8 Reasons Why Being Broke is Expensive
You don’t just spend less or have less to spend. It also costs more.
Several years back I was unemployed, stretching my savings up to the last cent, and unable to pay the upcoming rent that was due soon. I bent myself backwards and forwards until I got stuck and looked like a deflated, decorative knot you could place on gift packaging.
“Just do this” or “just do that”, I heard others say. It wasn’t that easy, and also quite costly. Here are 8 reasons why being broke can be more expensive.
“Just” get a new income
If the current budget is too low to live off, the only way to improve your situation is to increase your income, ideally through work you like. The longer it takes to find it, the higher the pressure and mental strain you experience. Applying for jobs when reaching the end of my wallet felt draining. Staying positive while my bank account sitting in the corner of the room with a timer telling me “Just a few weeks left and game over!”. That felt like a challenge.
It’s draining to worry about pennies all the time.
Worrying about pennies and loose change costs mental energy.
- Is this 50 cent purchase necessary?
- Do I need this?
- A chocolate bar of 80 cents because I want it or a loaf of bread that feeds me for days?
- Can I get this item cheaper elsewhere?
For every purchase you have to stop and really consider whether you can afford to buy it, even though you should be worrying about bigger, more important things that positively impact your existence, such as education and investing.
Mental health? That’s for later
Health care beyond the basics costs extra. How can you afford therapy when you have no resources? At the same time, ignoring your health now, whether mental or physical, will eventually come and bite you. Issues won’t mystically vanish in thin air.
Eating out or ordering food is never an option. When doing grocery shopping you buy the absolute cheapest items which might not be the most nutritious, just to fill your belly. Buying the cheapest junk can in the long run lead to health deficiencies. In that sense, it might be cheap now, but it can cost you more to undo the negative effects of eating junk later on.
Save money? With what money?
You cannot save because you don’t have any room in the budget to do so. Every cent goes to the absolute basics such as rent and groceries. If unexpected expenses were to arise, you’d have to cut down expenses on the only area where there’s “room” to decrease spending, and that would be: food, further impacting your health.
It costs time
When choosing between time and price, you always choose for a lower price at the expense of time. If you can save even 5 cents on an item by going to supermarket B, that’s how it will be. At the end of the week of month this will have amounted to a few saved euros, but your time will be gone.
You always for the cheapest option.
Researching what the absolute cheapest option is costs time. To do the research itself, and go to the place at hand, because you cannot afford to spend the extra $1–5 by ordering or outsourcing it.
Going for the cheapest doesn’t necessarily mean you’re buying for quality. If an item breaks down prematurely, you’re screwed and will have to invest again. In these days, renting an item could be a temporary outcome though.
“Just outsource and buy back your time”, they say.
With what money though? Outsource tasks you don’t want to do, but when there’s no flexibility in the budget? Then it’s not an option now.
You see, crawling up when you’re chilling at financial rock bottom is not easy. It’s even more challenging when there are more people in your household counting on you. This burden eats up time, money and mental capacity. It took me at least a year to go from broke to having built up a small buffer, mainly by:
- Becoming mindful and very, very deliberate with my spending
- Learning to do more with less money
- Getting a grip on my expenses by making an overview of exactly what I had, where I stood and what I could spend [ template]
If you’re reading this, I assume you are in a tough situation now. The only way out is through. I am by no means a financial expert, but if a regular human like myself managed to improve my situation, so can you.