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Tips For Having Fun When You’re Broke 

By Judy Carter

USA Today reports that people are going into credit card debt from filling up their tank. Here are some tips from Judy Carter, corporate humorist and author of “The Comedy Bible” on how to enjoy life even when your credit cards are maxed out.

Enjoying broke vacations: Not being able to afford to stay in five star hotels can be a good thing. Being broke forces creativity and creative people have more fun and more interesting vacations. Happiness is not a fancy hotel. So why pay a ton of money to take your family for a vacation in Cabo San Lucas where you’ll end up with dysentery?

  • This Labor Day weekend, camp out in your backyard.

  • Stay at a youth hostel even though you’re pushing 50. At least after that vacation, your friends will actually enjoy seeing your vacation pictures.

  • Want to go to a foreign country you can’t afford. Go on a “volunteer vacation.” See Egypt while assisting an Egyptian woman start her own company. Certainly, you have a skill that can be helpful to someone less advantaged than you. Use it. Why have another boring vacation when you can help someone and have an adventure. Trust me, when you see how little other people have in other countries, you’ll feel rich.

Holidays don’t have to break the bank and your spirit: Christmas is a holiday that makes people go broke. I’m Jewish, but I’ve heard that Christmas was a religious holiday to celebrate the birth of a Savior, whose family was so poor his mama had to forgo a fancy suite at the Hilton for a shabby little manger, with NO electricity! Yikes.

The holiday season can be memorable on a budget can connect you more to the true spirit of the holiday. Rather giving gifts that others just end up selling on EBay, give service. Do nice things for others. It’s less expensive money wise, but richer in experience.

Swim with the sharks but carpool with the poor folk: Because new studies show your financial worth is measured by whom you compare yourself to, your kids will beg you to buy them stuff so they can keep up with their friends too. One solution? Start car-pooling with the poorest family you can find. Then your kid’s three-year-old digital calculator will look pretty rockin’ compared to the poor kid with no teeth in the backseat who is using an abacus, with his one good arm!

 Same with teenagers. The pressure to fit in is intense. They have not developed the logical side of their brain; all they’ve got is emotion-based thinking. And the schools take advantage of this of more ways than one. Currently, I’m mentoring a disadvantaged high school student who was raised by a single, unemployed mom, struggling to support four kids on a single welfare check. Of course, this totally poor teen just HAD to have the $120 class ring. “Everyone has them!” 

Times like let your kid participates in making smart choices:    “School ring or prom dress?”

Broke Dating: When teaching standup comedy, so many girls joke, “Yeah, size IS important.”  Naturally they’re talking about the size of their mans’ wallets, right? Wrong. Women fall in love with broke men every day. And a woman who has to check a man’s TRW before going out with him might not be a good choice anyways.

  • Find alternatives to restaurants. You can get really great wine at $4.00 a bottle, fresh sour dough bread, cheese, and spread down a blanket in a park. Street food is fun and romantic. Walking around New York City, eating a knish and acorns and visiting art museums won’t empty your bank account, and might thrill a date.

  • Go on a tour of a winery or a food processing plant. It’s free and they have free wine and food samples afterwards.

Don’t wait until you can afford an expensive gym membership to be happy: Countless studies show, being active triggers “feel good” brain cells to activate. The proverbial “runner’s high” is a scientific fact. Plus, it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying dope, and much better for you in the long run (pun intended).

Sure gyms have also sorts of expensive machines that will help you feel and look better. But you don’t need a treadmill to walk. Just walk!  You don’t need a Stairmaster. Just take the stairs. You don’t need an Abs Roller. Have some sex.

Start your own business even if you’re broke! Money doesn’t make things happen – people do. If you have a passion for doing something – money will come.

So, if you’re broke and you have a great business idea, forget about chasing the money – first, chase down people to believe in your project. That’s how things happen. Hell, these days you don’t need much money to have an office. In fact, here’s a way to have your own office for $3.00 a day. Invest in a used laptop and cell phone and set yourself up at Starbucks all day. It’s better than the library, because you can talk on your cell phone. They have high speed Internet, interesting clientele, and great coffee. You can even take important business meetings there…all for under ten bucks a day!

Staying married when you’re broke: People think that money problems take the romance out of a marriage, but actually couples find that the early, lean years were the happiest. Often, when they get successful, unhappiness actually starts creeping in and soon, they seem to dump each other!

More tips…

  • Partying when you’re broke — Party like it’s 19.99. Or find a 99-cent Store that sells tequila and go hog wild and tequila happy.

  • Shopping when you’re broke — Buy used stuff on EBay. Go to garage sales. Check out thrift stores in rich neighborhoods.

  • Become a cash cow on your birthday — Resell your gifts on EBay and buy things you really want.

  • Stop, Wait and Make sure your next purchase is a wise choice — Always ask yourself: “Will this make me happy, a year from now?”  If the answer is no, and you absolutely don’t need it, don’t buy it. If it’s yes, do. Do what I do, decide which is more important: Sushi once a week, or owning a vacation home? It’s worked for me, because here I am writing this book, eating peanut butter sandwiches…in my new mountain home. I’m really broke, and it’s great!

Advantages to being broke:

  • Nobody cares about rich people’s problems

  • Rich people have just as many problems as broke people, but they can’t find anyone to give them sympathy. “Oh, yes, you poor thing, I understand how hard it is when your butler just can’t get the crease in your pants just right. I feel your pain.”  Not!

  • You have to always pay for everything

  • Rich people just hang out with other rich people because ordinary people can’t afford going to expensive restaurants, vacations, etc.

  • You never know if someone really is hot for you or your money. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t how cute J. Howard Marshall looked in a wheelchair that caught Anna Nichole Smith’s gold digging eye.

  • You have to spend a lot of money hiring people to look after your money and chances are they’ll steal from you.

  • Relatives are always hitting you up for money and they’ll never be happy with their Christmas gifts no matter what you get them.  

  • You have to pay kidnapper’s ransom money to get back your wife even though you don’t really like her.

  • Everyone at your high school reunion hates you because you are rich and will make fun of you behind your back.

  • You can afford to buy a lot of cool gadgets, but that means spending most of your time on tech support.

  • It’s hard to borrow a cup of milk when your neighbors have security gate and a mile long driveway.

  • People will have sex with you just because you have money

Hey, wait a minute. Well, they’re all not so bad.

Read other articles and learn more about Judy Carter.

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