Throwback Thursday: Live Like You’re Broke

Today’s throwback is a post I did over 4 years ago, but one I still very much think about today. Not because it was a brilliant writeup or anything (it wasn’t, as you’re about to see ;)), but because the takeaway really helps put me back in check when I need it every few months.

We always think we’d be so much better off with a lot of money, and conversely so much *worse* off with a lot less, but the truth is we’re a lot better at adjusting and getting back to “normal” if ever put in either situation. One’s just more fun to think about than the other so we tend to do it more often ;) (*ahem* “what would you do if you won the lottery?“)

So keep an open mind and read on, sexy budgeters! A new perspective is always good to pay attention to – even if you decide it’s not for you.


Live Like You’re Broke


Whatcha know about that? Fellow blogger Anne wrote a little on it the other day, and it really hit me – Live like you’re broke! Yes, nice & simple, I dig it. I’ll probably forget this by next month (you know, A.D.D. and all), but for now let’s roll with it ;)

If you were really broke, here’s what would happen:

  • First, you would still live! It would be harder, but it’s not like you’d die.
  • You’d figure out how to cut more spending. Because you “can’t” spend – you’re broke.
  • You’d save as much money as possible. You might have to turn around and pay the bills with it all, but you’d still be saving better.
  • You’d get creative! Probably the best reason to get in this mindset.

I think we all “live like we’re broke” to some degree, it just comes down to the amount you’re willing to give up (unless, of course you *are* broke, in which case you’ve probably perfected it ;)). I’m sure I could cut out 1/2 of the things I do now to save some cash, but it’s just not worth it. On the other hand, there are plenty of things I WOULD cut if I were indeed broke.

Regardless, it’s always good to stop and consider the way you’re doing things. Do that enough, and you’re bound to stay focused!

[Photo by Rafael Souza ®]

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  1. Aimee August 22, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    This is simple, but smart!

    I do live like I’m broke, it does make me creative, and I do it so if something ever happens to actually make me broke I’ll be OK. I don’t want to be used to the lifestyle that spending all of my income would give me, and I want to be able to work less and still have everything I want. To have everything I want I have to want less like your Epi-blahblah quote the other day. It’s coming full circle!!

    1. J. Money August 23, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      Haha yup! That Epi guy know what he was talking about ;)

  2. Free Money Minute August 22, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    I grew up in a family that was always broke. A broken home does not help a financial situation, neither does not being content. Considering how I grew up, I would consider myself moderately successful. I do what I need to do never to go back there. I am really not comfortable unless I can put a lot of money away each month towards my net worth.

  3. The Warrior August 22, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    All about sacrifice and comfort. How uncomfortable are we willing to live to succeed in the long run? At least once per week, I try to ask myself whether I’m living to comfortable. If I am not trying to live more uncomfortable, I know I am spending more and “needing” more than I really need.

    The Warrior

  4. The Recovering Coupon Queen August 22, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    When I was in debt paydown mode, it was one of the most amazing experiences. We had finally admitted to our level of incompetence with money, and were finally living within our means and throwing every penny possible at debt. We lived like we were REALLY broke and it turned out to be a good thing! We had a goal, we were willing to push past limits we had maintained in the past, and it felt good to break down some mental barriers to achieve the goal.
    What’s strange is that I sometimes wish we were under that kind of pressure again to live like we were totally broke – we accomplished so much more in a shorter time! But it is hard to get in that mindset without the real life pressure pushing the boundaries.
    I like The Warrior’s comment “If I am not trying to live more uncomfortable, I know I am spending more and “needing” more than I really need”. Words to mull over for the day…!

    1. Teri Gault August 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM

      SO true! I like “willing to push past limits”. Because we really don’t know what the limits are, until we test them. When we were actually broke, we survived on so much less than I thought we could. I still have my old rules playing in my head every time I’m about to spend money, and it often makes me walk away, or opt for a less expensive alternative. I’m still alive! If not having something will either cause injury, death or sickness, then I allowed myself to spend the money. And even at that, comparing prices, and making sure I got the best deal.

      1. J. Money August 23, 2013 at 9:27 AM

        Totally agree with all y’all. Us humans are great at adapting and overcoming when forced to :) And like 75% good when not, haha…

  5. No Waste August 22, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    The best things in life are free.

    Well, except nachos.

  6. EL @ August 22, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    If I were broke, I would have a negative net worth, I would be living paycheck to paycheck, I would have a ton of debt, I would lease a car, I would go clubbing all the time, I would move in to my parent’s basement and play video games – I would be like the average 20-25 year old in America. Go Figure!

    1. Teri Gault August 22, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      ugh! Very funny, but so sadly true… Sigh…

    2. J. Money August 23, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Not if you lived broke but saved like a wealthy person :) Maybe I should have added an addendum? haha..

  7. August 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    I try to implement at least 2 no spend days in a week, it’s my version of live like your broke. Funny things is, it really works and I save more money.

    1. J. Money August 23, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Have you ever tried a 30 day “no spend” money? (besides paying mortgage/food/etc?) Really really good stuff. Hard, but a nice challenge :)

  8. Teri Gault August 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Perfect! Simply said, and applicable for everyone of us. MoneyWatch101, that’s hilarious. So sad, but true. If we could all learn this simple lesson, we would be out of debt as a nation, and we would be living happy simple lives, and then, possibly retiring as millionaires! Thanks J Money for steering us back to the basics! You’re always right on!

  9. SavvyFinancialLatina August 22, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    We try to live under our means, but I know it’s not exactly easy. Sometimes I tell myself we have the money so we end up splurging.

  10. Brian August 22, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    My family and I are still in pay off debt mode, so we are always looking to cut corners, finding deals. It’s a mindset that will set up us well for the future.

  11. Financial Black Sheep August 22, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    What if I am broke, does that ruin the fun of it? You should check out my post for today, it’s all about living my life no matter the circumstances. Excuse the formatting, I have to force my server to update, but since I work nights, that isn’t going to happen any time soon. It’s good to be online again and read your blog though :)

    1. J. Money August 23, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      Yeah friend! Love seeing you around :) And very motivational you’re out there killing it even when you are broke! Which definitely won’t be forever, knowing you.

  12. stephanie August 22, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    @NoWaste-I am rolling on the floor right now! That’s a comment I needed and I promise you, I’m laughing so hard I nearly peed…great one!
    I have been getting more and more into a minimalist mind-set and I’ve found it very freeing to realize I don’t need a lot of stuff. Maybe ’cause I’m older (I’m 55) and I have been broke (and we’re talking B-R-O-K-E), I can better appreciate the fact that I do not need a bazillion pair of black heels. Unbelievable, but true! Yes, a girlie can survive without a gazillion pair of shoes.
    The biggest difference is that I now try to live my mind-set. And as I’ve made progress slowly, one of the things I’ve learned is that I have so much to give, and I can make the world (or at least my tiny corner of it) a better place. By the smallest act of kindness. Or a show of gratitude. Try paying for someone’s coffee. Or putting gas in their tank. Hold a door open. (Share your nachos!). Work Friday afternoon so someone else can have an extra 4 paid hours off. It doesn’t take huge acts, or displays. Just subtle changes to who I am now, compared to who I was.
    The more I become settled with who I am now, the happier I am. My bank account isn’t huge, neither is my net worth. My value, in my own eyes, is in having learned I have a lot to give. And what I DO have makes me very happyl
    Wow, I just re-read and I’m actually pleased with what I’ve read!!! :=) To think it all started cause someone gave me a much-needed laugh!

    1. J. Money August 23, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      YAY!!!! Such a great outlook with life – I love it! The next time I’m in line for coffee I’ll pay for the person behind me too then :) Your good work being passed along!

  13. SavingStina August 22, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    I am broke so I am still in living like I’m broke mode….but it often surprises me how creative I can be in making money….Just need the focus part in order to get into debt repayment mode lol

  14. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen August 22, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    Interesting way to live…but I think I don’t want to try it! I’m fine with sacrificing things, but to live as if I had no money at all I wouldn’t be able to do anything or eat out!

  15. Personal Finance Jorney August 22, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Living like you’re broke is something that will make you learn to be frugal and learn the importance of spending what you only need and save for the holidays.

  16. charles@gettingarichlife August 23, 2013 at 5:20 AM

    Licing as though you’re broke will drive you more and make you hustle. Sometimes we take for granted what we have and don’t try as hard. It’s good to stay hungry.

    1. J. Money August 26, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      “It’s good to stay hungry.” – perfectly said.

  17. Blair Illiano August 23, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    I totally agree! Creative ideas for saving money only strike when we’re broke- or almost broke!

  18. MonicaOnMoney August 23, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    Thanks for the inspiration! Living like we’re broke is a great challenge, just remember those college days! I did this when I was paying my MBA and started saving thousands of dollars extra each month.

    1. J. Money August 26, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Yup!! Though I prefer to remember my college days of partying and hanging out than scrounging by, haha… I miss that nice bubble we were in! :)