Are you tired of being broke and wondering what you can do about it? Maybe you feel like everyone around you has money except for you.
I find myself wondering how others can afford things. It almost feels as if money grows on trees at times when I see neighbors buying new vehicles or friends who never seem to care about money.
At the end of the day, you truly only need to worry about yourself and your own finances. Comparing yourself to others or becoming envious of what other people spend is a negative track you need to stay away from!
Learn to manage your money using a few easy tips, and you’ll be in a better financial place soon.
If you’re tired of being broke, discover 25 reasons you might be broke and ways you can stop it. You can start taking action and start building a better financial situation for yourself. It takes one step at a time!
1. You don’t have an emergency fund
Emergency funds are a savings account that is intended for emergencies. How you define an emergency is up to you. Usually, it’s for your car breaking down, the loss of your job or a health challenge that prevents you from working and making money.
Emergency funds can be hard to start or contribute to regularly because they are for an unknown circumstance at an unknown time. You will likely thank yourself for having an emergency fund at some point in your life, but you don’t know when that will be.
When you do have an emergency, you know it’ll be at the most inconvenient time.
Creating an emergency fund is one of the best things you can do for your financial peace of mind. If you’re broke all the time, it may be because when unexpected expenses arise, you don’t have the cash to pay for it.
Action plan: Do your future self a favor and your broke self now, and figure out a way to stash some cash away for the future.
Resources that can help:
2. You don’t have financial goals
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have a reason WHY I’m saving money it’s not easy for me to do. Like, I want to know exactly why I’m penny-pinching every day and remind myself that it’s a choice I’m making for a larger financial goal.
Writing down your financial goals and checking on them regularly is a great way to stay motivated to achieve your financial goals. Reasons why you might be saving right now:
- It may be for a downpayment on a house.
- To pay your car off faster
- Tackle those student loans
- Start a college fund for your child so they don’t have the student loan burden you do
- Plan that epic vacation you’ve been meaning to take
Action plan: Write down your financial goals. Remind yourself why you’re working so darn hard to save money. It’s a great reminder that you’re doing something you WANT to do not something you HAVE to do.
3. You don’t use credit cards to your advantage
Credit cards and debt go hand in hand right?
No. Using credit cards doesn’t automatically mean you will be in debt.
You can use your credit card regularly, and reap the benefits of credit card points. BUT, you must have self-control and financial responsibility to pay it off each month.
When credit cards are treated as a loan or are used as a crutch between paychecks is when you get into trouble.
I have a Chase credit card and use it all the time. I’m aware of the quarterly bonuses to get extra cashback on certain categories that I spend in, for example, gas. I use the Ultimate Rewards Mall (Similar to Ebates/Rakuten) before I make an online purchase and rack up points. I turn the points into cash each month.
But the purchases I put on the card are known, accounted for in my budget, and the money is in my checking account ready to pay it off each month.
So by all means, use the plastic. Just be prepared to pay it off each month so you can BENEFIT. Instead of going further in debt by the credit cards’ outrageous fees.
Action plan: Only use your credit card for purchases you know you can pay off right away. If you know you can’t pay it off, convince yourself you don’t need it. Because you likely don’t!
4. You are lazy
Is that too harsh?
I have found that sometimes my laziest moments are the ones that are the most expensive. Combine boredom with lack of motivation and it’s a recipe for spending unnecessarily.
When you are lazy, you:
- Rack up more miles on your car instead of walking somewhere
- Order in/take out instead of eating from your pantry/fridge
- Pay for entertainment when you could do something around the house
- Pay for convenience when you’d prefer to lay on the couch than do something productive
Not only is being lacy financially negative, but you also don’t feel good when you’re lazy. You kinda feel worthless or like the day was wasted by sleeping and lounging when you could have been doing something productive.
On the flip side when you’re motivated and getting things done around you feel not only really good about yourself but usually, you are not spending much money.
Action plan: Think about a time you spent money out of laziness. What could you do differently the next time?
5. You don’t make enough money
If you can look yourself in the mirror and know that you’ve done everything you can to make ends meet and still can’t, then maybe you simply don’t make enough money.
Can you find a side gig or way to make extra money?
We all have a skill that someone would be willing to pay for if you’re motivated enough to find someone to pay you for it.
Or, try selling some of your belongings. If you’re like me, you likely have things laying around the house that you’ve either purchased or have been given to you that isn’t sentimental but have value. Consider selling these items. You benefit from the money in your pocket but will also clear out the clutter!
Less stuff = less stress. It’s a win-win!
6. You have too much debt
Bite off more than you can chew? If you have, you’d feel it.
Buy too much house?
Take out a lot of loans for an education? (which you may or may not be using)
Over-extend yourself on a vehicle loan?
Impulse spending have your credit cards racked up?
We’ve all been there. If you have too much of your paycheck going towards debt, you will feel broke all the time, guaranteed.
Action plan: Challenge yourself to get rid of the debt. Can you pay it off faster? Can you sell your home or vehicle and purchase something cheaper? No, these are not easy decisions. But if you’re serious about changing your feeling of being broke, it may take a big change.
7. You think you HAVE to spend money
You don’t have to do anything. Thinking about every time you spend or give money as a choice may put spending into a different perspective. Once I let go of feelings of guilt over not spending when I thought I “should” whether it be to support a coworker’s kid’s fundraiser for summer camp or a friend’s in-home jewelry party, my finances improved.
Your money is yours. How you choose to spend it, or not, is up to you. Don’t ever feel pressured to spend, or feel like you have to spend it. You don’t and it’s safer and more valuable sitting where it is.
Action plan: Write down what you want to spend money on, and more importantly what you don’t! Refer to this list when you feel guilt or pressure to spend on something you don’t want to. Don’t give in! Say no thank you and move on with cash in your pocket.
8. You aren’t organized
Disorganization can cost you money. You may end up buying more than you need because you didn’t realize you had something at home. You forgot about a food day at your child’s school so you pay for convenience the next morning.
Maybe you didn’t realize you were getting low on a staple item at home like paper towel or toilet paper and could have purchased it on sale last week. Now when you need it this week it’s full price.
Keeping tabs on household goods and schedules can help you save money in the long run.
Action plan: On Sunday night take a look at the week or two ahead. Are there any expenses or scheduling conflicts coming up that you can start thinking about now, so you’ll be prepared when the time comes?
9. You think you HAVE to say yes
Whoever said “saying no to someone else is saying yes to yourself” is spot on. There are times you need to put yourself first. Especially as it relates to your finances. If saying yes to something is going to make you feel more broke or cost more than your budget allows, simply say no.
Decline the offer and take a raincheck. It’s that simple. You don’t have to make an excuse or justify your response. Simply say no thank you to an invitation you can’t afford right now or don’t want to spend money on right now and move closer to your goal of feeling less broke.
Action plan: Say no to anything that will derail your short and long-term financial goals.
10. You have to have that sale
Impulse shopping is an easy way to make you feel broke. When you can’t help yourself and spend everything you have in your wallet, no wonder you feel broke.
Small purchases do add up over time. Whatever you want to purchase if it’s not a need, talk yourself out of it.
There will always be another sale on the item you’re interested in. Buy it when you have planned and saved for the purchase and can afford it. Talk yourself out of it in the meantime.
Action plan: Talk yourself out of any purchases that are not planned. Simply put the item down if in-store and walk out. Or if you’re shopping online, leave the item in your cart and close the browser window. You’ll likely forget about the purchase and save yourself some money.
Related: Ways to stop impulse purchases
11. You don’t plan ahead
You pay full price for things that run out around the house because you didn’t pick them up when they were on sale a week ago. Having the foresight to think about when you may need things, especially when they are on sale will help you save money! If something you use regularly is getting low, put it on your shopping list.
That way you have time to find a sale price or deal before you need the item. I’m not saying you have to invest in a stockpile. But for the items you know you’ll use when you see them on sale, pick one up.
You’ll thank yourself for not having to go to the store just to pick up toilet paper or paper towels.
Action plan: If you see something on sale that you use regularly, and you have the cash to pay for it, buy it.
12. You spend what you make
If you aren’t paying yourself first, ie putting money into a savings account somewhere, no wonder you feel broke. Taking a peek at your checking account before you make a purchase and spending whatever is left draining it to zero a few days ahead of your next paycheck is stressful!
Make a budget! Aim to NOT spend everything you make. Find a system that works for you. It may be a pencil and paper. Excel spreadsheet. Cash envelopes, etc. Start saving for the things that matter to you and stop spending everything you have at the moment.
13. You drive too much
More miles on your vehicle means more in gas, maintenance, and repairs. Plus, depending on where you’re driving you might be spending money once you arrive at your destination.
Meaning, are you making too many trips to the grocery store or to run errands when you can plan in advance and eliminate a trip. Less mileage, less time, and less opportunity to spend money you weren’t planning to.
Action plan: Track your mileage for a week. The following week, aim to drive less. You set the number. Either number of miles or a percentage.
For example, I commute 40 miles roundtrip Monday-Friday for 200 miles total. I then tack on another 40-50 miles running errands throughout the week and on the weekends. I would aim to cut back that 40-50 to 30. That means either fewer trips. Or grouping the errands so when I do go shopping or errand running, it’s less frequent.
14. You care too much about brands
Keeping up with brands that your neighbors or family have is expensive. If you fall in love with a brand and want to pay for quality or treat yourself, fine. But spending on brands just to spend on brands when there is a perfectly good comparable generic is silly. Stop making yourself broke chasing expensive brands you don’t care about.
Action plan: Challenge yourself to buy generic if it’s cheaper than name brand items.
15. You’re cheap
Yes, being cheap can cost you more in the long run! There is something to paying for quality. Yes, you can buy that cheap item today. But how long will it last you?
Maybe you don’t need it to last and that’s fine. But for items you plan to hang on to for a while, it may be to your financial benefit to invest in better quality, and maintain it.
This may mean household appliances and vehicles but can also apply to kids’ toys, clothing, shoes, purses, etc. I would be willing to trade 5 pairs of my ill-fitting, low quality, faded jeans for 1 pair of higher quality jeans that fit well and look nice. Just because something is cheap, or on sale or clearance, does not mean you need to buy it!
Action plan: Before you buy something just because it’s inexpensive, ask yourself if you’ll care if and when it breaks. If you will care, consider something of higher quality. If you don’t care, buy the cheap item.
16. You ignore your financial situation
Your finances are not going to change on their own. I promise you this. If you have student loans. If you have credit card debt. If you want to bury your head in the sand and not face your money woes, you need to!
Every financial challenge has a solution. You just have to figure yours out! Spend an afternoon analyzing your finances.
- How much debt do you have?
- What is the interest rate of those debts?
- How much are the payments for that debt?
- How much are my household bills?
- Are there any bills I could eliminate or reduce?
- Which creditor could I call and negotiate a different term?
- How much income do you have coming in?
I promise you taking action and a step toward figuring out your situation will make you feel so much better! Ignoring your financial situation won’t make it go away. Face the money, make a plan and start acting on it!
Action plan: Analyze your current financial situation. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The more you reveal the truth to yourself about your finances, the better chance you will have of taking action on the debt and start working toward better financial health!
17. You spend money to make less money
Time is money. Money has value. Every time you make an effort to save a little here or there but it costs you valuable time or doesn’t recoup the money spent, it may not be worth doing.
I do this with grocery shopping. I’m obsessed with getting specific deals at specific stores. But when it costs me 20 minutes of time shopping and 10 minutes in the car driving plus gas to save an extra $1 on something, was it worth it?
You have to evaluate for yourself, but make sure you’re not spending money and not recouping its value.
Action plan: The next time you spend time “saving” money, evaluate if you have saved. If the time and money payoff are in good balance, carry on. If you spend more time saving than the saving is worth, stop.
18. You aren’t good at making your money work for you
Not everyone who has more money than you make more money than you. They just know how to manage it better, and make money from it. A lot of those people who have more money are good at investing.
Those that have money are usually savvy investors. They know that money just sitting in a savings account isn’t going to make them rich. They find ways to make their money work for them.
If you’re new to investing this may be a more advanced move. But you can learn to invest by taking baby steps.
Action plan: Spend some time reading up on investing and ways to do it responsibly. Try one new way to make your money work for you. Even if it’s a small amount. Start somewhere!
19. You think education is expensive
Yes, education costs money. But investing in yourself can reap rewards later on. Education doesn’t have to mean college or a formal program. Educating yourself could be reading books you’ve checked out from the library.
Expanding your knowledge can expand the amount of money you earn. Brush up on a skill set you are interested in but haven’t mastered yet.
Action plan: Identify one area of your life you’d like to school yourself on more. Research one way you could invest in yourself to make that happen.
20. Your friends or family are making you broke
You are who you hang around. It’s amazing how much influence those directly around us have on our lives and our finances. Maybe it’s simply influencing you to make a purchase or do something social you didn’t budget for.
If you think your friends or family are to blame for you being broke you may be partially correct. While they can’t force you to spend money, they can influence you pretty easily.
Action plan: If you know a friend or family member makes it easy to spend. Suggest doing something that doesn’t involve spending money. Like coming over to your place to watch a movie instead of going out.
21. That habit you love is draining the bank
I’d challenge you to look hard at your finances and where your money goes each month. What is the one or two expenses outside of a roof over your head, vehicle, and food that’s draining your bank account? Is there a habit you can’t fathom living without that would help you to not feel broke?
Could you give up:
- The salon for manis/pedis
- That coffee run
- Running into the gas station to grab something while filling up
- Snagging something in the checkout line at the grocery store
- Impulse buying something because it was only $5
- Cut back on the wine and beer consumption
- Stop smoking or other vices
Action plan: Challenge yourself to find one area on your spending you could cut back on and see how it makes a difference in your finances next month.
22. You care too much about junk mail
Throw out the physical junk mail you get in your mailbox. Clear out your email inboxes. Nothing makes me feel more broke than when I buy a “must-have” deal after seeing it in an email in my inbox. Only to look at my bank account the next day and wish I had the money instead of whatever is en route through the mail.
Fear of Missing Out or FOMO is real. But it’s easy to avoid if you talk yourself out of any spending that was not planned. Marketers are good. They know how to get you to spend money by making you believe this deal is now or never. There will never be another deal like this one. You’ll regret not spending money right now.
Those stores get me! They know I’m susceptible to spending if they send me a 50% off for this weekend only email. Guess what though, I don’t need anything. Nor do my kids. They have more clothes in their closet than they can wear all season. Many are hand me downs but still. Stop buying unplanned items because of junk mail.
Action plan: When you want or need to spend, research deals by going to retailmenot.com, using the Honey.com browser extension or Rakuten (formerly ebates).
23. You think one bad decision ruins your finances
Yes, one bad financial decision can suck, and derail any financial progress you have made. However, just because you made one mistake, or one unexpected financial challenge came your way doesn’t mean you have to make it break you.
Know that life is full of ups and downs when it comes to finances. One day you may think you’re on the right track and the next you go on a spending spree or get an unexpected bill that makes you feel defeated.
But you have to rise above the challenges and get back on a positive financial track as quickly as you can. One bad decision or financial challenge doesn’t have to derail you completely. You’ve got this, get back on the right track.
Action plan: If you made a bad financial choice, or if an unexpected expense arises and takes you off course, relax. Adjust your budget if you need to and continue moving on. Don’t let one bad situation get even worse by completely falling off your financial plan.
24. You can’t stop spending on yourself
Yes, it’s nice to treat ourselves every once in a while. But if you’re feeling broke or wondering where your money goes, check to see how much you spend on yourself. It may not even be conscious. If you keep track of how often you spend money unnecessarily on yourself in a given week or month you may surprise yourself.
Be hard on yourself and ask yourself if the money you spend is a want or a need. If you’re spending to fulfill a basic necessity, then by all means spend. But if you’re feeling broke or trying to get on the right foot financially, try as hard as you can to not spend on yourself unnecessarily.
Action plan: Try a 30-day no-spend challenge. Aim to not spend any money outside of necessities. This will help break the habit of spending on yourself and help you discover what’s important. You’ll also jump-start your savings which will make you feel GREAT!
25. You think you have to own a house
Wrong. You don’t have to do anything. And if homeownership is making you feel house poor and broke all the time, then maybe it’s not for you. Or maybe it’s not for you right now.
Houses come with a ton of unexpected expenses beyond the mortgage, insurance, and taxes. If you are feeling the pinch as far as owning a home is concerned, consider selling it and renting.
Action plan: If you have more mortgage than you can afford, consider selling your home. If you’re considering buying a home, make a realistic budget and include everything and anything you can think of that you’d have to pay for. Make sure you truly understand the entire cost of homeownership before you dive in.
Things to do when you don’t want to spend money:
- Start a budget.
- Be grateful for what you do have. Despite your feeling broke there are others in worse financial situations. Being grateful for what you do have may put it into perspective and make you feel better.
- Sell things that don’t have sentimental value to you.
- Redecorate a room using things in storage.
- Work on the garden or weed.
- Download a podcast and listen to it.
- Binge watch that tv series you’ve been meaning to.
- Cook meals for the week (use what you already have in the fridge/pantry).
- Go bird watching at a nearby park.
- Exercise at home.
- Play a board game.
- Finish that project you started.
- Volunteer (ask family or friends to join you).
- Play a video game with your kids.
- Carpool to work. Save some money and gain some socialization!
- Go hiking.
- Find a museum that offers free admission.
- Host a clothing swap.
- Wash your car by hand.
- Watch a sunrise/sunset.
- Leave your credit cards/debit cards at home.
- Clean the bathrooms.
- Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
- Take a walk in a new neighborhood.
- Declutter one room (or drawer, or shelf).
- Wash the kitchen floors.
- Take a hot bath.
- Clean out your inbox.
- Have a picnic in your yard or local park.
- Invite friends over and play charades.
- Find, and use up samples of makeup and perfume you have lying around.
- subscribe from emails that tempt you to spend.
- Visit a library and check out books or movies.
- Try a new recipe.
- Start a journal.
- Dust off that puzzle and put it together.
- Make a time capsule with your kids.
- Swap movies with a friend.
- Write a letter or make a homemade card and send.
- Color or paint.
- Look through old photos.
- Give yourself a mani/pedi.
- Sell something you own but don’t use.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Make a grocery list of what you need and stick to it.
- Go somewhere to people watch (park, mall, etc.).
- Camp in the backyard.
- Clean out your refrigerator.
- Check out a local free event (concert in the park?).
- Make homemade pizza.
- Play a yard game with your kids (or dog).
- Sift through the kids’ toys and donate.
- Start (or finish) that book on your nightstand.
- Take a nap (zzzzz).
- Make a sandcastle (beach or backyard sandbox).
- Challenge yourself to spend less time on social media.
- Do a random act of kindness.
- Operate on a cash-only basis today.
- Cancel a subscription you don’t use or could give up.
- Find one way to automate your savings.
- Call your bank or loan company and ask for a lower rate.
- Make a vision board.
- Visit someone (yes, face-to-face).
Not everyone who has money makes more money than you. Not all who appear to have money do. Take the next best step you can to better your financial situation and you’ll stop feeling broke soon. Action is what will change your situation. Not wishing it will go away. Also, identify what is truly important in your life and you’ll realize the most valuable things you can’t buy with money.
Do you ever feel broke? What do you do to help feel less broke?