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Losing it All (shakycode.com)
331 points by shakycode 851 days ago | hide | past | web | 165 comments | favorite



Very touching post. Good luck with your life.

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.


> 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.

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.


I was taking one of these life self-assessment quizzes yesterday. It has a number of questions which you ponder and respond to in essay form. You can do it in a text editor so it's private and is just an opportunity to think about your life.

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.


Same here. If I actually needed a small temporary loan I'd reach out to a friend, but never a credit card like that. We actually don't have such credit cards here, although we have other options for micro-crediting.


It's much the same in India. Credit cards are not easy to qualify for, and in most cases you can only expect to get one if you're employed somewhere full-time. As a self-employed person for a large part of my career, I would always have to ask other people to use their credit card for occasional use where no other payment option existed (and pay them directly). I finally got one after having put a significant amount of savings in the bank.


Debit cards solve the payment problem for me. They're accepted everywhere, so I've never seen the need to get a credit card at all.


Not all debit cards in India can be used for things like setting up a Verified PayPal account, or an iOS developer membership or a recurring payment with a hosting provider. Maybe it's possible now, but it wasn't for me when I tried it.


I prefer doing online payments with a credit card for the shear possibility of disputing the payment.


I've learned my lesson when it comes to debt loading. Now if I can't afford something, I simply don't buy it. I don't even have a car note or mortgage. Everything is paid for in cash or I simply go without.

I'm glad you enjoyed my post as much as I did writing it.


> 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.

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.


Debt is an accelerant. It gets you things more quickly, but it can also get you into trouble more quickly.

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.


There is a persistent short-term mentality though. When the economy is doing well, and people see others taking risks and getting rich, people forget that one day it won't.

Also, popular culture is very focused on the idea of having lots of "stuff", which leads to people spending more than they should.


Totally agreed on the lots of stuff argument.


It's not essential to the point of your comment, but if my question is not too indiscrete, would you mind telling us which post-soviet country it is? There are pretty large differences between some of those countries in terms of cost of living and I can't think of any where the cost of a used iPhone could pay for 2 months' rent and utilities.(Other than Ukraine, maybe? But things are looking pretty grim over there right now.)


Moldova. I considered a sell price of around 400 euro.


This is just a suggestion, but if anyone else encounters a circumstance like this, the best (counterintuitive) thing may be to go to school online. In the US, federal financial aid will provide you with cash for living expenses. There are several open enrollment online schools (here's one [1]) that are cheap enough for you to wind up with about $4-$5K/semester in cash for living expenses. It's not alot, but you can pretty easily "attend" classes online part time while you try to work yourself out of your situation. You get the "credit balance refund" about a month after classes start each semester, but many online colleges have "semesters" that start every month.

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.

[1] http://www.apus.edu/


Educational debt is non-dischargable. While it can be "easy money" for now, the debt will stay with you until you die.

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Public_University_Syst...

http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/apei

http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/American-Public-University-Sys...

Those interested in changes to U.S. bankruptcy code, including educational loans, might care to look at the Student Loan Bankrupcy Exception at FinAid:

http://www.finaid.org/questions/bankruptcyexception.phtml

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.


>the debt will stay with you until you die.

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.

>hxxp://www.ripoffreport.com/r/American-Public-University-Sys...

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.

>http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/apei

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.


There's a huge difference in the risk you are taking when you take on debt that can be cleared with bankruptcy and debt that can not.

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.


> 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.

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.


Yeah, if I didn't have a safe place to sleep, I agree, taking loans that I couldn't clear with bankruptcy would be something I'd be willing to do. Again, your point that I've never been in any situation that desperate is quite true. I've never experienced anything like that.

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.


> This is why I always say that the first thing your business should pay for is an accountant.

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).


Student loan debt isn't dischargeable. We're talking about someone who's already in financial hot water. Of course, if you like putting out fires with gasoline, that's your thing.

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.

http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/tomorrows...

How many of the top n colleges in the U.S. are publicly traded?

Damned few.

http://www.thebestcolleges.org/rankings/top-50/

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.


>Student loan debt isn't dischargeable. We're talking about someone who's already in financial hot water.

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:

http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/pierre-bitch-face/shreveport-L...

http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Darren-Watson-is-a-Piece-of-Sh...

http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Dodge-Trucks-PATHETIC-PIECES-O...


First off -- I'm so glad the OP is okay now.

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, I'm doing ok now. Thanks for the kind words.

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.

Cheers!


Having gone through foreclosure myself, there is zero chance that you would lose your house after 2 missed payments.


You're not necessarily right just because you went through a foreclosure.


No but I'm necessarily right because I know how a foreclosure works. You don't lose your house after 2 months of non-payment, it takes months and there is a precise legal procedure that has to be complete. Mine was "fast" and it took 9 months.


I haven't experienced one myself, but much of the inquiries about certain facts (including kjackson's) makes me wonder if there were some artistic liberties taken when writing this heartfelt story.


Right-o. From below: "The car was already behind on payments, that part I omitted from the story. As well the house was behind on payments so I let it go to foreclosure. Not the wisest idea, but it happened."


Likewise, seems strange they repo'd the car after just a week.


The car was already behind on payments, that part I omitted from the story. As well the house was behind on payments so I let it go to foreclosure. Not the wisest idea, but it happened.


The big lesson is to keep an emergency fund of 6-12 months' living expenses.

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.


This is so true. If you're clearing $100K+/year in income there is a big red flag if when that goes away you have

   $400.00 in the bank (from the article)
If you are reading this and you are making $100K+ a year and not saving any of it, that is a huge problem for you.

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.


I wasn't clearing 100k I was grossing it. After taxes and overhead it was more like 50-60K. But I understand where you're coming from. I had just started making really good money and my expenses were pretty much equal to my intake. I've since learned to not live beyond my means and am much more frugal in my older age. (38)


And that is a great lesson to learn in your 30s rather than your 40s.Being mindful about what you spend your money on will change your 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.


I don't really see how people get to much more than $40K a year in expenses. That's like a $2K/month apartment and a pretty nice used car with lots of margin for going out.

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.


Food, housing, and cars aren't the only annual expenses to consider. The biggest one you're missing is health (even with insurance). One major acute health problem that lands you in the ER or the need to see a doctor could easily adds thousands to annual expenses. This happens all the time. You'd be surprised how many people get put into collections for unanticipated health expenditures.


In America.


I can assure you that's not everywhere the case. In the bay are, $40k/year will barely make up for your rent/house payment - especially if you have a family to support. And then there's also a student loan payments, health insurance...


I was really, really surprised when my wife and I moved to London, England 2 years ago. In rural Japan I was spending not much more than $10k a year (although I had subsidized housing from my job). To put it mildly I'm very frugal (and like living lightly). In England we were living in an admittedly nice flat in Watford, but I swear $40k would be tight. I think train fare alone for my wife and me was something like $12k a year. Rent, utilities and council tax was probably pretty close to $20k a year. Not a lot of room left for anything else.

We also had to budget for a vacation abroad so that we could see the sun ;-) (I'm only partially joking...)


OP had a house and an expensive car to pay off. That's got to be a lot of money right there. Also, OP probably ate more expensive food and probably ate out a lot more. It's not difficult to imagine how a lot of the money can be spent on these things. Let's not forget that taxes will eat a lot of the gross income too.


I don't understand why Americans ever talk in gross income. Where I live people speak and negotiate only in net income, they don't even consider taxed money as their money.


An expensive ($800k+ home) in Dallas could easily cost $10k a month to maintain. Generally, as people make more money, they find more ways to spend it. More/expensive cars, more/expensive housing, more/expensive vacations, etc.


Health insurance, Internet, Phone...these are the things people always leave out. They are just as much a necessity as electricity and transportation.


cocaine is one way.


Wait, is that normal in the U.S.? To be able to save only around $10k on a $100k a year income?


This could be an entire blog post, but yes, its common in the US to become overleveraged without a sufficient emergency fund.

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.

<soapbox>

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.

</soapbox>

https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/wiki/commontopics

Infographic: https://i.imgur.com/fb7Dtmh.png


The dimensions of this can change somewhat when dealing with long-term loans. If you have a mortgage on terms which allow this, then you're probably better off keeping several months of overpayments in your mortgage account, on the understanding that you're allowed to stop payments for that long in an emergency. Most lenders have some sort of terms like these, but check yours carefully before doing this.

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.


Yeah, I'd recommend 6-12 months in cash, with surplus savings in something liquid (like stocks) and a maxed IRA/401(k).

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.


I'm not sure I agree with the placement of debt. It is often the case that you can you off the debt, but the money invested properly could increase faster than the debt increases.


On the other hand, if you pay off that debt, you're entirely removing the risk of default, which means you can take on more risk with the remaining capital, and don't have to have 6 months of debt repayments in your emergency fund.


High interest debt in that graph is usually understood to be above market returns (8% and up).


$10k+ isn't "only" $10k.


$100k in pre-tax income comes to only around $60k after taxes. (varies by state)

It also depends on rent and your lifestyle.

I'm able to save 25%-50%+, but I live cheaply.


Can you elaborate please? I don't understand.


"$10k+" is an abbreviation for "$10k or more".


Because of taxes and [edit] insurance, retirement, etc. [/edit], yep, $100K is more like $50K - 60K clear (your the 1% but not really). I did the put $100 away a week into a saving account when I was a consultant.

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.


> (your the 1% but not really)

From what I'm reading, you need to be making about 400k (household income) to make it to the 1%.


Also "know your exit strategy". Foreclosure means giving up control and probably losing everything, and you should try very very hard to stay in control of what happens here. Selling the house quickly might have been difficult, but the big immediate mistake here was not selling the car - anything that gets repossessed is gone and you won't get any of the cash, anything you sell yourself you have some control over where the money goes.


I'm confused. I always thought that in the US, if you borrow money to buy a car, the lender gets a lien on it with the result that the DMV will not transfer title to a new owner without the permission of the lender.


That is true, though you can sell it and clear some cash if the vehicle is worth more than owed. (About 2 1/2 years ago I sold a 2010 Honda Civic that I put $5k down on originally for about a $7K gain)


Ah, if it's one of those arrangements then yeah, that was always a lost cause.


In 2008 no one could get a loan, selling really wasn't an option.


These days I save every penny I can, drive a used car, live frugally, and try to keep the "oh shit" fund alive. I live way below my means nowadays.


Good to see he is back on his feet, but most certainly I am really amazed that he was so irresponsible about his situation. Is this how most Americans operate?


I earn a fraction of that here in Spain and still come close to saving half of my wages.


Great story.

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)?


I have, on a number of occasions, made serious mistakes. On several occasions people have asked me "why didn't you X". Sometimes the answer is "I was stupid and irresponsible". This makes me feel bad, and rightly so. Other times the answer is "I didn't know I could X." Those are the times when I'm very glad someone asked me the "mean and thoughtless" question.

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.


Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the obvious. Kudos to you for being a good and useful friend instead of just offering sympathy. (By all means offer sympathy, too, but the actionable advice is the more valuable bit.)


I find it super amusing how similar interviews at a particular point in time are. It's like all the questions come from the same book that all the managers read or something.

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.


Honestly, the "Why didn't you have an emergency fund?" are probably from people who feel the need to justify their lifestyle. I get it. It feels shitty to see this person owning a house and a sports car while younger than me and making less money than me. So I need to assert that I'm making the right decisions. "Why don't you have an emergency fund?" "Aren't you saving for retirement?"

I'm not saying its useful to say those things. But I totally get why one would want to.


No, it's just common sense when it comes to finance. But common sense isn't really all that common. I have the nice house and car, but I also have enough saved that if I my wife and I were both to lose our jobs tomorrow we could live for 6 to 10 years unemployed.

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.


"Have an emergency fund" is personal finance 101.

It's kind of pointless to know enough to earn $100k/year, but not know enough to manage your money.


I was just beginning to make 100k/year. I had the knowledge but was irresponsible with not putting enough away. It was a mistake which I will not incur again.


And your point is what? Is it something constructive or are you pig piling on his (now obvious) mistake(s)?


>>Are you asking because you want to learn something or are you asking because it makes you feel superior because you made different choices?

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.


I think it's important to understand that such remarks, while grammatically in the second person, are not really addressed to the OP (who as he says, has learned from his experiences). They're really addressed to all the other people who have not yet learned those lessons. Maybe in some cases they're addressed to the commenter's acquaintances who make foolish suggestions like 'now you've got a high-paying job, why don't you buy a sports car?'

But it is probably also a good idea to not put such remarks in the second person, to avoid confusion.


Or to emphasise to people that not having one, where you're earning >100k, is very bloody stupid? It's not an unreasonable thing to point out.

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".


This was a very touching story, and like others have said, I'm very pleased the author has found his feet again.

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.


I'm not sure if I'm the only one who went through this. But I'm an IT professional who was homeless and regained his life. Figured it would be a good read for those out there who are out of work and/or homeless.


It was a fantastic read. It's crazy how fast things got bad for you and up again. To go through that in 4 months must have been a emotional roller coaster.

It's also great to hear how many people helped out when you told them about your situation.


Thank you for the kind words. It was a roller coaster for sure. It's amazing how many people in the world are truly good at heart. And to think I didn't even have to ask for anything, I just put myself out there and people offered help. Amazing world we live in. <3


Have you read Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London"? http://www.amazon.com/Down-Paris-London-George-Orwell/dp/015...

I'm sure you'll enjoy it...


First of all, this was a very touching post. I'm glad things worked out in the end.

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?


You ask a great, important question. I have zero idea about OP.

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.


I actually have no family and the one friend I could count on was a "full house". A couch would have been much nicer than a chair at Starbucks, for sure!


I've found that whether they mean it or not, friends are often good for a place to crash until you actually need it. There's always a reason they can't let you stay.


Keep in mind that not everyone has living relatives (mine were all dead by the time I was 20), and some only have a very weak network of "friends" to fall back on.


I love how he blames Obama. I had a different perspective on our last 2 presidents. I sold everything in the final 2 years of Bush's presidency then bought into the stock market shortly before Obama took office. I've never had to sleep at a Starbucks.


Was confused by that aspect, yeah. I'm not sure how McCain would have made the global financial crisis abruptly stop...


One big takeaway:

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 :)


Honestly, I often hesitate to just take personal finance bloggers' word for this kind of stuff -- most of the time, personal finance/"early retirement" personalities write about it because they've done very well with it, which makes sense. But most of the time, they've done very well with it because they have made astronomical amounts of money: $100,000 on HN isn't an earth-stopping amount of money, but a $100,000 salary pretty much anywhere else is an absurd number.

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.


I'd like to think I know the situation you're in. A few years ago, I chose not to go to college and instead jump into freelancing. However, doing the odd website here and there wasn't the ticket to success because clients can and do dry up, plus there's the overhead of finding them in the first place. So, I started looking to form relationships with companies rather than small business owners, and now things keep looking better.

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.


Freelancing is really tough but it helped me eat. Forming relationships is everything! It all starts with a simple conversation.

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. :)


Shakycode,

Put some contact information in your profile. A friend of mine might like to hear your story. Might help.


Things that strike me as odd about this story--and yes, odd things do happen in dire times, but still.

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. ~

Some questions:

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?

EDIT:

The hivemind clearly doesn't approve of trying to learn more about the situation. So it goes.


Why not pawn the glock? Because you might get attacked by criminals while homeless? When I was driving across the US with my wife and 4 kids a few years ago, we somehow ended up in Las Vegas one night with about $5 in change and nowhere to stay, thanks to extreme levels of stupidity by my bank which froze my cards (Thanks HSBC!!!). Faced with the possibility of sleeping overnight in a local park, I'm really, really glad we had firearms with us...


Starbucks lets you sleep in the chairs? I mean, if someone had a buddy who let them sleep in the storage room I could believe it. Corporate is slipping if they don't stay on top of their managers and nip that in the bud.


He probably could have sold the Glock for $500 or so, less if he was impatient.


Am I missing something? Why haven't you tried getting a low-pay day-job (like cashier in mcdonald's) to get on your feet?

Also, I've heard a lot about american welfare programs, how come you weren't applicable?


I hate to be one of those guys who nit-picks and calls out too many specifics on stories, because I know how annoying that can be when you genuinely are telling the truth and someone is trying to pick it apart. That being said, I have similar questions here.

> 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.


Trust me, I've learned all about financial responsibility. Over the past 6 years I've made great strides to save and live a very minimal life now. The lesson has indeed been learned.

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.


This (and a couple of other comments you've made to this thread) would make a very good "lessons learned" coda to your blog post.

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.


> I had a lot of expenses and debt I was paying off ergo why I had not had much saved

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.


Keep on working smart and doing your best to save. I have learned my lesson the hard way. Nothing is permanent and everything is subject to change. The anxiety that occurs when you are faced with financial issues and/or a job loss can be crippling. Even to this day after all of my lessons learned I still worry about what would happen if I lost my job again and had to go back to square one.


I applied at several places but due to my age and experience I was deemed "overqualified". So I resorted to other means to eat and survive during that time.

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.


I have had this "overqualified" experience a couple of times; it's incredibly bad and it drove me nuts at the time. (I was making very little and trying to get a better job; being rejected because "overqualified" was very painful.)


Out of curiosity, how old were you at the time?


32 at the time.


This was a great read. The part where he tried to kill himself by the fountain and the gun jammed, wow. I wasn't expecting that. I am glad the author is doing okay now, it is a reminder that this can happen to anyone at any-time.

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.


"I pulled out my Glock from my bag, loaded a round in the chamber, and put the gun to my head. Sobbing I sat there and let my life flash before my eyes and I pulled the trigger."

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.


This was a dark time in my life. I believe everything happens for a reason. That gun jammed and changed my life.


This is the shamanic trial. Your ego died, you have been reborn with new wisdom and experience of the abyss.

[1] https://www.wingsofpeaceinternational.org/pdf/Shamanic_Journ...


Having freelanced since the first dotcom crash, this reminds me a lot of my own financial anxieties early on. I responded by going super-risk averse in exchange for embracing the riskier income model. For those that are starting out freelancing, the best advice I can give:

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. :)


Heh - I'm kind of there now. Went from 125K last year to about $450/month now. Didn't have as much stuff - but still have truck payments and a couple credit card bills.

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.


That's extremely rough--sorry. Do you have an ad on Craigslist? Seems like everyone I try to hire for a gig on CL here in Seattle is busy.


Do they have to be in Seattle? Or would you be willing to hire for a gig remote like from Austin, TX?


At the moment I don't need anyone but over the years I have used CL for short-term projects. Some of them were remote, some required in-person meets. I'm just saying that they all seemed to get work on CL pretty regularly.


Eh - no worries. Thanks for the CL suggestion.


This will be me soon. I have to move out of my flat in 3 weeks, and have nowhere to go. The future's not bright. It's my fault, the result of determined head-in-sand burying. No sympathy is due.

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.

I continued to contribute to various pieces of Mozilla: if you're running Firefox, you're running code I've written, and I managed to build an internal web app that is now considered a fairly critical piece of their internal infrastructure. Other successes included micropolisJS, my SimCity 89 in Javascript port. Others like my functional library funkierJS and my fresh rewrite of V8Monkey/SpiderNode I've not yet managed to get over the finish line.

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.


You have quite the wonderful portfolio for a guy who is learning to code. What is stopping you from getting a job when developer demand is so high?


Initially, I was convinced I hadn't done enough to be a convincing candidate. Recently, more prosaic reasons: no mobile phone, no website (can't afford the hosting), can't afford a haircut or suit dry-cleaning for attending interviews...


Something like this is much less likely to happen in Germany because social security is working really well there. You may say that Germans pay for that with higher taxes but my response to that is: 1.) If that prevents people from trying to kill themselves for no good reason, it's totally worth it. 2.) If it helps highly qualified people to overcome temporary financial struggles more effectively, that's also good for the economy.

OP, congratulations for pulling yourself out of this situation, very impressive, and thanks for sharing your story.


What's to take away from this 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".


1. I didn't own a revolver as I always favored semi-autos 2. Yes, looking back it now almost 6 years later it wasn't as bad as when it was happening. Yes I was on the brink of dying but I came out a stronger person and have learned to look back at the situation as a life lesson. If I let it haunt me to this day I'd be right back where I started.


I think you made a lot of decisions in a young person's mindset - some of them got you into the debt hole - but this one saved your life.

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'm not sure I understand what Obama had to do with anything?


This is a good example, I think, of how complex the idea of "privilege" is, in that you can have privilege even when you're pretty much at rock bottom. ShakyCode was living on the street, but was able to secure some advantages and eventually pull himself up because he was educated, well-spoken, and able to make a good impression on people who could help him. Those options might not be available to a lot of homeless people. When we say that it's possible to have privilege even if you're poor and marginalized in some ways, this is what we mean.

(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.)


What I see here is that people are quite generous when a member of our own tribe is harmed, hurt, or fallow.

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?


> Now I understand why there are so many mentally ill homeless folks. The state of being homeless is very depressing and can bring about mental illness in the previously undiagnosed.

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).


Back in school I used regularly meet this homeless guy and very often bought him subway and talk to him. One day he showed me his book which I saw him scribble some notes plenty a time, during one of these on/off conversations he told me that he holds a PhD from some univ. in Europe. What intrigues me is that he had some background in astronomy or some similar field of science but the way he would explain things & would always make me wonder how can such an intelligent guy be homeless... This post brought back those memories as if I am reliving it now..hope in humanity still exists.


Very interesting story. I'm glad that the story has a happy ending. While reading the story, I felt how the world still has a huge reserve of big hearts, and they can only be found at the right situation. Also, gratefulness is not only a great virtue, but also pays off sooner or later.

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.


I always thought that having a yearly subscription to a gym that provides at least showers and lockers is a good idea.

OP's story seems to confirm.


Seems to be a great insurance plan for staying fit and clean when times are rough. +1


This was one of the most touching stories I've ever read here on HN.

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.


"In the end, money does not equal happiness. These days happiness is a good cup of coffee ... I don’t care about materialistic things anymore instead I focus on knowledge and experience and consider myself the wealthiest man in the world because of it."

That is the best lesson to know. Question, why did the weapon jam?


> The 4 months of “hell” were really not that bad looking back at it now. All of this taught me a great lesson in humility and resourcefulness. It also taught me to be kind and loving to your fellow man all the while making sure to “pay it forward”.

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.


Quite the contrary. The whole homeless experience has taught me to save every penny I can in an "oh shit" or "emergency" fund. These days I'm well protected and typically have 5-6 months worth of expenses in case the bottom drops out again.


If you had advanced warning that you would go through the same financial hardship, what would you do differently?

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.


Glad to hear it. I wish you all the best.


This might be a bit impersonal, but why exactly could this person not get a job? If he/she were previously consulting for over 100k a year, surely this person would have some skills that would make them employable?


At least in the US, it can be very hard to get a job without a permanent address.


This is really eye-opening, thank you for posting! I hope you are doing well now! I'm wondering, as a fellow freelancer, what would you have done differently leading up to the 2008 crash that would have perhaps made life easier? Also seems like you had friends at the time, could you not have couch surfed?


This is the risk involved in working as an independent. I have experienced a similar situation but not as difficult as this story. I think most independent contractors are generalists with a diverse set of skills. This makes them disposable in such situations and reduce their employability.


Risk, indeed. And always the first disposed of, yes. The first rule of being and independent contractor is to have a year's worth of expenses in the bank. Obviously you don't get to that instantly when you're starting out, but you should try and get there as fast as possible. Two years safety cushion is even better. Having no debt is a huge, immense advantage.

Disclosure: I've been without work for the past 20 months, and will remain comfortable for another year if need be.


> You see, there is a lot of food that restaurants throw out every night because they can’t serve it the next day.

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.


Thank you for sharing. We're very similar, same age, in Houston, so I can definitely relate.


Any chance you could put together a video of yourself explaining to people you were homeless? You seemed to get really good responses from people, and I'm intrigued as to whether there was something special about the way you presented.


I am glad to have read this post. I have never been in as rough of a financial situation as you have, but I have been in a similar state of mind many times. I am happy that you were able to get back to a good place.


Thanks Shakycode for sharing your story. I am glad you came out well and were brave to look back and share your story with the world in a positive way.


This was sad for me to read, because it was completely avoidable with an emergency fund and failing that, credit cards.


Maintaining savings is very important. I've regretted this mistake many times.


> Material-wise, I had everything I needed and could ever want.

But not a 4-month emergency fund?


That is an incredibly inspiring share! Thank you, OP.


You write really well, thanks for this.


Good story, thanks for sharing.


I call bullshit.

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 can appreciate your skepticism but it happened. I could have done a better job adding more detail to explain my story better so it made more sense to others. But I also didn't want to turn it into a small book.

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.


Even if it was bullshit, which I don't believe it is, what does he have to gain from this other than karma points on HN?


Exactly. I am not monetizing my blog, looking to become famous, etc. I'm just a techie guy who wanted to tell his story. People will be skeptical and I encourage everyone to form their own opinions. In the end I was there and lived it and am so glad it's over.

I appreciate all of your taking time to read and comment whether positive to negative.

Be well and carry on!


My guess is that he's a psychopath and just making things up for his own enjoyment. Maybe he's a Narc and just wanted more attention?

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.


Your guess would be way off. I am neither of those things. Simply a person looking to share his experience. I have much better things to do with my time besides fabricating elaborate stories on the public Internet. Not trying to be defensive, but just saying that not everything on the Internet is rubbish.

I do however respect your opinion and view as an individual. That's your right, of course.


I don't believe a word of it either...




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