Made up of three small rooms—the kitchen/living room, his mom's bedroom, and the bathroom—it wasn't much, but it was theirs and his mom was proud of it, so he tried to be proud too. Most days. (1.30)
As proud as Nick's mom tries to be of what little they have, Nick has a hard time keeping up with her positivity. He doesn't like his situation at all, and he wants to change things. It's not easy to be the poor kid in school, even if you're not at a hoity-toity school for rich kids.
What would it be like to live that way? He'd always wanted a dog, but since they could barely afford to feed themselves, a pooch was out of the question. (1.129)
Nick's situation is pretty bad. He and his mom don't just have to scrimp and save to be able to afford clothes; sometimes they can't even afford food. That's a terrible situation to be in.
He always mispronounced Nick's last name. He said it "Go-chay" instead of the correct "Go-shay." The difference being "Go-chay" traditionally had an "h" in it after the "t" and, as Nick's mom said so often said, they were too poor for any more letters. (1.58)
At least Nick and his mom are able to make jokes about their situation. It makes it a little less difficult to live the way they do when they have a sense of humor about it. Does being poor, in a certain way, make Nick and his mom a little stronger than others?
"There's nothing wrong with that shirt. Wanda told me at the Goodwill store that it came in from one of those big mansions down in the Garden District." (1.4)
Nick's family is poor, but they really want to be rich. Nick's mom seems to think she can be wealthy through osmosis. She only buys this tacky shirt because it comes from a rich family.
"Ew! Gross! He's dripping wet. Is he too poor to own a towel? Don't poor people ever bathe?" (1.65)
These poor jokes are cheap. Pardon the pun. Anyway, it just goes to show you how nasty and petty people can be, even about things—like how much money your family has—outside of anyone's control. Speaking of which, why is it that the privileged kids are so nasty?
Nicholas "Nick" Ambrosius Gautier
"One day, Mom, I'm going to buy us a really nice house." With really nice stuff in it. (1.33)
Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy stuff. And Nick thinks that stuff will make him and his mom even happier.
"I just wish I made enough money that you didn't have to work too. If you'd been at home…" (2.130)
Nick's mom feels very guilty that she can't provide more for her son. Her guilt about being poor is made worse when Nick gets hurt. She thinks he got hurt because he has to work a part-time job; if she had more money, he could just be a kid like the other kids and stay out of trouble.
"Let me put it to you this way…money doesn't solve your problems. It just brings new ones to your door." (6.99)
We're not sure what these problems are that Kyrian has. Sometimes monsters try to kill him, but monsters try to kill Nick, too, and it's a lot harder to deal with monsters when you're poor. Kyrian, at least, can afford better weapons.
"There's nothing you can steal from me that I can't replace. Things mean very little to me." (6.137)
What was that Kyrian was saying about problems? His new problems are very easy to solve, simply by throwing money at them. Maybe we'll find out more about Kyrian's tough life in the later books of the series.
His jaw went slack as they pulled up to a gate that opened into what had to be the biggest house he'd ever seen. It was a huge Grecian-style home with Doric columns supporting what seemed to be a never-ending porch. Top and bottom. (6.54)
Kyrian is different not only because he's a supernatural creature of sorts, but also because he's crazy rich. Going to his house means that Nick is out of his comfort some in more ways than one.