“How to be Broke”

Posted on December 29, 2011


“How to be Broke (on a Budget)”

“I blame the economy!”

*rolls eyes*

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I always flinch when people reference intangible scapegoat “the economy” when searching for a place to lay blame for all of life’s problems. They find themselves unable to accurately link the cause of their despair back to a single politician or corporation, so they lick their wounds and moan about how “Wall Street” has screwed them. They have screwed you…but at least know who you’re angry at.)

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Saying that our economy and job markets have taken a hit is the understatement of the decade. Times are tough. Ask somebody if they are broke; some won’t admit it, others will be brutally honest. There used to be times when I would grow bored with my 9-5 job, quit, and have three new prospects to choose from within the week. People just aren’t hiring or paying like they once were. We have become a nation of haves, have-nots, and barely-still-haves.

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But let’s be optimistic; no matter how grim or hopeless things may seem, opportunity is still out there. You might have to grind until your hair turns gray, but eventually you’ll succeed at what you’re good at. The mantra “Never give up on your dreams” is more important now than ever before. Its time to side-step that lazy bitch, the recession. Slow down our income? Cost us jobs?

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No way, man. We have things to do and moves to make. Whether we build our empires one shift, 16 bars, or one piece at a time; we’re prepared to ride out this storm. Human beings, baby! We’re resilient. Maybe…  

Stay In!

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Bored on a Friday night? Got $37 to your name? Good. Stay the hell out of the club! This goes for movies/bars/dinners out, too. Even if you’re super-social and have a hard time sitting still, try just staying home some nights. Remind yourself of life’s simple pleasures. Catch up on housework. When you get bored with TV in the first hour, play video games. If that gets old, paint something. Write a song; even if it is about how broke and bored you are. You never know; it might be hit!

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You can go back to the club when the DJ starts giving you spins.

Shed Vices:

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Health issues aside, if you smoke cigarettes/roll blunts/drink daily, this would be a great time to stop.

*lights menthol*

While these habits do serve as a temporary escape from a grim existence, they all cause a significant financial drain.

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Try quitting cold turkey. A full day without it will put you in a good position on quitting; you’ll be proud of your streak and won’t want to break it. You’ll be annoyed and grouchy for two days tops.    Image

If you do keep smoking, smoke them in shorts (light/extinguish/relight.) You don’t need a full 100 every time, and eventually you’ll realize, “These taste like shit; why am I even bothering with this?” Exercise helps, too. As time goes on and you see progress, the thought of smoking again will seem counter-productive.

 Stay Out Of Jail!

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Don’t do anything drastic that can result in your incarceration. You used to be able to pay your debt to society with your time alone. Now, you can also expect to pay a bail bondsman/fines/fees/court costs/restitution/anger management/domestic violence/drug & alcohol treatment/probation. For what, stealing a few dime bags? Robbing a gas station?

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Your sitting in jail only hurts your family, and your chances of getting ahead.

Find a legal hustle and do a lot of it. 

Cutting Corners:

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It is possible to maintain your current comfort level, but you may have to downgrade standards on a few basics. If a friend tells you he prefers the taste of his store brand soda to a Pepsi or Coke, he’s probably lying; but only to conceal his desire to sock away money. Nobody prefers a “Mountain Explosion” to a cold Mountain Dew, but depending on where you shop, the price difference can be staggering. Small sacrifices like this can have a big impact on your bottom line.

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Broke folks are always associated with Ramen noodles, too. These are cheap, and can be delicious…in moderation. Thinking back to the weak/fatigued feeling of having them 3 times a day, I caution you to have them with meat, veggies, or gravy. They make a quick snack or a cheap base for a meal, but cannot sustain life alone.

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No matter how poor we get, resorting to substituting toilet paper with newspaper is never acceptable; it is savage. If you have to panhandle to keep it in stock, do it (or do like my grandma did, and swipe a roll from every public restroom you visit.)

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While we’re on the topic of basic essentials, soap is never optional. Even if seems like you have nothing else to offer the world, at least you’ll feel good about yourself and emit a fresh scent; priceless in most situations.

Avoid the Gucci cycle:

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If you’re like me, the things you own are not necessarily the “best” ones, but the right ones. This is as true for furniture and clothing as it is for watches and cars. If you’re a slave to labels, expect your clothing budget not to go as far. If you wear one Armani t-shirt instead of ten Fruit of the Looms, realize you’ll be wearing it more frequently; it is going to get raggedy faster. Go low-tech on the basics (t-shirts, etc.) and save your money for the right jacket or shoes.

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Stick to neutral colors, too. Those green and orange Nikes are dope, but they don’t match a damn thing in your wardrobe.

Pets:

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Even if you have one goldfish in a bowl on your dresser, you’ve got mouths to feed. Pets can never go hungry due to our inability to get money. If it comes down to buying one joint or a bag of cheap-ass dog food, do the right thing. If the dog hasn’t up and left your broke ass yet, he is your best friend; treat him right.  

Summary:

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Don’t let the media’s unemployment numbers/hiring freezes/past let-downs discourage you. It doesn’t matter if you’re rapping, producing, writing, making art, cashiering at Wal-Mart, or delivering pizzas; do the very best you can, and do it many times.

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Save every cent as if Social Security won’t be there. Submit your work to as many people as possible. Stay positive no matter what you’re up against. Things can only get better.

-KZ

 @KZHighSociety/2011   

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