The Lessons You Learn When You’ve Been Broke

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A couple of years ago I made one of the most difficult and not to mention life-changing decisions in my life, I resolved to quit my job in order to pursue my passion in writing. I have to say it was exhilarating to be free from all the responsibilities of the corporate world and it was liberating to finally have the time to travel and not be slave to my cubicle. But with an income that did not as much come close to my usual salary, it was a rather painful adjustment.

You see, I was used to a stable source of income and every month I knew exactly how much I was getting every time I checked my bank account. The past years have been different. I have then started to wonder the secret to a better life. Ever since I tendered that resignation my heart thumps whenever I check my bank account because I know I wasn’t making enough. The writing business placed me in a precarious position in society and I was unsure of myself yet despite everything I had the slightest flicker of hope that soon enough everything will fall into place.

When I left my job I had high hopes that I could make it but just this year my bank account closed down and I had nothing. It was a strange and unfamiliar feeling to have no money and by that I meant no savings. I earned a little from my freelance writing job but it wasn’t enough to cover for my needs. I was actually surprised at myself because in spite of being broke for the first time, I didn’t go ballistic as I thought I would be. I was actually pretty darn calm about it.

But I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy to swallow. Like any other normal human being, I would love to make enough money so I can buy whatever the heck I want and dine at my favorite restaurants without having to order the cheapest entrée. There were moments when I wallowed in regret and wished I didn’t quit my job and sometimes I felt extremely stressed out and tired especially during month end when bills pile up in the mail. But I didn’t go cuckoo instead I gave myself some pep talk just so I could survive without going crazy.

While I contemplate about what I’m going to do with my life I learned a few lessons that changed how I perceive the world. In the situation I am in I can say that life’s lessons hit me real hard. Even though most times I look at my situation in a bad light, I realized that there are actually a few good things I gained along the way and I am sharing these insights with you through this blog.

  1. You get by living on less.

Soon as I quit my job I trimmed down on my expenses. Back when I had a job I bought every little thing that caught my eye. I had an iPhone I barely use except to make important phone calls. I had an iPod I use once a week or whenever I felt like going for a jog. I had a fifty inch flat screen TV that stands idle in my living room and perhaps the only time it gets warmed is when I’m having a party and that usually happens once a year on my birthday. I looked at my life and I realized that I had so many expensive things that I don’t really need. In fact, all I needed was a cheap phone and some good air-conditioning. Now that I’m broke I saw the value of money.

  1. You survive because of faith.

I had nothing and every day I wondered how I am ever going to get through another month. But as each day passes me by a new opportunity knocks on my door and it helps be get by. This taught me the magnitude of faith. Instead of giving up, I strived hard and gave my best with whatever I had and that was enough. Somehow I managed to feed myself three times a day, I had a place to sleep in and I had a laptop to type in. For me, that was enough and it’s all because of my steadfast faith. I didn’t actually see the Big Man helping me physically but through people and opportunities I knew he was working something out for my benefit.

  1. You’ll discover who your real friends are.

I knew I had friends I just didn’t know half of them were fake and superficial; and the only reason why they stuck with me was because I had money to pay for their beer. It’s sad to think that after everything only a few were actually there for me during the tough times while the rest were “busy” or should I say pretended to be busy. While those fake friends rejected my call when all I wanted was to have someone to talk to (they knew I was broke and they were probably assuming I was going to ask for money) my real friends stayed with me and were very supportive, that’s when I knew who my real friends are. They helped me out in any way they can like offering me to babysit for their kids while they went out and paid me more than the average babysitter fee, or during paydays they would ask me out for dinner and pay for my meal.

It’s really heartbreaking knowing that people you’ve known all your life would just ditch you when they can’t get anything from you anymore. When you’ve got no money, you’ll discover who your real friends are. And if you ever happen to have a few people who are willing to stick around regardless of how much you earn give those people a hug and be grateful for them. They are the ones who you should call your friends.

  1. You learn to be humble.

When I had money I didn’t ask for anything. I deliberately turned down offers because I knew I could take care of my finances. One of the greatest lessons I learned during this time of need was to accept what others had to offer me. There was no point holding on to pride when you literally have nothing and that means nothing to hold on to. Being an independent person drove me to rely on myself but now that my independence caused me to be broke, I changed my attitude. When someone offers to buy me dinner, I gladly accept. When a friend hands me a gift, I accept. It’s awkward and uncomfortable at first but what other options do I have? The experience made me a grateful person and I earned a lot of new friends. My pride was gone because I swallowed it with humility. Besides, I really needed that all-expense paid dinner of oven baked chicken because I was actually getting sick of my milk and oatmeal dinner.

  1. Whatever happens, life goes on.

Going through a rough patch in life can be depressing. Just thinking about my old life and comparing it with the life I’m living now I can honestly say that I went from top to rock bottom and it was depressing. It really was but it didn’t stop me from having a good time. Yes, there were bad days mostly it happened at the end of the month when my mailman hands me stacks of unpaid bills but after everything has been settled I put a smile back on knowing that I’m alive and I have friends. And I realize that when you’re at the bottom there really is nowhere else to go but up you could say that I am patiently waiting for that time to come and when it does, in God’s perfect timing, I will value my life and my finances better.

There are moments in our lives when we make decisions we later on regret but we don’t use those bad choices to rule over our lives. We find ways and means to turn it around.