Could poverty be inability to prioritize expenses?

Not agreeing with this amazing athlete and student about this one point:

wanting to ensure access to grocery stores and quality food.

Who lacks access to a grocery store? “Quality” foods?

Where are they finding the money for tobacco products?

Seems to me low income Americans find everything from $60 to get their nails done to $1,000 for tattoos on a bicep, yet lack access to “quality foods”? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

How does this work? Could poverty be at least be partially due to inability to prioritize expenses?

For your edification:

I understand that it is more comfortable to hand-wave away poverty as the fault of the impoverished. But that’s about you, not them.


being poor is expensive.


There is a interest by the elite to keep people in poverty, its good for business.

Where’s the money come for tats, piercings & cigarettes, then?

It’s a good question and not an either/or situation. People with low SES make not-great decisions. However, I think they have a lot more opportunities than me to make bad decisions and a lot fewer opportunities to make good ones.

Regarding inexpensive nutrition, I can get bulk quinoa and almonds, as well as 30 kinds of leafy greens, at 3 places within 10 minutes from home. That’s 3 more than people living in BFE, I’d imagine.

From the study:

Tobacco companies often target their advertising campaigns toward low-income neighborhoods and communities.3

  • Researchers have found a higher density of tobacco retailers in low-income neighborhoods.12
  • Tobacco companies have historically targeted women of low SES through distribution of discount coupons, point-of-sale discounts, direct-mail coupons, and development of brands that appeal to these women.13

I unfortunately know several jerks at Phillip Morris who should be doing something more with their lives. Despite my personal antipathy towards them, they’re not at all stupid.


Asking questions is hand waving? As is simply questioning the logic?

Some areas that are potential urban food deserts in my county of residence are also pretty walkable & offer public transit access to get to a grocery store. There are numerous Asian, African, Latin American grocers.

None of these ethnic markets offer anything fresh? Latin American store owners advertise their markets on Spanish speaking radio, and yes, I understand the ads.

This is less about any dissing and more about questioning, like if there isn’t a food budget, where’s the money coming from for other expenses? Could ability to prioritize be PART of the problem?


My wife barters for haircuts and tattoos by baking cakes (which she got a degree in) for her hairdresser and tattoo artist rather than having them pay her in cash for the service. Maybe the people you’re judging aren’t paying in cash either. What business is it of yours anyway?

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Re rural food deserts, in all fairness to Ms. Thomas, the above probably qualifies. Keep in mind it’s been decades since last traveling through there to get to the Keys, but at the time cell phones were generally large car phones.

The area appeared to be miles from a grocery or even convenience market. Better fill that tank to F before crossing the line.

Phone reception or road side service? Good luck.

Urban areas, though, from what I’ve seen, if nothing else generally offer access to bus service for grocery store access.

If nothing is anyone’s business, why have this board to express opinions?

Bit sensitive?

I’m just curious how that’s any of your business when I keep getting told that billionaires not paying their taxes isn’t any of mine.

As for sensitive, I’m not the one whining about people who are worse off than I am.

Yes. Asking the “question” are poor people only poor because they’re stupid is charitably hand-waving.

It is a way to absolve yourself of any responsibility to work towards - or even support - any sort of solution.

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Asking to see the logic is “whining”?


Lack of control=job loss & a much lower paying job.

There is control over how what’s made is spent, though.

Didn’t say they were stupid.

There are plenty of smart people who lack ability to prioritize.

Could this be part of the problem?

Not the alpha & the omega of it.

First: Yes. People make bad decisions. Want a $60.00 tattoo or want to eat? Make a choice.

Second: Don’t let people derail your OP. It is a valid question.


Asking to see the logic of what exactly? Your assumptions? Makes sense.

“Working towards…or supporting…any sort of solution”

This is an online discussion forum.

Someone actually asking for help—let’s say for a financial advisor—if that advisor is worth anything, may show a little tough love.

Example here is your income. You’re citing a lack of food. Where is the money coming from for a smartphone?

They’d be better off in the long run with some tough love than being propped up by assistance beyond a short term.

My potential rural food desert? One resident got so tough with her ex she bought him a bus pass & put money on it so he could look for work.

She was fed up with his lack of ability to prioritize his time, and really, he’s better off than he would be losing experience as well as potential Social Security & retirement income later on.

One needs not be stupid or even low income to die penniless. Really.

You are desperately seeking a reason to belive that poverty is the fault of the poor.

This is not an uncommon “conservative” position to take.


A potentially wealthy State’s Attorney dies broke and penniless due to gambling.

Whose fault is that?

Lack of ability to prioritize isn’t always about the poor, although there are some who cite lack of food access among this population.

Something being PART of a problem is 100% guilt?

Again some aspects of life aren’t controllable, losing a job & making several hundred dollars less on the next one.

Could lack of ability to prioritize be one part of the whole problem?

Yes, it is. Hense my discussion of your premise.

Anecdotes are not data. Your personal experiences are not the same as anyone else’s.

I am sure there are many people, of all income brackets, that are bad with “prioritizing expenses”. I know many people that are.

The problem comes when you extrapolate that to poor people as a whole, to rationalize not caring about poverty - why should you care, if you can convince yourself that it’s their fault?

You are no more of a position to judge another’s spending habits than I am in a position to judge yours.