Stop Saying “I’m Broke”


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For years it was my mantra. “I can’t do that, I’m broke.” If friends wanted me to do things with them, it was assumed they’d pay. I tracked every penny to make sure I had enough money to pay my bills at the beginning of the month. I always did, and yet, I insisted on repeating it: “I’m broke.”

But I wasn’t broke. If I were truly broke, why did I have an apartment? A car? GAS for that car? Food? A computer? Games to play on the computer? A TV? DVDs to watch on the TV?

I wasn’t broke. I was choosing where to put my money.

I didn’t see it that way, though. Money was tight. I had to be careful. I spent so much time worrying about money that I didn’t see how much I really had.

Then, one day (after yoga, incidentally), I had an epiphany. If I keep telling myself I’m broke, how am I ever going to get un-broke?

Worrying about money I don’t have is a waste of worry. If there’s nothing to be done about it, the best thing for my sanity would be to just let it go. I can’t tell you how many miracles have occurred when I give myself permission to not worry about money.

One time, I was fretting about how I would cover the cost of something. I realized there was nothing I could do about it immediately, so I gave myself permission to let go of the worry. Later that day, I got a phone call from a former employer telling me they had an un-cashed payroll check in the system from two years prior, made out to me, for $200, and did I want it?

I never could have predicted that could happen, but the point is, every time I’ve ever let the worry go, something happened (usually un-planned or unexpected) that got me out of whatever pickle I’d been worrying about.

Not worrying is one thing. Breaking out of the lie of “I’m broke” is another. For me, forcing myself out of the habit of saying those two words has been the next step in truly letting go. It seemed contradictory at first, so I needed a new mantra to re-program myself. I can’t remember where I read it, but a blogger suggested that instead of saying “I can’t afford that, I’m broke,” replace it with, “I’m choosing to spend my money elsewhere.”

That takes care of two problems: 1) The implication of lack disappears. It’s not that you don’t have money, you do. 2) Lack of control disappears. It’s no longer a situation out of your hands, you are making an active choice. Money, and how you spend it, is a choice like anything else. Constantly giving your perceived “brokeness” the upper hand is willingly foregoing that choice.

Next time you’re feeling “broke”, try and reverse the feeling. Look around you. What do you have? Do you have clothes on your back? A roof over your head? Food in your belly? Can you read these words? That means you have a computer or a smart phone, and Internet access. How broke can you possibly be if you can log on? The truth is, your life is abundant! Try making a list of all the things you have. You probably have more than you even realize.

I started actively changing my thoughts on this at the beginning of the year, and I feel that I’ve successfully broken the “broke” mantra. Now, hearing someone else say it grates against me, like sandpaper on my skin. It sounds like a lie. Stop feeding into the lie. Give yourself permission to feel abundant! Give yourself permission to not worry about money! Change your mantra. The money always comes. Trust that it will, and it will.

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12 thoughts on “Stop Saying “I’m Broke”

  1. Love the graffiti quote at the beginning! Whenever I’m stressed about money or setting up at a craft show I repeat a mantra one of my pagan friends shared:

    “Prosperity is abundant and harms none.”

    The mantra acknowledges that I’m hoping to make some money, that earning money isn’t inherently bad, and that prosperity is out there. I just have to open myself to the possibility.

  2. Excellent advice! I have so many friends who believe being broke means they haven’t had a chance to get to an ATM! As a student living out of home, money was my number one worry. Looking back, I wish I’d realized how good I had it rather then stressing out if I couldn’t pick up the exact amount of casual work I wanted. I always had food in the cupboard, I had a car, a smart phone, designer clothes, and only once was I behind in rent. I think young people need to realise they can actually live off less than they think, but many won’t ditch the take out, the manicures and shoes.

  3. Those who have money, have no need to stress about it. When you are broke i.e the circumstance I’m in now: a $2000 overdraft in the bank, a $40,000 student loan, no job, no car, no apartment, and living in your retired parents house, I think it’s fair to stress.

    • It’s a matter of how you choose to look at it. You are always allowed to stress, no one is telling you not to. The question is, how much good is that stress doing you? You can choose to stress, or you can look at what resources you have: You have parents that have a home for you to live in, which keeps you off the streets. You have access to a computer and the Internet, which means you have access to several different ways to find money, including Craigslist, Care.com (a website where you can offer your services for babysitting/pet sitting/elderly care), etc. If you can’t leave the house, you can apply for a work from home job. Right now, I work for a company called Lionbridge, which allows me to work from home and pay my bills. You can apply for a position here: http://www.thesmartcrowd.com/workers/job-opportunities/

      Best of luck to you!

      • Katie! I’m in the same situation! I find it ridiculous when people say they are broke and they are not i.e. Jess. However, we are actually broke. Overdraft fees, student loans, no car, no apartment, and living with our parents. The only difference between you and me is my parents charity. Somebody hit my car and totaled it a month ago. They were sweet enough to buy me a very cheap car that runs! I was really happy to get it. Maybe when it stops working I can junk it for cash! Wait until you get your dream job and your boss stops paying you on time and starts paying you when he feels like it. Then you can exhibit self control when he talks about how little money he has since he bought a NEW car. For people who do not know true broke, they should stop saying it. For the rest of us, well, we’re fucked either by ourselves, those bank people, or the creditors.

      • No, I am not broke, but I assure you, I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination, either. I’ve never been quite where you are so I can’t relate 100% to your experience, but I’ve been in debt, I’ve been homeless at the mercy of friends to keep me from sleeping in my car, and I’ve never made more than $17K in a given year (that’s the high end of what I’ve made, it’s usually closer to $10K – $15K, which is juuuuuuuuust under the poverty line in my state).

        I really hope things work out for you and that you are able to find friends who can help you, and it’s fantastic that you have a family who’s able to support you during this tough time, because I’ve also known people who don’t have that, and are out on the street.

      • Also, I made this post (the years ago that I did make it) largely for myself, because money is a constant worry and a constant cause of stress. At the time of the post, I was looking for new perspectives on money because I was frequently dealing with paying $40 for a $2 carton of eggs thanks to overdraft fees. I had made a “financial vision board” which showed, simply, a positive bank balance, at all. I was living with two roommates who had been kind enough to let me stay with them permanently after a second bout of couch surfing. You’re welcome to still think what you like about me, but I thought I’d give you a bit of context. <3

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