Save. Spend. Splurge.

Are you ‘poor’ or are you simply ‘broke’?

Maybe you don’t think there’s a difference between being ‘poor’ or ‘broke’, but this is how I see it.

Being Poor = You simply don’t make enough money, but not by choice (circumstances).

Being Broke = You make enough money, but you spend it all instead of budgeting, and/or you don’t make enough money because you don’t want to work more.



You don’t make enough money for a number of reasons:

  • You have unusual circumstances that truly prevent you from working
  • You don’t have the resources to get a foothold to get out of your situation
  • You need more education (e.g. high school degree), but can’t get it
  • Can’t find opportunities in your area and can’t leave your area either


You make enough money, but you spend every penny you make:

  • Aren’t taking on enough hours at work (e.g. working part-time)
  • You spend more on your ‘Wants’ are bigger than your ‘Needs’
  • You choose to work less, even if you could work more
  • You choose to work a lower-wage job when you could work harder for more money
  • You don’t think about saving any money before spending it
  • You don’t plan anything, not just your money, but even your life or career


  1. Get an idea of what you want to achieve (1 goal – e.g. ‘get out of debt’)
  2. Make an action plan to achieve it (e.g. ‘I will pick up a second job’)
  3. Execute

I understand that circumstances can be beyond a person’s control, but for what you CAN control, why wouldn’t you want to improve the situation?

If it’s just a matter of picking up more hours at work (or going into overtime), or picking up a second job, then what’s stopping you from pounding the pavement and finding that second job to bring in more income?

Otherwise, there is no other explanation other than a lack of motivation and sheer laziness.


  • marilyn

    I am poor due to circumstances beyond my control,poor health,and status.i am not broke though,the money I do have I budget wisely .its often assumed that poor people make themselves poor by being lazy and unmotivated,it isnt always the case and I appreciate it when people take the time to look into the circumstances rather than assume otherwise.

  • MiningFrugal

    I’m not attempting to speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself and others I have known.

    A lot of times, the problem with being broke comes down to not paying your paycheck the attention it deserves. If you are one of the people that always wonders where all the money went (like I once was), then while the problem could be partly due to your circumstances, the bigger problem is you aren’t paying attention. If you know where all your money goes but still can’t make ends meet, your problem is a little more complicated but you have the knowledge to fix it.

  • Heather

    I recently took a lower paying job (police/fire dispatcher) that doesn’t require any of my education, because it’s my dream job and I’m truly happy doing it. The military paid for my college and I am free of student loans and consumer debt, and can also still afford to pay my bills. To me, doing a job that truly makes me happy and where I feel that I am making a difference, that is living the rich life. Being broke, poor, or rich, is not always about our financial situation, and is sometimes more about our perspective of money.

  • Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

    Well, it looks like I’m a little bit poor and a little bit broke.
    I was laid off almost a year ago, and “Can’t find opportunities in your area and can’t leave your area either”. That led me to accepting a part time, minimum wage job meaning I also (sort of) “choose to work less, even if you could work more” and (sort of) “choose to work a lower-wage job when you could work harder for more money”.
    The argument could be made that it is my fault that I’m in this situation. I was fully expecting to be re-hired, and therefore was lazy with my job searching for the first few months. I didn’t let the good opportunities pass, but I didn’t jump on the “okay” opportunities like I should have.
    I’ve finally started to feel that motivation to be much more active in improving my work and financial situation, though, and I’m hoping that good things will come soon because of it 🙂

  • Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents

    I think Stefanie from The Broke And Beautiful Life summed up my thoughts on the broke vs. poor thing today pretty well. Like you said, it’s a really a matter of the circumstances available to you (i.e. the products of privilege). That and the time to have your financial situation grow.

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