I want know differences between:

I'm broke.


I don't have money.

Are they different expressions? For example, if I say:

I don’t have money.

can I also say:

I'm broke.

Any ideas or insight would be greatly appreciated.

5 Answers 5


Taking the phrases exactly as you have supplied them...

I don't have money = I am not a rich man. Money is something I do not have.

I am broke = At present, I have no money.

We can make a small change:

I don't have money on me = I have no money in my wallet or on my person at this moment (but I do have money in a bank account or at home)

I don't have the money = I cannot afford it; it is too expensive for me

I would like to take a vacation but I don't have the money.

Could you pay for lunch? I'll pay you back tonight. I left my wallet back in the hotel room and don't have any money on me.

After paying for food and rent and the train to work, by the end of the month I'm broke.

My family lived on a very small farm. I left our small village to find work in the city, where I drive a taxi. I don't have money.

My friend at school inherited a fortune from his grandfather. But my grandparents worked every day of their lives, and just managed to scrape by. They didn't have money and my parents didn't have money and I don't have money.

  • 3
    Great answer. The one additional phrase that popped into my mind is, "I don't have any money," which is often used to mean, "I don't have any money on me." (Example: "Want to go get a burger?" Reply: "No thanks, I don't have any money." This reply wouldn't necessarily mean the person has no money in the bank; it might mean they don't have any cash on them, or their budget is running low, so they don't have any discretionary money.) It's not easy to explain all the nuances that go along with not having money!
    – J.R.
    Mar 6, 2016 at 11:31
  • Hmm, to my ear, the connotations of "I don't have money" vs "I'm broke" are exactly reversed from what you said. "I don't have money" = right now I have no money (e.g. to pay for dinner), but I may have some tomorrow. "I'm broke" = all of my savings have just been wiped out by some catastrophe and it'll take me a while to get back on my feet.
    – zwol
    Mar 6, 2016 at 14:11
  • Also saying "I'm broke" implies that you can be "fixed", or get some money soon.
    – BruceWayne
    Mar 6, 2016 at 17:30

@TRomano answer, it feels like the definitions should be swapped.

'I am' refers to a state, often an immutable one. E.g. "You can't change who you are, so be yourself.". Relating to oneself: "I am so stupid.." or "Being rich is just not me; I am broke".

'I have' refers to a relationship to the environment. E.g. "I did not pick up the ball; I don't have it.". Relating to oneself: "I don't have skills" or "I don't have money". It's a more psychologically mutable state, it does not require to challenge the perceived identity of oneself.


The usage I'm familiar with is this:

I'm broke

Definition: I have absolutely no funds available to me in any reasonable amount -- no available credit, no cash, no bitcoins, no gold bars, nothing. If there's a bill then I will not be able to pay it.

I don't have any money

Definition: I do not have cash in any reasonable amount. I may have credit available or other securities, but my cash balance is zero or near-zero.


It's a matter of speech level. "I'm broke" is very informal. I guess it is mostly the language of teenagers. "I don't have any money" is neutral style.


'broke' - Without money; Penniless. - Bankrupt http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/broke?s=t

This is a literal meaning of the word 'broke' in a dictionary. It means a person has absolutely no money. But people use the word colloquially(slang) to exaggerate(make it sound worse). A person might say they are broke just to exaggerate that they have only a little money.

'I don't have money' - this literally means they have no money, none. But people use this phrase contextually. Sometimes people just mean 'I don't have any money in my wallet right now' when they would have some at home or in their bank account. People also use it to exaggerate that they have only a little money.

Both phrases 'I'm broke' and 'I don't have money' literally mean the same thing but people use them improperly to exaggerate.

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