Professional Development

10 Things You Shouldn’t Do When You’re Broke

Written by Peter Jones

Whether being broke is a permanent state for you, or you’re just passing through a bit of hardship, there are a few lifestyle adjustments it would be prudent for you to make in order to not end up in a mountain of debt.

Being broke is also incredibly stressful—you’re constantly worried about your bank balance and how you’ll afford necessary purchases. Why add to the stress?

Here is a list of good things to avoid doing if you’re having trouble making ends meet.

1. Smoke

Seriously. Apart from the fact that it will eventually give you cancer (aka huge medical bills), it’s incredibly expensive to keep up. You’ll live longer and find you have a lot more spending money week to week.

2. Drugs

Don’t smoke anything else either. People can tell and won’t hire you. You’ll have to constantly worry about passing random or job-related drug tests, and you’ll be spending a lot of money you just don’t have.

3. Join a Gym

Fitness is a great thing, but can be achieved much more cheaply than by getting a monthly (spendy) gym membership. Go running. Do push-ups and crunches. Try the Scientific 7-Minute Workout. Find yoga videos for free on YouTube. Figure out how to exercise for free—it’s super simple these days.

4. Look Down on Work

As long as someone’s job is legal and ethical, it’s no business of yours to look down on it. Maybe you should even consider the service industry. Answer phones, wait tables, clean houses. Just get yourself back on your feet.

5. Make Excuses

Chances are it’s your responsibility. Unless you’re caring for a sick loved one or facing enormous medical bills yourself, you probably were just living beyond your means. Own the position you’re in and take action to dig yourself out of your financial hole.

6. Take Unnecessary Vacations

If you can’t keep up with your rent or car payments, then whatever extra cash you think you have for trips or weekends away should probably be put to more constructive use. Don’t be flagrant when you can’t afford to be.

7. Go Out to Eat

Avoid restaurants. You can’t afford them. Seriously. Cook for yourself and bring your lunch—leftovers are your friend. That goes for buying coffee as well; get to know your Mr. Coffee—your new regular coffee shop! If you must go to a movie, smuggle cheaper snacks in in your handbag instead of shelling out for concession prices.

8. Upgrade Your Stuff

Now isn’t the time to get a nicer car or move to a nicer neighborhood. You can’t afford the extra cash you’d need to get this done—or the loan payments. Stick with your station for a while longer until you can afford to move up.

9. Ignore the Bills

You may cringe whenever a new pile shows up in the mail, and want to hide under the covers and hope that all your bills just go away. But they won’t. Open them. Call the companies. Set up payment plans. Be proactive. It’s much better than blissful ignorance—which can still eat you alive with stress.

10. Create Waste

Don’t drive anywhere further than you have to. Consolidate errands to consolidate gas. Don’t go on lavish dates—simple ones will do and are often more romantic anyway. Don’t waste water or gas or electricity in your home. Don’t pay to do anything you could do yourself (car washes, house cleanings, lawn mowing). And don’t take on any extra expenses that aren’t absolutely necessary. Actually reading that magazine? Probably not. Cancel cancel cancel.

About the author

Peter Jones