I examine how growing up poor versus wealthy influences consumer behavior in adulthood. Previous findings show that growing up in resource-deprived conditions is associated with poor judgment and decision making. I develop a model to identify when people who grew up poor make better decisions. I show that people who grew up poor can make better health decisions and be better planners compared to those who grew up wealthy. But these “positive effects of adverse childhoods” emerge only under specific conditions. For example, people who grew up poor made better health decisions when they felt a sense of financial uncertainty and were provided information about the likelihood of getting sick. By integrating findings from human development and behavioral ecology, my dissertation shows how, when, and why people’s upbringing affects their choices in the marketplace. In addition to showing how specific features of our childhood environment have long-lasting effects on choices in adulthood, my dissertation points to ways of improving decision making for individuals who grew up poor.