One of the lessons Lyddie learns gradually over the course of the novel, a lesson that everyone can benefit from learning, is that many things are more important in life than money. Lyddie is very focused on money. For people who have endured great poverty and have faced trauma due to losing their home, it's easy to become too focused on money, and that happens to Lyddie. Because her father was unable to make a good living on their farm, he deserted the family, leaving them without support for two years. Lyddie's mother is mentally ill and unable to contribute to the family income. She hires Lyddie and Charlie out to pay the family debts rather than go to the poor farm.
Lyddie resolves to work as hard as she can so that she can earn enough money to get the farm back so she can reunite her family. Although her goal is a good one and is about her family, at times she seems to become so hyper-focused on earning money that she neglects relationships. Several things happen that show her that money is not the most important thing in life.
First, she meets Ezekial, the runaway slave. He impresses her so much with his education that she gives him her calf money as a loan. She seems to understand that freedom is more important than money, and she considers that her father may be in a similar situation somewhere, totally dependent on others.
At the factory, she works so hard that she doesn't spend time getting close to her roommates and Diana, an action she regrets later when they move away. She also tends to dislike people who are different than she is; she is unkind to Luke Stevens because he is a Quaker and to Brigid because she is Irish. Both Luke and Brigid are very kind to Lyddie, however, and Lyddie grows to accept and like them, learning to overcome her prejudices. She also learns from Betsy that reading and education can make life much more interesting and worthwhile. Although she feels Rachel is a burden and a drain on her money at first, she comes to deeply care for her sister, and her sister saves Lyddie's life when Lyddie gets sick.
Lyddie's own illness and then Rachel's cough are also life-changing lessons for Lyddie, teaching her that life is a gift and health is invaluable. When she sees the health problems the factory causes, she becomes willing to sign the ten-hour petition even though it would diminish her own income.
Lyddie learns that many things in life are more important than money, including friendship, freedom, helping others, education, and good health.