Being broke was one of the best things that happened to me. As the standup comedy market started to decline in 2018-19, my optimism got the better of me. I was being so optimistic about my standup career magically taking off, that it had almost become borderline-delusional. I would wake up each morning and look at my calendar and hope that, by some miracle, a corporate show will appear on it. At this point, behaving just as mindlessly as a radical religious leader. One of those people who thought the answer to all of life’s problems was meditation. Well.
2017 was an excellent year for me. I was able to sustain a perfect life from just doing standup comedy. I was doing well enough to move out of my house, travel to three countries, and take four vacations. I had this feeling that I had “made it.” The job looked comforted, and I was thinking of putting my bets on buying a house. I did not, fortunately, thanks to some sound advice from a friend.
After the #MeToo movement and the saturation point of standup comedy came to light in 2018, life was no longer as rosy. I only thought it was a phase, except “this phase” did not seem to end. I hit some of the most significant lows in my life, making me have to go back to my dad for some pocket money. I was officially broke. Then I did what every millennial would do, I looked for the solution in youtube videos and self-help books. I’ve read so many self-help books that I feel capable enough of writing one of my own. But someday.
In an interview with Ramit Sethi, the author of the book “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” he said: “You do not need to reduce the number of Cafe Lattes you drink each week. To be financially stable means adding more work.” The outline is that one does not need to downsize their life, just find a way to make enough money to sustain the lifestyle you like.
Some places I had to, however, reduce my spending. And I used the advice given in any money management book. Step one is to find expenses that do not add value to your life and get rid of them. I got rid of any subscriptions that I was not using; I reduced my drinking plans to just once every twelve days and, most importantly, deleted all food delivery apps. Life was now a game of monopoly.
I picked up more work in my domain. Editing, writing, small marketing jobs, even making memes. In a few months, I was not rich, but I was not broke, either. I missed a few things I quit to make rent, but soon life moulded to the new ways. I started cooking my own food, and in no time, I found myself saving enough money to maybe restart my vices of expensive coffee and week-day beers.
Being broke taught me only one lesson. I could live the same life I was living at a much lower cost. Since I was too broke to afford Swiggy food delivery, I started cooking. I made drinking plans at home. I replaced my gym membership for running, I started using public transport instead of driving in the traffic. Not once did it feel like I was downsizing my routine, it felt like I was part of a reality show where I need to live under a budget each day.
Even to this day, I live each day like I’m broke. This does not mean I do not have fun anymore, but I just find the most cost-effective way to get things done. My comedian buddy, Karthik Kumar, also an incredible actor and entrepreneur, said in his book “Don’t StartUp” that the earlier you have your first business failure, the better the longevity of this model. I feel like being broke early in your life will actually teach you to manage money way better than any business school can show you.
So live each day… like you are broke.
Kritarth Srinivasan, A Bengaluru based English standup comedian. With over eight years in the industry, he has more than 1000 successful shows to his credit. Apart from every major city in India, his comedy was also well received in international shows in Singapore, New York, Kuala Lumpur, Austin, Washington DC, and San Francisco. His comedy is witty, clean, simple, and relatable. Making him an excellent fit for both a pub or a corporate.