This topic, title (My Sole Experience: 5 Brilliant Tools I learned While Being Broke) and idea came to me as I stood in the kitchen preparing dinner a few nights ago. After brainstorming a little deeper the premise for this post appeared like magic. While I’ve actually learned many things regarding “being broke” (I’m not proud of it and also not ashamed just sharing my truth) some of the more interesting details I have shared below.
Fore the most part, nobody ever wants to be broke or picture themselves going without anything that their heart desires. However, it is likely that we all know of someone who is either going through or overcoming some type of financial strain. People struggle with financial shortfalls for various reasons including being under employed, medical debt, disability, student loan debt, helping out someone else while not focusing on their potential loss, etc. Whatever the reason, it isn’t fun.
Being the self proclaimed “eternal optimist” that I am, I have found many ways to maintain a level of comfort while finding alternate ways to work through this temporary phase of “being broke.”
1. Reevaluate your monthly expenses! Although funds are limited, this doesn’t mean you have to forego fun. This simply means you have to be more creative as it relates to having fun. A few months ago when our income had decreased I made the conscious decision to take a closer look at what we were paying out each month and what we could do without. One of which was cable. My husband has had DirecTV since we purchased our home in 2008 and has been happily paying $240 per month just to ensure that he would never miss any sports/games.
I have been trying for years to no avail to get him to consider using another cable service provider, one with cheaper rates. Considering we were now facing financial hardship he no longer had a choice. For the sake of this article I feel compelled to share just how much we wasted monthly/yearly on cable. We paid $240 for six and a half years! This makes me a bit sick to even calculate our total cost. Each month paying $240 per month x 12 months= $2,880 + $960 the 1st year and $17,280 for the next 6 years for a grand total of $18,240! Ignorance is bliss for some but for me this is ridiculous. Now that’s an eye opener. What makes it even worse is I have contacted DirecTV on more than one occasion to see about getting the bill reduced and they have always told me that this is just the price. Basically it is, what it is.
So it came as no surprise that they didn’t hesitate to cancel our service after we couldn’t make two consecutive payments. I say all of this to say, who needs to pay all of that money for entertainment when we could have been out in the world living/enjoying life! After finally letting go of cable I went to work exploring other options. Eventually I decided on Netflix, Hulu and streaming movies through Movie-Tube using our PS4. For less than $17 a month we had access to tv shows as well as new movies that weren’t even in theaters yet and an amazing library of documentaries. Movie-tube was a great app and was actually cancelled within the last few weeks however there are other apps available like Popcorn Time and many others. Just Google and prepare to be amazed at how you could also watch movies for free.
Before there were any signs of financial stress it has always been my goal to ensure that our home had everything that we wanted or needed to ensure that we never felt as though we needed to leave to feel happy or uplifted. Oprah refers to this as, your home rises to great you. We do a lot as a family from making air popped popcorn during family movie night, to having pillow fights while teaching our little ones about how we were raised. All of what I just mentioned is free, doesn’t cost a dime and our kids will have it as yet another memory of a happy moment from their childhood.
2. As long as you have food, your good! Many people waste a lot of money (hundreds of dollars a year even) on food by not properly planning meals, letting food go bad or just not paying attention to what they already have when they go grocery shopping. Lucky for us, I absolutely hate wasting money! I am very strategic when it comes to not wasting our resources. One way that we have found to drastically decrease our grocery bill was by planting a garden last year.
By growing many of our own fruits and vegetables we no longer buy certain veggies because we grow them ourselves. My family absolutely loves mustard, kale and collard greens so we grow them. We wash them and freeze some for the winter months and still have enough to eat fresh from the garden whenever the mood hits. Fresh from the garden salads are the absolute best! I have also started having my kids help with dinner, making it a family affair. They enjoy helping mom and dad by watering the garden, helping to pull weeds and making sure to ask where they can help us whenever possible.
While I am not the best at it, I make sure to take note of what we have at home prior to heading to the grocery store/market. If money is tight, it will benefit you a lot more by heading to the store with a good idea of what you need to make a full meal based on what you already have. Its a bad feeling when you really want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich only to realize you are all out of peanut butter, ugh. Having meatless days have also proved to be a money saver. A little creativity in the kitchen can go a long way.
3. Be OK with saying no! Being broke is not a death sentence, however it does suck when friends or family call you inviting you out to eat and you have to tell them I can’t go, I can’t afford it or eventually get creative with your excuses. For some, the worse thing would be to tell their friends the truth. That they are actually as broke as a bag of glass, (its ok to laugh out loud, just remeber this is temporary). Some may even offer to pay your way however I have never been comfortable with that route. I prefer honesty. Without going in to great detail feel free to tell your loved one(s) that you are on a new budget and that you are wholeheartedly going to stick with it. This doesn’t have to be viewed as a lie, while you are facing a financial challenge you are actively working to overcome it. The changes that you make will certainly help to ensure that you are never in this position again. So don’t beat your self up about it. This to shall pass.
4. You will instantly learn the benefits to being resourceful! When you are accustomed to being able to rely on your credit card transaction always going through there is an instant comfort that is always present. However, when funds are limited save yourself a lot of embarrassment. It just makes sense to check your account balance prior to attempting to make a purchase. There is no fun in getting to the register only to see this….
Use your circle of friends & family and barter or swap services so that your current circumstances don’t get you down. Try one or all of these:
- If you need to get out and clear your head, swap childcare duty with a friend.
- Take turns cooking and having a meal at someone else’s home.
- Wanna go shopping but have no money. Get a few friends together (that may also be on a tight budget) and everybody bring 10 items that are gently worn/used and have a swap fest. This is a great way to return home with a bag of “new to you” goodies.
Money doesn’t always have to be spent to have a great evening in or out. If you think a little deeper, I am sure you can come up with your very own ways to start enjoying yourself in spite of your current financial distress.
5. Be grateful for all that you do have as there are many who don’t even have that! I can recall being very grateful for having at least $2 in my checking account. Grateful because I knew that that $2 represented a full tank of gas. When money got really tight I quickly learned that if I had at least $2 in my account that I could go to the gas station and fill up my car using my bank card as a credit card. Sure my account would be negative until my next deposit however it was an instant cure for a temporary problem. Because it was my checking account there were no overdraft fees just my account being negative until I deposited enough funds to cover the void.
I am grateful for every lesson that I learned and have taken notes and am doing the work to ensure that I am never hear again. Among all of this I have learned that while this is my current situation it is not where I want to be or going to be for long. I am working hard to find the lesson among all of this and look forward to sharing my testimony. Being broke taught me many things along the way, one of which was how to use what I already know and have to generate another income stream. Click here to learn a few more things that I learned along the way.
What lessons have you learned? Can you relate to any of what I shared? If so, I look forward to hearing from you and hope that you feel compelled to share this post with your friends. Thanks for stopping by.