“Broke” is a relative term. Essentially, it means that one is substantially lacking in finance, still, it applies to different people in different ways.  For instance, being broke as an educated, job-holding, middle-aged woman in London is different than being a broke, unemployed and struggling artist in Lagos, Nigeria; or just being a broke single mother anywhere. The needs and responsibilities that come with the diverse situations are quite different. To the single mother, being broke probably means being on the brink of losing her home or inability to eat or feed her family meanwhile for the middle-aged woman, it just means not being able to afford two vacations abroad in one year.

In all, there is a certain shame that comes with being broke or admitting we are broke to others. It feels like we are a failure…the runt of the litter…we are weak. We are unable to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves and others in our lives. We are not able to pay our rent or bills and we feel mortified about it. We owe money to dear friends who trusted we’d pay them back soon and we now have to avoid them as we just haven’t been able to pay them back. Our spouse or partner is breathing down our neck, needing us to sort things out.  We are unable to help ourselves and it sucks. We find ourselves scrambling, feeling desperately in need of money and tempted to seek solutions from others around us. We become dependent in ways we never imagined: move back into our parents’ home, rely on a friend for lunch at work, trade favors in kind, e.t.c

While these feelings have a bad look and may persist, they are normal. The good thing is there are ways to overcome them and stay strong without losing yourself or your integrity.

The first step to take would be to snap out of the hazy funk of misery and self-pity. Yes, being broke is exhausting and demoralizing but wallowing in self-pity will drown you and keep you stagnant. The truth about this generation is that a number of people are sinking in debt, have unstable jobs and little prospects of an affluent future; but if you insist on lamenting over your situation and about being broke, playing the victim rather than letting the feelings of frustration roll over your shoulder, you might remain broke for a long time.

Once you sort yourself out mentally, you need to set a goal and create a feasible plan to make money as that is the one true solution to being broke. Its super easy, you do not need an accountant or consultant to assist you. Simply sit down with a pen and paper and give yourself an hour or two to really get clear on what your goal is around money and how you can best achieve it. Do you need to get a job? If you already have a job that is whack, do you need to have a second job or side hustle to boost yourself up financially? Are you a business person and you just need to do a major promotion of some product or service?  Consider all sides of your predicament and set goals for yourself. Make a plan.

Once you have a plan, set aside time (one hour a day, one day a week, e.t.c) where all you’re focused on is making your plan happen. For instance, if you have chosen to do major promotions for your business, you set aside time to research and execute that. Stay away from distractions and focus on making money and growing your business.

While you may have made plans and have set out time to execute them, you may not see any improvements if you are still choked to the neck with unnecessary expenses. Go ahead and brainstorm on how to cut your expenses. Live below your means. Do you move to a cheaper place? Reduce how frequently you eat out and cook your own meals? Take public transport as opposed to driving your car? Look for areas where you trim expenses in your life. And once you have that figured out, make a plan on how you can save some money. You would be shocked at how much you may be able to save with a little thought and creativity.  No matter how little what you have may seem, saving a little is better than saving nothing. Even £20 a month is a good start.

If you literally only have about £100 a month to eat and buy other necessities, trying to save isn’t realistic. You will need that money sooner rather than later. The best option would probably be to get a side hustle. Finding extra ways to earn more money is usually the answer to a lot of our financial issues. To be clear, get-rich-quick schemes do not count as side hustles. Side hustle requires concrete ideas you can implement and supplement your income.

In the end, being broke happens from time to time. And while it might be easier to make excuses for it – blame your employer, blame the government, or say things like “It’s just the way it is. Teachers don’t earn much” or “The economy is really bad. Nobody will employ me”, and let yourself become so weak you have to depend on others for sustenance, you can actually take actions and rise above it.

Have you been broke before? What actions did you take to remain independent and rise above it?


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