8 Things I Learned by Being Completely Broke


Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette!
In today’s video, I discuss eight things that being broke taught me. We did a video
about 10 things that I wish I had known in my 20s and this video is somewhat of
an extension to that. Currently, I am in my mid-30s and 15 years ago, my life looked
very different. I grew up in Germany with parents that were in the middle class
but neither my mom or my dad ever got any money from their parents and
building a house, that was always a financial struggle. Yes, I did get a bit
of pocket money but it was not much more than a bit of a change. So I learned from
an early age, if I wanted something, I had to work for it. My first job was a
paperboy at the age of 14 then I got into selling fountain pens on eBay which
may be quite a bit of money and that ultimately started my interest in
classic men’s clothing. After high school and doing my civil service, I ended up
going to a private law school in Germany. This was the first time I was exposed to
other kids who just had a lot of money that they have from their parents. One of
my fellow students actually just flew home to his mom bringing his laundry so
she could do it for him there; that was a world that was entirely new to me. The
German school University System is quite good in the sense that they try to allow
you to go there even though you come from relatively low or no means at all.
I had 450 euros at my disposal which at the time was about 500 bucks, so I had to
pay rent from that which was about $300. That was not quite cheap and I ended up
staying at a really rundown place that was originally designed for officers’
widows and when there weren’t enough of them, they just put in students. I first
started out in a very small shared room on a third floor of a building but it
didn’t have a bathroom in the unit so every morning I had to go downstairs
into the basement where there was a coin-operated shower and for 50
cents, you’ve got seven minutes of warm water but you could stop it in between
and I was able to actually shower with a 20 seconds of hot water but hey, I saved
50 cents that way. At the time, my main form of transportation was a bike and even as
a student, I worked at the university making some money on the side. I remember coming
to the US, I didn’t have much more than my two suitcases and a few dollars to
make a new start here and today, I’m a lot more comfortable,
however, being broke taught me a number of valuable life lessons and I want to
share them with you today. Number one, money itself doesn’t just automatically
make you happier. I know people usually only say that once they have achieved a
certain level of wealth. What I can say though is that money has the ability to
make your life a lot easier, things less stressful, you don’t have to worry about
any upcoming emergencies, you don’t do the math when you go grocery shopping,
and it’s just easier to focus on the things that really matter in life. I
definitely feel a lot free now that I don’t have to worry about paying rent or what if there’s an emergency coming up, I can simply pay for
it out of pocket. Instead, I can now pursue hobbies, I can take dance classes
with my wife that I really enjoy, I can take piano classes, or just anything else
that gives me purpose or have a sense of self improvement. Overall, I’ve
always been a very happy person even when I was broke and if you remember
Notorious BIG who said “mo money mo problems” and he definitely had a point.
Social studies have shown time and time again that earning anything over seventy
five thousand dollars doesn’t make you a happier person, sometimes it can even
make you less happy because your life is all of a sudden a lot more complex, you have to deal with tax issues and other people may just want to hang out with you
because you’re rich not because they’re actually interested in you as a person.
While I found that just being rich or money itself doesn’t make you happier,
there are a few ways where you can utilize money to buy happiness. The big
thing is you have to invest in experiences with others that you like
rather than stuff. Once you have more money at your disposal,
you automatically adjust your lifestyle, you accrue more stuff but it just
becomes a new normal and it doesn’t make you happier. Instead, if you spend time
with your friends, with your family, maybe you take them on a trip and you can
share experiences afterwards and you’ve something to look forward to, that
definitely makes you happier. Also, spending money on others, donating,
usually makes you happier and spending money on things that really give you
purpose will maybe cost more upfront but in the long term, will make you more
happy. For example, I love the Gentleman’s Gazette! I love to help men to
become gentlemen and to improve themselves and that is my purpose in
life and so I enjoy that no matter if I make money or not. Also, instead of just
buying something right now, it makes sense to pre-buy things, let’s say a
cruise with your family or an event, something that you want to do that you
look forward to where you can relax and spend time with them because you have
all the anticipation building up to the actual trip itself. Last but not the least, something that I do a lot more now than I used to do when I was broke is to
simply pay people to do things I don’t like to do so I can spend my time with
my family or just on things that I truly enjoy. The
second thing that I learned when I was broke was that the self-reliance I had
made me a lot stronger as a person. My parents always raised me to be very
independent not just in terms of money. Other people than you would get a lot more pocket
money but they didn’t necessarily understand or were able to manage money
better than I was. Overall, it’s a lot harder to adjust to less money than to
more money. I pretty much always knew if I wanted something, I simply had to work
for it and do it myself and I never really thought about it until I met
some buddies through my civil service and one guy told me “You know, whenever I
wanted something, I just put it on my Christmas list and it would just appear.”
You, on the other hand, have just learned how to just come up with ways to get
what you want, be creative, have a side hustle or work
in a certain way and I envy you. I never thought about it that
way because for me, it was always normal. Just when I met other people who just
had gotten a lot of money from their parents, I realized that it was actually
a benefit that I didn’t just get everything handed to me as a kid. Three, being
broke or being rich is really a matter of perception. My dad’s from Brazil and
we lived in Germany so whenever we would go to Brazil and visit relatives, they
all thought we were filthy rich so they all expected us to bring a lot of gifts
and to pick up the tab and pay for the bill when in reality, my parents were in
debt and had to worry about how to pay for the mortgage and how to make ends
meet. But we lived in a different country and even though we had absolutely more
money, relatively, we were not richer or poorer than the people in Brazil. The
first thing I learned was that having extra money doesn’t just happen. You have
to actually plan for it. My roommate in college would always buy certain ___ right
through to the beginning of the month in case she would run out at the end that
she could at least eat. Even though at the time I thought it was a little
extreme, she was totally right. If you don’t manage your money upfront. you’ll
just spend it, at least, that’s what I do and most people I know. If you never
plan to set aside money for an emergency upfront chances are it’ll hit
you very hard and it’ll have very drastic consequences. That means you
have to be very deliberate about your money, you have to set yourself a budget
and then chop the money off right when you get paid in the beginning, otherwise,
it’s just not gonna happen. The fifth thing I learned was that you
can buy pretty much anything secondhand or vintage or at a deal.
Honestly, until I was in my 20s, pretty much everything I bought was
either on sale at a store, it was a hand-me-down from someone, or it was a
vintage item. Even though I got certain outfit elements that were quite a bit
bolder and not the foundational wardrobe pieces, including the shirt I’m wearing
here right now, I still have a lot of the items from the period that I still wear
today because they have a certain timeless character to it that allows me
to wear them now but also ten years from
now. At the time, I always focused on great value,
finding handmade garments that no one else knew because they didn’t have a
certain brand name but they fit me somewhat and just made me feel good. Even
though I was relatively poor, I always felt I could buy stuff on eBay and since
it was so inexpensive, I could justify it but if I take a step back now, I can see
that I spend a lot of money on a lot of stuff, none of which was a foundational
wardrobe piece and because of that, I had to end up giving a lot of it away and
selling it and basically, it was almost like an addiction where I spent a little
money on a hat on eBay trying to convince myself that I got all those good deals
when in reality, it was just spending the money that I probably could have saved
up and gotten something that I really really wanted instead. The sixth thing I
learned was that being poor takes a lot of time. If you just always have to think
about how you pay for your groceries and for your rent and for any kind of
other expense, your mental capacity is just focused on that and your brain is
just spinning and trying to understand where you can find something else. Also,
if you think about it, if you don’t hire anyone, you do your own laundry, your own
cleaning, your own grocery shopping, your own cooking, and all those things,
yes, you do it yourself but that doesn’t allow you to spend time
with your friends or with your family. Also, constantly looking for discounts and
deals, including for gas and figuring out where you can save five cents more but
then it means you actually waste 20 minutes of your lifetime plus the gas
to get there, it’s just all that stuff that takes a lot of time that ultimately
is not really worth it to me, looking at it from viewpoint today. Honestly, it pays
to stay in a budget but understanding that your time is valuable and that you can
use your time to work and make money rather than just looking for discounts
is a very powerful concept that took me a while to understand and grasp. The seventh
thing I learned was that being poor can actually make you quite adaptive and
creative when it comes to problem solving. When my car breaks now, it’s easy! I just go to the dealership and have them fix it. If that isn’t
an option, maybe you have to borrow with someone so you can help them out and
they help you out or you go to youtube and figure out how to fix it yourself.
Trying to overcome an obstacle when you don’t have the money to fix it is a
really valuable lesson that even helps me a lot now that I’m a lot more
comfortable financially. Last but not least, the eighth thing I learned when I
was broke was that you can still treat yourself if you do so responsibly. What do I mean by that? Well, I remember back in 2008, I was still going back and forth from
Germany to meet Teresa and she had found this new place that was bigger, it
was nicer but it also cost at least $400 more a month. I felt it was a financial
stretch and I was able to convince her that we would just stay in a place where
she was before, keeping our expenses low and just spending time with each other
instead. Now, six months later, she lost her job and we were both extremely happy
that she didn’t take on this additional financial burden of a lease that would
maybe have led to a bankruptcy, who knows? We ended up staying in that small
apartment until 2012 and at that point, we were financially secure enough that
we could afford to move out into a larger space but we really had much more
financial depth to even deal with emergencies which in the other case, we
would have never had. So how do you treat yourself when you’re broke? Well, you buy
little things and things that don’t have a high cost or a long-term monthly
recurring cost. You can go out maybe with someone at a restaurant that’s not super
fancy but it’s small and the gesture counts and you can still very much enjoy
it or maybe you buy yourself a jacket that
you’ve always wanted and that you need because it’s so cold outside but
honestly always ask yourself is it something I really need or is it
something I just want and if you need something every once in a while to keep
going it’s okay. Just stay away from these long term contracts and don’t put it in
your credit card and accrue that super high interest because it’ll
cost you a lot more. in today’s outfit I wear quite a few vintage pieces
I wear a vintage tweed coat it’s part of a suit that I bought for around 50 bucks
my tie comes from an Estate Sale it costs me about a buck the shirt is vintage from my
times as a student even though it’s from Siniscalchi I got it just for a few
bucks the new thing is my pocket square which is navy blue it picks up the tone
of the tie and is a little bit more muted than the strong striped shirt
it’s from Fort Belvedere and it’s in silk wool and you can find it in our
shop here my chinos are from Ralph Lauren they are quite old they’re a wardrobe
staple the socks I have are blue and gray blue striped they’re visually
interesting but pick up the color of the pants and provide a good transition to
my Brown quarter brogue oxford shoes last but not least I’m wearing some for
Fort Belvedere cufflinks in malachite and silver which you can find in the shop
but I could also picked one of my older cufflinks that have bought for five
bucks at a flea market

100 thoughts on “8 Things I Learned by Being Completely Broke

  • Könntest du Mal ein "Spaß" Video auf Portugiesisch, Deutsch und englisch machen? Wäre super interessant. Lg

  • ich wurde aus meinem Studium exmatrikuliert und viel in eine tiefe Depression. wohnte in einer dreckigen 4er WG. am ende des Monats war ich froh Toasbrot und Salami kaufen zu können.
    damals lernte ich auch das Dinge dich nicht glücklicher machen sondern die Zeit die ich mit anderen verbringen konnte. nun verdiene ich gut kann aber sagen das mich das mehr an Geld nicht glücklicher gemacht hat.
    Ich habe auch vieles erst mit 30 gelernt. auch fest zu stellen was mich beruflich glücklich macht und dieses Ziel zu verfolgen hat mir mehr gebracht als alle Dinge die ich mich gekauft habe.

    Ich freue mich sehr so viele Gemeinsamkeiten gefunden zu haben. 👍

  • This is a wonderful video, Raphael, and truly needed in this day and age. Balances nicely with the other videos where one can feel that they need to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on good quality style. (I don't mean just your videos, but that of other "gentlemen's fashions" that I've come across. It's a great message in that good fashion and making oneself feel good doesn't always have to cost a lot of high dollars — it's the enjoyment of what you have, and of the special moments in life. I think you described "mindfulness" quite effectively without even having to say the word. Well done!

  • I'm 19 and never had real problems financial struggle myself
    tho the money in my family is sometimes tight since my dad passed 2 years ago. My lack of financial struggle probably resides in the fact that although the money can be tight I don't buy most of the things i need and consume myself. I live with my mother and when my dad passed she was forced to pick up a job so we would have additional money to spend each month and wouldn't need to live on the inheritance of my dad alone. I get a lot of of financial support from the rest of the family (grandparents, my uncle etc.) which allows me to live my life in what feels like luxury compared to the financial situation
    my mother and I are actually living in. I didn't need to pick up a job and due to mine and my dads savings that's probably the case for the next 5-6 years. I've never experienced this kind of poverty you mentioned and as stated above I probably won't for the next few years but nevertheless I agree with everything you have stated on this I have already lived and probably will continue to live after everything you've stated so far. And I hope the doesn't change when I attend to University this year. Greetings from Germany and keep up the good advice

  • Buying second-hand is not only a great way to save money upfront, but also to minimize losses if you don't plan to keep the item for a long time (or just don't know if you'll stick to it, think a music instrument or equipment for a sport you're interested in), since you can later resell it with little to no loss, perhaps even make a bit of money off it. The downside is that you'll need quite a lot more extra care not to be ripped off.

  • I love how this guy is so himself. He radiates confidence and it’s oddly, and surprisingly, inspiring. To me, at least.

  • Rafael,thank you for your generosity and the beautiful advice I appreciate it very much! You are one of the nicest people on Earth 🌍

  • "More money, more problems" — Notorious BIG. and "The more stuff you own, the more stuff owns you" – Fight Club.

  • Indeed I agree sir,I feel happier when I do something great for other and for humanity than being rich.

    That was why I join the youth red Cross when I was a teenager

  • Liebe Grüße aus Düsseldorf.
    Die Tipps sind sehr nützlich, vielen Dank dafür!👍❤️ Ich weiß noch genau, als ich während meines Studiums Kleingeld gezählt habe damit ich mir ein Sechserpack Aufbackbrötchen leisten konnte… Das war wirklich ein Wendepunkt für mich persönlich 🤔💪

  • Well said. Some of my friends from high school and college had rich parents and always had things provided for them…cars, clothes, vacations, etc. Yet they were some of the most miserable people I ever met!

  • With all the self help books out there, what’s needed is one written by a German grandmother. Oma was always good about buying quality but only what you really needed. I believe American commercialism precludes this way of thinking.

  • Ihr könntet auch Deutsche Untertitel hinzufügen, sowie auf eurer Webseite, alle links führen auf amerikanische Seiten welche beinahe nutzlos sind als Deutscher.

  • I'm really enjoying your "Life Lessons" videos. I'm reading "Vanity Fair", and it's quite a good read, a jaunty sociological treatise on human vanity. The author, William Makepeace Thackeray mentions something called "being Gazetted". Or appearing in the Gazette. Something maybe related to the military officers. I'm wondering what that means.

  • I’ll teach my kids to be self-reliant… my parents taught me work, but food and comfort were always provided…

  • Being broke doesn't necessarily make you poor. The times when I didn't know where the rent money was coming from were among the happiest of my life. Having nothing to lose is somewhat liberating.

  • This is a genuine question, with no sarcasm or disrespect intended:

    Don’t you feel the advice given in this video discourages your viewers from shopping at Fort Belvedere? You mention more than once that you can, and have, picked up these types of items for significant savings second-hand.

    I’m curious as to how you go about balancing a business model connected to your YouTube Channel while trying to offer realistic lifestyle advice on the same channel that may contradict that very business model. I could be completely wrong of course, but I’d love some insight if you have the time! Thank you.

  • As someone who doesn't speak English as a first language (but speaks it impeccably nonetheless), what's your favourite English language word?

  • "You don't have to do the math when grocery shopping." Yes…I fell on hard times at one point and that was definitely an eye opener. I don't think I had even looked at the price of groceries before then.

  • The number one thing I've learned from being broke is that I never want to be broke ever again. I graduated from university amidst a financial crisis in 2008. I jumped from one short term contract to another, filing the gaps with unemployment benefits. I finally got my big a break six years ago and I've been financially comfortable since then.

  • Thank you for such a good, warm and informative video. I really appreciated it. If you're referencing B.I.G, I think you actually lived what you are sharing. I'm glad you are doing well now. Thank you. I'm a subscriber now. Take care.

  • Live centrally located by your place of employment, source of groceries, laundromat etc. Walk or bike. You save a ton not needing a vehicle. I haven't driven in years. I walk everywhere, including 25 mins to work in winter in the snow or rain. Winter or rain gear is cheaper than a vehicle. Walking is good for your health. I don't get sick. I eat well because I'm using my vehicle money to buy high quality food. Or just save and invest it. Also, if possible, don't get married and have kids. Statistically marriage in the West these days is a sure way to lose everything. I wish it wasn't.
    MGTOW Red Pilled.
    Great vid.

  • I agree money doesn't make you happy. My most happiest times were when I was a kid and my mom was broke but we made the most of our creative minds. It was the best

  • Well done, Gentleman's Gazette. I like your outlook and how you are offering great advice in helping men become better and feel better about themselves.

  • I came from a very prosperous California business family, "Mein Vater" being a lifer in the US Navy, so I grew up in that tradition also. My parents made me work for every penny I wanted, so good lessons there, taught me the value of a dollar. But still I had a lot of lessons to learn and later in life I made some foolish moves and ended up actually homeless, I was working and fortunately the production company I was out of town working with was putting me up, homeless in the Hilton! I felt like a fool, but worked hard and recovered. You really made some great points and I loved listening, and learned some things! Thanks again.

  • My electricity had been cut more than once since I couldn't pay for it. I was broke for a while.
    It is quite a sad experience to spend a cold winter night hugging your wife so she can stay warmer.
    A long time has passed since then, I've been doing really good, I don't have to worry about a lot of things, like I am able to spend a months rent on a dinner now but not a day passes that I don't feel lucky to have lights in my home and no amount of money can replace the warmth of my lovely wife who hugged me even tighter so I can get warm, without a word of complaint. "Don't worry my love" she said, "you are the strongest guy I've ever met, I'm lucky to have you"..
    She shared my abyss with me,
    now she deserves all the lights in the universe .

  • If you can get, or are even thinking in terms of a credit card, or can afford to run a vehicle up until the point it breaks, you're not really very broke at all.
    You're in a position of some sort financial trust to be awarded credit and vehicles are an expensive luxury in Europe where public transport in more urban areas is plentiful. Yes it may well be slower!

  • ….one thing is sure: you deserve every bit of success you have 👍👍👍👍👍👍!
    keep up the good work….

  • Raphael, did you go to the Bucerius Law School?? Can you make a video about your time in Law School?

  • Do I need it or do I want it? Great question to ask ourselves especially before buying expensive things.

  • Typically, money will provide security and lower stress. Alas, the silver spooners/Ayn Rand morons think those without are like that due to their own fault almost exclusively and, even if not, they are at fault for not immediately getting out of poverty. Trumptards!

  • What coincidence!! I am subscribed to your Channel and I really like your videos, and I live in Brazil, São Paulo !!

  • I have the feeling, that i look at my Future self right here.

    I'm a German in the mid 20's ,whas really broke but i learned how to Manage my Money and i'm about to immegrate to the US.

    PS: ich liebe deine Videos, die haben echt eine beruhigende Wirkung auf mich.

  • "pay people to do things I don't enjoy" ah, so that explain's Preston's appearance.

    jk, you are both great!

  • Awesome phucken video!
    Your spirit, ambition, being goal oriented and positive attitude shows. Thank you for sharring your eperiences on what you have learned which is priceless for both young people and adults too.

  • I've always talked about that my time is worth more to me than money. The part you're talking about saving a few dollars on gas but spending more time to find it and then gas to get to it.. That's something that I tell people all the time. It's almost the same for me with overtime at work. Sure I might make more money, but at the same time I make more than enough to live my lifestyle and the relaxing time I get before having to go back to worth, is worth more to my personal health than a few extra bucks.

  • The one thing I don’t hear said all that often today is,” if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything “. I have learnt that via personal experience.

  • Really enjoying your channel content. The topics are great, very informative and helpful for everyday or special occasions. Thx therefore keep up the good work

  • I admire real rich gentleman's. You are one, not because the money, because your values and your experience life.

  • great video, really. but you failed to mention one thing, but that may be prerequisite: Money that you don't own, is money you can't spend. Also, don't gamble. I never understood how people throw away their money. The bank always wins.

  • Money doesn't really buy you any opportunities to be happy. It simply allows you to pay for the drudgeries in your life so you can focus on the things you do enjoy. But if you do not have money, you can still be happy. There are plenty of people around the world without finances who live off their land, work their farms, find love, raise families – wash, rinse, repeat. Money is a path to easing burdens but often times those burdens can be lessened if you recognize what you really need, versus what you want. Understanding this in yourself is what leads to being happy. Because if the only thing that makes you happy is sipping Macallan 25 while in a yacht…get to work, you will need a ton of money to be happy. But if you are content and happy sitting in a park with your wife, enjoying the breeze on a warm day while your kids laugh at play. Well…all of that is free. Happiness Is what you make of it.

    All that said, I love your videos. 🙂

  • I have a pair of heavyweight grey flannel pants I've been wearing for more than 30 years. It's good to buy for the longterm where possible.

  • Sven Raphael Schneider is a classy, sober and brilliant host/curator of all things gentlemen. I only recently stumbled accross this channel and I can't get enough 🙂

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