Author Topic: Worst financial times.  (Read 3215 times)

Chubbs55

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Worst financial times.
« on: September 30, 2023, 10:20:43 AM »
Older member but shy to post. Definitely fucked financially and not looking to post dilemma or the barrage of gut and face punches to follow.

I am however looking for your stories.

If youíre willing, please post some of your worst times in life (financially) and how you dealt with and overcame it. Maybe some of the over spenders who spent well beyond your means, those that just suffered financial hardships thru no fault of your own and your path to financial independence, or at least that glimmer of hope for a good and financial stress free life down the road.

Hopefully some stories will help.

Metalcat

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2023, 12:30:16 PM »
We can be extremely reasonable when people ask us to be. Usually face punches come when people ask for them, but if you want to share and don't want people to be overly critical, just ask and the vast majority of folks here will be supportive.

Also, I can pretty much guarantee that however bad your situation is, mine was probably worse and more humiliating, so you're definitely not the only one to fuck up your finances.

My credit was so bad I couldn't get a cell phone.

wenchsenior

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2023, 12:45:42 PM »
Hmmm... not counting a few very challenging short term bills in college that were unexpected (only b/c I hadn't yet lived long enough to expect them), we've had two periods of intense financial challenge.

The first was when first hunting for adult jobs and trying to get started on adult life. We had the usual issues of student loans, we owned almost nothing (not even a chair or a bed of our own) and we were way behind in terms of timeline getting started...my husband was 38 and I was 29. We had a lemon car that was a money pit. In an attempt to save money I moved in with my mother and sister while husband worked a field job in another state with paid housing. We both job hunted (me for temp, husband for career track in a very specialized field).

Within just a few months we were in deep credit card debt: the move had cost a lot, turned out my mother was one step from the poorhouse so I started trying to pay all her bills, our lemon car broke down to the tune of several grand, my mother's car (the only remaining car in the house) also broke down to the tune of several grand that I had to pay, my husband was having no luck on the job hunt.  I took on 2 jobs, one full time and one part time, and desperately tried to hold on as the end of the abeyance period on student loans approached. I remember having crying breakdowns about once per week.

After about 7 months (the longest of my life), my husband finally got a permanent job and by that point I'd managed to stop digging on credit cards and pay back some of the debt. We moved cross country (yet more debt) but then finally settled semi permanently. I job-hunted again, and for the next 3 years or so (not happy years, but better) we just methodically dug our way out of the worst of the credit card debt. Of course, instead, we replaced it with mortgage debt and a second car to bolster our lemon vehicle. Plus, some basic furniture like a bed and couch. But I didn't feel as horrible about that debt as credit card debt.

It took about 5 years total of living tight before we had breathing room again.

The lesson I took from that one was to not go into credit card debt if at all possible; and to track all my household spending at all times.

***

The second crunch period happened in 2008.  We had achieved financial stability, were close to paying off the student loans, had a cheap 15 year mortgage about half paid off, were saving diligently for retirement, etc.  Again, my mother precipitated a crisis... complete poverty, no car, no job, no income, nowhere to live, no likelihood of future improvement in the situation without active intervention.

We remortgaged our house; took out a home equity loan. Used that leverage to purchase a second house and second car (for her). Moved her to our city (across the country = expensive).

 Stopped saving for retirement except for matching funds in husband's 401k (this absolutely KILLS me b/c stocks were so cheap during the economic meltdown that followed). Began supporting my mother in the second house (paying all bills except her groceries and gas and personal spending) while I attempted to get her a new job (she would not/could not job hunt; and the only way she'd had a job for most of the previous decade was because my previous boss had hired her for my old job).

This time, she was much older; and even though I spent hours each week for more than a year applying for jobs on her behalf and driving her to interviews, it was a recession so of course she wasn't hired.  She drew SS early to get a tiny income.
I got a second job again.  We cut our household spending to the bone for about 4 years... all I cared about was paying off all our new debt.

After about 4 years we'd paid off the car and the home equity loan. Remortgaged yet AGAIN at a lower rate and used the balance to pay off the higher rate mortgage on the second house. Paid off the  student loans.  We were still supporting my mother in the sense that we paid her bills, but at least we had cash flow and were able to fully resume saving for retirement and not pinch every damn penny.

***

And that's how the next 10 years went. Now, we are a couple years out from retirement. I anticipate retirement will precipitate another period of cash flow horror b/c 1) we absolutely don't want to stay in this city, but almost everywhere we want to go housing costs notably more. We are still supporting my mother but she is rapidly getting to an age where independent living is questionable, and only particular types of housing (wherein she lives with us on the same property) will be do-able (both for practical logistical reasons and for my sanity), which further increases house costs and decreases options available to buy.

I anticipate that I will continue to work. Husband will retire but possibly do contract work, until she dies. By that point, WE'LL be the old ones LOL.

Life is a series of challenges; It's going to be interesting for sure.

ETA: Oops, you wanted positives. All our nose to the grindstone saving and paying off debt still got us to millionaire status, despite my mother.

Omy

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2023, 01:17:42 PM »
My exH liked to spend money as fast as we made it, so it was like pulling teeth to get him to save or invest. Nothing horrible other than my first attempt at FIRE at age 35 only lasted 7 years. Once we divorced (and divided everything in half), I started a new career and was able to earn and save in earnest and eventually married DH who is similarly aligned financially.

Metalcat

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2023, 01:29:36 PM »
My exH liked to spend money as fast as we made it, so it was like pulling teeth to get him to save or invest. Nothing horrible other than my first attempt at FIRE at age 35 only lasted 7 years. Once we divorced (and divided everything in half), I started a new career and was able to earn and save in earnest and eventually married DH who is similarly aligned financially.

My ex liked to snort our money.

Omy

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2023, 02:29:24 PM »
You win lol.

Freedomin5

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2023, 03:13:24 PM »
Compared to some of you, Iíve had a fairy tale life. My hardest period was during grad school. As an international student, I didnít qualify for most of the scholarships and bursaries. I graduated without debt by:

- Finding the cheapest sources of food. I was there for all the department meetings with food and would take home any leftovers. I shopped for groceries at the ethnic market and the 99 cent store.
- No credit card. I either had the money in the bank account or I didnít buy it.
- Lived with 3 roommates in a 2-bedroom apartment in a cheap neighborhood. My portion of the rent was $325/month.
- Carpooled with friends as much as possible. They knew I was kinda poor, so they often offered to drive. We did cheap activities like hiking in the mountains or visiting the beach.
- Took on as much additional work as I could find. Had two jobs on campus and tutored on the side. I told myself, if I wanted to do something fun, I had to earn the money first. So if I wanted to go to San Diego with my friends for a weekend, and it was going to cost $X, I had to have $X in excess of the amount I needed to cover basic expenses before I could go.

What I learned is that there is almost always a cheaper way to get what you want. Look for the free/cheaper version first and try to make it work, even if it involves delayed gratification. And you can have a contented life without necessarily having the best of everything and by being okay with compromises.

Cranky

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2023, 05:05:58 PM »
Dh and I got married right out of college, and then spent 10 years in grad school postdoc life, mostly in Detroit in the early 80s which was a terrible time there economically.

I worked at the food co-op and we had laid off engineers coming in to ask about jobs because they were going to lose their house. The public library closed for 6 months because there wasnít any money. It was very, very cold.

We didnít run up any debt because we didnít have any credit. We eventually got through it. We learned a lot of valuable lessons. I wouldnít volunteer to do it again, but it was definitely a ďwhat doesnít kill you makes you stronger ď thing.

You can make it through hard times.

Metalcat

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2023, 06:25:42 PM »
You win lol.

Lol, I "win" in a biggest loser kind of way.

Omy

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2023, 07:02:51 PM »
Too funny. My financial struggle story IS rather lame compared to others.

Laura33

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2023, 02:04:19 PM »
My hardest period was hardest because it was emotionally hard, not because it was objectively terrible.

Backstory:  We moved to CO and built our forever home (to this day, I adore that home).  Decided to have kids.  Had two miscarriages; the second was the single-blackest moment of my life, and I was filled with a rage that was so white-hot I couldn't even voice it.  Lots of specialist appointments, IUI, all sorts of stuff.  My job was terrible, but company was being bought so I was hanging on for a severance payout that would equal c. 3 months salary.  Finally got pregnant with DD, had morning sickness and spotting most of the whole pregnancy, and generally spent the entire pregnancy waiting for the sword of Damocles to fall.  Around the 5-month mark, found out that my job had been "saved" so I wouldn't be getting severance.  Quit and started telecommuting back to my old firm on a very, very part-time basis.

At the 8-month mark, DH's company announced it was closing his location (this was during the first tech crash; even though he made actual useful things, their major customer took a huge hit and canceled the contract).  We had chosen this location because there were about 5 other similar companies nearby, but all of them either closed down or laid off, and the town was completely saturated with tech professionals working as pizza delivery guys.  I fantasized about meeting Dennis Kozlowski in an alley with a baseball bat.  It was the only time we'd experienced as a married couple where we couldn't have survived on one income, because I was hourly and had a baby coming imminently.

We were lucky and DH got a job in NM.  I was in major nesting mode, so we bought a new house down there even as we were putting the old one on the market, moved with a 6-week-old.  And then the real estate market crashed in CO.  We owned two houses for 13 months as we followed the market down, for the first time having to dip into savings every month; we ultimately sold for $75-100K below what it had been worth a few months before DH's shutdown.  Meanwhile, DH's new company went through 6 rounds of layoffs over the next 2.5 years, until he was laid off with the 7th round.  So we were back to my very-part-time telecommuting income with a now-toddler.  Oh, and I had another miscarriage, which was just awesome on top of everything else.

Objectively, we were far, far better off than many people.  But that vulerability and stress -- moving to a place where I knew no one and never really settled in, knowing that we actually needed DH's job while his company was going through multiple rounds of layoffs, having to dip into savings to cover both mortgages and then take a huge hit on a home I never wanted to sell anyway -- was far and away the hardest 3 years of my life. 

The silver lining was that DH had always been a toy boy; he agreed with me to save a reasonable amount but always sort of rolled his eyes at my need for security.  But that 3 years was hard on him, too, because for the first time he felt the pressure of being the primary wage-earner with ridiculous expenses.  So while he is still very, very far from Mustachian, he now preaches to all the young engineers about the importance of saving money and living on a single income -- and selling one house before buying another.  ;-)

Cassie

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2023, 08:04:26 PM »
My first marriage we were young and poor because my husband was starting out in the Air Force and I became a stay at home mom. Nobodyís fault and just the reality. Second marriage stayed 22 years and we were frugal and saved a lot. My husband had sole control of our finances so when we divorced he had most of the money hidden so basically I was starting over at 44 except for getting 70k.  Looking back I should have hired a private investigator to find the money before I divorced him but I was also afraid of him. Plus I didnít realize that he had it hidden.

Marriage number three spouse convinced me to agree to a few bad decisions that cost us 200k.  Now divorced and living on my pension and SS with a small savings and still doing some consulting. If I had never married number three my condo would have been paid for and I would have much more money in investment because I wouldnít have made the decisions that lost us money. Ugh!!

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2023, 04:47:37 AM »
I was hit by a car (hit and run driver) and suffered a head injury that caused a bunch of cognitive issues for the next couple of years.  I was looking for a job, but no one would hire me because of either how disorganized my resume was or how odd I was acting at job interviews, both a result of the cognitive issues from the head injury.  I was young and had no idea that any kind of government aid existed.  People I knew thought I was just being lazy and that's why I didn't have a job, when in reality I would have done almost anything to get money.  Since I looked fine on the outside and it had been a while since the accident, everyone thought I should be just fine and should just work harder, have more grit, magically make myself better, etc.  I made my existing savings stretch through some really extreme means.  I also went to churches and claimed to agree with their doctrines, since the people in the churches were the only people who would help me, giving me food and rides or the stuff they were decluttering from their houses.

Cassie

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2023, 04:55:16 PM »
I was hit by a car (hit and run driver) and suffered a head injury that caused a bunch of cognitive issues for the next couple of years.  I was looking for a job, but no one would hire me because of either how disorganized my resume was or how odd I was acting at job interviews, both a result of the cognitive issues from the head injury.  I was young and had no idea that any kind of government aid existed.  People I knew thought I was just being lazy and that's why I didn't have a job, when in reality I would have done almost anything to get money.  Since I looked fine on the outside and it had been a while since the accident, everyone thought I should be just fine and should just work harder, have more grit, magically make myself better, etc.  I made my existing savings stretch through some really extreme means.  I also went to churches and claimed to agree with their doctrines, since the people in the churches were the only people who would help me, giving me food and rides or the stuff they were decluttering from their houses.

Your experience is not unusual for someone with a head injury. Itís too bad your doctor didnít tell you about the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation because they could have helped you with being evaluated and obtaining appropriate employment. It sounds like you are lucky that your limitations werenít permanent.

Midwest_Handlebar

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2023, 07:25:10 PM »
Lost $60k trading options, got fired despite working my ass off during the Great Financial crisis, selling plasma to pay the bills, living off of a bag of potatoes and ramen sophomore year of college. I have plenty.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2023, 07:26:46 PM by Midwest_Handlebar »

ChpBstrd

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2023, 01:58:17 PM »
Overall I've had an easy life and always been frugal (funny how those two things go together). So my story is more cringeworthy due to the lost potential!

Early 2019: NW= $463k. I start demanding DW changes jobs because her current toxic job is destroying her.

Early 2020: NW= $1.05M. Spouse finally quits her job, which provided most of our income. When she comes home on her last day, I say "happy work break!" but clearly don't understand the trauma. I hear news reports about a novel coronavirus in China, and give that about as much weight as bird flu, swine flue, MERS, Ebola, and all the other outbreaks of the past 20 years. In my mind, she'll be back at work after a few months of rest and recovery, and we'll retire together in 2-3 years.

April 2020: NW= $813k. Was obviously wrong about that coronavirus thing! I learned from the GFC to look at what the government is doing, and if the government is doing the right thing expect the situation to resolve soon. Government was not doing the right thing. In fact the executive branch was discouraging masks, doxxing and raising internet mobs against public health officials, talking favorably about horse dewormer and other conspiracy theories, and obstructing aid or infection control rules. Additionally, we find ourselves on one income - my smaller income - and running a slight deficit! I shift to a conservative asset allocation near the bottom and watch the then-available 7.5% yields on preferred stock funds slip away a month later. Seemed reasonable at the time. In hindsight, I could have retired on those yields and been back to millionaire status a couple of months later. I'd still be retired today.

July 2020: NW= $859k. I finally get with the program and realize how big the stimulus legislation is. I'm working from home now and start to think this is both how the pandemic ends and the future of desk work. I receive stimmie checks and an EBT card, and start to think about the implications. I start re-entering the stock market, eager to make up for lost time and opportunities, but still very nervous about some truly catastrophic economic metrics, new variants, and waves of infections that seem to move opposite the stock market.

January 2021: NW= $983k. With the Trump risk mostly gone and another round of stimulus legislation promised, I take on additional stock risk. Massive home repair expenses are incurred, leading us to spend about $50k more than I brought home. Wife is still unemployed, not interested in work, and helping the kid with virtual learning. With the pandemic still raging, and tales of people getting debilitating symptoms post-recovery, our situation seems golden. We have no exposure surfaces except for my clueless parents who sometimes barge into the house.

August 2021: NW= $1.24M. By now, I'm within spitting distance of my $1.5M FIRE number but storm clouds are on the horizon. At this point I think the inflation is transitory, but DW is still not working, we're still generating five-figure deficits, and DW is experiencing chronic pelvic pain that isn't helped by the four-figure meds the doc puts her on. I think the next few months are a shoe-in bull market, at least until stimulus stops, and then the picture gets cloudy. I decide to invest growing sums in TQQQ, a 3x Nasdaq ETF, with covered calls to reduce the risk from small fluctuations. I want to retire in early 2022, and this is the path.

December 2021: NW= $1.39M. My accounts are gaining or losing $50k every day, and I'm selling covered calls in the $10k range every couple of days. I grit my teeth along the ride, with the attitude that I need to get myself to $1.5M quickly or else I might never retire. Our savings rate is negative, so only market action can get us across the line. Spouse gets a one day a week retail job earning very little but it's a start. The Fed says they're going to start raising rates and tapering down QE, with a rate hike coming as soon as March. The market doesn't seem to care, so I stay the bullish course. Just two more up days and I'll hit $1.5M and switch to a hedged position.

January 2022: NW=$1.12M. Oof. From a peak NW of 1.4M I lose $200k in the first couple weeks of January.

February 2022: NW= $1M. Another house-sized sum of money disappears. By March, I've ditched the 3x funds and gone a bit more conservative. The US government says Russia is about to invade Ukraine, so I enter a small bear spread on a Russia ETF. By April the ETF will be closed and I made 50% on that trade.

November 2022: NW= $878k. Despite some games with options, my portfolio is in conservative mode and earning nothing. Meanwhile we're still running huge deficits and it looks like DW needs surgery. Retirement seems further away than ever, and the environment seems quite unfavorable. I listen to St. Louis Fed president James Bullard, who applies the Taylor Rule to predict a terminal Federal Funds Rate of 5-7%, which seems to contrast with market expectations and require much lower stock valuations. I read an article about a new thing called Chat GPT that can write essays and fool humans. Two months later we pay cash for spouse's surgery. It's out-of-network because we wanted an out-of-state specialist. I look into the payouts from selling plasma.

October 2023: NW= $1.03M. I mostly miss the "magnificent 7" stock boom, but I also avoid investing in value or small cap stocks, which was my inclination in December, so we'll call it a wash. Basic block and tackling moves steadily rebuild the stache, except this time in CDs, treasuries, agencies, a few corporate bonds, and SGOV. Plus I inherit $32k. I keep my durations short to avoid the risks of additional rate hikes and await (1) another April 2020 moment when PFF or PGF yields 7.5%, or (2) another 20% correction that brings stocks into valuation territories that have historically sustained a 5% WR, or (3) an opportunity to build a long-duration, minimal-call-risk, high credit quality bond portfolio yielding 7-8%, which would have historically sustained a 5% WR, or (4) a Fed policy reversal, which would be the signal to get back into stocks. The spouse is bringing in only $6k per year and we measure our annual deficit at $20-30k, depending on home repair expenses, and with nothing set aside to eventually replace our 11 and 12 year old cars. Then we realize our house needs a new roof. Inflation is expanding our spending, and it's questionable whether $1.5M is a feasible FIRE number anymore. We'll have to cross that bridge when we get there. DW's disability seems unlikely to ever improve, so I will look into what credentials I can earn to win more-workaholic jobs and start breaking even for a change.

We've been wealthy during this whole 3-year saga so shed me no crocodile tears, but I think the story stands out for being incredibly frustrating. Soooooo close! At least 4 opportunities to retire passed us by, and now we're at least half-a-million away from FIRE, at the time we figured we would be retiring, and still with a negative savings rate! We're essentially back where we started in early 2020, but in an environment with lots of three-figure stock PEs, an apparent housing bubble, a possible banking crisis on the horizon, and a deeply inverted yield curve.

On the bright side, we survived a triple-whammy: the pandemic market event, the inflation/rates market event, and a disabling medical condition knocking out the primary earner. This would seem like a scenario you could dismiss if a FIRE critic said "yea but...what if these 3 things happened at the same time?".

Over the past 3.5 years we've withdrawn over $200k from retirement savings to cover major house repairs and a major health event. Those assets were built up from years of 30-40% savings rates. I cannot imagine where we'd be if we started this saga with a too-big house payment, a couple of SUV payments, credit card debt, student loan debt, or other expensive tastes. Another way to frame it: My spouse got to coast-FIRE when a disabling health condition arose, instead of triggering a major downward spiral in our household's finances. What a difference a few hundred thousand make.

K_in_the_kitchen

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2023, 04:50:55 PM »
When I was 27 we had $24K in credit card debt, $10K in student loans, a car loan (originally $9K), plus a mortgage and a second mortgage (about 95K together).  It was a hard time, made harder by the knowledge that weíd mostly done it to ourselves.  I was stressing out trying to make minimum payments on a dozen credit cards, and I was worried that weíd made a terrible mistake buying our condo.

One rough thing about growing up poor is that we didnít have money management skills.  We didnít understand interest, or that minimum payments would keep us in debt (before reform changed that).  We didnít question when the loan rep for our mortgage told us we should immediately get a second mortgage to fix things up.  We figured as long as we could make the payments, everything was good.

One great thing about growing up poor is that once I recognized the situation we were in, I had a wealth of frugal skills to put into place.

I started 1997 anxious and depressed (clinically), and I entered 1998 with the finish line in sight.  By the time I was 30 the student loans and credit card debt were gone (helped in part by cashing in my 401k and my company stock), and by age 31 the second mortgage was paid off.  All this even though I stopped working at 28, reducing our income by $35K per year.  I was absolutely driven to get out of the mess.  I started with the highest interest debt and then snowballed it to the next highest, etc.  We learned how to live within our means, and then below our means.

Yes, we were helped by DHís good income, but we also did much to change our lives.  I took some of what Iíd learned growing up, and I added to it.  I read The Complete Tightwad Gazette cover to cover multiple times, and read other books about frugality as well.  I learned to cook from scratch and to cook in bulk and freeze the extra.  We stopped eating out and started shopping used when needed.  Sitting in my living room and looking at the dining room, the only furniture I can see that was purchased new is one chair and one sofa ó everything else was bought used.  To this day we donít have cable TV, have $25 cell phone plans.  We rarely take ďvacationsĒ although we do travel a bit for bike racing.

Weíve still made mistakes through the years, but we always have the skills to pull back and reset things.  Net worth is around $3 million, whereas 27 years ago it was negative (we had DHís 401k but it wasnít worth as much as we owed in debt).  We now live in a HCOL area in a nice house with no mortgage, own three vehicles and a camper van with no vehicle debt, and have zero credit card debt.  I was able to remain out of the workforce while raising kids, and then we decided that since we were FI, I wouldnít go back to work at all.  Weíve cash flowed four year degrees for our kids (community college for both, state university for one, private university with academic and sports scholarships for the other, zero need based financial aid).  If someone had told me in late 1996 that weíd be in this place, I would have laughed.

LightStache

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2023, 05:18:19 PM »
I graduated in 2007 and got the dream job I had been actively pursuing for ten years. I quickly came to hate it, but couldn't quit because my career was being decimated in the 2008 GFC.

So I tried to buy my happiness with a boat (two technically), truck and motorcycle, mostly on very underwater loans. After that didn't work I ended up quitting anyway. I had about $85K in debt and $5K in the bank. It was 2010 and I was 25 years old.

Luckily I got a decent job and started the long slog of recovery. That would eventually involve more debt for a condo and then grad school -- my NW bottomed out in 2011 at -$84K -- but I was making a good salary. I finally finished digging out when I was 35.

Chris Pascale

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2023, 08:48:35 PM »
We've never missed a meal and always paid our bills, so, to me, we were always ok, but I think these highlights qualify:

Late 2005: Had like $1.00 in the bank and recently dug sticky pennies from my ashtray to pay for gas. While washing them in the station's bathroom sink, I was thrilled to find a dime and 2 nickels. Then I got to play a really fun game called do I have enough gas to get home?, which was complemented by another game the next day called do I have enough gas to get to work?

Years later, I recalled that I had a credit card with several thousand dollars available, and this was before I'd ever heard of Dave Ramsey, so am not sure why I didn't just fill up my car, but also recall money being a real issue around that time (price of gas went up and we had a new baby). Also, I wasn't in a great place mentally, so wasn't thinking clearly.

Spring and Summer 2013: Part of the grocery budget was based on figuring out when recycling bins were going to the curb in nearby neighborhoods, and learning which houses put out full bags of cans and bottles for me to get at 2:00AM.

Regarding this, I also think of how fortunate I am to live in an area that takes a deposit on cans and bottles, and makes redeeming them so easy. Most places do not.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2023, 12:43:40 PM by Chris Pascale »

TreeLeaf

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2023, 09:16:51 PM »
Most of the worst financial times in my life didn't come from my decisions.

They came from my father's stupid choices. *I* was just the one who had to literally pay for them. So this set me up on a path where I *had* to be responsible financially as a 16 year old which was really the start of my path to financial independence. Money became security at a young age, not something to buy things with.

There was one time I was flat broke - when I was 19 and had just spent my last $1,000 dollars on an engagement ring, I was working for a small company with a toxic owner.

After I called him out for some outright illegal business practices, he told me literally "you mean nothing to me and the *only* reason people like you are allowed to exist is to serve me and make me rich".

Noooope. Walked the fuck out of that place on the spot.

I was flat broke though, had no credit cards back then, and realized I didn't have enough money to put gas in the car to go try and find another job.

Fortunately my brother (thank God) bailed me out, and the manager at my previous company I had worked at before hired me back the next week.

I have never been financially broke since then.

So - morale of the story - don't spend all your money then immediately walk out of your job.

On the flip side - I have felt comfortable walking out of any job since then. I never have though, because in 21 years of working I have never encountered management that toxic again. That place wound up shutting down a few years later.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2023, 01:05:48 AM »
We grew up poor.

I worked full time from the month before turning 13 years old.

Delaying gratification was necessary to get ahead.

Despite best efforts, I got sucked into a lot of bad "investments" and had very little to show for nearly a decade of hard work by 2010, including dumping money into schooling but never earning a degree.

Rebuilt from scratch and FIRE'd in May of 2023 @ age 36.

I'm sure there will be potholes on the road ahead.....

PS: you realize this is an anonymous forum and doing a case study can be truly life changing?

TreeLeaf

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2023, 04:42:22 AM »
We grew up poor.

I worked full time from the month before turning 13 years old.

Delaying gratification was necessary to get ahead.

Despite best efforts, I got sucked into a lot of bad "investments" and had very little to show for nearly a decade of hard work by 2010, including dumping money into schooling but never earning a degree.

Rebuilt from scratch and FIRE'd in May of 2023 @ age 36.

I'm sure there will be potholes on the road ahead.....

PS: you realize this is an anonymous forum and doing a case study can be truly life changing?

+1

Just want to second this suggestion.

This forum is completely anonymous and full of a lot of very intelligent, compassionate people. A lot of us have made significant mistakes along the way in our life, both financial and otherwise.

Most of the people face punching each other and judging people for their choices in life are mostly gone. Instead now we have people who will call other people out for posting things that sound judgmental, or that sound like someone is mansplainin something, etc. So it tends to be a respectful place. It's been a long time since someone has called me an ass hole for buying an led light bulb that turns off during the day to save money.

Posting a case study can be immensely useful and provide very valuable feedback.

And - again - it's completely anonymous. No one will be calling you or talking to you or showing up at your door if you spent all your money on hookers and boos in Vegas.

Worst case scenario you can block people (and I have blocked a couple people on the forum) so you don't have to read their posts. The block feature works really well.

Chubbs55

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2023, 05:18:12 PM »
Truly amazing stories. Appreciate the shares.

I have fairly thick skin so Iím not worried about being told Iím an idiot or the cold hard truth about my finances. Probably a mixture of piss poor financial choices, bad luck and spending beyond my means. So hereís the dilemma in a nut shell.

Pay: $60,000+ot+commission. Started new job in January so Iím not sure how much OT or commission Iíll make. Depends on if my accounts are under contract or just pay for services as needed.

26 more years on a &240,000 mortgage, at 3%, $1140/month.
$14,300 in credit card debt
$25,000 in personal loans
$12,800 on an auto loan that Iím already under water on
$900 owed for state taxes. My wife use to do a small business out of our house, not a ton of money, more of a hobby but it did give us a boost with taxes and what I used for property taxes and homeowners insurance. This year without her doing the business, I ended up owing and had to take out a loan for the taxes and insurance.

I also pay for internet which is $55, utilities which is roughly $150 and miscellaneous spending about $100/month.

Unfortunately, adding up all these expenses leaves me with less than 50 a month. No emergency funds, currently current on all my bills but so stretched and not enough extra to get ahead on anything, Iím maxed. My wife only works part time due to health issues, has no savings or 401k but does pay for groceries and the only tv service we use, YouTube TV.

My savings are:

$180,000 IRA from previous employer
$68,000 IRA from another previous employer (part time job I worked for 17 years).
$23,500 in a Roth I put $110/month into.

Other bonuses:  I get to use my company provided vehicle for personal use. I pay $60 every two weeks which is my contribution to gas, insurance, routine and major repairs. Company pays everything else.  I also have no phone bill as Iím able to use the company cell for personal use as well.

I donít think of myself as an extravagant spender or need the best in life. Every three years Iíll take my wife on some trip, like to spoil her with her love of a certain musical group she loves and spoil our dog with new toys and treats.  He was abused early on in life and was scheduled to be put down due to aggression issues. He also had POS owners that shocked the shit out of him for no reason. Iím usually very tight with money. Bad times combined with bad luck.

Bankruptcy is not an option. I for the most part am responsible and Iím old fashioned with most shit. Thought about one of these debt resolution places but most all get shitty reviews and seem to charge high fees. Iíve worked part time jobs in addition to full time for 24 years. Late 40ís and while Iím always one that needs to stay busy and active, I also realize I need to slow down and take better care of myself.  Rates the way they are itís not the time to refinance and I donít think adding the debt to a mortgage is really right or financially sound but donít know.

Iíll try to add more later. Good step here and my dog is informing me itís time for his attention.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2023, 09:27:28 PM »
Sounds like you made a great decision on a mortgage, and maybe the home too! Your $13,680 annual house payment is only 22.8% of your base pay and that's considered pretty good. 30% is considered the traditional limit to affordability, so you're well below that. Consider this home an integral part of your plan to get in financial shape, and then rich. You are also correct that now is not a good time to get a HELOC. I asked just for fun and was quoted 9%.

Here are 15 suggestions:

1) Unless you are already paying 0% interest on your credit card debt, look into getting a balance transfer card. This could buy you 18-21 months of 0% interest, which should be enough time for you to extinguish all or most of the $14,300 in CC debt. You may have to pay a balance transfer fee, but that's fine, because this debt could snowball on you at 25% or whatever horrible rate they charge now. If your credit score is <670, either follow step #6 first or see if you can pick up a couple of other crappy cards and then don't use them. This will increase your credit availability and/or utilization. In terms of picking a path between those two options, take a look at your credit report (probably provided for free by your credit card) and try to understand if your score is being hurt mostly by utilizing the majority of your credit lines or by the age of your accounts. A couple of months after taking steps to boost credit, your application might go through! If you are rejected, try another card. Keep trying and searching until you get through. This step is key to avoid thousands of dollars in interest charges.

2) Set up a separate bank or brokerage account just for debt payoff and direct deposit $1k/month into it. Connect this account to your new credit card with the 0% rate. Set up your CC to autodraft the minimum payment from this account. Why just the minimum if you're putting in $1k or more per month, you ask? Because (a) you're paying no interest, so you get to enjoy the benefit of liquidity for 18-21 months without cost, and (b) because you can hopefully earn interest on some of the money in the meantime, while paying no interest on the debt. This is how you get some of your balance transfer fee back! The purpose of the separate account is to prevent you from spending the money in your main checking account. Just accept this is the best way to do this.

3) Put together a budget with your remaining take home base salary after the $1k/mo goes to your debt payoff account. Set up all your accounts to connect with Mint.com or PersonalCapital.com so you can obtain real-time awareness of your spending trends. It takes a while to set everything up, but then you have dashboards showing spending by category, and the ability to review transactions line-by-line. Discuss ALL this with the spouse and set up a monthly budget meeting to monitor how you're doing as a household. You MUST find a way to break even or get in the green each month AFTER the $1k direct deposit to your debt payoff account. Side benefit: You'll have the data needed for a true case study on the MMM forum. This may seem like the boring part but it's absolutely crucial you figure out where the money went, where the money is going, and where it can't go any more.

4) Stop all Roth or 401k contributions, except to get the 401k match. You have immediate and certain compounding returns to earn by paying off debt. Make sure you get the entire 401k match though, because that's a 100% immediate return which beats all other interest rates!

5) Set another savings goal of having 6 months of expenses in cash, if you don't have this already. These savings come out of the budget and should be considered non-negotiable unless all hell breaks loose. You can save this amount in your regular checking account UNLESS you think you'll be tempted to spend it. If you save in a different account, watch your regular checking account like a hawk to make sure it isn't depleted by an autodraft, because this could harm your credit. Debt elimination becomes harder if your credit score gets low.

6) You don't mention the interest rate on the personal or auto loans, but I'll assume it's over 5% (if <5%, ignore this line and make minimum payments). Cash out your Roth IRA and pay off as much of these debts as possible. You might choose to do this as step 1 if you need a credit boost to get the 0% transfer cards. This step will reduce your personal loan + auto debt down to about $14,300. Again, the rationale is your Roth probably won't out-earn your debts' interest rates with certainty and reliability over the long term. After this step, you are only paying interest on $14,300 instead of $52,100, and the interest rate is the lowest of the 3 debts.

7) You say you took out a loan to help pay the $900 in taxes, so I'll assume this is included in the personal loan or CC debt. If not, see if you can put it on your OLD credit card BEFORE you transfer the balance to the 0% card. Maybe use one of the cash advance checks they provide if your municipality doesn't accept CCs.

8) Are you keeping your IRAs from your previous employers with the original 401k providers? If so, consider that Schwab is willing to pay you $300 to move your $248k in IRAs to their platform. That's free money for something you need to do anyway, all for the trouble of filling in some online forms. Be very careful to do the transfer correctly so you don't accidentally create a massive tax liability, and don't be afraid to use their customer service to walk through every step and make sure you did it right. Schwab's process involves requesting a referral code from a friend, and I'm sure there are lots of people on this board willing to provide such a code if you ask. I'd put one right here, but my TDA account doesn't transfer to Schwab for another 30 days. This step does nothing for your immediate liquidity, but it does increase your retirement wealth a little. More importantly, with a brokerage IRA account you can get lower expense ratios on all your favorite ETFs like VTI, SPTM, etc.

9) While you're setting up your IRA, consider also setting up a taxable account you can use as the account for step #2 or the emergency fund in step #5. Just make sure you can autodraft from it first. I'm earning about 5.4% owning risk-free ETFs like SGOV and BIL. Imagine building up a $14k pile and earning $63 a month in risk-free interest, until your 0% period is about to end. Then you hit sell and send it all to pay off the credit card debt before ever paying them a dime in interest. This is the way!

10) DO NOT communicate with any "debt resolution place". These people are scam artists operating in plain sight. Every. Last. One. Of. Them.

11) Do hardcore preventative maintenance. Check the oil and other fluids in your car every couple of months. Set a reminder. Do it on the company car too, because that's too sweet a deal to imperil. The last thing you need right now is a blown engine, and lots of even late model cars these days burn a quart or two of oil between changes. Then they show up on mechanics' YouTube channels with symptoms of oil starvation! Check the air in your tires every 2 months to avoid premature wear and bad fuel economy. Also change the filter on your HVAC at least every 6 months to preserve its life. If your house has a crawl space or attic, inspect these spaces at least every few months to identify leaks, bugs, or other issues before they get bad. Connect a garden hose to your water heater and give it a flushing. Also consider replacing the $50 anode in your water heater, which could double the lifespan of this $600 appliance. Finally, if your water heater is indoors or in an attic without a drain pan underneath it, make that DIY project a priority before it causes major destruction.

12) All the above optimization only sets you up to make the most of your earnings. You still need to kick ass in this new job. Figure out how to earn those commissions and pound in that OT. Watch Will Smith in "The Pursuit of Happyness" for inspiration. Read product documentation, company policies, and software help articles in your spare time to become an absolute boss at what you do. Do this well and you could potentially be debt-free in maybe a year and a half. How would that feel? It's time to get fired up about getting out of debt.

13) There is one more maneuver that may or may not be possible: You could roll $28,600 from one of your old employers' IRAs into your new employer's 401k plan. Then, you take out a 401k loan for half that amount - $14,300 - and pay off your remaining personal loan or auto loan. Then you start paying interest to YOURSELF instead of someone else, minus loan administration fees. You'd only be able to pull this off if: (1) your new employer has a 401k that allows rollovers, loans, and loans on rolled over amounts for people who just started, (2) the loan fees will be much less expensive than the interest you're paying on the personal/auto loan, and (3) your employment doesn't suddenly end. The risk is that if your employment suddenly ends, you are required to promptly pay off the loan or else owe taxes on the loan amount PLUS a 10% penalty! Of course, if layoffs happened that would be the time when you have no income to pay off the loan AND can't get a secondary loan either! So maybe only consider this option if the terms of your debts are particularly odious AND you're feeling very confident about your job. Talk to your benefits person and read your company's handbook for more details on this somewhat risky maneuver. Don't make a move until you're an expert on the rules and you have a plan to pay off the thing in the event your employment ends.

14) You probably have insurance, so visit a primary care physician if you haven't done so in a while. This is preventative maintenance too, and it can detect issues you can correct before they become irreversible damage to your body, a financial quagmire, and possibly an end to your career. Also take that dog on a walk every day. It's good for you both. Neglect of health leads to the failure of all goals.

15) Avoid bad decisions. Yes, that's obvious, but think in advance about what kinds of specific bad decisions are out there like landmines waiting to blow up your life and negate years of hard work: Drinking and driving. Cheating on your spouse. Being culpable for sexual harassment or other rules violations at work. Getting in a nasty fight with a coworker instead of letting it go. Smoking or failing to quit tomorrow. Speeding or using a cell phone while driving. Getting ripped off by a debt repayment "service" or other scam. Gambling as a way to deal with financial anxiety. Buying something else on credit. Not getting a doctor's checkup for 2-3 years or more. Joining a multilevel marketing group or Ponzi scheme. Trying anything advertised as or known to be "addictive". Cheating on your taxes. Getting into an expensive hobby like golf or boating. Starting on a path that could lead to dependency on painkillers. Going uninsured. Missing a payment. Eating unhealthy food or *ever* drinking colas. Blaming others anywhere personal accountability remotely makes sense. Not getting mental health treatment when it is needed. Wearing worn-out shoes that cause pain. Etc. Thinking about what you won't do ahead of time can head off bad decisions when they're tempting.

LaineyAZ

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2023, 08:34:40 AM »
ChpBastard,
that advice is excellent all the way around.  A lot of it is usable for most of us here on the forum.  Thank you for taking the time to post it.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2023, 09:19:24 AM »
I don't know if this qualifies as worst financial times, but I'm certainly bummed.  Because of the recent spike in car insurance rates, I've been doing my best to defray increases by increasing deductibles and dropping certain coverages.  We've been incredibly fortunate to have only had minor incidents for years now, so I was feeling pretty smart.  Then, just this Thursday, we get a call from DD that she rear ended someone.  Pretty much her fault and her car is undrivable.  It is also the oldest, cheapest car, so I recently dropped collision insurance on that one (it used to be $3000 deductible).  Thank God I still have reasonable coverage for damages to the other car and medical liability, because that was covered, but I am now paying a $6,700 towing and car repair bill out of pocket.  The other option would have been to see what I could get for the car for salvage, but then we'd still have to buy a car...  Maybe a minor savings (and a crappier car) when all is said and done?  Anyway, now I'm looking to increase coverage but now coverage is even more expensive.

When you said worst financial times, I was just thinking in general how bad this insurance game has become.  Home and Car Insurance costs more so more people go underinsured or uninsured, and now more people are one bad event away from a major financial hit.  Fortunately ours wasn't catastrophic and we have the money to get past it, but a really bad accident that totaled another car or sent someone to a hospital could've been a different story.

wenchsenior

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2023, 10:52:44 AM »
Sounds like you made a great decision on a mortgage, and maybe the home too! Your $13,680 annual house payment is only 22.8% of your base pay and that's considered pretty good. 30% is considered the traditional limit to affordability, so you're well below that. Consider this home an integral part of your plan to get in financial shape, and then rich. You are also correct that now is not a good time to get a HELOC. I asked just for fun and was quoted 9%.

Here are 15 suggestions:

1) Unless you are already paying 0% interest on your credit card debt, look into getting a balance transfer card. This could buy you 18-21 months of 0% interest, which should be enough time for you to extinguish all or most of the $14,300 in CC debt. You may have to pay a balance transfer fee, but that's fine, because this debt could snowball on you at 25% or whatever horrible rate they charge now. If your credit score is <670, either follow step #6 first or see if you can pick up a couple of other crappy cards and then don't use them. This will increase your credit availability and/or utilization. In terms of picking a path between those two options, take a look at your credit report (probably provided for free by your credit card) and try to understand if your score is being hurt mostly by utilizing the majority of your credit lines or by the age of your accounts. A couple of months after taking steps to boost credit, your application might go through! If you are rejected, try another card. Keep trying and searching until you get through. This step is key to avoid thousands of dollars in interest charges.

2) Set up a separate bank or brokerage account just for debt payoff and direct deposit $1k/month into it. Connect this account to your new credit card with the 0% rate. Set up your CC to autodraft the minimum payment from this account. Why just the minimum if you're putting in $1k or more per month, you ask? Because (a) you're paying no interest, so you get to enjoy the benefit of liquidity for 18-21 months without cost, and (b) because you can hopefully earn interest on some of the money in the meantime, while paying no interest on the debt. This is how you get some of your balance transfer fee back! The purpose of the separate account is to prevent you from spending the money in your main checking account. Just accept this is the best way to do this.

3) Put together a budget with your remaining take home base salary after the $1k/mo goes to your debt payoff account. Set up all your accounts to connect with Mint.com or PersonalCapital.com so you can obtain real-time awareness of your spending trends. It takes a while to set everything up, but then you have dashboards showing spending by category, and the ability to review transactions line-by-line. Discuss ALL this with the spouse and set up a monthly budget meeting to monitor how you're doing as a household. You MUST find a way to break even or get in the green each month AFTER the $1k direct deposit to your debt payoff account. Side benefit: You'll have the data needed for a true case study on the MMM forum. This may seem like the boring part but it's absolutely crucial you figure out where the money went, where the money is going, and where it can't go any more.

4) Stop all Roth or 401k contributions, except to get the 401k match. You have immediate and certain compounding returns to earn by paying off debt. Make sure you get the entire 401k match though, because that's a 100% immediate return which beats all other interest rates!

5) Set another savings goal of having 6 months of expenses in cash, if you don't have this already. These savings come out of the budget and should be considered non-negotiable unless all hell breaks loose. You can save this amount in your regular checking account UNLESS you think you'll be tempted to spend it. If you save in a different account, watch your regular checking account like a hawk to make sure it isn't depleted by an autodraft, because this could harm your credit. Debt elimination becomes harder if your credit score gets low.

6) You don't mention the interest rate on the personal or auto loans, but I'll assume it's over 5% (if <5%, ignore this line and make minimum payments). Cash out your Roth IRA and pay off as much of these debts as possible. You might choose to do this as step 1 if you need a credit boost to get the 0% transfer cards. This step will reduce your personal loan + auto debt down to about $14,300. Again, the rationale is your Roth probably won't out-earn your debts' interest rates with certainty and reliability over the long term. After this step, you are only paying interest on $14,300 instead of $52,100, and the interest rate is the lowest of the 3 debts.

7) You say you took out a loan to help pay the $900 in taxes, so I'll assume this is included in the personal loan or CC debt. If not, see if you can put it on your OLD credit card BEFORE you transfer the balance to the 0% card. Maybe use one of the cash advance checks they provide if your municipality doesn't accept CCs.

8) Are you keeping your IRAs from your previous employers with the original 401k providers? If so, consider that Schwab is willing to pay you $300 to move your $248k in IRAs to their platform. That's free money for something you need to do anyway, all for the trouble of filling in some online forms. Be very careful to do the transfer correctly so you don't accidentally create a massive tax liability, and don't be afraid to use their customer service to walk through every step and make sure you did it right. Schwab's process involves requesting a referral code from a friend, and I'm sure there are lots of people on this board willing to provide such a code if you ask. I'd put one right here, but my TDA account doesn't transfer to Schwab for another 30 days. This step does nothing for your immediate liquidity, but it does increase your retirement wealth a little. More importantly, with a brokerage IRA account you can get lower expense ratios on all your favorite ETFs like VTI, SPTM, etc.

9) While you're setting up your IRA, consider also setting up a taxable account you can use as the account for step #2 or the emergency fund in step #5. Just make sure you can autodraft from it first. I'm earning about 5.4% owning risk-free ETFs like SGOV and BIL. Imagine building up a $14k pile and earning $63 a month in risk-free interest, until your 0% period is about to end. Then you hit sell and send it all to pay off the credit card debt before ever paying them a dime in interest. This is the way!

10) DO NOT communicate with any "debt resolution place". These people are scam artists operating in plain sight. Every. Last. One. Of. Them.

11) Do hardcore preventative maintenance. Check the oil and other fluids in your car every couple of months. Set a reminder. Do it on the company car too, because that's too sweet a deal to imperil. The last thing you need right now is a blown engine, and lots of even late model cars these days burn a quart or two of oil between changes. Then they show up on mechanics' YouTube channels with symptoms of oil starvation! Check the air in your tires every 2 months to avoid premature wear and bad fuel economy. Also change the filter on your HVAC at least every 6 months to preserve its life. If your house has a crawl space or attic, inspect these spaces at least every few months to identify leaks, bugs, or other issues before they get bad. Connect a garden hose to your water heater and give it a flushing. Also consider replacing the $50 anode in your water heater, which could double the lifespan of this $600 appliance. Finally, if your water heater is indoors or in an attic without a drain pan underneath it, make that DIY project a priority before it causes major destruction.

12) All the above optimization only sets you up to make the most of your earnings. You still need to kick ass in this new job. Figure out how to earn those commissions and pound in that OT. Watch Will Smith in "The Pursuit of Happyness" for inspiration. Read product documentation, company policies, and software help articles in your spare time to become an absolute boss at what you do. Do this well and you could potentially be debt-free in maybe a year and a half. How would that feel? It's time to get fired up about getting out of debt.

13) There is one more maneuver that may or may not be possible: You could roll $28,600 from one of your old employers' IRAs into your new employer's 401k plan. Then, you take out a 401k loan for half that amount - $14,300 - and pay off your remaining personal loan or auto loan. Then you start paying interest to YOURSELF instead of someone else, minus loan administration fees. You'd only be able to pull this off if: (1) your new employer has a 401k that allows rollovers, loans, and loans on rolled over amounts for people who just started, (2) the loan fees will be much less expensive than the interest you're paying on the personal/auto loan, and (3) your employment doesn't suddenly end. The risk is that if your employment suddenly ends, you are required to promptly pay off the loan or else owe taxes on the loan amount PLUS a 10% penalty! Of course, if layoffs happened that would be the time when you have no income to pay off the loan AND can't get a secondary loan either! So maybe only consider this option if the terms of your debts are particularly odious AND you're feeling very confident about your job. Talk to your benefits person and read your company's handbook for more details on this somewhat risky maneuver. Don't make a move until you're an expert on the rules and you have a plan to pay off the thing in the event your employment ends.

14) You probably have insurance, so visit a primary care physician if you haven't done so in a while. This is preventative maintenance too, and it can detect issues you can correct before they become irreversible damage to your body, a financial quagmire, and possibly an end to your career. Also take that dog on a walk every day. It's good for you both. Neglect of health leads to the failure of all goals.

15) Avoid bad decisions. Yes, that's obvious, but think in advance about what kinds of specific bad decisions are out there like landmines waiting to blow up your life and negate years of hard work: Drinking and driving. Cheating on your spouse. Being culpable for sexual harassment or other rules violations at work. Getting in a nasty fight with a coworker instead of letting it go. Smoking or failing to quit tomorrow. Speeding or using a cell phone while driving. Getting ripped off by a debt repayment "service" or other scam. Gambling as a way to deal with financial anxiety. Buying something else on credit. Not getting a doctor's checkup for 2-3 years or more. Joining a multilevel marketing group or Ponzi scheme. Trying anything advertised as or known to be "addictive". Cheating on your taxes. Getting into an expensive hobby like golf or boating. Starting on a path that could lead to dependency on painkillers. Going uninsured. Missing a payment. Eating unhealthy food or *ever* drinking colas. Blaming others anywhere personal accountability remotely makes sense. Not getting mental health treatment when it is needed. Wearing worn-out shoes that cause pain. Etc. Thinking about what you won't do ahead of time can head off bad decisions when they're tempting.

FANTASTIC POST.

Chubbs55

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #27 on: October 08, 2023, 03:08:55 PM »
No idea how much I appreciate the time for your extremely sound and well written response, and everyone who has contributed or even just taken the time to read.

I have no idea how I found this site years ago but Iím glad I did. Just wish I wouldíve taken advantage of it more when I first joined instead of just being a lurker. Iíd have it so much easier right now.  Try to respond to some of your advice.

Iím fucked and maxed out on every credit card, used them just to get to this point so qualifying for any sort of balance transfer or any card right now is not an option unless I wanna get some card with a $750 credit limit and a $99 yearly fee. Honesty, even if I could, and I know the logic is sound, I donít want extra credit.  Iíve been careless with my finances to this point and Iím not there. Not like I donít think Iíd be disciplined enough but when youíre in my position it seems like everything has a way of going to shit. 

I just signed up through Ally a few weeks ago for a checking account. They had a $250 sign up bonus and I have a car loan thru them so it made sense. I will look at increasing my payroll deduction to that account to cover most of my bills, except mortgage.  I also have a Cap One checking along with a local CU.  The CU Iím racking up a lot of OD fees.  Being this broke and not having any cushion Iím screwed with payment dates and getting my check and I get dinged with the OD fee whether they cover the overage or not.  Most creditors allow you to change the pay due date so Iíll look into that.

I signed up for personal capital years ago but got sick of the emails and calls even tho I asked not to be contacted and had that checked in my profile. I was literally getting 4-5 calls a month. Iíll look into mint as YES, I do need to figure out where my money goes.  I can be honest and say I donít splurge on myself but I know I piss away a ton on my pets, especially our dog. Heís basically a rescue cause he had some POS owners previously who thought kicking the shit out of a dog or shocking the crap out of him 20 times a day was an acceptable form of discipline for a dog just being a dog.

I put in considerable more with my previous jobs cause I got a late start in life with savings.  Down to one job Iím putting in the 6.5% which maximizes the 3.5% my employer matches to.  I hate having to stop the $100/month contribution to the Roth but your absolutely right that the money is way better spent towards bills..

The savings goal right now would be hard.  In the amounts I gave, it doesnít include property taxes or homeowners insurance ($6,300/year).  Vet bills (just had one for $1,100 three weeks ago).  I have no prob doing without a lot of things but Iím not fucking over my animals and denying them the help they need.  I can hammer thru many of your suggestions, the savings would be a baby step. I hope Iím wrong and just not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I will work on it best I can, this is just so much to deal with.

Iíve never been overly smart with this stuff.  Iíve read responses here and other sites stating how people should be more involved with their own money more than anyone. I get that, but Iím just old fashioned with some stuff and at the same time have a lot of respect and admiration for some of the changes the younger generations are doing to try to improve things for the future.  I would say Iím like most peopleÖ. Go to a job, do your best, come home, play with the dog and veg in front of the tv before bed.  I really donít do that cause Iím not into tv, I donít enjoy sitting around as I like to do upkeep and improvements on my house even if it takes time and a ton of mistakes, the fact I can do things for myself be it house or cars means something to me.  Weekends my wife and I enjoy exploring different parks with my dog, pack a lunch and relax in nature.  I do think it takes a lot of time to be smart enough to really understand how best to manage my money. Iím old fashioned in the way I like to think I can trust an advisor to manage my money, take a reasonable fee and do their best to make sure Iím set for retirement.  The same Iíd expect from a doctor with my health, going out to eat from those running a restaurant or those working there, an event weíd go to, whatever. The problem is none of it seems real anymore. I work in healthcare and most places post all over that they want the healthiest people in their communities. How can that be?  Hospitals rely on people getting sick, breaking bones, leading unhealthy lives so they can be treated.  Going out to eat was a treat or special occasion thing.  Now restaurants rely on people going there constantly to keep their business thriving.  Part of the reason I donít watch tv is itís turned into a 24/7 sales speech. I think itís great wages have gone up and I do support higher wages and better benefits. Iím certainly not trying to go political one way or the other as I think people have gone kinda nuts with their beliefs (no offense to anyone), but can any or you mustachians honestly say if everyone spent within their means, just what they could afford to pay with cash, or to take advantage of deals on ccís, get houses that you can put large amounts of money down on (20%seems to be the norm), that we would still have the great economy we have?  People are always spending way beyond their means, charging, taking out loans, financing the hell out of their futures, which in turn boosts the Econ and has created the wealth many, and assuming a good chunk of people here, achieve FI.  Iíve been in healthcare for 20 years, Iíve seen hospitals do a couple dozen general cases a week, maybe some specialty and one or two ortho cases a week.  Today some hospitals are doing upwards of a 100 ortho cases a week, a lot more specialties, clinics for everything popping up all the time.  Why I donít do politics is people will blame Obamacare, Trumpcare, whatever. At some point people either gotta get better informed or maybe take a little more responsibility for their own health.  Guess the point is I donít believe that most businesses really put the customer first, at the end of the day itís all about money, something I seriously question in our society today.  I can honestly say I would be happy to be out of a job due to more people taking better care of their health.  I think weíre so doomed to fail, but just my dumb regular kinda guy way of thinking. WOW!!  Way off topic.  Back to your very thought out and detailed reply.

The $900 was not part of the loan.  My wife did a legitimate business.  It didnít create a lot of money but through a friend I trust completely who is an accountant, it did net us some good tax breaks.  As she doesnít do it anymore, it created us owing money as I adjusted my deductions a while back, have been readjusted now.  $14,000 in my Roth isnít a lot by any means and wonít be a lot when I retire, but having so little now it would kill me to cash in. It once again makes sense given my situation when you analyze the return it would give me towards retirement or the savings it would be using it towards debt today. I just feel Iíd regret the hell out of it.  Hadnít thought about the loan option. My current company does allow for loans.  Iím currently researching rolling over my 29,763 as of today, 401k from a previous employer into my current employer and withdrawing $15,000 to pay the $900 taxes, $2400 personal loan which has a ridiculous rate and ccís.  Iím sure Iíll be back here after to ask for help along they way.  Iím far from being anywhere near most of the people on here, and I donít feel I need to be a millionaire to FIRE.  My wife and I have given more than serious thoughts about retiring abroad, Belize or Costa Rica.  We donít have a high on the hog lifestyle, just need a good deal of nature to explore, the company of good people and the occasional night out with a few drinks even tho Iím far from being a heavy drinker. Itís our best shot at early retirement and a comfortable lifestyle that meats our needs, not the expensive and all mighty dollar rules lifestyle here in he states.  Iím hoping when Iím 60 to pull the plug on work, sell the house and maybe make $100,000, use that and Roth til 62 or 63 for SS, combined for the two of us would be enough to retire to many destinations abroad.  Yes, early to think about it and would depend on health and other factors.  Would take a considerable amount of research to make a decision. For another post.

For a quick wrap up, I take the car Iím currently paying on (wifeís car) to the shop regularly for oil changes.  Had the engine blow on this car 3 days after purchasing last year so as long as I prove (car fax) that the car is maintained, I have a lifetime warranty on the engine.  My company vehicle I canít do anything on but everything is paid for so I just keep up on taking it in as they request.  Iím an ex smoker and ex diabetic, both thanks to my rescue dog.  He was aggressive as fuck when we first got him, lack of exercise and not enough love and attention.  We needed each other to get better.  Walking the shit out of him forced me to quit smoking as I couldnít catch my breath keeping up with him and lost a ton of weight (giving up soda helped too) which cured for the time being my diabetes.  I havenít been to the doctor in a years from switching insurance so I do need to get back to regular check ups, especially with my mom dying this past summer and so many health issues with my family. 

I appreciate you and everyone who contributed. As Iíve said before, I seem too poor and fiscally irresponsible to be a part of this group.  I just came across one of Mr Money Mustacheís post years ago and was in awe of how many people reaches their goals through a little bit of fiscal discipline.

Lastly, I really think a ton of people are mentally fucked these days.  Donít mean that to be rude or disrespectful.  Justo too much to deal with.  You had mentioned that towards the end of your reply.  While I donít think I fall into a category of needing professional help, I do think I would benefit from seeing someone, just talk out some of the crap Iíve been dealing with beyond the finances.

Take care all.  Iíll try to thank everyone individually as well.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2023, 03:41:35 PM by Chubbs55 »

Zamboni

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #28 on: October 08, 2023, 09:24:57 PM »
Without reading all of this, I'll put in that my ex- spent all our money and them some on chicken wings, luxury cars, and and mostly gambling.

Way before that, though, my financial situation was dire enough to dumpster dive. I was so desperate for money that I took to dumpster diving at apartment and townhouse complexes to collect bottles and aluminum cans (which are worth money).

I was not in a situation with many options, and it was the only way I could think of that I was going to be able to get money for something I really wanted: a special trip with my best friend. She had money and I did not, and she told me "you just need $XXX and we can go!" Clearly she did not fully comprehend the situation I was in. The fantasy of going on that trip pretty much kept me alive during a very dark time. Looking back it seems crazy to me, and I'm quite horrified at the whole situation. Was that even me? I can still remember what it felt like to hoist myself over the dumpster wall, although it seems like I'm watching it in a bizarrely realistic movie now . . . at the time it was what gave me hope.

Anyway, I actually climbed in dumpsters. A lot. Every week for more than a year. Not having a car, I'd take some plastic grocery bags and ride my bicycle around behind the complexes near where I lived. I got educated in the pattern of it all. I knew which particular dumpsters had good hauls of soda and beer cans regularly, and I figured out the schedule for when the garbage trucks came so that I could maximize my haul by going right before each was emptied. I would be VERY VERY upset if for some reason the dumpster got emptied a day early and I missed it, which happened a couple of times. I'd fill the grocery bags and tie them to my bicycle handlebars. I was kind of freaked out that someone would catch me doing this horrible thing . . . so I was furtive as a thief. Once I had a few full bags tied on each side of the handlebars I'd cash them out at the corner liquor store. I did not tell ANYONE I was doing this, although I suspect the old man at the liquor store knew what was going on.

But aluminum cans aren't the only thing in the dumpster, of course. There is other refuse. Spoiled food and the bugs that eat it, litter box scoopings, diapers, ash tray contents, vacuum cleaner dust. Nothing like being knee deep in a dumpster, ripping open one of those big black bags hoping for cans, and getting a big lung full of vacuum cleaner dust and pet hair. Rancid raw chicken was the worst.

Anyway, it took me a year and a half, but I got the money I needed and went on the trip with my friend. Next time I see her I'll have to tell her how I got that money. She has no idea. Hopefully we can both laugh about it now, although just typing this out makes me cry that I went through that. It may have been a pivotal time period in developing my "nothing can stop me" mentality. And now I'm a millionaire. What a weird world.

Laura33

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Re: Worst financial times.
« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2023, 10:34:54 AM »
I have only a couple of things to add to the excellent advice you've already received.

First:  your dog doesn't care how much money you spend on him/her.  Only people equate money with love.  Good for you for rescuing the poor little guy.  But what s/he wants from you is attention and love and medical care when needed.  Not stuff.  So please stop all discretionary dog purchases until you are back on solid ground.

Second:  you need to work your ass off at the job.  I don't know how your commission structure works, but the OT is guaranteed $$.  You need to put in significant OT -- preferably hustling on things that could earn you commissions -- until you have your debt paid off and have a reasonable emergency fund.  No, it's not the way you want to live your life, and it's probably not sustainable long-term.  But you have put yourself behind a massive eight ball -- your non-mortgage debt is almost your annual salary!!  And that doesn't even count the fees you pay for being overdrawn on your bank accounts.  You got yourself in this situation by spending more than you can afford over a period of years.  And the only way to fix it is to "afford" more than you spend for another year or two until you're back on an even keel. 

Very specific suggestions:

1.  Stop the overdraw charges.  You know the first rule of holes, right?  When you're in one, stop digging.  Other than a payday loan, overdraft fees are the most expensive money you can spend.  This is priority #1.  You will never get yourself back on an even keel until you stop paying your bank usorious fees for the privilege of having access to your $$ a couple of days early. Change your payment dates if you can.  If not, how much are those charges that put you over?  If it, say, a $200 charge every month, then your very first order of business is to put $250 in that account.  Stop all 401(k) contributions over the match, and put that extra directly into the bank account until you have enough of a baseline that you don't have to worry about going over.     

2.  As soon as you get a little bit of a cushion in the bank account, call the bank/log in online and tell them to stop allowing overdrafts.  You need to re-train yourself to learn that spending more than you have on-hand is not an option.

3.  Go to cash or a debit card for necessary spending.  Set your monthly budget for things like groceries.  Transfer $$ or withdraw the cash once a week.  When the money is gone, you don't spend any more.  As long as you keep things like rice and beans and pasta on-hand, you will not starve.  Again, this is less about deprivation and more about teaching yourself new habits with your money.  You need to learn that you can't spend what you don't have, or you'll just find yourself back in this same situation.

4.  Is your wife onboard?  Does she understand your situation?  It sounds like she is not working at a paying job.  Can she get one in the short-term?  Or is it a situation where either she's unable to work or you have kids and daycare would cost more than she could bring in?  Both of you need to be doing everything you can to dig out.  So if she can't bring $$ in, her job needs to be to minimize the $$ going out -- developing menus focused on inexpensive ingredients, shopping at thrift stores for necessary clothes, etc.  But that only works if you both are onboard and equally committed to the job.  A spouse can make or break your financial efforts, so if she's not onboard or doesn't fully understand where you are, your first job is to spend the time you need talking with her and working out a plan so that you're both in harness pulling the family out of the muck, to the best of both of your abilities.