Living With a Broken Dustpan: Lessons Learned From the Frugal-Not-By-Choice Trenches

There was a time in my life when I had a broken dustpan and could not afford to replace it. Living in the frugal-not-by-choice trenches was not particularly fun but there were some valuable lessons that I learned.

Living With a Broken Dustpan

Lessons Learned From the Frugal-not-By-choice Trenches

There was a time in my life when I was unemployed and we (my husband and I) had very, very little money. It was a dark, depressing time. I was extremely hesitant to use credit cards or dip into savings because I had no idea if I would ever get another job or be able to pay it back. I had watched too many people sink deep into credit card debt and I really didn’t want that happening to me.

I was on a tiny, strict budget and I really stuck to it. I sometimes look back and wonder how we managed to make it work and I honestly don’t know. We had so little. Being frugal-not-by-choice is a terrible situation to be in.

My Broken Dustpan

One day my dustpan broke. Cracked. I didn’t know what to do. I really needed a new dustpan but I didn’t have the money to buy one. My husband and I discussed putting it on the credit card- it was a real need after all! But we decided to wait until we actually had the cash to do it. This meant waiting until my husband could make it with his “side hustle” which was very sporadic and not at all consistent or I could make the money with online tasks and surveys. So we waited. In the meantime, I was still using the broken dustpan. And I really made it work. I would get on the floor and push all the dirt to one corner of the pan and then hold it tilted so the dirt wouldn’t fall through the crack while I carried it to the garbage can. It took longer but I soon got the hang of it.

We finally had the money to buy a new dustpan (online surveys WILL NOT make you rich but it did get me some money when I really needed it) but it seemed silly to buy a new dustpan (remember, we had VERY little money) when we were making do with the old one. Our old, cracked dustpan continued to serve us faithfully until I finally got a new job and we were able to easily afford a new dustpan.

But the experience taught me some important lessons:

It’s Not Over

Even when you think you can’t use it anymore- it still may surprise you and give you more use!

You may think something is broken but there is more there.

Push It Off

If you really need an item but you can’t afford it, push off the decision one more day. And one more. And then see if you really still can’t live without it.

You Are Strong

When life pushes you to the point where you think you can do it anymore, when it seems that a broken dustpan is the only tool you have at your disposal- you have it in you to make it work. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. You may think you can’t live with a broken dustpan, that you need something better than you have- but you may surprise yourself! You can make it work! You can do it!

Stronger Person

When you are struggling with money, it may seem like another blow to have to clean your house with a broken dustpan. It can depress you every time you have to sweep. It is another indignity that must be suffered. Things will get better. Things will change. When the sun does come out, you will have an experience that will make you a stronger, tougher person.

You Are Not Alone

If you have ever been at a point where you feel so low and are cleaning your house with a broken dustpan, remember: there are other people out there who are struggling as well (in many ways). You are not alone. 


Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.

4 thoughts on “Living With a Broken Dustpan: Lessons Learned From the Frugal-Not-By-Choice Trenches”

  1. I’m pretty bad about living with broken things that I keep meaning to replace but never do because they “sorta” work. But it’s obviously a big problem when you’re living with a broken item out of necessity rather than laziness/stubbornness.

    I’m glad you were able to get out of the situation of not having enough funds for something like a new dustpan, even if you still ultimately didn’t get one once you had the money. It’s probably nice to know that you *can* get one when the time eventually comes that the dustbin breaks for good.

    • Absolutely! When something like that happens now, I am so grateful as I am reminded of a time when we couldn’t replace/afford even small items. It gives you a new perspective.

  2. Aww yeah I completely get you every day I’m trying to do something little to improve life sometimes that’s putting some money aside… sometimes that’s writing a blog post or saving for paint, doing diy or filling out job applications for a better job. It can be a bit tough not getting things done immediately but take painting every time I add a layer of paint to my boat it looks just looks better when it’s finished I bet I’ll walk past it a few times.


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