Let’s talk about being broke. You’re broke, I’m broke. We’re all broke. Well, not all of us, but hey, this is the world we live in. If you’re reading this, you probably have some curiosities about financial aspects. First off, I’m not a banker. I don’t have any monetary ties, and these are just opinions. If you are in serious financial trouble, I recommend talking to a professional (though preferably someone you know, since my financial friends tell me that some people in the business like to “hustle” customers).
Now, if you have ever read the Penny Hoarder, you have a few cool ideas about saving money or earning more. And that’s fine—I mean, the reason I’m writing this is because I read a post on their website about saving money. Living paycheck to paycheck is hard. That’s pretty simple and if that’s your life, you know it. Solving that problem can be pretty hard. Some people can build budgets, and work within them, but often times that is difficult because we want to have luxuries, either for ourselves or for our family. This is a hard reality, but sometimes luxuries are just that—something extra that you can’t get. If you really want to save your money, you need to cut down on or completely remove the luxuries in your life right now, so that you can have more in the future.
Let me give you an example. You have a ritual of getting coffee every morning at McDonald’s, because Starbucks is too expensive, but you really need that cup of caffeine in the morning. This is a luxury. You don’t need that coffee, you just have lulled yourself into the idea that you need it. Many societies lived for years without it. But ok, maybe you need the caffeine and you won’t budge on that. Can you find an alternative? Buy bags of coffee and make it at home? Or maybe switch to a cheaper tea? Sure, it’s not as great, but if it get’s the job done, does it matter?
Of course, if you’ve been penny pinching already, then this might seem obvious. You probably are already pouring yourself half cups of coffee from the cheapest bag possible. But try to apply that to the rest of your life. Are you sure there’s nothing you could cut out or down on? Gym memberships are a big one I hear about people wasting. $20 per month. That’s nothing right? Wrong, that’s $240 a year. So many people have gym memberships for a treadmill and some dumbbells. If you are a legit bodybuilder person, this doesn’t apply to you, because you need those machines, but guess what everyone else! You can run at the park and you can do push up on any sidewalk. Do exercises right in your living room, and you have an extra $240 for your Christmas shopping. It doesn’t have to be a gym membership, but find the excess in life, and minimize it’s cost.
The Penny Hoarder does a good job at looking at new apps and things like sending your spam mail somewhere to be processed for a couple dollars, and that’s cool, but it can be a hassle and that’s really just a way for them to make money. And there’s nothing wrong with that—I mean, they have to make money like everyone else. But all these plans like “save $5 a month every month for a year, and you’ll have $60 extra in December” are no brainers. But you don’t need MORE money, you need to be more efficient with your money (ok, well, maybe you do need more money, but minimum wage is crap and you have to work with the money you currently have. You could probably be more efficient). For me, it’s easier. I’m not currently paying rent, I don’t have kids, and so on. BUT, that doesn’t mean I go out every weekend. In fact, I very rarely go out, and I very rigidly decide what I spend my money on. Why? Because going out every week can be expensive. You will regularly spend $12 or more a head on a meal if you go out. Don’t even factor in drinks.
The whole point of the Penny Hoarder, and other sites like it, are to give you tips on how to be more efficient with your money. But that’s the problem—it’s your money. You choose how you spend it. So stop making the choice that leaves you struggling. Or, if you have no good choices, make the choice that makes you struggle the least. And I don’t mean mental struggles—your well being is important, but if you can’t feed yourself or live with a roof over your head, you’re going to end up worse for ware. Take the 6 months of extra mental weight so that you have the security blanket to not have to have those mental struggles down the line. And to those of you that are already doing this and still struggling…I’m sorry. The truth is that sometimes you can only pinch yourself so dry before something breaks. The system is against you, and there isn’t much you can do. But, that doesn’t mean you should despair. Despair leads to mental paralysis, and you don’t have to have that. In that 20 minutes of free time you get, or 5 minutes, or whatever it is, look for a new job. Craft a way to ask for more money at the job you have. You deserve it. Don’t tell yourself you don’t. You really do.