There is a Japanese proverb, 武士は食わねど高楊子、of which literal translation is “Samurai uses (show off) a toothpick, even he hasn’t eaten meal,” meaning a Samurai glories in his honorable poverty. Samurais were esteemed as a warrior class, but many of them lived on meager salary. I’m curious to know if there is a similar saying in English.
Yahoo Japan Glossary lists “Better go to bed supper-less than rise in debt” as the equivalent expression, but I don’t think it well conveys the notion of Samurai’s self-esteem and honorable endurance of poverty.
By the way, “have eaten” meant “to fare well," in the Oriental world, as I heard that Chinese people used to exchange "你, 吃了飯么?" – “Did you eat (finished) meal (breakfast)?” each other as a day-to-day salute up until early 20 century. I wonder this concept and expression – having had a meal implies to fare well – applies to western culture and English language or not.