There is no doubt about it, being broke sucks. But that isn’t to say you can’t learn valuable lessons from being broke. These are the most important lessons I learned from being broke.
- Credit cards are a good thing when used correctly. You can earn cash back, free flights, and free hotel stays, win!
- Debt is the devil. It is the devil waiting to poke you with its pointy pitchfork. No one likes that.
- Banks are the devil too. Fees, fines, charges, crap interest. The banks are the devil with two pointy pitchforks.
- Mint is mint. We have a lot of love for Mint at LMM. For a lot of us, it was our first step in taking control of our finances.
- Investing is what makes people rich. Starting your own business is one path to riches, but not everyone can or wants to start their own business. But all of us can and should be investing. Always be investing.
- I don’t need everything. Neither do you. Stop buying shit!
- Staying home is ok. Invite friends over to cook a meal, watch the game, play cards. Not only will you spend less than if you go out, but unless you have crappy friends, they’ll bring some booze!
- Education is critical (books, not college). This one is controversial, but for the same eleventy billion dollars you spent on college you could buy a lot of books. College is one path to education, but it’s not the only one.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for money. Whether this means not getting low balled on freelance work or asking your boss for a raise, no one is going to give you money unless you ask.
- Job security is a myth (except for teachers). The days of being a “company man” and retiring after thirty years with a pension and gold watch are over folks. You have to be flexible and always looking for the next opportunity even if you feel secure in your current situation.
- Owning a home is not for everyone. This ties into #10. If you lose your job and can’t find work in your area, you can’t pack up and go if you are tied down with a house. There are a lot of hidden costs both regarding money and time when you own a home.
- Build an emergency fund for peace of mind. Having that cushion allows you to sleep easier at night. You could survive a job loss or a pay cut or an expensive car repair.
- Junk mail. The clue is in the name. Credit card offers, coupons for stuff you don’t need and won’t use. Don’t even open it, straight into the shredder.
- Bad habits are killing you. Overeating, smoking, drinking to excess. You are wasting money, harming yourself, and costing the future you tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses and missed work.
- Choose Your Friends Wisely. Don’t spend time with toxic people. Surround yourself with people who support your goals and chuck anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself.
- Do what makes you happy. Just the simple things, a good cup of coffee, a walk in the park, spending times with your now detoxed list of friends.
- Hobbies are important. Choose a hobby that you enjoy, that teaches you something, that enriches your life. Maybe you can even make a little extra money at it!
- You are your own worst enemy. We are the choices we make. You don’t need to be told that a credit card is not free money. You don’t need to be told that letting your student loans default is a terrible choice. Whatever you tell yourself that allows you to continue that kind of behavior, stop. Just stop, it’s that simple.
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Louis Jadot Beaujolais: A lovely French wine with notes of fresh red fruit and a hint of dark cherry.
Mint: LMM’s favorite budgeting tool.