Why I don't use Unemployment or Food Stamps

Even as I wrote the title for this one I realized that it may be reason for heated debate and that's ok. When I came to New York City one year ago without a job, having just left a business (my business), one that poured blood, sweat, and tears into, I had only $2k in the bank for reserves, which with rent in NYC you can blow pretty quickly.

I had student loan payments and debt from my last business knocking at my door.

I had rent due.

I had to eat and I lived so far from anything interesting that a metro pass was a must.

I qualified for food stamps and unemployment through and through. And I could've taken it. I had worked from the time I was 10 and had been taxed since age 15, many times having 2 jobs, so in many ways one could say that I "earned" it. I had the right as many do.

But I didn't take it.

People told me I was stupid.

And I bought healthy food (would you believe me if I said organic?).

And I went to a gym.

And I had an unlimited metro-pass….

I knew who I wanted to be a long time ago and every single book I had ever read about the people that I admired, the ones whose advice I was to follow if I wanted to be anything like them, all said that they never used government assistance. Many advised against it.

The reason lays in your mentality when you take it. It acts as a crutch and you don't teach yourself a very, very valuable skill: how to make more money. How to grow rather than shrink. How to grow out of your debts, out of your money problems, out of your fears, out of your doubts, out of your setbacks.

I intuitively knew that learning that skill was of far greater value than the short-term reward of being able to buy name brand food at the grocery store with my food stamp card.

But just as I nourished my financial intelligence, I also aided my body. I fed myself good food and I worked out. And I challenged myself every step of the way, determined to figure out what new business I was to build and how to significantly strengthen my financial position.

I can't say with certainty how my lot would've changed had I used government assistance. But one rule of thumb for me in my life is that I think and do like the people I most admire and what feels most in line with who I am as a person. It has to line up.

Because if you act like a bird, you're a bird. And if you act like a goat, you're a goat. I knew I wanted to be a cheetah, so I acted like the best cheetahs I knew…