Broke, Busted, and Disgusted

Most people have, at one time or another, been broke. Of course, the term is subjective. I have friends who say they were broke as teenagers, but their family had plenty. They just didn’t have an abundance of disposable income. Others, have been working from paycheck to paycheck and still aren’t able to keep up with all the bills.

I’ve been broke, busted, and disgusted more than once. There is such a thing as a money mentality. It can be distorted, especially if you’ve suffered abuse. Child sexual abuse is a core violation that tends to leave victims with a sense of unworthiness and brokenness that extends to every area of life. Money is a tool, but much like food and clothing, we cannot do without it. We need it to survive. Abuse causes our survival instincts to manage differently than stability does. It affects our money mindset in ways that can be detrimental.

Mine has certainly shifted from my childhood numerous times. When I was little, living with a single mom, we might scrape pennies together for gas to go to the beach or buy a can of tuna to feed three or four people. Then, as a nurse I bought my children beautiful dresses and we ate well. I got sick in the early 90s and… busted again for a few years.

My husband and I have five children. Through the years we have gone in and out of debt for one reason or another. We’ve been absolutely disgusted with our financial status at times. Other years we had savings and managed well.

Management is the key. Obviously, I have not had a good handle on it, especially in recent years. I think anyone can get blindsided, though. A death in the family, a catastrophic event, unexpected job loss, or lessor incremental expenses, like home repairs or stuff breaking down.

We had just paid all our debt from our experience in real estate investing when I got sick again. This time we spent $48k out-of-pocket in medical expenses. Friends rallied and we held our own, but lost two houses to the banks. We haven’t fully recovered yet, but I did learn some lessons.

Budgeting works when life is fairly stable.

During times that our lives were relatively consistent we were able to keep a budget. When we were hit with thousands of dollars in doctors bills unexpectedly over and over again, not so much. The same happens if you have old cars. One repair after another builds quickly, depleting your resources to get a newer car and driving you down into the hole. It doesn’t have to be a heavy hit, like a debilitating illness to derail your budget. As soon as life becomes stable again, get back on the budgeting system.

Cut out the frills without suffering.

We cut the cable and the satellite tv. We were never in the habit of eating out, but even celebrations were toned down a bit. To be aware of what is a luxury and what is needed will really depend a lot on where you live and work. If you cut too much, you could fall into the trap of self pity and resentment. Happiness is about what’s happening. So, try to cultivate joy instead. Finding fun things to do and great people to be around is far more gratifying than a steak dinner that will be gone by morning.

Sell stuff you don’t need.

When I was very sick, I didn’t know if I would even survive. That isn’t the time to try to sell stuff. In the midst of crisis, your brain cannot handle too many complications. Just get well first, take care of the immediate needs, let the urgent matters be your focus. After the funeral or whatever the event that depleted your finances has settled, it is time to look at ways to recover. Selling stuff you don’t use is a great way to chip away at debt. Depending on your situation, selling online or yard sales, or even a consignment shop could bring relief.

Stay Positive.

At one point, we had $90k in credit card debt. We had funded our new business completely with cash advances. Bad move! I managed to pay almost the entire debt in three years. It was hard work, lots of planning, careful accounting, and sacrifices, but we did it. You can too. I don’t recommend getting into debt, but if it happens, you can get out. Seek out stories of other to encourage you along the way. Stay focused on the goal and work the process. Be at it at least weekly. If you’re selling stuff, as soon as you get that money, pay bills. Get the interest bearing debt first and you’ll soon be rolling.

You might be broke, busted, or disgusted, but you don’t need to stay there. Life is not stagnant. The ups, downs and sideways moments happen to everyone. You can get through this victoriously.

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