I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don't pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It's not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn't that I blow five bucks at Wendy's. It's that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. There's a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there's money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.
That was the only graf that bugged me, because of the false dichotomy. Not blowing $5 at Wendy's might not make much difference this week, but it can mean the difference between getting crap clothes that'll wear out in a hurry, and slightly better clothes that'll last longer. Or save for a crockpot. When our kids were babies and we were both working crazy hours, my wife and I ate sooooo much stuff out of a crockpot.
Now, having said that...okay, so my memory of growing up was of being poor, but I have no idea how poor mom and dad were at their lowest. Given that dad had woodworking tools in his shed, and that they bought a house shortly after dad took a factory job, probably not very. I was surrounded all through childhood by folks who had that same defeatist attitude, though. The thing that made them different was that none of them were poor and going further into debt to pay for college, so they could not only excuse the smoking habit, they could excuse spending several evenings drinkin'.
And of course, if not for my parents being responsible and then saving up for my education, and then parents and grandparents helping out, we'd be in the same boat as the author. We probably will be soon anyway.
My wife and I got our start at just the right time, because we were able to get accounts easily. Now that we have a credit rating, right now we're coasting along, scrapin' by, but we have a poor-by-SF-standards-but-middle-class-by-local-standards income so we're living comfortably. We're extremely fortunate. When I worked at a big-box retailer, we were paid in cash. I had to look to my parents when they switched to paychecks, because I couldn't do it on my own. I don't know what the poorer folks there did. Nowadays so many employers want to deposit straight into your bank account.
I hope this person's schooling pays off. It sounds like hell. To think I was grousing when I had one job and was only able to see my kids in the morning...