In my former life, I loved rap artist Lupe Fiasco. No really loved him, like ran up on him at a gallery exhibit in Soho and spilled my guts about how much I love his music and how the song “Sunshine” was the best song ever. One of my favorite versus from him came off his Food & Liquor album where he says “Struggle, yeah, yeah, another sign that God love you / Cause on the low, bein po’, make you humble” .

I’ve been thinking about that verse a lot as I continue to educate individuals about money. While our mission is inspiring women to create lives that are financially independent I don’t want to discount the valuable lessons you learn from being broke. There was a time in my life where I was broke. I was working for Americorp and living in NYC making $13,500 a year.

Here is what I learned by being broke:

Humility: By my sophmore year in college I was driving a Lexus. My motto was “I’m not spoiled, I’m just well taken care of”. Fast forward three years to NYC and I didn’t have a car. I went from well taken care of to barely taken care of. Between that time I learned extremely valuable lessons on humility. It was the slice of humble pie I needed. I began to understand struggle and started judging others less. I stopped worrying about what I could get from this world and became focused on what I could do for this world. Being broke changed my heart for the better.

Faith: At one time I was unemployed for an entire year in NYC. Not once did I worry about where I was going to live and how I was going to eat. It renewed my faith in myself and my faith in my creator that I was here in NYC to make a difference. I knew that as long as I did the work, I’d be good.

Hustle: During times of broke-ness I did jobs that I would have previously thought were below me. I sold cars, I bar tended, I was a photo-booth operator at events and private parties. I learned to diversify my streams of income and tapped into my Dad’s legendary ability to hustle.

You will learn who your real friends are: During this tough time my Grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t have a legitimate savings account, I barely had a bank account. A few months prior my best friend had lost her job and was owed backpay by unemployment. The first thing she did when she received her back pay was buy me a ticket to come home and see my Grandfather. I’m so happy she did because he passed less than a month later. Her gift enabled me to share last words and make peace with him.

You get resourceful: I didn’t become a freegan or anything but I got very creative with my life. When you don’t have money to shop, dine out, and do things an evolved version of the “fight or flight” theory takes place. Are you going to sit home and sulk or are you going to make things happened and feel fabulous doing it? I become more comfortable with myself and didn’t feel that I needed name brands for acceptance. I shopped at thrift store like I never had before, I cut my relaxed hair of and went natural. I guess you can say I became a blipster (a black hipster), but remnants of that resourcefulnness stick with me today and inspired the MyFabIsLess challenge.

So if you are fortunate, and yes I say fortunate enough to have been broke at one time or another in your life, what valuable lesson did it teach you?




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Created by nationally recognized millennial money expert Tonya Rapley, My Fab Finance is a leading financial education and lifestyle blog for millennials who want to become financially free and do more of what they love.