Woman who grew up poor explains how ‘scarcity mindset’ still impacts her today

A mother on TikTok recently shared a secret habit of hers that she’s had for years. However, she suspects the root of the practice comes from her growing up poor.

Little did she know that the post would resonate with hundreds of internet strangers. Many shared that they, too, harbor similarly “strange” habits from being a child whose family struggled financially.

In the clip, a woman who goes by Rach on TikTok (@rachgist) explains that she’d been thinking a lot about her childhood after seeing another TikToker pose a simple yet thought-provoking question: “If you grew up poor, what weird habit did you bring into adulthood with you because of that?”

When she went to make a stitch with the video, she suddenly couldn’t find it. But she decided to post her own video anyway just to see if other former “poor kids” could relate.

“So if we buy something from the grocery store, and I love it,” Rach begins before grabbing a box of Quest bars that she recently bought with eight in the pack. “I will eat seven of them and leave the eighth one until I buy an entirely new box of the eight.”

As a result, she says her pantry is full of mostly empty boxes that have just one singular bar or food item left in there “just in case.”

According to Rach, the whole thing is “kind of embarrassing” and actually drives her husband kind of nuts.

“He did not grow up poor, so he’s like, ‘Well just go buy more,’ and I’m like, ‘But what if we can’t?'” Rach says as the video ends.

What she’s describing here isn’t actually all that strange. In fact, as one TikToker later commented, it’s actually a real — and fully diagnosable — thing.

“Two words: scarcity mindset,” they wrote in the comments. “Grew up poor, and this resonates.”

According to WebMD, a scarcity mindset is when you’re “so obsessed with a lack of something — usually time or money — that you can’t seem to focus on anything else, no matter how hard you try.” For most people, this comes out in all sorts of little ways but isn’t actually a conscious behavior. Instead, it’s almost like second nature.

Turns out, a lot of people out there either do the very same thing as Rach, or something similar, due to their own upbringings. And soon after posting her own confession, many TikTokers chimed in with some of theirs.

“I cant use things I like because I want to ‘save’ them,” one person confessed.

“I’m only buying items if they are on sale, which has made me collect things that I don’t actually love,” another person admitted. “but I’m working on that now.”

For someone else, it takes the form of “saving plastic bags for forever and ever.” And, as another person shared, they often put off eating the food they purchased for way too long, just because they’re trying to save them for the future.

“I save EVERYTHING,” another person wrote. “jars, foam from packages, takeout containers, etc. I don’t throw anything away if I can reuse it.”

“I add water to my shampoo/detergent and dish soap to make it stretch,” said someone else.


Clearly, this kind of innate behavior runs deep for a lot of people — even some who say they didn’t grow up poor but had a parent who did. Certain behaviors were passed down and became ingrained in them, too, leaving them with a subconscious fear of one day “losing it all.”

While most of the video comments had to do with people sharing their own “weird” confessions, many simply agreed with Rach that they, too, had the same habit of leaving “just one” of something in the pantry. As a result, dozens of people felt a sense of community over something they didn’t even know was a “thing.”

“Oh my god is that why I do that,” one person wrote.

“I thought I was the only one!” said another.

“I do this and I didn’t realize that until now,” someone else shared.

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