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The 6 Worst Things About Being Broke, and What You Can Do About It

worst thing about being broke

Joanne Poh

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As you gaze hopelessly at your fellow human beings roaring past in their Ferraris on the way to yet another party at a club you can’t even get a job at, you sigh in resignation and then turn back to your meal of dry bread and water from the tap of the public toilet.

Being broke sucks. But there are things you can do to reduce your life’s level of suckage—things that don’t involve getting a second job or striking Toto.

1. Being Forced to Stay in a Horrible Job

As much as you try to downsize your lifestyle, being forced to work in a horrible job that you can’t afford to quit might be unavoidable… for now. If all your daydreams revolve around having that final conversation with your boss, it might be time to throw in the towel—but not just yet.

What to do: If you’re absolutely certain you can’t make it work at your current job, it’s time to look for greener pastures—which might not be a bad thing, as you might be able to negotiate with your next employer for a higher salary.

Don’t be one of those people who constantly complain about their jobs but never do anything about it. Give yourself a daily schedule spelling out how many job applications you’re going to send out and how many follow up calls you’re going to make.

2. No Social Life

What does money have to do with love, you might ask? While your friends might not expect you to scatter dollar bills everywhere you walk, being broke means that going to that swanky club that charges $500 on F1 race night is out of the question. Broke people tend to retreat into themselves, and that can not only cost them valuable opportunities to increase their income but make the sting of poverty even more bitter.

What to do: Follow our tips for socialising on the cheap right here on MoneySmart.

3. No Exercise

It already sucks to be broke, but to be broke and flabby? Unfortunately, many people are at a loss as to what to do with themselves without their hundred dollar gym memberships. It’s as if the only way they can move their feet is if there’s a treadmill underneath.

What to do: If you’re a runner, you don’t need us to tell you that you can run virtually anywhere. Do bodyweight exercises that don’t require equipment, use the fitness corners below HDB blocks and organise badminton games with your friends.

4. Poor Nutrition

Being broke often means you start relying on Maggi Mee as your sole source of nutrients. The only times you eat out are at hawker centres, and even then 80% of the time you’re forced to choose economy rice as it’s the most filling thing you can find for under $4.

What to do: Meat and processed foods are some of the most expensive items at the supermarket, so cut them out and load up on fresh vegetables and fruit if you’re looking to save money. If you’re suffering from poor nutrition, buy a few heads of broccoli, a bag of carrots, some potatoes and some leafy greens. Whip up basic salads or cook them in a simple manner to supplement your diet.

5. Substandard Healthcare

You’re genuinely ill, but end up having to queue for hours at the polyclinic with all those clowns who are just there for the MC. When the doctor prescribes medicine, you tell him you can afford only what’s absolutely necessary for your survival. And that’s just for a minor ailment….

What to do: While health insurance might be able to save you in the event of a serious accident or illness, if you really can’t cough up the money for a more complete insurance policy, activating your MediShield plan can give you a little peace of mind at least. The great thing about Medishield is that you can pay for it using Medisave. If you have enough in your Medisave account, your yearly CPF interest will more than take care of your premium payments. On a day to day basis, try to make healthier choices like getting enough sleep and not eating too much rubbish to minimise your chances of falling ill.

6. Plummeting Self Esteem

You might have food, clothes and a roof over your head, but why do you feel like a worm wherever you go? In a city where everything’s measured in dollars and cents, admitting you’re broke is like being the intern at the business networking session—just watch people turn away before you’re even done saying your name.

What to do: Think of your income as nothing more than a favourite colour or a hairstyle—it just happens to be part of your life at the moment, but is not something that will never change, and certainly not something that is going to define you forever.

Also, you might want to consciously choose situations that aren’t geared towards spending money—for instance, choosing to participate in activities related to a hobby rather than shopping trips or expensive restaurant visits.

What do you hate about being broke? Let us know in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.

  • In my case Joanne, I always got late. Sometimes, this affects my personality as a professional since I know that I might lead worst impact with my co-workers or even my boss. I just realize lately, Im very lazy in preparing things like dressing up. It takes an hour or more for me to finish that one. But later on, as I descipline myself, I made it to the point that it only takes 5mins for me to be dressed up. Know why?? Because I learned how to manage my time and move with enthusiasm. I am just very happy that now, late was never seen in my vocabulary.