2018 Jan 5
‘I’m broke, machang’.
If I had a rupee for every time someone said that to me I would be able to afford that lamprais I am craving, instead of that barely adequate, depressing chicken rice packet I have to be satisfied with from the ‘kade’ near my office today. However, with my current financial situation, I can’t afford those luxuries and I am sure everyone can relate to being broke!
Sometimes, life gives you lemons – or a trust fund, a full scholarship, and/or a good-paying job at graduation. And sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes, you owe money to a lot of people, still work at your formerly part-time job from last year, and/or can’t afford to eat and find yourself eating any form of communal food available in an effort to stay alive.
Being broke isn’t the end of the world. You can feel super alive during your broke periods by budgeting and thanking god for good friends who always share everything with you, be it their last isso wade or tuk rides . If you have the right mindset and the right strategy, you can get through counting rupees for the bus, crying to your mom on the phone, and being pursued by no less than three different banks and organizations for money. Being broke will be stressful, and it will be challenging, but you will make it.
So here are a few pointers on how to survive this cruel expensive world!
1. As the ancient Sinhala proverb goes ‘’Cut your sarong according to your redhi’’
First step – make a budget! Calculate your daily cost of living, take a look at all of your monthly expenses, and add them up. Then divide that number by 30 to get your average daily cost of survival. Now that you know how much it costs you to be alive each day, you have a better perspective on the money you earn and spend. Financial advice that revolves around saving as much as possible is not very practical, since there’s a limit to how much you can save because staying alive (food, water, shelter) requires some green ones! Instead, you want to focus on earning more than you spend while using sensible spending habits.
Look into how much do you have in your bank accounts, pockets, and Smirnoff bottle full of change. Put that under “starting amount.” Then, put the amount you are budgeting for rent, utilities, food, and fun in your budget. If you have a steady pay check, plug in all of those numbers in advance. If not, predict it as best as you can and plug it in or leave it blank until you can. Predict all of your final amounts as well. The idea is to predict your entire month or a series of months as far in advance as possible so you can budget to the last cent. Try sticking to this budget and not going overboard the next time you are drinking with your friends!
2. Develop good money habits
Stop carrying your credit/debit card along everywhere you go: Instead, carry minimal cash, which you think would be sufficient for transportation and other important work, thus not leaving room for unnecessary spending. Avoid asking for money from friends – this is always a bad idea. Whether or not money affects your friendship is subjective, but borrowing money will put more pressure on you to return the money as soon as possible.
Get that recurring deposit going, ASAP: As soon as you get a job, give standing instructions to your bank for a recurring deposit, whatever little you think you can spare every month. This way, you’d at least have some savings at the end of the year!
Value money: Do not shop unnecessarily when you know you’re (kind of) low on cash. Needless shopping, be it for clothes, groceries or food, will only lead to unnecessary stress later on when you don’t have money to get to work in a bus. Live below your means. Aside from making a budget, you should be attempting to cut back on everything as much as possible. Stop buying avocados and stick to cheaper fruits like bananas. Live on as little as possible. Buckle down and start making your own coffee. It’s time to prioritize!
3. Don’t rely on one income stream.
With the advent of freelancing, the world just seems like a nicer place! If you need some extra money, try using your set of skills and talents to rake in them rupees! From content creators to website developers, there is an endless list of part time freelance jobs you can adopt without affecting your 9-5 job.
4. Ball on a Budget
The first thing you’re going to have to do when you’re broke is figure out how to survive. That means making a budget, and sticking to it. You’ll feel compelled to do this once you realize that when you go over one week, you have to go under the next week. Maggi noodles does not taste good for more than six meals in a row, maximum. This is a proven fact. However, balling on a budget can certainly be achieved! There are many ways to cut costs if only you thought outside the box!
5. Learn how to say no
Rather than showing up at every party you’re invited to, learn how to say no – especially because those parties cost money, from transport, to gifts! Be armed with a list of solid excuses about why you cannot attend a certain event. Fake funerals and weddings are always reliable, but remember to keep track of your lies! If all fails, the ‘work emergency’ is pretty solid!
6. Freeloaders anonymous
We all hate being that person but go home and enjoy Amma’s cooking once in a while – she certainly won’t see it as freeloading! In fact, she will probably wash your clothes and pack a week’s worth of rations for you. Save up on your data usage by finding some of that public WIFI, and simply get creative!
So there you have it, six ways to survive being broke in Sri Lanka! Please do not blame me if these do not work and do not attempt to hold me liable in a court of law. Either way, I’m certainly too broke to pay for any damages!