People Who Come From Low-Income Families Reveal What 73 Things They Considered An Absolute Luxury

As kids, many of us fantasized about what we would do if we had all the money in the world. “I would fill up an entire swimming pool with chocolate!” “Well, I would buy the newest and greatest gaming system!” But some kids who grew up with a bit less money just dreamed of seeing orange juice on the table at breakfast or being able to participate in after-school activities.

Earlier this week, Reddit user Ekudar invited people who grew up broke to share the things they assumed only rich people could afford (until they got older and realized that everyone should have access to those “luxuries”). We’ve gathered some of the most thought-provoking responses down below that might hit close to home if you also grew up in a low-income household, or that might remind you to never take your privilege for granted if you had all of these things available to you as a child.

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Keep reading to also find interviews I was lucky enough to receive from two people who know the experience of growing up poor all too well, Amy Saunders and Assad Abderemane. Be sure to upvote the responses that break your heart or resonate with you, and let us know in the comments what other things you considered luxuries for the rich when you were a child. Then, if you’d like to read another Bored Panda article on the same topic, check out this story next.


Orange juice.
As a kid, I vowed to be able to afford as much orange juice as I wanted when I got older. Started working in high school and used my first paycheck to buy a gallon of orange juice. I drank it all in one day and got horrible diarrhea.

Image credits: bspring

To gain more insight on this topic, we reached out to Amy Saunders, founder and CEO of AlphaPR. Amy has discussed her humble background on her blog before, so we asked if she could shine some light on what it was like growing up poor. “I think growing up poor, or without a sense of financial security, skews your relationship with money,” Amy shared. “I didn’t have money growing up so I didn’t know how to HAVE money when I did get it. When I began running my own company in my twenties and began making a livable income, it was like it was time to celebrate by blowing it all. Suddenly, I was making close to six figures, but ended up racking up an even higher debt.”

“Of course, I wasn’t taught financial literacy, or even how to save when I was younger,” Amy explained. “And that lack of literacy spilled into my late twenties and early thirties. Having grown up poor, I only knew how to stay poor, even when I had money.”

But Amy shared that there was no definitive moment when she realized she had grown up poor. “I just always knew that we went without. I think the bigger realization came when I was older, and had to work through my financial trauma in order to build a financially stable life for myself.”


New clothes for no reason. I was so confused when I got to highschool and girls would just suddenly have the new trend piece, I didn’t understand why they were just allowed to have them.

Image credits: findingemotive


A two story house. If you had stairs you were rich.

Image credits: cowdog987

We also asked Amy if she could share any of the things she had always considered luxuries for rich people until she got older. “Good water pressure in the shower is a big one,” she told Bored Panda. “I had a friend who lived near me, in a low income neighborhood, and one time when my power was out, I went to her place to take a shower. I remember how shocked I was by the way the water hit me in her shower. She had actual water pressure. I was 19, and I had never used a good shower before.” 

“I also always thought having your own room, your parents owning a house or a car – these were rich people things,” Amy noted. “I never got my driver’s license until I was 32. In my mind, I wasn’t rich, so I would never afford a car anyway. So what was the point?”


Going out to a sit down restaurant

Image credits: Confident-Annual9970


Going to the movies

Image credits: basic-fatale


Vacations. Like actually going somewhere. We’d go on car trips once in awhile.

Image credits: Revolutionary-Rip-40

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Amy also noted that the topic of food can be a whole separate conversation when it comes to growing up poor. “The quality of food you eat when you’re poor is vastly different than what you eat when you have some money – but it’s not all about affordability,” she noted. “Growing up, my mom worked three or four jobs, sometimes all in a day. By the time she got home, she wasn’t about to cook a lovely, big, healthy home cooked meal. We were getting frozen dinners in front of the TV. Perhaps we could have afforded fresh veggies to make big stews and chilis and meals, but when you’re poor and working to make ends meet, you don’t have the time.” It’s no surprise how many responses on this list have to do with food, beverages, eating out and having access to snacks.


Not entirely in line with the question, but:

Two pairs of shoes. I thought only rich kids had more than one pair of shoes. I didn’t realize we weren’t poor, and when I told my dad, “I want another pair of shoes but I know we can’t afford it” he IMMEDIATELY took me to the shoe store and bought me a pair so I could be “rich” lol

Image credits: ElusoryLamb


A fridge with an ice dispenser

Image credits: Bento_Fox


Having actual tissues instead of toilet paper to blow your nose.

Image credits: whatcolorismyshirt

We also asked Amy about some of these things she previously considered luxuries that have now become normal to her. “I have a car now, and I think about doing groceries as a kid and pushing the broken down cart full of food all the way home, or in the snow in the wintertime,” she shared. “It reminds me that when you’re poor, your 24 hours in a day are different than the 24 hours in a day of someone with money. Lugging groceries home is something normal people do every day, but not something I have to do now that I have a car, which also feels very normal.”

And over time Amy has found a way to change her perspective and understand that she does deserve access to these things. “Things began to shift once I worked on addressing my unconscious beliefs about money, wealth, and my deservedness of money,” she explained. “It was exceptionally painful to shift this perspective. I used to cry every time I got a piece of mail from the bank or the government about my taxes.”

“Now, my husband and I make nice, fresh, healthy meals. I haven’t eaten peas out of a can, or a TV frozen dinner, since I was a teenager,” Amy told Bored Panda. “I also own a house, but as a millennial, I still consider that a luxury in today’s market. That and, my shower actually works these days.” 


Clothes that didn’t come from the thrift store or cousins.

Image credits: wixkedwitxh


Travelling by plane. As a kid I never been in an airplane, I always thought that was for extremely rich people.

Image credits: Saaihead


Crayola, you knew if you were a RoseArt kid.

Image credits: banhbohap

Despite Amy’s humble beginnings, she still wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that we don’t all have the same opportunities. “I have privilege as a white woman. I recognize that people still experience many of these things as luxuries, and escaping poverty when you come from a historically marginalized community is harder than escaping poverty when you’re white,” she shared. “I carry a lot of privilege, and I think that is something important to recognize when it comes to discussions about poverty, wealth, and financial trauma. It is not an equal playing field.”

If you’d like to hear more wise words from Amy, you can find her blog right here or follow her on Instagram right here.


Butter. My mother only bought margarine because we couldn’t afford butter. I only tasted it in high school when I got my first job and would occasionally go out to eat with friends.

I promised my self that I would only have real butter when I got my own place.

50 years later I have 2 GRADES of butter at all times. Kirkland to cook and bake with, and Kerry Gold to eat on bread, potatoes, etc.

It makes me feel like Mrs. Gotrocks!


My husband thinks it’s really strange that I ask for new clothes for Christmas. Not even fancy clothes, just stuff like pyjamas. He thinks that’s an everyday expense. I see it as kind of special as that is the only time I ever got a new piece of clothing as a child. Any other time I had to sew and patch up old clothes or receive hand me down clothes. Also I just learned to wear oversized hand-me-down clothes and shoes until I grew into them.


Target clothes. Apparently clothes from Target are considered cheap? I grew up thinking that’s where my rich classmates got clothes.

Image credits: Maxinala

We also reached out to writer Assad Abderemane to hear his thoughts on this topic, as he has a poignant essay on Medium discussing similar themes. Assad opened up with Bored Panda about how growing up poor impacted his relationship with spending money. “Spending money for food, some clothes, and a roof over our heads? Of course, we need to survive. Spending money on things we didn’t absolutely need like a new TV or a bigger fridge was always for special occasions, like, when the old TV stopped working or a new sibling came along,” he explained. “But spending money on experiences like going to the cinema or a concert? That was useless, a waste of money. I used to silently judge friends who’d pay so much money to go see a singer they already listened to every single day on Spotify. Then they’d complain about being low on cash in the middle of the month?! That was ridiculous to me.”

But Assad was not always keenly aware of the fact that he was poor. “I think it really dawned on me that I’d grown up poor when I stopped being good at math,” he shared. “In the 8th grade, they started adding letters to math, and suddenly all of it was too abstract for me. From the first grade to the seventh, I was always top of my class at mental math. I’d been doing mental math for my mom every time we’d go grocery shopping. I was a walking percentage calculator during sales season. We couldn’t afford to pay too much for groceries, so I took my mental math missions pretty seriously.”


Things at the book fair. You could probably buy a good hoard of stuff from the book fair for 30-50 dollars looking back. I was given $7 one year to buy something and I couldn’t afford a book.

Image credits: haydawg8


There was a rich kid in highschool that complained about me wearing the same five sets of clothes every week… I said ‘if it bothers you that much, why don’t you buy some’ and he said ‘tell your parents to’ and laughed like it was a burn or something. That was when I realized Greg S. from AHHS class of ’02 was a complete piece of s**t lacking in empathy, but to answer the question: nice clothes.

Image credits: throwaway9843545555


Participation in school activities.

I wanted to be part of color guard so badly.

Image credits: leannmanderson

Assad also touched on some of the things he had previously assumed were only for rich people. “I thought only rich people could wear different sets of clothes day after day,” he told Bored Panda. “Hashtag OOTDs (outfit of the day) became popular when I was at the age where you expressed yourself through fashion. But I was like an anime character – I wore the same clothes every day.”

“Shopping for new clothes and new shoes only happened before the beginning of a school year,” Assad explained. “I’d be teased by, apparently, significantly wealthier friends at the beginning of a school year like, ‘Aaayooo he’s got some new kicks and a new hoodie! New socks next week or am I too optimistic?’ Turns out they weren’t that much wealthier than me and got a lot of hand-me-downs – I’m the oldest sibling, so I never got that ‘luxury’.”

“I very much could relate to a lot of what was said in the Reddit post. Going on vacation really hit me,” Assad noted. “The first time I went on vacation with my family I was 15, and that was most definitely because we could stay at an uncle’s dingy apartment – I remember us having some of the most fun we’d ever had.”


Air conditioning.

Image credits: New-Watcher


Filling up the whole gas tank


Name brand cereal! I was looked at crazy in first grade when I said an off brand name cereal was my favorite.

Image credits: cowdog987

We were also curious how Assad’s relationship with money has changed over the years. “I spend money on experiences now. I don’t splurge or anything, but I let myself have some fun every now and again,” he told Bored Panda. “I can’t say I never think about how much money I could have saved if I hadn’t spent money on some stuff I didn’t absolutely need. But I work now. Until two months ago, I’d been juggling two jobs while trying to graduate with a Master’s degree. I tell myself I deserve to spend money I’ve worked hard to obtain.”

“I’m still a product of my childhood, so I don’t think the guilt ever really goes away, but I’m also a product of my own experiences after growing up poor,” Assad explained. “And I think landing squarely in the middle should be the goal every person who’s grown up poor should strive for – don’t forget where you come from, but be kind to yourself because, sometimes, money spent is well worth it.”

If you’d like to hear more wise words from Assad or learn more about his journey, be sure to check out his Medium profile right here, and you can find his essay on growing up poor right here.


Name brand anything.

Image credits: Elbowdunk13


I will just say that I still feel really guilty buying new clothes or going out to eat.

Image credits: Much_Beautiful_7156


Retirement savings

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In a perfect world, we would all have access to fresh, healthy foods, our own beds, hot water with excellent pressure and new clothes when we need them. They should not be considered luxuries, and it’s heartbreaking to realize how many people out there have to grow up, or even live their adult lives, without them. Keep upvoting the posts that resonate with you, and if you also grew up in a low-income household, feel free to share your experiences with your fellow pandas down below. Then if you’d like to check out another Bored Panda article discussing normal things that are sadly seen as luxuries by some of us, you can find that right here.


Eating every day.


Enough bedrooms for all the kids.


Anything that required money at school. If anything required bringing money to school I just took it as something I’ll have no part of. Thankfully, I had friends that were much the same, so we got through it well.

Image credits: Anxiouswalnuts




Fast food. A lot of the food we ate growing up came from our garden or hunting. We did a lot of canning.

My dad inherited a house from his step father and it came with this pantry full of canned green beans. We ate green beans for dinner 5 days a week for probably about 4 years straight. I still won’t eat green beans.


A TV with a remote.

Image credits: instant_ramen_chef


Ordering an appetizer with your entree for dinner or ordering take out regularly

Image credits: potatowithsourcream


I can vividly remember thinking my friends were rich because they had an answering machine (mid 80s). I even mentioned to my mom how they must be really wealthy…she asked why and I told her my logic of the answering machine.

Reality was we had enough money for one, mom just didn’t want one. I think the one we finally bought was less than $20. I felt like we had arrived!

Image credits: MnJLasater


Caprisuns. Lunchables.


Mechanical pencils

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Grapes and Doritos. I was 16 and in my first apartment. Lived off of Craft Mac & Cheese made with margarine and no milk cause it was all I could afford at 28 cents a box. My neighbor was 13 years older than me and would invite me over and feed me treats. It was heaven and she was a true angel!

Image credits: B0327008


Soda. We never had it in our house. Over at my best friend’s house they had cases of it in their garage. You could drink it like water when you were over there.

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Remember those electric car things kids use to have ? Anybody know what I’m talking about


Kitchen islands

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Takeaway food.
My first experience of it was having a sleepover at a friends house. We were, apparently, set to have Chinese food that evening.
I was asked what I wanted. I had no clue. So the parents just recommended something. I just said OK.
I was staggered to NOT see the mother cooking. She was just mooching around the house doing *f*k all*. Where was this food? Why wasnt she preparing it?
Then a knock on the door. And some person delivered a box of food. With more boxes in it. One box was for me…
Such wealth to get people to make and deliver your food. That display of *vast wealth* stayed with me for a very long time…


Jam/Nutella spread all over your bread. I grow up with a spread that can only cover half of my bread and is very thin in an undeveloped country. After I move to a developed country and got my first paycheck, I legit buy 5 nutella jars and spread it like a madman on my bread.


To see my parents fill up the grocery cart.


A pool.




Buying a Christmas tree. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I visited a neighbor’s house and saw the biggest Christmas tree I set my eyes on. It was plastic because, in our country, we don’t cut trees for it or maybe don’t have that specific tree. (I only recently discovered that other countries cut trees when Christmas is near or they want to decorate).

I asked my mom why we didn’t have a Christmas tree. She told me that it was a bother to put up and we didn’t have the money so I let it go. That year, she bought a small plastic Christmas tree and placed it on a small table. I felt like we had so much money and looked forward to the next year. Ever since then, I’ve never seen a Christmas tree inside our house again.


Any vacation that wasn’t in a tent.


Not me but my parents.
They quite literally had a rags to riches story, they lived in the most run-down house available in the Philippines.
After years of gaining money, my grandpa and grandma managed to move the entire family into a condo. And that’s where my mum and dad come in, once they had me they gave me a life that they didn’t have. Toys, proper food and generally a better life then what they had. I’m forever thankful.


Celebrating Christmas and buying presents


Build a bears at the mall


Owning more than 1 TV.

I felt like a Rockefeller when I got my grandparent’s old 13 inch Zenith TV because she upgraded to a 32″ Sony Trinitron for the bedroom.


Real bandaids. We used strong tape and paper towels.


Dude. I didn’t even know Walmart had toys until 2 years after my parents divorced. We only went there when it was back-to-school times and if I was lucky I’d be able to put either a pair of shoes or 2 pairs of lower-tier “Rustler” brand jeans on layaway and maybe get them by picture day. The clothes would barely survive the school year, but they HAD TO. I knew we were poor. Getting anything NEW was crazy — like unbelievable.

Image credits: Phybersyko


Gaming consoles


Fruit by the foot, fruit snacks, pudding cups, gatorade,


New cars. In the few months before he passed away, my dad told me the most he ever made per year was $18K, which blew me away even though he retired in the late 80’s. I was old enough during the 70’s and 80’s to know $18K wasn’t all that much to support a family, but I give him and my mom total respect for raising us without us being made to feel like we were broke. I think one of the worst things parents can do is let the kids feel the understandable stress we all feel when we have no idea how we’re going to get by. I’m not saying you lie to them, but knowing that things are tight is different than seeing your parents feeling despair and anger over the situation. No one wants to view their parents like this.

Image credits: QuantumFeline1


Name brand chips.


Spaghetti-O’s. I thought only the rich kids deserved hot lunch in those fancy Thermos’




Birthday cake…


Heat in the winter… House (trailer) wouldn’t insulate well and would get down to mid 40s, sometimes lower in hasher winter storms… I was just told “you’re not wearing enough blankets” when I told them I was cold. I mean technically they are right but that isn’t the point


Trips to Disney


Honestly? Just the chance of being a kid.

Never experienced half the things that people have both as kids or now. Xbox 360? Never experienced that time, was stuck with an old PS1/PS2 for a few years before everything in that house was lost – don’t even know now if the stuff is still there or gone. Bike? Owned one back in primary school, gone now, can’t afford one. Going into town just for the school fair or to hang out with other kids after school? Never could afford it – hell couldn’t even afford to fit in with the other kids.

Hell, even food we had to stretch fortnight to fortnight.


Because of it, I’ve just had to learn on living on the bare minimum. Can’t even spend money on myself both as I physically don’t know how to and because of the concern that something will come up that I’ll need it (which always happens eventually).

Doesn’t even scrape the surface like explaining to people my own age that I don’t know who x singer is or what y thing is from when we were kids because of money and family.

It sucks. ._.



I grew up very “eat to live” my mom made food warm and served it. If there was a prepackaged family size dinner thing, it was a treat because they were flavored.

The first porkchop my wife made me, I was ready to go to mcdonalds and eat. She made me sit down and try it, I demanded that it wasn’t pork, it didn’t taste like cardboard and my knife didn’t make a sawing sound as I cut it.

Now we are very “Live to eat” and I’m never having a meal at my moms house again.




For the longest time, internet. My family ran on those NetZero and Juno free discs, and Beware of Dog software for a long time until we could afford DSL..


Garbage bags. Paper bags are free and allowed the grocery a true cycle.


School revision books, at £1 each, school lunch and bus fair.
I would walk to school 2 miles one way.

I realised after being kicked out that there was a double standard, as my eldest brother receieved every latest games console upon release, ps1, ps2, ps3, ps4, gameboys etc, his birthday was celebrated, he receieved a new laptop every 3 years and his old laptops would be sold by him or go into the trash, and he receieved a new mobile phone at roughly the same rate.

He was held to no standard, he started doing drugs and drink at a young age, dropped out of college, then used predicted grades to get into uni and dropped out of uni 3 times while amounting £100ks worth of debt, he also stole £70k or so from the family vault with gold too, which dissapeared and was never questioned, he’s pretty much an a*****e in every regard and never held to any standard and was loved unconditionally.

I ended up getting a job with an electrician as an assistant doing minor things (such as fetching tools etc) at 13, later on working several jobs, some at the same time, ranging from mechanics to recruitment, taking a gap year from college, then working during college in a large pharmacy.

All money I earned from 13 to 24 went to my mother who kicked me out on my 24th birthday on the dot, the only birthday present I ever receieved.

At one point she told me to wait for her outside of a shop after I pay for the shopping (I bought all the groceries) and she left me waiting in the rain for an hour and a half with no time on when she will return or coat to wear.

After 4 hours of waiting I went home where she was there with my eldest brother saying she went home to get him, took him out to the movies and a buffet, and acted like nothing happened at all.

Not sure if this belongs here, I was raised to believe my family was impoverished so always worked hard and gave every penny to my family, idk if it was the case anymore though, I think that I was genuienly just treated like s**t for no reason, I could be wrong though.


Car repairs


Half sized ziplocks/ name brand ziplocks


After school snacks, even ones from the dollar store.

My “friends” in middle school constantly made a point to remind me that I was poor. One of the things they made fun of me for was the fact that I never just had spare change to carry around. They all had spare change so they’d be able to get things like candy and chips after school. One time they each even got an entire coconut cream pie entirely to themselves. On rare instances when my mom either didn’t have time or just didn’t want to prepare lunch in the morning, she’d give me $5 to get food from the school cafeteria. I was supposed to give the change back to her after school, so I’d get the cheapest thing there (which was nowhere neat enough to fill me up), pocket a bit of the change and return the rest. Eventually I’d be able to afford a bag of chips from the dollar store or from the grocery store next to it. I stopped walking home with my “friends” because I felt so ashamed that I had to scrounge up change just to afford a bag of chips that cost $1.50. This is a habit that continued throughout high school, which eventually led me to have an entire tissue box full of coins.

Bonus story: one morning my mom had left $5 each for my brother and I to get lunch. I took my lunch money and headed off to school. Unbeknownst to me, my mom had followed me all the way to school. The reason why was because she was convinced that I had stolen my brothers lunch money and wanted to accuse me of being a thief (this was very likely my brother trying to get me in trouble by lying, he loved to do that growing up). Obviously since I didn’t take his lunch money I said as much and I thought that was the end of it. But when I got home, the accusations started again and my mom threatened to throw me out because she wouldn’t have a thief in her house. I was crying and screaming that I didn’t take his f*****g money and I guess this was one of the *very* rare instances where my brother felt bad about lying so he admitted that he had lied and he had his lunch money the entire time. (My mom had gotten very close to throwing him out only about a year prior to this, as in she had already chucked his backpack outside and he was literally halfway through the door as he was begging for her not to kick him out and holding onto the doorway for dear life, guess he was reminded of that.)


I always knew I was broke growing up. But pretty much almost everything. Eating 3 meals a day. Eating out every now and then. Getting presents for Christmas and birthdays. Etc.

When I was 12, mother managed to snag a great deal on an apartment in a 2 family apartment house in a neighborhood that was definitely middle to upper class. One of the very nicest neighborhoods in the city. We were way out of our element in that neighborhood. As a matter of fact, we were the freaks of the neighborhood.

We were the poorest people in the neighborhood. We were the only family on welfare in the neighborhood. Out of the dozens upon dozens of kids in the neighborhood, my siblings and I were the only kids who were being raised by a single parent. All the other kids were being raised in 2 parent families.

Whereas we were the poorest in the neighborhood, our very next door neighbor mustve been the richest guy in the neighborhood. He owned his own successful demolition company. He owned the 2 family apartment house he and his family lived in. They lived out of their first floor apartment and their basement while renting out their second floor apartment. They owned a house in florida. They owned a fleet of cars which would get replaced with a new fleet of cars every one or two years. When his oldest son got married, he bought his son a 2 family apartment house across and down the street.

My sister and brother made friends with a couple of their kids. They’d come home with tales of their wealth and all the nice stuff they owned. I’ve never been inside their home, but i could see into their dining room from our windows and the furnishings were so oppulent, fancy and expensive. I’d bet their dining room furnishings alone cost more than everything we owned in the whole world.

My brother once told me how their mother went food shopping once a week, every week. And how she spent a minimum of 100 bucks each time. In our home, our mother went food shopping only once every 2-3 weeks and then she’d spend only around 10-12 dollars on food. The highest she would ever spend on grocery shopping was 20 bucks. It was a big deal to us kids if and when our mother spent a whole 20 bucks on grocery shopping.

One time the next door rich guy’s youngest kid was hanging out with my brother at our place when the kid decided to go to the toy store to buy himself some new toys. My brother tagged along. A couple hours later they both came back with a huge armload of toys (mostly “transformer” toys as that was the hottest toy around that time) and deposited them on our table. My brothers friend (i think he was around 8 years old. I was 9 years older, in my teens) then took out his cash change from his purchases out of one pocket and his wallet out of the other pocket so that he could transfer his change into his wallet.

I was standing right behind him as he opened his wallet. My eyes bugged out of my head. Inside were 50s and 20s and some 10s. LOTS of them. Lots of 50s. Lots of 20s. A very thick wad of them. I dont recall seeing any 5s, or 1s. Not until he stuck his change into his wallet. Now he had some 5s and 1s in there. Imagine an 8 year old kid walking around with that much money in his pocket. More than most adults.

All the cash I had on me at that very moment in my pocket was a lousy 3 cents. Three pennies. Which literally represented all the money i had in the world. I didnt even own a wallet. What for? I never had enough money on me that necessitated the need for a wallet.

Later on my brother and his friend left. I went straight into my bedroom. I dug out of my pocket the three pennies i had on me and slammed them down on top of my bedroom dresser and stared at them. They were all tarnished. They didnt even have the decency to at least be shiny pennies.

Man, being poor sucks. It sucks even more when you’ve got real life rich people living next door to contrast your life with.


Going to concerts


Heaters and air conditioners


Color television. When I grew up, black and white tvs were common. We always had one in our house.

It wasn’t until I was out of the house that I saw a color television. I made it my lifes goal to get one. I finally did when I was 25. It was awesome. I had never seen star trek in color before. It was awesome. And very colorful.

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