It’s very common for a person that is experiencing financial hardship to refer to themselves as being “broke” – meaning not having any money on hand.
Ever wonder where this terminology came from? Many banks in post-Renaissance Europe issued small, porcelain “borrower’s tiles” to their creditworthy customers. Like credit cards, these tiles were imprinted with the owner’s name, his credit limit, and the name of the bank. Each time the customer wanted to borrow money, he had to present the tile to the bank teller, who would compare the imprinted credit limit with how much the customer had already borrowed. If the borrower were past the limit, the teller “broke” the tile on the spot.
Those around me know that I truly dislike using “broke” to describe one’s financial situation. Fellow-blogger, Dietta, of Black Woman Rise, recently did a two part blog entitled “Become Prosperous by Seeing Past Being Broke” that caused me to really reflect on my disdain of the usage of “broke”. My response to the first part of her blog was:
“Those that know me well know that one word I truly despise is “broke” when referring to not having the financial means to do something. Brokenness brings upon a connotation that seems to speak not only to your financial situation, but to your emotional and spiritual well-being as well. Just because you do not have the financial means do something at a particular time, those of the Christian faith believe that God will provide. By relying on Him and claiming, not only financial, but spiritual wealth we can change our mental outlook towards having money in our pockets and bank accounts.”
This time about 4 years ago, my financial situation was terrible, to put it bluntly. I was pregnant with my second child, newly married, recently moved by the military with my new husband, fresh out an expensive custody battle with my oldest son’s father, and unemployed. Combine that with some terrible financial decisions in my early years, I was broke! My financial situation not only affected my spending habits, but my emotional and spiritual well-being. I attributed my well-being with my bank account. This is quite common in our society. Those with debt and financial problems often have more physical and mental ailments that affect their family lives, friendships and careers. I was definitely one of those people.
What changed my situation? My job offered Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It was definitely a life-changer. Not Dave Ramsey and his theories, specifically, but the first step in taking control of my life and viewing finances in a different light. I no longer let my financial status determine my level of happiness. I took some of Dave’s theories and practices and applied them to my finances. Along the way I tweaked them to fit what I wanted to accomplish. I, also, began reading other financial blogs, authors, and articles.
Four years later, I have paid off a huge majority of my debt, increased my credit score to the point where I can qualify for a home loan on my own if necessary, and have a real savings account and emergency fund. I’ve come so far not only in my financial portfolio, but in my emotional, physical and spiritual outlooks. I had to commit my plans to my higher power and ask Him to help me change my spending habits. I’m a black and white kind of girl, so I needed to see for myself the progress (or lack of progress at times) that I was making by using Excel spreadsheets. I had to sacrifice some things for a period of time – hair appointments, cable, lower cell phone plan, eating out. While it was tough, it was definitely worth it when I look at where I was, where I am, and what the future holds.
It was during that time period that I committed to no longer using “broke” to describe my financial situation. It’s a reminder that the amount of money I do or do not have does not control my life.
What about you, Divas?
What financial sacrifices have you made?
Any success stories you’d like to share?
1/19/11 Gratitude List
1. Memories of past struggles
2. Overcoming obstacles
3. A husband who enjoys cooking
4. Unlimited texting plans
5. New projects and new challenges