You’re Broke Because You Want To Be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead by Larry Winget. Ooooo weee! If this book doesn’t stop you in your tracks, I don’t know what will. I’m a “give it to me straight” kinda person, and Larry Winget’s book for sure GIVES IT TO YOU STRAIGHT! This man breaks down the truth and airs all your financial ugliness and hang-ups for you to see. It ain’t pretty, but it sure is an effective book!

If you haven’t heard of Larry Winget, he has a bunch of books with titles like: Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get A Life; People are Idiots and I Can Prove It; and No Time For Tact. He’s basically saying you have no reason but YOU not to succeed. I LOVE this philosophy! The man is singing my kind of song.

Being on the struggle bus is no fun, no joke, and no Bueno! Larry stops you cold and says you are there because YOU want to be! Ain’t that some somethin’ somethin’? He says, “Broke is not a condition like being poor. Broke is a situation you find yourself in because you are either underearning or overspending.”  He also says point blank, “If you didn’t want to be broke, you wouldn’t be broke.” When I read that years ago, it hit me smack in the bank account … because I knew it was true. And doesn’t the truth hurt?

When I was on the struggle bus, I knew I was there because of me and my actions. I had been that person who would let bills stack up, like not even open the envelopes for fear of what they might hold beneath that seal. And don’t let a pink or green envelope get delivered. I’d stuff those way down deep in a drawer and pray that it would find a way to just poof! disappear. Raise a hand if you’re with me?

Larry says it’s stupid stuff like that that we’re doing because we WANT to … and he’s right!!! Nobody made me bury those darn envelopes. Nobody made me ignore paying the minimum on my credit cards until AFTER it was due only to then get charged $30 in late fees. I did that aaalll on my own.

I got myself in gear. I made a spreadsheet of all the bills I owed from lowest to highest. I automated my credit card payments through my online banking service and scheduled them based on my pay dates, so there would always be money in my account. And I stuck to it. This prevented me from letting any new pair of shoes, or fly new handbag get in the way of making those payments, ON TIME! And let me tell you, once I changed my mindset, these adjustments weren’t all that hard.

Now, I know some of you are scraping by. I don’t want to be insensitive to that, but like Larry says, you’re either underearning or overspending. I don’t know about you, but my problem has ALWAYS been overspending.

To this day, I can go into a drug store to buy a pack of gum and walk out having spent $100 on different lipsticks. While I felt I needed those pretty pink tubes of lipstick, what I really needed was to keep my butt out of the drug stores and use the lipsticks I already had without adding to my Visa bill!

I’m still a work-in-progress when it comes to impulse shopping. So continue to pray for me. Because here’s the truth you guys – the bad spending habits you have when you have no money, don’t mysteriously disappear when you start to make money. Sometimes it can be worse because you have more money to spend on your bad habits. Umm hmm. Sad. But true.

But one area I have always had laser focus vision? What I’m earning. Mama does not play when it comes to the money I’m bringing in.

Again, I’ve been there, so I know how you feel, when you feel like you’re being underpaid. I remember around the time my first marriage ended, I applied the concepts I’d learned about how to negotiate with a car sales man when buying a car toward asking for a raise from my non-profit boss.

I knew I needed to make more, and as a newly single mom, I had plenty of motivation to pressure my boss to do the right thing and give me the raise I deserved. Rather than whine and complain about how underpaid I was (futile), I researched what my role was worth. I presented that to my boss along with a (long) list of all I had accomplished. And I was successful! Whoo hoo. I still remember how proud I was when my salary was boosted to $78,000.

You can do the same.

Make an action plan. How much are your bills each month? A lot of y’all don’t know because you’re afraid of the answer. GET the answer. Sit down with a printout of your last three bank statements, pull out all those crumpled cash receipts from your wallet, and see how much you spend. Look at that compared to how much you make. Whatcha got? Now how much do you need? Take your rent, for example. Most financial planner folks (and leasing agent peeps) will tell you that you need to make three times your rent to be in a good place. Don’t be afraid of what the numbers say. Use them as a guide, get your head out of the sand, and get moving.

And get a copy of Larry’s book PRONTO to help you even further. By this time next year, you won’t be so broke. You’ll be boasting how you got yourself off the struggle bus … because you wanted to!

You. Can. Do. This!

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