If you opened this article, you are either curious or broke or a friend of mine. If you are a friend of mine, buy me drinks the next time you meet me. If you are curious, that’s great. No great invention ever took place without a curious mind. How else did the toilet come into the world?! (It was the perfect blend of laziness and curiosity.)
If you are broke, here is a HI5… Me too!
Here is a simple exercise. First step – take a deep breath and close your eyes, did you close them? What a liar – Reading this with your eyes closed you say.. Ok sorry about that. Let start over.
To qualify as broke, you need to have had money at some point in your life. When I say that I don’t mean the pocket money you parents gave and you ran out of. That just makes you a spoiled kid. I’m talking about earned money, the one in a bank account with your name on the cheque book. Think about it, you are happy, you feel like someone gave you a birthday gift, and it was not even your birthday. You want to buy everything, and if you are anything like me… You did!
Then finally a day comes, when you walk into the supermarket to buy butter for the bread you bought last evening. You didn’t think the process of buying bread through and dinner was bread greased with sorrows and tears. You pick the butter slab and walk up to the lady at the counter. She asks you questions you don’t want to answer, like “Sir, do you want carry bag?”. You hope this is over soon, whip out the card from your wallet. It has your name on it. You smile because it’s nice to have your name engraved on a plastic object. The lady runs the magnetic strip through the machine multiple times. She tells you it’s “dick-lined”, and in your head you think of a cheap pun.
Then it hits you. You are broke! All you have is the loaf of bread and no butter. So you call a few friends, make dinner plans and prep yourself to act like you forgot your wallet at home.
It’s here, You are broke. What now?
Don’t worry, that won’t help. At this stage, you need to be optimistic – know, cup half full and all that nonsense. The reality is, there’s nothing to fill the cup with. There’s no cup either. It’s ok, take a deep breath, close your eyes… oh wait. We already tried that.
The first thing I did when I hit zero balance in my account was to make a list of all the people who owed you money. Trust me at a time like this, the list fills up quick. Send a generic message. Ask them how they are or how their dog is doing, forcing them to reply. Once you have their attention remind them you need your money back. In my experience, all you get is a ‘blue tick.’But that’s a good start.
Next thing you will do is tell yourself you need to plan out your expense. Since you can’t afford movies, alcohol, food or friends, you will have time. You will suddenly start falling in love with everything your math teacher taught you in school, while you sat on the last bench vandalizing the desk. In this love-hate frame of mind, you’ll draft out a budget to make sure the next lot of money that comes in is used wisely. You plan out every rupee, to the decimal and make sure you’re priorities are in order. A shocking realization comes next. You only have 4 expenses – Rent, food, bills and alcohol. You sit back thinking where the f@#K did my money go?
Another wise thing you can do is growing your own potatoes like Matt Damon does when he’s on Mars.You realize that you lack skills to grow potatoes and need to find an alternative. You spend the next few days eliminating a few more money making options. Robbing a bank, murder, asking dad for money, asking friends for loan, faking your own death to get the insurance claim, discovering technology to make money that grows on trees, selling body parts you think you do not need, considering a data entry job (at a company no one has heard off). The options are endless. Meanwhile, you are still surviving on the few Rs. 100 notes you found in you jeans, at the bottom of your bag and the glove compartment of your car. The days are longer, the nights never end. With no money to go out and party, you decide to sit at home, watch TV shows or read a book (Yeah, right!). Your bank calls to tell you that you are broke, your phone company orders you to pay the bill, your maid asks for her salary, your unborn kids ask for ice-cream. Things are snowballing. The dominos are falling. The end is coming. (Yes, I know, I’m pretty dramatic.)
Just then, a fresh month starts. You get another message from your bank. That the rich fatso you work for has deposited money. You heart beat fast, reminding you of Eminem’s ‘Rap God’. You take a moment to listen to that song and try to hum along but fail. You clear your bills, you pay the maid (who cleans the house with more enthusiasm that day), you send your parents an expensive gift, you decide you need shoes to match the belt you bought last month, you call your friends out for drinks and you finally go buy that butter you wanted to buy, just for some closure.
—-Cut to random Saturday Morning—
Friend: Bro, want to come watch the new Matt Damon movie? It’s in 3-D.
Me: (Looking into wallet) No bro, I need to meet my parents for dinner.
It’s here again. You are broke. But this time, you are prepared.
—- Time for bread with sorrow and tears—-