Jump to content

Menu

s/o Jean's post: What is your definition of "broke"?


Recommended Posts

Since I brought it up, I'll go first! I actually have two definitions: a. no money at all $0 (which honestly we've never gotten to) and b. we're living paycheck to paycheck and at times have to only pay some of the bills because we can't pay all of them at once.

 

But - I know people who say "I'm so broke" who have rather lavish lifestyles. Perhaps they will suddenly declare bankruptcy because they really can't pay for it all, but I don't go so far as to inquire that closely into their finances.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I admit that sometimes I say "we're broke" or "we can't afford that" simply because we choose to invest or put our money elsewhere. We cannot afford everything and so we pick and choose.

 

Really being broke is when we were young and lived paycheck to paycheck and renting a movie was a luxury. It helped shaped who we are today, but I'm glad not to live like that now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd say we are broke because although we can afford to put fuel oil in the tank and have hot water (the hot water heater is not electric) I can't put oil in because it would take everything we have in savings and checking to do so. Then we would have no money until next pay day and we would be truly broke.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me it's paycheck to paycheck, not being able to put aside any savings. Having all the money you make immediately go to paying off debt and living expenses. Serious concern and stress as the end of each month nears.

 

This is what I mean by broke. Anything unexpected and you have to decide if you can hold off the electric company for another week or if it will be shut off, spending the last couple days before payday trying to stretch what food is available in the house. I've had get cash back on a check at the grocery store (with a paycheck being direct deposited that night which would cover it but no cash available yet) in order to have the money to get gas to get home from work. It sucks.

 

When I was at this point I would have been thrilled to have credit to live off of.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is what I mean by broke. Anything unexpected and you have to decide if you can hold off the electric company for another week or if it will be shut off, spending the last couple days before payday trying to stretch what food is available in the house. I've had get cash back on a check at the grocery store (with a paycheck being direct deposited that night which would cover it but no cash available yet) in order to have the money to get gas to get home from work. It sucks.

 

When I was at this point I would have been thrilled to have credit to live off of.

 

:iagree: Or digging through all the "this is where we emptied our pockets" spots around the house looking for enough change to get enough gas to get to work the next day, or to buy a gallon of milk.

 

I had a friend just tell me the other night that she's stressed over the fact that they have "only" $620 left after paying all their bills and mortgage each month. Really? Wow, I'd LOVE to have that much left over!

 

Great question. I guess being "broke" is all about one's perspective. :tongue_smilie:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Truly "broke" to me is when the outgoings- trimmed way back but on current lifestyle- are more than the incomings, and probably credit is also maxed out (if it is used). In other words...there is no where to turn. Except...to downsize I guess, cut right back to survival level. Sell off, cut back.

 

Truth is I have lived way below the poverty line for years and I never considered myself broke (before I had kids). I just lived dirt poor- largely out of choice, actually. Broke to me would be unable to pay my current bills. But, we have the capacity to downsize and sell things off...so even though if we oculdnt pay our current bills I might say we were "broke", we still have a long way between "broke" and "starving and on the street".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is what I mean by broke. Anything unexpected and you have to decide if you can hold off the electric company for another week or if it will be shut off, spending the last couple days before payday trying to stretch what food is available in the house. I've had get cash back on a check at the grocery store (with a paycheck being direct deposited that night which would cover it but no cash available yet) in order to have the money to get gas to get home from work. It sucks.

 

When I was at this point I would have been thrilled to have credit to live off of.

 

This. :iagree: My hair gets more and more gray every few days before payday.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:iagree: Or digging through all the "this is where we emptied our pockets" spots around the house looking for enough change to get enough gas to get to work the next day, or to buy a gallon of milk.

 

Great question. I guess being "broke" is all about one's perspective. :tongue_smilie:

 

:iagree:Not just with the quoted, but all of the above. Yeah, I remember those days of trying to gather as much change as we could to go to the grocery store--which we were able to walk to thank goodness. We were only using the car for hubby to drive to and from work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Broke is when we can't afford the little extras like pizza on Fri night. We live paycheck to paycheck anyway.

:iagree: Or needing to get the oil changed, or needed to replace the stockpot several months ago and waiting for that extra to do it, etc. This being for people that don't waste money on mani's, pedi's, hairdressers, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My current definition of being broke is not being able to pay personal and business expenses (including taxes) in a timely manner, and being unable to afford to purchase necessities as defined within the bounds of our new (poorer) standard of living. We can still cut back, but I'm talking a couple of hundred dollars a month, which doesn't go very far.

Edited by RoughCollie
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me, broke is at 0, dead even, no debt, no income. Or some income, but nothing left over to save.

 

From what I'm reading, it sounds like a lot of people are not just broke, but underneath even the "broke" definition.

Yes, they are. I've been there. We're thankful not to be right there anymore...but you never know when the next company will close it's doors. This is why people tire of hearing how they are tight because of various extras that they have to cut back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great question!

 

My definition of broke is when the money only covers the month. Beyond broke is when the money runs out before the month does. Way beyond broke is when there is no money, lots of month and debt. I never want to be beyond broke and thankfully, we haven't been.

 

It took my dh and me about two years to understand that he comes from a family with a different definition of broke. His parents are always broke but they own their home outright, pay cash for vehicles, always have money in their pockets and buy things that we consider pure luxuries without a second thought. I can't figure out how to get broke like they are.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me, broke is at 0, dead even, no debt, no income. Or some income, but nothing left over to save.

 

From what I'm reading, it sounds like a lot of people are not just broke, but underneath even the "broke" definition.

 

I think that the poster who mentioned net worth may be on to something.

 

Some people earn a lot, but owe much more than they earn. On the surface, they may look like they have money, but they don't. And I suppose that eventually the piper will catch up with them.

 

Some people may not have enough extra money to buy a cup of coffee, but they may fund their retirement accounts or save for their child's college education. They may have a high net worth and are far from broke--even with empty pockets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that the poster who mentioned net worth may be on to something.

 

Some people earn a lot, but owe much more than they earn. On the surface, they may look like they have money, but they don't. And I suppose that eventually the piper will catch up with them.

 

Some people may not have enough extra money to buy a cup of coffee, but they may fund their retirement accounts or save for their child's college education. They may have a high net worth and are far from broke--even with empty pockets.

 

I know. Whenever I read about people in foreclosure, or people who are underwater in their mortgages, I can only imagine how angry they must feel. They worked hard, and thought they were making wise, or at least normal, choices, and then all of a sudden the market tanked and their jobs maybe were gone. How unfair that must feel!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's beyond broke...that is truly broke.

 

Yes. I was a starving graduate student. My stipend covered tuition and fees, books, rent, and not much more. When you are young, months of rice and beans and a thermostat set just at 50 degrees are tolerable. I was better off than some of the other student, I had no one else to support. Those with children were really struggling. - I don't know about today, but at that time, students were not eligible for most low-income aid.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes. I was a starving graduate student. My stipend covered tuition and fees, books, rent, and not much more. When you are young, months of rice and beans and a thermostat set just at 50 degrees are tolerable. I was better off than some of the other student, I had no one else to support. Those with children were really struggling. - I don't know about today, but at that time, students were not eligible for most low-income aid.

Hon, I've been there...right where another mama stated that some days you just don't eat to make sure there is enough for the kids till payday, pray the electric stays on, etc. And even then, I knew people that were worse off. It really makes one appreciate what they have. I think that is why I got irritated by some of the things I've read today.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just say we are broke when we are out of petty cash. It doesn't mean we won't have a dime to our name. It just means we don't have available funds for that.

 

My best friend calls and says, "Let's go to Starbucks." My reply might sound like this, "I can't this week. We're broke until payday."

 

She and I both know that means I have savings but I'm not willing to dip into it for Starbucks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe that it is totally relative to how far "down" you have ever had to live. Hubby says we are "broke" if the number in the savings account doesn't have enough zeros at the end of it or if we actually had to use said savings to pay for anything- ever. My "broke" is more along the lines of 'milk, bread, and eggs are the entire weeks menu'. And my dear mother thought we were doing fine because we always had milk and never had to wear our coat and mittens to bed to keep warm. Plus she never had to go down to the river and fish for our supper like her mother did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just say we are broke when we are out of petty cash. It doesn't mean we won't have a dime to our name. It just means we don't have available funds for that.

 

My best friend calls and says, "Let's go to Starbucks." My reply might sound like this, "I can't this week. We're broke until payday."

 

She and I both know that means I have savings but I'm not willing to dip into it for Starbucks.

 

That's how I use it.

 

Being in the hole totally and on the verge of bankruptcy is a different story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Get one of Dave Ramsey’s books.

 

His books changed our life. We give them away as wedding presents now.

 

Ray

 

See, this is all well and good, but a Dave Ramsey book can only get you so far. Dh and I have the luxury of being able to get traction and do the snowball thing, or in our current situation, the pile up cash for stormclouds (read: layoff) ahead thing. Many, many others don't have that luxury, and struggle to come up with even a few dollars a week to start their baby emergency fund. That is what broke really is. It's having to make the hard choices some couldn't even imagine, and being in a place where getting out seems impossible sometimes.

 

We've been there. We had 6 months of unemployment starting the week before my first DS was born by unexpected c-section. The medical bills, plus the expenses of a new baby with no help/gifts from others, plus a TON of debt from before our marriage (my student loans, his free-spirit spending) left us broke, broke, broke. We had no luxuries to cut, no reducible expenses. There were many times when we had to choose between paying the electric bill and buying food...we always managed (barely) but it was the most stressful time of our life. It's definitely affected my perception of what "broke" is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me it's paycheck to paycheck, not being able to put aside any savings. Having all the money you make immediately go to paying off debt and living expenses. Serious concern and stress as the end of each month nears. :

 

:iagree: At the end of the month when dh sits down to pay the bills, I get so nervous that my stomach hurts. I used to be the one who paid the bills, but it stressed me out so much that he took over the job. We have always lived paycheck to paycheck, and we've never been able to save. Now that dh & I are in our 50's, it's a bit disconcerting. I have to say, though, that things have gotten just a little better for us in the last year or so. I'm earning a little with my tutoring and dh's business is operating in the black for now.

 

Before that--just a year or so ago--finances were regularly to the point that we had to scrounge for change to buy milk & bread or to put gas in the car. I've had to be very creative about cooking and grocery shopping--I generally had only $25-$45 dollars to spend on food each week. Sometimes it was $0, and we just had to make do the best we could with what we had in the pantry or freezer (thank God for a summer garden and winter hunting!). I've never been able to go for manicures or pedicures, or even to get my hair cut at a real salon. I cut dh's and ER's hair myself (still do). I shopped thrift stores for almost all of our clothes (still do). At birthdays, there were no gifts, but the birthday child was allowed to pick the menu for a special meal, and I would scrimp on other things to be able to afford fresh salmon or steak or ribs to cook at home. Renting a movie and ordering pizza were rare luxuries. If anything unexpected came up--car repairs, doctor bills (we have no health insurance), we had to decide which bill could wait to be paid. There were no vacations, although sometimes we would accompany dh on a business trip and we'd get to stay in a hotel. The kids always thought we were on vacation because we stayed in a hotel and got to swim in the pool and even eat out a couple of times. (But a lot of times it was sandwiches or cereal in the hotel room instead.) I've always dreamed of taking my kids to Disney for a REAL vacation, but we could never afford it. Now they are 16 & 20, and I'm not sure it would hold the same magic as it would have years ago, but still, I dream.

Edited by ereks mom
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Broke for us would mean not having the actual cash to pay the bills that are currently due or not being able to cover an unexpected necessary expense like car or furnace repairs. That has never happened to us.

 

In casual conversation, I'll say, "I can't, I'm broke." When I don't want to spend money for some reason, either I've already spent too much, or we've got a lot of bills coming in that month. But I don't really mean I'm broke as in above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since I brought it up, I'll go first! I actually have two definitions: a. no money at all $0 (which honestly we've never gotten to) and b. we're living paycheck to paycheck and at times have to only pay some of the bills because we can't pay all of them at once.

 

We always have enough to pay our bills. Sometimes we have nothing left over & that is uncomfortable & having *no* money for play & fun sucks for sure.

 

IMHO though, the true sense of "broke" should result in lack (closer to your second definition). Can't pay bills. Can't afford food, clothes, shelter, warmth, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was when we were living on money that husband actually owed to the IRS, but which he had got permission to delay in paying. His job in an internet start-up had gone to part time and he wasn't being paid for that; I was making minimum wage while working on my MBA.

 

Laura

Edited by Laura Corin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When we were first married and I was completing my degree, we lived in married housing at the college. Dh had his first post-college job and it was good from the standpoint of earning experience, but the pay was ridiculously low for the work he did. I went to school full-time to finish up (21 credits per semester) and was a teaching assistant. The teaching assistant pay was paid out only ONCE per semester at the end. No one got a pay check. They waited to see if you owed anything at the end of the semester, applied it to your school bill, and then issued you a check for the balance. The pay was only $2.50 an hour!!!!! I kid you not, $2.50 an hour and I would never have taken it at that price but they tied it to a scholarship I desperately needed....."We'll give you this big music scholarship and in return you will work for me for $2.50 an hour!" - that's pretty much how it was stated. I taught, as an undergrad, the music half of the general Fine Arts class, Freshman music theory because none of the music professors wanted to teach it that semester and since I was gifted in that arena, they all stuck me with it, and piano lessons for eight children in the college's gifted youth musician's piano program. So, for all of that hard work, I went week after week without getting any money.

 

We would pay our rent - $250.00 per month, the car payment - $200.00 per month, utilities, car insurance, etc. and then count up how many dollars we needed for gas for Dh to drive back and forth to work - 26 miles round trip. What was left was groceries and personal care items. The only reason I could afford pads and tampons was because when we were on our honeymoon, mom brought all of our wedding gifts to our apartment and while there, bought a year's supply of products for me and stashed them away since she knew our finances would be "tighter than two coats of paint." That's the only way I could afford to take care of myself in that department because usually $20.00 per week was all we had.

 

Additionally, dh was paid only monthly because he worked for a non-profit. They wanted to save money by only having a part-time payroll officer so paychecks were only issued on the 30th of the month. So, it wasn't as if there could be a little ouchy with the money one week but there would be some money the next week to help balance it out.

 

I had a miscarriage (on the pill, taking it as prescribed, got pregnant anyway - I am a fertile, myrtle) and couldn't afford to see the OBGYN...I just went into the free college clinic and talked with the nurse. It was bleeding very, very badly and really needed a D & C but couldn't imagine where the money to pay for it would come from. Our medical insurance had a $1000.00 deductible and let me tell ya, there was no mercy from the doctors or hospitals in that area...the little county hospital, required to take everyone, did not have a maternity department and did not do those procedures there, and the other hospitals would call your insurance company, find out how much your deductible was and if you couldn't right a check, "THERE'S THE DOOR, DON'T LET IT HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT" was the attitude. By the nurse's estimation, I lost at least two pints of blood and probably more before the bleeding slowed down. I passed out several times and one of the guys I knew from my classes noticed that I passed out on the lawn near our place - dh had the car at work so I had to walk back to the apartment from the clinic- picked me up, carried me inside, and called dh at work. When I came to, I thanked him profusely for helping me but asked him to never call dh again because it was long distance to his place of work and I didn't feel we could afford the phone call! Dh's boss wouldn't let him leave work to come take care of me because he hadn't applied for a vacation day in advance and sick days could only be used for the employee's own illness not a spouse or child. I laid there for about five hours with no one to check on me.

 

It was the most broke we've ever been and I pray, that with three children to finish raising and one we are trying to get through her post-high school education, we will never be that broke again. I cannot imagine doing that with children.

 

Faith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I admit that sometimes I say "we're broke" or "we can't afford that" simply because we choose to invest or put our money elsewhere. We cannot afford everything and so we pick and choose.

 

At some point when our kids were younger we stopped saying "we can't afford it" and switched to "that's not in my budget right now." Same reason as above--we choose how to spend our money and won't buy everything we want. But saying we couldn't afford gave our kids a wrong impression of our financial situation. Dh and I decided it would be better in our situation to let the kids know that we're prioritizing our purchases. "Not in our budget" helps us do that.

 

Cinder

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:iagree: Or needing to get the oil changed, or needed to replace the stockpot several months ago and waiting for that extra to do it, etc. This being for people that don't waste money on mani's, pedi's, hairdressers, etc.

 

To me, broke is at 0, dead even, no debt, no income. Or some income, but nothing left over to save.

 

From what I'm reading, it sounds like a lot of people are not just broke, but underneath even the "broke" definition.

 

:iagree:

With both of you.

 

We don't say we're broke very often anymore, bc most people frown on a large family being broke.

 

Instead we say, "We don't need that right now." Most of the time it is true and helps us keep things in perspective.

 

There's a whole lotta a stuff we don't NEED or need RIGHT NOW.:001_unsure:

 

But boy those unbudgeted right now needs like a flat tire or broken home whatever, or physical therapy or.... -- sometimes they'd go a long time before taken care of.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was broke when I worked 60 hours a week and earned just enough to cover my rent, car payment, and utilities, had no savings, and ate nothing but peanut butter on white bread and eggs. I didn't feel broke, though, at the time. It's different when you're young and only have yourself to worry about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there are a few applications of broke.

 

For instance: We're currently broke. Dh is working on our "new" house while I stay at my parents with ds. I'm sick and when I'm sick dh will always bring a Happy Meal, as that is my comfort food. I don't have enough money to go buy a Happy Meal even if I wasn't too dizzy to drive. Dh would have driven down and brought me one if he would have had the cash. (love that man). We're too broke for something that is decidedly a convenience.

 

Broke at a different level: Dh has been un/underemployed since May. We decided to move closer to my parents because there was no work in his industry where we lived. My car's heater went out last year, wasn't an issue where we used to live, it never got really cold. No money to fix heater. Wear gloves when you drive, because it gets colder here. The car's heater is really the tip of the iceberg. :glare: The move was part of the "don't be so broke" strategy because we cut our housing expenses by 2/3rds in the move. Two cars paid for, feels much better to have a broken car and NO payment than to have a payment and not be able to fix it.

 

Broke at a much different level (BTDT): You make jokes about saving the postage to mail the utilities, you just write them a check when they come to the door to turn it off. Then you pray over the checkbook after they leave and hope the check doesn't make it to your bank before Friday.

 

You try not to cry when you child, who is too young to understand finances, wants a food item in the grocery and you can't afford it. I'm not talking candy or junk food, just like real food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Applying for and getting new credit cards with six months interest free and moving the growing amount owed from card to card to avoid interest - over a decade ago as had to find some way to pay for needed therapy, not covered by insurance, for one of the kids and this was the ONLY way to cover it.

 

Happily we were able to refinance the house and part of the closing including checks being cut to pay off the credit cards!

 

Now it is pay check to pay check - BUT anything on the ONE credit card is paid in full each month.

 

No - we don't eat out, either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never really thought about it, but I suppose I use the term most to describe a situation where you can't afford anything extra and you're just barely able to make ends meet. As in, "No, don't invite her to go to lunch with us, I know she's really broke right now and it would just make her sad."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I admit that sometimes I say "we're broke" or "we can't afford that" simply because we choose to invest or put our money elsewhere. We cannot afford everything and so we pick and choose.

 

Really being broke is when we were young and lived paycheck to paycheck and renting a movie was a luxury. It helped shaped who we are today, but I'm glad not to live like that now.

 

:iagree:

 

I have never been down to my last dime - thank God, but I have been known to say I am broke or I can't afford to do so and so meaning that I choose not to spend the money.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have never been down to my last dime - thank God, but I have been known to say I am broke or I can't afford to do so and so meaning that I choose not to spend the money.

 

I've seen a lot of people in this thread say this. And my in-laws do it. When they do it, it hurts. Why? Because quite frankly, it's a lie. If one actually HAS the money to do something but is CHOOSING not to, that is NOT "broke". Why not just say the truth which is "It's not in the budget right now," or "We're saving our money for XYZ." Or just simply, "no".

 

If you're in the camp that says "I'm broke" when you're really just choosing not to do something, please stop and consider how that affects the people to whom you're saying it. Generally, they know you're lying, that you're not really broke. This can cause hurt feelings very easily.... especially when it's a grandparent who would rather take their vacation to Florida than spend time with their grandchildren.... every year. :confused: Or remodel their kitchen instead of coming to spend birthdays with the grandchildren.... the year after they remodeled a bedroom, which was the year after they remodeled the family room.....

 

Saying "I'm broke" when you're really choosing to spend your time and money on things or people other than your grandchildren (or whoever, maybe a friend), is a much bigger deal for some than just the amount of money in your bank account. It's an issue of TIME. Preferences. Priorities. Those people that you're choosing NOT to spend time with because you're "broke" (but not really) might believe you the first time, and maybe even the second time. But eventually they catch on. :thumbdown:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen a lot of people in this thread say this. And my in-laws do it. When they do it, it hurts. Why? Because quite frankly, it's a lie. If one actually HAS the money to do something but is CHOOSING not to, that is NOT "broke". Why not just say the truth which is "It's not in the budget right now," or "We're saving our money for XYZ." Or just simply, "no".

 

If you're in the camp that says "I'm broke" when you're really just choosing not to do something, please stop and consider how that affects the people to whom you're saying it. Generally, they know you're lying, that you're not really broke. This can cause hurt feelings very easily.... especially when it's a grandparent who would rather take their vacation to Florida than spend time with their grandchildren.... every year. :confused: Or remodel their kitchen instead of coming to spend birthdays with the grandchildren.... the year after they remodeled a bedroom, which was the year after they remodeled the family room.....

 

Saying "I'm broke" when you're really choosing to spend your time and money on things or people other than your grandchildren (or whoever, maybe a friend), is a much bigger deal for some than just the amount of money in your bank account. It's an issue of TIME. Preferences. Priorities. Those people that you're choosing NOT to spend time with because you're "broke" (but not really) might believe you the first time, and maybe even the second time. But eventually they catch on. :thumbdown:

 

I'm sorry you have been hurt by your parents or in-laws, but I do think you are reading too much into what some of us are saying. I say I can't afford things like 3-d movies or sometimes movies at all. I'm not broke, but I don't choose to spend my money on frivolous items when I'm saving for college, retirement, braces, etc.

 

Trust me, I'm going to try to spoil my grandkids rotten. I am going to be changing what I say though, because I think it is healthier for my kids. I am going to say it's not in the budget like another poster mentioned.

 

I don't think anyone here is pretending to be broke though for the reasons you've mentioned. :grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry you have been hurt by your parents or in-laws, but I do think you are reading too much into what some of us are saying. I say I can't afford things like 3-d movies or sometimes movies at all. I'm not broke, but I don't choose to spend my money on frivolous items when I'm saving for college, retirement, braces, etc.

 

Trust me, I'm going to try to spoil my grandkids rotten. I am going to be changing what I say though, because I think it is healthier for my kids. I am going to say it's not in the budget like another poster mentioned.

 

I don't think anyone here is pretending to be broke though for the reasons you've mentioned. :grouphug:

 

I'm sure you're right, Elaine. :001_smile: I just wanted to mention it in case it hadn't crossed someone's mind that they may actually be hurting someone by saying that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...