The Problem With Saying “I’m Broke”

“I’m broke” is my catch-all excuse. When I want to order a second glass of wine: too broke. When I fill up my Everlane cart, gaze at it with sweaty longing, close the tab: nope, no can do. Broke. On a recent vacation in Kauai, when we decided not to book the helicopter tour of the island: Wouldn’t it be nice if we weren’t so broke? (I said this! In Hawaii!)

“I’m so broke,” “I’m poor,” “I have no money.” These are common statements used to legitimize why we can’t have the things we want. The truth is, this is dangerous language. Not only does it dehumanize the actual condition of poverty, but it prevents us from developing a relationship with money that is based on gratitude for what we do have, instead of a perceived lack.

Personal finance is a thorny subject. And by dwelling on absence, it’s easy to convince ourselves that we couldn’t possibly take control. What if, instead, we chose to focus on abundance?

You Are (Probably) Not Poor

According to the (admittedly inadequate) definition of poverty established by the U.S. Census, 13.5% of Americans live below the poverty line. As a single person, that means an annual income of less than $12,060. It means a lack of basic healthcare services, lack of proper nutrition, lack of employment opportunities.

Luxuriating in the language of poverty if you’re lucky enough to have access to those basic needs and more is not only insensitive and misleading, the false sense of futility it creates is harmful to your own financial growth and stability. By moving away from the “I’m too poor to buy X” refrain, toward more accurate language instead — “I could buy those mules, but doing so would create stress and that’s not the choice I want to make” — you’re internalizing a much truer sense of your own financial habits and obstacles, which will empower better choices in the long term.

The Money Meditation

One concept in financial literature that doesn’t get enough attention is “conscious spending,” which doesn’t necessarily entail spending less; rather, it’s about ensuring your spending is in line with your values. As financial writer Ramit Sethi puts it, “It’s about spending extravagantly on the things you love while cutting costs on the things you don’t.”

Around 75% of adults admit to making impulse purchases. Conscious spending aims to change this, through what is essentially active mindfulness. Each purchase should be interrogated, not simply by asking, “Do I need this?,” but also: Could I borrow this? Could I find it for cheaper elsewhere? Could I get it secondhand? And further: Will this make me happy tomorrow? Is it creating waste? Where did it come from? Who made it? What is it made of? Could I make a choice with a more positive impact?

Ultimately, the questions you ask yourself depend on your own principles, and that’s what conscious spending is all about: Ensuring your finances are an expression of your values. That’s why I didn’t feel bad about spending the extra $7.99 for the IMAX screening to see Harry Styles light up his first feature film. I’m putting my money where my mouth is (all over Harry Styles, praise).

Thank You, Money!

For most of us, our relationship with money is a contentious one. Paying bills doesn’t put a song in anyone’s heart. The primary emotion money generates for many is often closer to anger or guilt. Gratitude is altogether radical.

How woo-woo you want to get with this is up to you. In Money: A Love Story, Kate Northrup advocates unpacking early financial memories and training your brain to form new, bountiful associations. There are mantras and meditations and it’s all a little bananas. That said, money does both play a significant role in our primary relationships and govern many of our everyday decisions. Turning a negative relationship into one driven by gratitude sounds less practical than downloading a budget app, but it’s worth considering. Maybe your financial struggles run deeper than an inability to cut your cold brew habit.

Curious? Some tiny, loving actions that can go toward an attitude shift:

1. Treat your money well.

It works hard for you; you should give it a nice place to chill. Clean out your wallet. Dump old Duane Reade receipts, toss or find a different spot for loyalty cards you rarely use and reorganize what’s important. Take out any bills and give them a friendly smooth and pat before carefully placing them back. This will feel silly. So what? Pare down as much as you can. I donated my chunky wallet and now use a small change purse I found in London. It was handwoven by elderly Welsh women, and that’s delightful. I marvel every time I take it out, and I relish that pause. It’s a moment to ask myself if this purchase will make me as happy as my change purse does.

2. Thank yourself every time you complete a financial transaction.

Try it for a week. Honor the work you did that allowed you to make this purchase. This is some high-level Priestess Oprah work, but paying bills should honestly be a moment of triumph, not panic. How lucky we are, to be able to enjoy hot water, lights and high speed internet.

3. Keep your money in your sights as much as possible.

This means taking advantage of opportunities to see it move and change hands, up close. Share it with your community by buying local, joining your neighborhood yoga studio, supporting small businesses whose supply chains you can see.

4. Give as much as you get.

This doesn’t need to be financial. Call your senators to protest the death sentence masquerading as a healthcare bill, pet that lonely looking dog outside the coffee shop, go see your friend’s free experimental improv show. Or it can be financial, and that can feel good, too.

This work won’t transport millions into your bank account. It won’t transform you into someone who understands derivatives, analyzes money markets and wears a monocle without irony (if you already do those things, however, please teach me). What it will do is empower you to approach your own financial journey with a greater degree of confidence and self-worth. Gratitude is a sweet, juicy peach. Take a bite.

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  • Micah Lpez

    When I read the title, I instantly laughed. I felt attacked because thats my favorite line to use in any situation. I had never put into fruition the thought that I have so many privileges that others do not. I won’t be buying a private jet anytime soon but i’ve never gone hungry, always had a roof over my head and compulsively make a weekly order from Asos. Reading this article has really cemented the idea for me that I need to be more conscious about my spending.

    • Kat

      Thank for saying this, beautifully worded 💓

  • Caught in the act … been having happy thoughts about many things money has given me AND sad thoughts because my boss (i.e me) thinks now is not the right time for silly shopping. It took 2 returned purchases to understand I really don’t want to shop right now … I do have a huge appetite for reading, so: great article! Top timing 🙂

  • I love and needed this. Thank youuuu 🙂

  • These are all excellent points! My boyfriend and I (who live together and more or less combine our finances) are always saying that we’re poor and it never sits right with me. Because it’s not true! Our combined income allows us to lead a fairly good lifestyle if we aren’t assholes and order out all the time.

    What we NEED to be saying is “we need to keep better track/mindfully spend” and yeah there are always nasty surprises like a car needing fixing or a cat getting sick but overall this is a great reminder that I am really REALLY lucky to be in the financial position I’m in. Thank you!

  • Kate

    Another mindful thing that I really like to do to congratulate myself for not falling for a stupid Urban Outfitters sale or overpriced cocktail is take that amount (or half that amount, whatever) I was going to spend on the dumb thing, and donate to a friend or colleague’s Kickstart/Indiegogo campaign. I finally have a stable (if soul sucking) job, in a (relatively) well-paying field. It makes it suck less to have given up on my dreams and pity myself less for being “broke” if I give the artists I know and the artists THEY know my money. It’s extremely rewarding for them, and I have one less thing I didn’t need.

  • “I could buy those mules, but doing so would create stress and that’s not the choice I want to make”

    This is such a game changer. I love the idea that you are empowering yourself – I hate being told what to do, so saying to myself “you can’t buy that, you’re poor” makes me want to purchase it even more – just to prove that I can’t be told what to do (even by myself).

    Flipping it around and making it a choice – wow, so much easier to resist. I’m a very silly person, apparently.

    • Amelia Diamond

      that really stuck with me too

  • Maeve

    I love the idea of being more mindful in how we treat money, and empowering yourself to use what you do have instead of lamenting what you cannot justify or afford. Im a big fan of the financial website “Budgets are Sexy” and have to credit them for one of my favorite financial mindfulness exercises. I have a “challenge everything” fund where i move money that I have actively kept myself from mis-spending (according to my own definition of mis-spending). Avoided the Chop’t $12 salad and brought lunch? $12 to the Challenge everything fund. Canceled my forgotten credit score subscription? $6 to the fund! Chose to take the subway when i *almost* hit order on that $20 Uber? …$20 to the fund! This helps me consider my choices and make a decision between spending and paying myself. Then, I either pay off a nagging bill or student loan payment with that “found” money at the end of the month, or hold onto it for satisfying luxuries like my new apple watch or just-released-full-price-hardcover-books (why are those so tempting!?)

    • Ash

      This seems like a brilliant thing for me to try! No…I don’t need another $5 lipstick, but I can squirrel that $5 away and have it as a “rainy day fund.” Thanks for the idea. 🙂

    • Such a smart suggestion!

      • killer article – nice to e-meet you 🙂

    • Kristen J

      I’m also a fan of “Budgets are Sexy.” “Challenge Everything” got me to give up my work parking pass in favor of riding my bike. It’s a 2 mile commute for free now, good for the wallet and the waistline.

      • You are so much better than me, haha.. love it.

    • ROCK ON!

    • Ana P

      I loooooove this!!!

  • Rachel

    As a compulsive shopper money is always a struggle and even though I say I’m poor and that I can’t afford stuff I always someone manage to leave the mall with an arm full of shopping bags. I have to always think “will I regret it in 6 months if I don’t buy this dress or pair of shoes? How happy will this necklace make me and will I actually wear it everyday?” But the reality is even if I think I will regret it if I don’t buy that amazing necklace, sadly in the long run it will cause me more financial stress than it’s really worth.

    • Diana McNeill

      The financial stress aspect is real. I feel it all the time and yet I continue to hit “complete order” online far too frequently.

      • Rachel

        I’ve literally had people say this to me, mostly my mom haha!

        • Diana McNeill

          haha! Mother knows best.

        • Anni

          Girl learn to embrace no shame and lean hard into the return game! If you are truly a compulsive shopper, also become a compulsive returner – this is kind of how I justify my buys. I only buy clearance / non-return if I am 100% sure I will fit into it or if I have already put aside $40 tailoring money to fix a very, very special piece.

          Otherwise if I get itchy fingers I will let myself shop that summer sale and come out with 6 bags (all returnable), go home and wait two days before trying them all on and cutting them down like a judge on project runway. Fits my boobs only with a push-up bra and isn’t a going out dress? RETURNED. A pair of flats that looks pretty close to another pair I forgot I had at home? RETURNED. Does this dress fit PERFECTLY except for that open back that flaps open a little too much even though no one really looks at the back? RETURNED. Yes, it’s kind of a hassle to have to go back and return but if you commit to returning things, you can technically still scratch the itch and the thrill of finding those steals but you also get a get-out-of-jail card because you can re-evaluate after the thrill of the chase.

          • Rachel

            Oh I return so much stuff! But it’s more an issue of just needed to cut down of spending and knowing that I can live without buying everything I want even if I know I’d love it and wear it all the time. I just love to shop and get new things. I don’t really think about the money until my credit card statement arrives. Basically “Confessions of a Shopaholic” over here!!

  • CeeEm

    “Not only does it dehumanize the actual condition of poverty, but it prevents us from developing a relationship with money that is based on gratitude for what we do have, instead of a perceived lack.”

    ^So, so good. I love seeing Meghan on MR!

  • Ashley Steenson

    I’ve noticed the phrase “I’m broke” being used synonymously with “I’m busy” to indicate frivolity or fickleness in a choice I’m making. As in, “I’m leaving for a hiking trip tomorrow.” “Oh, I’m broke.” It’s become a sort of humble brag used condescendingly to indicate that they would not make the aforementioned choice. I’m tempted to answer “No, you aren’t broke. You’re letting me know that your money has been or will be spent on what you deem more ‘important’ things, or you’re indirectly telling me you work harder than me or take your work more seriously than to pay for whatever I’m apparently ‘indulging in.'” This was used most often by a former friend who fancies himself an “artist” — so “broke” he could just never be bothered to make rent (LOLLLL)

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    This is spine-chillingly good Meghan!!!!!

  • Adrianna

    In some ways I didn’t know I grew up with limited means until I went to college in NYC, and met people who perceived a “normal” standard of living to include $3 coffees and yearly vacations. I can’t relate to the complaint that someone wishes they had a dishwasher when my parents slept in our living room.

    Meanwhile, I’m thrilled to pay my rent and bills. I recently paid off all my college loans, and I was surprised how fulfilled, not bitter, I felt. That $3 coffee tastes amazing when you truly couldn’t buy one for the first 21 years of your life.

    • gracesface

      Congratulations on paying off your student loans!! That’s on my to-do list for the oh, next five or six years (at least).

      • Adrianna

        Not sure what your balance is like. I recommend weekly payments to minimize accumulated interest. I also took full of advantage of the fact that I found an hourly job that pays overtime. (So three years of weekly overtime went into the loans.)

        I attended NYU, and currently work for a high end e-commerce website that sells things like $10,000 tables and $1,000 t-shirts. My co-worker’s parents recently donated $20 million dollars to her ivy league alma mater. It feels like every morning someone is talking about they’ll only eat Italian peaches, or which yacht party was more fun.

        I spent my early 20s feeling incredibly bitter and angry. But I paid for my own education and home for the last ten years. And that’s a level of accomplishment my former students and co-workers will never feel.

        • gracesface

          Nice! Sounds like you worked really hard and got ’em done.

    • Lucinda Bayly

      Congratulations on paying your student loans off! This comment also helped me. I often wish I had a dishwasher – not anymore. Thanks. & congrats again 🙂

      • Adrianna


        Some random personal thoughts – I attended NYU, and currently work for a high end e-commerce website that sells things like $10,000 tables and $1,000 t-shirts. My co-worker’s parents recently donated $20 million dollars to her ivy league alma mater. It feels like every morning someone is talking about they’ll only eat Italian peaches, or which yacht party was more fun.

        I spent my early 20s feeling incredibly bitter and angry. But I paid for my own education and home for the last ten years. And that’s a level of accomplishment my former classmates and co-workers will never feel.

        • Ciccollina

          Go girl. Seriously, that feeling of having accomplished something yourself is literally priceless. And having paid off your college loans?!! What an amazing achievement!

          If it makes you feel any better, there’s no evidence at all that those super wealthy types are any happier in the long run. They just don’t seem like real people who can enjoy the simplest thing. I’ve read a lot about it over the years and it seems that once people get to that level of wealth, they become distrustful, greedy, ever obsessed with the newest, flashiest thing, and without many true friends. An article I read about weddings for the super-rich (I was bored!) had quotes from the wedding planners saying that multi-million dollar weddings are more like a business affair than a family one.

          Having said that, I wouldn’t want to come across as saying that comfortable, middle-class wealth isn’t worth having, I’m just trying to make you feel better about your stupidly rich colleagues 🙂

  • Diana McNeill

    “Maybe your financial struggles run deeper than an inability to cut your cold brew habit.” Methinks major journaling lies in my imminent future.

  • ralff_

    I never describe myself as “poor” for the aforementioned reasons but I use broke in a way that I feel is different. I live pay check to pay check and have a very strict budget where I account for everything that is purchased (ends up being mostly food and necessities // loan payoffs). When I say broke, I feel like I’m describing my finances as breaking even, which I do every month to the T, in a very conscious way. Maybe I’ll just say “I’m break” instead…

    • Abby

      Yeah I feel like “broke” and “poor” aren’t the same? Like, my husband hasn’t had a job in three years due to grad school and living off my salary alone has been very difficult and we are constantly turning down invitations due to no money/eating out of the pantry til payday/forgoing necessary things for “someday” and I would definitely describe that as being broke. But not poor, because all our bills are always paid and we own a home, etc.

      (But he starts his career job on Monday and our income is about to triple and I AM SO EXCITED!!)

  • Eva Skewes

    I’ve been really cracking down on my spending lately and have been coming up with all sorts of ways to trick myself or give myself free rewards/other options for those little purchases that add up. For example, sometimes in the afternoon I get a craving for something sweet. Where I used to succumb to buying a cookie at a local coffee shop, now I either make cookies for the week, make fruity tea (Teapigs Superfruit is fantastic), or pick a few mint leaves to put into my water (I have a mint plant at the office). They’re the littlest things, but somehow they do it for me.

    I also have an electric kettle by my desk and it’s the greatest purchase I’ve ever made for my office space.

    Clothes-wise, I set a budget on what I can spend per-month on clothing and have been trying really hard to stick to it. The question has become less “do I want to buy this?” and more “is this the best thing I can do with my budget?”

  • adela

    would love to see an article on how different people manage their money! i’m always curious as to how people set themselves up financial literacy wise because i feel like i’m absolutely horrible at it. seeking suggestions for apps / tips / a chrome extension that says ‘thou shall not pass’ everytime i log onto asos dot com

    • Diana McNeill

      Check out the Money Diaries on Refinery29’s website.

      • adela

        i love reading these! but not a lot of them go into the tracking part of it, etc

        • Diana McNeill

          Oh, for sure! I agree. But sometimes just watching how someone with a similar income spends there money is enlightening.

    • Kat

      I use a combination of google sheets and an app called pennies.
      First I work out how much money I have left from my pay check once I pay rent, bills and put some into savings.
      Then I split that money into categories and track every purchase using Pennies – I think it’s free and it’s so quick to input any spending- just put the amount in the category and you can also note what it was. This way I know if I’m on track with spending money on food v clothes etc.
      After a little initial set up I find it easy to use and maintain, and no more panicking about how much I’m spending.
      Hope that helps!

      • adela

        ah yay! pennies sounds like exactly what i’m looking for! thank you so much

    • Kristen J

      For everyday budgeting, I use Goodbudget ( & they have an app too). It’s a bit more personally labor intensive than options like, but I tend to spend less money when I have to personally record every expenditure. The website has a way you can see your spending at specific stores.

      For getting a good snapshot on my current financial situation, I use Personal Capital ( You can import all your accounts (banks, credit cards, retirement, etc.) & it calculates your net worth for you.

    • spicyearlgrey

      i made an excel spreadsheet and i luv updating it bc it makes me feel super on top of my shit. it’s also super motivating to use bc i learnt many excel formulas to make it — something i didn’t get when using apps.

      • Lyna

        Yes! I was just about to post an almost identical comment. I felt super accomplished learning how to use formulas to create a sheet that made sense to *me*. I had tried many different apps an was never 100% satisfied; either I didn’t like the delay in tracking my real-time spending or I thought they had too rigid of spending rules. Creating a individualized sheet provides a nice sense of control and I recommend that everyone try it. Entering each and every expense has decreased unnecessary spending greatly and makes me feel good about my little indulgences like $4 kombuchas a couple times a week lol.

        • spicyearlgrey

          love reacts only we are alpha women armed with spreadsheets

    • MsDragonfly

      I do a quarterly projection on an excel spreadsheet with fixed income and expenses – the categories include my monthly fixed payments either via my checking account or credit card for auto-withdraw. Once I lay it all out, anything spent in between are backfilled every week when I sit down and look at my bottomline in checking and savings. Other investments are not included in this calculation . What this helps me see is the liquidity of my current financial situation – and make me realize how much I need to curtail back for my long-term goals. The spreadsheet is formulated so any information I enter is automatically calculated to give me a “wow” or “oh”….usually that motivates me either “trim” or set new goal for more investment money.

    • Tracey

      Check out Mr Money Mustache.

  • Ginger

    Love this story. I read once “If you have no money because you just paid rent and all your bills, you’re not broke! Congratulate yourself” or something like that and it stuck with me. My bank account might have $17 til next paycheck, but I paid all my bills early so go me!!

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    This is an article everyone, male or female should read. The other point, is save something every pay day so you have money for unexpected expenses. My husband and I are debt-free-no mortgage or car payments. It is the most wonderful feeling to be debt-free and have savings and investments. I spend my money in ways that reflect my values, and my husband and I are generous in many ways.

  • Justine Winona Bird

    This wonderfully articulated a phenomenon I’ve been thinking about! Some people throw it around as a careless colloquialism. Not being able to afford another mimosa is certainly not being ‘poor.’ What’s more insidious is I’ve heard people even using the word sarcastically/jokingly. IE: A well-educated and employed woman overdramatically bemoans not being able to go to a concert because she’s ‘so poor right now’ and giggles. Your comedy routine and self-awareness needs a serious revamp if you think it’s funny to joke that you’re impoverished. Thanks for articulating privilege in a way that is actionable; I would likely have been too vindictive if I tried to describe the same thing in writing.

  • Daria Ed

    Love this! Beautiful blog post x

    Good job on your blog
    Keep it up!

  • Andrea

    I cannot imagine living on $12,000 (or less) per year. It is incredible that there are thousands people employed in the US and Canada that don’t earn a living wage. Whenever I feel like complaining about doing laundry, cleaning, etc. I think “thank god I have…” clothes to wash, a house to clean, access to groceries, healthy children that wake me up at all hours of the night…. I could go on. The extent of our privilege in North America (for a lot of people, not all) is incomprehensible. It’s like trying to grasp the size of the universe.

    • Em

      I just got done with a year of AmeriCorps wherein I made just about $12,000 for the year. Thinking of writing about it, because honestly the most difficult part of this past year was the “I’m broke” mentality. It was difficult, yes, but I really wasn’t that broke because no matter what, my rent and utilities were paid, I had food, and was able to buy myself a some clothes.

      I share one-bedroom with 3 roommates, so perhaps that helps.

  • My husband and I joke about being poor so we can limit our spending mentally but yes it can be true that beyond the silly jokes two boring couples like us make…there is a dangerous mindset to belittle poverty and the real struggle. Very insightful post!!

  • tricia@temporaryorphans

    I remember an episode of Oprah with a money manager of some sort and the person said that she could tell how well a person kept track of their finances by how organized their wallet was. She then proceeded to prove this theory by asking people to take out their wallets. The first question was, “Do you know how much money is in your wallet right now?”(This might not be as prescient a question now that we all use cards, etc. to pay for things.) And she was right! The audience members who could answer that question, and whose wallets were orderly declared themselves to feel in control of their finances. My wallet is a mess, btw, so I really appreciate this post! I’ve recently divorced and have found myself needing to budget (gasp!). I love the idea of reframing my bill paying to see it as a source of empowerment rather than anxiety- I’m doing this! rather than Ughhhh. I’m trying to pass along a better attitude toward money to my children, even though I”m still working to figure it out myself. Growing up, my parents would always comment that we couldn’t afford this or that (and we really couldn’t), so I very consciously say to my children, “It’s not in our budget this month” (even before I had one!) instead of, “We can’t afford that.” I want them to learn that it’s important to make choices when spending, to determine if what they want is necessary- all those pokeman cards add up! And now that I actually have a budget, I can see how many things I’ve bought for all of us that we don’t really need. I am inspired to go clean out my wallet now 🙂 Thanks!

  • patyof

    Wow, “high-level Priestess Oprah work” is definitely something I need more of. That thanking yourself tip is so in line with stuff my therapist has been telling me lately. I wish I had thought of that one while I was out shopping last weekend. But I’m wearing the new dress that resulted from it now so I guess, belated THANKS self for this beauitful, cool, breezy summer dress that I love so much, and thanks for keeping everything else squared up so I could get it 🙂

  • I love this article! It bothers me when people say they’re broke/so poor but they’re really just bad at managing their money, because it’s true they have food to eat and a roof over their heads. Growing up my mom often lived paycheck to paycheck, but she was also a very frivolous/wasteful spender (buying something just because it’s on sale even though she doesn’t really like it/throwing things out every few months because they’re ‘old’ and rebuying). I told myself I would not have that kind of relationship with money and I don’t. I’m actually a pretty good saver just by doing all those little annoying tips like bringing your lunch instead of buying it. But I don’t think I’m strict with myself, I’m able to pay for clothes I want or go on trips, I just make sure to think carefully about my purchase before buying.


    Ha! My sentiments exactly. I am a big believer of smart spending (and just wrote a recent post on it).
    We all need to evaluate our relationship with money, and make decisions based on what our (not a guru or a blogger or our neighbor’s) starting point is. By observing our situation as is, we then take actions that a) make us feel good b) create a path to financial stability. Oh, there is so much happening with understanding money relationships, and I am glad Meghan you highlighted it so well.

  • gracesface

    wish you had written this years ago and I wouldn’t have dropped $250 on a course in How To Love Your Money…

  • DA

    I love how you’ve taken money from being a disparaging term, to something we can use to honour ourselves. It’s so easy to define our self worth based on what we can/cannot do or can/cannot have. As a kid I always saw money as a gift, as an opportunity, and as I grew older I unlearned that, and it became a means to an end (my shopping cart). Thanks for reminding us how blessed we are and how grateful we should be. Good on MR for featuring articles that remind us that, amongst all the beautiful materialistic things we CAN have, deciding what we SHOULD have and being grateful for what we DO have is more important.

  • Oh my gosh, I love this article so much! Reframing is key and doing so with money has definitely been the biggest challenge for me. Also hearing from so many other people feeling the same way is just plain reassuring!

  • Shevaun

    Thanks money; without you I wouldn’t be able to buy weed and magic the gathering cards.

  • Emily Huizenga

    Where can I buy the blue, red, and green wallet in the top left? No joke!

  • BScrivner

    There’s a big difference between being poor and being broke.

  • MelanieYvette

    I literally just was saying this to myself! I’m so proud that as a young black woman, i can pay my own bills and take care of myself and maybe soon take care of my mom in some ways. I’ve found myself just being so grateful for my apartment and my two roommates and I’ve done less complaining about them and the fact that I can’t afford to live by myself (yet). It’s just so liberating to be grateful. I’ve def stopped saying “i’m broke” the way I used to and it’s changed my perspective on money and how I handle it.

  • Shea

    This is a very well-written article and a complete wake up call. As a recent graduate, it’s so easy to have the mentality that “ugh I’m so broke” when, in reality, most of us are not. Thank you for these tips on how to better manage and think about money — I especially love the handwoven change purse comment!

  • Hannah Cole

    Something I say way too often —-

    Meghan’s words are exactly what I’ve been thinking to myself for a while. But nothing really truly sinks in until someone else puts it in your face, does it?

  • alwaysconservative

    I’ve adopted the “I’d rather” approach to spending. I choose some priorities and when I’m tempted to spend on something frivolous or not on the list, I stop and say, “no, I’d rather spend my money on _________.” Whether it is paying down a credit card, or saving up to purchase a great quality handbag, I always get to spend my money on what I really want, as opposed to what might be a fleeting temptation.

  • overandout

    I despise this attempt to try to do away with every possibly negative colloquialism that exists. I don’t want to live a life where language is overly earnest at all times. I like a bit of a snarky joke, some hyperbole, ironic use of a word at times. I’m fairly certain when my friends ask me to go out and I say ‘I’m broke,’ they know that I’m simply looking after my finances and not literally about to be out on the street. I’m also certain that if I said something as grating as “I could hang out with you, but doing so would create stress and that’s not the choice I want to make” they’d tell me to GFY and wonder why I was being such a yotch.

    Words can mean more than one thing, and using it in a slangy fashion =/ lack of understanding of money or disrespect towards people of less means.

  • Dymond Moore

    As a new college student, I desperately and genuinely want to have my finances in order so i don’t have have to struggle the way I watched my parents struggled. We weren’t poor, but with a family of 6, we often only had things we needed instead of wanted and I resented that.

    Now, I have a whole google doc full of links and info on manging my money and personal finance, especially until I find another job after I move up to school. I worked my ass off in school, so I’m the only one if my friends not taking out a loan. I want to do better so my future turns out kickass!

  • Francis

    This is a great post – I especially agree on number 3 – supporting small businesses whose supply chains you can see! I’m unemployed at the moment, but when I was working, I was always a little proud when all my utilities would clear from my paycheck!

  • PCE

    I’m moving to a huge and way more expensive apartment at the end of the month, and I will have to budget like crazy, but I am SO grateful I have the means to do this. I grew up middle class and my parents sacrificed the hell of themselves to make sure my sister and I had not only a stellar education but a happy upbringing with all the things neither of them had. Yes, I sometimes stress about bills, and yes, sometimes that second glass of wine or pair of wedges is beyond my reach, but I am DAMN PROUD that I can feed myself and my dog, live in an incredible apartment, pay all my bills and student loans on my own, and lease a brand new car. I work my rear end off for each and every one of those things… I once had a BF who lived home with his parents and always wanted to spend, spend, spend and gave me guilt when I couldn’t keep up with him and his friends – but instead of fancy dinners and designer coats, I put my own roof over my own head. He never understood the value of it, and needless to say that relationship ended.

  • steve_adams21

    Stop buying so much clothes and it’s all good.

  • Yes, it is important to treat your money well. Before spending anything, ask yourself whether or not the spending is worth. It’s time we need to understand that if we don’t value our money, we won’t be able to build a secure financial future.

  • lyn

    I still use this line to “reject” social invitations that I am not too keen to join or avoid the peer expectation that I am suppose to order a decent drinks. But I always believe in life abundance. Scarcity is the worst mindset one can live with.

  • Annam

    I think it
    is easy to underestimate the effects of financial pressure and job insecurity
    on people’s state of mind. On the face of it we are a fairly well off family.
    We own our own house. We have a van, which my husband uses sometimes for work
    if painting or gardening and we use for outings and shopping. We went camping
    this summer for a week. But phrases like ‘feeling the squeeze’ and ‘just about
    managing’ seem to (annoyingly) describe how I feel most of the time. Anything
    that is extra to bills, shopping and weekly living costs is a challenge: school
    uniform, new shoes, haircuts, dentist, Christmas, travel, holidays, meals out.
    Then there are the bigger costs: something goes wrong in the house, or with the
    van, MOT, insurance and tax. All these things have to be paid for from the work
    my husband gets on top of his full time work. He sometimes has or does not have
    this work. He is exhausted. He is often down or angry. We should sell the van.
    But my husband uses it for his work and he loves working on it and seems to see
    it as a personal test that he keep it, despite the fact we basically can’t
    afford it. It took me a lot of work and time to get my part time job and to
    learn to do it well. I am now trying to find something to fit around the rota I
    work there. This is not as easy as I thought it would be.

    I often find
    myself saying ‘I can’t afford it’ or ‘that’s too expensive’ or ‘I haven’t got
    the cash’ or just complaining about ‘money stuff’. I should probably stop this, as it doesn’t
    help. I also find myself feeling resentful of friends or family who don’t seem
    to have to think about money so much. I do not like feeling like this: everyone’s
    got their things.

    One of the
    most difficult things is socialising and seeing family. Last week I went out
    with a friend to see a comedy night. I planned to have a couple of drinks –
    that is two drinks – and get a train or bus home. But my friend wanted to get
    something to eat and get a taxi home. I found myself explaining that I didn’t
    want to stay out that late, when I meant to say I didn’t want to
    spend that
    much. She probably guessed and insisted she pay for more of the food and the
    taxi. I had a good evening, but I felt sad at the end of the evening because I’d
    spent more than I meant to and I was meant to be going for a meal with my
    husband the next evening for our anniversary. We did go. But I have this uneasy
    feeling I don’t know how I’m going to manage the rest of the month. I don’t
    like being paid for. I’d prefer to do things I can afford, which is not much
    apart from sandwiches in the park or a beer in the pub then home for food. But if
    I opt out of an occasion or only take part some of the way, I feel like I’m
    stopping other people from enjoying themselves. Also there’s this pity thing
    from friends and family – come on, treat yourself, you deserve it. But I also
    feel there’s limited patience: ‘you can’t be that badly off’.

    I have made
    choices. I do a job which I love which is not well paid. So, am I spoilt to
    feel angry? Depending on which career you choose you can be paid a lot or very
    little. If my husband and I were paid over 10£ an hour it would make a big

  • Anna Dunthorne

    have mixed feelings about these arguments. I like the idea of being thankful
    for money I have and what it does: pays the bills, pays the mortgage, gives me
    a bit to live on week to week. On the other hand, I don’t think that being
    mindful of your money and putting a positive spin on the difficulties of
    managing finances is a solution to the stress created by long term financial
    strain and job insecurity. I’m not talking about being in poverty.

    Phrases ‘just
    about managing’ and ‘feeling the squeeze’ are often used in the press to
    describe the financial difficulties lower income families face at the moment and
    especially since the recession. In reality, this can mean difficulty paying for
    things like school uniform, travel or outings, the dentist, repairs to the
    house or vehicles (which might be needed for work), Christmas presents,
    haircuts. Even for the most resourceful and frugal or ‘mindful’ householders,
    these things cost money. Delaying repairs can sometimes mean costs build up.
    Increasing debt also costs money. Giving some of these things up – for example
    outings as a family or travelling to see friends or family may be an option.
    But sometimes it seems as if the emotional benefits of these activities are the
    only thing that helps cope with the emotional stress of financial demands and
    job insecurity. And if one person loses it, then things get really bad.