There are some people who are fortunate enough to have enough money to fund whatever lifestyle they choose. This provides them with a sense of comfort, because they know they'll be able to afford anything they need. However, if one thing in life is certain, it's that nothing is never certain. Just ask these Redditors.
People on Reddit who grew up rich but then became poor share their experience. Content has been edited for clarity.
"My stepdad managed a casino, and my mom was a really well known real estate agent. Before they separated, their combined salaries was in the millions. My stepdad was very good with saving money and my mom was not.
They split up. My mom proceeded to pay cash for a house in an upscale neighborhood. Bought a Porsche, a large truck, dirt bikes, computers, and everything else she wanted that my stepdad told her no. She started dating young guys, and would pay for them to go to Aruba, the Bahamas, Dubai, etc. She was living a very carefree life.
Originally, I didn’t take work or school seriously as a teenager because I was essentially spoiled. I had a terrible work ethic, and I knew my college was going to be paid for regardless.
Then the housing market collapsed in 2007. My mom lost her clients, her couple dozen investment houses she purchased, and had no income. She had to sell all of her material possessions, her young boyfriend left her, etc. She took her last $300,000 and opened a very niche store which failed after a year. She filed bankruptcy.
I joined the military and left with $37 to my name. I had to learn work ethic. I had to learn how to learn. But overall I’ve had a very successful career so far. My mom married a doctor to stay afloat and still always talks about how she’s 'going to make lots of money again to buy us all houses.'”
"My father was in the NFL in the 1980s and early 1990s. We lived quite well during my childhood (large house on a golf course, four cars, private school, etc.) but once he retired it was over almost immediately. Not because he was financially imprudent, but because it was clear he might not ever earn another paycheck in his life at age 33. So we moved away back to Michigan in a nice, if not flashy house, and lived a very average suburban existence within his means.
My parents are still together and have no regrets about slowing the spending down post-career. If I had been older and used to that lifestyle as a teenager as opposed to a child, I can imagine I'd have been a freaking brat about the whole ordeal."
"My grandparents were very wealthy, so they bought my parents a house and basically supported my family, even paying for my school tuition (I wasn't aware of this). Because of this, my parents were lazy and never really had jobs. They were always at home and I didn't find any of this unusual. We had extravagant vacations and I remember being given everything I'd ever asked for.
But my grandpa died when I was about 10, grandma following suit soon after and all his kids started fighting over the money. I'm pretty sure they're still fighting. Anyway, soon half the lights in our house didn't work, our TVs were all broken and our cars broken down and barely usable. I was wearing the same uniform all throughout high school, and as a teenager I wore nothing but hand-me-downs. My allowance decreased instead of increased year by year. There were no more vacations. But my parents wasted the rest of their savings on 'appearing' rich, buying fancy jewelry and clothes for themselves and other stupid things, racking up credit card debt. Then they'd host parties for friends in expensive restaurants, and I'd feel so angry because back home we'd be eating nothing but canned food.
It honestly scarred me so much that my only goal is to become financially stable, and I plan to stay employed without ever retiring because I don't want to be like them, jobless and stupid."
"Until I was 10, my family seemed to have an ideal life. Beautiful house(s) in a very wealthy beach-front town, expensive cars, summer camps, and everything else a kid could want.
My dad was a dentist and my mom was just starting work as real estate broker. She said her money was 'fun' money. Dad paid the bills.
But, unbeknownst to us, dad didn’t pay the bills. He was living a double life with our babysitter. They even had their own house. My parents split and weeks later, the bank took our house. We (my mom and us three kids) were out on our butts. My dad has taken whatever was left of the money (not much), and destroyed my mom’s credit with bankruptcies and delinquencies she didn’t know about.
We struggled for many years, and had lots of help from family friends. There were many birthdays and holidays with no gifts, and lots of pasta for dinner. My mom could stretch a dollar pretty well since she had grown up with not much money.
Now, 30 years later, my mom has become successful financially through lots of hard work. My dad is still with my old babysitter. He retired (he was forced to sell his practice because of lots of bad business practices) and is now working a minimum wage job and living in near poverty.
Karma’s a brat."
"I have a cousin I watched go down beautifully. His parents were well off. My uncle inherited a large amount of property in the family since colonial times. They did not live extravagantly, but money was never an issue. They had one son. For as far back as I can remember, the son was anticipating their deaths so he could get his hands on the cash and live the extravagant life he felt they should be living.
In the meantime, their son was wasting his life away. He would get whatever job would hire him to prove he was working, but still had to get handouts from his parents to pay the bills. He would shack up with women to avoid paying rent. He would just sit around, smoke weed, and make plans of his future after the inheritance came.
In the late 80’s-early 90’s, two widowed aunts developed Alzheimer’s. They lived in very expensive facilities, one for almost 7 years. My uncle covered it out-of-pocket. Then he and his wife developed medical issues of their own. I had heard they were liquidating property a little at a time to generate cash to pay all the medical bills. I warned my cousin that he might want to rethink his plans, as these people were living long and with lots of expensive medical debt. He didn’t listen.
His father dies and at the wake, he is walking around like the host of a party. Smiles, warmth, happy. Six feet from his fathers body he tells me, 'All these people are going to be crawling to me for money now. Today, I am nice. Tomorrow, forget them.'
From what I have pieced together, about a month later as the estate was being settled, he was given nothing. It all went to his mother. She told him that she planned on liquidating all the remaining property and moving into a retirement community. She felt he had received enough over his life and when she died, she was going to leave everything to charity.
He lost his mind, and beat her. He ended up in prison. She died while he was in there. Good to her word, he got nothing. Last I had heard, he was living in facility that is a mix of homeless and half-way house.
It is a good reminder the parent's money is not the kid's money."
"I was born into what pretty much was poverty in Eastern Russia. Moved to Australia with my mum where she met and married my dad.
They started a business when I was about 9 or 10, which took off. I clearly remember suddenly having a lot more 'nice' food. For example, mum started buying bread from the bakery and no longer bought those plastic cheese squares.
I also was suddenly signed up for art and dance classes. They bought a bigger apartment around this time and sent me to an expensive private school while continuing with the extra curriculum activities. I remember mum kept trying to take me shopping which I always refused because when I was little we never bought anything so I felt bad asking for things.
Then dad lost his business, and mom's business also took a hit. So, they went from both incomes to essentially half of hers. I was living at university at this time, so I was definitely a student and living on a budget. The main thing I noticed was how stressed they had become, and how they no longer had dinner parties. They're doing better now, but I would say they're more middle class. I think it affected my younger brothers more since they grew up during the wealthy period while I still remember mum not being able to afford things like grapes and yogurt."
"My parents are 50 years older than I am, for context. They worked for Hewlett-Packard back in the mid 60’s, and ended up leaving after about 10 years to move to the middle of nowhere and start their own TV repair business. Later, they started a TV/VCR/video rental store in conjunction with a company called Curtis Mathis. My mom was a stay at home mom, because..well that’s apparently what moms did in the 'old days.'
Business was booming apparently in the 70’s-80’s. I was born at the end, and by that time my parents had a really nice house. I had a lot of toys and ton of cute clothes pretty much my whole life. I had a pony, we had nice cars, we had workers that came to our house and cleaned it.
My dad was running like three different branches of Curtis Mathis at the time. Slowly, through the time I was four to seven, he started shutting down one by one, citing that I was in school and needed more attention.
When I was about 10, so about the end of the 90’s, my dad sold the TV repair store and the video rental store, and went to go work for the local paper. He did a lot of sales for their advertising, and it never really occurred to me we were actually becoming more poor. We still had the two BMW’s, I still had my horse Pacos, we still had the cleaners and landscapers coming. But oh my god, my dad was getting tired.
When I was about 17, my Dad got prostate cancer. As a long time Nuke sub dude, it didn’t surprise him, he went to the VA and they gave him all the treatment he needed at no charge.
I was already graduating from high school and going to college. At this point he decided to 'retire' from working. He was going through treatment when it was discovered that my parents were not rich, and in fact hadn’t saved for retirement at all. They only had stocks and bonds, which was fine because they had a ton left from their time at HP and others tech stocks.
The year was 2008.
They. Lost. Everything.
My parents didn’t tell me one thing about this, as I had gotten accepted into a college across the state and subsequently, left home. They carried on life as normal, going on vacations etc and I didn’t know they were broke until I graduated from college, and came home to find my parents records in shambles.
These people are now 79 years old, and have only SSI and a VA pension to their name. They drive BMW’s that keep breaking down, will pay a ton of money to fix them and refuse to get a new car. My childhood home is falling apart, and I recently paid for a rat exterminator and repairs because they hid the extent of it from me.
My dad showers me with money and gifts that I save and then give back to my mom because I know she’s struggling to keep bills paid.
It’s heartbreaking to see your heroes turn into humans before your eyes."
"My family were immigrants. They moved to the US in the 80’s, and hustled their way to owning multiple electronic stores in the city in the 90’s. My dad took what he made in the US, and invested in a company in our home country. He made an empire. He owned 43 stores in the entire home country, franchising apparel and shoes. I came in 96’, followed by my two sisters. Once my father was established, he sold everything in the US and we moved back to our home country. We were a part of the 1% now. My father expanded his investments, owning real estate, investing in different opportunities and more. He did pretty well for himself. I lived in a villa, had a beach house and a golf resort house, went to a private school, had a driver and all that garbage.
The only difference is that my father made it very clear it was his money. He became different. He drank more. He wasn’t home at all; I wouldn’t see him for weeks. He got aggressive, much like when an addict didn’t get his fix.
I rebelled against an authoritative parent. I refused to be married off to 'someone of my status.' I refused to be controlled with what I could wear, where I could go and who I could be friends with. I ran away twice. When I was 18, I was given an ultimatum. I live by their rules and values and I’m taken care of or I leave and I’m cut off. I couldn’t live in such a hostile and toxic environment where each member put on a freaking show just to please my father.
So I left. I moved in with my humble grandparents and saved up enough money to come back to the US. I quickly found a place to live, worked three jobs and put myself through school.
I am poor. I know that. I had to learn how to manage my money and grow out of habits that I was raised with. I am completely okay with it. It is actually disgusting how spoiled and entitled I was. I am humbled now. I work hard. I hope that one day I can be middle class and try to buy a house. I don’t think I ever want excessive wealth. I want to get excited for my vacations, and not just expect them because I can afford to go anywhere. I want to have a goal and work for it. I want to have something I am proud of, and not just another object I can play with. Money becomes trivial. Yeah, it does give you freedom, and it makes life much easier. But too much of it? You realize that you can buy superficial experiences, and not real ones. That’s just how I feel.
My family is still rich; they went to Dubai, Spain and Thailand last year. My mom called me to complain about the entire trip multiple times because 'he is so unbearable'. I saved up and went to a beach town in Florida. I had a blast and met some new friends!
I wouldn’t change what I did for anything."
"Grew up wealthy in an affluent neighborhood. Big house, constant vacations, new and expensive clothes, nice toys, etc. I was such a freaking brat.
Turns out my dad was working with the mob. Got arrested and spent five years in prison for it. Resulted in my parents divorce, my mom developing drinking issues, my 'close' relatives showing their true colors trying to get their hands on my dad’s belongings, and me and my siblings dealing with some lifelong issues.
With all that being said, I’m glad it happened. It humbled all of us in the end. My siblings and I are independently successful, my mom has been in recovery for 10 years, my dad actually became a better father from it, and we learned to rely on the family members that were true to us through it all."
"Grew up super, super rich - house on the beach, multiple residences, marinas etc. My father made all his money himself by the time he was in his late twenties. Not a penny from my grand-dad (who was independently starting to become successful as well around the same time). Most friends my father set up in business are now tycoons in their own right (many worth over USD $200 million). He was richer than them when they started (to their credit, they still maintain contact with him as a friend). Father was wealthy enough to loan someone seven figures in his thirties, who never paid back, and he didn't even break a sweat.
All came crashing down because of a bad investment during the Dotcom bust. Why he didn't diversify his investments is beyond me. It went from 100 to -100 in the space of a year. There was a moment in time when my mother broke down and told me we couldn't afford to buy basic fruits. Horrible memories.
My parents are some of the hardest working people I know. They're generous, loving, extremely charitable and ever-attentive. And they have always been this way. For this to happen to them really breaks my heart.
The worst is my father still is surrounded by all the friends who made it, and he feels he has let us down when he sees their kids being gifted businesses to run and huge houses to live in. He came to visit me recently and while driving down a rich neighborhood in Mississauga (Canada), he started weeping saying he wished things had turned out differently and he could have bought us (siblings) all the houses on the street. I think he carries that guilt all the time and it destroys me knowing I can't seem to talk him out of it.
For us siblings, we have managed to do okay in life in general. We are very financially prudent and put ourselves through university by obtaining scholarships and aid. Most of us were able to cough up down payments for our mortgages after years of extreme saving. Our careers have started to bear fruit."
"I was born into an ultra-rich family. Not exactly the top 1% or anything, but close to it. My dad owned a very successful, major company before he retired. My mom was basically a trophy wife who he married purely for her looks (not trying to insult my mom or anything, but it's the truth). For the first 13 years of my life, I had literally everything I wanted. I had servants waiting on me hand and foot, I got every toy, every outfit, every single thing that I could want. I traveled to many countries on lavish vacations too.
Well, that all ended when my dad hired a private investigator to spy on my mom because he believed that she was cheating on him. And oh boy was she ever. She was cheating on him with many men.
I was young, so I'm not really sure how the whole legal process of the divorce went down. But somehow - possibly due to my dad having great lawyers, he basically threw me and my mother out with nothing. She got almost nothing out of the divorce.
But because my mom couldn't stop living the life of opulence, she burned through what little she did get out of the divorce almost immediately. We went from staying at high class hotels after he threw us out, to cheap motels... to eventually driving across the country to move in with my aunt because we were basically out of money.
Looking back, I was an absolute little brat about this the entire time. As you might imagine, being raised as a rich little girl left me with a massive sense of entitlement, so I basically would complain and moan and scream about all the perceived injustices I was facing. I wanted new clothes, why the heck couldn't I buy them? Why did I have to eat at filthy McDonald's? Stuff like that. Kind of want to go back in time and punch myself.
Anyway, we moved in with my aunt and my cousin, who is also a girl, a year older than me. I barely even knew that existed up until they point because I had never met them. My mom pretty much distanced herself from all her old family and friends when she became rich by marrying my dad. In truth, my mom came from a lower-middle class family, and she didn't want her new high class family and friends to know about it.
So the four of us were packed into a two bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. And of course, I was fit to be tied about the whole thing. I wanted to go back to my dad, back to the life of riches. Of course... this was not an option.
Tensions were high. Mainly between me, my aunt, and cousin. My aunt tried to be as kind and accommodating as possible, but I was being a bratty princess and she didn't like my lack of respect. But even worse was my relationship with my cousin, who was about as far from a spoiled rotten princess as a little girl could be. She's a big tomboy and you would not believe the butt beating she gave me a few days after we got there for disrespecting my aunt.
We did not get along at all. At all. There were constant fights between us, and most of it was admittedly my fault for being a spoiled rotten brat.
After a couple of months of this, me and my cousin got into another really huge fight. She kicked my butt of course. But afterwards, we ended up talking about everything and I finally started to realize that no, I was not going back to my dad, and this was my life now and I had to start accepting that.
It wasn't easy, for sure, but I had become determined to improve myself. It took a long time, and let me tell you, I pretty much went through everything half-kicking-and-screaming. I wasn't happy with the changes, but I pushed through.
It's been several years now. I graduated from high school, got a part-time job, went to college and have been working as an elementary school teacher. Oh, and by the way, me and my cousin are best friends now. We actually moved into our own place together a couple of years ago."