As a busy wife and mother, sometimes I struggle with being happy. When you add in the weight of debt, budgeting, and the busyness of life, it seems impossible to be happy when you’re broke. And then I see pictures on Facebook of all the fun my friends are having – vacations, beach trips, new clothes, and fancy restaurant meals – and that’s enough to send me over the edge.
Why can’t I have that? Don’t I deserve all those wonderful things, too?
But then I get to thinking… just how broke am I, really? I have a roof over my head, a good job, clothes to wear, and a husband and family that love me unconditionally. And isn’t that enough?
Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, it is hard to find happiness when you’re broke.
Studies show that complaining can actually rewire your brain into compulsive negative thinking. That same article tells us that, “If we worry, creating more unease and anxiety, we become stellar worriers since our brain is responding, making it easier for us to worry each time we do it, thus creating our default mode living.”
Yikes! I certainly don’t want my thoughts stuck in an endless cycle of negativity!
But when bills are piling up and you can’t afford extravagant vacations and new clothes, how do you find happiness? How can you be happy when you’re broke?
I’m here to help you answer that question. You see, we’ve paid off over $30,000 in debt in the last two years and have had to live like we’re broke most of the time. And we’re still plenty happy.
Here are the best ways I’ve found to bring you happiness when you’re broke.
Look at What You Already Have
How broke are you, really? Are you living in your car because you’re homeless broke? If not, then really look around you. Is your electricity on? Do you have food in your cupboards? Clothes to wear? If you do, you’re doing pretty good.
Even so, when I’m constrained by a budget, it’s easy to focus on what I don’t have and what I “can’t” buy. I lose sight of all the good things I already have in my life. Take a look around at what you already have – you are surrounded by blessings every day!
It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
When you’re in the throes of everyday life, take a moment to stop and enjoy the simple things. Starting a gratitude journal and writing down everything you’re thankful for is a good place to begin. You can also call up a friend and enjoy a good “catching up” conversation while taking a walk or sipping a cup of coffee – an easy, free, and fun way to find happiness.
Don’t Stress about Bills
You’ve heard people say don’t stress about what you can’t control. And, most of the time, bills are out of your control.
Well, I guess that isn’t entirely true. Because there is a lot about your finances you can control – you can put a lot of expenses on a credit card, always have the newest (a.k.a. most expensive) phones, and go out to eat and buy fancy clothes. (Note: don’t do that!)
But if you’ve already done that (like me) and are working on digging yourself out of a mountain of debt (also like me), then you don’t have a choice. And there isn’t any point in stressing about what you can’t control.
At this point, the only answer is to make a budget (download a free Quick & Easy Budget from my Free Resource Library!) and work it as best you can, and forget the rest.
Find Fun, Free Activities to Enjoy
There are as many paths to happiness as there are pebbles of sand on a beach – but one surefire way to find happiness even when you’re broke is to plan fun, free activities to enjoy.
If you live in a large city (or near one), there are tons of free options. A quick Google search of “free activities in Dallas” yields several great options for singles, couples, and families with kids.
But if you’re like me and stuck in a rural area, options can be limited. And that’s when you need to kick your creative juices into high gear! You can:
- Plan a picnic lunch at a local park
- Start a family game night (bonus fun if you invite another couple to join in on the fun!)
- Make some popcorn and binge your favorite season of NCIS, Daredevil, or the Office on Netflix
- Visit your local library to borrow a book, CD, or movie to take home and enjoy
- Start a blog about a topic you’re passionate about (this one is my favorite!)
As you can see, when it comes right down to it, happiness is a choice. And when you’re broke, stop stressing and start finding joy in the simple things and find an outlet for free fun and entertainment – and that will go a long way to bringing peace and happiness to your life.