It’s that time of year when everyone is busy posting or discussing their New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are wonderful; it’s good to have goals, at least that’s what the Anthony Robbins cassette tapes I bought at a garage sale told me - Have resolve! Or, start a revolution! (the tapes were in Spanish and I am a little rusty.)
What some of you may not know is that resolutions are for the rich. It’s true. It’s a little known fact that New Year's Resolutions are somewhere near the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, just above subscribing to Oprah magazine and just below Sweat Lodge Retreats.
Let’s have a look at the three most popular Resolutions* (*based on an extensive twenty second Google search) to demonstrate how resolutions are for the rich.
Most Popular Resolution # 1. Lose Weight.
Oh yes, gym memberships are flowing like Evian water and there’s a wait-list for weight watchers, people want to lose some pounds after a binge on brie and skipping out on Pilate's classes. You want to know the true secret to weight loss? The most effective and 100% proven best diet in the world? Being broke.
Yes, it’s damn near impossible to put on weight when your three squares a day consist of one and a half, with one being Raman Noodles and the half being a can of Bud Light. The skinniest I ever was is when I was broke. Not college student broke but adult world-recession, starting-a-new-company, are-you-going-to-finish-that-sandwich? broke. You know when I put on weight? When I finally had enough money to upgrade from the hand basket to the cart at the grocery store. In fact, stretchy pants should be standard issue with any Costco membership.
So Richie-Rich keep your weight loss goals to yourself, that skinny intern sitting at the desk in the corner may not be on the Zone Diet, twelve almonds may be all she can afford after taxes and daycare. Trust me.
Most Popular Resolution # 2 Spend more time with family.
Folks love to talk about how they are going to carve out some quality time to spend with their kids and to go visit grandma and get to know uncle so and so because he is so interesting and just published that book of poetry. You know who doesn’t need to spend more time with family because they are probably living with both their mother and her poet-brother? Broke folks.
Yep, it’s one big happy extended family when you can’t pay rent or afford a mortgage.
The family that prays together may stay together but if they all live together, the prayers are entirely related to getting in the bathroom before grandpa disappears into it with the Reader’s Digest.
Even if you aren’t living together, you see family plenty when pennies are tight. Forget Sunday dinners at grandma’s house - it’s any night she will have you and your carnivorous family. Not seeing family is a luxury reserved for those who have upward mobility or perhaps live in a town that is not on the Greyhound bus route.
Most Popular Resolution # 3 Help the environment.
Another worthy goal set for those who feel guilty for letting their SUVs idle in the school pick up lane. You know what leaves a small carbon footprint? A bus pass.
When you are broke you and the environment are BFFs - you take the bus, brown bag your lunch and can upcycle your little girl’s ballet slippers into passable gym shoes. Heck, you take your brown bag lunch, devour it and then fold that brown bag back up and rinse out the Ziploc to use again.
You want to know what breaks down in half the time of an empty glass wine bottle? An empty wine box. BYOB in broke-speak is “bring your own box” and for that matter, bring a wine glass too, because we only have two and my mother and uncle won’t let me use anything from the china cabinet.
So take heart, well to do Oprah subscribing people of the world, you are richer than you think. Now you just need the resolve to, ironically, learn to live with less.
Now for the disclaimer. I am no longer broke. I have lived the broke life. I have taken a bus and two subways to work, I have had boxes of groceries shipped to me by loving family, I have lived with my dear extended family and I have had extended family live with me. Being broke gives you character and most importantly, it gives you a passion to succeed.
These days I take my successful non-broke self to Costco in my stretchy pants, drive in my paid off mini van to meet my mom at the airport when she flies in to visit my family and smugly fill my recycle bin with empty wine bottles.
Happy New Year to all of you may 2012 be your year of resolve.