7.24.17 3

How To Get Happy When You’re Broke

Wine, cheese, ice cream, shoes, vacations.

All things that make me happy as a goose.

All things that cost money.

Which is a damn bummer when you need a happy pick-me-up and you’re broke as a joke.

Okay, so I’m not per se “broke as a joke.” I set aside a large lump of money every paycheck for debt payoff and savings. Right now, paying off credit card debt is a high priority to me, as is building up my savings account. Outside of my monthly living expenses and bills, I set a small amount out for the varying things (food, gas, etc.) and throw the rest at debt. If (God forbid) I had an emergency, I have money in savings and plenty of credit card space to deal with whatever comes my way — which is the whole point of wanting to get out of debt. If you’re a slave to that shit, you never get to do what you want.

Lord. Who am I, doing all this preparing and stuff and having a credit utilization rate that wouldn’t make Dave Ramsey hang himself.

Anywhoodles, the problem with this is that you tend to get bored because we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that entertainment has to cost money (or at least, more than $5). The fact is, you can find fun stuff to do that doesn’t involve money and/or drunken stupors (which I’m also attempting to lessen). I put together a list of things I’ve done that give me the happies while not putting me in the poorhouse.

Go outside. No matter what you do. Take a walk. Take a hike. Take some pictures. Ride a bike. Sit on a blanket under a tree (my personal favorite). Fresh air is a great medicine for any ailment you got (unless your ailment is allergies).

Window shop. I get ideas for things I want when I’m finished paying things off. This ring is at the top of my list, especially since one of my 101 in 1001 things to do is to buy myself a nice piece of jewelry. I get out and wander around through an outdoor mall or a random store and make mental list. You can even do it online. If I had a buck for every dollar I left in an online shopping cart, I’d be out of debt (but only do this if you have the wherewithal to not bust out a credit card!). 

Go to a bookstore. BYOC it (bring your own coffee, yo) and flip through magazines. Gaze at the cookbook pictures and get ideas for meals. Find things that inspire you. Check out personal finance. I even take pictures of books I want to put on my reading list. If you’re feeling especially zesty, check out the bargain books aisle. Some of my favorite books have cost me $4.

Get to work. I gotta be honest, when I’m in a financial rut, sometimes the best thing I can do is try to figure out how to make it better. You don’t sit and dwell on your check that bounced, or if you’re lucky, how you only have $7.98 to last you another six days before your next paycheck. Be proactive. Figure out how to best use your money, and figure out where you can cut some corners. don’t get me wrong, you have to look back to see what your triggers are and why you spend $200 at a pizza joint, but think about where your next paycheck will be allocated. Make a plan and commit. I love looking at couponing sites, and one of my favorite frugal blogs is The Frugalwoods. You don’t have to eat bark and make your own toilet paper or anything, but there are some great tips out there.

Family game night. Get a group of friends together and trade off hosting duties. Taco bars are super inexpensive, and even better when you potluck! Watch movies, play games and enjoy each other.

Find a fun side hustle. I’m not talking about blogging, which takes a while to build (there’a a whole ‘nother post regarding people who decide to blog to turn a quick buck), or taking a weekend/night job that steals away what little time you have with your loved ones. Look at Craigslist under “Events.” One of the best ways I ever made $400 in two days was dressing up in a dog costume for four hours each day. I got to act like the child I actually am while bouncing around and making all these snotty-nosed kids so happy, and I made some money. Don’t get it twisted, I sweated my ass off and it was hard work. Those costumes are heavy. But there’s a plethora of things like that out there. The key is to swallow your pride and do what you need to do to get where you want to be. 

Better yourself. Read the pile of books you’ve bought but haven’t read. Sign up for a course on edx. Learn a new hobby (I want to learn how to quilt with pretty scraps). Who knows, you find a cool hobby and it might help you make money.

Pin down a friend with a pool. Like my sister. Thanks, Sister.

Find a frugal friend. Y’all, my friends love to ball. As thirty-somethings, we’ve made it out of the “poor” days of our twenties and into the salaries of our thirties. You have to keep in mind, though, that your friends may not have nearly six figures of debt. That’s how the cookie crumbles. Like grabbing a workout buddy to keep you accountable for exercise, finding a frugal friend to either do things with or talk to is a great resource to have in your arsenal. 

On that note … comparison is a sonofabitch. Sure, your friends may be spending two weeks in the Bahamas. They might have credit card debt up to their earholes, or they may have lots of money that you don’t. They ain’t you. If you can use it to motivate yourself (like,when I get out of debt, I’ll use that extra money for a vacation”), perfect. But if you Instagram-gazing is disrupting your motivation, you need to reassess. 

I will say this, though. Therapy? Totally worth it, even if for no other reason than getting to pay someone once a week to listen to whatever you want to say. It was a lifesaver during my time at DHS, and with insurance, it was only $30 an hour. eighty-six the wine and add the therapy. My personal philosophy is that the world would be a much better place if everyone had to spend one hour a week talking to a therapist. If you are24 struggling with depression (and not just the fleeting one about the shoes you can’t buy), there is nothing more worthy of your money than your wellness. Never feel guilty about investing in your own mental health. 

Have I left anything out?

What do y’all do when you’re trying to save money?

Leave a Comment


  1. Erica wrote:

    Great post. I use Poshmark to list clothing I can no longer fit into (**tear**), and now use that to purchase stuff I *can* wear. It helps save me money. I also auto-draft money into “Rainy Day” accounts in SmartyPig and have a saving account that I’m depositing serious dough in for my wedding. I cannot WAIT for October….after that wedding is over, I will have SO MUCH extra money! Piles of it! (And then inevitably something else will come up. Argh.)

    Published 7.24.17
  2. Kasia wrote:

    flattered to see our ring made the list! shoot us an email, maybe we can help you out with your dream come true…

    Published 7.28.17
  3. steph wrote:

    I’ve never heard of frugal woods, but I’m about to dive in. I love reading stuff like that. also, I’m all about the side hustle

    Published 8.2.17