It's been a long time since I've been broke, but I can still remember
what it felt like. I can picture all the ugly details of the way I used to struggle; the empty bank account, the awkward moments, the feelings of despair…. And honestly, one particularly awkward conversation with my sister still plays clearly in my mind to this day:
“Hey sis, I'm coming into town this weekend,” she said innocently. “Maybe we could go grab dinner.”
“Ummm, let me think about that for a second.” I struggled to find a tactful way to tell her that I couldn't afford it.
It's been about ten years since then, but at the time I was
22 years old and flat broke
. A series of bad decisions meant that I was trapped in a desperate situation that felt nearly impossible to get out of. And although I was going to school part time, I was living off a full-time job that only paid a whopping $9.15 an hour.
Oh, and it gets worse.
Bad decisions have consequences
Have I ever mentioned that I once bought a $22,000 car while making just a little over minimum wage? The resulting $500
monthly car payment
meant that almost half of my take home pay was being spent on transportation. And by the time I realized what I had done, it was much,
too late. Since I had always had wonderful credit, I refused to let a car repossession ruin everything in one fell swoop. I was (and still am) stubborn. So, instead of letting the car go, I struggled. This often meant that I didn't have the money to put gas in my car or to go to the doctor. And I certainly didn't have the money to go out to eat with my sister.
“Sorry, I don't have the money to go out to dinner,” I said with shame and emotion I may never forget.