The truth about being broke

The truth about being broke

empty pockets

Are you tired of being broke? It's been a long time since I've been broke, but I can still remember exactly what it felt like. I can picture all the ugly details of the way I used to struggle; the empty bank account, the awkward moments, the feelings of despair…. And honestly, one particularly awkward conversation with my sister still plays clearly in my mind to this day:

“Hey sis, I'm coming into town this weekend,” she said innocently. “Maybe we could go grab dinner.”

“Ummm, let me think about that for a second.” I struggled to find a tactful way to tell her that I couldn't afford it.

It's been about ten years since then, but at the time I was 22 years old and flat broke. A series of bad decisions meant that I was trapped in a desperate situation that felt nearly impossible to get out of. And although I was going to school part time, I was living off a full-time job that only paid a whopping $9.15 an hour. Oh, and it gets worse.

Related >> Financial advice to my younger self

Bad Decisions Have Consequences

Have I ever mentioned that I once bought a $22,000 car while making just a little over minimum wage? The resulting $500 monthly car payment meant that almost half of my take home pay was being spent on transportation. And by the time I realized what I had done, it was much, much too late. Since I had always had wonderful credit, I refused to let a car repossession ruin everything in one fell swoop. I was (and still am) stubborn. So, instead of letting the car go, I struggled. This often meant that I didn't have the money to put gas in my car or to go to the doctor. And I certainly didn't have the money to go out to eat with my sister.

Related >> The best way to buy a new car

“Sorry, I don't have the money to go out to dinner,” I said with shame and emotion I may never forget.

“You can't afford to go to Applebees?!”

<insert awkward silence here>

I could tell by my sister's tone that she thought it was ridiculous that I couldn't afford to eat at the cheesy neighborhood bar & grill. And honestly, I thought it was ridiculous too. Living so close to my means meant that I was always just one step away from disaster. One day off work, one prolonged sickness, or one unfortunate incident had the potential to leave me completely desolate. I knew that I had to change something. Unfortunately, I struggled to figure out where to start.

The Truth About Being Broke

Shortly after realizing I couldn't afford to eat at Applebee's, I learned the truth about being broke. As much as I didn't like it, I was going to have to make some drastic changes in order to improve my situation. So, I sucked it up and moved back in with my parents. As sad and pathetic as that must've looked to outsiders, I knew that this was my chance to get on solid financial footing. Since I no longer had to pay for living expenses, I used the opportunity to start paying additional car payments. I also began cleaning houses on the side while I went to school. I would often make $1000 or even $1500 payments on that stupid car, and I felt a sense of victory each and every time. It became a matter of principle. Every inch of my being wanted to pay off the darn thing, and I was itching to mail in that last and final payment. Fortunately, it was only a matter of time.

After a year or so at home, my car was completely paid off, and I pledged to drive it into the ground. Well, I ended up owning it for seven years before the events of getting married and having my first child necessitated a family-friendly (used) minivan. However, I still learned an important lesson from the whole ordeal. When I finally sold it, I was shocked to learn that it was only worth $2,500. I couldn't believe it! I cringed at the thought of all I had given up for that car. After all, I had just spent several years of my life living like a pauper to own a car that lost 90 percent of its value in seven years. And, for what? The unfortunate truth is that I did it for no reason at all, except perhaps the opportunity to learn a lesson that I may never have learned otherwise.

What I Learned From Being Broke

Being broke gave me an entirely different perspective on cash flow, debt and my own financial well-being. I learned that there was a big difference between looking like you have money and actually having money. I also learned about living within my means and the real-life consequences of unplanned purchases. And most importantly, I became willing to do anything and everything to make sure that I was never broke again. Once I was out of debt, I pledged to never let that happen again. I promised to rise above my situation and start with a clean slate. And I did.

Of course, things haven't gone perfectly since then. As I've written about many times before, my husband and I took the concept of lifestyle inflation to a whole new level in the early years of our marriage. Fortunately, we've reigned things in over the past few year years, and we're now building wealth like never before. We're debt-free aside from a small mortgage and we're hell-bent on staying that way for eternity. And even though I've strayed several times since becoming an adult, some of the lessons from that part of my life have stuck with me.

Related >> Getting rich slowly on your own terms

Here's what I learned from being broke:

  • Don't rely on one income stream. I was never going to get ahead while relying on one full-time job for my entire livelihood. In fact, I never really started making progress against my debt until I started picking up cleaning jobs on the side. Sure, cleaning houses wasn't much fun. But the truth is, the extra income that it brought in completely altered my financial situation over the course of a few years. Now that I'm older, I still strive to have several streams of income coming in. I started a profitable blog with my husband and have secured a multitude of part-time jobs that create a full-time living. I've also diversified my investments as much as possible including the acquisition of rental properties. I've learned that having one “job” means that you're only one step away from not having a job at all.
  • Only you can solve your problems. As I look back, I realize that I would probably be much better off if I had filed bankruptcy and taken the car back to the dealership. I could've easily bought an old beater to drive around. It would've taken time, but I would have eventually restored my credit rating back to its former glory. Although that sounds tempting, I know that I wouldn't be where I am now if I had chosen that path.
  • Live below your means. In retrospect, I now realize that spending half of my income on transportation is absolutely ridiculous. What was I thinking? Unfortunately, I wasn't. Amazingly, I never once crunched the numbers to see what the real cost of buying that vehicle would be. Now that I've been broke, I realize how important it is to live below my means. And now that I make more money, I choose to live much further below my means that I really need to.

Life After Broke

The truth about being broke is that it can be exhausting and demoralizing. And although that part of my life caused a lot of heartache and embarrassment, I'm so glad that I was able to learn all of those lessons firsthand. Now that I'm on the other side, I use those experiences as motivation to continue my quest for financial independence and security. And now when someone calls to ask me to dinner, I have a choice. And when I say no, it's not because I don't have ten dollars in my bank account or because I'm saving to pay my electric bill. It's because I've been broke and I want to make sure that I'm never broke again.

Have you ever been flat broke? If so, what did you learn from it?

More about...Budgeting, Frugality

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others
guest
113 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle
Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle
7 years ago

I have been flat broke for about 7 years and used credit for my shortfalls.

I finally have a better job and am no longer living on my HELOC but it will now take a few years to dig out of the hole.

Being broke sucks.

Michael
Michael
7 years ago

Yeah, it sucks. But now that you recognize that and are taking steps to change the situation, it’s only a matter of time until you have things completely turned around.

dandier
dandier
5 years ago

Wow, what a plethora of information. Always broke. Life does suck and they make it that way so you don’t have the time to THINK.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago

We were broke when we started grad school– no money and 10K in student loans. We were pretty good at being broke, although it meant I lost my ability to digest red meat. Being broke sucked and provided good incentive to not be broke anymore. I talk about it a little here: http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/money-cant-buy-me-love/ Really I never want to be broke again. To paraphrase Mae West, I’ve been broke and I’ve been well off, and well-off is much better. I drive our two kids around in my Hyundai Accent. I don’t understand why minivans are necessary before you have 3 kids… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago

I have some chronic back problems and it was very difficult for me to maneuver my kid’s very heavy pumpkin seats into the back of my old car because it was so low to the ground. The minivan was much easier because I could just lift them in and sit them on their bases!

Now that they’re older and out of the baby car seats, it doesn’t matter as much. I still like having the minivan but my kids carseats fit fine in the back of my husband’s small car.

Debi
Debi
7 years ago

I feel your pain. My first minivan, purchased when I had a 18 month old and was pregnant probably saved me from going into traction. Bending + reaching = instant pain!

ClaireM
ClaireM
5 years ago

Pumpkin seats?

Murphy
Murphy
7 years ago

NicoleandMaggie,

It’s one thing to constantly advertise your blog on GRS, but it is another to lure readers to a particular article. I can’t believe how many small time bloggers are trying to piggy back off of GRS.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago
Reply to  Murphy

We’re not making money, we don’t have advertising (wordpress does, but we don’t see a penny of it). The only reason we blog is as a hobby and for the conversation. However, we have been around for a long time and we have posts on most topics that show up from time to time. Rather than writing super long comments repeating ourselves, it is easier to just link to the post we’ve already written. And OMG, that happened twice this week, therefore we must be horrible people. In the past we’ve enjoyed the community at GRS as it’s had excellent… Read more »

tracy
tracy
7 years ago

Nicholeandmaggie have been posting here for years! Always comments of substance not just a “hey look at what I wrote on my blog.” They are not shilling, selling, or self-promoting. Just interested in personal finance – and the article she links to is a fantastic read. Worth the time to check it/them out before making judgement calls. I found their blog from this site, and I enjoy reading it. The obvious “I am in this for the side income” blogs are superficial and commenters usually struggle to have something relevant about the post to say. Don’t assume that is everyone… Read more »

Kingston
Kingston
7 years ago
Reply to  Murphy

Nicoleandmaggie’s background is in economics, and her/their comments have added weight to the discussions here at GRS for years. I agree that there are bloggers who “piggyback” on the comments thread without improving the conversation much, but I don’t find that to be the case with nicoleandmaggie. Grumpy Rumblings (nicoleandmaggie’s blog) is a worthy read and they often link to really good stuff in the academic realm that I would NEVER have found otherwise.

lmoot
lmoot
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingston

Agreed. Their posts cannot be compared to the rampant article summarizing comments, concluding with “Good job!” and a link to a blog. I’ve never seen a non-substantial post by nicoleandmaggie.

Keren
Keren
7 years ago

In a way, I consider myself flat broke right now. I make a decent salary and am working on increasing a few side hustles, but with the amount of debt, consumer and otherwise, I still consider myself broke. When I start to have money left over in my account when I get paid the next time, I might think otherwise!

John S @ Frugal Rules
John S @ Frugal Rules
7 years ago

Nice post Holly! This was me as I was repaying my debt. I remember being in Target debating between being able to buy dental floss or a roll of paper towels. I couldn’t afford both because of stupid decisions in the past. I made a vow to myself then that I would never be back there again. I learned many of the same lessons you did and lie by many of them still today.

Tracey H
Tracey H
7 years ago

I hope you bought the dental floss! I can’t think of a reasonable substitute for it and it’s important to your health. Paper towels, on the other hand, are a luxury and easily replaced with rags.

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
7 years ago

Nice that you are financially good now!

I always wonder how folks in their early 20s can afford $22,000 cars. Now I just think they all make $220,000 a year tech folks who adhere to my 1/10 rule of car buying!

Thomas | Your Daily Finance
Thomas | Your Daily Finance
7 years ago

We were really broke as for when I was growing up. It was then I learn the realities of life and that those were situations I never wanted to be in as an adult with a family. Some of the things I went through as a kid and as an adult help me realize just as you mentioned that I had to want to do certain things and count on myself and our family. People can tell you what to do but you have to want to and be willing to do things. Living below our means has helped us… Read more »

Michelle
Michelle
7 years ago

W and I were flat broke when we first moved in together. I still cannot believe that we managed to survive!

Troy
Troy
7 years ago

It’s a nice story, but isn’t just about everyone who is 22 broke?

Being 22 and broke is not unusual. It’s normal. And doing dumb things like buying new cars when you are 22 is also normal, because when you are 22, you are usually dumb and shortsighted. You don’t realize that until you are 32, or 42 or older, but 22 is pretty young.

Good post though.

Debi
Debi
7 years ago

It’s easy to beat yourself up for bad decisions you made when you were 22, but you hadn’t developed the ability to make good judgments yet. The fact is that the last electrical connections that are completed in our brains are the ones that involve decision making and judgment. That doesn’t happen completely until around age 25. That’s why you witness so many young adults that finally “grow up” in their mid-twenties. There’s a better explaination here http://hrweb.mit.edu/worklife/youngadult/brain.html I really like the point you make about having multiple income streams. Years ago my husband and I decided that it would… Read more »

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
7 years ago
Reply to  Debi

Also, since you were surprised at how much your car had depreciated you probably didn’t have a lot of financial knowledge. I was lucky that my mom is a CPA, my grandmother was interested in investing, and my grandfather was a GM dealer, so at 22 I knew about IRAs, mutual funds, and how much a car depreciates once it leaves the lot 😉 But many of my friends didn’t. So, don’t beat yourself up too badly about your mistake – but do keep educating people so they don’t make the same mistake you did!

Laura
Laura
7 years ago

LOL, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life flat broke! My 2 main goals in childhood were to live anywhere not infested with roaches and to be able to eat 3 meals a day. I made some bad decisions in my youth but had no way of knowing better – no PF material around then and no guiding adults or peers. Living at home stopped being an option at age 17 and I’ve been on my own or supporting others since. The main lesson I’ve learned, besides that being broke sucks, is that it is incredibly hard to dig… Read more »

butterbean13
butterbean13
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

So sorry to hear you had to put up with roaches and hunger. I hope you have gotten yourself in a better place. Your comment about:

“it is incredibly hard to dig oneself out of a hole, especially when those around you help make the hole deeper.”

is very insightful. Most of the people I know in bad financial situations have partners who never wise up and stop the spending. And these are couples with good incomes! I really don’t see these folks ever getting out of their holes….short of divorce, that is.

SavvyFinancialLatina
SavvyFinancialLatina
7 years ago

I like your point about multiple income streams. My husband has a side job that brings in extra money every month, and I am working on online income. I really need to develop side incomes, because I don’t want my salary to be my primary income stream.

Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com
Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com
7 years ago

As you pointed out. The secret to getting rich is living a couple of notches below your income.

As long as you do this, are prudent with your savings by investing it, you will almost always bounce back from any potential pitfalls along the way.

If you live above your means, no matter what your income, you WILL GO BROKE!

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

I guess that works if your income is high enough that living a few notches below your income actually means something.

SK
SK
7 years ago

@Nicoleandmaggie, denial is the first step to destruction. You don’t need ads, it is still marketing with links!

RachH
RachH
7 years ago
Reply to  SK

What? What destruction? They kindly explain that they aren’t making money blogging (a denial, yes) and that somehow leads to their destruction?

Also, just so you know the definition of marketing:

mar·ket·ing
/ˈmärkitiNG/
Noun
The action or business of promoting and selling products or services.

They aren’t selling anything, and your comment sounds like a poor attempt at a bad miniature fire-and-brimstone sermon. As they already said, if you don’t want to read it, don’t click the link. Easy as pie.

SK
SK
7 years ago
Reply to  RachH

I think in your rush to ridicule and search the dictionary for marketing meaning, you could not differentiate between a quote and statement. And while I appreciate your efforts to educate people on the definition of marketing (pun intentional), I can’t wonder if you even know how online marketing works. Here let me help you find the definition – http://lmgtfy.com/?q=internet+marketing. Now that we have evenly traded sarcasm, let me state for the record that I am not against @NicoleandMaggie. I enjoy their blog and their comments here. But what I do not like is the denial. Summarizing that post in… Read more »

thegirlintheafternoon
thegirlintheafternoon
7 years ago

And although I was going to school part time, I was living off a full-time job that only paid a whopping $9.15 an hour.

I enjoyed this article a lot and thought it offered some good insight into the stubborn, silly decisions we make in our late teens and early twenties, but the fact that the author considered $9.15 barely livable a decade ago really threw me. I would be lucky to get $9.15 an hour now.

Kingston
Kingston
7 years ago

How far we have fallen, in terms of wages for working people.

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
7 years ago

“The truth about being broke is that it can be exhausting and demoralizing.” I agree, but it can also be really empowering. Mr. PoP came from a family where he never had to worry about paying for college or basic living expenses. His on-campus job paid for luxuries like dinners out, but at 20 he felt dissatisfied with his fairly cushy life and took a year off of his university studies, leaving home and school with little more than his car and a very small amount of savings. (And forfeiting any and all family support while he was gone. His… Read more »

Kim
Kim
7 years ago

This seems blindingly obvious to me, but for the average broke person, no safety net means less freedom, not more. It’s great your husband had a liberating experience, but this is not typical.

Quest
Quest
7 years ago

It took me two bankruptcies and three foreclosures to finally get a clue about my finances. It was a terrible time. I too remember the despair, fear, hopelessness of not being able to control myself. Fortunately, I was forced to change 6 years ago after I almost led my family straight to the streets.

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Quest

Just wanted to say thanks for posting this; I needed to read it and be reminded that, hard a time as I may be having (or feel I’m having), someone else has had it harder.

P.S. – I clicked on your link to read your blog and really like it. I appreciate reading about how someone else is handling money issues when that person does not come from a perfect background, kind of like Donna Freedman’s posts.

Kingston
Kingston
7 years ago
Reply to  Quest

Holy moly. Welcome to GRS. I also checked out your blog and liked it.

Brendan Long
Brendan Long
7 years ago

I’ve never bought a new car, but can’t you just sell it when you realize it’s a bad deal?

Marisa
Marisa
7 years ago
Reply to  Brendan Long

I think this statement threw me off a bit… “As I look back, I realize that I would probably be much better off if I had filed bankruptcy and taken the car back to the dealership” After you moved back home to save up money, you could have used that money to pay off the difference of what you owed and what the car was currently worth. Filing for bankruptcy would have been way to extreme. That kind of thing will haunt you for the better part of your life. As some other comments suggest, many young adults make these… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  Marisa

I’m not sure I understand your criticism. The whole post is about how I’m glad I learned the hard way and didn’t sacrifice my good credit to take the easy way out. After I bought the car for 22K and drove it for a while, it was worth a lot less. I suppose I couldn’t sold it at the “break even” point but then I would’ve just had to take another loan out to buy another vehicle. And it doesn’t really make any difference now. That was ten years ago and I no longer live paycheck to paycheck or borrow… Read more »

cathy
cathy
7 years ago

Holly, I wondered the same thing. It sounded rather extreme to consider filing for bankruptcy when you were saying your only debt was the (much depreciated) car. It made me wonder if perhaps you had other debts you didn’t mention (credit cards?) that would lead you to consider filing for bankruptcy.
This in no way is a criticism of your post. Just curious.

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago

Hey Cathy! Honestly, I had some very hard times in my early twenties. I always carried some credit card debt (anywhere from 1-3K at any given time) which certainly complicated things. Add to that the fact that I had to have spinal fusion twice between the age of 20-22. Each time I had surgery, I had to be off work for several months. As a low wage earner, this often meant that all the money I had went straight to my car payment and insurance. Both of my back surgeries cost over 50K as well. Fortunately, my parents had practically… Read more »

Nikki
Nikki
5 years ago

Hi Holly You downplayed the two most important parts of your experience: the surgery and minimum wage. I think you were way too hard on yourself. In the 1950-70s your paycheck would have been enough to cover an apartment and a car payment. It’s the fact that minimum wage has been held down for 30-40 years way behind a livable level that you were in that precarious position. And the runaway cost of health care was NOT your fault. Thank goodness for your parents because may of us don’t even have that layer of support and protection. Multi generational living… Read more »

Jake @ Common Cents Wealth
Jake @ Common Cents Wealth
7 years ago

Great personal story and advice. I’ve never been completely broke like that, but I’ve been darn close. It sure does get scary when you know that any one bad event could take you down. I like your advice a lot. So many people think that someone else can come in and fix their money problems, but really it’s only yourself that can do that.

celyg
celyg
7 years ago

Suggestion for OP: I think you meant “destitute,” not “desolate.”

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

I’m flat broke (not necessarily flat, but definitely broke) and if I could do it all over again…

The reality is hindsight is always 20/20. I never knew I would end up with two chronic illnesses right at the age of 30 that would take away my earning power. The little things such as budgeting, living below your means, saving for a rainy day, etc is not rocket science. Its the big things that will get you when you’re not looking.

Eric
Eric
6 months ago
Reply to  Carla

Being broke is a state of mind. I’m 50 bankrupt homeless and I’m happy and richer than I’ve ever been
I now have a woman that loves me ,no debt and a job driving truck that gives me a rent free place to live . And believe me when I tell you I’m Rich !!

Alea
Alea
7 years ago

Great article, been there, done that! You get to a point where you have to decide “either I live a hand to mouth existence for the rest of my life, or I do something about this.” I discovered the greatest treasure ever, the business section at the library, I learned about basic finances, and have now graduated to investing. Along the way I discovered that I have a head for finances and good instincts. I may never be Warren Buffett, but I tell you, nobody will ever take finacial advantage of me. My only regret, is that I wish I… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  Alea

I watched it last night per your suggestion. It was very eye opening and honestly made me feel like I was taking everything that I have for granted. It’s easy to forget how much people struggle if you don’t see it every day.

M
M
7 years ago

Oh, Holly, I too know the feeling. Once I couldn’t pay for a $1 root beer slushie at K-Mart and I started to cry in the store.(really??!!!) I had more lean years ahead of me in grad school but broke was pretty much the norm for the 20-somethings of my generation. I came through OK. The bright side of all this is that it built empathy in me. Now as a landlord, I see some of my older tenants and I’m concerned for their futures. Yikes. So I try to give them as decent a place as possible– dignity under… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  M

Oh, you poor thing! I can totally relate. Although I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about being able to afford small purchases any more, it’s helpful to look back on that time and remember how it felt. It certainly puts things in perspective.

ipenka
ipenka
7 years ago

Sometimes we have to learn lessons the hard way. I wouldn’t want to be broke broke as with those moments some commentors have posted about but have been thinking how sometimes we need a shock to the system to get things going. For example – I’ve always been fortunate in that my parents, although frugal, were well off enough that we never wanted for the basics. They were also generous paid my tuition in school which allowed my part time job to be more than enough to survive (especially when all your friends are even worse off). Graduated and got… Read more »

Nikki
Nikki
5 years ago
Reply to  ipenka

Watch Suze Orman and she will give you the smackdown of your life. I’ve seen the charts explaining what you should have saved by what age and what your future will look like if you fall short…It’s enough to send you screaming. You’ll save!

Q
Q
7 years ago

I know all too well about being broke. Thousands of dollars of debt, car repossession, eviction, unemployment, etc. All due to irresponsibility and bad financial decisions. Fortunately, I have turned things around within the past few years. I now have a new job with a higher salary, multiple bank accounts, multiple brokerage accounts, and multiple streams of income. I am not wealthy by any stretch, but I am in a much better situation. Living beneath one’s means and having multiple sources of income is key.

BD
BD
7 years ago

Yeah, I’ve been flat broke most of my life, despite saving as much as possible, and living meagerly. What did I learn from it? Lesson: ART/GRAPHIC DESIGN IS A HORRIBLE CAREER CHOICE. Never do it! Listen to all the smart people telling you that artists/graphic designers/illustrators are called “Starving Artists” for a reason! Do NOT “follow your dreams”, do NOT “follow your passion”. This is crappy advice if your passion can’t put food on the table. Oh sure, if your passion is to be a Neurosurgeon and you have the intelligence to succeed at it, then it’s great to follow… Read more »

lmoot
lmoot
7 years ago
Reply to  BD

Wow, what a journey!Maybe we need to “earn” the privilege to make a career out of a passion. There’s still hope. Maybe once you set your finances up with your bread and butter career you can switch down the line. Lots of people switch careers.

Good luck to you and keep honing those skills on the side.

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  BD

My husband can definitely relate to this comment. He earned his first bachelor’s degree in theatre arts only to realize that his education couldn’t really get him a job as an actor. After struggling to work as an actor in Chicago for several years, he went back to school again and spent ten years in an entirely different industry. Even after all of that, he’s making another career change this summer at age 33!

sheri
sheri
7 years ago

A great post! Thank you for sharing your story.

Everyone will experience the consequences of his own acts. If his act are right, he’ll get good consequences; if they’re not, he’ll suffer for it. — Harry Brow

You gained experience and knowledge. That’s what life teaches us.

However, some never learn.

Congratulations!

Rose
Rose
7 years ago

My husband and I were broke during the year we were engaged and first living together. We started saving as soon as we both got jobs, and managed to cobble together $2,000 in savings. I didn’t have health insurance though, so that 2 grand was all that was standing between us and a major disaster. I think back on it now, and wonder what would have happened if I’d broken a bone or needed an appendectomy??? It would have been terrible! On Friday nights we had no money to do anything with and no friends to hang out, because we… Read more »

cathy
cathy
7 years ago
Reply to  Rose

Would like to hear more about how you got your degrees for free.

LearnProducing.com
LearnProducing.com
6 years ago
Reply to  cathy

The same way my sister is attending Yale for free, I assume. By getting superb grades, kissing the right butts in undergrad, and getting a fully paid scholarship.

Lois Pike
Lois Pike
7 years ago

These things make me believe why many get broke; first, they spend more of what they earn and second, the buy what they want rather of what they need.

I like your post Holly. Such an eye opener. Thanks

Grace
Grace
7 years ago

I know how it feels like to be broke, to not have the funds to go out to eat with someone who has invited you to. It feels horrible, and you feel poor. For me, I would rather not buy something knowing I can afford it rather than to buy something at all. It feels much more secure knowing you can afford something than to buy something. (oh, someone should make that into a blog post! (dibs))

Catherine
Catherine
7 years ago

Great post Holly. Like others, I’ve been there. We’re not too far out of that hole actually. When I first started maternity leave, prior to my husband getting a substantial raise (that saved our asses while I was off for the year) things were more than tight. I was trying to stretch $75/month for groceries, for two adults in a very expensive province. Know what though? I’m happy I had the experience. It was the kick in the ass we needed.

justadude
justadude
7 years ago

Yep, been there, done that. Managed to get through undergrad with zero student loan debt (earned an academic scholarship after frosh year that I paid for with savings), but borrowed heavily to pay for law school. Even with the “$50 pizza” lecture (most ed. institutions give you the lecture about how buying that pizza today on borrowed money will result in that pizza costing you a lot more in the future), I spent more frivolously than I should have. Especially in the third year, when I had a job lined up and figured, “no problem, I’ll pay it off when… Read more »

Robocop
Robocop
7 years ago

When we married thirty years ago I had a good job with USPS as mailman. She also worked as a book keeper except the year each of our two children were born. I went to school at night and got a four degree in Finance to become a Postal Inspector. I was too old by the time they reached my name on the list. After the GI bill money stopped I worked an endless series of p/t jobs. Security guard, dock worker unloading trucks, even became a basic EMT and drove an ambulance. Got accepted into nursing school in 1992.… Read more »

Philly to Carolina
Philly to Carolina
4 years ago
Reply to  Robocop

I needed to read that, thank you for publishing that and sharing a bit of your financial past.

Camp System
Camp System
6 years ago

Good post, keep up the good work… Holly I hope you keep writing more blogs like this one. Congratulations again on a good job Holly.

Carol
Carol
6 years ago

I’ve been so broke that I felt like I could jump off a bridge. I hated it. It also made me take a long hard look at my finances. I did some changes. I started paying bills off as quick as possible. Then low and behold I had to go into debt again. Why? Needed a new roof and the basement flooded. Had to also get waterproofing done. I’m back in the hole again.
I hate debt!!!!!!!!!! Will never buy a house again.

Stephanie
Stephanie
6 years ago

My husband and I are expecting a baby any day now, we have also not been very smart with our finances. He tends to be an impulsive shopper whereas I stocked up on baby items. We lived with his parents up until 3 days before our baby is due, I still worry about our spending but now we have everything to lose and HAVE to suck it up and be smarter. Things really are no fun when I am on maternity leave and can not work for the time being, I don’t believe the financial burden should solely be one… Read more »

lovemusic
lovemusic
6 years ago
Reply to  Stephanie

i complexly agree with you stephanie.me and my wife always fight about money to.
she always tell me how her relatives have it so much better then us.it’s beyond depressing…

Paul
Paul
6 years ago

After reading your article and reflecting on my situation, I realize.. You are completely right! Over spending, credit, and debt load are all contributions of my own bad decisions.

Thank you for this article, and your candid look inside what happened to you. The lesson is timeless, and I will be making some drastic life changes.

Angel
Angel
6 years ago

I am a college student and decided it was an awesome idea to buy an amazing expensive car and a brand new expensive phone that’s so not worth what it’s made to me and am flat broke because of it cause I can’t get out of the contract until I pay it entirely off……and I only make 800 a month so I get left after all my bills and paying gas 60 bucks if I am lucky….

Ronnie
Ronnie
6 years ago

What I’ve learned…Being Broke SUX…!! I’m have lived hand to mouth for years upon years…I’ve never, since buying my first car at 18 been out of debt since…I’ll be 50 this year – Ha..next month…Wow, years fly by. There is nothing satisfying about being broke, there is nothing redeeming abut a mind set that says; “I’d rather be happy than rich” BS…ask ANYONE with money that has at one time been without, what they’d rather be….

Deadly
Deadly
6 years ago

I’m more broke now than I have ever been. It’s a bad feeling being… stuck. I work 11 hours per week, I have been desperately trying to find full-time work for over a year, and nothing’s come up whatsoever. I haven’t even made bad financial decisions – my car was free and I don’t own a house. I can’t pay for my wedding, I want to buy a house, have children, travel, but I just can’t do anything. It’s depressing, and there seems no way out.

lovemusic
lovemusic
6 years ago

yes, being broke does indeed suck. i’m 29 yr myself and i’m broke to. my parent were always broke(and still are) and it seems that it got passed it on to me to lol. i have a full time job so does my wife to. but we both of our jobs don;t pay that much. we spend a lot of money when we got married and that’s how everything started. my wife used to have company car but she got laid off and we had to buy a 2nd car.so you can imagine how much that adds up(gas,insurance,maintenance,etc..) and on… Read more »

Someone
Someone
6 years ago

I couldn’t read oast you getting that car on minimum wage, and moving back with parents rent free. Give me a break. This is the story of a brat who got greedy and got bailed out, not of regular people being broke from health problems, lack of work etc. Next.

Sheila
Sheila
4 years ago
Reply to  Someone

my same thoughts. I just sucked it up and moved in with my parents. lol oh to have that luxury and availability with hungry kids and mouths to feed. I could tell you a story about being broke. lol Having your recruiter pick you up from a camp ground where you live in a truck with your 3 kids and husband is broke. And yes I struggled and made a come back only to have a 20 year marriage end in divorce with an idiot ex who for purely spiteful reasons, refused to do paperwork to get rid of our… Read more »

Carla
Carla
4 years ago
Reply to  Sheila

And you had the luxury to move in with parents. Not everyone has that option (or even parents to move in with).

Kevin
Kevin
5 years ago

I wish it were that easy but when you can’t even afford your meds or to buy enough food to survive there is no living below your means. The next step is homeless on the streets for many. I do understand about living below means but broke, you CANNOT do that then. Broke means you have zero in the checking or any bank or brokerage accounts & have $20 or less in cash! It means you aren’t sure you will have the money to get through that very day so you go hungry. That is broke, a step up from… Read more »

MIKE DUDE
MIKE DUDE
5 years ago

I am 50 years old and I have been broke all my life. Since high school, I was always broke. Then I went to college and became broke again. Now I am still broke at 50! I know there has to be something that I need to change in me, whether I am not doing things right or I am not thinking right, I don’t know!

Ray Robinson
Ray Robinson
5 years ago

I know the feeling on being broke and still looking ways to try and make extra money but problem is, no startup cost to get started.

Liz
Liz
5 years ago

I’m broke right now, but it wasnt because of bad financial decisions, it was because I could never get ahead on low wages, and I have got degrees. I guess it didn’t help getting sick from toxins at work and them not caring. I’m not blaming anyone specific but I surely wont blame myself….I worked hard and I tried !! This country is out of whack.

HiiiC
HiiiC
5 years ago

I’m 24 years old right now. I’ve never been FLAT BROKE but I also don’t have money to throw around. I’ve been working since I was a kid so I kinda sorta have a bigger appreciation for the money I make than most people my age. My dilemma is that although I’m still young I’m not going to stay or get any younger. I decided to go back to school to get my BA but I’m really having a hard time with it. I’ve never been good at being a student and i detest that we have to take all… Read more »

Zeo
Zeo
5 years ago

Couple notes: Buying an new car isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I;m not sure how old the staff writer is, but since the cash for clunkers program, used cars that are in good rapier are almost as expensive as new ones, AND DO NOT COME WITH A NEW CAR WARRANTY. Also Shop around the loans when you buy a car, dealers are better then they used to help you, I got the same amount for a basic car as she did (actually a little more Because I added said warranties) and my car payment is a hair more then half… Read more »

Nicholas Waite
Nicholas Waite
5 years ago

I read this entire post and it has taught me a whole lot about being poor and getting out. The biggest thing I will take away from reading this is the part where you said “only you can solve your problems”. Great post!

tamara
tamara
5 years ago

I am broke, my husband works a full time job and so do I. There will be no Christmas in this house. Our rent is so high. We can’t afford to move ( first and last months rent) and houses within our means are in very bad neighbourhoods. We have a 3 yr old. I have been stricken with several illness which caused me to miss a lot of work. Now that I am on the roll again…it doesnt help us out now…i pray things get better. We are always looking for better ways to save money and get better… Read more »

Broke_gurl
Broke_gurl
5 years ago

Always broke here as well. I actually just typed in “i am always broke” as a google search and this web page came up. I am with a child, unemployed getting unemployment and yes looking for a job with a salary for the first time that will bring me out of this broke nightmare. ahhh say a prayer for me that the interviews and job offers come sooner rather than later, Im so depressed and miserable right now over being broke. Being its a holiday and nothing can really happen today, and no money for anything to happen here all… Read more »

shares