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What Does It Mean to be Broke?

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At the moment, I have enough money to get by. That means I can survive on the bare minimum.

Over the last 27 years of my life, money has come and gone, mimicking life’s peaks and valleys. And just like life, I won’t complain about its ups and downs because the experiences have been priceless.

I’ve marched at Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade. I’ve hammered a nail into another man’s penis as a part of a spontaneous performance. I’ve sat down to eat pizza with members of the punk rock band, The Copyrights. I’ve been inside of some of the most revolting locations hidden in the city. Conversely, I’ve had elegant dinners inside of a few chic apartments only accessible through an elevator.

Limiting the amount of money I’ve had to spend has prevented me from being distracted by the various amounts of shallow possessions a person could acquire, which I could be using to keep myself from facing reality. Instead, I live in a dream and create adventures.

One day I’ll wake up.

I’ve never been rich, and unless I hit the lottery I may never achieve that monetary status level. I’m okay with that. Why? It’s not because the best things in life are free (although, it’s a close second or third). It’s not because I do what I can with what I have. It’s because I’m at peace.

I don’t seem to have rich people problems (cut-throat colleagues, phony relationships, unwanted attention), and if I do it doesn’t matter because I have nothing to lose on this level. Think about that for a minute.

When you’re broke you have little to lose and everything to gain. You’re essentially an underdog. No pressure is on and everyone is metaphorically rooting for you. Building you up before they tear you down, and that’s the price of success. A price some of us will pay and others won’t.

Although, I must admit that success is all about perspective.

I’m not saying that it’s cool to be broke, especially when nearing the third decade of your life. What I am saying, clearly there is a certain level of humility that an individual can achieve in this chapter of their life. It’s the perfect opportunity to have fun while you’re doing some soul searching. Get an idea of what you want out of life and go after it.

Just go for broke.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

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