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As a teacher in the inner city, I see city poverty every day.  My students live in the lowest form of housing, receive the worst food for lunches, and spend their life in dirty clothes.  For the rest of their life, they will suffer from their upbringing.  They feel out of place, worry about running out of money, don’t trust anyone in their life, and mostly feel tired.  They will see more crime, more death, and feel more loss.

Yes, I realize that growing up poor can affect you negatively.  Yet, it comes with a gift.  When you’re poor, you have a clear choice to make: work harder than everyone else, ignore the negative, and fight for something you don’t even know really exists — or you can give up.  For those who chose to fight for the American dream, they grow up to be some of the most successful people I know.

In America today, we are spending a lot of time talking about class warfare.  Basically, we hear about how the world isn’t fair and how things aren’t equal.  The truth is I have never learned how to make money, grow wealth, and change my financial status from a wealthy person.  I learned it by reading the stories of poor people who grew to be wealthy champions of the American Dream.

Most of our companies were created by poor people who were sick of being poor.  Many of our heroes came from poverty and chose something else.  No matter what economic system America follows, we will always have the poor.  The question that we must ask ourselves as the middle class is: are we going to give the poor a choice or are we going to chose for them?  Will they have a country to fight for or should we tell them to just line up for more handouts?

As middle class Americans, we find ourselves content to stay in our spot.  We get a decent education, buy a house, raise our kids, and repeat.  It is our poor that dream big and take on the fight.  We can learn so much from them.

Tips from the poor:

  1. Ignore your neighbor’s opinion
  2. Get the best education, no matter where you are.
  3. Work, work, work
  4. Ask questions
  5. Observe those who have more
  6. Dream big
  7. Do the impossible every day.

The poor that changed your world:

John Paul DeJoria – co-founder of Paul Mitchell

Larry Ellison – Oracle

Steve Jobs

J.K. Rowling

Oprah Winfrey

Jim Carrey

Andrew Carnegie

H. Wayne Huizerga (Blockbuster)

Abraham Lincoln

Booker T. Washington

George Washington Carver

Dwight Eisenhower

Anna Domzalski is a staff writer for the Financial Bin. Anna will soon begin her role as Dean of Financial Bin University and will conduct online budgeting classes beginning in February 2012. She can be reached via email at [email protected].

Didn’t get Entrepreneur Intervention: Triumphs & Failures of Entrepreneurs as a gift this holiday season? Make sure to pick up your copy today. Let these 28 individuals share their trials and tribulations with you as they embarked on starting and growing their own companies. It is available on Amazon in paperback and for your Kindle, Nook, or iPad.