How We Climb Out of Being Broke

Most of us have been or are broke — 86 percent of us, according to a new survey. asked more than 1,000 Americans of all ages a host of questions about their financial straits. The answers are revealing, both for good and ill.

First, of course, we have to quantify brokeness. Most Americans agree on a general range: From millennials to boomers, we feel broke if we've got somewhere around $900 in our bank accounts. That won't cover rent in most states, not to mention other cost-of-living expenses, recurring payments, and small purchases. Millennials blame their brokeness mostly on food, with 28 percent calling it the top reason they're low on funds. Other top answers include spending on unnecessary items, quitting a job, and financially helping someone else.

The survey breaks down all kinds of data by generation, gender, location, and more. But the most interesting responses may be those about how we escape being broke. The first specific budget item we target is, unsurprisingly, food: Nearly 60 percent said they dramatically cut or eliminate eating out to save. That said, just 42 percent of millennials say they'd seek out a better job to earn more. More than half said they'd kick up another side hustle; just under a third said they'd sell personal items.

We all react differently to tight funds, but we're almost all in the same boat (or we know what the waves feel like). Keep an eye on your budget, savings, and investments — and don't be afraid to talk about it with your friends. You never know what advice might help.