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How To Deal With Being Poor As A Teenager

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Let’s face it, being a teenager is hard. Especially when so many aspects of life is out of your control like your financial situation. There are ways to deal with financial circumstance and how you perceive it. We’ll dive a little deeper into how to deal with feeling poor as a teenager in this day and age.

Teenage life should be full of fun, building friendships, and socializing. Sometimes that may not be the case at all. Some teens may have very stressful lives filled with feeling insecure, inadequate, low self esteem, often times resulting from not having sufficient financial means. Sure people say all teens should focus on is school. But school is the place where many teens feel inadequate because they tend to compare themselves to their peers.

Growing up poor as a teenager could be one of life’s hardest things to endure. Your life and especially the financial situation you may be in is completely out of your control. If you want the best clothes, newest phone, makeup, or shoes, you most likely have to ask your parent/s. Depending on their financial status depends on whether you can get those items.

If you’re reading this and you are a teen who thinks you are “poor”, try not to be so hard on yourself! Most importantly, do not let material objects define you as a person. Stay strong because there will come a time where you will earn your own money and eventually lead the life you desire. Until then, there are ways you may be able to make some side money to buy certain things and to save! Let’s look at some ways that can help you deal with being poor as a teen.

Cover Your Basic Necessities

How to Deal With Being Poor as a Teen - MyFinancialHill
Photo by Eea Ikeda

First and foremost, you have to make sure that you have food and proper shelter. If you’re enrolled in school please talk to a school counselor or even a mentor. If you belong to a religious organization, reach out to any of the leaders. They will have information in regards to guiding you to the right people to help you with basic necessities like food and shelter.

If your family’s struggling to pay bills, put food on the plate, or keep up with rent/housing payments then reaching out for some help is the best solution. There’s a lot of programs out there that can definitely help you and your family out in times of need.

Jobs For Those Who Are Not Old Enough

If your household is struggling financially, the last thing you want to do is go to your folks to ask them for money. Sure, as a teen you should focus on school and playing with friends. If you ever find some spare time, why not make the most out of it? Make some cash!

If you’re at least 13, there’s small jobs you can do to earn some money. You can earn some bucks on Swagbucks, earn some money around the neighborhood, and even come up with a great idea for YouTube.

  • Take surveys online
    • Swagbucks – Minimum age is 13, you most likely will need your parent’s permission before joining. Get a $10 welcome bonus. You earn points by taking polls, surveys, watch videos, play games, complete daily goals, and by referring others. Those points convert to cash via PayPal or gift cards through Amazon, Walmart, Visa, iTunes, Starbucks, eBay, and more.
  • Babysitter
  • Dog Walker
  • Lawn Care
  • Clear out snow
  • Sell crafts you make
  • Sell lemonade/baked goods
  • Are you talented? Post a YouTube video of your talents (if underage, ask your parents to post it for you)

Find Ways To Save Money

There are little ways you can help your family without sacrificing your childhood. You and your family can get cash back when grocery shopping or online shopping.


With Ibotta, you get real cash back when you grocery shop or shop online. They have over 300 stores that participate with them. For example, do you or your family shop at places like Kroger, H-E-B, C-Town, Aldi, Foodtown, Randalls, SHOP ‘n SAVE, ShopRite, Stop & Shop, Sprouts Farmers Market, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart?

You and your family could be losing out on free cash back shopping at those places. Ibotta is really easy to use.

  • 1. Look for the store you plan to shop at.
  • 2. Scroll through the items you and your family plan to buy and add it to your list.
  • 3. Get your store receipt and scan it.
  • 4. Get money back!

Sign up for free at Ibotta and use the code YDIGCFJ to get your $20 welcome bonus

Checkout 51 Cash Back App

Checkout 51 is very similar to Ibotta. You and your family can get cash back from groceries and hygiene products. Just upload your receipt and redeem for cash once you hit $20. What’s great about Checkout 51 is that your family can get cash back at the gas pump too and they offer a digital Prescription Savings Card which can save up to 80% on medications.

Checkout 51 has multiple items that also allow manufacturer’s coupons as well.

Sign up for free and get your $5 bonus at Checkout 51 to start earning cash back the easy way.
Tip: Earn $2 when you upload your first receipt and $1 for each receipt three times after that which gives you a total of $5 bonus cash.

GetUpside Cash Back App

GetUpside is another easy cash back app to use. You can get money back on restaurants, groceries (Washington D.C. area), and gas.

Your family can earn cash back from getting gas and also from fast food places like Burger King, Popeyes, and more.

You can see savings as much as 35% at restaurants, 15% at grocery stores, and 25c/gal of gas.

It’s very easy to use, all you have to do is claim the offer presented, simply upload your receipt, and get cash back. Once you hit $15, you can get cash back via PayPal or reach $50 to get a cash payout.

Download GetUpside and use the promo code U5NBX to get $7 cash back on your first purchase

Fetch Rewards App

Fetch Rewards is another easy app you can use to earn cash back to redeem for gift cards or magazine subscriptions. You can certainly use the gift cards for yourself or give them out as presents during holidays and birthdays.

All you need to do is scan your receipts from most grocery stores, pharmacy, convenience store, and big retailers. You will then earn points which you can redeem for gift cards or magazine subscriptions.

Use the code 7JKFH when you sign up to Fetch Rewards and you’ll get 2,000 Fetch Points ($2.00 in points)
You can also refer others and earn 2,000 points ($2) yourself and your friend/family will earn 2,000 points ($2) as well.


If your family ever does any online shopping, then they could be missing out on free money.

Rakuten gets you money back via PayPal or gift cards when you shop online via their site. They have over 3,000 major stores listed on their site along with how much money back they’re offering.

Some of the stores they have listed are Kohl’s, Walmart, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, JCPenny, Target, and 3,000 others.

When you and your family buy something online, always go to Rakuten first to see if there’s any cash back offers. Then, click on “Shop Now” from Rakuten and you will be forwarded to the retailer’s site to shop as normal. After the purchase, you’ll get cash back to your Rakuten account.

Sign up today with Rakuten to get $10 in a welcome bonus and be on your way to start earning cash back for online purchases. Don’t miss out on FREE MONEY!


Groupon is an awesome site that can get you and and your family some major savings. I’ve seen deals as much as 92% off.

For example, if you and your family wanted to enjoy a manicure day but can’t afford the high costs, checking out Groupon can help you all find some major deals in your local area.

Just the other day, I found a deal on Groupon for a women’s haircut at $9 which was 50% off. There are tons more.

Sign up for free here at Groupon to start getting your MEGA savings.

You and your family can save a lot of money by using the right apps and sites. Why not get cash back, it’s free money. The more savings you all find, the more you’ll have in your pockets. Plus, most of these apps and sites are offering you sign up bonuses which can get you over $40 in total. That’s not too bad just by doing what you all normally do.

Find out 95 more ways you and your family can save tons of money.

Read More: Best Money Saving Tips to Start Now

Where To Get Clothes For Cheap

How to Deal With Being Poor as a Teen - MyFinancialHill
Photo by Felipe Galvan

If you made some extra money doing any one of those jobs listed above then you can buy some extra clothes you think looks nice.

No, you don’t have to go straight to the mall and buy a $50 top or a pair of hundred dollar sneakers.

Check out thrift stores or low cost retailers! There are some great thrift stores out there that sell real designer clothing at a fraction of the cost. Some items may be worn and you can even find some that still have tags (never worn). You can easily find local thrift stores near you with a simple Google search or check some out online.

Popular Online Thrift Stores

You can also find stylish and name brand clothes with huge discounts at the following retail stores. You’ll get way more for your money compared to shopping at the mall.

Popular Low Cost Retail Stores

  • Ross Stores
  • Kohl’s
  • TJ Maxx
  • Marshall’s

Where To Get Nice Cellphones For Free

Being a teen is all about fitting in. There are ways to do that without needing to spend tons of money. If your family is strapped for cash and can’t afford to get you a nice cellphone, look into Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, or Metro by T-Mobile.

Affordable Cell Phone Carriers to Look Into:

  • Cricket Wireless
    • Unlimited talk, text, internet – 1 line $55 and 2 lines $80
  • Boost Mobile
    • Unlimited talk, text, internet – 1 line $45 drops to $35 a month after 6 months and 2 lines $80
  • Metro by T-Mobile
    • Unlimited talk, text, internet – 1 line $55 and 2 lines $80

These cellphone carriers have ridiculously cheap cell phone plans with no hidden costs plus they offer a wide array of super nice cellphones for free! Ask your parent/s to look into these companies.

Changing Your Mindset

How to Deal With Being Poor as a Teen - MyFinancialHill
Photo by Peter Fogden

The most important aspect of who you are is your mind!

Don’t let your current situation get you down! Your financial situation of not being able to get all the things you want now doesn’t mean that you will live that life forever. Remember, it’s only temporary.

Most importantly, who you are today does not predict who you will be tomorrow. You will change, your circumstances will change, ultimately you will live your own life as an adult in a few more years.

“Who you are today does not predict who you will be tomorrow”

One thing to keep in mind is to change your mentality. Very important!

Don’t compare yourself to others and what they have. That kind of thinking leads to money problems later on in life. That is why most Americans are in debt. Now, that is something you don’t want.

An example of having debt is when people borrow money from banks and credit cards to get what they want and don’t really need. Having a lot of debt leads to money problems. It’s important to understand how to properly handle money. It is called budgeting and you are never to young to understand how to properly handle money so that you can learn how to be smart when you actually get money coming in.

Related: How To Budget Your Money For Beginners

Budgeting will teach you how to properly spend your money. Let’s say you made $200 babysitting, you can plan to spend $100 on nice clothes at less expensive retailers and thrift stores and plan to save the other $100 in a savings account. Learning how to properly spend your money wisely will help you tremendously in your life whether it be as a teen or in your adult life.

Change Your Future

As mentioned before, your current money situation does not define who you are as a person. You must look towards the future and take steps to be the person who you want to be. Let’s look at a few famous people who changed their life paths and reached financial success. I’m sure you will know who these people are, they grew up in poor households yet became millionaires and billionaires. If they can do it, so can you!

Oprah Winfrey

Estimated net worth 2.9 billion

I’m sure you know who she is! Well, she was raised from humble beginnings. She grew up without having running water or electricity as stated in an interview with Barbara Walters. She didn’t let that stop her, she pursued her dreams to work in radio and television. Now, according to Business Insider, she has an estimated net worth of 2.9 billion! She is a prime example of someone who didn’t let her past define who she was going to be in the future.

“The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work”

Oprah Winfrey

Jan Koum

Estimate net worth 9.1 billion

Jan Koum was born in Ukraine and moved to California when he was 16. He and his mother lived in government housing. He swept floors at a store to make enough money to get by. He later taught himself computer skills and ultimately co-founded WhatsApp which is the world’s most popular messaging service. Facebook later bought the messaging service for $22 billion in 2014.

Celine Dion

Estimate net worth 37.5 million

Celine Dion was one in 14 children. Her family struggled to support her and all her siblings. Growing up, she said there were 3 or 4 siblings who had to sleep in the same bed. She didn’t let her situation define her. She chose to go after her passion of singing. She was the artist behind her top songs “My Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic and “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”. She is now estimated to have a net worth of 37.5 million.

Howard Schultz

Estimated net worth 3 billion

Howard Schultz was 3 years old when his family moved into a public housing project in Brooklyn, NY. His family struggled with money due to his father getting injured and being laid off without any benefits. Howard says he worked and obtained loans just to get through school and even sold his blood for cash to get by. After college, he worked at jobs and eventually got linked to Starbucks where he took charge in the 1980s and launched the brand into the world’s most recognized coffee shop. Now his net worth is at 3 billion.


Let these famous people be your role models and help you to aspire to achieve your goals. Whatever those aspirations may be whether it is a talk show host, entrepreneur, singer, tech creator, and more. There are no limits to what you can achieve.

Don’t let your current situation hold you back from achieving your dreams. What you have in your possessions doesn’t define who you are inside. Sure, things may seem difficult but know that it won’t stay that way forever.

If you’re concerned about money at the moment, you can make some money even if you’re 13 years old. Also, learning how to save money can keep more in your pockets. It’ll be one of your greatest skills growing up to be an adult.

Most importantly, always think of your future. Dream of where you want to be as an adult and take the small steps to get there. Overall, try to enjoy being a teen. Have fun with your friends and family, enjoy all the great happy moments. Once you grow up, you’ll actually miss those days a lot.

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