Broke-Ass Financial Coaching: What Would You Do if You Had No Income at All?

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While being young, broke and beautiful is all well and good, some people’s finances are more jacked than others.  That’s why we’ve invited Betsy Crouch (aka Coach $izzle) to come onboard and dole out some much needed advice.  She is a professional financial coach after all.  If you’ve got a question you’d like answered please email her at  Maybe your question will be the next one answered.

'œWhat would you do if you couldn’t even get a minimum wage job and had no income at all? I’m completely serious. This is happening to tens of thousands of Californians right now. What would you do if you were one of them?'  – DJTennessee

Dear DJ Tennessee,

Thank you for your questions.  I am sorry to hear that you have not been able to find work.  I cannot imagine the level of stress that you have experienced.  To answer your last question, simply, I would move in with my Mom and Dad.  That is no joke.

First of all, in your email, you said “Ok, put your money where your mouth is, Financial Advisor..”  (I’m a financial coach, not a financial advisor, please see my bio)  Your challenge of “put your money where your mouth is,” would imply that I would bet or put money on the fact that I could help you.  Also, it would imply that you would bet or put money on the fact that my advice would not help.   If you determine the advice isn’t helpful then you would win the bet.  So I will not “put my money where my mouth is,” but I will do my best to help you.

I believe you meant this as a friendly challenge, so why am I addressing this comment in detail?  I know it sounds cheesy and cliche, but attitude is extremely important.  DJ, I can see that you are looking for new solutions and I commend you for that.  Anyone who is trying to prove that they can’t find work or make any income, will be successful.  If you have determination and hope then you are giving yourself reasons why you will create and find new solutions.  Nate Silver, of, in response to the latest unemployment reports, said, “I think we’ve grown so accustomed to bad news that we’ve forgotten how to recognize good news when we see it; leading indicators have been turning upward for months now.”  Although I am as excited to hear his interpretation, beware of tying your individual fate with what is happening to “everyone.”  Several years ago when I was looking for a job, someone said to me, 'œThere are thousands of people without jobs, good luck finding one!'  At first I felt overwhelmed and then I realized, I am not looking for 10,000 jobs, I’m looking for one job!

Use a proven system or framework to find a job.  It is tempting to take advice from a friend who just found a job, but just because they got a job does not mean that they have their hand on the pulse of the job hunting world.  I would immediately get the latest version of the best Job Hunters book of all time, What color is your parachute? by Richard Bolles.  I have recommended this book more than any other book.  It is a practical manual, updated every year, that explains specific steps to take to find a job.  Get the book, and Email a Career Counselor for FREE! Richard Bolles has also written a new 100 page book called 'œThe Job-Hunters’ Survival Guide: How to Find Hope and Rewarding Work, Even When '˜There Are No Jobs.’' Check it out.

I am sure that since you have been in this holding pattern searching for a job you have made some dramatic changes to your expenses.  I mentioned that I would move in with my Mom and Dad, and that I would dive head first into “What color is your parachute?”  In addition I would use the tips in this article from called Live on Less and Love it. The author of this article and his wife had a combined income of $4303.84 in 2005.  He shares his 75 ideas to enjoy life more while spending and consuming less.  Not all 75 will apply to you, but one could save you thousands of dollars.  Some of my favorites include ideas for free rent, scavenging, bartering, haggling, trading, and buying in bulk.  Be sure to start with canceling cable television.

Thank you for reaching out for help and for helping many other people by asking these questions because you are not alone.

What do you think?  Please post or email your comments and questions, and your question may get answered next week!

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Betsy Crouch - Coach $izzle

Betsy Crouch - Coach $izzle

Betsy hates to brag, but she grew up in Michigan. An unhappy materialist/rabid consumer turned minimalist, Betsy feels right at home in the warm socially responsible arms of San Francisco. With an Economics degree, a basic financial certification, and a range of personal experience, she has developed a unique financial coaching philosophy. She wants you to feel a sense of serenity with your finances and she shares what she has learned from coaching almost 200 people one on one. Betsy wants you to embrace your "sizzle," and for you to become a more confident and empowered Broke Ass.


  1. August 11, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I think this is an awesome addition to Stewart’s site.

    Good advice in this column so far!

    Keep it up.

  2. Chirabo
    August 11, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Love the advice! Although not sure I would survive living with my parents. Helpful tips and links. Thanks!

  3. Godlesscupcake
    August 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I thank you for the tips on the books and such but what happens when there are no parents/friends/assorted relatives to free load on? What happens when you’re married and collectively do not make enough to eat right, go to school, etc. but are not poor enough to get state funding to help with any of these things? What happens when your b.m.r. apartment rent becomes too expensive and even renting a room through craigslist becomes also too expensive? Where do yo go? What do you do? You need a place to live before any place will consider hiring you, of course.

  4. one
    August 12, 2009 at 8:18 pm


    if you still had cable when you posted your query, you cannot be as bad off as you say.

    however. here’s some REAL advice, not fluffed up bullshit.

    it is perverse to be so poor you need aid, to have housing expenses that are too high to qualify for aid, yet you cannot find housing that costs low enough so that you qualify for the aid you needed to begin with.

    apply for foodstamps, appeal if you get rejected. there are food banks. it’s a mortifying process. it’s rough, but you are far from alone. foodstamps will make all the difference between making it or barely not, and if barely not, at least you have a shot of bridging the gap.

    you have to cut out EVERYthing not required for survival, EXCEPT internet access and a computer – preferably a laptop – these are absolute essentials, and you won’t be able to keep from sliding into destitution without them. forget thinking you can do anything online at a library terminal – there’s no way anyone can do anything substantial in one hour at the SFPL – that’s one hour total in the PL system every day. so hang on to that laptop and if you DO have a laptop and no web access, you can take advantage of wireless access at SFPL. and of course, under no circumstances do you leave your laptop unattended. if you and your wife have two machines, you may have to sell one. at this point, you’re in month to month mode. so just because that laptop didn’t get you as much money as you spent for it, at least you can pay for your phone or utilities for THIS month. It can be much, much, more costly to keep it and become homeless because of the money you think you should get for it.

    barter is bullshit unless you have real skills someone wants. like hair cutting, or carpentry. carpentry would be an extremely useful skill as people are having to carve out space in their homes for more people to live together to cut costs.

    EDD has web access, not as limited as the PL, and a job board that was incredibly useful and got me good leads.

    if your housing is unstable, get a pobox that is reasonably priced (they exist) and shows a street address, not just a POB. use it as your address for prospective employers, wherever you go.

    I have the feeling you have not exhausted all the options available, as thin and pitiful as they are. while SFPL only has 1-hour web access, there are great resources listed on their own website and there is no time limit, cause you’re not on the web, though you can access the resources on the web too. check out Catholic Charities; Salvation Army has a one-time only utility grant if you’re about to have your utilities cut off. the City has a one time grant for rent..try Jewish Vocational Services for info on more resources. there’s more, and a librarian can help, but they are NOT the end-all be-all. some librarians are woefully mis- and un- informed.

    it’s exhausting to be poor. it’s a lot of work.

    where do you want to go to school? if you’re really in a jam, one or both of you will have to give up school for the time being. especially if you want anything besides City College. CCSF is excellent – you and your wife may have to take turns going to school and supporting each other. you may be able to take only one class. if you already have a college degree, you are fucked, and will have to suck up the expense and not qualify for grants, though you may qualify for a loan. exactly what you need, right? try the Foundation Center, downtown San Francisco. they have info on school grants, and great web access with lots of resources you can only access on site.

    when you are in survival mode, school becomes a luxury. meat is a luxury, milk is a luxury. you may only be able to buy small amounts of vegetables and fruit. coffee is an essential food group; a small coffee in a cafe every once in awhile allows you to feel civilized. you cannot shop bargains, costco, etc. these require that you have enough dough to take advantage of cost breaks on bulk items. so you’ll have to count pennies and accept that even if you can’t buy the 2 for $1 item because you only have 75 cents, and when an item costs 75 cents, you’re going to have to endure the fact that you, as a poor person, are being ruthlessly and mercilessly exploited. ’cause you are.

    give up your pets.

    it’s very expensive to be poor.

    your friends may not be able to put you up, but they may be able to do “little” things, like buy you coffee or let you do your laundry at their home or use their web connection, have you over for dinner, or let you put in some money on bulk items bought at costco when THEY shop there. if they have such luxuries themselves. then what YOU do is stuff like clean their house, or walk their dog, or whatever you can come up with to pay back their kindnesses.

    I’ve resorted to doing my laundry in my tub with bar soap, because I didn’t have enough money to go to the laundromat. it sucks. it works.

    you have a bathtub? you have a kitchen? your mind works? your fingers work? your body works? you have a wife and some friends and you all love and care for each other? you’re in San Francisco? can you keep a roof over your head with all the deprivations you now suffer? count your blessings. no joke.

    betsy, your advice to ‘move in with mom and dad’ is practically insulting AND lazy and unoriginal. christ, that’s a big DUH. ya feel me? many of us have no such option. good God, if I had $20000 to live on…though I shed no tears for the couple earning 43000, and think a lot of this is whining, I take no pleasure from it. and two definitely can live on nearly the same expenses as one. and there’s nothing like standing in line at the market and having someone with you who can run to get the thing you forgot to pick up so you can keep your place in line.

    the one thing you probably don’t realize is that having lived a middle-class life, having an education, being basically healthy, you have vastly more resources than those you find yourself in the same boat with, who have ALWAYS gone without. think about that.

    but I seriously doubt you have a clue as to what I’m talking about. costco is probably as declasse as most of your “market” is every going to get.

  5. Betsy Crouch
    August 17, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    One – Thank you for responding to Godlesscupcake’s questions, amazing information and resources.
    Regarding your disgust with my post: the couple in the article I posted made $4300 in a year not $43000. So I can understand your outburst if you thought I was saying, “look guys! someone can ‘get by’ on $43000!” That is absolutely horrifying and I would have been disturbed and upset by that too.
    Regarding my post, the purpose of volunteering my time to write this column is to help and encourage people. I answered the question as if I were faced with that situation. I appreciate feedback and constructive criticism. What would you like to hear more about and who would you like to hear from?
    I want to yell, “you don’t know me!” and I can tell you want to yell that too. So instead of all me at and let’s have a conversation.

  6. Picante Notayolk
    August 20, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Not sure exactly where DJ Tennesse lives but I say look into babysitting if you need cash.

  7. […] want to work less because they don’t like their jobs.  In my last post I recommended What Color is your Parachute, which is a great book to help you find a better fitting […]

  8. Harold
    August 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    This is the MOST idiotic stuff I’ve EVER read!!!!!!!! Geesh, God Bless America!!

  9. Harold
    August 21, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Moderation?????????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go wash your clothes and brush your teeth!!!! Matbe that’s why you have no job.

  10. Harold
    August 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Dude if you’re so poor and you have a laptop uhh!!!!! Don’t get it!!!!!!