I’ve come to the realization that feeling broke and being broke are two completely different things.
Jerry and I aren’t REALLY broke. We both work full time, we make decent money, we pay all of our bills in full and on time, we have affordable healthcare, we pay for life insurance, we own a home. Those aren’t characteristics of the truly broke.
Despite all of that, we often FEEL broke. We feel broke because of some poor money management over the last year so with our use of credit cards. On top of that, we have our two biggest loans: our mortgage and my student loans. Because of our credit card debt and loans, we have to hand over a good portion of our paychecks to lenders each week. Once all of the bills are paid and we’ve made our necessary purchases of the week (gas, groceries), we often find that there isn’t much “fun” money left. Some weeks, we have some wiggle room in our budget, while other weeks, there is NONE. Take this week, for example. We paid two of our credit card bills, my Jeep auto loan, groceries, gas…. the things we HAVE to pay for. After that, we also paid for our optional expenses like Netflix, Movie Pass, and my (expensive) laser hair removal. After THAT… we basically had only a handful of dollars left to spend for the week. None of the things in the latter category were necessary expenses, but I still felt broke because I couldn’t really buy anything else for the next few days until our next check. Oh boohoo, right? That’s where my mindset needs to change. I don’t need to buy anything else. I have everything that I need. Many of my so called “expenses” for the week were luxury items anyway, that many people can’t afford at all. I think actually BEING broke would mean no luxury purchases like we have, and not being able to pay your bills.
On the other hand, that doesn’t change the fact that I feel broke and that it gives me anxiety. What if a financial emergency arises before our next check? What if my friends want to go out to dinner? Apparently, we’d be SOL, ya know? I blame this on our debt! We feel broke because a good chunk of our monthly income has to go to lenders! This often means we have to scrimp and be frugal in other areas. A lot of times, we have to skip going out to eat or doing fun activities because there’s just no wiggle room that week. I already canceled a fall outing to a farm for tomorrow because the extra money just wasn’t there this week. I also can’t make purchases I’ve been wanting to make because there’s no extra cash from this week’s check, or next week’s check, and so on. Despite these things, I refuse to use a credit card again. Once the money is gone for the week, that’s it. No more debt will be accrued unnecessarily and we will just have to wait to make additional purchases.
I know we aren’t truly broke, and that we’re actually quite fortunate in a lot of ways. We’re afforded several luxuries that many people can’t afford. However, right now, we are mostly living paycheck to paycheck and we feel broke (even if we aren’t). I hate that feeling. This is why we are on this debt-free journey. I dream about the day we no longer have to give over a penny of our hard earned money to the lenders that we owe.
What about you? Do you ever feel broke, or like you have to miss out on activities or purchases?