Well, I don't live in Laos but I visit the country frequently. Just looking at the overall condition of the buildings (anywhere in Laos really), gives you a daily reminder that you're in a poor country. The way Lao people dress is another indicator, that most people here don't have much money. And lastly but not least, compared to other Asian countries the selection of things to buy is rather limited - even in the bigger cities of Laos.
As to your question about whether the poverty affects me, I would say no. But then again, I don't live there