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Why Are You Still Broke?

BrokeWhen we were struggling with credit card debt and had a negative net worth, it was easy to join in one of the many conversations going on around me by others who were also broke or in similar debt situations. I can remember saying things like this.

“I’ll probably owe Visa until the day I die.”

“I don’t want to wait until I’m old to enjoy life.”

“It’s normal to have debt when you’re young.”

“I can’t afford to max out my retirement plan/invest in stocks/save for a rainy day”. How are people supposed to live on so little take home pay?”

 I’m Guilty of Throwing Stones

I could list many more euphemisms from my debt laden days, but you get the picture. It’s easy to get into conversations with people who are broke. It’s really easy to toss out excuses as to why we’re there as we all go out to dinner in our new cars purchased on 60 month repayment plans.

It was also very easy to throw stones at those who weren’t broke, not the flashy ones who brag about wealth while everything is mortgaged and charged to the hilt, but those people who very quietly purchase a rental property all in cash or are able to donate $10,000 to a charity each Christmas.

A perfect example could be our former neighbors. They bought their home in cash. $400,000 IN CASH. Who were these super rich people moving across the street? Shaun White? Carmelo Anthony?

Well, they turned out to be a retired teacher and her husband who worked in the parts department for an auto dealership. These are the type people I used to look at and wonder how miserable their lives must be from living miserly. Maybe they had a rich uncle who left them a mint. In reality, it was because they were smart at managing money. They were the sweetest people on the planet, but sadly, many neighbors did not like them, and I believe it was because they paid for that house in cash. Odd I know, but it stings to see someone doing things you can’t, especially if your behaviors are why you can’t.

Are You Going To Throw Stones At Me?

Fast forward to today. We’ve been living almost a year without a credit card balance. Our net worth has grown like I would have never believed, and we sock a ton of money away each month. Jim has a great job with a higher salary that he’s ever had, and I am working less hours but making more money than I ever have. We’ve become the ones with targets on our backs.

Why is it so much harder to talk to people about money when you actually have some? When I do hear some ridiculous statement from someone about why they are broke, I usually keep my mouth shut, but this is my blog and I can say what I want. I had a comment on my post about if a million dollars makes you rich that said it was a redundant question if you were on food stamps. I don’t think it is.

This is Why You Are Still Broke

  • If you never have any plans, you certainly are going to stay broke and in debt.
  • ‘If you want to pay off debt, you have to figure out how much you owe and make a plan to pay it off. If you keep charging, you WILL stay broke and owe Visa until the day you die.
  •  Are you really speding every dollar on necessities?


A huge excuse I hear is that people don’t make much money at their jobs or don’t feel their salary is adequate to save money or pay off debt. Is this an excuse or a choice?

Many people who complain of not having enough money are buying new iPads, getting tatoos, sporting fancy rims on their new cars, and have a satellite dish outside their apartment. If this is how you want to spend your money, that’s your business, but quit complaining about being broke!

 Get Out There and Earn More Money!

Cutting expenses only gets you so far. Anyone can make extra money. It might not be fun. It might be by doing something your friends think is beneath you, like cleaning someone’s house or mowing their yard. You might actually have to learn some new skills. It might take time away from your family or the things you like to do, but keep in mind that it’s a means to an end. Aren’t you tired of being broke?

Extra income might start slowly at first, but once you begin to earn more money, it’s addictive. Once you hit $500 a month, motivation and creativity seem to go into overdrive and you will probably surprise yourself about how much extra income you are able to bring in. $500 a month at 6% interest for 30 years makes you a millionaire. Tell me why you can’t do that?

How are you going to earn extra money this month? Do you use being broke as an excuse?


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. If you never have any plans, you certainly are going to stay broke and in debt.

    I love this point. Goals cannot be achieved if they are never set. So many people expect to become rich one day (or get out of debt one day), but never actually devise a detailed plan to do so.

  2. I think, for some, staying in debt is pain induced. Just as some of your neighbors don’t like the old couple that paid cash for their house–they also don’t like themselves! Why, b/c it’s painful to think of where they would be if they had made different choices. The strange thing is for some, that’s motivation to change. For others, it’s a hurtful cycle that people don’t want to face the music about.

    I’m not a psychologist so I can’t break down the emotional aspect of this. But I do think the key is financial education!

  3. Whenever people tell me they are broke or don’t have any money anymore, I usually just assume that they are too un-ambitious to actually solve their own problems. Why can’t you just make some cuts, spend less, save some more, etc? Or better yet, read a book or a blog, and try something creative to earn money beyond what your employer pays you. I can’t believe how much income potential is out there that people pass up constantly.

    • I actually used to believe that some people just could not help it due to circumstances beyond their control, but I don’t think that way anymore. Some people probably have a harder time getting out of their situations, but there are just too many people who have overcome great obstacles to ever think you can’t

  4. I think making extra money is so important when it comes to getting out of debt. As you said, though, you do really need to couple things like making extra money with having a plan. You can get by on much less than you think (though some things like student loans are always going to be x amount per month, minimum) but it really requires planning. I think going after extra income in addition to your full-time job is a really good approach to getting out of debt and not being broke anymore.

  5. I think for many it’s easier (or so they think) for them to just live with the excuse and never actually do anything about the situation. Or, they try and cut costs and wonder why that still won’t take care of the entire situation for them. I used to feel a similar way when I was in debt, but once I realized I was only holding my self back I started to see that it was me that needed to change. Once that happened, I started to see real growth and ability to get to where I wanted.

  6. I am terrified of being broke. I think that’s why I’ve always worked so hard.

    But, I do think that it’s easy to live in denial. When we were in debt, I had to put it out of my mind to live with myself!

    • I think deep down, I am really scared of being broke. I think that’s why I like having a pretty big e fund, even if it would be earning more in the stock market.

  7. I don’t get why people didn’t like your neighbors, if they weren’t arrogant or showing it off, can’t people be glad they were able to pay cash for a home? It is like crabs in a basket, preventing each other from going out.

    • I don’t know. I think if no one had known how they paid, it would have been better. We live in a nice neighborhood for the area, but I know lots of people are deeply in debt. They talk about it. I used to drink the Kool Aid as well, but I’m sure they would talk about me if they knew we were going to knock out our house payment sooner rather than later. I think everyone likes to justify their debt by seeing others around them who are in the same situation.

  8. LOVE this, Kim. We stopped making excuses (and having excuses to make) when I went in January and revisited our 2012 spending habits. What I found was a $900 a month grocery bill (we now live on $450 a month), a $175 a month entertainment bill (we now live on roughly a third of that) and a $205 a month gas bill for my truck (we now live on about 2/3 of that). I would challenge readers to take a good, long look at their spending habits, and then you’ll learn real quick that you really don’t have to be broke, and that you really can do something about it.

  9. You hit the nail on the head: those that don’t like your neighbors are just jealous. They wish they were in that situation. It’s a catch-22 of sorts. They want to have money to buy the nice things to keep up with the Jones’s, but by buying the nice things they never have the money to be rich. People want instant gratification and don’t know how to put off spending and that urge.

  10. I’m all about extra money of course! It has helped change our lives in so many ways.

  11. I think misery loves company, so when you hear of other people’s successes it’s easy to feel jealous and automatically think they are jerks or something. Of course I have seen my fair share of bragging. But…it’s all on you when it comes to your own finances. Every penny of it. You can either own your success and failures, or whine, complain, and blame. Not you as in “you” but you know what I mean. 🙂

  12. I hate to say it, but I feel like the people who make excuses make them because it’s easier than creating a plan and sticking it the plan. They need to suck it up and swallow their pride. A job is a job. I didn’t enjoy working retail, but at the time it was the only job I could get while I was in between jobs.

  13. Love this, Kim. Some people adapt a debt mentality and that’s the only life they can envision. They cant (or won’t) see past their debt and look for ways to bring in more money and change their habits. People need to look inside themselves and figure out what is holding them back. Sadly, a lot of people are unwilling to do this.

  14. I definitely need to boost my income, hustlin’ hard to make it happen. I don’t dislike people who are successful and have made a lot of money though. I admire them and try to emulate them.

  15. I agree completely that you have to start making extra money. If you can figure out how to do that with something you love, that is the ideal situation if you ask me. That way, you won’t mind doing that extra bit of work and will make that extra cash that much more gratifying!

    • Sometimes it requires doing things you don’t love as well, but once you get started, I think it’s easy to channel into other areas.

  16. I try to make more money to pay off debt. People think I’m broke, but they don’t know I’m throwing $1k-1500 per month towards debt! I am actually broke because I’m trying to pay off debt. I had a nice savings last year, but realized it wasn’t really helping me if I had over 50k in debt at 7.9% interest. I do think there are real barriers to success and we shouldn’t judge people for that, but I think most people just get caught up in a cycle and don’t know how to get out. Imagine trying to change your whole mindset from a life you’ve always known.

    • I agree that it would be hard and scary, but very possible. I don’t fault anyone for doing the things they want to do, even if that means going into debt. I just get tired of them complaining about being broke. A huge pet peeve of mine is complaining about something you are unwilling to change.

  17. You cannot help people who do not want to change. They do it to themselves and they like it. There are people who just like complaining and do not want to change.

    The last time I was broke was the first year after graduation. I had no debt, but did not earn very much.

  18. You’re right Kim. Cutting expenses does only get you so far. For those that really want to generate some extra cash flow, they need to earn more money! Through persistence and careful planning, I was able to make $45,000 more this year than I did just a few years ago.

    • That post should be required reading 101. Someone should come up with a catalog of all these blog posts that inspire people to earn extra money.

  19. “Why is it so much harder to talk to people about money when you actually have some?” Several reasons I think. One, people don’t think you understand their situation. Unless you can prove you’ve “been in their shoes” they won’t listen. Second, from an American cultural perspective, people are being conditioned to believe the rich have somehow cheated or short-cut their way to the top. The rich’s hard work is not being honored. Thirdly, as a result of #2, those who have made it financially may hold back what they want to say out of fear of being labeled uncaring or rude. I’m sure there are other reasons but that’s what I see.

    • I think those are very good points. When I find someone who has done well, I try to pick their brain to see how they did it. I wish more people would be more open to listening and learning instead of writing people off as “rich” and out of their league.

  20. I love this post. Enough said. I am curious how everyone knew that the couple paid for their home in cash? I would have kept that to myself. I love making extra money and when my head is in the game I kick some a@@.

  21. No excuses here. I’m actively making a plan about how I can make more money (or at least work a job that’s less stressful and more fulfilling). This month I’m cat sitting and freelance writing to make a little extra money.

  22. We have stopped discussing money with most people we know, because they usually get a negative reaction when we tell them how important is to save and stay off debt (or pay it). When they find we don’t owe money, we save and can afford a good vacation for instance, it makes them sour.

  23. I think the reasons vary for everyone. But I completely agree that planning is essential and of course the most important of all is actually doing something about it. It is one thing to know and list down everything, but is a completely different story to accept the facts, more so to plan how to deal with it. Now once you’re done with these three it is the action that counts.

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