Last night I made a super late trip to the grocery store (you know, because Walmart is pretty empty at midnight) and I left there ready to strangle someone. Not because of what my groceries cost – I only spent $100 – but because of a fellow shopper.
First of all, this lady had her obviously school-aged child in Walmart at midnight. There’s still a week of school left. Now, there might have been a good reason for that, so I really tried not to judge her. But that didn’t last too long. I passed her several times on my quest to buy real food, and at one point her daughter gestured toward me while I was putting a bag of apples in my cart.
“Mom, I want some apples!” she said.
The lady snapped at her, “You’re not getting apples! I don’t know why you think I’m made of money!”
Oh, hell to the no. Commence Super Andrea Judge Mode. I looked in her cart, and what did she have? A couple of shirts, 3 or 4 DVDs, and some random grocery items. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with a single scenario where it’s okay to buy movies and tell your child she can’t have apples. Unless I’m missing something, that woman was either really mean or really broke. Or maybe both.
I don’t know much about being mean, but I’m an expert at being broke. Thankfully I’ve never deprived my son of things like fruit, but that situation got me thinking about the things I have done (or done without) due to lack of funds. Then I started thinking about why people end up broke in the first place. I came up with all kinds of reasons why someone’s pockets may be empty – here are 7 of them.
7 Reasons Why You Don’t Have Any Money
1. You don’t have enough income to meet your expenses.
Been there, done that. Sometimes no matter how much you cut, you just can’t juggle all your responsibilities on the amount of money you have coming in. This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you to get another job or go back to school, but I’ll be honest – now is not a great time to do either of those things. So instead I’ll just tell you I know it sucks and I’m sorry. Reduce expenses as much as you can and don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you need it. Especially if your kids want apples!
2. You spend too much money on junk.
If spending could go on a resume, mine would be the size of a phone book. So please know that I’m not being condescending when I say that you have two choices: You can either stop spending, or you can continue being broke. Getting over my spending addiction was one of the best things I ever did, but no one could convince me to do it. I had to make that decision myself. And it came when I was tired – really tired – of being broke.
3. You have a serious health problem, a sick family member, or some other unfortunate circumstance.
It’s unfortunate that we live in America and something like medical treatment can leave us bankrupt. But for now, that’s the way it works. If you’re broke because of a natural disaster or your spouse’s untimely death, you have my sympathy and you will receive no judgment from me. Just do the best you can.
4. You give all your money away.
Ever meet one of those people who is generous to fault? They’re paying their sister’s electric bill, taking care of their friends’ library fees, picking up their grandma’s prescriptions, and cooking meals for their neighbors. Oh, and they faithfully donate money to charities and/or their church. Yet their bills aren’t paid on time and they frequently go without the things they need. If you’re one of those people, STOP BEING A LUNATIC. There’s a reason why all the finance people harp on paying yourself first. Helping others is great, but only when your own bills are paid.
5. You don’t plan ahead.
Emergency funds are all the rage right now, but have you ever considered why? Because shit happens. When you have a savings account full of money, you can usually deal with said shit pretty easily. But when you don’t, you end up using a credit card, borrowing money, or going without. You absolutely must start saving, even if it’s $10 a month. Saving is contagious – try it out!
6. Your priorities are screwed up.
True story: My friend’s mom hasn’t had air conditioning at her house in almost 3 years. We live in the south, where you can seriously DIE in a house with no air conditioning. It’s not optional. Yet my friend’s mom has been surviving without it somehow, all while taking at least 2 vacations a year. If you ask about the AC unit, she sighs, “We just can’t afford to get it fixed right now.” If you’re doing crazy things like that to afford things like vacations, I don’t even know what to tell you.
7. You simply don’t know where your money goes. Or you’re afraid to find out.
When I took over my cousin’s finances in February, I was flabbergasted to see how much money he spent on late fees, overdraft fees, and random stuff that he didn’t even remember buying. Since he makes more in 6 months than I’ve ever made in a year, it just didn’t make sense that he would be broke. But because of his failure to pay attention to little things like his bank balance and the due dates of his bills, he barely had a dollar to his name. Luckily he’ll be coming home to a nice cushion of cash – if I can just keep him from giving it to the bank.
The Bottom Line
When you do any of the things I mentioned, you end up broke. When you end up broke, you’re forced to do things you wouldn’t normally do. When you’re forced to do things you wouldn’t normally do, you buy DVDs instead of letting your child have apples. Don’t buy DVDs instead of letting your child have apples.
Are you (or have you ever been) broke for any of the reasons I listed? Any other reasons you can think of why people don’t have any money? Am I the only one who wanted to punch the grocery store lady in the jaw?