I make no secret on this blog that Carl and I are broke. He’s in school, I’m struggling in this horrible job market, and unfortunately we are not trust fund babies.  It isn’t fun when you have to decide between getting gas or buying new lightbulbs. (We finally caved in a bought lightbulbs, our apartment is so bright now!)  I’ve learned a lot of things from living paycheck to paycheck for over a year.

What being broke taught me--Living paycheck to paycheck has a been a struggle but I've definitely learned a lot through this past year.

It can always get worse.

Saying, “We just have to make it until ______,” is nice, but not helpful.

Date nights that cost money are overrated.

You don’t need as much stuff as you think you do.

Buying groceries will always be cheaper than living off the dollar menu.

Along those same lines, people spend way too much on food.

You can still be happy when you have no money.

Any job is better than no job.

We have a lot to be thankful for.

Times are tough these days, but there are still many things to be happy for.  We have each other and we are able to make ends meet without going into debt.  We know things can be worse but we also know we have a long way to go.

What have you learned from hard financial times?



  • My dad was unemployed on and off throughout my childhood. While those times were difficult, they taught me to not take anything for granted. I think those experiences growing up gave me a unique perspective that I carry with me today. I definitely think that I learned to enjoy the little things after going through money problems. And I totally agree about the date nights. Some of my favorite date nights are simply taking a walk around a park. I wish you guys the best in the future and hang in there! 🙂

    • katiewinn

      Thank you! You’re right, as tough as these times are, we’ve learned to appreciate the things we have and not take anything for granted. I think living with less now will help us in the long run.

  • Dayna

    So true! Things can always be worse (and always be thankful that they are not). I don’t think you will ever feel caught up financially. There will always be something. Eating dinner at home has really helped my husband and I. I cook dinner everyday (at least 5x a week and eat left overs on the others), that has helped save money. Also bringing left overs for lunch! It is the every day things that really add up.

    • katiewinn

      You’re so right, there will always be something. I hope that once we are settled into nice jobs we remember how little we need. I think keeping that in mind will help us stay on top of our finances in the years to come. Not eating out and eating leftovers saves soooo much money.

  • Ashley

    We aren’t living pay check to pay check, but we also don’t have a comfortable amount of money in the bank. I can’t work since we are constantly moving around because of hockey, so Kory is the only one bringing in the money. Everyone has the misconception that since he is a professional hockey player he makes a lot of money. I wish. Now that we are in a higher league he is making more, but that wasn’t the case for the start of the season or all last season. Being broke has definitely taught me to be more frugal and save money. I spend WAY less money than I used to. It has also taught me that I don’t need all the things that I want. I don’t need much at all in fact. As long as I have Kory and we are both happy and healthy, then I will be just fine!

    Ashley, Married to the Game

    • katiewinn

      You’re so right! At the end of the day, Carl and I have each other and that’s all we need. It’s amazing how much stuff you don’t really need and how much money you can save.

  • I FEEL this post. I spent the last year working part-time (like you say, any job is better than no job) and now I’m a student again, so the no money game is one that I’m familiar with. One of the biggest hurdles for me to jump was learning that just because I’m broke/underemployed doesn’t mean that I’m a failure at life. This one aspect of me doesn’t define me.

    • katiewinn

      SO RIGHT. I was the same way. I have two degrees and still don’t have a full time job. I enjoy where I’m working and am working to start my own business, but there are so many days I feel like a failure.

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  • We are very blessed by Angel’s job, but it’s such a good lesson to learn how little you really need–even if it’s not easy! Angel’s always said he’s glad he married a girl who didn’t come from money because I feel spoiled when he surprises me with a slushie from the gas station! 😛 I definitely think that having less helps each one of us learn to appreciate little things more!

    • katiewinn

      Carl says the same thing all the time. He’s dated some pretty high maintenance girls before me, so he loves that I never ask him to spend money on me. I’m glad to be going through this rough patch financially, I know once we are finally making more money we will be able to keep living as low maintenance as we are now.

  • Hayley

    I love your positive attitude! So many people would let these kinds of situations get the best of them. Just finding your blog and I’m loving it!!

    Stopping by from Weekend Reads!!


  • I think you are totally right! I think it helps teach you what’s important and what you really need.
    The most true of your list? It can always get worse! I’ve learned that a time or two!

    • katiewinn

      Thanks! Anytime I’m feeling extra down about something I have to remind myself it could always be worse. It’s such a great to thing to remind yourself during those rough times.

  • Kristen @ Treats and Travels

    “Buying groceries will always be cheaper than living off the dollar menu”, this sentence is so true. We’ve been making a HUGE effort to bring a lunch to work each day and only go out to eat once a weekend. It’s tough – but saves so much money!

    • katiewinn

      I hate how much truth is in the statement because I love eating out. I’m glad I know better, but it’s still so hard to turn down a quick trip for some fast food.

  • I love your positive and optimistic outlook on your situation. A breathe of fresh air.

    • katiewinn

      Thank you! It’s not always easy, but I try my hardest.

  • angela

    I’ve learned I don’t like depending on my fiance. I’ve learned I am not happy or nice while broke. My fiance makes good money but I feel it is his money. I don’t like having to ask him for money.

    • katiewinn

      I can completely understand that. There is so much confidence and security in knowing that you are able to take care of yourself financially without anyone’s help. I’m in that same position now, my fiance is currently making the money while I’m broke. It makes me feel bad, but I know over the course of our relationship we’ve been in both positions. There have been times where he has had to depend on me and times I’ve had to depend on him. As frustrating as it can get, there’s comfort in knowing you aren’t alone and there is someone willing to support you just as much as you’re willing to support them.

  • I learned that you can find a lot of change in your couch to buy food with.

    • katiewinn

      Haha so true.