We were very poor materially, but didn't know it.
Looking back at my early childhood, I realize that we were also, but I never felt it.
Sorry if I am hijacking your thread-- I think these are great guidelines:
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
They sound simple, but they are surprisingly difficult to put into practice.