August 11, 2022

Lessons learned from being broke

A lot of people are panicking about having less money but when I look back on my life now, the times that I have been the happiest have been when I have been broke.

Quote: A wise person should hace money in their head, but not in their heart. By Jonathan Swift.

There wasn’t the great benefit safety net when I left home, was a single parent, or a mature student. In a wierd kind of way that brought the best out in me. I was more creative, appreciated things more, made more of an effort, and didn’t take things for granted.

I retired 7 years ago and have been living on a very small private pension since. This has brought out my skills, ingenuity and helped me find joy in simple things. For the last few months I have been doing some freelance writing which has improved my income by 50%. However, lots of days I find myself feeling rushed, and the need to produce some articles each week hangs over me, causing stress. This doesn’t make sense as I write every day for my blog or private group. Maybe it is because I don’t feel that my time is free and ‘mine’ any more. I don’t want to fall into that pit of trading time for money again, and need to find some way to balance this as the money has really helped with rising prices. I am therefore working through my thoughts and reminding myself of lessons already learned.

When we are in work we fear losing our jobs. Giving up my secure, well paid job and retiring early, was the biggest leap of fear that I have ever taken, and on many occasions I faltered and nearly talked myself out of doing it. I was on my own with no financial safety net. I do understand that if giving up your job is not a choice it can feel devastating and the worst thing in the world. Many people fear losing their jobs soon when recession hits. However, it might not be the disaster that you imagine. Life goes on. You just adapt. New opportunities and experiences, that you would not have considered previously, present themselves.

Over the last 7 years I have learned the following things.

  1. You can live on much less then you thought you could. Fear of having no money is worse than the reality. Yes you need to change your spending habits and can’t have everything you want, but you can still have fun, you can still have holidays. I live well below the benefits thresh hold and don’t claim, but I don’t feel like I am doing without.
  2. Something always, always turns up. It is weird and sounds like ‘woo woo’ but it does. This has happened to me so many times eg finding a fiver in the bottom of a handbag when we had no food, finding a bike in a skip when my daughter wanted one, a stranger on a course offering to lend me a tent when I wanted to take the kids on holiday. There are so many times this has happened. You can attract what you need.You have to believe and open your mind and be positive and optimistic that things will work out, though, as if you think that you are unlucky, then you will attract bad luck. Your brain will unconsciously look for ways to fulfill your thoughts. Have you noticed that when you think about buying a certain car, you suddenly notice them every where? Your brain unconsciously looks for them.
  3. Being broke brings out your creativity. Our first settee I built out of an old bed I found in a skip, a piece of foam and a throw. I play Ready, Steady, Cook regularly with what I have in and what I have grown. I have learnt to think outside of the box and find real satisfaction in solving problems, providing what we need out of nothing, and finding new ways to add joy to my life.
  4. It is ok to accept what others give you. I found this hard at first as it felt like charity. I forgot that people get joy out of giving, and often it is things that people don’t want or need anyway. I try to give now, even though I don’t have much. Kindness attracts kindness.
  5. I thought I was frugal when I worked but didn’t realise how much money I had wasted before. There were so many things that were doubled or out of date in my cupboard, I had so many clothes and possessions I didn’t need. I took so many things to car boot sales and, if I was tech savvy, could have sold so much more on the Internet. I now have a £0 budget and don’t spend any money unless I have to, or am treating myself. If you set a budget, eg £50 for food, you will spend it whether you need to or not.
  6. There are so many free resources out there on line and in the community. Libraries, community projects, food waste projects, free courses, community orchards, the countryside, parks, are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. You don’t need to spend money to be entertained and have fun. You are also not alone. There are groups on line that support each other and share frugal tips.
  7. You don’t need everything you think you do. Eg. You can live a few days without bread, you just make flatbread out of flour and water, or you can still make that spag bol without a tin of tomatoes, you just use the tomato puree with water. You can live without shower gel. You just use a bar of soap instead as it lasts longer. It really won’t kill you to make do until you can afford to buy something, we have just got used to having everything now. I have gone months without a washing machine and without a car until I got new ones. I just adapted.
  8. You can feel rich even when you are poor. Change your mindset from feelings of lack to abundance. You have a choice, you can be grateful for what you have or miserable for what you don’t have, but I have found that even if you get what you want, you are never satisfied. There will always be something else you want. Our society teaches us to want and expect more and more, when really we need very little to survive and thrive. It might not be the life you envisaged, but it can still be a good one.

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  1. Eve February 16, 2023 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Hi Toni.
    I agree that something always turns up when you need it with a positive attitude.
    There have been many times that has happened to me. I call it “Cosmic ordering ”
    I’m often amazing my family with this. Positivity attracts Positivity.

    • ToniG February 17, 2023 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      People call it manifesting and the law of attraction too. Yes positivity really does attract positivity x

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