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How To Be Fun And Happy Even If You’re Broke

How To Be Fun And Happy Even If You’re Broke

Let’s face it, we all have different ideas of what being broke means. For most of us, having nothing left in the bank account until the next payday is usually pretty close. I’ve been broke most of my adult life but with a bunch of kids and a sled dog team, that doesn’t surprise me — or hurt my feelings anymore.

It’s hard to see celebrities on TV and think of the lives they have that we likely won’t – ever. But does it matter? Sure, there are some great rags to riches stories, but you can have as much fun and happiness being broke as not.

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Being broke is more a state of mind than an actual issue and if you start to look at it that way, you can overcome any anxiety or stress you have about being broke and have fun and be happy anyway.

Look at what you have.

Are you really broke? Like living in your car or at a homeless shelter broke? If so, it’s probably going to be harder to feel better about what you have. But if you’re not, then really look around. Is your electricity on? Do you have food in the fridge? Enough gas in the car to get to work? Clothes to wear? If so, then relax and remember that a lot of people in a lot of places in the world would consider this to be a sign of wealth. Smile because you and your family are well taken care of. And if you’re struggling to put a meal on the table, then seek out help at a local church or food bank.

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Do fun, cheap stuff.

There are lots of things you can do without needing any money. You can camp out with the kids in your backyard. You can have awesome sex without needing a dime (assuming you have a partner already). You can read a book from the library — or three. You can borrow movies from the library. Cook something awesome out of stuff you have in your pantry. Play board games. Get on with your life. You don’t need money to pursue your dreams. Find the steps you can take to getting towards your goal that don’t require money. Exercise. Exercise always makes you feel better — and you don’t need money to do it.

Don’t stress about bills.

I used to have horrible anxiety. As a teenager, I would wake up in the middle of the night freaking out in a cold sweat over algebra class homework I hadn’t done. As I got older, my stresses became the phone bill or electric bill I couldn’t pay. What I’ve learned through the years is that even if the phone gets turned off (and it has a couple of times) or the electric gets turned off (and it did once), you can’t let it take over your life. If you and your family are safe and secure with enough to eat, sometimes that has to be good enough. Be upfront with those to whom you owe money and let them know when you can pay a bill. Try and negotiate smaller payments. If you have kids, try to be normal about abnormal things. If the electricity is off – cook outside. It’s hard to not freak out when stuff like this happens, but trying to be cheerful through hard times can make them more bearable.

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Be rich in mindset.

It’s important to understand that a lot of rich people aren’t really rich. In fact, you might think that they have money simply by how they act when in fact they might be as broke as you. People who are actually wealthy (in cash) might act stressed and frazzled, proving that being rich with cash may not be the best thing for everyone. Practice being appreciative of what you have and acting rich despite your circumstances. Be grateful for small things and not miserly in spirit. People who grouse all the time about having money, not having money or how much things cost regardless of how much money they have are boring. Period.

Stop acting like a broke person and be rich in spirit. If you truly desire wealth, then work towards that but don’t miss the little opportunities to appreciate your family at the same time. Be happy with what you have no matter what your circumstances and learn to live within your means.

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Laugh more, worry less. If the electricity is off (well, then you’re probably not reading this article), then make the best of it — especially if you can’t fix it any time soon. Do what you can with what you have and be happy about it. Life is too short to grouse about money.

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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