I have not read everyone's stories yet, but I do have my own epic FU money story.
I worked at a law firm with 13 attorneys, straight out of law school at 26. I had lots of options because I went to a regionally respected law school and finished near the top of my law class. I rejected many offers for salary positions and chose this firm because it allowed me to create my own practice. We split fees based on various percentages. There was no cap on my earnings.
Fast forward 3.5 years. I was 29 years old. My practice had exploded. There were basically two problems. First, by the time of the FU incident I was making more money than anyone in the firm and I was the youngest person there. Second, the managing partner and the office administrator were incompetent, bitter and creating a toxic work environment.
A key part of the story is that 6 weeks prior to the FU incident, the managing partner used $10,000 of my money, without permission, to pay all the partners salaries because they had "cash flow issues." They money was paid back a week later. This signaled financial shenanigans on top of being totally, totally toxic.
One day, the managing partner approached me and said she wanted to renegotiate my deal AND audit every case for the appropriate percentage from the prior two years. The renegotiation was ridiculous. The audit was a major, totally unwarranted affront to my integrity - from a person who had just taken $10,000 of my money!
So, I went home with my wife - coincidentally an auditor and accountant. We performed the audit ourselves and ran all the numbers. I discovered that for the prior two years, less than 1% of my income had come from their referrals. I was a major profit center for the firm - generating over $250,000 for the firm over the prior 24 months. And, in fact, the toxic office administrator had intentionally mis-categorized my referrals thereby underpaying me.
Fortunately, I had been on the MMM train since the beginning and had an FU money war-chest of a couple hundred thousand dollars. Interestingly, the MMM choices had been the object of much curiosity since everyone knew I was making a lot but spending very little. Why are you riding your bike to work? Why did you buy such a "modest" house for your income. Why don't you get a new car? Those are actual comments.
So, the FU moment arrived when I delivered a renegotiated contract proposal to the partners. I proposed to pay them a flat monthly fee that amounted to 35% of what they were currently getting. I proposed that if they ever held any of my money without legal authority or permission they pay $1,000 per day for the privilege. Egg on the face of managing partner who had not advised anyone of the $10,000 "cash flow" issue or her proposed audit and renegotiation.
A comment this board will particularly appreciate in response, "We can't take this deal, we'd have to reduce our salaries and our budgets are set to our salaries." Facepalm.
During the wind up phase, the toxic, money stealing office administrator - who had been around long enough to have a way, way over-inflated sense of importance - spoke up during a tense conversation about splitting remaining funds. I looked at her and said, "You have no ownership in this firm, I have never been in business with you and don't want to hear anything you have to say." Hahahahaha. Her jaw dropped. Her upper lip trembled with rage. She didn't say a freaking word. It was the best moment of the entire thing, even better than the contract proposal.
Long story short, I opened my own law firm one week later. I now pay 20% less in overhead. I work dramatically reduced hours because I have actual, dedicated staff for just me - which they would never give me. Also, my gross receipts are up about 10% in the first 12 months. Life is good.
As a post script - the incompetent managing partner hired a guy to fill my office. Remember, that office was earning over $250,000 for the firm in the proceeding 24 months. The guy was paid a salary for six months - rather than have his pay tied to his productivity. Eventually it came out he was a total fraud who lied about being licensed in our state (he did have a different, faraway state). He even filed court documents without the appropriate license. He was fired immediately and the office remains vacant, producing zero profits. Schadenfreude? Yes.
Also as a disclaimer, there are many, many attorneys who are great at servicing their clients but not so good at business. In the event I needed legal help, I would immediately hire any of these attorneys - except the managing partner. They really are competent, professional people - but bad business and money managers. In the end, I maintained great relationships with everyone except the managing partner and the office administrator.