You are just broke!
That pithy one liner is from our friend Gail Vaz-Oxlade‘s TV show ’til Debt Do Us Part, and I really do like it.
Many times I hear from folks how poor they are, and how hard their lives are, then I talk to them and realize that their net income is nearly twice my annual income, yet they are having a hard time making ends meet? Say what?
If you can barely afford to live in your rent controlled home, take the bus everywhere, and work 2 jobs to make ends meet, my guess is that you are Poor, you have no place left to cut spending on, because all you have left is the essentials of life. Poor is tough, and if you are in this situation you have my sympathies, and my hope that things get better for you.
If you feel poor because you can’t:
- Afford a second car, and one of you must take the bus
- Can’t go out to dinner as much as you want
- Live pay cheque to pay cheque without lowering your debt, because you live in a house that has made you house poor
- Feel hard done by because you can’t buy designer hand bags
Let me be clear: You are not POOR, you are BROKE!!!!
The thing is that Poor is hard, Broke is fixable with lifestyle changes. Poor you have little or no control of your situation, however, Broke you can control things (you just choose not to).
If you are Broke, you can be fixed by simply spending less and altering your lifestyle to take lower spending into consideration.
- If you can pay off your debts faster if you take the bus to work, and sell your car, why don’t you?
- If you have 10 credit cards, and wonder why you have such a hard time paying them off, why not get rid of 9 (if not 10) of them?
- If you complain that your only vacation is a visit to your parents cottage, and you really wanted to go south in the winter, why do you wonder why I might laugh out loud and threaten you with bodily harm?
If you have just figured out you are Broke, don’t be discouraged, be happy (in an obtuse way), it’s fixable! If you are Poor, keep working hard and try to get control of things (and if you do get out from under, remember how life was so you don’t end up Broke).
Debt is tough because once you’re in the rabbit hole its incredibly hard to come out but that does not mean that you can’t it just means that you have to make an effort to do it and the necessary sacrifices. Most people who bitch and moan about money are like you put it broke and I’ll admit that I’m one of them and working to fix it because the type of money issues you describe are a lifestyle choice.
Bitching about money is very Canadian (much like bitching about the weather), but claiming Poverty when you have two large incomes, that drives me absolutely spare!
Well crap… I am Broke! I have no debt, but I don’t have enough in my emergency fund, barely any retirement funds, and am 51. I am graduating from college shortly, and will need a job paying 32-35k per year. More than that would be awesome, but unlikely. I need to set priorities, but stuff just keeps coming along and throwing me off! Sigh… At least Student Loans aren’t going to be living in my spare bedroom!
But you can fix Broke (especially with no debt).
I have one bill coming up that I have been saving up for, due on 30 April. $1700 ish to CRA. I have great income for the moment, but that will be adjusted when I get a job. It will likely be going down unless I get a great paying job. Getting something like that straight out of college is not likely though.
Rent is what is killing me financially. $1200 for a small 3 bedroom is ridiculous, but it is what you have to pay in Victoria. Can’t afford to get into a house rental wise, and I have no down payment to be able to buy. Not that I can afford to buy now.
You almost want to send everyone who whines that they are poor on a trip sometime to the real world. Real poverty is common in Canada and it’s upsetting to see people whine while those who have genuine need quietly soldier on.
Great job – best post yet. So important to live within your means.
I am broke and Gail Vaz Oxlade is one of the big reasons I working towards being financially independent. I can’t wait until her new show Money Morons starts this month. My old self could have been the star of the show.
I recognize that poor means struggling for food and to maintain your shelter and that I am just broke because I struggle with debt. I am a single and made 49K last year. I need to stop being broke because I could become poor if I suffered an illness or a job loss.
Debt can confuse us badly, but Poor and Broke are terms that folks seem to use interchangeably, when in my opinion they are very different things.
Once again, an article with a very important point. You can fix broke!
Telling the difference between broke and poor is easy. If your kids have a cell phone or an xbox, then you’re not poor. Instead you’re just broke – probably as the result of buying uneccessary xbox’s.
(I know teenagers that don’t have a cell phone, by choice, and they’re neither poor nor broke. Proof that this stuff isn’t a necessity, it’s a want).