None of the characters are very educated, and this limits their prospects and keeps the family poor.
When Travis asks Ruth for money, this is an example of how poor the family is.TRAVIS (Eating) This is the morning we supposed to bring the fifty cents to school.
RUTH Well, I ain't got no fifty cents this morning.
TRAVIS Teacher say we have to.
RUTH I don't care what teacher say. I ain't got it. Eat your breakfast, Travis. (Act 1, Scene 1)
Travis asks Ruth for 50 cents, and says the teacher said he had to bring it. Ruth does not want to give it to him, and tells him to stop asking his grandmother for money. Even in this time period between World War II and 1959, this was not a significant amount of money.
Another example is Walter’s desire to use some of the money to go in on the purchase for the liquor store with his friends. He does not want to be a white man’s driver for his whole life, and being a business owner is his only chance to be his own boss and escape the daily desperation.
The poor educational prospects for people of color kept them impoverished. This is one of the underlying themes of the play. Opportunities were few and far between for this family.