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It's hard to get ahead when you have very little in the way of liquid assets and one accident, injury, or illness can drain your reserves and even lose you your job. Low-wage jobs tend to be physically demanding, increasing the risk of something going wrong. Unsecured loans like credit card balances and payday loans, a common fallback of the desperate, have horrifically high interest rates and (quite literally) compound the problem the more they're relied upon.



Much has been written about how, when you're poor, you're always one step away from financial disaster:

Research Center: The Politics of Financial Insecurity (2015)

Slate: Why Poor People Stay Poor (excerpted from Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America)

Atlantic: It Is Expensive to Be Poor

New York Times: How Expensive It Is to Be Poor

Banking in the developing world - The poor are different