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Money

How to be less awkward about being broke

Let’s be honest here. Being broke sucks. BIG TIME. Checking in on your bank account in the middle of the month to see that there are only two digits left in it or worse, you’re already in the one digit range and hitting it close to $0. You start to wish that you could simply sweep this “broke-ness” under the rug.

It’s a point in time where you might start to feel a slight panic towards the remaining days that you have left till your next allowance or paycheck. Having to think about your  hangout sessions and meetups stresses you out, due to the money that you might have to spend on these commitments. Choosing between going ahead with your plans or cancelling them stalls your decision. 

So is there a way to approach the financial pickle that you are in without placing more pressure on your wallet, while enjoying yourself at the same time? We can start with how we can communicate our financial situation in social commitments.

Be honest about being broke

If this is a group of people or individuals that you genuinely want to hang out with, it is better to be honest with them than to come up with an excuse. Saying things like “I can’t make it, I’m busy”, “You guys can go ahead without me” instead of being honest with yourself and the other party (be it your friend, family or acquaintances) is going to end up strIf this is a group of people or individuals that you genuinely want to hang out with, it is better to be honest with them than to come up with an excuse. Saying things like “I can’t make it, I’m busy”, “You guys can go ahead without me” instead of being honest with yourself and the other party (be it your friend, family or acquaintances) is going to end up straining your relationship with them. 

The other party might start to feel neglected from the rejection that they have received. And you might also feel neglected when excluded from the plans that were made; not to mention the unnecessary stress of coming up with an excuse every single time when you are in a financial bind. Instead, it is better to be honest with the other party. Let them know that you do want to meet up with them but are unable to because of your finances. 

Sharing from my own experience, I would usually inform the other party that 1) I am currently broke or low on cash, 2) postpone the plan to a later date when my allowances or paycheck comes in,  or 3) come up with a new plan that is comfortable for both of us. 

Being honest will also prevent you from caving into the social pressure of spending money on your social commitments. This helps you draw boundaries with yourself to keep to the planned budget. 

Alternatives for social commitments

Yes, you do need to put in an effort to look for various suggestions to replace or postpone the current plan, if you want to maintain a healthy relationship with the other party. Here are some of my suggestions:

Staying at home

This is definitely one of the least expensive ways to hang out. Be it inviting someone else over or hanging out at their place, being at home will provide you with the option to use the resources available to you without spending more. If you are hungry and willing to cook, there are plenty of easy-to-make online recipes that utilise what you have in your fridge. Here’s a few Tiktokers that I would suggest for beginner friendly recipes: tehbings, its.chloeh, newt. And if you are too lazy to cook, check your shelves for any good ol’ classic maggi mee. 

As for entertainment, there are plenty of things to do at home as well: Having a conversation with the other person, watching shows or movies online, do some DIY crafts like drawing and painting, playing drinking games or other fun games, pampering yourself with a spa day, or even having a sing-along session just like you would in a karaoke! 

Going out

If you prefer to spend your time outside, there are tons of affordable places to visit. Instead of cafes, restaurants or bars, opt for local bakeries and hawker centers. Deenise Glitz, Strictly Dumpling, NOC Food King provide lots of delicious and cheap recommendations.

And since you are planning to spend your time outside together, it is advisable to plan ahead and come to a consensus on what you would like to do together. What is your main goal for the day? Are you planning to do a simple catch-up or is this a serious meeting for formal matters like group projects? How much time are you planning to spend together and how many people will there be? Use these guiding questions to plan your activities and location ahead of time to avoid unnecessary spendings and disagreements.

After communicating to your companions about your financial situation and taking the initiative to contribute to future plans made, you will be able to make being “broke” a lot less awkward. 

But if you are looking for ways to manage or increase your finances, check out these articles: 

5 Expert-Approved Tips for Organizing Your College Finances / Side Hustle for University Students .

andrea leong

Nanyang Tech '22

Constantly tired, could lie in bed all day and still be tired. If someone is to write a story about her, she would like to be identified as a pebble size rock. And her friends would be the protagonist of the story, carrying her around in their pockets while they travel around the world. – Inspired by Suga & V's conversation
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