I don’t mean “now” in terms of the Gregorian calendar, though it’s unquestionably true that it’s better to be “poor” now than at any other time in history, but “now” in terms of whatever stage of life you’re at.
If you’re in your 20’s, it’s a great time to be poor. You probably don’t have any dependents. Your expenses are as low as they’ll ever be: your healthcare is (hopefully) dirt cheap, you can easily and comfortably live in a communal space, etc. Maybe most importantly, everyone expects you to be poor. There are no pretenses. Your friends are all poor too, and society isn’t judging you based on your income or your possessions or even your profession. Take advantage of this time. You’ve got the ability to take on riskier projects and aggressively hone new skills.
When you hit your 30’s and 40’s, this seems to change. People definitely start to judge you based on your profession and your income and your possessions. It gets much harder to take risks. But, it’s still easier to be poor in your 30’s or 40’s than it is in your 50’s or 60’s. Take advantage of this time. Chase down new skills and take on new projects as aggressively as you can. Sock away money. Ya, you might be judged for living frugally at this point, but you definitely don’t want to spend your money keeping up with your richer friends and be left broke when you’re 60.
And, if you’re in your 50’s or 60’s, you can take solace in two things. First, it’s really the best time ever to be first-world “poor”. Second, it’s never to late to master something. There are so many examples of people who struggle their whole lives and finally break through. I was recently reading about Tony Bennett, who ended up broke, divorced and nearly dead from a cocaine overdose in his 50’s after the music of his generation seemed to fall by the wayside. But, he turned his life around, worked his ass off to mount a comeback, and finally got another record contract when he was 60 years old. Anything’s possible.