Day 312 – Struck a Chord, the Broke Years continued

Yesterday, I talked about the broke years.  Some of my friends commented about it, that maybe living like we’re broke isn’t such a bad idea.  Perhaps we take some of the fun and adventure out of our lives when we have the money to do “grown-up” things.

  • When you can always afford a hotel room, will you choose to camp on the beach?
  • When you can always afford a steak, will you eat at the taco shack on the corner?
  • When you can always afford to go out to eat, will you invite people over for a home-cooked meal?
  • When you can always afford to go to the movies, will you invite friends over for game night?

I think we need to start a revolution, let’s take back our time and spend it with friends instead of with things.  Let’s spend our time doing things instead of being entertained by others doing things. Let’s embrace Milton-Bradley’s family game night.  Let’s hold on to our money for the better investment we can make with it, there may be a time we are broke again, so let’s hold on to it til then.  Let’s make a pact to return to the simpler things, when dinner out doesn’t cost $100, but maybe $14 instead – what can we do with that extra $86?  Can we help someone who needs it more than us?

A couple of years ago Rich and I were feeling especially broke on Valentine’s Day, so we wanted to find the cheapest date possible for a cold February night.  We found it, and we had fun in the process, no reservations required, we had Costco hot dogs and then went to the cheap movie theater.  Not counting gas, but popcorn included the whole date was $11 and we laughed as much that night as we have on any other date night, maybe more.  It was a fun challenge.  Tell me about your cheapest date, was it fun? was it romantic?

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Day 313 – Remember being broke, broke?

Do you remember when you were broke?  Not just living on a budget, or tightening your belt, but broke, like you’re eating broke food, broke.  My kids are in that position right now and man, do I feel for them.  This is the middle daughter, the one who got married just a few months ago.  Now with a job and lots of responsibilities, it’s wearing thin not having any money.  I totally understand, I remember what it was like.

In my early 20’s, going to college, being married, having a child.  We were too stupid to recognize how broke we were.  We would show up at my parent’s house at least once a week around dinner time, and, oh, I guess we could stay for dinner.  We would do the   same at his folks’ house.  Broke food for us was canned chili and eggs; baked potatoes (fresh from the field) and turkey hot dogs, ‘cuz they came in a 5 lb. box.  That was our broke food.  We showed up late for things; so we wouldn’t have to pay the admission charge, and our only entertainment was visiting friends with the one six pack of beer we would splurge on for the weekend.  Life was certainly simple then.

Remember the crappy jobs we had, before our careers began, just to get by.  I spent a season working alone in a big, dark potato warehouse at night after the kids were in bed and I could sneak away for a few hours, just to afford diapers.  I regaled my kids with stories about the broke years and how it eventually gets better, I don’t think they a) wanted to hear it, or b) believed it.

As the years went on, our finances improved, we moved away from broke food, so far away that you can’t talk me in to eating any of those foods even now.  We got to the point that we could meet our friends at a restaurant and go out to a movie, instead of the 6 pack and card game.  I’m not sure our entertainment choices improved, and life wasn’t so simple anymore, but the stress dissipated somewhat.  Good luck to my kids, it is worth it to work so hard at something, after all, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.