Why You Should Live Like You’re Poor {Even Though You’re Not}

I’m not a financial advisor and I’m not wealthy, let’s just get that straight. But common sense tells me that becoming wealthy is a lot like losing weight: Earn more than you spend, burn more calories than you eat. It’s simple math. Seems to me that until one can make this equation fit my life, I will remain poor.

Lately, I’ve seen that most Americans I know have this backwards. Like the way some people need a miracle pill to get skinny instead of working out and eating well, they also believe that wealth is some sort of magic.

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. – Proverbs 13:11

Being poor is okay for a season in your life–most successful people were broke at one point in their lives, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. But the only way to get ahead is to live like you’re poor.

“Getting more money” is easier said than done. If it was easy, we’d all be rich. But living like you’re poor isn’t rocket science.

  • Stop spending money you don’t have to spend in order to survive.
  • Pay off your debt–aggressively. Debt is expensive.
  • Get a savings account and tell your bank to automatically deduct at least 5-10% of every check you deposit. Leave it alone.
  • If it’s still useable (yes, even the last butt piece of bread), keep it.
  • If you’re not using it and it’s worth money, sell it.
  • Can you get a second part-time job?
  • Can you get a roommate or rent one of your rooms?
  • Take free stuff, no matter what it is. Use it, store it or sell it.
  • What goals are you committed to? How can you start thinking big to get out of debt and saving?

I’ve been made fun of before for making clothing dye, using it, then putting it back in used milk containers for later. I treat butter like gold. Yesterday I poured hot coffee in the honey container to melt the residue, because I ran out and honey is expensive.

I hate to sound like your mother around the dinner table but here I go: Some kid in Africa didn’t have a meal today. Be thankful for every little thing that you have. Someone will ALWAYS have it worse than you.

I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money. – Pablo Picasso

Living beyond your means is a hard habit to break. Most of us do it and we don’t even realize it. Here are a few practical ideas to think about as far as cutting costs:

  • Cook at home
  • Stop going out
  • Make your coffee at home (I’m addicted)
  • Find entertainment at home
  • Learn to hate the expensive outings ($6 for a popcorn, really?!)
  • Find cheap entertainment (free events, museums, libraries, etc)
  • Love your home (games, movies, books, home projects, cook together)
  • Bring your own lunch
  • Buy in bulk and think ahead
  • Get used vehicles
  • Cut housing costs (Is more than 1/4 of your income going to housing? Not cool.)
  • Play a game and see how long you can go without buying groceries (I totally do this)

Speaking of games, try pretending like you don’t have any money to spend, even if you do. Pretend it’s The Great Depression and you have to survive on what you have. Try partying like it’s 1929. I know it sounds crazy, but at least once in your life you will probably be in a situation where you have to be really creative in finding a meal for you or your family. Whether it’s waiting for the next paycheck or being caught in an emergency situation.

I think most of you know what you over-spend on. So figure out what you can shave out of your budget, stop being a diva, put on your big girl panties and just do it.

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. – Ecclesiastes 5:10

About Ande Truman

Ande has made mistakes in the kitchen since she could reach the countertop. From a restaurant head cook, to cooking meals for friends, to her own solo plate, experimenting & learning drives her. She's also a freelance graphic & web designer, photo/videographer, guitar player and wanderlust-er. In her spare time, she works a full-time 8 to 5 cubicle job. She's the creator of Broke & Healthy.

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11 Comments

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  1. I drive an old car, live in an old apartment and save every penny I have. I make 6 figures, no debt and enjoy the simplicity in life. Ten years ago, I was the guy who thought I needed the newest car, biggest boat, amazing vacations… but at the end of this message, I am enjoying a bottle of inexpensive wine and watching a movie, by myself. I must say, I had more friends when they knew I had money and now that I live with less I guess I am not as fun to them. Sad. The only other down fall to living WAY below your means is trying to find a GF at the age of 38 when most woman (sorry) seem to only be attracted to the men who flaunt their power. Why not a woman who wants a man just to listen and care about her vs. the other materialistic distractions in life. The fact that I can fly to Fiji in the morning should have no barring on the reality that if I had an amazing woman in my life, I would stay up ALL night just listening to her and hope that a quiet walk in the morning, holding hands, would be sufficient. Nobody wants to struggle in life but I’m not sure having money and not struggling makes any difference when you live alone and you have nobody to share life with. Deep, huh?

    • This is why i have never had a girlfriend. Its sad that women only want someone who has money. They just want money. It seems stereotypical because its true. If a women just wanted to enjoy a nice walk and sunset etc. and be happy that would be ideal but probably doesn’t exist. To me its just ignorance, having stuff and money is placed on a pedestal in society when the real deal is just financial freedom. That’s all that matters, not the money itself.

      • Not true! I’m a woman, I live a frugal life. My ex husband was the spendthrift. He has to make sure he has a new V-8 pick-up (No frugal commuter car for him!), jewelry, expensive clothes, new technology the second it comes out, all the Keeping Up With The Jones stuff. I’m much happier with a simpler life. I have all the toys, a desktop for gaming, a laptop for writing, Kindle, etc. I own a house in one of the hottest real estate markets. The difference? I shop smart, save weekly, and don’t waste $ on stupid crap. I only buy things on sale, clothes come from Target or Goodwill, all our furniture is second hand, bought from Goodwill in the whoo-whoo neighborhoods, where people donate a perfectly good piece of very expensive furniture because they wanted to redecorate. I have little debt, which is my house payment. So please don’t use ‘women wanting lots of $’ as your excuse for not having one, because that is BS.

    • Joe ,I too drive a old car, make an excellent blue collar wage, bring my lunch to work , have no overhead besides , Rent, heat, lights etc! But even though I am “poor” I live with the best woman ever! Money doesn’t buy happinesses! Honestly and love does! A good woman who loves you for you, doesn’t care about your net worth! Just saying man, you need a different dating pool!

  2. Thank you for the tips! I’m going to *try* and live like a poor person. Unfortunately, my husband was not so keen on the idea. He retorted that he “works hard and deserves to be comfortable”. Blah! Alright, I’m going to start first without him by cutting out buying lunch every other day. *gasp*

  3. Great stuff, but don’t be “penny wise and pound foolish” either. Seeing how long you can go without groceries is a fun exercise but you could miss out on some deals. Also buy quality. It’s not always more expensive but sometimes it is but it will last longer and be ultimately cheaper.

  4. “Speaking of games, try pretending like you don’t have any money to spend, even if you do. Pretend it’s The Great Depression and you have to survive on what you have. Try partying like it’s 1929.”

    This is precious. Unexpectedly dark humor is the best.

  5. I love your perspectives on here and gave you a shout out on my blog!

  6. That’s a great way to get out the last honey… I always hate that situation. 🙂

  7. I so do the game thing. I give myself between $50 – $100, depending on week, and try to only use that money for buying groceries, household items, etc., for the week for our family of three. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been able to find a meal in my pantry that I wouldn’t have even bothered looking in, if it wasn’t for the fact that I ran out of my allotted amount by Wednesday. This game of mine forces me to use what I’ve already paid for!!!

  8. Good post jeleň!
    People need to be more responsible and stop spending money they don’t have.