Being broke is hard. Very hard.
As a teenage single mum I spent time on welfare benefits and hated the feeling of trying to eek out my pennies until my next payment.
I always ran out of money long before I should have.
I was struggling financially at a time when I didn’t really know how to manage myself, my baby or anything. I was at home with my baby yet had no money.
What do you do when you have no money? Nothing, it seemed to me.
I couldn’t shop, I couldn’t go meet friends for coffee, it felt like I couldn’t do anything.
Going back to work didn’t seem to make any difference to my money situation either, I was still broke, still struggling and still asking ‘why am I poor?’
It took me too long to realize that I had to do things differently if I want to stop being broke and start having money for more than 2 days after pay day.
I eventually learned that there are many things you can do to stop being broke if you want to.
But to survive and come out the other side requires you to stop doing what you’ve always done before, because it obviously isn’t working.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got”.
I am (now) a great believer in this saying. You have to change things up if you want things to change. And change can be hard. But staying broke is harder.
It’s one thing to be broke in your 20s, but still being broke at 30 with no end in sight? That sucks, a lot.
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Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life
The biggest change you need to make is within yourself. You have to let go of some of the negative beliefs that are holding you back.
Beliefs that seem completely normal to you. And yes, outwardly they might seem so normal because so many people around you believe and act the same.
But guess what? They are broke too.
Take a step back, check these 20 reasons out and make the changes so you can stop being broke and start living the life you really want.
23 Reasons You Are Stuck Being Broke And How To Fix Things
These are the reasons you are broke, because you believe these to be true and your money situation is the worse for it.
Take every single one of these and start fixing them.
If you are truly tired of struggling financially, if now is the time for you to take action, then the following tips will help you to make the change from feeling poor, to feeling rich.
1. It’s Normal To Be Broke
No it’s not! Oh don’t get me wrong, plenty of people are broke. But it’s not normal to be broke.
I’ve been both poor and financially comfortable, I’ll never be rich or have a million pounds but that doesn’t bother me.
But being broke in my teens and my 20s was not fun. You don’t have to be poor, it’s not written in the stars that it will be so. You can change this.
And how do you change this?
FIX IT By living below your means, by streamlining your budget until you stop living paycheck to paycheck.
To make the change you will likely have to give some things up, but more likely you will become more conscious about what you spend your money on.
You will find savings through being more conscious about your money.
These posts will help you kickstart your new normal:
2. Take Out The Maximum Student Loans
Just because you could take out many thousands in student loans doesn’t make it a good idea. A friend of mine has approaching $300,000 in student loan debt.
How can that amount of debt ever be a good thing?
FIX IT You don’t have to go to an expensive college. Does the career you want actually require a degree? Is there a lower cost alternative? Could you work during college and keep loans lower?
HINDSIGHT FIX IT This might be a ‘hindsight’ moment if you’ve already graduated.
In which case, your focus needs to be on ensuring you pay the least interest on those loans and getting them paid off as fast as possible. Which might not be that fast if you’ve hit $100,000+.
3. Get The Biggest Mortgage The Bank Offers You
Just because a bank says you can borrow $250,000 to buy a house does not mean you should. Banks are in the business of making money, off you.
So the more loan you take out, the more interest you pay them. The longer you have a mortgage, the more interest you will pay.
FIX IT Consider very carefully about how much mortgage to take out. Don’t just think about what you can afford now. What about in 5 years time?
What about any plans for kids? Will you be able to afford kids and that large mortgage on one income? If it needs 2 incomes have you thought about the cost of childcare should kids happen?
What about if you lost your job and could only find a lower paying one?
HINDSIGHT FIX IT If you already have a large mortgage then every dollar that you make in an over-payment will reduce the interest you pay. $50 a month will a significant difference over the life of your mortgage.
You could also consider downsizing your house and mortgage. Your mortgage is often your biggest bill each month. Reduce that and it might make the difference between struggling and not.
4. Save Money If You Don’t Spent It All
This doesn’t work does it? You might plan on saving $100 a month but if you don’t do immediately you get paid, it ain’t happening.
No-one saves any serious money by waiting until they have finished spending to see what is left over.
FIX IT To make your savings a reality you must take them out of your account as soon as you get paid.
Set up your savings so they are automatically sent to a separate account the day after you get paid. Then treat them as out of sight, out of mind.
5. Quality Time With Family When You Earn Enough
Please stop thinking that you have to earn a lot of money in order to have any quality time with your partner and family. Your time with family is precious and you cannot get it back.
Quality time does not need to cost any money at all. If you are tired of being broke and depressed then some quality time with your family is exactly what you need.
FIX IT Sit down and plan out some free activities that you can do at the weekend and in the evenings. It can be as simple as taking a walk, going to the park, having an old DVD movie night.
6. Being Successful Is About The Stuff You Have
Many people look at others and think they are successful because they have a nice new car, big house, the latest gadgets and go on exotic holidays.
They might indeed be successful but those things don’t make it so. They could just as easily be up to their eyeballs in debt trying to pay for all those things.
You are successful because you are you, no matter what material things you have or do not have. Material things do not maketh the woman (or man).
FIX IT Break your thought patterns about what success looks like. Think about what success actually means to you.
Perhaps having a loving relationship, or the impact you make with your charity work and giving?
7. Retirement Saving Costs Too Much
The later you leave retirement planning the more it costs so there is a grain of truth in this.
But the hard facts are that if you don’t save for your retirement now, then you will be broke, poor and unable to retire when you hit your 60s and 70s.
If you think you are tired of being broke and depressed now, think how bad you will feel when you hit your older years?
FIX IT The sooner you start saving something for your retirement the better. Never think it isn’t worth because you can only afford a few dollars. It’s a good start.
If your employer offers a company match, always take it as the absolute minimum. But save more than that.
8. Overbuying At Christmas And Birthdays To Make Up For The Rest Of The Year
This can be a real elephant in the room. The idea of NOT spending lots of money to celebrate special occasions can go against many family traditions.
However, if you are tired of struggling financially then this is somewhere you can make some big savings.
FIX IT Focus on the time you have together rather than spending lavishly.
Suggest to adult family members that you do a Secret Santa present so you only have to buy one present for one family member. And you’ll get one return.
Consider using the 4 present method for your children at Christmas:
- Something they want
- Something they need
- Something to wear and
- Something to read
9. You Only Live Once
It’s true (I think!) that you only live once. But you don’t only live in your 20s and 30s. You’re still living at 70,80,90 and you need money then.
You are unlikely to want to HAVE to be working then. If you spend every penny of your paycheck now, what happens if you get an unexpected bill or your car breaks down?
How do you pay for those if you’ve YOLO’d all your cash and not put anything aside for now or later?
Can you really survive on Social Security alone when you hit retirement? Here in the UK the current, maximum state pension is £8777 ($10973) a year.
Are you living on that now? If not why do you think you’ll be able to do so in later life?
FIX IT Drop the YOLO thoughts and start planning for your future. Start an emergency fund so if the unexpected happens (and it always does) you’ve got a back up. Start thinking about how you will fund your retirement.
10. You Cannot Be Rich
Yes you can! I’m not saying everyone can be a millionaire although it would be nice wouldn’t it? But you can feel rich if you make wise spending choices.
If you live below your means and save for your future, you’ll be surprised at how it can grow over the years.
The best thing about living below your means is that you won’t need as much money to live on. You feel comfortable with what you do have, you sleep better at night and you want for nothing.
FIX IT Focus on living within your means and save the difference between that and what you earn.
Put your savings into a high interest savings account and don’t dip into this money. Once your balance has grown, research investments such as index trackers as it is unwise to keep all your money in cash.
For long term growth you need to spread your money across different investments.
11. You’re A Bad Parent If You Don’t Buy Organic
I might not make myself popular here but I am not a believer of buying organic fruit or vegetables. I’ll grow them myself organically because I know they are truly organic.
But when you are living on a low income, buying organic is not always an option. And you shouldn’t feel bad about that.
I lived on a low income for years and I can tell you there is no way that I could have afforded organic produce.
That doesn’t make me a bad parent. It makes me a parent who has done her best with the money she has.
Your kids won’t thank you if you go bankrupt and lose their home because you insisted on organic produce even when you had run out of money.
FIX IT If you want organic produce grow your own. Not only will you get the organic benefits you will also save a ton of money.
You can grow various vegetables and herbs in pots so even if you don’t have a garden or yard you can still benefit from homegrown produce.
If you have no outdoor space and organic is a concern for you then concentrate on buying the Dirty Dozen.
Likewise never buy organically the items listed on the Clean 15 as they have been shown to have very low levels of pesticides so you would be wasting your money.
12. Financial Goals Are For Rich People
Most jobs these days have targets you need to aim for. See X number of clients in a week. Serve Y customers within 10 minutes. Answer Z calls within 30 seconds. Targets/Goals, same thing.
When you don’t have goals to aim for you can wander aimlessly through life with no concrete plan for your life or money.
FIX IT Take some time out to think about what you want to achieve in life. Buying your own house, going on exotic holidays, retiring early, having a $10,000 emergency fund.
All good goals to aim for. But without setting them and reviewing them regularly you are not likely to achieve them. So set them, review your progress toward them every month and achieve them!
13. Branded Is Better
Big brands spend a fortune on marketing to sell you the idea that their brand is best. And that is one of the reasons why they cost significantly more than unbranded products. You are paying for all that advertising.
I’ve seen too many taste tests on TV where the premium brands fail to beat the value brands.
And in a recent UK TV series called Shop For Less, there was a weekly segment on getting the public to choose the most expensive and cheapest product from 4 (almost) identical items.
Items such as lamps, coats, t-shirts and camping chairs. Invariably the expensive product was not chosen as the best one or even second best!
FIX IT Try the drop down a brand challenge for your groceries. If you buy a premium brand, try the stores own brand. If you already buy own brand, try the value brand.
You won’t like every brand drop, but they are super easy money saving swaps, and you could save 50% on many items if you drop the premium brands.
For non-grocery items, compare branded with non-branded. If there is a 100% difference in price, are you getting 100% more from the branded item or could the non-branded item be good enough?
14. There Is No Difference Between Wants And Needs
We humans can be very good at convincing ourselves of anything and everything.
Do you remember as a child telling your parents how much you absolutely NEEDED the latest toy or gadget? You convinced yourself totally that you needed it.
And we can be very good at doing the same thing as adults.
You need new cars every 3 years, you need a 3 bedroom house even though you don’t have kids, you need some new clothes even though you current ones haven’t fallen apart or got a single hole in them.
What you need is a roof over your head, food and warmth. Everything else is gravy.
Even your food doesn’t need to be anything other than the basics. But of course we want variety of food choice, we want a nice roof over our heads in an area we choose.
We want to feel warm without being wrapped up like an Eskimo.
FIX IT For every purchase you are thinking of, consider whether right now it’s a want or a need. If you want to stop being broke, perhaps you don’t need to be buying right now?
15. Everyone Has Car Finance
It might seem like everyone has cars on finance and therefore you should to, but they really don’t.
Think what you could be doing if you weren’t paying $300 a month in car finance.
If you look at what rich people do and what they don’t do, they don’t take out finance on a car.
Not only is it likely to cost you hundreds or more in interest, you end up buying a brand new car which loses you money on as soon as you drive it away.
FIX IT Keep your existing car long after you have finished paying off the finance for it. As it gets older it might need a few more repairs.
But repairs are okay, much better than paying out $300 a month for 5 years don’t you think?
Put the money you would have paid out on finance into a savings account so the next time you need a new (to you) car (need not want please) you will have the money saved.
No need to ever finance a car again.
16. Your House Is A Good Investment
There are many arguments for and against owning your own home. It can get quite technical as people like to consider investment returns and the like.
For me, owning your own home is more of an emotional thing. Having your own space that a landlord cannot evict you from is worth a lot of money to me.
But make no mistake, not all homes are a good investment.
If you rent you don’t need to pay for any maintenance costs (and homes absolutely need maintaining). If you need to move because of your job, you can.
When you own your own home, you cannot move quickly. If you sell at the wrong time you could lose a big chunk of money.
FIX IT If you are in the market for buying a property consider carefully the total cost of owning your own home. Factor in a good chunk of annual maintenance money.
Don’t stretch your budget to buy the biggest house possible. You don’t need lots of rooms, you’ll only continue being broke by filling empty rooms with more stuff.
17. Everyone Needs Credit Cards
You don’t need credit cards. Full stop. They make life easier, you can build your credit score (if you need to) more easily with a credit card.
But you only need a great credit score if you want to borrow money. If you don’t need to borrow money (and you want to be getting out of debt not into it) then you don’t need a credit card.
However, you can earn rewards and cashback from various cards so they do have their uses. But only if you pay off your balance in full every month.
FIX IT Only use your credit card to earn rewards if you can 100% promise yourself you will pay the full balance off every month.
If you can’t or don’t, stop using those cards completely.
18. New Is Better
Vintage isn’t new but many people swoon over vintage clothing and vintage artifacts.
When you buy something new, it isn’t new for long because you use it. Then it becomes used. If you tried to sell that used item you would get less than 50% of the price you paid for it.
FIX IT Consider instead, the idea of buying new to you items as used rather than brand new. Whether you want new clothes, new toys, a new car, new tools. All can be found used/secondhand if you just take a look.
19. You Don’t Know The Future You
The future you needs your support. You in the future won’t have the luxury of being young, of having great earnings potential.
The future you is you in 40 years time, when you want or need to be retiring. Without planning for and putting aside money for later life, you can plan on being broke not just in your 20s or at 30.
No you can plan on being broke a lot longer than that. If you are already tired of struggling financially then think how tired you will be of it in another 30-40 years time.
FIX IT Start planning for the future you. Start saving money for your long term future. If you are in debt, pay that down but also start saving, even if it’s only $50 a month. Increase your payments as you pay off your debts.
20. You Can’t Change Your Financial Situation
When you are stuck in a negative cycle of not enough money and feeling trapped it’s easy to think that you can’t change your financial situation.
And making changes can be hard when you feel super negative about where you are at.
Here’s the thing, only you can make the changes, they ain’t going to be done for you. Hard isn’t it?
FIX IT Let’s pull up our big girl pants and get positive. If you’re feeling negative then start with some daily money affirmations. Bring some positivity to your finances.
Then get your thinking cap on and think about what YOU can do to make changes to bring in more money.
Maybe you need to get more education so you can get a better paying job. Maybe you can turn something you like doing into a hobby that makes money.
Maybe you can take on one of the many legitimate flexible work from home jobs to fit around your main job.
More money making posts that can help:
21. Your Kids Need Extra Curricular Activities
Extra curricular and after school activities are often seen as essential these days for a child’s personal growth and well-being.
There is also peer pressure from other parents and the media that without all these extra activities children are missing out.
Does your child enjoy all their activities? Probably. Do they need to be doing activities every day? No.
Kids love playing and learning with other kids. They are at their most creative when faced with little more than their imagination and space to use it.
We all know about young children enjoying the cardboard box infinitely more than the toy that came in the box.
FIX IT Give your child space to grow and develop without the cost of some of those structured activities. Sit down with them and discuss which are their favorites and which are less so.
If they are an appropriate age, get them involved in the decision making about activity costs.
22. Your Hobbies Aren’t Expensive
Some hobbies cost just pennies and provide you with hours of enjoyment and satisfaction. Other hobbies cost significantly more and also give you something to look forward to.
If you are tired of struggling financially then take a look at how much your hobby is truly costing you. You might think your hobby is not that expensive.
And perhaps it isn’t if you are comparing with golf or polo. But if they are leaving you broke and in debt then they are expensive hobbies and something has to change.
FIX IT Work out how much your hobbies are costing you every month and consider whether the total cost is worthwhile to you right now.
Consider downsizing your hobby costs, perhaps you can drop one hobby but keep another? Maybe you can enjoy your hobby in a different way, one that costs less than it does right now.
We all need enjoyment and fun in our lives, you just need to work out a way to do so without leaving you broke.
23. Budgets Are For The Rich
When I was young and just starting out I thought budgets were for real adults, ones with money. I eventually learned that everyone needs a budget.
Indeed I realized (eventually) that if you are on a low income, having a budget is crucial to being able to survive and thrive on that money.
If you are like me and think budgets are for rich people, think again. When you don’t have much money you need to ensure that every penny of your hard earned money is spent on what you need it to be spent on.
You cannot afford to fritter money away, not knowing where it is going. A budget will help you get out of debt and master your money.
FIX IT Read the following posts on how and why you need a budget and get started with your budget today:
Stop Being Broke By Taking Action
Being broke is often more about your state of mind than your financial situation. My turning point came when I finally realized it was me that need to change rather than my money.
Fixing all your negative beliefs will take a little time. The most important thing is that you know you can change things if you think differently and do differently. No need to be struggling financially forever more.