How to be ridiculously broke

Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.
~Ayn Rand

“What?” you say, “Why the hell would I want to be ridiculously broke?” Easy. Because if you act ridiculously broke when you’re not, you can save up a crapton of money. I’ve mentioned before that I choose to be broke. I could, if I wanted to, eat out all the time, upgrade my computer so I can play all my video games, buy books instead of use the library, etc etc. If I wanted to. But doing so would mean reverting back to paying off my student loan in ten years. Not kosher.

So instead of “living it up” and remaining in debt another seven years, I decided instead to be completely broke and pay it all off as soon as possible. It’s not a difficult plan, but it does require willpower.

So here’s how to be ridiculously broke:

1) Commit. Have a goal. This is probably the most important thing. Without this, you will fail. This is what keeps you going. You can’t just say “I want…,” you have to say “I will.” I will pay off my stupi- student loan by the end of this year. I will have X in the savings account by Christmas. I will save up enough to go to a foreign country. “I want” isn’t going to be good enough.

2) Pay the savings account first, and don’t fucking touch it. If you have issues with touching the savings account, get one that requires you to withdraw in person, across town. Or get a very trustworthy friend or family member to take one out in their name, and have them deposit the money and not let you have any. I don’t have this problem so I just use the savings account tied to my checking account. When I get a check, the bills are paid first. Then a set amount of money goes into the savings account. Anything else is mine for…

3) Live off of as little as you can. Baby steps until you’re used to it. Start kicking habits one at a time. No eating out, no cigarettes, no alcohol, no spending money on anything other than food and necessities, and you can take it as far as you want. Start small, though. You can’t crash yourself from cozy to broke in two days and expect to stay that way if you’re making enough to still be cozy. You will break weak. Take your time and adjust to it…months will probably be needed.

That’s it, pretty much. Everything else is details. With a solid paycheck, I’m spending about 57% on bills (including minimums on car and student loan), 28% goes into savings, and 14% goes to food, gas/car, the cats, necessities, and amusement. This is me making effectively minimum wage. I’ve had weeks where my paycheck was bad and I only got 7-10% of it as spending money. I make myself live off of it. Right now I’m eating toast for breakfast in an attempt to save spending money to spend four days with an old friend.

Harsh? You bet. But living with a debt that requires me to work two jobs minimum is not financially or mentally stable. One day shit will hit the fan. The debt has to go. This system works very well for me. It may not work very well for you. That’s okay. Like I said, I’m able to make my credit card and savings account “mentally invisible.” Some people can’t do that. Other people can go months off their own cooking and be happy. I can, but eventually I go crazy and end up dragging myself to the nearest place that advertises burgers for a dollar. Food is my weak point. You just need to learn to accept it and work around it as best you can.

Am I exhibiting privilege by acting broke when I’m not? Sometimes I wonder this. I often remind myself that for someone in debt, this is how I should be living. Being in debt and skipping along like nothing’s wrong is not the way one should be living. I’m broke regardless of how I act. It’s also an excellent reminder of how poor people have to live. A reminder that not everyone can throw money at something, or run out the door for a take-out dinner just because they feel like it. It’s sobering.

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