Lessons in Broke 101

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If I learned anything from being an “adult” it’s that you better learn to adapt, or you’re going down. Also, never be ashamed to seek out help. Even when my work was more on the steady side, it wasn’t enough to have my medical expenses covered. Thanks Obama. Then when I realized I no longer wanted to be treated like shit and walked away from my last okay paying gig, I was left with very little. Food was once something I never had to worry about, but for the first time in my adult life – I realized I needed to do something to ensure I didn’t starve. So I walked into the Welfare Office and man…If you’ve never had to go to one of those, consider yourself lucky. It’s one of the most depressing places on earth. You sit and watch those who struggle with English seek out any sort of help from others sitting there, young moms try and handle a kid or two on top of their paperwork, and then you have a cascade of others sitting in there wondering where their life took a wrong turn.

Having to get on Welfare though instilled in me the idea of saving. I wish I’d done that a lot sooner, but better late than never. Today I try and make sure I put at least 20% of whatever I make away in an “when shit hits the fan” account. There’s not much in it, as rent and bills sometimes have to borrow from there, but I always make sure to try and put back what I take out. Saving also had to be a thing after I realized that freelance writing doesn’t equate to the normal taxes. You end up paying because most jobs are straightforward and don’t take anything out. So come tax time, you don’t want to be hit in the face with a bill you may not be able pay. So “when shit hits the fan” fund also doubles as a “for the man when it’s time” fund as well.

Growing up we weren’t the richest kids nor were we the poorest, but we were far below middle class. My mom always made sure we had enough and went out of her way when we did want the best. I wish my brothers and I didn’t make her do that. Now that I’m older and it’s more apparent how money works when it comes to bills and rent, I can’t believe we demanded new clothes and backpacks every year for school. She was right, last year’s backpack was just fine. Today, I will wear the same pair of shoes until they are the saddest form of a shoe on earth. On top of that, those shoes were far from full price. If it’s not on sale, it’s not worth the purchase.

Living with the bare minimum as an adult has taught me The Dollar Tree is fine for beauty products, you don’t need to buy new clothes every time you go somewhere new, and saving – it’s a damn necessity because you never know when you’re going to fall down and when you do, at least you’ll have a little nest to help you get back up for a second.

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