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OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-19-2006, 06:56 PM   #1
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OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

It seems like we are all on our way to FIRE. Wanted to see if anyone had any stories of struggles, being at the bottom, and working their way out of it.

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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-19-2006, 07:16 PM   #2
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Yes.

Still have vivid memories (15 years later) of being 26, just ditched by significant other, and living in a roach ridden apt in the middle of the city. Did not have my name on mortgage title so no claim to the property i'd been helping pay for, and living in, for five years. Also -- $12000 in credit card debt, all over-due. Collection agencies calling at all hours of day and night to try and collect.

Did have a decent job (paying about 35k) , so slowly managed to pay debt down. Now, at 42, having been fired for 2 years and with a substantial net worth, I still recall that period and shudder.

Winnie
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-19-2006, 07:32 PM   #3
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Spent two weeks living in my car when I was 33.

Perhaps it's why I'm so frugal.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-19-2006, 07:35 PM   #4
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Try 35 years of age 2 young children and husband dies after a 2 year illness. Virtually no life insurance, mortgage to the hilt and an ok job. Re-engineered and relocated from the SW to the NW 2 years later. Carried 2 mtg's for 12 months as Phoenix was in a housing slump.

Thank God for SS survivor bennies. Sometimes did not think I was going to be able to hold it together.

For 4 or 5 years my kids thought going out to eat was a hot dog from ARCO where I got gas... 3 for a $1.

Lived, learned and saved.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-19-2006, 07:44 PM   #5
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Wow.

I composed the story of my "hit bottom" experience, but looks like I've had it very easy compared to what I'm seeing here...so I think I'll pass on responding.

But like CConnie, my experience is what launched me on the journey to FIRE. I swore I would never get in that financial situation and put my family through something like that ever again. So far,...

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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-19-2006, 07:59 PM   #6
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Not really a bad story, but in 1970 I traveled across the country to California in a Hippie van with a girlfriend. Couldn't find a job - overeducated and under experienced. We were down to our last $50 between us - no credit card - no backup funds. I decided to lie on the next job interview. It was for factory work, so I told them I dropped out of Junior college (I really had a BS and MA). Got hired on the spot. I never got that close to broke again, although I never did worry too much about money until I started thinking about retirement in my early fourties.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-19-2006, 08:50 PM   #7
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Gee, I was born at rock bottom with nowhere to go but up. Between age 18 and 26 I worked my way through college, slept on the floor at a friend's house for a few months while worked at McDonalds(worst life experience ever, but it motivated me to finish college and find a real job.) My husband and I lived in student housing, ate surplus cheese, graduated, and spent a few years paying back student loans. Where we were then vs. where we are now is amazing.

We didn't mind being poor back then. No kids, no debts (other than student loans), basically no worries. But I wouldn't want to go back to being one government cheese burrito from hunger again. And no more McDonalds, please God!
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-19-2006, 10:57 PM   #8
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Had two close calls with the "bottom".

First time was age 19. I was on my own and working a full-time minumum wage day job to put myself through college at nights. It was taking forever so I switched to full-time college during days with part-time work at nights. Money became exceedingly tight so I scrimped mightily on sleep and food. I ended up getting pneumonia. and had to withdraw from college. In order to rebuild my finances to go back on college, I found a friend who would rent her living room sofa and a hall closet for only $50 a month. After a couple of months of this my parents bailed me out and finally agreed to help me with my college costs. (Later on I learned that my grandparents haranged them until they made that offer. Thanks grandma and grandpa!!!)

Second time: At age 22 I married my boyfriend and my parents cut off my college support moneys. My new husband got a job in Silicon Valley before the tech boom. We got $500 from his parents to pay for gas money to get to California and for a deposit on an apartment (yeah right, like $500 was going to be enough to cover both!). Still, scrimping for all we were worth, we ran out of money and food before the paycheck arrived and were resigning ourselves to an unplanned weekend-long fast. Personnel Dept got wind of this and provided a paycheck advance.

These times were tough but not traumatic -- probably due to the early age at which they occurred. Still, these experiences make me appreciate what I have now.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-19-2006, 11:35 PM   #9
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Well this is not so bad compared to other folks, but at age 28 I went through a divorce that totally wiped out my savings. Not only that, but we had bought a house just a year earlier, and I ended up paying for the house all on my own.

But I had a very good paying job at the time and little debt other than the mortgage. It didn't take too many years to rebuild the savings and then some.

Audrey
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 02:51 AM   #10
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Well i grew up in poverty and went through some bereft periods in my 20's ( i made some bad choices with men, well one bad choice really) which made me determined that i was never going to be in that position again

Like Khan said it makes you very frugal, which can be a bad thing sometimes
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 05:57 AM   #11
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Not really bad but compared to today, my first 13 years looks like poverty. Grew up in a 2 bedroom 1 bath garage apartment, probably 600 sq feet. My Dad didn't make much money and we never went on vacations, but it just didn't take much in those days to make us happy. Good memories.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 07:01 AM   #12
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by riskaverse
Not really a bad story, but in 1970 I traveled across the country to California in a Hippie van with a girlfriend. Couldn't find a job - overeducated and under experienced. We were down to our last $50 between us - no credit card - no backup funds. I decided to lie on the next job interview. It was for factory work, so I told them I dropped out of Junior college (I really had a BS and MA). Got hired on the spot.
I did almost exactly the same thing in Houston in 1973. Six months later I got laid off and returned to Chicago. Six months later my son was born at home (no insurance, but attended by a famous Chicago public health physician who did over 10k home births). After that I applied my education and got a "straight job."

While I was stone broke at times, I would describe my experience as immature rather than edgy or rock bottom. 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. From day one (after birth not at conception ) I have always had the same sense of responsibility towards DS and later DW. Having a solid family behind you is a huge advantage in life -- more so than money.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 07:46 AM   #13
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Growing up we were at the bottom but, so were many of the people around us. Like many in the USA in the same situation, we thought we were middle class at the time.

I guess it all depends upon your point of view. I'm wondering if those who mentioned when they were at the bottom said just that to themselves at the time?
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 07:55 AM   #14
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

When I was young, me and the DW were horrible money managers. This resulted in a period where we would receive the paychecks, pay the bills and figure out how to get to work, 20 miles away, with two cars for two weeks on $20. That was enough for my car for a week. During that time we ate mostly broccoli, cauliflower, and rice. I learned during that time about saving, I was doing the money. We got out of that trouble little thiner but still in one piece and with a decent nest egg started.

A couple years later I let the DW take the money. She hadn't learned the lessons I did, and she wanted to handle the money without help, she refused to listen to even the slightest assistance. She did go to a couple financial advisers with the banks she worked at, who offered their assistance without charge. The only requirement is she had to follow their plan to the letter, things like open this type of account or pay off this loan first. Any deviation had to be approved prior to taking action. She didn't follow their plans and was dropped by both of them. After about 4-5 years we were in bankruptcy court. When we filed I took the money again. We paid off the court early and have substantially increased our position. The DW even said she should have listened more and seems to have learned her financial lesson.

All of our financial problems were due to our ignorance and youth.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 07:57 AM   #15
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

When DW and I were 24, we were not making it in OH, so we decided to mave to NYC when one of us got the first job offer (turned out to be me, and a truly sh!tty job it was). Spent our last $500 on the moving van and moved in with my parents. We ended up staying there for almost 2 years as a marriied couple. Not fun, but we had few obligations and my parents caught us when we fell. If we hadn't had the family to fall back on, we would have been in deep doo-doo.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 08:23 AM   #16
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

Back to 1991 I had just bought a building to expand my business into and within 3 months we lost our biggest customer, a family member,,,, (thatís another story)Ö that was over 40% of sales. I had borrowed against my house to swing the down on the commercial building. A few months later with plummeting volume I had negative personal net worth and negative business net worth. I had to get on my knees with the bank and plead for time and additional credit to help us climb out of a pretty big hole. I didnít draw much of a salary for a long, long time, just enough to stay ahead of the bill collectors and to pay for the basics. It took a lot longer then I thought it would to turn things around, definitely the school of hard knocks. Looking back at the bigger picture it probable wasnít all that bad of a thing to go thru but it was very ugly at the time.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 09:52 AM   #17
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

I took early semi-retirement for about 4 years when I was 23-27. Lived my pup tent for about 6 months, then a tipi for about 2 years (this in Alaska!). I lived on other people's boats, or cheap rentals the rest of the time.

I spent a lot of my time climbing, skiing, and kayacking. I worked seasonal or temp jobs and worked the unemployment system. I traveled through Africa, hitchhiked through the Sudan on the back of souke lorries, and went beer-drinking in Germany.

I wouldn't trade those years for anything. Yes, they delayed the building up of my net worth. Yes, although I will FIRE at 54, it might have been sooner had I not done this.

At 28, I went back to university and got BS and MS degrees in engineering. Didn't really start my career until 31. But I have no regrets. My son is 23 and hanging out in Siberia teaching English and living on the edge. Far be it from me to discourage him.

Oh....this thread is about down and out! That didn't happen until I was 42 and got divorced! You want to talk about destroying net worth!!
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 10:10 AM   #18
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

The above stories opened my eyes.......

I have had my share of the school of hard knocks, but my tales would pale in comparison.............. :P :P

Living in your car and a pup tent? I can't imagine...........
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 10:18 AM   #19
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

I guess losing a few jobs (fired!) along the way is a slap in the face, but the best way to bounce back is to go out and get a job that is better than the one that you were fired from. The good feeling from that is better than the bad feeling I got from being given pink slips.

Always had a substantial and functioning emergency fund and DW that helped a great deal. Also, a good life learning tool about how it is possible to overcome these little speed bumps that looked like mountains at the time.
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?
Old 12-20-2006, 11:00 AM   #20
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Re: OT: Have you guys even hit/seen/been near the bottom?

24 years in the military, and I don't any stories anywhere near as scary as some of these...
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