Don’t go broke.

This is advice I’ve given here before, and I’ll give here again.

Don’t go broke, my friend.

It’s not as bad as some people make it out to be, but it isn’t fun or hysterical like television can make it seem either.

There aren’t wacky hijinks or deeper life lessons.  It’s just a lot of simple problems causing complicated, painful ripples through your life.

Plus, it’s true what they say — the farther the fall, the harder the landing. One day you’re sipping diet horchata from a hand-blown chupacabra glass, and the next you’re trying to calculate how many days of food a $5 pizza is if you separate the cheese from the bread. (Answer: the same as if you don’t separate them.)

There’s a difference between being poor and going broke, too. I’ve been in both situations… and in a Not Good Things Death Match scenario, they’re both contenders.

Being poor is unfortunate because it creates a cycle of poverty that is hard to break, but at least when you’re “being poor”, you aren’t as obsessed with the way things used to be.

Going broke is mentally exhausting. It involves downgrading your lifestyle, selling some of your precious belongings, pretending you don’t miss your hobbies, humbling yourself to borrow money, and an obsession with getting “back on your feet”.

“The Get Set Go lyrics that had made me snicker years before ran through my mind before bed and would make me tense as I suddenly understood them in a way that I had never understood before.  “And the things that I own, they are just barely mine- oh, and I am so afraid, that somebody’s gonna take them away because some day I won’t be able to pay.”  The fear that accompanies poverty, the Jenga system of life so many of us live by, and the truth that so many of the things that are “ours” are really not = ouch, panic.”

So — get a savings account, tuck money under the mattress, work that extra job, or put a “donate” button on your blog. Do what you have to do, but don’t go broke!


Daily Post Prompt : Tell us about something you’ve done that you would advise a friend never to do.

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  1. smartest advice ever. i went broke before due to chronic shopaholicsm and it ain’t fun… salivating over new designer goods that i can’t buy.. arrggh >< it's like one day i woke up and realized how little money i got! but thank God for family :p

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    1. Yep, thank god for family! When they come through, I’m always reminded of this quote by Albert Schweitzer: “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

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  2. We’re broke now, and have been for the last 2 years. There’s absolutely nothing less humbling than the tears you shed when your mother has to buy the gifts for your children for Christmas because you can’t afford to, or having to decide each day what meal you’re going to eat cos you’re only getting the one. It’s just hugely exhausting.

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  3. “There aren’t wacky hijinks or deeper life lessons.” Going broke and growing up poor were full of both for my family, and people can save all they want, but life has a tendency to happen anyway.

    That being said I thoroughly enjoyed this post, different viewpoints are always fun!

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    1. BTW, I’m not saying people should go broke to have hilarious hijinks or learn life lessons (people can learn from any situation in life so long a they are trying). Just adding my two cents from the p.o.v of someone raised poor, not someone who had to raise children poor. Very different.

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      1. Haha, yes. I’m pretty sure no one is going to try to go broke specifically for hijinks, but thanks for the disclaimer, ha! :D It’s true, I suppose I did learn a lot from going broke, and being broke, and being poor… but I really think I could have learned those same things and been eating all the while, :)

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  4. Important post, Rarasaur.
    Imho, it is difficult to define going broke today in America with credit card debt, foreclosures, etc. If you add up all your assets, subtract all your debt, and come up with a negative number, are you broke?
    When I think about going broke, I think about the families I saw in India who were living in a cardboard refrigerator box next to the train station. The half naked children ran up to me asking me for one rupee or a school pencil. In America we have “beggars” who look rich in comparison.
    Having said that, my heart and prayers go out to everyone who is struggling financially; I’ve been there and done that. It really helped me to remember that richness is also a measurement of attitude and happiness.

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    1. Thanks Kozo, that’s a good point! My parents both grew up in 3rd world circumstance, so I’m cognizant of the American privilege… but I guess I believe that loss is loss, heartbreak is heartbreak, loneliness is loneliness– grief and sadness aren’t measured by other people’s standards, they’re only stacked against your own metrics. And so… if someone loses their favorite diamond ring, their sadness is no better or worse or valid than the sadness of someone who lost their favorite plastic ring. I also think poverty amongst poverty is… well… a more comfortable place to be, which is what I mean when I talk about “being poor” above. To me “being poor” means living next to people who routinely give their food to their neighbors because they know what a privilege it is to have extra, and what it is to go without. It means being in a situation where your boss assumes that every cut hour means less food for your family. “Going broke” is so exhausting because it’s human nature to clamour and hold on to where you were. You’re usually alone, surrounded by people in the economic situation you used to be in, and watch them throw out food or not live in their apartment for 2 weeks just because they were traveling. It means fighting to keep your decent job, and having a boss who doesn’t understand that “closing early just for fun” means one step closer to homelessness. It’s no less scary than being poor, but it’s so much more lonely because no one understands the way you’re seeing the world at that moment in time.

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      1. :) Sorry for the ramble, haha. Thanks for commenting and for reminding me of the importance of a positive attitude, too. I really do believe that a positive attitude can lead you through the darkest of times.

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      2. Thanks for clarifying the poor and broke difference. I agree with everything you said. Your posting was perfectly timed because I was denied unemployment insurance today.
        In regards to your point about the sadness being the same whether the ring was diamond or plastic, I would argue that this just proves that happiness lies in the mind, not in outside circumstances. I was thinking of tweeting something I thought of today along the lines of “true reality is inside us; everything on the outside is an illusion made to reflect the reality inside of us.”
        Thank you for the time and patience in responding to my comment.

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        1. I love your reality sentiment– I think it’s great!! Worthy of a full post, not just a tweet, even! :) That’s the sort of insight that everyone can benefit from. (Sorry on the bad news, *hugs*, but take comfort in the idea that bad things get better– that’s the circle of life.)

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