7 Reasons Why You Don’t Have Any Money


Last night I made a super late trip to the grocery store (you know, because Walmart is pretty empty at midnight) and I left there ready to strangle someone. Not because of what my groceries cost - I only spent $100 - but because of a fellow shopper.

First of all, this lady had her obviously school-aged child in Walmart at midnight. There’s still a week of school left. Now, there might have been a good reason for that, so I really tried not to judge her. But that didn’t last too long. I passed her several times on my quest to buy real food, and at one point her daughter gestured toward me while I was putting a bag of apples in my cart.

“Mom, I want some apples!” she said.

The lady snapped at her, “You’re not getting apples! I don’t know why you think I’m made of money!”

Oh, hell to the no. Commence Super Andrea Judge Mode. I looked in her cart, and what did she have? A couple of shirts, 3 or 4 DVDs, and some random grocery items. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with a single scenario where it’s okay to buy movies and tell your child she can’t have apples. Unless I’m missing something, that woman was either really mean or really broke. Or maybe both.

I don’t know much about being mean, but I’m an expert at being broke. Thankfully I’ve never deprived my son of things like fruit, but that situation got me thinking about the things I have done (or done without) due to lack of funds. Then I started thinking about why people end up broke in the first place. I came up with all kinds of reasons why someone’s pockets may be empty - here are 7 of them.

7 Reasons Why You Don’t Have Any Money

1. You don’t have enough income to meet your expenses.

Been there, done that. Sometimes no matter how much you cut, you just can’t juggle all your responsibilities on the amount of money you have coming in. This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you to get another job or go back to school, but I’ll be honest - now is not a great time to do either of those things. So instead I’ll just tell you I know it sucks and I’m sorry. Reduce expenses as much as you can and don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you need it. Especially if your kids want apples!

2. You spend too much money on junk.

If spending could go on a resume, mine would be the size of a phone book. So please know that I’m not being condescending when I say that you have two choices: You can either stop spending, or you can continue being broke. Getting over my spending addiction was one of the best things I ever did, but no one could convince me to do it. I had to make that decision myself. And it came when I was tired - really tired - of being broke.

3. You have a serious health problem, a sick family member, or some other unfortunate circumstance.

It’s unfortunate that we live in America and something like medical treatment can leave us bankrupt. But for now, that’s the way it works. If you’re broke because of a natural disaster or your spouse’s untimely death, you have my sympathy and you will receive no judgment from me. Just do the best you can.

4. You give all your money away.

Ever meet one of those people who is generous to fault? They’re paying their sister’s electric bill, taking care of their friends’ library fees, picking up their grandma’s prescriptions, and cooking meals for their neighbors. Oh, and they faithfully donate money to charities and/or their church. Yet their bills aren’t paid on time and they frequently go without the things they need. If you’re one of those people, STOP BEING A LUNATIC. There’s a reason why all the finance people harp on paying yourself first. Helping others is great, but only when your own bills are paid.

5. You don’t plan ahead.

Emergency funds are all the rage right now, but have you ever considered why? Because shit happens. When you have a savings account full of money, you can usually deal with said shit pretty easily. But when you don’t, you end up using a credit card, borrowing money, or going without. You absolutely must start saving, even if it’s $10 a month. Saving is contagious - try it out!

6. Your priorities are screwed up.

True story: My friend’s mom hasn’t had air conditioning at her house in almost 3 years. We live in the south, where you can seriously DIE in a house with no air conditioning. It’s not optional. Yet my friend’s mom has been surviving without it somehow, all while taking at least 2 vacations a year. If you ask about the AC unit, she sighs, “We just can’t afford to get it fixed right now.” If you’re doing crazy things like that to afford things like vacations, I don’t even know what to tell you.

7. You simply don’t know where your money goes. Or you’re afraid to find out.

When I took over my cousin’s finances in February, I was flabbergasted to see how much money he spent on late fees, overdraft fees, and random stuff that he didn’t even remember buying. Since he makes more in 6 months than I’ve ever made in a year, it just didn’t make sense that he would be broke. But because of his failure to pay attention to little things like his bank balance and the due dates of his bills, he barely had a dollar to his name. Luckily he’ll be coming home to a nice cushion of cash - if I can just keep him from giving it to the bank.

The Bottom Line

When you do any of the things I mentioned, you end up broke. When you end up broke, you’re forced to do things you wouldn’t normally do. When you’re forced to do things you wouldn’t normally do, you buy DVDs instead of letting your child have apples. Don’t buy DVDs instead of letting your child have apples.

Are you (or have you ever been) broke for any of the reasons I listed? Any other reasons you can think of why people don’t have any money? Am I the only one who wanted to punch the grocery store lady in the jaw?


7 Reasons Why You Don’t Have Any Money29 Comments

  1. When I read the girl asking for apples, I thought it was going to be a discussion on real vs fake food. About how some people think they can't afford healthy foods like apples when they've got their cart filled up with soda and chips.

    But you can't afford apples because you bought some DVDs? Put one back and you've more than got enough money for a bag of apples!

    We were in #1 shortly after getting married. Quitting my job to move cross country in a recession wasn't the most well thought out plan :/

    I'm not sure I agree with "We live in the south, where you can seriously DIE in a house with no air conditioning. It’s not optional." Granted, I've never lived in the south myself. But it seems to me that people lived down there, and in even hotter climates, long before anybody had ever thought of air conditioning.

    • Well, the thing is, people knew how to survive in warmer temperatures before air conditioning. I'm not sure they do now. Every summer (usually when the temperatures pass 100 degrees and humidity is at 100%) there are hundreds of stories of people dying from heat stroke down here. I had to turn on my air conditioner back in March when it was 85 inside my house even with the windows open and fans running, and it'll run until at least the end of October. It's just a different universe down here when it comes to summer.

      • That is absolutely true. Especially when it comes to the young and the elderly, they are very susceptible to health conditions due to extreme heat and humidity. And, when you talk about being almost at the southernmost point of the contiguous states, it can get really bad. So bad in fact that there are warnings on the news for anyone with any respiratory issues to stay indoors due to the effects of the heat.

        And just because people lived down here, doesn't meant that they didn't suffer brutally at times because of it either.

    • I live in North Carolina and our summers are swealtering hot, in fact the news stations and radio hosts urge people to check in on friends and family or neighbors who do not have cooling systems in their homes because they actually DIE from the heat especially elderly people. It is a very serious risk not having a/c or central air.

  2. I think that #5 would actually be the largest contributor into how we got into financial trouble.. Other than cars, houses (and maybe not even cars), and college- you really shouldn't borrow money to buy anything.. Too often we put purchases on credit cards or got financing through a store to make a large purchase. It's a no-win situation.

  3. 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 all sound familiar :) I essentially made myself go broke at least 3 times in my adult life. The first round of debt was overspending - okay easy enough stop spending, the second round of debt was not paying attention to what I was buying alright time to use my check register and the third and final round was all of the above - and it almost ended badly. My credit cards have been paid off for over a year and my stupid installment loan has been paid off for 4 months.

    My husband and I still tend to spend money on junk, however we make sure we pay our emergency fund first before buying any silly items. It's such a cool thing now - instead of saying to myself, "oh, I will just save some money after I get myself some things" - and I would never save, of course Now I say "NOTHING SHALL BE PURCHASED UNTIL WE HAVE SAVED!!!!!!!!!" lol and seriously, how horrible are you if you won't buy your child healthy food because you want dvd's?

  4. I too am terribly guilty of judging people on what they put in their WalMart cart. Worst one ever was the lady who was so obese, she had to ride the scooter cart. She was on oxygen and had a big bucket of fried chicken in the basket. Now maybe she was buying it for someone else or only had a few weeks to live and really liked chicken, but it is really hard not to judge. She could have also probably bought two bags of apples for the price of that chicken!

  5. I have been guilty of all of those except #4. For too long I spent too much on non-important things (junk) while not knowing exactly how much we owed each month. I wish I had found blogs like this years and years ago. But I guess everything happens for a reason - and I'm pretty OK with where I am today, so I shouldn't be dreaming about what could have been.

  6. I have a friend who judges people's grocery purchases and whenever I put chicken nuggets in my cart I have her voice in my head going "tsk tsk. Real chicken is healthier" REAL CHICKEN TAKES LONGER THAN 10 MINUTES TO COOK!!

    Ahem. I hope that you made a passive-aggressive remark about the apples. Something casual to no one in particular but loud enough so that she could overhear like "Oh man! I guess I have to put XYZ back — I forgot that my son wanted apples for school this week"

    Also, kids in Walmart at midnight?! And why don't we have 24h Walmarts!?

  7. The worst is cigarettes. My wife, when teaching public school, would have to listen to parents complain about money while blowing smoke in her face. Some people have their priorities messed up. I don't think money will solve the problems these people are experiencing.

  8. Very good post. I can say that the majority of those sound all too familiar. I do have to say that when I started giving a portion of my income to charity, my finances started working out much better rather than worse, and know a lot of people who swear by this. I give first, myself second and everything else third. I think it boils down to those who don't budget their giving the same as they budget their savings when paying yourself first. If you do this, and follow your budget, this can actually help you get the apples and the dvd's. I see instances like the one you mentioned all the time in central KY, such a shame.

  9. Some people's priorities amaze me. I hope those DVDs tasted good to the kid who wants apples. I could understand if the kid wanted twinkies… but saying no to apples? I guess maybe they had some at home… I hope.

  10. I was thinking that maybe the daughter had been asking her mom for dvd's and this and that and everything else she see not necessarily because she wants it but because she is a kid who sees it and want it and by that time the mother was fed up and said no apples! I know because my kids to the same thing to me when i'm in the store. I see why marketers target children because they influence the parent's pocket book.

  11. I've done some of those things. (Okay most of those things) And that lady sounds horrible! We have a 24 hour Wal-Mart and I can never understand when school age children are with their parents late at night on a school night. I know my mom always prefered buying me a treat because I love fruit and will generally eat it over candy or chips.

    When I lived in upstate NY a air conditioner was no big deal-you could generally get by with a fan or two. Now I live in the midwest and have learned you really do need an air conditoner. Especailly last summer.

  12. 7 very true reasons. I am stumped by the AC example though. 82 is about our average in Barbados. I don't think we get up to 100 though although the summers are really hot. I have heard stories about people in Florida catching heat strokes just walking down the street so I can imagine it gets really hot, but AC or die is a scary thought.

  13. That's so disturbing! I can't believe that story! What if that kid isn't getting enough vitamins because her mom wanted to spend their grocery money on some terrible DVDs? Great tips though!

  14. Girl, you are not alone. I would have wanted to punch her too. Apples are more important than you're "Sex and the City" DVD.

  15. Alright, Andrea, you're back! Love this post! Also, I wish you'd said something to that beyotch who didn't have the money for some f!@#$%^ apples for her child. Then again, you never know. A POS like her might be armed.
    I'm all about the judging, in case anyone was wondering.

  16. Haha, I love what you did there at the end with the commercial reference.

    I agree with 85.7% (yah I did the math lol, 6/7) of what you said. Especially the part about paying yourself first and saving for emergencies. You never know what is going to pop up and it always helps to have a little saved for those times. I used to agree with the air conditioner thing, and I live in Upper Michigan where it might reach 90 degrees twice a year. But after I spent a year in the desert on my deployment, these 90-100 degree days can't even compare with the 140+ degree summers over there. I think people need to just drink more ice water and keep hydrated, which is the main cause in all heat related injuries.

  17. This could have been a discussion of real vs. fake food. The American Dietician Association recently published that purchasing produce was cheaper and healthier than most other foods in the store. She could have bought an an apple, saved money AND her kids health.

  18. Oooo nice to know I'm not the only one who plays Judge Judy at the grocery store! As for being broke, in my past, I identify with 1, 2, 5, 6, & 7. Now, I'm doing better…. my biggest issues are 5, and a little bit of 6. We're making conscious choices - some would say they're bad, but we're choosing. And nothing critical is going undone while we make those choices!

  19. I'm actually impressed your mom's friend is willing to forego air conditioning to afford vacations. At least she understands the concept of making trade offs. Even though it's really hot in the south during the summer months (I know I'm from Florida), there was a time when air conditioning did not exist and human beings managed to survive. Going without a/c really isn't an option for me, but if it works for you, have at it.

  20. My mother goes weeks without air conditioning in Houston, then stays at a hotel cause it is so hot. That’s stupid spending. And Texas heat is no joke, death is very possible.

  21. 2, 5, 6 and 7 all were true for me at one point. I think I'm doing a lot better on all of the point but it took a lot of work to get there. I still find myself buying junk for no reason. I would be appalled by that mom and her kid but but then again, it's Walmart. The store that just makes me sad for humanity.

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