Broke and Worthless


I looked at my bank account online this morning and here’s what I saw:

net worth

That’s right, my balance is $-0.01. AAAAAAAACK!!!

Intellectually, I know this is temporary. I know that it was caused by a “perfect storm” of bad timing revolving around deposits, withdrawals and a bank holiday. I know that more money is coming to me. But in this exact moment, I can’t help but feel panicked.

The trick I’ve learned, and the reason that I’m sharing this deeply personal, and potentially embarassing information with you, is that I need to make a distinction between “having no money” and “being worthless”.

I know that some of you are going back and re-reading that last sentence in disbelief. “How can he say POTENTIALLY embarrassing? It’s absolutely mortifying! I can’t believe he’s telling us he has no money! Does he realize what that does to his credibility? Is he crazy?” If any of those thoughts are going through your head right now, I want you to think about your own relationship to money for a moment. How would you react if you saw your bank balance at $0.01? What would it mean to you?

To what extent do you let your net-worth define your self-worth?

When I saw my bank balance this morning, I panicked for a second. Then I felt angry with myself for letting this happen… again.  I vowed that this is the last time I will ever let things get this close to the red-line. But then, I reminded myself that it’s a temporary situation.

I looked at the entire balance sheet of my life. Sure, right now the Financial column looks bad, but that’s only one column of the sheet.

  • Health – This column is better than it’s been in years. (And as I’m always acutely aware – just the fact that I woke up today is a massive victory!)
  • Kids – I have two awesome kids and they’re both healthy. I love them dearly and they know it! We’ve been having a great summer vacation together for the last two weeks.
  • Partner – I am lucky enough to have found the woman that I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with. Hilary loves me more deeply than I’ve ever known.  And we’re each other’s best friends.
  • Plus – I still have my stunning good looks sense of humor.

Broke? Yes, temporarily.

Worthless? No way!

So back to my question: To what extent do you let your net-worth define your self-worth?

7 thoughts on “Broke and Worthless”

  1. Definitely see what you’re trying to say. Too many people place importance on money that it starts to turn them into believing that their net amount is a representation of who they are.

    The media is to blame for this I believe. They always portray how people with more money will be happier and well off when this isn’t always the case. There are much more important thing in life than just money, and that’s love, your well being, and life.

  2. Wow, I’m so amazed that you’ve drawn so much inspiration when you’re broke. Nevertheless, you say it is temporary but it’d scare the daylights out of me.

    I don’t earn yet but I have my own account with some money in it. Anyway what you point out is really awesome, it shouldn’t affect your self worth, not one bit!

    Thanks for sharing the awesomeness!


  3. I understand and agree that the bank balance has NOTHING what so ever to do with your worth, your value as a person. I have, in the past, fallen into that trap. It’s hard to get out of because low self esteem makes it hard to push forward. But I did. I’m glad you did too.

    There is also the point that, although such a balance could be embarrassing, embarrassing things do not change who we are over all. Besides, it’s very common for successful people and companies take out loans to cover cash flow shortages.

  4. The reality is that whatever your circumstances are sometimes you will have money and sometimes you won’t. Yes, sometimes having money can make some things in life easier, but I do agree it has nothing to do with personal development. If your self esteem is tied to how much money you make…you’ll come up short every time.

  5. Patrick, you’re one of the seemingly few people who has figured it out: “broke” is a state of mind, not an account balance.

    If someone is well along their path to personal development, as you seem to be, they don’t have a nervous meltdown over a barren bank account, because they’re confident they can provide value to the world and receive money in return.

    On the other hand, I’ve read plenty of horror stories about lottery winners who really have ended up broke even after winning millions of dollars. I’m sure they were ecstatic when they double-checked those numbers, but without a shift in attitude or lifestyle, most ended up right back where they were before winning, or sometimes in a sadder state.

    Real self-esteem, like you said, doesn’t come and go as quickly as those pieces of paper people worry about so much :)

  6. I am pretty sure that if person is as confident and happy as you are that bank balance will not stay like that for long :)

    Wish you many zeros with a number afront of them !

  7. Great post. I feel down about not having as much money at times. Mostly because I worked so hard at a college degree and they always say you earn more when you have a degree, but lately I have learned to be grateful for what I do have like a job! Most people still are having trouble trying to find one.

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