Updated on 11.03.06

The Road to Financial Armageddon #10: What I Learned

Trent Hamm

Yesterday, I indicated some of the specific mechanics that I adopted to turn my financial situation around, and I’m happy to say that my finances have never been better. The solution to the problem, though, is much greater than mere financial tools. Even though I was able to discover and apply tools to solve my specific financial problems, the real solutions came from within, the lessons I truly learned from a lifetime on the road to financial armageddon.

The most important lesson I learned in my life is that the well being of your future self (and your future family) is more important than anything frivolous right now. Whenever I make a purchase now, this thought echoes through my mind. Is having this item now more important than the cost of this item could be in the future? I imagine the path my life could lead, one that sees me losing my job or facing a desperate situation, and I can’t imagine that buying a magazine or a chocolate bar now will do anything at all to help that future me – but not buying the magazine or the chocolate bar will help him.

Whenever you spend money, try to imagine if you lost your job next week. Will it still seem like a worthwhile purchase if you’re jobless? If it won’t, then you should strongly reconsider your purchase.

The second lesson I learned is if money is out of reach, I’m not tempted to spend it. I used to tell myself that I would save $100 a month, but then I would see something I wanted and I would know that I could easily have the cash with just an ATM card swipe and, before I knew it, I’d be strolling down the street with another purchase. Now, my monthly budget doesn’t even mention the saving at all – it simply goes away into an inconvenient to access account (meaning I can’t just withdraw from it if I’m out shopping) for when I truly do need it. If I come in under budget for a month? I sweep that money into the savings before I’m tempted to buy something unnecessary.

Perhaps the most important lesson was that I don’t need to put up appearances of being rich. I still worry about personal appearance, but I’ve learned that grooming and cleanliness really are 90% of the battle – if you’re clean and solidly groomed, you still carry a solid impression without dumping thousands of dollars on expensive suits and dresses. I also don’t need to show off the latest gadgets to impress; I can impress by simply being comfortable with being myself.

It all boils down to one thing: money and material things don’t make me – I make me. Once I figured that out, money became merely a tool in my life, one that allows me to take care of what’s really important to me, like the long-term health and happiness of my family. And that’s the real lesson I learned on the road to financial armageddon and back – I learned what was really important after all.

Want to jump quickly to the other Road to Financial Armageddon posts? Here’s an index to help you out.

#1: The Earliest Mistakes
#2: Early Profits … Lost
#3: Cash & College
#4: The First Taste of Real Money
#5: Love & Marriage
#6: The Yuppie Years
#7: Here Comes Baby
#8: Meltdown
#9: The Road to Recovery
#10: What I Learned

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  1. Super Saver says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. The journey was a tough and tortuous one. The last segment is an excellent outcome. Hopefully, as Winston Churchill once said, this is the end of the beginning. You are definitely on the right track now.

    I look forward to reading a future series that I expect you will be able to write – The Road to Financial Security :-)

  2. Clever Dude says:

    This was pretty much my life story, without the baby (yet). It sounds like my life was a little less extreme than yours, but I had my weaknesses (cars, not furniture), and I’m regretting those decisions to this day.

    However, I am recovering. I did have to do what you did to recover. I had to catalog everything, consolidate debt, and hunker down. It’s working, slowly, but I should have a fifth of our debt paid off by September of this year (starting this month).

  3. Worm says:

    This is an eye-opener. I am basically living this same story right now at the College Years. And I’ve seen myself doing much of what was described. Spending here and here, acting like I have more money than what I really bring in. I’ve been fortunate enough to see what debt can do to someone (my father) and have tried to not build up too much myself, but one can get lost spending with student loans and credit cards. I would say I’m at the brink of being able to save myself from frivolous spending and unnecessary debt. All I need to get passed is myself, and realize that if I don’t change my ways, I will not be able to have a good stress free life for my children. I thank you very much for this. Thank you a million times.

  4. Rick Gerbick says:

    Great read. Thank you for taking the time to put this together.

  5. BigBuddha says:

    Brilliant absolutely brilliant, this series of posts is one of the best I’ve ever read.

  6. Brendamo says:

    Thank you for sharing your real life story with real life lessons included. It was great!

  7. Lim CS says:

    Thanks for the great read. It is truly inspirational and only second to Mark Cuban’s story.

  8. Martin says:

    You don’t mention your wife’s involvement. Does she still like to spend a lot, or has she joined you on the thrifty side, or do you tend to make the majority of spending decisions anyway?

  9. clkl says:

    You are to be congratulated for your full-throttle u-turn, for your insight and for having the generosity to share this honest, well-written story. Thank you.

  10. Emma says:

    Thank’s so very much for such an informative read. I sure wish I would have had something like this to guide me years ago. Thanks again.

  11. Lisa says:

    Thank you. I’m at the Meltdown stage. It helps to know that others have gone through the same situation. All my own doing, and I do take the blame, but I have to also say: what’s up with our parents? Perhaps if we’d all had better financial lessons as children we wouldn’t be where we are now. Part of my recovery plan is to ensure that my two children do NOT wind up facing Armageddon… we need to stop the next generation from hitting rock bottom!

  12. Chris says:

    Thank you for writing such a self-deprecating and honest story. I would probably be too afraid to do the same. I have learned much from reading your site and this story. I respect you, sir.

  13. T. Davis says:


    Just wanted to let you know that your story stopped me from spending unnecessarilly today. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal to a lot of people, but that $10 I would have spent on a candle will not help ‘future me’ at all.

    Your concept of a ‘future self’ that is more important than the short-term joy of a trinket right now really hit home for me. Thank you.

  14. Logan Flatt, CFA says:

    Trent –

    Thank you for sharing your personal story in an extremely well-written series of articles. Congratulations on the series and in your new-found financial and personal success!


  15. Cherie says:

    I’ve seen what debt has done to people, especially being in college. I’m glad you shared your story so that I can learn from other people’s mistakes. I’m glad to say that the only debt I have is a car note to help build my credit. It’s because of websites like yours that I am informed and can make better decisions to avoid pitfalls. Thank You!

  16. Kelly says:

    This was a good wake-up call. I need to pay off about $6000 in cc debt. Reading your posts today helped decide I can give myself a pedicure instead of spending $25 on one today! And I will use the money towards debt reduction. Books are a big weakness for me (Amazon!) but I am going to stay strictly with the library at least through the rest of the year to give myself a chance to pay down some of my book purchase cc debt.

  17. Mimi says:

    Our son is in the midst of doing everything you did. His Dad and myself realize that we cannot help him–this would only set him up for failure again (our “bailer” is broken). He is about to be sued and we know it because the collection agencies/attorneys are calling our home–it has been a year since he moved out and got married. We are still scratching our heads–we certainly never lived the high life and have very little debt–our home which will soon be paid off. Where did he “learn” this irresponsible financial behavior??? Our son and DIL are so deep in money troubles that they are forced to live with her parents. We have already decided they will never live with us–we don’t want to “contribute” to the problem without a true change in behavior. We have rental property (that is paid for–free and clear) that we could let them live in but, that would also effect the same result unless there is a change in behavior. It breaks our hearts to see this happen–the in-laws they are living with aren’t helping the situation but, they can’t see that. All we can do is pray our son wakes up before it is too late.

  18. Alanna says:

    Thanks for writing this article. I thought I was a sensible spender, but recently found myself falling into the mental traps you describe. Coming across this post was a timely reminder indeed.

  19. Brandon says:

    Thank you for writing this article. I truly owe you a debt of gratitude for placing this article for all to see as you have; were it not for the armageddon series I would probably have repeated a similar path of destruction that you described.

    I’m currently in the “college” stage myself, except that I’m accruing debt by putting myself into a program that I don’t find interesting and cannot turn into a good career- a program which I’ll very likely soon transfer away from.

  20. Sylvia says:

    How brave you are to share your story. It will help many, I know. I’m middle aged and have four grown children. We made many mistakes when our children were in high school and college. Thank God, for your meltdown. My husband and I had a meltdown also in 2001. Do you realize how many people never even get to the melt down point. How wonderful that you can now work on your marriage and raise your children, knowing that you are freeing yourself a little each day from debt. I know found your website recently and I’m enjoying it very much.

  21. tree frog says:

    I know adding yet another thanks to the pile will probably seem redundant, but I cant help it. You should know how helpful and downright brilliant this series is. So thanks.

  22. Toxic says:

    What a great story! I can relate to many parts of it, especially to not being “introduced” to money matters early in my childhood. I am a first generation immigrant who grew up in the war. It’s not that my family didn’t discuss or try to teach me about money – we simply didn’t have it. My parents didn’t have an income during the entire war; we were hungry at least four days a week. I was 18 when I came to the US and I had to learn things about money that I should have learned when I was 8 or 9. I really enjoyed being able to work, having money and having a freedom…I am not surprised that I got into financial trouble; actually, I am surprised that I didn’t get into more trouble.. I am just glad I “woke up” before we had a child, so that I can be a good example for my child.

    Hopefully I’ll get out of this very soon; just like you did.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  23. Kay says:

    Hey Trent,
    This was a great story. Every day I collect about 12 articles and save on delicious, with the intentions of getting back to but I never do. This evening, I actually sat down and read your entire story. IT was great and very informative.

  24. LT says:

    I too never learned any kind of money management in my youth. While I didn’t come from poverty, both my parent had well paying middle-class jobs, I never learned from them the skills I needed to manage my finances. After college I landed a well paying job and basically spent all my money on having fun. I charged up my credit card all the time but always paid it off every month.

    Then I moved in with my girlfriend. We took expensive vacations bought new computers, a new car and then planned a very expensive wedding. In the meantime we had medical expenses that compounded our worsening financial picture. My wife decided to go back to school for a second degree and instead of saving to pay for it we took out another student loan to go with her first student loan we hadn’t paid off yet.

    No longer could we pay off our credit cards and I could see us falling further and further behind. For two years I new we had to budget, we tried several times but could never follow through with it.

    This summer we got to the point where I new if we didn’t turn ourselves around we could never afford to get a home of our own or raise a child. We’ve taken control of our spending and things are slowly turning around.

    Thanks for your series, it means a lot to see someone helping themselves and their family achieve financial stability.

  25. John says:

    Wow, reading these articles was like reading my biography! It is amazing to see how certain things we learn in our childhood will affect our financial adulthood! I too am on the road to recovery and was skimming the net for inspiration – and I came across your site for the first time. Excellent material – I look forward to reading more!

  26. Shek says:

    These ten posts were very inspirational. I had an epiphany a month back about financial planning.

    I have come from a middle class background and have not been trained on personal financial management. It took me 1.5 years of earning and spending without a budget to finally make one. I recommend having a real strong budget sheet every month. It helped kick off my awakening.

    I have recommended the book ‘Automatic Wealth for Grads’ to my friend’s daughter who is in her second year in her bachelor’s program. I think it is very important to know about managing finances in that early stage when we are truely debt free.

  27. Jen says:

    Hello, I came across your blog recently, and your story really hit close to home. My parents lived like you and your wife did, and unfortunately they never seemed to set things right before my father passed away. I went from being the girl with everything in my class to the one with nothing in a high end Manhattan high school. I was completely ostrasized and since then I’ve always associated being poor with being worthless. Through High school, college and beyond. I lived pretty much the way you did until a few months ago when a good friend gave me some good avice. Your saving tips are useful, but I really appreciate your story for providing a peace of mind I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s good to know I’m not alone. Thank You.

  28. TMod says:

    What a story! That was a great read. I really feel for you. I grew up in a similar household and almost had the same problem. Because we never had any money growing up, as soon as I started making money I spent it. However my parents were savers, so I think that value was somewhere deep inside of me. I had a similar college experience to you, fooling around for a while and falling back. However I was lucky enough to have a strong high school transcript and was in an Ivy League school, I managed to graduate (albeit quite late) and got a high paying job. I was making six-figures right out of college and during the first couple of years I spent most of it “living the life”. It wasn’t until after about two years that I decided I needed to build up net worth and since than have been saving diligently, saving roughly 70% of my salary on average and investing it. I now have a huge pile of savings that rivals the net worth of people over twice my age and it feels great. The greatest pleasure that comes from money for me now is not in spending it, but knowing that I have enough not to worry about a day when it stops coming in. Peace of mind is priceless.

  29. Dutch_renter says:

    Thabks for publishing this story. Great insights, well written, and fortunately a happy ending :-)

  30. Shan-Oh says:

    This was a valuable read for me. It gave me a lot of insight into my husband, who acted exactly as you did right up until he met me. While we were dating I couldn’t figure out he could afford the lavish dates and vacations he took me on. Once we got to marriage we took a different path…but I never knew WHY he spent so much. From your post I can see he did it to feel good, and generous, and ‘rich’. I think that his parents were very similar to yours, and that he reacted to money in the same way. Thank you for the insight, and the honesty!

  31. Brian says:

    “It all boils down to one thing: money and material things don’t make me – I make me.”

    Excellent statement!

  32. Justin says:

    I got here on a Google search for understanding compound interest. Intrigued by your site, I ended up reading through your entire Story. Thank you for your well-described story and vulnerability in doing so. I work with students for a living and am now inspired to communicate practical financial insight… before they take a long way to freedom and understanding.

  33. Frugal Dad says:

    I’ve been reading your site for about a year and a half now, and this was the first time I actually sat down and read your story (cover to cover, so to speak). I shared it with my wife and we agreed it sounded a lot like our own story. We are still working through our “meltdown,” but enjoy seeing you on the other side of it so we can draw inspiration. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  34. boardmadd says:

    Wow! Very inspiring, Trent, and very well put together. Your commentary is so familiar, and meshes so well with many of the situations I had to deal with. What’s more, you manages to absorb all of these lessons at a young enough age where you will be able to make *massive* changes and improvements in the coming years. To borrow a “Ramseyism”, you have “changed your family tree”. Just think of how powerful this message will be for your children as they grow up. Kep at it, and keep writing, you are well suited to it, and I am truly enjoying this site and blog immensely.

  35. mkksmom says:

    What an inspiration you have become! I wish everyone would wake-up before they get in over their heads in debt. Now you have something to be proud of accomplishing, a home and a family to love and not a mountain of things to keep moving around or throwing away. I always wanted the best for my girls. They are 12 and 6. My husband had a great job and I was spending frugally, but seemed to always waste money also. My husband’s job of 25 yrs was shut down. Over 400 people lost their jobs and we were just one of the many families left out in the cold. We had to rein in our horses, so to speak, and re-think our future. With 2 years of job re-training and making only one fourth of his prior pay, life has not always been easy, but it has changed. We have learned to be simple in our family activities and do things close to home. We’ve never gone hungry or with out basic necessities. Perhaps we don’t live so “high on the hog” as before, but we’ve managed to consolidate most of all of our debt, and not to incur more for the future. I like the spending plan of save 10 percent, give away(church or charity)10 percent and live on the rest. That’s what we have maintained even on a tight budget. If you can bless others while you learn to restrain your wants over your needs, then not only have you helped another needy person, but you’ve set an example for your children to follow as they grow up and go on to college and later into the workforce. Thank you for writing down your story of life’s lessons. Maybe others will avoid some of the pitfalls that you traveled thru and help keep our country free itself from extreme consumerism.

  36. Raf says:

    This is a truly an eye-opener. I am basically living my university years, and to make it worse, I’m way far from my home, abroad, which makes my spend will be a lot bigger than if i were studying in my home country. And I’ve seen myself doing much of what was described. Spending here and here, acting like I have a lot of money, and making myself feels good by giving excuses to all purchases I did. I’d say I’m at the point of being able to save myself from frivolous spending and unnecessary debt, un-secure future. All I need to get passed is myself, and realize that if I don’t change my ways now, I will not be able to have a good stress free life in the future. Many thanks.

  37. I found your site from the article you wrote for Unclutterer today.

    This was an excellent series of posts. I (unfortunately) could relate to almost every installment. I’m working my way through some of these same errors, and this has been a great guide to evaluate some of the situations objectively.

    Thanks for sharing!

  38. Jules says:

    Your story is very inspirational and i am now in the process of documenting EXACTly where my money is going monthly- i too saw that the purpose of money was to spend it… what else is it there for? ….
    now i realize money is a ‘tool’ that can help you get: security, peace of mind…further, you can’t get true happiness through buying things- it comes from being happy from within…. when you truly think of the things that bring you happiness (children, pets, nature, exercise, friends) these are things that don’t require $$$$ :)

  39. Linda says:

    Thanks for your story. I hope lots of people read about your situation. One sees this all the time– people think a credit card is money. Then the bills come in and the interest piles up. It has not happened to me, though. I have always been careful with my money. I always ask myself “do I really need this?”. Usually the answer is no. I do use a credit card to pay for most things, but always pay off the bill in full when it arrives. I use the card as a convenience to me, not for the credit card company’s profit. I have a card that pays a rebate,so that is a plus. It doesn’t matter what the annual rate is–I never have the need to pay it!

  40. Jess says:

    First off, it was really brave of you to lay out all the mistakes that you have made for everyone to see. I definitely appreciate it – I’ve learned a lot! I’m a college student who came from pretty much the same background as you. My parents had very poor financial habits and I was only able to attend college by taking out loans for my tuition and working all the way through to cover my living expenses. I have recently started to study personal finance on my own time (because they don’t teach it at school, that’s for sure), and I want to learn as much as I can about money so I don’t make these kind of mistakes and can start saving for my future.

  41. Debbie says:

    Congratulations on getting your life situation back on track. I stumbled upon your post while searching for information about owning a bookstore; am so glad I found it. What you did to gain control of your spending and save money will no doubt help others do the same. Thank you for sharing.

  42. Jae says:

    Great series, it’s the first time I’ve read a story that I felt I could really relate to. I graduated from my college late (three years), got a girlfriend I thought I was going to marry and ended up living with HUGE credit card debts in the process. My meltdown occured when I was laid off and I was forced to live with my parents (after losing my girlfriend).

    I’m a little older, and wiser (some would say paranoid) about money.

    Thank you for your honest insights into the past.

  43. Meg says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am currently in the meltdown stage, and I felt like reading your article was the story of my life. I have always thought that having nice things (clothes, purses, apt, great trips, etc.) would make people like me and treat me better, and in reality, they liked me because I treated them to dinners and paid for things when they didnt have the money. How stupid! All of this started in undergrad, and now that I have started grad school 4 years later, I would love to have most of my debts paid off (or on be a really great road to having them paid) by the time I am done with my masters.

    I know that being upset now is a step in the correct direction and realizing the damage and the unneeded stress I have caused myself. I know that if I can beat this, I can do anything. It only takes a single step to step in the correct direction, right?

  44. Mary says:


    Thank you for sharing your story and all your endless amount of invaluable info. I have been working at putting it to good use, from making my own cleaning supplies and laundry soap to your tips on investing, saving, paying off debt, etc. All of your articles are very well written and extremely informative and for that I am eternally grateful!! Good luck on your road to financial freedom and with your writing!

  45. Michel says:

    This is a great site, and I’m at this very minute cooking up my first batch of homemade laundry detergent, so thank you for that recipe and for the extremely thoughtful self-critique and analysis of how money fits with our culture and our pschology. You sound a lot like my dad, which is a very good thing.

    One thing I’m wondering about is why your wife play such a little part in your story, other than the unwitting one who essentially had the wool pulled over her eyes. At what point did you sit down with her and have an honest discussion? What did she do to bring your family back on track? It seems one-sided, and I’m curious since the one thing that does come through is your respect for her. Not at all a criticism, just as a woman I’m wondering about the other side of the story :)

    Again, thanks, this website is my new obsession!

  46. Brandi says:

    Your website is a wonderful source of financial common sense (something not all that common). This series of articles was particularly inspiring. It shows how easy it is to get all the wrong messages and be heading down the wrong path without even knowing it. But it also shows that it is possible to climb your way out. Thanks for sharing.

  47. John Kibuuka says:

    Amazing series, and all the articles on this website! Truly inspirational especially for an african like me who devotes a good amount of time everyday, dreaming of all the things i would like to buy if i had all the money; chocolates, big nice house, expensive clothes etc.

    Am recommending this site to so many of my friends to change for the better before they lead stressful lives in future!

    Thank you very much for correcting my view towards before I actually get a ruined life! :)

  48. The Comeback Kid says:

    THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR STORY! I have lived this (with disastrous results) for nearly 30 years and am just now in the stages of recovery. It is very inspiring to me that your story shows a road back from the minus side of the number line to zero, and even (if some/all of your recovery choices became habits) to the plus side. If there’s one thing that resonates with me from your story, it is that it all begins with what we are thinking; what we experience is the results of our thoughts. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
    All the best for the road back!

  49. Becky says:

    I just found your blog today. I must confess my dh and I are melting down. Too much on our plate right now. But I hope by reading your blog every day maybe we will find a way out soon. Thanks for the inspiration!

  50. Pat Brown says:


    Just found your blog and LOVE it..and am waiting tosee if my new batch of laundry “slime” sets up oovernight or not! My DH and I are finally, Praise the Lord, only $6 K from being debt free, except the mortgage (which is low interest, fixed, and less that the home’s fair market value)

    We did dumb things..and won’t repeat them. Happy to say that our lessons “took”, and our son and little family are debt free on an E-4 salary in the miltary, with twocars and a three year old in Washington, DC..and he’s finishing his degree. Thankfully, we were honest about our screw-ups, and he took the lessons to heart. I am a new ssubscriber!!

  51. Jeremy Day says:

    Hi Trent,

    I very much enjoyed reading your story. Although I got myself in a fair amount of debt I have payed most of it off now. Except my school loans and mortgage. I really enjoy your writing and get a lot of great info out of it. Keep up the good work!


  52. JR says:

    I’m happy to read your story and I’m glad that you came to the truth about financial peace. What saddens me is that there are so many creeps out there that never come to the truth. It’s a natural truth, it shouldn’t even have to be taught, and it’s just plain old common sense. If any readers of this story needed this story in order to point them in the right direction, then you’re a loser and you have bigger problems than your finances. America is full of gluttonous, covetous, greedy, instant gratification creeps. America, in just a few short decades has moved from the largest creditor nation in the world to the largest debtor nation. We have aborted nearly 50 million unborn. We are the largest consumers of illegal drugs, we produce nearly all of the world’s pornography and we are war mongering perverts. It’s little wonder that we can’t get simple financial concepts ingrained into our own lives.

  53. CJ says:

    Your story really woke me up. I am 15 years old and even though I don’t yet earn money in any way, I realized that maybe, this time in my age is the best time to start educating and changing myself and my habits. I would also recommend, if not force, my father to read these series of posts as well as your whole blog. He has recently acquired a rather big debt because of credit cards almost exactly like how your debt piled up, it also kind of awakened him on our family’s financial situation but I think we aren’t yet changing our lifestyles and habits that much. If not for my grandmother and aunt, our family would have been able to pay that big debt and we would have been in poverty by now.
    Thank you really for these posts.

  54. Chris says:

    Your story was very inspirational, thanks for sharing it. Of course, it’s the basis for your entire blog so something good definitely came out of it. =)

  55. kaizoku says:

    Okay, so you got into debt, realised your spending was unsustainable, then consolidated your debt and are paying off that debt. where’s the armageddon? you appear to have lost nothing: not your house, not your car, not your health, not your wife or child, not even your credit rating. I congratulate you on realising your behaviour had to change before something really bad happened, and it’s good that you’ve been able to use your story to educate others, but come on!

  56. Brian says:

    I’m happy I found this site and read your story. I’m in the middle of college with a semi full-time job. I have to keep a close eye on all my money. All my paychecks vary based on how much I work. Worse thing is I commute to both school and work, and car insurance at age 20 on a mustang is hell! But with a little thinking, lots of budgeting time, and tips from blogs like this it makes things a whole lot easier to get through.

  57. crystal says:

    thank you for sharing your story. i am 24 yrs old and i have learned much of what you share on your website on my own–boy do i wish i found this web site 6 years ago when i started racking up credit cards–i have come a very long way & i am currently teaching my boyfriend how to manage his money and get his finances in order. unfortunatly he thinks that the “easy” way to get out of debt is to volunteer for a 2nd deployment to iraq in july. although it will help i am going to show him that it doesnt have to be the “only” way. once again, thank you.

  58. Financialdad says:

    I loved reading your story! Thanks for sharing these wonderful insights. Certainly, you’re correct: life is so much more than the things you can purchase!

  59. Bruno says:

    I read your story with interest; thank you for sharing your personal experiences and insight. I have a 24 year old son who recently was married. I plan on sharing this link with him and his wife.

  60. JMV says:

    Hi Trent,
    I found this story because I’m just at the meltdown stage now. I only work part-time and currently owe $5000 on one cc, $800 on another and I’m soon to be 2 months behind in the rent (£1200). I also can’t afford to pay in full my next electric bill on time. I know I’ve left it too late to avoid major hassle, but I guess it was a case of turning a blind eye and hoping for a miracle or something.

    After reading your story I’m going to do what you’ve done and hopefully this will get me back on track sooner rather than later. I’ve considered just not paying the $3000 cc bill as the minimum amount required is currently $160 which I also can’t afford, but I realize I need to take responsibility and try to arrange something with them.

    Right now I have $25 in my account and don’t get paid until Friday. It may sound like a nightmare, and I suppose it is, really, but I’m now maintaining a positive outlook and being secure in the knowledge that I WILL make this work out.


  61. Jimy Shah says:

    A well described real life story. I liked the fact that you did not shy away from your mistakes and you brought it up openly in public for other to learn from it.

    Overall, a great job. All the best !


  62. Joan says:

    Thanks so very much for sharing all of this! I clearly remember the first dollar I ever got, which was from the tooth fairy in exchange for the first canine I lost. My dad came home a little later than usual that evening, and when I showed him my dollar, he asked me what I wanted to spend it on; I was dying–DYING–to spend it. He drove me to Walgreens, where I purchased some something; maybe a plastic toy gun or some bouncy balls? It’s telling that I don’t remember what I bought, but that I do remember spending the dollar.

    Now that I’m married and in the process of trying to pull my credit score up to an acceptable level, I’m finally really, truly thinking about money for the first time in my life in any sort of constructive, forward-thinking manner. Although I’ve changed many of my destructive credit habits and am close to being debt-free, a part of me up until recently still basically operated on the premise that, well, if there’s money in the bank to buy that cheeseburger or that pair of pants, I can buy it! Such is clearly not the case, and at 30, it’s a lesson learned late–but it’s never too late to change.

    Thanks for your site!

  63. JAMM says:

    Beautiful vocabulary and story.
    Thank you for the wonderful confession of hindsight being 20/20. You are all of the above mentioned positive comments and more.

  64. mary says:

    Your story hit the mark, I too came from a family that had no money, it shadows a person it seemed forever, until I was 18 and on my own having to make all arrangements for living, I walked past a savings & loan daily to get home, soon I put a $5 or $10 dollar in a savings account, I never touched it but only put money in..I lived differently than my roomates who seemed to blow thru their money, I had to live on my own completely, my grandma died suddenly and I was in a tailspin in grief but I did not go nuts with my savings…pull to my life now, married 36 years soon,I save a little her there regularly I don’t feel compelled to spend like a nut no not me, married to a wonderful person who has inner and outer balance, spend some, save some, give some is his philosophy!!!!!!!Thanks for sharing your story it sounded painful but you learned and can share with others to help them, bless you!!!!!!!!

  65. Phil says:

    Thanks for sharing.

    I believe this is a great motivation to the situation my parents are going through right now.

  66. B Zoe says:

    After your self-revealing & educating synopsis, I am incredibly grateful that my own (late) father taught me many useful financial lessons early in my life. I will always remember the incidences with focused clarity for what they meant in each stage throughout my financial life. The financial habits he instilled, allowed me to retire at age 40, despite the fact that I’ve inherited nothing other than great advice from him. Rags to Riches can be instilled early or learned later, but I pray any & all who want it will find it & stick with it

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