I’m broke (and I don’t care)

images (9)Last week, something happened to me that happens from time to time. Something I’ve wanted to write about before. 

And it’s something that I suppose many of my colleagues would urge me not to share with you as I imagine that the attitude I’m sharing here could be an enormous source of frustration to a coach.

But whatever. 

I was broke.

I was in BC visiting friends when I likely should have been working on business things and I had a couple hundred dollars in the bank. If more money didn’t come in I wasn’t going to be able to pay rent. Or pay for much of anything. I figured my money would run out by Friday and my overdraft the next Wednesday for sure. 

So, here I am, Mr. Marketing Man being broke. I can imagine it might be like seeing a yoga instructor smoke cigarettes. Or a relationship expert going through a bad break up. Which is kind of the point – the unrealistic (and often unkind) expectations we put on others and ourselves. 

And I wanted to write about this because I think that so many of us self employed types carry around a lot of shame at being broke or admitting we’re broke to others. It can seem like we’re admitting that our business isn’t working, that we’re a failure, that we made a mistake in starting it. It’s something we hide and don’t talk about because we really want others to think of us as successful. And this is my point: if you want to make money because you really want to have that money – go for it. If you’re wanting to make money (or seem like you’re making money) to impress people, it might be something to reconsider. 

Back to the story: last week I noticed I was broke. 

And it struck me how little I cared about it. And how little I care what others think about that.

Because I’m a hippie. And hippies don’t mind being broke from time to time. 

To be clear: it’s hardly the first time I’ve been broke. I’ve made money and spent it many times. I remember in the early days being so broke that I couldn’t afford a bagel or a stamp. And I’d already checked the couch for change. Meh. It happens. But my superhuman-like inability to keep a job and utter lack of interest in that combined with my desire for freedom (to the point of real irresponsibility) had me not even consider changing course much. I was just broke. I’d keep going. I’d borrow money and pay it back. I was doing what I loved and following my heart and I didn’t mind not having money sometimes (a little, but not much).

To be even more clear: this last time, I wasn’t totally broke. I had a couple hundred dollars. And there was some affiliate money coming in. I have some money in a travel/savings bank account I could have gone into in an emergency. I could have emailed my list to offer some one on one coaching and likely gotten a response. 

To go further, I could have moved back in with my mom (though she’d likely have loaned me the money). I’m white, male and live in Canada with an impressive social safety net and basically free health care. Etc. I also have very little debt at the moment. So, broke is a relative term and there are an immense number of invisible privileges that I enjoy simply because of the family and place in the world I was born into. Being broke as a white, middle ages, tall, straight man in Canada is different than being a broke black man in the southern United States I am quite sure. Or broke as a single mother. I’m single with no dependents. I’m not a single parent, or taking care of elderly parents. My needs and responsibilities are really very few. Were I in a different situation I likely wouldn’t be so ‘flip’ about this broke thing. Broke might not be an option in the same way. And, like you, I work for a world where being broke wouldn’t mean you’d lose your home or ability to eat or feed your family – a world where the most vulnerable amongst us were cared for and no one slipped through the cracks to end up six feet under the concrete we’ve poured over everything that matters. 

But the not caring isn’t just coming from this strange, inordinate and strange trust I’ve always had that I’ll be fine and that the money will show up when I need it (which is almost certainly deeply influenced by the privileges I have grown up with that were and likely still are invisible to me) – it’s also that I go broke sometimes because of the choices I make in my life about how often I work. And I actually don’t work half as hard as most people would think I do. I’m quite sure that 90% of my colleagues work much harder than me. And I bet most of them are way better at managing money (there’s a reason I don’t run Accounting for Hippies). 

So, I know that my occasional poverty is a choice. It’s summer. I’m hitting up festivals. Drinking on patios. Traveling and letting the money slowly spiral out of my account like a full tub draining. I get it. And I know that I will have to hustle soon to make more. But Summer in Edmonton is an urgent thing. It last like four months out of the year. And then it’s brutally cold winter at times and we’re forced indoors where I’ll have lots of time to work. It’s like I’m a reverse squirrel: I gather my acorns in the winter and live off them in the Summer.

My time management is alright but I often even get to the hustling much later than I should which means I make less money than I could. Whatever. Life goes on.

I value my quality of life, freedom and time with friends. I know that, slowly, I am building up my business to be much more self sustaining and resilient. I know that I keep getting better at what I do. I know I’ll have more home-study courses and products to sell over the coming years. More virtual programs I can offer. I’m on the slow path to those things and watching colleagues with more drive and hustle zoom right past me on most of those fronts. Bravo for them! Perhaps someday soon I’ll decide to really hustle and crack some things out. I’m sure if that seems fun that I’ll do it. 

And . . . whatever.

I’m writing this because I want you to know it’s okay to be broke. Sometimes you need to take a job. Sometimes you just need to hustle for a while. Sometimes it will be feast and sometimes it will be famine. Sometimes your big promotion will be a flop. Sometimes you are going to choose fun over work. Sometimes that will happen a lot. 

But making more money doesn’t make you a better person or a better manifestor. It doesn’t make you worth more than anyone else. It just means you have more money. Which sometimes you’re going to really want to have. 

But, every day, you’ll need to make those choices between short term fun and long term success and, fuck it, sometimes you’re going to choose short term fun. You’ll need to choose between quality of life and working really hard, and sometimes you’ll choose quality of life and enjoyment over working 16 hour days to make money.

And then sometimes you’ll work really hard and not see your friends for weeks because you’re so driven (by inspiration or desperation).

Sometimes you will want (or need) to make six or seven figures. Sometimes you won’t.

Sometimes you’ll have a partner who can support you for a time while you build something. Sometimes you won’t. 

That’s life. 

And it’s all fine. 

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

Are there consequences to not having money sometimes? Yes. Is it a drag sometimes? For sure. 

But working hard to make six or seven figures also has consequences and can be a drag. And sometimes the only reason you work so hard is to have the lifestyle you already had before you started.

As the saying goes, ‘There are some people so poor that all they have is money.’


Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

In this industry, there’s can be a lot of pressure to seem successful and have it all together. To manage and craft our reputation so that people are drawn to us and want to emulate us. Truth be told, I could probably care more about that than I do. But I really don’t. There can be so much pressure to create an image that you’re rich and that, if people do what you do then they’ll be as successful as you seem to be. And people can get really stressed out with the posturing and pretending and then live in a constant, low level fear that they’re going to be discovered as a fraud.

I don’t think having less money makes me less successful (I’m pretty sure I’m the poorest of most of my colleagues and I’ve certainly never had a six figure year). I think being happy is what it’s all about. I don’t think overwork is a sign of success (nor, regrettably for me, is laziness a sign of authenticity). 

Here I am, with all I know, after a decade in business and I still have times I go broke. If you’re just starting out (and even if you’ve been in business for a while) I invite you to be less hard on yourself. You’ve got a full life. Family, friends, festivals, events, hobbies, books you want to read, a bucket list to explore. Sometimes it’s okay for work for wait til a bit later. And sometimes we work now so we can do those things later. But it’s all up to you.

Ask yourself which you’d regret more at the end of your life: working hard or relaxing and enjoying life? My guess is that answer will be different for different people at different moments in their lives. And that’s okay.

I’m not writing this to glorify poverty or to encourage laziness and irresponsibility. I’m writing it because sometimes I am poor and lazy and irresponsible. And that’s just the truth. My guess is, sometimes you are too.

Sometimes what we need is a sabbatical so we can come back to our work fresh and ready to kick ass. And sometimes we need to kick ass so we can afford to go on sabbatical. Which season are you in? And can you honour that?

And you might choose to do work that, even with the best marketing, may never bring in a lot of money but it’s so damned satisfying. It feels so good. And you may always be broke as a result, but the world will be left richer. My only hope is that you’re honest with yourself about what feels good and what doesn’t. As long as it feels good, keep doing it. When it no longer feels good I hope you’ll find some way to sustain yourself and make money that feels as good as possible.

I wish it were always possible to always have it all. A thriving business + rich social life + incredible romantic relationship + radiant health etc. Sometimes it is. But sometimes we choose things that mean less money. 

Do what you want to do.

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

I can feel a big work time coming up for me in the coming months where I will be immensely focused and work really hard. I look forward to that too.

I know that if I really worked hard and applied what I know, I’d be making more money. If I focused more on my business, it would grow faster. I know when I focus and hustle, results happen. I know that what I’m teaching works when I work it. I just don’t always want to work it. Or work anything. 

This week? I had two big affiliate payments come in plus some more money I’d forgotten about and I’m going to be knuckling down on getting my Niching for Hippies program together. 

Last week? I was broke. And I don’t care. 

Wherever you are this week – it’s all good. Work when you feel like you need to work. Don’t when you feel like you don’t. This is your life. Your business coach wants you to focus more on your business to grow it bigger? Cool. Do you want to do that? If not, screw what your coach wants.

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

About Tad

  • NebSa

    I’m glad you have other priorities besides making money. You’re an awesome teacher. That’s good enough for me.

  • Jonathan Bender

    Beautiful, Tad. I’ve been in the overworking place – sometimes deliberately, and sometimes not – and also have experience in the I’m-broke-something-must-be-wrong-with-me place. And I know many successful coaches who are doing great financially, but exhausted. Is that a life? Thanks for bringing this out in the open. You’re, once again, a brilliant role model.

  • thanks jonathan :-)

  • Lol, hippies of a feather…

  • Tabitha

    As I was lying awake this morning at 2:30 am, worrying about money, worrying about being a financial failure at the age of 42, worrying that I maybe “shouldn’t” have taken the 2 week vacation that I desperately needed because it was strapping my bank account, worrying that I will never find new clients, I wish I had known this article was around for me to read. I REALLY needed this, Tad. Thank you.

  • <3

  • This is a really good reminder, Tad. I tend to get into phases where all I do is minimal self-care and work, and then I run out of fuel (motivation). Seems to me that what you’re doing is topping up different tanks in turn. I have some hopes that this fall, I’ll have put into place enough of what I’ve learned from you and others that I can actually achieve a positive balance on several fronts. Have a wonderful summer,
    Much Appreciation, Jackie

  • Vincent Parker

    Thanks Tad for reflecting what a number of coaches must be feeling. I am getting closer to having a life that I feel comfortable with. Where I have time and energy to share with my family and friends and at the same time doing the things that sit right with me. The post has come along at a time when I was just beginning to question what I was doing but this has been a reaffirmation of what I believe in. Thanks again

  • janice betts

    Thank you so much for this. There is no shame in having different priorities, but I see so many people in the so called heart centred business community focusing on “manifesting wealth” and tsk tsking at people like me who just do what they love because they love it and dont’ care about cars and luxury homes. Every time I am literally down to my last dollar, and my phone is cut off again, money starts to trickle in so I can at least pay the bills and buy some food. The universe takes care of us if we trust it and follow our hearts.

  • Alison

    WOW, I SO appreciate this post! It’s hard for me to put in words my gratitude towards you for being so damn REAL. Thank you!

  • you’re welcome :-)

  • Found your blog through Rebecca. Thanks for admitting this. My first impression was that you were pretty well off hippie as your site and content are fantastic. Would love to know Part 2 of this story :)

  • hey naomi, thanks so much. so interesting what our assumptions can be based on surface appearances. this is Part 2 for me: https://marketingforhippies.com/tired-of-being-broke/

  • Guest

    I think there are a lot of us reverse squirrels. Welcome to the fold :)

  • good to know i’m not the only one :-)

  • Av

    I needed to read this. Thank You!!

  • Av

    I love that line “I’ll take the scenic route”. It really resonates with how im feeling/living right now. Embarking on starting a family in my mid/late 20’s, when my counterparts are all climbing the corporate ladder. I’m more interested in being a stay at home mom, while providing mobile hair services (im a stylist) to local clients for the next few years. Im happy with my life plan, but sometimes get so wrapped up in how much farther everyone my age (including my fellow business school graduates) are advancing, and always second-guess whether i’ll regret this later. What makes it worse is I live in DC, the most money-hungry city bar none! “Keeping up with the Jones’s” is the name of the game here, and if you don’t jump at any overtime thrown your way, you’re “insane” *insert eye roll*. While my issue is more about ambition than finances, I’m glad to see there are other people choosing what’s important for themselves!

  • I have found my people!!! I stumbled upon this gem of an article while grappling with the fact that I am currently out of money and, at the same time, trying to plan for my biz next year when I’d like to commit to PWYC pricing for my coaching. It feels crazy! Like, my answer to not having money is to ask people for less money!?! But that’s what I’m gonna do. Because it feels right. If it works, I’ll be living the life I desire. And if doesn’t…well, I might end up where I am right now. I prefer where I am now -occasionally broke- to where I’ve been before making tons of money but hating life. This was a nice reminder that being broke doesn’t make me a bad coach or even a bad business person. It’s just a culmination of decisions that I’ve made about what I value in life. If and when I decide to make lots of money, there I will be. Same person, same intellect, same level of ability, just more money.

  • Welcome home :-) you might love this: https://marketingforhippies.com/morkes/

  • dawndancingotter

    So…yeah. Yes. I can more than relate.
    I have a few of those factors you mentioned above that are ‘stressers’. I have 2 sons, no partner, I live in Penticton BC, which is not the same as downtown Calgary or Toronto. I have no debt other than my mortgage, but then again, I have a house, so, awesome.
    My way – I stopped caring about money at all. I started, instead to care about my path of service. That includes me, includes my kids. Surprisingly, everything gets paid on time, and I travel internationally 2-3 times a year with my work. I get to do what I do. Its remarkable, delicious. Money seems to take care of itself, and me.
    I really admire your footprints in this world, Tad. You encourage this world full of new economy seekers to be courageous. We need that steady drumbeat…thank you.

  • <3 thank you dawn. we're all drumming into each into being.

  • Me, too, Sue!
    First time I read

    “I make 6 figures, and I’ll teach you how: just pay me $3k for this course.”
    I went …euh… you just told me how.

    I love you for your authenticity.

  • Amen to both of you!
    I have started correcting myself every time I say/read the words “rich” or “wealthy” by adding the word “financially” in front, when that’s all that’s meant. It’s an effective micro-‘prayer’ that brings me a visceral sense of how I value other wealth.

  • Tanya, I think I love you. I want to be just like you when I become a mamma, because I share these values!

  • tondeaf

    I think this is kind of how Richard Branson lives. Wait. He doesn’t scramble at all…

  • Tobius Raphael Millar

    Thanks so much, Tad. I’m a professional artist living purely off art sales for the last year now, so I’m obviously broke more often than not.. When I’m clear headed I really don’t mind scraping coins because I know that painting is my true calling and I can’t hold any other job, but there’s a lot of anxious noise that floats through the air and I sometimes unconsciously grab on to that and my world starts to feel like it’s crumbling. This article has definitely put a few skeletons to rest.. Again, thank you. :)

  • Emily Frugalsworth

    I was told by a couple of coach colleagues that I had to believe I would make money and act like I am a millionaire. Then again, I think they were trying to sell me their coaching package.

  • Emily Frugalsworth

    I hate “I can tell you how to be a millionaire in one year if you invest 10,000 dollars in my program.” Seriously. I see it all the time in coaching ad’s.

  • Lori Kirstein

    I am now officially in love with you, Tad. In my 50’s now, and beating up on myself pretty good for once having had money, and now not having it, and being pretty broke, and depending on others when I’d rather not. This posting of yours is just what the doctor ordered – I have needed a change of perspective on what’s happening in my life, and the choices I make daily and weekly to support my quality of life now, rather than at the end of life, which is pretty much the only time we talk about “quality of life”. Big hugs to you!!!

  • Lori Kirstein

    Emily, I so agree! That makes me nuts. Mostly because I fell for it once. Argh.

  • <3 I'm so glad.

  • Zoe Davenport

    Thank you Tad for such an honest – authentic and very REAL insight into this world and something I am always reminding my clients of. Much love soul brother glad you enjoyed your summer. I am currently taking the whole of December of travelling around Peru and it’s wonderful to travel without trying to WORK at the same time x