Appreciate The Little Things: 5 Ways Being Broke Builds Character

by Haley Britzky
Paramount Pictures

You get home after (another) long day at work. You just pulled your fourth double this week, and you have another one tomorrow.

Your feet hurt, your head is spinning, your back aches and if one more person asks you to do something, there’s a chance you’ll lose it.

You throw your stuff on your bed and go into the kitchen to make a peanut butter sandwich. This is the same meal you’ve had the past two weeks, and you’re almost out of peanut butter.

Normally, you’d shrug and get some at the store tomorrow, but with rent coming up, you know you can’t afford to spend the extra $4. That’s right: Peanut butter just became a luxury you can’t afford.

Odds are this has happened to you at some point. God knows it’s happened to me. You have to skip a night out and stay in because a $5 beer just isn’t in the budget plan.

You wave goodbye to your friends as they leave for that fun road trip you would be going on, if you didn’t have bills to pay at the end of next week.

You pretend you wouldn’t kill for a Sonic slush when your friends ask if you want to go because it’s not happy hour, and you’re not made of money.

To put it simply, you’re sh*t broke.

Honestly, I don’t know which is worse, being that broke, or being told it’s “building character” and it’ll “all pay off in the end.” The only thing I’ll be paying off is my thousands of dollars in student loans.

But, I’m starting to think this saying has some merit. Maybe being this broke really does build character.

1. You appreciate the little things in life

Going out to eat isn’t a typical weekday night, so meeting some friends for dinner is something to look forward to. You can’t remember the last time you went shopping just because, so finally being able to get that new pair of shoes becomes that much more special.

You don’t need a lot in life because you’ve never had a lot. As long as you’re with good people in a good place, you’re happy.

2. You understand what it means to work hard

You’ve built an incredible work ethic because you didn’t really have a choice.

You might be dead tired and unable to remember the last day you just relaxed, but that doesn’t matter because you’re making your dreams come true … one callous at a time.

Yeah, it blows not being able to go out with your friends every Saturday night. And it almost doesn’t seem worth it when you haven’t seen your family in months because you can’t afford the gas to go home.

But, you’re building a life for yourself, and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

3. You’re genuinely thankful for anyone who has helped you along the way

We all know those people who have had things handed to them their whole lives.

They act like they're thankful, but they almost expect that kindnesses because they’ve never known anything else. But that’s not the case with you.

Every time your parents send you $50 in the mail, every time your SO pays for dinner and every time a stranger leaves you a generous tip after his meal, you're so taken aback.

It’s an overwhelming feeling to know someone out there is pulling for you and wants you to succeed.

When you say thank you, you mean it. That’s more than a lot of people can say.

4. You’ve known failure, and you’re capable of recovery

You’ve been knocked on your ass more than once. You’ve had nights when you’ve sat awake not knowing how you’ll make ends meet. You’ve had to call Mom crying because you just needed someone to listen.

But, you’ve made it work each and every time.

You’ve pushed harder, been stronger and grown tougher because of the challenges you've faced.

You’ve learned what it means to get back up with dignity and grace. Giving up isn’t an option for you, and you’ll be damned if it ever will be.

5. You’re setting yourself apart

A businessman came into my restaurant a few months ago, and we ended up talking all night. The more he learned about me, the more advice he seemed to have.

One of the things he told me was that no employer wants to hire someone who’s had everything handed to him. No employer wants to give a job to someone who doesn’t understand how to work hard.

“We want to hire someone who won’t back down when push comes to shove,” he told me.

By keeping your head above water during every struggle, you’ve proven you don’t back down. You’ve shown you’re worth the chance because the last thing you’ll do is walk away.

You’re setting yourself apart from everyone who ever gave up on something because the journey was too hard, too tiring and too “impossible.”

Yes, living off peanut butter sandwiches isn’t fun, and buying a $2 coke at McDonald's as a treat is a little sad.

But, maybe this will pay off. Maybe the struggles really do happen for a reason.

And besides, if at the end of the day, you'd still rather be broke and building your dreams than rich and miserable. Isn't that all you need to know?