Broke Guys' Guide To January

With just one week to go 'til payday, here's how to survive the final stretch

By Hugh Upsher

Being broke can sometimes be a liberating experience. If you have nothing in the bank, you have nothing to lose. There is no stressing over which pair of shoes to buy because the fact is, you can’t afford either of them right now. One thing I did learn from being a student was how to get by without money in the bank. So while you nibble on your last few end-of-the-month Salticrax, here are some tips you can at least feed your brain with.

Bum off your relatives

Whether it's your parents, older sibling or anyone that’ll have you, make sure you capitalise by scoring a free meal with every visit. These meals are considered guilt-free because you’re gifting them with your amazing presence. They may hassle you about what you’ve been up to, asking about your fledgling DJ career, or what "going pro" on Instagram actually means. You’ll lie and say you have really exciting creative projects that are still “in the pipeline”, so you can’t say too much yet. Try and push your luck by arriving with a Tupperware in case there are any leftovers to be had.


If your friends want to meet up for a couple of drinks, consider inviting them to your place instead. A six-pack from the bottle store is cheaper, and will go way further than a round of craft beer ever would have. Added bonuses include playing your choice of music and not being harassed by rude strangers. Make sure you make the B.Y.O.B policy very clear in your invite.

Go veggie

If cute little piglets and doe-eyed cows aren’t enough to convince you to stop eating meat, your leather wallet might. Meat is a luxury item and cutting down your intake (even if only temporarily) should translate to you saving on grocery bills. I have dabbled in the vegetarian lifestyle and can confirm that you won’t die if you skip on eating animals for a couple of weeks. If your friends choose to interrogate your decision, you have a wide array of replies to pick from. There’s the animal cruelty in the industry, the carbon footprint element, and most importantly, Betty White is a vegetarian.

Avoid credit

The phrase “there is no such thing as free money” could not be more straightforward or true. Credit cards are the simplest way to avoid facing reality, especially when reality is offering you 2-Minute noodles and carrots for lunch and dinner. Make sure you treat it as a survival tool, not as a make my problem go away device. Your spending habits need to match your bank balance, which doesn’t mean starve, but rather hold out where you can until the blessed rains of month-end come again. If you are really itching, make a short list of things you really want, and when payday arrives you’ll be able to dive into it guilt-free. 

Being able to look a Woolies ripe and ready avo pack in the face and know you can’t have it will undoubtedly grow you as a person. I can’t say I have mastered the art of responsible spending, but if I did I would be a very boring person. Life is definitely for celebrating and living in the moment, but at the same time, it can also be about staying at home and being frugal. So be strong and patient, you’re so close.