Insurance costs 40-90% more for lower socioeconomic drivers ($681 more per year on average)

Financial Costs

Pay Day Loans Interest costs around 400% vs. Credit Card Interest which costs 12-30%

Checking Account Fees can cost $7-$10/month with $34 overdraft fees vs. FREE when you carry a minimum balance and at lower risk of overdrawing.

Because you can’t afford large up-front costs

If you can’t afford rent and deposit,
You pay more over time for a motel.

If you can’t afford a refrigerator,
You pay more over time on convenience food.

If you can’t afford a reliable car,
You pay more over time in repairs.

If you can’t afford to transportation,
You pay more for necessities at the neighborhood store with higher prices.

If you can’t afford a monthly bus pass,
You pay more over time for one-ride tickets.

Breaking The Paycheck-To-Paycheck Cycle

Poverty is complicated and sticky. It makes it hard to break out of survival mode and it’s hard to see beyond today’s problems in order to prepare better for the problems of tomorrow.

Focus on the basic things you CAN do:

  1. CALCULATE your monthly bills, your debt amounts, and your income. Figure out if it’s possible to make your monthly bills less than your predicted income.
  2. AVOID debt. Any money you borrow has to be paid back with interest. Any money you can avoid borrowing is money saved. Prioritize paying back high interest debt first.
  3. SAVE money. Even a small amount of cash saved allows you to avoid expensive loans when an unexpected expense occurs.
  4. GET HELP. Many employers have employee assistance programs that will help with basic needs including finances. Many local charities will work to offer free financial planning. Check what’s available in your area.


  1. Avatar


    April 22, 2017 at 4:16 am

    I helped myself to break the cycle of buying small uneconomical amounts or sizes, by going without. Do nothing for a couple of weeks if that’s at all possible, eat out of the pantry, go nowhere, and with the money saved, not much but significant nonetheless, I was able to buy my first big sack of something, maybe rice and from there it snowballed.

    • Avatar

      Kimberley Hunter

      April 26, 2017 at 4:25 am

      People living in a hotel don’t have a pantry, or they have a small one, at best. But I do see your point.

  2. Avatar


    April 23, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    This is a very insightful article. I am living poor. I didn’t used to be this poor. It is incredibly expensive to be poor. Being poor is compounded when you are single because you are in a higher tax bracket and mainly because you are not sharing housing expense with another person. Looking beyond this article is the big picture of why our government is pushing people out of the middle class and into the lower. Many parts of the government make money and the people at the top make more money on poor people than they do on middle class people.

    Another thing that becomes very expensive is medical and dental care. Not being able to pay copays and deductibles for preventative care means you get toothaches, etc which require a loan to deal with and you pay a higher rate for the problem that might have been avoided if you could afford preventative care. This list of higher costs the poor pay is endless.

    Thank you for your comments Paul.

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