Poor Vs Broke

Poor Vs Broke: Understanding the Difference

Money is something that has always been an essential part of our lives, and not having enough of it can lead to significant hardships. But when we use terms like ‘poor’ and ‘broke’ interchangeably, we’re actually missing out on the nuances that exist between them. In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between being poor and being broke and how the understanding of these differences can help you make better financial decisions.

What does it mean to be poor?

Being poor refers to a state of consistent financial hardship. It’s a condition that goes beyond a temporary lack of funds or the inability to buy something luxurious. Instead, it is a persistent deprivation of basic needs like adequate housing, nutritious meals, and proper healthcare.

Being poor is a complex issue, and it’s not just about the lack of money. Living in poverty often leads to social exclusion, inadequate education, poor job prospects, and mental health issues. Poverty can also be cyclical, meaning that those who are born poor are often unable to escape the cycle unless provided with the right resources.

Poverty is not just a problem for developing countries; it’s also a significant challenge in developed countries like the United States. In the US, poverty is defined as an annual income of less than $12,880 for an individual, $17,420 for a couple, or $31,040 for a family of five. According to the US census bureau, 34 million Americans lived below the poverty line in 2019.

What does it mean to be broke?

Unlike being poor which is a state of consistent financial hardship, being broke is a temporary lack of funds to meet one’s needs. It means having little to no money at hand, and unfortunately, it happens to most of us at some point in life. Being broke could be because of overspending, losing a job or a business, or even unexpected emergency expenses.

While being broke is a temporary condition, it can still be a stressful experience. It can lead to missed payments, late bills, and sometimes result in debt. Being broke, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are poor in the long run. It only means you lack the funds to meet your expenses at a particular time.

What is the difference between being poor and being broke?

The significant difference between being poor and being broke is the duration of the condition. Being broke is a transient condition that can be resolved through income from various sources. On the other hand, being poor is a systemic condition that requires a more holistic approach to resolve.

Another difference between being poor and being broke is the depth of the problem. Being poor affects all areas of life, and it’s a condition that extends over a longer period of time. In contrast, being broke only affects a specific area of one’s life, and it’s a problem that can be resolved with time.

Additionally, while being broke is mainly a financial issue, being poor has implications for social status and overall well-being. Poverty is associated with negative health outcomes, low life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates, lower educational outcomes, and limited job prospects.

How to move from being broke to being financially stable

If you’re currently broke and struggling, you can bounce back and regain financial stability. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Assess your expenses and income: Start by determining your earnings and expenses. Having a clear picture of your finances can help you identify areas where you can cut expenses or increase income.

2. Create a budget: Once you’ve assessed your expenses, create a budget that reflects your income and can help you manage your finances effectively. A budget will help you monitor your spending and ensure that you’re living within your means.

3. Sell unwanted items: Sell items that you no longer use or need. This could be anything from electronics to clothing, and the money you make can go towards paying off debts or covering bills.

4. Take on a side hustle: Consider taking on a part-time job or a side hustle to supplement your income in the short-term.


It’s important to understand the differences between being poor and being broke. While being broke is a temporary condition, being poor is a systemic problem that affects all aspects of life. Being broke is common, but with the right strategies and effort, it’s a problem that can be resolved. On the other hand, poverty requires long-term solutions that address the root causes of the problem. If you’re currently broke, taking small steps like assessing your expenses, creating a budget, selling unwanted items, and taking on a side hustle can help you regain financial stability.