I wanted to point out a funny thing though. Living in a post-soviet country I can sense my bias that tells me that this is totally ridiculous. Probably the difference between here and America is just so big. This situation is just inherently absurd by the simple fact that selling that iPhone would give me enough money to survive for 2 months paying a rent in a cheap apartment and buying another cheap phone.
Besides that, the most important difference is that we never take such big loans here. Big loans are scary for us. I understand how important they are for developing an economy, but all around me most people would hardly get a loan to buy a car. Even if the economy is poor, people are much more free because they don't take insane debts. I think american culture really needs to remember that debt is dangerous.
Just a quick thought about the abyssal difference between the 2 mentalities.
One of the greatest things my very successful Grandfather taught me was to never go into debt for anything that doesn't make you money, and even then be careful. He was right, too, and it's helped me through some times in which I've been tempted to go and get that nice car, buy those nice toys, get that $10k limit credit card. I don't even use a credit card, and I'm 24 and relatively successful; if I need a "loan", then I loan it to myself out of my savings account.
When I was 17, I was homeless. I lived out of my car for 6 months, got a job delivering pizzas to pay for my own food. I wouldn't wish homelessness on my worst enemy, but living through it has helped me learn how to be properly self-sufficient and has given me the mental tools to tough out some pretty crappy situations over the years. It's interesting how that goes.
One of the questions was "how much credit card debt do you have, and how are you planning to reduce it?" I found it pretty strange that the quiz assumed that the reader would be certain to have some credit card debt; indeed enough that they would need a plan to reduce it gradually.
As an Indian I find this a strange way of looking at things. To me a credit card is a convenient payment method, not a facility to award myself discretionary loans.
I'm glad you enjoyed my post as much as I did writing it.
Great words. I really understand what you say, I've lived for some years in a post-soviet country and I never felt so free. There are other flavours of freedom besides the one offered in America. It's so confusing for me that he didn't have any family/friends that could help him out offering a temporary shelter. Is this normal in America?
If I had to take a lesson from his words it would be: focus in relationships. All the rest is not important.
I'm in the UK and my only debt is my mortgage, because I'm in the last generation not to have to pay for higher education.
Also, popular culture is very focused on the idea of having lots of "stuff", which leads to people spending more than they should.
While not homeless, my sister came to a crossroads in her career and is now doing this exact thing. The extra $10K/yr basically pays her rent, she is still able to work full time, and she'll have a degree in a field she actually likes at the end. If OP suddenly had $5K in the bank, his road to recovery wouldn't have been nearly as rocky.
And while specific skills training may help, more education won't bring clients online.
APUS is, despite its "public university" name, a private, for-profit institution, owned by American Public Education, Inc.
Those interested in changes to U.S. bankruptcy code, including educational loans, might care to look at the Student Loan Bankrupcy Exception at FinAid:
Student loans were dischargeable in bankruptcy prior to 1976. With the introduction of the US Bankruptcy Code (11 USC 101 et seq) in 1978, the ability to discharge education loans was limited. Subsequent changes in the law have further narrowed the dischargeability of education debt.
You're wrong. It will stay with you until you pay it off, on relatively easy terms, and payments only begin after you graduate.
> And while specific skills training may help, more education won't bring clients online.
Most people seeking a degree aren't in fields where they are looking for "clients". Most people want a degree so they can get a job. If you are referring specifically to learning to code, I wouldn't recommend that anyone use any paid school. There are more than enough free online resources to teach yourself to become a very proficient programmer.
Most online schools, and indeed most online businesses, have one or more "Ripoff Reports" posted. That site is hardly credible, and I question the motives of anyone that would even post a link to such garbage on a site like HN. Most of those "reports" are written by competitors of the business at issue, angry ex wives, the owner of Ripoff Reports himself etc...it's an extortion scheme, asking people for money in order to modify posts. Posting there is SOP among scumbags. Their PageRank is their only asset, and they use it for extortion.
I had no idea that they were publicly traded on the Nasdaq, but that bolsters my confidence in them.
I only mentioned Apus because that is where my sister is going and it is working out well for her. They are fully accredited, and a big chunk of the money my sister is getting is in the form of Pell grants, which do not have to be paid back (your eligibility for both loans and Pell grants can easily be determined at http://fafsa.ed.gov). Yes, you have to pay back the loan portion once you have graduated and have a bachelor's degree. My point was that in a situation like OP's, this would be the first thing that I would do. If you were homeless or close to it, this would be by far the best and lowest cost way to access cash, especially if more education was in your plans anyway. When helping my sister look into this before she enrolled, I was amazed that more people aren't using online schools.
This is why I always say that the first thing your business should pay for is an accountant. Same thing. Business mistakes? bankruptcy is the worst case. Sure, it's not that weird for even smallish businesses to sign leases that are worth truly intimidating amounts of money. My own company's co-lo contract would cover a very high-end Ferrari. Leases are debt. But they can be discharged through bankruptcy. Tax mistakes? Tax mistakes are for life (or, as you say, until you pay them off, along with penalties and interest.)
I mean, I'm not saying that I'd never take such a loan, just that it is money at what I consider completely brutal terms, and for me, at least, it would be a last resort.
As an aside, I think that only taking loans that can be cleared by bankruptcy is something of a sanity check. Nobody, right now, would loan me the money to buy a Ferrari, because I can't afford a Ferrari (well, not a new one, anyhow.) and this fact is obvious if you look at my finances, as a bank would before loaning someone that kind of money for a car. I mean, I probably could usually make the payments, but one financial misstep on my part, or some slight flutter in my income stream and I'd be in bankruptcy territory.
Now, on the other hand, if that loan couldn't be cleared by bankruptcy? I think it would be a reasonable risk for most banks to loan me the cash for the Ferrari. I mean I'd be eating ramen, but I could make payments as long as nothing went wrong, and even if I screw it up and they've gotta repo the thing, It's pretty likely that my lifetime earnings, which they'll get to garnish in this hypothetical world where car loans operate like student loans, are going to be enough to more than cover the loan plus interest and penalties.
The point being that operating without bankruptcy really moves the bar on how much effort the bank puts into figuring out if you can afford something.
Please look at my comment in the context of OP's story of living at Starbucks and being beaten and mugged at gunpoint in the park where he was sleeping. I would say that's last resort territory. Hmm...that or take a loan that you have to start paying back in 4 years? I'm guessing that these negative responses about bankruptcy discharge are mostly from people that have never been in such desperate circumstances.
Also, even in less desperate circumstances, (such as my sister's, where she simply got tired of working in her field) going to school and (hopefully) dramatically raising ones earning potential isn't exactly a worthless pursuit.
My real worry though would be that:
>going to school and (hopefully) dramatically raising ones earning potential isn't exactly a worthless pursuit.
especially if you are going to a for-profit school? I... really think that this idea that formal education means more money is a lie that we sell vulnerable children, and a lie we sell ourselves, because we don't understand how to end the cycle of poverty. Then we sell them loans they can't get out of. It really seems pretty terrible to me.
I went to a pretty poor high school - I make a lot more money than most of the people who went to school with me who have gone on to get two year degrees or four year degrees from low-end institutions.
I'm not saying that education for educations sake isn't valuable; it is. I'm just saying that when it comes to ability to earn a living, for me and most of the people I've known, for the people who did well after going to school? School was part of a life that meant you were going to be successful; if you took someone who otherwise didn't have that life and sent them to a low-end school? it doesn't seem to help them much. college doesn't seem to do it without the parents... and at least in my experience, if you have the parents, they will push you in to college, but if you resist, it doesn't seem to depress your earning ability much.
See, my real worry would be that I'd go to school and at the end of those four years I'd be no more employable than I was at the start, and at that point I'd be way worse off, because I'd have this big bunch of debt.
None of this, of course, invalidates your suggestion that you take out the loans and use them to live while you get a regular job again, doing whatever minimum work is required to keep the loans. Obviously, having a place to sleep, shower, and basic transportation is going to make getting a job way easier- so yes, your suggestion is a completely reasonable last resort suggestion.
I think the pushback you are feeling is that I felt like your attitude towards those loans was that they were no big deal, and personally, I think they are a very big deal, especially if you are trying to live on the salary you get if you have a for-profit degree and nothing else.
For my company (which we started up only 5 months ago), we hired an accountant in the first week. He saved us 3x his 1 year cost in the first 5 minutes. How I wish we had hired him before we started the business. He could have saved us about the same again.
If you are ever even thinking of starting a company, follow this advice. The accountant is the very first person I would talk to. It's amazing the pitfalls you can get into even when you are being relatively careful (as we were).
I've known people who've used student loans for both ongoing living expenses and to put off repaying ... student loans. The balance ... accumulates. And compounds.
Non-student debt, or non-debt forms of aid, have other ways to be discharged. Student loans have two: sweat of your brow or your life.
Re "looking for clients": you've missed my point: that sometimes the problem isn't your skillset but (variously), the state of the economy, the sector you're in, or the location you're in. "Educating your way out of this mess" doesn't work when the fundamental problem isn't your skills.
Otherwise, you're simply tapping into a fairly readily accessible tar-baby.
Funny, that, how accessible it is....
Ripoff Reports (or other such sites, Consumerist is another) is a good place to check up on businesses. I didn't go looking for that, BTW, just plugged in "American Public University and it turned up. Yes, read carefully and consider the sources and/or possible motives.
But for-profit colleges, make no bones about it, have some exceptionally massive problems, perverse incentives, and criticisms.
How many of the top n colleges in the U.S. are publicly traded?
NASDAQ listing has no goddamned bearing on educational quality. Negative if anything.
If you are going to recommend the "go to school and buy time" route, I'd strongly recommend a community college over a commercial one. Lower tuition costs mean far less overhead on top of living expenses.
Better yet, find a state (or country) that doesn't suck as hard as Texas and/or the US does to live.
So you suggest being mugged at gunpoint and living at Starbucks over taking on some small payments you'll have to begin repaying in 4 years. Got it. Clearly you've never been in such a situation.
>Ripoff Reports (or other such sites, Consumerist is another) is a good place to check up on businesses. I didn't go looking for that, BTW, just plugged in "American Public University and it turned up.
Of course it did. For whatever reason, Google has aided in Ed Magedson's extortion scheme for the past several years. That doesn't make the site any more credible. Ripoff Report is far from "a good place to check up on businesses" unless you want to read angry rants by competitors and angry ex's. Here are a few more of your awesome and very credible reports:
A couple of things in your story seem weird to me, though. Did they really foreclose on your rental house that fast? There were so many properties going under in 2008 that I thought the banks were backed up for months ... Why couldn't you just stay in the rental property until the bank came after it? (PS have you checked to make sure you don't have a deficiency judgment out in your name? Some people are getting charged hundreds of thousands of dollars years after foreclosure!)
Also: you had no credit cards? With most modern credit cards you actually have to call and ask them to stop sending you checks. You could have moved debt from the car to a credit card pretty easily with those, then paid the mere minimum for months.
Did you consider applying for public assistance at all? You could have also tried to barter your skills for housing or food with a church or social service charity.
Again, I'm glad you're okay, and thank you for sharing your story. So many people don't realize they are a lost job or a bad accident away from homelessness; I hope your story encourages more people to save for a rainy day.
Yes, the house foreclosed after 2 missed payments. Bank of America moved quick in my instance. I could have stayed in the house but I also lost my car and my house was very far away from my haunting grounds. Logistically it wouldn't have worked. Plus there's the fact that I couldn't afford utilities (in Texas you need A/C). I have no deficiency judgement as that was all cleared up after I was forced to file Chapter 7.
No, I never believed in credit cards. I always tried to carry a low debt load, at least as much as I can.
Yes I applied for public assistance, but since that year I made a good bit of money on paper I didn't qualify for government assistance. Trust me, I couldn't even get approved for WIC or Texas Lone Star.
I'm glad I was able to share my story with everyone. In America it's very easy to lose everything (and gain it back again).
These days I save as much as possible and live a very frugal existence. That's been my mantra ever since I recovered.
He shouldn't have been buying a leveraged investment property until he had an emergency fund.
With $100k+/year in income, he should have been finding a way to save $10k+ per year.
$400.00 in the bank (from the article)
To quote Mr. Money Mustache, every dollar you spend stops working for you. If you are a basketball star, a software engineer, or a movie star, let your relatively high income offset your future low income life.
Not to be critical, but to use as an illustrative example from your own life, you started your challenging period owning a Nissan 350z which got 12 mpg. If you had made exactly one different decision, buying a Honda Civic instead of that 350z, and everything else was the same, you would have hit that point with a car that got 35mpg and an additional $15,000 in your bank account.
So from a learning perspective, at the time you made the purchase of the 350z, thinking about value versus cost versus future expense, knowing what you know now do you make the same choice? I am not a fan of dwelling on past decisions, they were made and they are done. But I am a huge fan of learning as much as I can from the lessons life teaches to insure I am getting full value out of that education.
Granted if you're too aggressive with IRA investing or student loan payoff you can get in a situation like this. That's my downfall - I'd rather be in the market, but you really shouldn't expose your emergency fund to that kind of risk, especially given near-perfect correlation between market performance and personal financial security.
We also had to budget for a vacation abroad so that we could see the sun ;-) (I'm only partially joking...)
Its usually recommended to have 3-6 months of expenses in the event of income loss, but its only a rough guideline. In some industries or economic scenarios, you may go almost 12-24 months with a job or significant income (I leave out part time jobs or gig for keeping this simple).
In short, we don't save enough in America (for a variety of reasons), and we don't have a proper social safety net for when that comes back to bite us.
Have 6-12 months of expenses saved in your emergency fund. This is critical. When possible max out your retirement accounts (a Roth IRA can be used as an emergency fund in a pinch; contributions can be removed at any time penalty fee, but this should be a last resort). Save more. Live below your means.
This implies setting your mortgage repayment rate at a level which leaves you with sufficient income to overpay it. Having set things up this way, you can then size your emergency fund on the assumption that you won't have to pay your mortgage out of it.
Why do this? Simply put, the savings on interest are massive and this improves your financial stability a great deal over time.
Why not do this? It requires careful and diligent financial planning, and that sort of person probably doesn't need telling how to take advantage of the subtleties of mortgages.
An investment property isn't liquid, and it's also leveraged.
If you're overleveraged, you'll make extra profits during the inflationary boom, but you'll get wiped out during the next recession.
It also depends on rent and your lifestyle.
I'm able to save 25%-50%+, but I live cheaply.
I'm luckier than the author since I have folks to crash with (relatives) and can borrow some of the items needed to get a new job (computers, car, etc). I have also been on the other end by letting a friend have a room while he got back on his feet.
From what I'm reading, you need to be making about 400k (household income) to make it to the 1%.
For those of you who are asking "Why didn't you have an emergency fund?", please consider why you would say such a mean and thoughtless thing.
Are you asking because you want to learn something or are you asking because it makes you feel superior because you made different choices? Do you like it when someone asks you why you made a big mistake (esp when they don't actually care about the answer)?
Concrete example: a friend of mine graduated coding bootcamp and has been interviewing for her first job. After complaining to me about 2-3 interviews in a row where she bombed questions on the same topic (I think inner joins), I asked a mean and thoughtless question: "why don't you maintain a queue of topics you screw up on interviews, and study one topic each day". Her answer was "I've got no good reason for not doing that".
So she made a queue. Then she shrank the queue. The number of questions she messed up started going down. Now she has a job.
If I have a job I want, at this point, I actually try to schedule a couple of interviews at other companies for similar positions first, because then I'll know what questions are "in style" and can make sure I study up on the answers.
I'm not saying its useful to say those things. But I totally get why one would want to.
That is not a brag; nor is it a situation I want to be in. The point is that people need to be responsible and live below their means. There are trade offs to be made. I like sports cars, but I waited to get one until I could pay it off and not be carrying a huge loan. There is something to be said for delayed gratification.
It's kind of pointless to know enough to earn $100k/year, but not know enough to manage your money.
Yeah, but note these are not 'one event' choices, not opting to save and invest are a long term processes which pan out over months and years. And I would say any one who is doing this, is in full consciousness aware of the risks and melt down that would follow when things go south.
Keep this case aside, There are people as of now when we are having this conversation who make crazy salaries and are blowing it all away on gadgets, vacations, and generally things they can't afford/sustain to own on a long term. There are also people who do the exact opposite and save and invest. You shouldn't be surprised where the two kinds of people will end up on a longer run. Yet this is very basic common sense which anybody can understand with a little understanding of math.
I don't know of anybody(regardless of how much they earn) who can't bootstrap their their way to at least medium level richness. All it takes is a pen, diary, discipline to save and invest and track things at weekly, monthly an yearly level.
It isn't mean or rude. Its just supposed to remind people the next time they are having a nice patch in their life, they should save rather than blow it all away.
But it is probably also a good idea to not put such remarks in the second person, to avoid confusion.
Not that I'm not sympathetic, but the primary lesson people should be taking from this is "do not spend above your means if you can possibly avoid doing so".
However, remember that for many people life is like this every day and has been since childhood. These people don't have the resources, skills or networks to pull themselves out of such situations as did the author.
Next time you're tempted to judge someone who has less than you (and everyone judges based on their own experiences, it's all we can do) - remember that you've had it good, despite the downs and maybe they deserve some help too.
This is something I need to keep reminding myself of regularly.
It's also great to hear how many people helped out when you told them about your situation.
I'm sure you'll enjoy it...
I have a question which I definitely don't mean to be taken in the wrong way, so please just take it as a purely informational query. If I were to find myself in this situation, my first instinct would be to move back in with my parents or otherwise lean on my network of family and friends (couch-surfing, etc), especially if I was reduced to homelessness.
Please feel free to ignore this question if it's too personal, etc, but were family/friends not among your list of available resources, or if they were, was there some other reason you couldn't/wouldn't go there?
We know that men do not seek help. That's why so many men die from testicular cancer - a disease that's mostly survivable if caught early. Campaigns to get me to check and get help if they find anything have reduced the death rate, but we did need to tell some men to seek help.
We see a similar thing with suicide. "Soften the Fck Up" is an Australian campaign to make it easier for a man to seek help than to die by suicide. (They don't censor the word fuck on their website). http://softenthefckup.com.au/
They're linked to Beyond Blue which has some research about men seeking help. http://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/research/research-pro...
It seems that some men just have a hard time seeking help, even when things are desperate, even for things that are treatable and survivable.
When every single "personal finance" site tells you that having an "emergency fund" of 3+ times your monthly costs (rent, food, insurance, ...) is very important, they probably are right :)
Not everybody is going to pull in that much at their job -- on average, probably less than half of that. Anyway, my point is that those bloggers are probably right, sure, but they're right for their circumstances, which are frequently very unusual.
All the time, I read on HN about _things_, but never about _people_. I'm glad you shared this, because it reminds me there are humans here after all. Everyone wants to paint their life in the best light, but it's rarely true.
And yes, there are humans here. We may post a lot of tech-ish stuff, but we live, breathe, and love as humans.
I'm actually at a crossroad in my career right now. Trying to jump onboard with a new company as I'm miserable where I'm at. I'm only hoping all of the paying forward I've done since then can help me find a place I really love. Have to stay positive and focused. Good things happen when you believe it. :)
Put some contact information in your profile. A friend of mine might like to hear your story. Might help.
1. Why didn't the author just pawn the Glock? There are many shops here in Houston, and you should've been able to get a few hundred for it.
2. Why wasn't the rent being charged to the house letters enough to cover at least the 1,500/month mortgage?
3. Why couldn't the author stay with a friend?
4. How did HPD not shoot the author? Harris County is pretty good at that. :(
It's a helluva story, and I'm glad the author is on the other side of it now, but wow.
Were you by the Galleria, or in SW Houston? I'm getting it was SW Houston, maybe on Holcombe/Belaire (that being like one of the only two B&Ns around at that time)? Was the gym the LA Fitness on Wesleyan by chance? Was the movie theater the Edwards on Wesleyan, or the Angelika (I think they hadn't closed down yet), or what?
The hivemind clearly doesn't approve of trying to learn more about the situation. So it goes.
Also, I've heard a lot about american welfare programs, how come you weren't applicable?
> Money was flowing in like gangbusters. I had a house which I was renting out to people to make passive income, a posh apartment, and a sports car (vroom). Material-wise, I had everything I needed and could ever want. I was “successful” and doing great. But in the fall of 2008 things went south.
> I went from making > 100K/year to literally 500/mo. [...] Rent was due and I had $400 to my name
How, between owning a home, a sports car, and making 100K a year in a relatively low cost-of-living area did this person "suddenly" only have $400 to their name?
> I was facing a $1,500.00 mortgage, utilities, etc. Again, no money to pay any of this so I had to let it go into foreclosure.
Selling the home wasn't an option?
> The only thing I had left was my turbocharged 350z which I started to live in as soon as I moved out of my apartment.
Selling the car wasn't an option? Despite this "gangbuster" income, the poster had no savings?
Anyway, I'm not saying this is made up, and I'm sorry the poster had to go through this. I'm just surprised one of the lessons that was learned wasn't the value of being financially responsible.
There were some details omitted from my post regarding my finances as I did not want it to turn into a book. But long story short I had just started making that level of income the beginning of the year and I had a lot of expenses and debt I was paying off ergo why I had not had much saved. Selling the home was attempted but the house was tore up so bad from the renters that I didn't have the money to make it "sale ready". Selling the car was not an option as I was living in it at first.
Living below your means, and having an emergyency fund / "fuck you money" in the bank is hugely valuable. Not always possible.
This is also a powerful argument for why social and emergency services should be accessible.
This is me right now, and it's such a scary situation to be in. Yes, I am lucky enough to have a job that pays me more than I ever thought I'd make, but it could go away any minute -- and siphoning all my cash into my debts might look a lot worse then.
I think I answered this before, but I didn't qualify for government assistance as I had made too much money that year. I couldn't even obtain food stamps. The American welfare system is focused on the long-term poor/destitute versus those who fall on hard times.
As a developer I have had my fair share of job losses over the years, but the one thing that got me through each and every job loss? Savings. I can't stress how important it is to save money. It doesn't matter if you're on $100k or $50k per year, try and at least save a little bit of money from each paycheck.
Recently I was contracting for a startup, like the OP I was earning some serious money, around $10k per month (Australian Dollars) after taxes. After paying my bills, I would set aside some entertainment money, money for a months worth of food/fuel and I would move the rest into a high interest savings account (the interest rate would increase when you cleared a certain balance level) after six months unexpectedly the startup announced they were done, the contractors were fired immediately and employees given a nice 4 week period. I was a contractor, so I had no notice, just a "Thanks for everything"
Usually my first instinct would have been to panic, but living moderately after all of my expenses, I had about 12 months worth of runway. It took me 2 months to find another job, not paying as much, but I didn't struggle. Always save something, because for most of us it isn't a matter of when you'll need it, it is a matter of when.
Wow, this is disturbing. I'm so glad to hear that you could overcome that bad turn. Your story is inspirational and shows that we should never give up.
You're entitled to nothing! All you will have is what you earn, and you have to keep your sense of accountability. If you find yourself stretching your resources to buy something because you think you deserve it, remind yourself that (in the words of Clint Eastwood) "deserve's got nothing to do with it."
Freelance cash is great, but it's a bit of a mirage, because security is far more valuable than a recurring fat check that might stop recurring. Random rough example: 3 years of guaranteed 5k/month is actually more valuable (on average) than a monthly 10k check that has a 5% chance of ceasing each month, assuming no further employment chances for the remainder of the three years.
My order of priority was always: bare minimum of expenses, max out retirement, emergency fund, and then balancing my desire to increase standard of living with my desire to save. Also remember that buying luxuries has a nasty way of also increasing your ongoing expenses. I tried to aim for an emergency fund of a year, which meant keeping expenses low as much as it meant saving a pile of money.
Volatile investments can make you richer faster, but they also have an increased probability of dropping you below zero, and that's why you must be conservative until you can afford to risk your capital. That applies even more to leveraged investments like taking out a mortgage for a rental property.
Last priority should be purchases that don't make you any money -
I'm currently making more than the OP topped out at in his article, but I still drive the same pickup truck I bought in the late 90's, because I personally don't need anything nicer-looking. I work from my laptop for clients that don't care what I drive.
This isn't to lecture the OP - he had his own circumstances and one hell of a humbling experience - more power to him for making his way through it. But if you're a 20-something freelancer that thinks you're doing well just because you're on a 100k projected revenue... please think again. :)
Freelancing and remote contracting can be very uneven. Luckily I had a decent amount of savings to begin with when things dried up.
Kudos to you for sharing - and for being a brave and resourceful person to get through it. The standoff scene is a crazy thing. Over nothing.
I've been living off my savings, with the aim of pivoting to a programming career after years post university stuck in under-employment. My aim was to build up a folio of work in lieu of the paucity of experience on my CV.
But as my savings dwindled, I refused to accept it, and focussed on how I'd easily claw my way back out when I landed a good position.
Even in the past year, when I've been barely hanging on, I stupidly refused to accept reality. I've lived on one meal of lentils for about 9 months or so - shedding 6 stone has been nice; it would have been nicer if it had been in a healthy controlled manner. The mobile phone is long gone, and with it my world, and my friend's list shrank considerably. And still I wouldn't accept the position I'd dug myself in.
And now, here we are. My landlord's patience is exhausted. No wonder. In 2 and a half weeks, I become the perverse dual of the homeless guy who learned to code: I know how to code but have sank the other way. There's no friend's sofas or family to bail me out, though that seems fair - I should face the consequences. At best I might get an emergency hostel with the heroin addicts and alcoholics, although my city has a reputation for failing to meet its legal obligations to the homeless.
And I did this to myself, the architect of my own demise.
Apologies for the wall of text. It was, at least, a little cathartic.
OP, congratulations for pulling yourself out of this situation, very impressive, and thanks for sharing your story.
1. Revolvers don't jam - that can decide between life and death
2. The mind is remarkably good at warping memories to be more positive. Here we have a man who (spoiler) tried to kill himself and later describing this period of time as "not that bad".
Thinking about my acquaintances there are four kinds of people among them who carry automatic handguns. Cops. "Shooting enthusiasts" who spend a lot of time and money practicing and are highly skilled. Former military. And wankers.
(I hope it's clear that I don't mean to belittle ShakyCode in any way; there's nothing wrong with using whatever you have to make the best of a bad situation. I don't know what I would have done in his place; I doubt I would have had the emotional strength do do any coding at all in such a rough state, and I absolutely respect what he was able to accomplish. And that's another important point: saying that someone has privilege is not an insult; it's just an observation.)
I'm curious if it's because once you engaged him he was articulate and clearly not a normal homeless person, or if it was just that humans empathize more with people they resemble?
I'm not sure this is actually the explanation he thinks it is. A significant portion of homeless people had mental illnesses before losing their house. In many cases, illnesses like schizophrenia or untreated mood disorders contribute to homelessness by making it harder to maintain the social connections that form a safety net for many people (for instance, if the poster had driven away all his friends with manic episodes before becoming homeless, nobody would have been around to lend him a car and go get a new contracting job).
Being said all that, recently I've read many similar stories of sharp fall from the height of success. It seems, many people working in the private sectors are vulnerable to "keep running, or you are doomed" like theory. The social and economical structure in many countries, even many developing countries, are different which prevent the "fall from the cliff" like cases. Strong family bonds, affordable permanent ownership of properties etc are key to stability.
Many EU countries have balanced structure where you can choose to slow down in your career path, and to enjoy life. Although government in those countries charge a huge percentage of tax, they take care of their citizens to prevent the sharp fall in career and life.
Perhaps, too strong capitalism, attention to too many distractions all over the world, relying on numbers instead of the quality in those numbers etc are affecting the whole domestic socio-economic balance.
OP's story seems to confirm.
I tend to read a lot of stories about people's misfortune, and how things turned around -- but hearing the story from someone in similar shoes as myself makes it feel so much more personal.
It's really scary how fast things can turn around, regardless of how 'successful' you are at your job / work. Especially if you're doing any sort of freelancing / etc.
One thing I'd really like to know is this: what can people like myself do to help others who are in a similar situation as the author? Are their specific charities that are useful for this sort of thing? As someone who wants to help out, what can I personally do to make a difference? Is going and volunteering at a soup kitchen something that's needed?
I'm genuinely interested in helping in some way -- if any of you have advice / etc. I'd absolutely love to hear it.
That is the best lesson to know. Question, why did the weapon jam?
But it didn't teach them to save a year's living expenses so they'd never get into this situation again? I wonder what is protecting them from becoming homeless if they fall on hard time again -- probably nothing. With that said, this was a really engrossing read and should reinforce the idea that responsible spending is absolutely key to a comfortable life for those of us who perhaps don't appreciate our nest egg of savings quite as much as we should.
Have you considered driving an offroad vehicle out to BLM or USFS lands and subsisting there for free? You can live indefinitely without paying rent in some places.
Disclosure: I've been without work for the past 20 months, and will remain comfortable for another year if need be.
Is it possible to work out a deal with these (most?) restaurants to pick up this leftover food and take it to soup kitchens? Releasing liability, and things like that of course.
But not a 4-month emergency fund?
This guy has 100k/yr in income but no savings at all? And his much highlighted Nissan 350 Turbo "pro street" was bought on credit? Where did the money go? He had people renting his house, presumably for a monthly profit? Did he fail to mention being a heroin addict, or where thd hell did all his money go?
He didn't sell his swanky car immediately, so he could rent a sucky apartment to avoid being homeless?
He gets attacked by a bunch of hoodlums who beat him up before he gets his gun out? But he somehow gets it out anyway.
Then his assailant pulls a gun right back at him, and instead of shooting in fear for his life, he proceeds to engage in a Mexican standoff (which the other guy is happy to maintain too!), and walks up to the guy to deliver a macho line, as if he's in a goddamn movie or something?
Then cops show up and somehow magically diffuse the Mexican standoff situation without using any force themselves?
And finally, there's a time when he's got thousands of dollars of "tax free" income (hah!) in the bank, but he's still homeless? Because having money in the bank sure beats having shelter?
This story is complete bullshit.
I really don't care about attention, just figured others might want to read about a really rough spot in my life and might be able to relate somehow. HN points really don't matter to me, I just wanted to get this off of my chest after 6+ years.
Thanks for reading.
I appreciate all of your taking time to read and comment whether positive to negative.
Be well and carry on!
But either way, think about what I said about the article. If you're being intellectually honest, you'll have to admit it doesn't make sense.
I do however respect your opinion and view as an individual. That's your right, of course.