15 Reasons You’re Broke And Can’t Save Money

I know the title of this blog post and talking about the reasons for why a person would have no money is pretty straightforward, but sometimes that approach is needed if you are going to face your financial situation more realistically. After all, one of the top reasons for why a person lands on this…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: December 28, 2023

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Do you feel like you're stuck and have no money? Read this post on the reasons you have no money and can't save money so that you can reach success!I know the title of this blog post and talking about the reasons for why a person would have no money is pretty straightforward, but sometimes that approach is needed if you are going to face your financial situation more realistically.

After all, one of the top reasons for why a person lands on this exact blog post is because they are searching Google for “I can’t save money” or “Why can’t I save money?”

I believe the first thing a person needs to do when it comes to improving their financial situation, such as getting out of debt, is to realize why they are stuck.

If you don’t know what your problem is, then it will be hard to make a positive change.

Once you confront the reasons for why you are stuck and have no money, you’ll then be able to make a better plan to get out of your financial rut.

I understand that some things in life cost money, but I believe that learning how to save money and improving your financial situation can help most people reach their dreams.

Related posts on why you have no money:

The 15 reasons you’re broke and have no money.


You believe you have lots of time to pay off your debt.

When I was in the middle of paying off my $40,000 worth of student loan debt, I remember being asked why I wanted to get rid of my student loan debt at my age (I was 24 when I paid off my debt).

I still remember the person saying something about how I’m young and should enjoy my money more now and that I can worry about my student loans later.


Why not just pay off more of your debt now? Would you really rather have that 100th pair of jeans instead of putting more towards your debt?

I know for a fact that I am extremely happy to have paid off my student loan debt.

I still enjoyed my life while I was paying off my debt, and I definitely do not think I was suffering at all.

Plus, there are many other reasons to pay off debt now rather than later, and one of the biggest is that you just never know what may happen in the future. If you wait to pay off your debt and instead spend your money on things that you don’t need, you may fall into a bad situation. What would happen if you lost your job, came across high cost medical bills, or something else?

Wouldn’t you have wanted your debt to be gone?

By waiting to pay off your debt because you think you will have time later to do so, you could be negatively impacting your financial situation. If you have the means to pay off your debt now or, at least, work towards paying it off, then you should make the effort as soon as you can!


You’re paying for cable when you can’t afford it.

According to NPD Group (a market research company), the average monthly cable bill is around $120. By the year 2020, the average cable bill is expected to be around $200 a month.

If you can’t afford cable, then you shouldn’t be paying for it. It’s really that simple!

By paying for cable when you can’t afford it, you are preventing yourself from saving more money. This all leads to you having no money.

You can read more about cutting cable here and how to save money by doing so. I recommend getting a digital antenna so that you can receive local channels for free!


You treat your credit card as income.

Your credit card is not a new income source. If you treat your credit card this way, then you should cancel your credit card as you are going into unnecessary debt.

If you are using a credit card, then you should be working to completely pay off your balance each month so that you are not racking up interest charges and late fees.


So-and-so has debt, so it’s fine if you do too.

Many people compare their amount of debt to what others have so that they will feel their debt is “normal.”

An example would be if you are 30 and the average 30-year-old has $10,000 worth of credit card debt (I completely just made that number up). You then use this number as a “guide” so that you can feel more comfortable about your debt.

However, WHO CARES how much debt another person has? How exactly does knowing what the average amount of debt a random 30-year-old has affect you?

Is that person you?


So, why would another person’s amount of debt even matter to you? That makes no sense!

Just because someone else has $10,000 worth of credit card debt from buying too many clothes does not mean that you should too. You never know, this amount may be breaking them on the inside even if they aren’t showing it.


You believe you deserve the items you buy.

Yes, you may be awesome and think you deserve something, but should you really be buying it? Just because someone else bought a 100 inch 3D TV (or a mansion, nice car, gadgets, paid for a crazy-expensive wedding, etc.) that doesn’t mean you should as well.

You might think “oh, well they have a comparable job to mine, so, if they can afford it, then I can too.”

However, you have no idea how this person is paying for it. Maybe they saved for years, or maybe they are just putting everything on their credit card.

By thinking that you deserve everything, you are making yourself have no money. Instead, you should be realistic with your financial situation and only buy what you can truly afford.


You pay too much for your cell phone.

Most people overpay for their cell phone plan.

If you can’t afford to pay your bills, pay down your debt, and so on, then you should look at either getting rid of your cell phone (yes, this is possible and some people do go without cell phones) or finding a more affordable cell phone option.

If you are looking for an affordable cell phone service, check out Republic Wireless. They have monthly cell phone plans as low as $15 per month. Read Saving Over $2,000 A Year With Republic Wireless Review for more information. Both my sister-in-law and mother-in-law use Republic Wireless and save a good deal of money by doing so.


You don’t have a budget, so you have no money.

If you don’t have a budget or if your budget is not a good one, then this can be a big reason for why you have no money.

A good and realistic budget can help a person and/or a family manage their money better. Yes, a simple piece of paper where you jot down your budget can actually do this.

A budget can help you realize where you might be going wrong with your finances and how to fix a financial issue that you may be having.

Many people are afraid to create a budget because it means that they will have to actually face their spending. If this is why you don’t have a budget, then please, just face your fears and start creating one today.


You make excuses for why you have no money.

Everyone is guilty of making excuses, and I know that people will continue to make them until they realize that excuses are just that- excuses.

Just think about the last time you said “That won’t work for me because (insert your excuse here).”

As a personal finance expert, I hear a lot of reasons for why a person can’t save money, pay off debt, live the life they want, reach retirement, and so on.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for why some people have financial setbacks, but there are still many people making excuses for why they can’t achieve their goals or why their life is bad.

The problem with making excuses is that this bad money habit can hold you back, which means that you may never reach your financial or life goals.

To put it simply, excuses prevent you from living the life you want. You’re giving up before you’ve even begun.

Read further at Are Your Excuses Making You Broke And Unsuccessful?


Your car is too expensive.

According to Edmunds.com, the average person in the U.S. spends $483 on a new car payment and $361 on a used car payment.

Yes, I was just as shocked when I read that statistic!

This is sad especially when considering that many take out high-interest rate loans in order to make their car payments. Back when my husband worked in new car sales, he often told me about new car buyers with car loans at interest rates of 20% and above.

While $479 a month may be affordable to some, I’m going to assume that it’s a lot of money for most people. Plus, once you add in gas, maintenance, insurance, taxes, registration costs, and more, the number is going to be much larger.

If you’re spending too much money on your car expenses, then this can lead to you having no money.

I think everyone should buy a car that they can actually afford. I am a big believer that your total car expenses should be less than 10-15% of your monthly income in order for it to be affordable.


You confuse “wants” with “needs.”

Some items are needs, but a lot of the things people buy are most likely wants. You may have no money because you confuse your wants with needs.

Remember, the only things you actually need include a place to live, a certain amount of clothing, and food and water.

Some think cell phones, massive homes, gym memberships, cable, going to restaurants, and so on are all necessary, but they really are not. If you cannot afford things, then you need to start cutting these items out of your budget and your life.


You think you will have time to save later.

So many people think that they don’t have to save now because they can save when they are a little bit older.

Well, what are you going to do if something happens to you or if there is an emergency?

Starting now will help you form good financial habits and you’ll be better prepared for the future than if you waited.

Learn more at The 6 Steps To Take To Invest Your First Dollar.


You don’t have goals, so you can’t save money.

You may have no money because you don’t have any goals.

People who set goals are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than people who do not. This is why I believe that setting goals and making a plan to reach them is so important.

If you’re not setting goals, then you may not be working towards anything and/or you may not be motivated to improve your future.

Read more at The Best Goal Setting Tips So That You Can Reach Success in 2017.


You don’t think little amounts add up.

You may have no money because you don’t think that saving smaller amounts of money will help you.

I once overheard someone saying that they don’t/can’t save money because they don’t think it matters. So, even if they have an extra $100 in their budget each month, they will just find a way to spend it because they don’t see the point of saving $100.



Seriously, put that extra $100 in the bank and save it. After one year you will have $1,200.

$1,200 is much better than ZERO DOLLARS.


You don’t have an emergency fund.

By not having an emergency fund, you may be causing yourself to have no money.

An emergency fund is something everyone should have. However, according to a report by Bankrate.com, 26% of Americans have no emergency fund whatsoever. This can impact a person negatively and leave them with no money for the times when they truly need it.

According to this same report, only 40% of families have enough in savings to cover three months of expenses, with an even lower percentage having the usually recommended six months worth of savings.

This is frightening to me, as having an emergency fund can greatly help a person get through tough parts in life.

Emergency funds are helpful in situations such as:

  • An emergency fund can help you if you lose your job. No matter how stable you think your job is, there is always a chance that something could happen when you will need money fast. What would you do if you lost your job and didn’t have an emergency fund?
  • An emergency fund is a good idea if you have a car. You just never know when it will need a repair.
  • An emergency fund is necessary if you own a home. One of the lucky things that homeowners often get to deal with is an unexpected home repair. Having an emergency fund can help you if your basement floods, if a hole in your roof forms, and more.
  • An emergency fund can protect you in many other areas as well. This includes medical costs for you or your pet, needing to take time off of work, wanting to visit a sick loved one or friend, and so on. The list of reasons for why you might need an emergency fund can be long.

Learn more about this at Everything You Need To Know About Emergency Funds.


You don’t make enough money, so you have no money.

The final reason for why you have no money is because you don’t earn enough of it.

No, there is not one number that fits all.

However, if your expenses are higher than your income, then you are simply not making enough money.

It’s as simple as that.

You either need to make more money or cut back on your expenses. You will never save money if your expenses are higher than your income. I know that this is easier said than done, but something will have to change if you want to improve your financial situation.

Time is money, if you use all your working hours on your day job, your income will not increase over time. You need to earn a passive income that will increase in the future and work for you.

There are many opportunities to earn passive money, for example with automated trading platforms that even keep trading for you while you’re asleep!

Plus, the average person watches over 30 hours of TV a week and spends over 10 hours on social media each week. By cutting out time wasters such as these, you may be able to find time to make extra money so that you can start saving more money.

You can learn about how to make more money at:

Do you know why you have no money? What are you doing so that you can change that?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Not having goals is what I always try to get across to my readers as being a problem. No matter what it is or where you are now, if you don’t have goals, you can’t make a change.

  2. Amanda @ centsiblyrich

    “Many people compare their amount of debt to what others have so that they will feel their debt is “normal.”

    This!!! It’s kind of like the keeping up with the Joneses mentality. But, debt is a choice, not a fact of life. Unfortunately it’s so ingrained in our culture, it’s hard to see it as a choice.

    1. Yes! Sadly, so many people do this. It’s such a bad way to normalize debt.

  3. I think everything in personal finance goes back to finding your purpose and using that set goals. The game changer for me has been to be able to see my money as a tool for creating a better life for myself through spending it (or saving it) directly on things that I know will improve my life. For example, I’ve made a list of things that I want to do to save money this year (get insurance quotes, change cell phone plan, reduce eating out). It’s so much easier to focus on these things because I have a specific thing in mind that is more important to me and I realize that money is a finite resource.

  4. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    This is a pretty exhaustive list. 🙂 I mean, sometimes medical/disability happens and that drastically changes your life, but for the average person, these are the most common reasons for living paycheck to paycheck. You can do plenty of cash envelope systems and money-saving hacks, but to truly get out of debt, you need to change your line of thinking first.

  5. I love this article!!!! It’s easy to make excuses or try to pay for things that we want but really can’t afford. Being smart with money causes so much less stress even if you don’t always get what you want right away.

  6. Debbie

    I love this list and agree with everything you said but I would add two more items. 1. Not being satisfied with where you are. And 2. Not putting savings away first.

  7. Yes, thinking long-term is very important.

  8. Omg yes! I’m guilty of many of these things… as much as it saddens me to admit it. I’ve had some legitimate money issues in the past, but for the most part, there was always something I could have/should have been doing to improve my financial situation.

    1. Admitting it is the first step 🙂

  9. This is a great article.I could get in trouble with this, but to expand on your wants vs needs point, we all probably have a bad habit whether its smoking, drinking, whatever, that we know we should cut but don’t. I have a habit of drinking lots of soda, so much so that it really controls me. I’ve taken the steps to cut it down drastically and use the money I’d spend on it on a online workout membership. I’m probably spending half of the amount compared to if I just kept my habit going. So I’m saving money and getting healthier at the same time!

  10. Emily Domhoff

    Great post! Unfortunately, I know of a lot of people who are so frivolous with their money that they end up having none whenever an emergency arises. There is a common saying amongst my millennial friends: “I’m so poor.” There is SO much wrong with that saying!! And your post completely dives into with that whole mindset of feeling stuck in your finances. Well done!

  11. We have done many of these things unfortunately, I am hoping now that we have a plan and goals we will be able to dig ourselves out of the mess we have made.

    1. Having a plan and goals is a great step!

  12. Go Finance Yourself!

    The two biggest ones from your list that I see are you believe you deserve the things you buy and you confuse needs with wants. Almost everyone I know or have heard about that has financial troubles rationalizes their spending by saying something to the effect of “I work hard and deserve nice things.” I cringe every time I hear something like this. Lots of people work hard. That doesn’t mean you deserve things. I’m a big believer in holding yourself accountable. If you feel like you deserve these things, then find a way to earn more money so you can actually afford them. The opportunities for doing so are nearly limitless in today’s world.

  13. I believe that many people have no money because of their mindset. As you mentioned they spend too much money on things like a car, shopping or cable. And often they don’t think that they can cut back their expenses.
    I hope that together with your article some people will change their minds 🙂

  14. Stephanie

    Great Post! Thanks.

  15. Josh

    A lot of people don’t realize that you can often make more than the minimum monthly payment and not be penalized. This is what helped get out of debt quicker. I put any extra disposable income I had to these my monthly loan payments.

  16. Marjan

    You always talk to logical about things. I barely comments on anyone’s blogspost and i have been silently following you for long. I think you deserve an applause for whatever you are doing and have been so consistent at it. This is an appreciation from someone too far away from your country. People here have no idea how much could they do for a living and how can they manage their finances to stabilize their standard of living. Thank you for YOU !

  17. I was finally able to get my parents to get rid of cable.They were paying over $200 a month to watch TV. No thank you! Now, they have the Amazon Fire stick and love it. I’m so glad I got rid of cable myself. It saves me money and I don’t miss it at all.

  18. Good points, Michelle! Confusing needs with wants is a huge one, and thinking “I’ve got plenty of time to pay off my debt” is a common way of thinking, from what I’ve witnessed. Unfortunately, the longer you take to pay off your debt, the more money you’ll end up paying! We’ll be 100% debt-free at the end of this year and I can’t wait!

  19. “I work hard so I deserve it” is one that I hear a lot, but if people really thought about how many hours they were working to buy what “they deserved” it might change their mind! The stress of living broke is so much worse than just making small changes and having the mindset to make it better.

  20. Blarblar

    “People who set goals are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than people who do not.” – I would think they would be 100% more likely to reach their goals as the have actually set some as opposed to people who haven’t! How can you fail to reach goals you haven’t set? This is a silly statistic.

  21. Lindsey

    Eating out and not saving as aggressively are our issues. I know we could be saving a lot more if we got these areas under control.

  22. Pam

    These are all reasons why one can be broke. What hits home for me is people thinking they have time. My husband and I are both 31 and will be debt free this summer (God willing). I think to myself: “We ONLY have about 30-35 working years to prepare for retirement”. Time flies and the sooner you realize this, the sooner you should get rid of debt and build wealth.

  23. Ouch! I am guilty of a few of these reasons. Thankfully, I have changed my actions/thinking and straightened things out.Oh how I wish I could travel back in time and have a good long talk with my 20 year old self!

  24. Cara

    I am sharing this on Facebook. I hear so many people complain about not having any money but these are the same people that go shopping every weekend.
    I am going to look into your suggestion for lowering my cell phone bill, it’s way to high. Thanks for all the great advice.

  25. Eating out was a big deal for me – not because I felt the need to, but because I didn’t have good systems in place to plan ahead. In fact, planning ahead in a lot of areas can be a huge money saver. If I take a few minutes the night before to make my lunch for the next day, I will spend less money, eat healthier, and work out more (I walk my lunches, which I don’t have time to do if I go buy food!). Another failer-to-plan: Amazon prime is a great deal, but I ran out of years on my student membership, so I was going to combine with my parents’ prime account this year (you can add family members). We missed the deadline :(. That one wasn’t so bad, but the failure to follow through can really get you sometimes.

    Want vs Need is a big deal too. I went for years without a data plan on my phone, paying prepaid minutes for about $20/month. I waited until I got a promotion that included some help on my cell bill before I got a data plan, and even now, I’m not on a contract and my phone was paid for with cash, so I can cancel if my income situation changes.

  26. Khadija

    I’m sure I’ve seen you mention this before on previous posts but one great thing I’ve been doing to save money is use Digit. I love it. they save money for me without me even noticing it gone from my account and it adds up fast!

  27. Shanon

    Crash is what’s going to happen. Things can’t keep increasing without the wage increasing drastically. My grandfather bought the first Model T Ford in his area back then it was 1000.00. My parents average vehicle when they where 18 was about 8-10,000. When turned 18 average vehicle was 20,000 25,000 now in my 40’s average vehicle 36,000-50,000. See the differences. It’s huge sad thing wages haven’t gone up from when I was 18 to now, not drastically enough to off set the price. The housing market is pretty sad as well my aunt paid 65,000 for a 4 bedroom house built with fir which is a better harder wood than pine in the early 80’s same house valued at 320,000 when you can buy a newer one for that price. When does the market separate newer home prices from older home prices. Is that fair for new home owners? Beings they’ll never see those type of increases when they sell. The only way our kids are going to be able to save is by getting off the grid like our grandparents where when they where kids. It’s true. It’s either that or work 2 jobs to pay bills and save. Basicly work to death.

  28. Carl

    Sometimes a simple awareness of the effect of compounding debt is enough to make people pay off their debt quickly. Most people don’t realize how compound interest works. They submit to the emotional pleasure of something new. If they only know that for what they pay down on debt today, they will have more than twice the amount in future to buy, they wouldn’t buy now.

  29. Kaitlynn Marie

    I feel like I don’t confuse “wants” and “needs” and I don’t think I make excuses about why I’m broke. I’m pretty honest about not needing to buy whatever and not needing to eat out. I still do it, but at least I’m honest that I shouldn’t be.

    Also, I just wanted to leave a quick note. I have a StraightTalk plan and I pay $45 a month (usually about $49 after taxes and fees) for unlimited talk and text, 8GB of high speed data, and unlimited 2G data after. I have never used all 8GB of high speed data. I mention it because it’s cheaper than Republic when you factor in how much data you get at the $45 tier. They also have a $55 tier that gives you 12GB of data.

  30. Nyunt Shwe

    I think also I believe that, everything depend on luck. Because, when I have lucky time whatever I do everything are ok, but when I have unlucky time whatever I do everything are wrong that’s why? I make so many question Why? Why?Why? Now, I understand that everything depend on luck. Why? I said about that because I have a lot of experience life a lot of knowledge also I did all my best on my business.

  31. Kenneth Gray

    I also believe that some people need to change their ways to get ahead, but I don’t have money to waste. No extras. I go days without food, all my clothes are second hand, no money to shop with, can’t even afford a hair cut, entertainment, what’s that. I’m drowning in poverty with no skills or talents to help me. All I get for advice is to save, invest, or spend money to improve my situation. Trust when I say that without money to begin with, these things are impossible to do. So how can somebody with absolutely nothing reach their dreams.

  32. Greta James

    Thank you for pointing out that debt is a very large stressor so paying it off as soon as possible can really help you save money for future problems and situations. About a week ago, I was talking to my sister, and she mentioned that her fiance has some large debts since he is going to do a master’s program. I know that finances can be a big stress for her. I wonder if they could talk to professionals about money management to at least give her some tips and peace of mine.

  33. I finally grasped these concepts and have been able to save money. The biggest things for me were creating a budget and knowing I had to start somewhere. Its one of the hardest things to do but the most rewarding.

  34. ENSJ

    I have a low paying job and no college degree (worked during college to pay for it because my parents didn’t want to chip in for me like they did for my brother and I couldn’t handle daytime college with almost full time work so I dropped out). I still believe I made a very stupid mistake not to try and soldier on to get a degree.

    But currently stuck in a low paying job that causes a lot of stress (CSR) and COVID caused me to relapse in my PTSD. I always managed to avoid debt, but this year is the first year I have a payment plan for hospital bills. Thank god they don’t charge interest on it.

    I’m still trying to save up for my emergency fund, after that I’m saving up to invest it.

    And I do cut my expenses. I don’t eat out, I don’t go to the movies (unless a friend of mine has a deal with his cellphone company where he gets a free ticket on tuesday, so then we split the cost of one ticket), I don’t travel unless it’s free or really cheap like a camp site. My phone plan is 20 euros a month, same for my internet. So that’s 40 euros a month for my frivolous expenses.

    What makes it difficult is that rent keeps going up and food prices have increased as well thanks to COVID. And then I have to choose to either stay, look for a cheaper place (but the cheaper places are still at least 500 a month and don’t have good insulation so your heating bill increases and has rodent problems…), or move to another location where it’s cheaper. I don’t have a car to save money, so it should be accessible with public transport, but then the rent goes up if it’s accessible with public transport.