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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 09:57 AM   #41
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Not anywhere *near* a 'rock-bottom' experience, but started out of colllege with 12,500 in student loan debt, no assets at all. Of course immediately signed up for 10% into the 401k though....

nearly 20 years later coming up on $1M net worth.

Sometimes we forget how far we've come when FIRE is still quite a few years away; it is good to reflect sometimes on where we started from.

- John
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 10:22 AM   #42
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

"Hard times?", I'll tell you about hard times.

When I was a youngster, if I didn't wake up with an erectiion,
I had nothing to play with all day."

Rodney Dangerfield sometime in the 60's.

Yeah, it's raining again today.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 10:24 AM   #43
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Poverty is not always entirely about money and misfortune. I think I began realizing this when I was about 8, a poor kid by American standards, already familiar enough with moves from one poor living situation to the next that not knowing what was next but expecting it to be unpleasant was normal for me. Iíd been to a few different schools and was already used to being teased for my wardrobe; when you donít have much, you wear it a lot. The schoolís concerned inquiry into my poor grooming and hygiene did not improve my life, but its free lunch did. Anyway around this age I was becoming increasingly aware of how my life compared with otherís and trying to understand why. I vividly recall a meal at friendís house. His Mexican parents spoke little English. They were poor, but working; illegals maybe, I didnít know about such things at the time. On the outside his home was no more impressive than where I lived and it was no better furnished with material things. But inside it felt different. The meal I remember so vividly was fresh cooked beans with a little meat of some kind rolled up in tortillas. It was delicious (this was early 70ís and my mouth waters thinking about it today). But it wasnít just the food that made an impression on me. The house was warm. I recall sitting in my friendís kitchen and thinking how lucky he was to have such a life and how lucky I was to be a guest in his home at that moment. I remember wishing I could visit more often, but I was bussed in from afar and he lived closer to the school Ė and I moved again before long anyway. Even at that young age I was starting to realize that lack of money was just a symptom of the real poverty in my home.

It was unfortunate that I inherited poverty someone else earned. But donít feel sorry for me; at 18 I inherited an incredible fortune that I hadnít earned. People who would never know me had worked, sacrificed, and even died to ensure I would inherit it. I had actually already helped myself to some of it, having earlier effectively rejected parental authority and having taken my first regular job at 15, working nights and finishing High School in the day. But at 18 it became official. It was all mine; I was all mine. I inherited full adult citizenship in a country where I enjoyed far ranging rights as an individual and tremendous opportunity to better my situation (to include defining for myself what ďbetterĒ means). Iíve done OK with it.

At 18, I already felt liberated from poverty. I got pre-qualified for the work I wanted to do and enlisted with a guaranteed contract to put me into that line of work if I could complete the required training (training that I not coincidentally later used to satisfy nearly two years worth of requirements for my undergraduate degree). When I left on the bus, all my material possessions fit in gym bag and a box. I could easily carry what I owned and I felt incredibly happy and optimistic, like I was already a success! Those were happy days and there have been many more since. As it turned out, being in the military was huge step up in quality of life for me. Today, most Americans would not consider me wealthy. But Iím a retirement eligible officer, with basic FI and optimism about ER.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 10:42 AM   #44
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarhead*
"Hard times?", I'll tell you about hard times.

When I was a youngster, if I didn't wake up with an erectiion,
I had nothing to play with all day."

Rodney Dangerfield sometime in the 60's.

Yeah, it's raining again today.
So...what are you playing with today?

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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 10:46 AM   #45
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goonie
First I got rid of the fiancee who though $$$ grew on trees, and thought living way beyond one's means was normal. She gave back the ring, which I promptly sold to pay it off!
Funny how marriage can often bankrupt you as much as it can help you succeed financially. :
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 11:24 AM   #46
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Average Joe
When I left on the bus, all my material possessions fit in gym bag and a box. I could easily carry what I owned and I felt incredibly happy and optimistic, like I was already a success! Those were happy days and there have been many more since. As it turned out, being in the military was huge step up in quality of life for me.
That's about what I owned when I left my father's house. Except we lived in the rich area of town. Looking around seeing what everyone else had, you know enough clothes to actually wear a different shirt and pair of pants each day of the week, while I only had enough clothes to wear clean stuff for two days, was a great motivator to do well. Fortunately my first job when I left was on the back of a garbage truck. You'd be surprised how many people throw away still usable items. I increased the amount of clothes I had simply by pulling out throw aways that were still in wearable condition.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 12:23 PM   #47
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

When we were first married in our mid twenties, we were house poor after purchasing our first townhouse. We went on vacation for one week with family to Prince Edward Island, but only had maybe $100 to "enjoy" ourselves with. From this $100 . we had to pay for gas, campground fees and ferry costs. Ate a lot of Kraft dinner & beans.

We joke about it now, but the experiences stay with you.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 12:39 PM   #48
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Average Joe
As it turned out, being in the military was huge step up in quality of life for me. Today, most Americans would not consider me wealthy. But Iím a retirement eligible officer, with basic FI and optimism about ER.
Excellent words, Joe. Thanks.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 02:24 PM   #49
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff
I never felt like I was in trouble and probably never was because a close knit family had my back. They didn't have a lot of money but I knew they wouldn't let me go down the crapper... Having a solid family behind you is a huge advantage in life -- more so than money.
either life has lead me similarly, or i've lead a similar life. as did my parents and as far as i know also my grandparents. in each generation the parents did at least well-enough, if not very well, and the children were sent off, well prepared, to make their way in the world. i spent lots of years with very little money and some of those were some of the best times of my life. though certainly i did not have the type of hardship described here early on (martha, you really are amazing), but later life found a way to hit me alongside the head.

a good friend of mine used to spend a lot of time thinking woe is she. she only makes $60k/year working for the president of a major corporation. she doesn't get to retire as early as me but she does get to go on trips on the corporate feadship. up until six months ago she used to think all her siblings (7 of them) had life so easy. they all made the type of money she couldn't command. they all had spouses and children she never acquired or produced. they all just last week came together to bury the funniest, the most loved, the best of them. 53 and dead of cancer. woe is she.

how wondrous to watch how we interaction with life. how you can be born in harlem yet raised a king, how you can be born with silver spoon yet die to a pauper's grave. how incredible are we that we are able to achieve such accomplishment without inflating the ego or sustain such hardship without deflating the spirit. and to reflect on such human lives it is not bragging to say "ain't we somethin'."

"our life is always deeper than we know, is always more divine than it seems, and hence we are able to survive degradations and despairs which otherwise must engulf us." ~~ william james 1842-1910
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 02:55 PM   #50
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Maybe redefine the bottom in financial sense.
I have to say, when our net worth was neg, DW and I had some best times, young, full of energy. At that time, very cheap luxry would make us very happy. Not any more...
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 03:20 PM   #51
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

yeah, like CT said .... better to be 21 and broke than 91 and a billionaire.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 04:06 PM   #52
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

You'd be surprised how many people throw away still usable items.

When we lived in student housing, the end of spring term was boom time. Foreign students and others leaving the state would fill the dumpsters with usable furnishings and clothes. Stereos. Televisions. You name it. And yes, we were waiting to scoop up whatever we could from that bounty. In fact, we furnished our entire student abode with other peoples' castoffs. The only bad score was a rug that was just full of dirt. We didn't have a vacuum cleaner, so we swept it, and swept and swept. It just kept producing more piles of dirt. Finally we had to get rid of it. Sometimes garbage really is garbage!

I really love reading all the stories here. They are inspiring.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-21-2006, 06:05 PM   #53
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

My DH has a story to share. When he was 19, he and a friend spontaneously decided to move to Dallas. The plan was to move to Dallas, and if they couldn't find work, move to Houston.

They get to Dallas. They were living in the back of his friend's pick up truck (with a camper shell) in February. They didn't find a job and were running out of money. They bought a loaf of bread and pound of bologna. They then had just enough $ left to buy a newspaper and make one call on a payphone. So they made one call about a job, followed up, and got it. They continued to live in the truck for a few more days (living on bread and bologna). They would "wash up" at local gas stations. At one point, though, they needed a real shower. They went to a fitness center under the pretense of joining...got the free tour and offer to workout. They didn't work out, but according to my husband, he took the best shower of his life...LOL

They began looking for an apartment. They explained their situation to an apartment manager...who let them live with her for a few weeks for free! He then was able to afford an apartment.

Fast forward to a year later...DH decided he wanted to return home and go to college. His friend wanted to stay in Texas. DH put all his belongings in 2 suitcases and proceeded to hitchhike home to Missouri (which is a story in and of itself...). He makes it home and goes to his old highschool guidance counselor to find out how to get into college.

He lived with siblings for a few years, made it through college...and then years later proceeded to get his Master's.

Oh, forgot to mention that he lived on his own (supporting himself) during his senior year in highschool. Yep, he's a resourceful guy! And I'm quite proud of him!
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-22-2006, 12:43 PM   #54
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Great stories, guys.

I might have missed it, but I didn't see anyone write that their recovery from hitting bottom was due to institutional charity. For example, stories that included a homeless shelter or meal program that got them back on their feet.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-22-2006, 03:02 PM   #55
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

My guess is they are not successful at actually getting someone back on their feet, just giving out short term assistance.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-22-2006, 03:43 PM   #56
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I might have missed it, but I didn't see anyone write that their recovery from hitting bottom was due to institutional charity.
apparently your one of the guys averting your eyes to my posts or you would have noticed i mentioned my mom.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-22-2006, 07:13 PM   #57
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

nm
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-22-2006, 07:42 PM   #58
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

And what is government cheese, if not a handout? I stood in line for it, but other than that did nothing whatever to earn it. Tasty stuff. We wrote haiku about it:

Oh government cheese!
Yellow stretchy salty goo;
Awesome on tacos

Revolutionary thought:
Give free cheese to the masses!
Thanks, Ronald Reagan!
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-22-2006, 08:55 PM   #59
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
Great stories, guys.

I might have missed it, but I didn't see anyone write that their recovery from hitting bottom was due to institutional charity. For example, stories that included a homeless shelter or meal program that got them back on their feet.
Well, I got shy and deleted my story. But I didn't finish it anyway.

I would not be where I am today without grants, workstudy programs and student loans. Vocational rehabilition helped members of my family develop skills for work. Nearly everyone in my family has been on some form of public assistance at one time or another including me. I have paid for food with food stamps. I know that look from the next person in line.

My sister was able to get away from an abusive first husband because she could collect AFDC for her and her children until she could develop working skills.

Without public assistance, through SSI, I would be responsible for my disabled brother's care.

When I went to elementary and high school, there were no school lunch programs. But if you were poor you could work the lunch room to get lunch. I worked the lunchroom along with some other poor kids. We were harassed without mercy. I quit and went without lunch.

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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-22-2006, 09:04 PM   #60
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
Well, I got shy and deleted my story.
Martha, please repost it. Stories like yours and the others who persevered through some really tough times have to be inspirational to those reading this board who are down on their luck. Don't deprive someone who really needs a boost to their morale by being shy.

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