Sounds a lot like the city I grew up in, below the poverty line. Here was my secret to success:
1. Get scholarship to private high school, because otherwise I'd have ended up at "gang ridden public school" (Mom knew how to motivate with fear).
2. Drink tap water. No Brita either, just run the water for 2 minutes at the beginning of the day to get the brown out (and 30 seconds before drinking it the rest of the day).
3. Use public transport. There's a stigma that it's just for poor people, but (1) it's for everyone and (2) even if you don't believe that, YOU'RE POOR
4. Lunch and dinner were anything I could get for under $4. I shared cafeteria fries with an equally poor scholarship winner.
5. Use financial aid to go to a state university in a cheaper part of the state, work part time through school (thanks Dad for those drunken rants about "why the hell haven't you gotten a fucken job!" all freshman year!), and get a useful degree. Almost done paying that off. Only party when there's free beer.
6. Establish life in cheaper area where a modest size house costs $140,000. Live with a roommate in a college-quality apartment and use public transport for years after getting a real job.
Granted none of that was planned but by simply looking around and realizing how easy it is to end up poor and destitute, the right motivation and decisions should just come to you!