Why on earth would anyone intentionally chose to live like this? Some do! Or at least they claim they do as a post-hoc justification for their actions.
"Why does my friend want to live in poverty?"
1. A friend who has a lot of accumulated wealth, but chooses to live modestly. This is, of course, how they became and remain wealthy. This is called being smart. As I noted in The Millionaire Next Door, most wealthy people in this country spend very little on bling and crap (that is a trap for the salaryman) but instead live modestly, bank their money, and accumulate wealth.
2. A friend who makes a lot of money, but is broke all the time, because they spend it faster than they make it. I addressed this in my Middle Class Poverty Friend posting, where my friend complained about how broke they were, while we drove around in their leased car.
3. A friend who is poor because they have little education, make little money, and then squander what little they have. You see this all the time in poor neighborhoods - people "just getting by" but spending money on bling rims, cable TV, payday loans, rent-to-own furniture, and other junk. Poverty of the Spirit takes hold, and people feel trapped as a result - trapped largely by their own minds.
4. A friend who could make a lot of money and be comfortable, but is an underachiever and rationalizes their failures by claiming they are a lifestyle choice. Many pot smokers do this - and then bootstrap their arguments by saying that wealth is evil and that they are better people by "not chasing the almighty dollar". Of course, these people are hypocrites of the first order. What sets these people apart from the folks in category #3 is that they are capable of supporting themselves and getting ahead, but chose not to do so, making their plight doubly tragic - or doubly idiotic, depending on your point of view.