So, as you know, I am a person who makes rules for himself. I showed some in a post a while back about dating rules (see My Dating Constitution).
This has been an insane year filled with ups and downs. I would say rock bottom but there certainly is a lot of green grass for that to be true but I have been writing in a word document certain things that I want to remember when as I grow older that remind me of this intensely humbling growing experience that I am currently at the tail end of. I want to put a few of my rules here as a guideline for those others who are new to the venture of being broke. At least the guidelines from my…unique standpoint.
Do you eat Ramen noodles for lunch and dinner? Do you fantasize about eating food that hasn’t been freeze dried? Whenever you hear someone say they make $30,000 a year, do you wonder how they are not driving a gold Cadillac? Is Coinstar the closest thing you have had for a paycheck in months?
Never fear fellow broke aficionado, there are some guidelines that will help you through this process.
First, a few lessons about your status. You may feel as if you are alone. No one understands the fact that gas is a commodity like you.
As of June 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor put out unemployment statistics. These stats had a participation rating of 75.6 from the labor force of 49,466. This is the demographic that had at least a Bachelor’s degree or higher. The unemployment level there is 3.9. This is relatively low when looking at other demographics.
So, putting this in different terms, you are broke. You have a degree but can’t get a decent paying job in your area and you don’t know why. Statistically, you have a tad bit more unemployment rating in your bracket than they did in 1929. This is just before the beginning of the Great Crash. The next year would show an average unemployment rating of 8.9% in this country. As of June 2013, Those without a high school diploma have a rating of 10.7% of unemployment, High School and no college is at 7.6% and Some college or associate degree is at 6.4%.
According to a recent study by Georgetown University on recent graduates and unemployment, unless you are in the fields dealing with the creation of new technology, education, engineering or health and science, then your unemployment rate will be higher. A recent architect is looking at a 12.8% unemployment rate even as the housing problems in America are fading. Individuals who are non-technical majors can expect higher percentages as well. Those in the arts can see an average of 9.8% and those in law and public policy can expect 9.2%. Then there is the 14.7% rate for recent graduates where their degree is concentrated in clerical functions.
What does this all mean?
You are not alone.
Now then, I hope these few rules that I have lived and learned help you on your quest to understand, appreciate and attain that green paper that is the key to so many doors that are closed to you right now….unfortunately.
Do Whatever It Takes
-As you begin this epic quest of unepic proportions, you may say to yourself a few things that you REFUSE to do. You may think that that degree you just earned is going to make you too good for flipping a burger. This is not true. You are broke. You may have money in the bank but it will be gone. You need to put more in there. It’s as simple as what my grandmother told me about her old well. You can’t keep taking from the well when you hit mud. Don’t let pride get in your way because of a piece of paper and four years of your life. You need money for small things in life. This will get you by until the next part. That next chapter but until then, you must do it.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short….or Tall
-If you are in this situation, you have probably peppered the internet with your resume. You have written how stellar you are and you have received nothing but silence and “Thank You for applying at (Place Employer Here) but…”. This shouldn’t deter you. Start applying for jobs that you would want as a dream job. You may not be completely qualified but if you get an interview and knock it out of the park, you are in. Keep trying! BUT! Remember rule #1? Yeah, still applies, buster. When you go in for that interview at McDonald’s or Hardees or even a temp agency (AHEM…me…AHEM) never go in with the attitude that you are too good for your position. You must accept the fact that you are now a statistic but only you can change that.
Remember Your Love Life? Yeah, Me Neither!
-You think about that pretty girl or handsome guy you see here or there often. The video rental store. The coffee shop. She works at your favorite restaurant. He does his workouts on Mondays and Fridays at your gym. This is a tactical error to think that because you are broke, everything will be fine. If they don’t like me for me, then they can go eat a large bowl of eff off. No-No, dear reader. As adults, we want to be able to go out and enjoy ourselves but it’s hard when you only have the ability to choose from the dollar menu. Men, in the evolutionary theory of attraction, it is commonly spoken that women want security above all. You may look like an Adonis but you can’t provide that security and unfortunately it can be an issue. If not her issue, then yours. You may count yourself out but don’t. Just know that it is hard now but it will get better. Righting the course is never easy. For women, some people would say that most women would just have men pay for them but hey, I got a secret…IT ISN’T 1954! Women are more independent now than they have been in history. Their values are sound and more and more couples now believe on sharing the bill after the first date or two. So, my suggestion is to work on you.
Ballin’ On A Budget
-You just got done working at a temp agency/at your “burger flipping” job/giving plasma. You need release and all of your friends are going out. You haven’t been out in a long time but you have bills coming up and are tight on money. What do you do, hotshot? You ball on a budget! It can be embarrassing to be broke when everyone around you is drinking IBC’s that costs ten dollars a pint but you have to move past that. It is important during this time to socialize. Being broke can be an alienating experience but if you know your limits and budget in some fun, you will call rock bottom home for a while without any bruising on your bottom from the fall. My suggestion? Pregame..Pregame…Pregame. Get a little buzz going before hand. Look up the specials on websites of what’s going on downtown. Who has cover and who doesn’t? Here, the internet is your best friend and if you can’t afford internet, then the library is your best friend! Just remember to leave the debit card at home and don’t drive drunk. I mean if you are broke, how can you afford the bail money from a DUI?!
Watch Your Words
– You may find that your friends ask you what’s wrong. A bit too often. Reply in a manner that is befits your character, “No worries, mate!” You have to keep that sunny disposition. You have to keep hope in there. When you do, you see it from a different perspective but you have to be careful. You may see the funny side in how creative you get with adding things to your Beef Ramen to keep it new but your friends may find it a bit well, sad. Know when you have gone too far with a joke about being broke. No one wants a sad sack around complaining in a funny manner. It brings people down and it infects your life. You start joking but it turns serious. Before you know it you talk about it all the time. To your friends, your parents, your pet parakeet, Julius Cesar….you write a lengthy blog about it AHEM!
Watch Your Step
-If you are this broke and past the age of 26, you probably don’t have insurance. According to the 2011 census, 48.6 million Americans are without insurance. Jigga What?! You are looking at bills unlike you have ever seen if you damage any part of yourself. Talking thousands. Tens of thousands, even. Then you have to worry if you develop a long-term illness, then when you do get covered, it won’t be covered by the new insurance company because it was a preexisting condition. So, before you take a step off the curb or debate to wash your hands before a meal, think really hard.
Never Compromise Your Integrity
-You are broke, not broken. Through the hard times grows a large chip on your shoulder that blinds you to the past. Chip away at it. Remember who you are and where you came from. You have values and morals. There will come a time when it seems bleak and it may truly be bleak but you have to look beyond the rock and remember yourself. At this point, you know what separates you from a street criminal? Will. Your will to not use fear and criminality to get money. There is no such thing as easy money. Keep that part of yourself at the forefront. Being broke seems like an ailment at times, “Hi, I’m Jim and I’m broke”, EVERYONE: “HI JIM!”, it isn’t. Remember that degree or that training you had. Remember that High School Diploma or remember the reasons why you had to drop out. Let those drive you. In the end, you will be better than you were.
A New You
-At the end of this, when you sit drinking tea with a lovely person, remember the price of the meal. When you hear someone speak about money as if it is meaningless. Think about this very moment. When you read a blog or when you got that job. Remember what it was like when you were stripped down to your own bare bones. Remember what it was like when you saw the real you. Then think to yourself, “What would the old me, think of the new?”
Well, I hope you enjoyed the few rules I posted among many more that were more specific to my situation. I made light of it all but there is truth in it. Unemployment is a problem here. It is a problem that is pervasive worldwide. There are so many people worse off than most of us on the worst day of our lives. Our own universes are so small we can’t see into the cosmos of others. Our friends, neighbors or the janitors as your local thrift store. Hang your head for your situation for a moment but then hold your head up and remember that being a victim is not the way out.
I hope this helped you in some way or at least made you smile once or twice.