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Broke… But Not Broken

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September 12, 2011 by wcobserver

You know what’s getting really old? Being broke. The only time being broke looks good is when it’s at the beginning of a movie where the protagonist ends up being ridiculously rich two hours later. Anything else is just a real buzz kill.

The thing is, being broke used to be something that was happening to other people… people you didn’t really know, people who lived in mountain shacks and didn’t have running water. Now, everyone is broke. I have a friend who’s battling back from bankruptcy, and another who may lose her house. I have a close friend whose liquor business was thriving just two years ago and now he’s hanging on by a thread. You know what business I thought would always be recession-proof?… the liquor business. Things are bad when people start buying booze with the change from their ashtrays. But it’s downright un-American when they stop buying booze all together. What’s going on?

All right, I admit it. I’m listening to Marvin Gaye… and even though it’s not the Vietnam War, there are a lot of us standing here in our big collared shirts and polyester jackets and we’re saying… “no… really… what’s going on?”

The truth of the matter is this. Even though you probably think you’re in it alone, it’s likely you’re not. Most of us don’t want to admit when we’re tapped out. We’re all holding on to these lifestyles… the images that made us feel like we were successful. But don’t be fooled by what you see. It’s possible that your neighbor or friend is in the same shape you are and you just don’t know it. As for me, I used to be a well-dressed housewife wearing a $150 pair of jeans and drinking a three-dollar cup of coffee. Now I’m just a broke girl who’s thirsty and overdressed for the food stamp office. So believe me, I get it.

Here are a couple of tips I’ve learned in the last year. A kitchen trash bag full of aluminum cans nets about $1.20 at the recycling center. That’s not bad for taking the trash just a little further than the curb…. And hey, as a special bonus… you get points from the environment. Donating plasma is a great way to make $25 while being obligated to sit and relax. Plus, it gives you time to start that book you keep putting off reading. Selling your junk on E-bay or craigslist is a remarkable way to make a little cash and get the house cleaned up on the side. It’s surprising how many people will pay for the crap you don’t want.

Here’s the bottom line. There’s no shame in being broke. You may not feel like we’re all in the same boat. The fact is, we’re all just rowing in our own individual boats these days because we don’t want people to think any less of us. So take a chance. Yell over to the boat next to you, and try to tether together. Share your story. Be honest. You may find there’s a person out there with an extra oar. Who knows? But I do know this. If you’re doing the best you can in this economy… if you’re honest… if you’re still ready to help out your neighbor when times are tough, then in my book at least… you’re a whole lot richer than you thought.

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