A Deep Look Inside the Mind of Poverty

Linda Tirado

By Daphne R

If you have ever wondered why people living below the poverty line make such bad decisions, you might want to read this article as we look inside the mind or thought processes of people considered to be struggling or poor.

Linda Tirado, wrote a piece last month on her blog called, “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or Poverty Thoughts”. In it she describes her typical day as follows, “I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full courseload, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 1230AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I’m in bed by 3. This isn’t every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork. Those nights I’m in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won’t be able to stay up the other nights because I’ll f**k my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can’t afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn’t leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn’t in the mix.”

In Tirado’s words, “Rest is for the rich.” And as she chronicles in her blog’s post an array of decisions she and others are faced with, she admits to the hopeless thoughts of the poor stating that they know they will never not feel tired, they suffer from depression, they never get to go on vacations, and they don’t apply for jobs because they know they can’t keep up appearances (“corporate image”) to hold on to the job. And through all of these negative thoughts and realities, there’s no point in trying.

She says the poor admit to making bad financial decisions because it is believed paying will not increase their status. They will always be poor and hopeless. And nothing is free for the poor. She cites that there may be a bowl of free condoms on her university campus but most poor people will never be able to set foot on her campus to know about them. And that the clinics still require a copay and once you go they refer you to a specialist which in not accessible for most.

She says that the reason you see women with so many baby’s daddies is because they seek to find a bit of connection wherever they can to survive. “You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It’s more basic than food. You go to these people who make you feel lovely for an hour that one time, and that’s all you get. You’re probably not compatible with them for anything long-term, but right this minute they can make you feel powerful and valuable.” She says you don’t plan for the long term because it usually ends in heartbreak, you just live in the moment.

She smokes, an expensive habit, because it provides a stimulant to keep going since she is always tired and exhausted, when she feels she can’t take another step, she’ll smoke a cigarette and go another hour.

Linda wrote the piece not seeking sympathy but to provide an explanation for the thought processes that lead to bad decisions. She says, “This is what our lives are like, and here are our defense mechanisms, and here is why we think differently.”

The written piece went viral and nearly 50 people wrote the author trying to send donations to help so she set up a gofundme account which to date has raised over $53,000. She says she is going to obtain financial advisors to keep her from blowing it.

All this attention from the post going viral and the fundraising have drawn a lot of attacks and criticisms from people believing that Linda Tirado may be a scammer and know nothing about living in poverty herself. To that she had this to say, “But fate is a chancy thing, and I am after all perfectly suited to write about poverty. I have been privileged while poor, because I am f**ked up and spent decades in therapy, because I have been given access to these words, I am well-suited to this.” While she feels she does not speak for everyone, she feels she does speak for many, “I did not think that I would ever do better than scrape by, but I am managing that without relying on charity.”

Linda, a mother of two, was working two jobs, one required her to drive an hour through snow and mountains, sacrificing time spent with her husband and children. But she has now secured an agent and is writing a book proposal. It along with the gofundme proceeds will allow her to quit the second job she commutes to and instead work from home by helping others understand the state of poverty.

“Because I happen to have been given this outlet I am telling these stories. Some are mine, some are things I have seen. All are a mix of luck and strength and intentions and failure and success.” Linda explains, “Most people who are poor have not gotten there faultless. I didn’t.”


Daphne R is an experienced marketing and communications professional that provides social commentary, self-help, tips, and reports news of events that matter to African Americans.



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3 Responses to A Deep Look Inside the Mind of Poverty

  1. sawitcoming November 25, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Most people are not poor because of bad decisions. Most people are born into poverty, or become poor due to circumstances beyond their control. Being poor is what contributes to bad decisions, but I don’t think bad decisions make one poor. This prevailing narrative is what keeps us blaming the poor and sadly keeps us from taking steps to truly eradicate poverty.

    When you’re poor, you often don’t see a way out because most people don’t get out. We always hear about the exceptions. Children born into the inner city don’t have the same access to a good education, safe streets, and healthy food as children coming up in affluent or middle class neighborhoods. The jobs aren’t in the inner city, but the drug dealers, pimps, liquor stores, and fast food places are.

    We could go a long way with eliminating poverty by instituting a living wage for people in low paying positions, single-payer health care, free universal day care tied to the public school system, and affordable housing. People are poor because other people are f*cking greedy. Like McDonald’s.

    There’s no reason that rich a** multinational corporation cannot pay people are living wage. NO REASON. They are exploiting people. If it wasn’t for their servers they wouldn’t be sitting on all that cash. They need to pay the people that contribute to their success. And despite what they say, it won’t raise prices as much as they claim. That’s bullsh*

  2. sharon November 26, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Worked at Burger King while in nursing school. Fortunately, I only had myself take care of. There was a 16 yr old, skinny kid working there. We got a burger, small fry and a small soda for our break. I would take my break w him and give him mine. One night I was off, he took a burger or whatever out a can that only had wrapped food that had been under the heat lamps too long. We couldnt sell it. He got caught eating it, and they fired him! Turns out the poor kid was supporting himself and his drunken mother while he tried to go to high school. Guess he made a bad decision, so he’s poor?

  3. karen baylis November 26, 2013 at 7:57 am

    I think that the point of the blog is being missed. She is not saying that people are poor because they make poor decisions, she is saying that poor people tend to make poor decisions. When you are stressed out trying to put food on the table, keep a roof over your families head, and all the other things needed to keep body and soul together, your ability to deal with day to day issues can be affected.


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