More people than ever in this country are on subsistence living, living below the poverty level. Chances are one in four, that's 25% that a child will receive public assistance before reaching the age of 18. For some kids that may be as simple as receiving a reduced rate on a school lunch. For other children, that lunch may represent their only meal of the day. If you are at poverty level chances are you didn't make some kind of Mahatma Ghandi decision to be broke, you may not have even known what your choices are. No matter, you can start where you are and do better. Subsistence living is for the birds, so lets start with believing you can do better. One big come one of late is the "advanced degree." Education if it will lead directly to a trade IS a good idea. Pell grants are available for barber college. A grant, unlike a loan does not have to paid back. Find out from the school of your choice if you qualify. The student aid department is what you want to contact. On line schools are being heavily promoted. Enter with trepidation! If you are not a natural student you might easily find yourself overwhelmed. The come ons are strong and pushy and they are not above misleading students. Don't take their word for anything. Do your own search engine due diligence on any on line school you are considering. Along the same lines are school like ITT Tech which cost way way more than your average community college offering no better, often worse education. Don't throw your money away, be a smart shopper and compare prices even if you are not the one paying. Community college or getting a GED is a great way to re-start your education, usually reasonably priced if you qualify for aid. Getting off of aid can be tricky if you are used to having everything for free. The real cost of everything can be shocking. Get used to it. After the initial shock, you'll do much better off of aid than on it. Consider doing some kind of work under the table, i.e. paid cash, so you can build up savings. Don't put the money in the bank until you are set to get off welfare, because if they find out and claim it as an asset you might be taken off welfare before you are ready. Some under the table prospects you might consider are housecleaning, pet sitting, baby sitting, dog walking or selling things on Ebay. Once you line up some work show up reliably. Showing up is 80 percent. You would be amazed how many people don't even do that. Have a pleasant attitude. Getting back to work at first is tough, start with one house at a time cleaning, or one dog you walk. Work your way up as you get used to it. Dress appropriately. Thrift shops are a fine place to get your first set of work clothes. You can spend big money later when you're making it. Start where you are, start with neat clean dependable and appropriately dressed. Always do a little more than is expected of you. People will start to see you as capable and offer you more responsibility because they sense you are capable. They won't offer it before they trust you, so you have to establish yourself as worthwhile first. Yeah, I know that sounds unfair, but that's how it is. If you only do what's expected of you very little will ever happen to you. Educate yourself about whatever it is you are doing. Be willing to take critique. If you can't learn, you won't learn. Spend your savings on the things that will help you most. Don't blow it on designer clothes for your job if what you really need is a reliable second hand car. Don't blow it on new hubcaps if what you need is legal car insurance. Take care of business first, pay down debt second, make investments in yourself third. You can get ahead but you have to be your own advocate first. A passive loser mentality will get you nowhere. Yeah, I know there are a million reasons why you ended up where you did, but the point is you don't want to be there any more, and you don't have to be!