9 Polite Ways to Say “Low Income”

So, you want another way to say “low income” that is politically correct and polite. It’s always wise to use inclusive language when talking about delicate matters.

This article will explore the best ways to say “low income” so you don’t have to worry about offending people.

  • Impoverished
  • Poverty-stricken
  • Fallen on hard times
  • Underprivileged
  • Down but not out
  • Low socio-economic status
  • Hard up
  • In need
  • Strapped

You should keep reading to see how to use each synonym. We’ve explained how they work to help you use them in your own writing.

1. Impoverished

“Impoverished” is a great way to say “low income.” It shows that someone has to go through poverty because they do not earn enough.

It’s a very common phrase that works well when you want to be more politically correct.

The definition of “impoverished,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “reduced to poverty.”

Here are a few examples to help you:

  • We’re impoverished and asking for help! Please, tell us you can do something to get us out of this.
  • They are quite impoverished, but they are also cheerful. Nothing will bring them down.

2. Poverty-Stricken

“Poverty-stricken” is a great alternative. It is fairly polite, allowing you to show that someone is poor and does not have the same luxuries as others.

However, it’s best to use this one in formal settings rather than conversational ones.

The definition of “poverty-stricken,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “very poor.”

You can refer to these examples to see how to use it:

  • This is a poverty-stricken community. Is there anything you can do to help them get back on their feet?
  • They are poverty-stricken, but they’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

3. Fallen on Hard Times

“Fallen on hard times” is a good idiom that works as an alternative. You should use it when someone is struggling for money.

However, it suggests that it is only temporary, which is why it sounds more polite.

You’ll have the most luck using this phrase when talking about friends. It’s quite supportive, allowing you to explain someone’s current income without judging them. “Fallen” suggests they will bounce back at any moment.

How about looking through the following examples to see how it works:

  • Don’t worry; you are not poor, and your income does not define you. You have merely fallen on hard times.
  • They have fallen on hard times, so they could use all the help they could get.

4. Underprivileged

“Underprivileged” is a polite alternative in both formal and informal writing. You can use it to show that someone does not get the same privileges as others because of their lower income.

For instance, they might not be able to afford the same food items. Or maybe they can’t afford a proper house. These are all privileges that people with money can afford. That’s why “underprivileged” is a respectful way to show that someone doesn’t currently have those luxuries.

The definition of “underprivileged,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “deprived through the social or economic condition of some of the fundamental rights of all members of a civilized society.”

You can refer to the following to help you:

  • I’m underprivileged, but I don’t let that stop me. I’ll do what I can to make it in this world.
  • My mother was underprivileged growing up. So, she did what she could to stop that from happening to me.

5. Down but Not Out

“Down but not out” is a great idiomatic expression that sounds hopeful. It is a good way of showing that someone has a low income but does not see it as a negative thing.

You can use “down” to show that someone is struggling. However, “not out” suggests they will fight to get what they deserve. They will keep working until they climb out of the “low income” status, which is why it works well as a more polite and hopeful phrase.

Here are a couple of examples to show you how it works:

  • They’re down but not out. I doubt they’ll give up anytime soon. They have such strong fighting spirits.
  • You are down but not out, Joey. If you need anything from me, all you have to do is ask.

6. Low Socio-Economic Status

“Low socio-economic status” is a politically correct way to refer to someone with a low income. It shows they have a low status and do not get the same benefits as others with higher incomes.

This phrase is very formal. Politicians generally use it when referring to families in specific areas who might need more support.

These examples will show you how to use it correctly:

  • You come from a low socio-economic status and a low-income community. So, I understand your issues.
  • His low socio-economic status isn’t going to hold him back. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met.

7. Hard Up

“Hard up” is an idiomatic phrase. It’s a good alternative, but it’s not as polite as some of the others.

You should use it informally because it suggests that someone is short of money and works better when talking about people you know (i.e., friends who are struggling).

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “hard up” as “short of money.”

Here are a few examples to show you what we mean:

  • They’re hard up, and they need some help. Maybe you’re the angel they’ve been looking for.
  • You’re quite hard up, and I wish I could do something to help you. Do you still need the money?

8. In Need

“In need” is a very common phrase to refer to low-income families and difficulties. It shows that they do not have the same luxuries as others. Therefore, they “need” things that other people take for granted.

It’s a polite phrase, though some might argue that there are better alternatives. You can use it if you are struggling to think of anything else.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “in need” as “in a condition of needing something.”

You may benefit from referring to these examples:

  • My family has been in need for as long as I can remember. It’s time that changes!
  • You come from a family that’s in need. So, you can ask me anything, and I’ll try to help.

9. Strapped

“Strapped” is a verb used to describe someone short on money. You can use it when referring to low-income communities, though it might not be the most formal option.

Instead, you should stick to informal situations. Using “strapped” is not offensive, so it will work quite well in many situations.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “strapped” as “to cause to suffer from an extreme scarcity.”

Check out the following examples to see how it works:

  • They’re a strapped family. I wish there was something I could do to help them through this.
  • I’m quite strapped for cash. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way for me to bounce back.