Why Am I broke

Wondering “Why Am I broke?” The True (9) Reasons You Have No Money

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During most of my twenties, my relationship with money was similar to my relationship with girls: unstable and temporary. I’ve earned money but I’ve spent them all on things that were supposed to make me feel good. I thought that more things equal happiness, no wonder I was broke.

Is it only me or you’re experiencing similar struggles? Just a few days after I receive my salary I’m wondering “Why am I broke,” again? It’s like everything vaporized from my bank account and I’m again counting the days until the next paycheck.

Although we’re rational people and we know how much things we really need to sustain our way of life, we tend to go overboard with the amount of money we spend. Thus, a lot of us end up broke and not having a place to live. But that’s just part of the problem.

According to some – hopefully credible – online websites, more than 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day.1 That’s half of the world’s population. And just for comparison, a coffee from Starbucks will cost you around 4 bucks. Meaning, 1/2 of humanity can’t afford regularly drinking a tall, non-fat latte with caramel drizzle. That’s crazy! We should all have enough means to drink our favorite foam beverage.

So, in case you’re too, having money problems and your soul is screaming “help me I’m poor” every time you enter the local coffee shop, let me pinpoint some of the reasons you’re probably having financial difficulties and how you can fix those.

Some Financial Basics

Before we explore in details the reason we keep asking ourselves questions like: “Why am I so poor when I work so hard?” We need to lay down a couple of basic money-making principles. Sorry for delaying the main point of the post and taking some of your precious time, but these 3 basics are necessary if we really want to understand the core of our financial problems.

1: The difference between being poor and being broke: A lot of online tutors will tell you that being poor is a mindset problem, while being broke is a temporary condition. To be honest, I don’t think we should care so much about the difference between the two expressions. They both mean that you’re lacking money. So, if you’re having hard times making ends meet, don’t think so much about this concept. It’s enough to acknowledge the absence of enough money in your life, understand that you’re the problem, not your mom or the government, and move forward.

2: The difference between rich people and poor people: Even though there’s a lot to be said about people who make money and those who never have enough, we’ll cover only the basics to avoid making this post sound like a boring corporate training session.

So, here are the main differences between us, the poor guys, and the ones who we see on the cover of magazines:

  • Rich people talk about ideas.
  • Poor people talk about other people.
  • Rich people talk about honing their craft.
  • Poor people gossip.
  • Rich people read books.
  • Poor people think that reading social media posts is the same as reading.
  • Rich people ask questions.
  • Poor people add hateful comments under other people’s posts.
  • Rich people use the internet to learn new things.
  • Poor people use it to entertain themselves and buy more stuff they don’t need.
  • Rich people go the extra mile.
  • Poor people will explain in length why they didn’t do their job.

3: Basic money making skills: Lastly, the 3 basic money-making skills: making money, keeping money, multiplying money. These 3 are internally connected and you should possess all 3 of them if you want the arguments about money between you and your spouse to stop. Here’s why:

  • You can be good at making money but if you’re bad at keeping them, you’ll always have financial difficulties, i.e. broke.
  • You can be good at making and keeping money, but if you don’t have the skills to multiply them, you’ll always be a resident of the middle class.
  • And thirdly, if you’re bad at making money, then, well, you’re kind of screwed and you need more than anyone to read the below:

Why You’re Probably Broke?

1. You Don’t Think You’re The Problem

If you spent ~15 years of your life in school institutions (regular school and later college), like me, you kind of grow with the mindset that you are entitled to have your own desk and receive a large salary immediately when you graduate. However, shortly after you throw your hat in the sky and you say goodbye to your fellow students, life hits you like a drunk street racer and you see that the years spend obeying your teachers were almost in vain.

Nevertheless, you fiercely resist acknowledging the fact that you’re the problem. “It’s the government”; “It’s the job market”; “It’s my mom for making me go to college,” you say.

Even if you’re right, who gives a shit?

Fix: The state union surely won’t find randomly your name and give you a managing position only because you think that the system is fucked. It is fucked and we all know it. So, accept it and move on. Whatever happened to you in the past, it’s not important. If you don’t make enough money it’s your own problem and you need to find a solution, i.e. work even harder. One thing is certain though, if you’re broke it’s your problem.

2. You’re Not Doing Your Job Properly

Most people think that they’re awesome. That they’re a fucking rockstar and everything they touch will turn into gold.

This mindset, of course, transitions to the place they work. There, they consider their work as a work of art. That’s why they don’t like the “work hard” culture. They regularly take breaks and they do only the basic stuff. If the boss tells them to do A, they’ll do 60% of A. Because, you know, true artists need time for inspiration.

This slack off behavior usually leads to one of the two: 1) You remain at your current position forever, meaning your salary will be permanently low; 2) You get fired.

Fix: Even though it’s sad it’s true. If you increase your productivity and you work 10% harder than your peers, only 10%, you’ll soon be recognized by your managers like someone who is truly awesome. After that, the usual things will follow: promotion, thus more money. It can be even better. If your boss tells you do A, and you consistently do A + B, you’ll then be a real rockstar. Except, of course, your boss is a real prick. Then, obviously, you need to find something else.

3. You Love New Things

If you have money problems you surely have bad spending habits. Meaning, you shop too often.

The reason people buy more than what they actually need is psychological. The act of buying releases dopamine in our brain which makes us feel good. More new stuff means more good feelings. But that’s only part of the problem though. There is one more reason people tend to spend more than 70% of their salary on new things: they want others to like them.

Buying a new car will tell others that you’re rich, that you’re something else. Or at least that’s what you’ll think.

But since you’re probably not Jeff Bezos, you have some financial limits. And if you constantly abuse this limit, I mean you spent more money than you have, you’ll have bigger problems than whether or not other people like you.

Fix: Getting a used car might sound like an insult to your sophisticated persona but it will save you a lot of money. If a new car is $40,000, on average, a three-year-old car will cost around $18,000. What’s the difference? Only psychological. The problem’s only in your head. You get the same car but with a 60% discount.

Once you get used to owning used things, you may consider changing your buying habits. You know, you can survive without owning 2,305 items?2

4. You’re Probably Socializing Too Much

How often do you go out a week? One time? Three times? Twice a day? That’s cool, we’re social animals and we need a regular conversation with people so we can talk about ourselves. But have you ever wondered how much money all of this socializing is costing you? Take your time, I’ll wait.

And not only that, if you’re saying yes to every “let’s hang out” invitation you’re receiving you basically give up on doing the things you love. Instead of working on a project you care about, you end up listening to the same lame excuses from a friend about being single, again.

Fix: People praise networking like it’s the next big thing. They go out to meet people as often as possible, thinking that this is what matters most. They go to conferences, events, dinner parties. Yes, having a circle of friends it’s vital but it shouldn’t interfere with your desires.

In most of the cases, it’s better to stay at home and read a good book than go out at a party and listen to other people’s “first world problems.”

5. You Love Vacations?

Most people live to go on vacation.

The sand, the beach, the opportunity to update your Instagram profile with new pics. And of course, the series of status updates about when you arrived at the hotel, how is the water, what is the color of the sea, and the all-time favorite: pictures with “having a good time” slogans.

This is how we imagine vacations. However, deep down, we know that a lot of times our brakes are not as cool as we show it to the world. Vacations are only fun when you’re single – and that’s not even guaranteed. If you have kids, it’s a way different story. You have to constantly scream after your kid. On top of that, your spouse is like your worst enemy. Instead of helping you, it’s like she’s (he’s) there to sabotage your experience. On top of that, vacations are not cheap, not cheap at all. You have plane tickets, hotel rooms, daily allowance money, stuff you always need to buy when you prepare your bags. On top of that – yes there is more – while you’re “having a good time” you’re only wasting money. You’re not making money.

Fix: Not that you should skip going to vacations altogether. You probably need to think about the frequency you go to foreign countries though. Instead, take regular, smaller, vacations. Don’t wait for your brain to overburn to go on vacation. Rest more frequently so you can recharge your body and creative spirit.

One more thing, while you’re lying comfortably in the sand, you might consider reading, or doing something that will help you improve your craft. A lot of people avoid any type of activities when they’re taking a break, but that’s why they are having financial difficulties.

6. You’re Wasting Your Time

The amount of time we have per day is always the same. Unfortunately, the number of tasks we need to accomplish may vary.

Besides going to work, we have other things we need to worry about: kids, friends, what to eat, what to wear, how much to sleep, when to have fun. And while best selling authors spend each spare minute to write, most of the people who don’t have enough money to pay their bills emphasize too much on the last part: having fun. And I fully understand them.

Nowadays it’s super easy to get distracted. We have access to a variety of entertainment platforms: online video games, social media interactions, VR games, drones, other cool gadgets.

But while you’re working hard to upgrade your online player to level 99, for which no one will give a damn about, your peers are adding one more 0 to their annual salary.

Fix: The solution here is simple, yet hard to be achieved. If you’re addicted to social media and video games, it will be difficult for you to stop doing these things. But that’s the only way if you want to move from your parent’s basement and become a real adult.

Time is scarce. That should be obvious to you. So, don’t waste it leveling up online, spend it improving your skills offline, where it really matters. Depending on what type of work you do, you can always find ways to be better.

7. You Think That College Is The Only Way

“In order to get a high-paying job, I need to graduate. Otherwise, I’ll end up cleaning the toilets.” After saying that to yourself, you meet with the bank to withdraw a student loan with around 6% interest. “6% isn’t that much”, you think. Well, in theory, it’s not, but in reality, it’s more than $30,000 of interest for 10 years if you get $100,000. And I’m not even sure that $100,000 will be enough.

15 years ago, going to college was the righteous path. You had to study hard to be accepted in respectful college and from there to study even harder to actually finish it and get a degree.

Nowadays, things are way different. Times are changing. Few companies care about your degree. They’re looking for skills, not a fancy piece of paper that will cost you a fortune to get.

Fix: Learning new stuff should be part of your life. No matter your age. Fortunately nowadays is easy. We all have access to the internet and we can all benefit from that fact. Thanks to the 24/7 wi-fi connection we have, we can become experts without a college degree.

8. You’re Afraid

If you have 3 kids and you’re always late with the payment for the rent, you probably have to put up with some really nasty shit at your job. A lot of times we have no option but to bear a bad boss or nightmare colleagues, only because there is nothing else at the moment.

The truth about every job is this though: if you’re not comfortable doing it, it’s not worth it.

Tolerating a bad behavior is never a good option.

Fix: The potential fix for this one will probably take longer than usual. If you do have kids, you can’t just say “fuck it, I quit”, you need a long term plan and a bit more patience.

Obviously, another solution will be looking for another job. The alternative is starting something on the side, a business. It will surely take longer but the potential for growth is bigger.

Whatever you choose, being afraid to move forward is the worst decision ever.

9. You Think You’re A Genius

You might not be as smart as you think. There, I’ve said it.

The main reason people do stupid mistakes it’s because they’re certain that they are the best. That they know everything, therefore never take the time to learn something new or consider other people’s opinion. “I’m older than you, I’m right”; or “I have a college degree and you don’t, that’s why I’m right.”

You can’t convince someone who believes he’s right that he’s wrong. It might sound strange but it’s true if you really think about it. And the moment you persuade yourself that you’re the best and that you know everything, is the moment you’ll decline in every aspect of your life, starting with finances.

Fix: When you lose money think about what you did wrong. What can be improved? Don’t blame others. Other people won’t make you rich and better, only you can make you, better.

Some Closing Thoughts

It doesn’t matter if you agree with me or not. Truth is, that if you don’t have enough money to pay your bills before your next paycheck and you are relying on fast loans to survive, then I’m positive that you’re doing something from the above-mentioned things. We all do stupid things, that’s normal. We’re not perfect. But we all have the ability to get better.

If you have money problems, and you’re ready to make improvements in your financial situation, my suggestion is to start tackling the things one by one. Start with the smallest thing, like spending so much money on clothes, for example. Then, move forward to the next thing.

By doing so, slowly but surely you’ll restore the financial balance in your life.


Footnotes:

  1. You can see the full post, here.
  2. That’s a random number but the amount of things is larger. According to the Los Angeles Times, the average American household has more than 300,000 items in it.