Pt 3 -Recovering From the Fall of My Empire

*** This post is the last of a 3 part series.  The first post will discussed the rise, the second the fall, and this post is my recovery.  I hope you’ll stick around to check them out and possibly learn from my mistakes. 😉 ***

A quick recap – The first post of this series spoke about my love affair with real estate.  How I stumbled into buying my first condo at 24.  How I quickly sold and bought a new one in the city at 25 and how I turned that one into 2 more before leaving the city for the burbs a few years later.  Part two discussed the outcome of all those properties when the real estate market took a dump.  What happens when the world around you crashes?  When your tenants stop paying their rent?  When the husband you just married turns out not to be the husband you were hoping for?  What happens when you quickly realize that you need to save yourself from the sinking world around you?

And this post?  This post is about starting over.  Regaining perspective.  And becoming the person I was before the shit hit the fan.  This post is my rebirth…

Image result for you just have to keep pushing yourself
~via~

 

When we last left off I was at the bottom…well, that’s not true.  The bottom happened before my last place sold.  The bottom came when I gave up hope.

In October 2012, a friend of mine was helping me clean the studio that my not so lovely tenant had destroyed prior to moving out.  The tenant had worked at my husbands restaurant and had…some issues.  I felt bad for her.  I took her in like any other wounded bird I passed on the street.  I let her move into that unit, gave her a lower rent (at my cost) than I would normally charge, and listened to her excuses each and every month when rent time rolled around.  8 months later and 4 months rent short, I told her she had to go.  She threatened me with lawsuits and I told her to bring it on – she never signed a lease.  I was done with her bullshit and happy to call her bluff.  I told her to have her attorney call mine and they could settle it for us.  She immediately wrote back that she would be out of the unit the next week.  Had I not needed a place to stay, I probably would have let continue to live there just out of pity…

I just couldn’t believe a girl in her late 20’s was so desperately fucked up.  I mean, hadn’t she ever heard of a budget?  Didn’t she know the dangers of the party life?  Didn’t she have any friends to pull her back from the edge?  Yeah…I judgedand then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and took a long hard look at my life.  I was kicking a broke druggie out of my studio because I was leaving my husband.  I was judging a girl who put all her flaws on the outside while I desperately tried to hide my own ugly warts on the inside.  My failed jaunt at real estate had put me in nearly HALF A MILLION dollars in mortgage debt.   My tenant might have been living paycheck to paycheck, but I had sold my soul and the idea of my first born child to the devil – Greed…or Bank of America depending on which way you look at it.  Comparing myself to this poor girl, I realized I was no better.  I had finally hit bottom.

The very next week I found myself scraping dried vomit off the side of the toilet (the tenants, not mine), blathering on to my friend asking her in my own desperation, “what am I supposed to do next??”.  I had just left my husband, could barely get up the energy to work, and this studio that I was moving into was behind on payments and soon to be short sold. I had already lost 2 others and this was the last domino to fall.  Things looked bleak. After 20 minutes of me crying about the situation my friend took the scrub brush from my hand and made me look her in the eyes. All she said was, “Why do you have to do anything? Just wait. Breathe.”.  She was right!  I may have been at my bottom, but the difference between me and my tenant was that I was aware of it.*  Knowing that, empowered me to dig my way out.  I guess all I needed was permission.

So how did I do it?  Looking back now, I see that I followed all the stages of grief:**

1.  Denial came first.  I followed my friends advice and took time to breathe.  I did absolutely NOTHING for a couple of months.  It was winter in Chicago.  Cold, dark, and never ending.  I barely worked, I didn’t leave the house unless it was to walk the dog, get groceries, or some familial obligation, and I didn’t write (I stopped writing my blog.  The one constant joy that had been with me through the entire marriage.).  I spent months eating dinner in my bathtub trying to soak off the shame I felt from failing.  I watched movies.  And I cried.  A lot.  I was so embarrassed of myself that I didn’t want to ask for help.  I had always been the rock for others and I didn’t want them to see me crumbling.  Pride is a wicked emotion.  It can build you up but it can also break you down.  I was broken.  I needed this time to heal myself.

2.  Anger – After a couple months passed, I caught a second wind.  I got up and got out.  Spring was coming and I realized I couldn’t just sit in my tub drinking wine and eating cheese and crackers (the only food I could stomach) for the rest of my life.  It was time to fight back…and I was irate!!  I contacted Bank of America.  I fought with them, I reasoned with them, then I kicked and screamed and tried to change their minds about my property.  It did no good.  I told the voice at the other end of the line “if I couldn’t modify my loan then I don’t want to live here.  Where can I send the keys?”.  She chuckled and said it didn’t work like that.  I had to wait it out.  A few months later the unit finally sold.  It was August of 2012, and I was finally free..

3.  Bargaining – A friend who lived in the same building was moving out at the end of September.  I spoke with her landlord, explained my situation, and told him I would pay the first 6 months up front and in cash.  I knew my credit score was shit and I had been saving all my income (minus taxes and assessments) during the short sale process.  He was extremely understanding and took me at my word.  Instead of  6 months he asked for 2 plus a 2 month security deposit.  Cash in hand I met him to sign the lease at a Starbucks…I didn’t even bother to buy a drink.  For the first time in 9 years I was going to be a tenant.  I packed the few belongings I had left (to this point I had moved 5 times in 6 years…I was getting VERY good at it!) and brought them to a storage unit in the city.  I had one month to kill before I could move in.  I was going to Spain.

4.  Depression.  This stage had already been looming since leaving my house but now I had the time to focus on getting past it.  The past 3 years of losing my properties had cleared my schedule of responsibilities so I decided to take some time to clear my work schedule as well.  I had walked the Camino De Santiago before but never in this mindset.  I first walked it in 2005 when I was young, dumb, and not mentally prepared for the challenge, quitting one week in.  I walked the remaining portion from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela in 2011, only one year after our wedding and already I was trying to escape.  But this year, in 2012, I was walking with purpose.  I was trying to untangle the past 9 years of my life…seeking some kind of answer for how it all went so wrong.  I walked 500 miles in 23 days…some might say I ran, but I disagree.  When your only responsibility is to get up, brush your teeth, and walk, it is easy to pass the miles by foot – it is far more difficult to deal with the never ending stream of thoughts whirling about your brain.  I spoke to very few people in those 23 days.  I walked alone, I ate alone, and slowly I was able to process every thing that had led me to this point.  The answer to all my questions started and ended with Me.

5.  Acceptance.  This is such an important piece of the puzzle.  While I was walking, I finally realized how much of a part I had played in this colossal downfall.  I had blamed everybody for my failure except myself.  I had blamed the Realtor who had sold me my first place.   I conveniently blamed the fact that my boyfriend moved in for why we needed a larger space even though I knew my place was too small to invite him.  I blamed the mortgage guy for screwing me at closing.  I blamed my husband for being exactly who I knew he was when we met (we both did that…see, I still can’t take the blame for that!).  And my favorite – the one I repeated over and over to anyone who would listen – I blamed the banks for all of my properties.  I felt vindicated when I told people that I had played the game by all “their” rules and that “they” had changed them….I LOVED that excuse!!  It’s you not me…classic!  Never once had I taken a moment to blame myself.  To realize that I had played a part in every single one of those decisions.  I finally saw the entire picture with complete clarity…

 I had purchased all of those properties with 20% down.  I had paid every month even when my tenants rent didn’t cover it and I operated at a loss.  I had done what I thought I was supposed to.  But in the grand scheme of things, what I thought I was supposed to do wasn’t enough.  I had leveraged my future income against my current finances and I put too much trust in outside variables.  Would my tenants be able to pay?  If they didn’t, what was my plan?  If the entire market falls and rents drop drastically, how low could I go before I couldn’t afford to go lower?  The answer was not low enough.  Just owning my properties I was operating in the negative each month.  Vacancies, dead beat tenants, and the low rental market were only part of the equation.  Not being able to cover the tremendous amount I had leveraged was most definitely MY fault – not the banks.  It was me that signed those loans and greedily grabbed the keys to this life I would now spend years recovering from.

Needless to say, this experience humbled me.  I look back on the whirlwind that got me to this moment and can’t help but be grateful for everything that I learned about myself along the way.  I learned that I need to slow down when making decisions.  I need to take those extra moments to breathe.  And, most importantly for me going forward, I learned that I need to be kind to myself.  I need to forgive my stupidity just as easily as I forgive others in my life….this point I am still working on.  I also know that I am strong, resilient, and completely capable of falling down and getting back up again.

So where am I now?  Pretty good!  Many of you have read my prior posts on my insane savings rates, selling my wedding dress (the one tangible item I had left from our marriage), and challenging myself (and you) to go public with goals whether they be physical or financial…and for that I am so grateful!!  August 31 marked 3 years since the closing day of my last short sale.  In that time, I started hustling at work, saving everything I earn, and lowering my expenses.

I spent one year as a tenant and, when the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance to buy again.  This time in cash.  I purchased my unit for 65K in October 2014…a steal considering how much I had lost!  I now live in the same building, on a higher floor, with a better view, and NO MORTGAGE!!  I had to sell some some things to buy it, but I wouldn’t trade the feeling of security for anything in the world.

Where do I go from here?  Now that I own my home, I am focusing on the future….

Had I not gone through what I did, there is no way I would believe I am able to achieve such a goal.  But now I am energized and, like anything else, I will push hard for it.  My 4 year old self will knock door to door until enough wrapping paper earnings have been saved.  And you know what?  If it all goes array, I won’t crumble.  If my goals change or if life throws me a curve ball – I’ve already been there and done that.  I will pick myself up, dust myself off, and continue moving forward.


The rear view mirror is there to glimpse at whats behind you, not to dwell on it.  Keep looking forward to the road ahead.
Until next time…
*A year later my friend and I, the same friend who helped me clean 3 inches (not an exaggeration) of cat fur off the fan blades of the vomit tenants unit, met for lunch near my neighborhood.  It was a rare moment out for me as I was still battling depression and the reclusive nature that went with it.  The restaurant we chose had a nice patio outside so we looked passed the otherwise sad looking building and took a seat.  5 minutes later, we were greeted by our waitress…my former tenant.  She was shocked to see me.  Her face wore the same look I often saw when I would meet her at the train to pick up the rent and she “forgot” we had made plans to meet…”I forgot it at home” was always the excuse.  On this day, she looked awful.  She was skinny, her hair was greasy, her eyes were dull, and her teeth were decaying.  It was obvious she was still using.
I felt bad for her…I didn’t know how much lower she could go, but it was clear she had not yet hit bottom.  We exchanged a few pleasantries, she brought us some kind of weird shot as a peace offering, and my friend and I bagged the lunch idea in favor of a quick appetizer so we could eat and run.  Later that night, like 3 am later, the tenant called me.  I answered as I had many times in the year before she move out.  She was obviously high and barely coherent.  She was crying about how she had treated me and the money she owed me and the fact that I was the only one who had ever been nice to her.  She was broke and soon to be evicted.  I had been down this road before with her and had learned one thing – you can’t force an addict to come clean.  Any help I could offer would be a temporary band aid to her addiction.  I told her that I could not give her money but if she ever needed help in another way she could call me.  I forgave her the money she owed and, before hanging up, I told her I wished her well.  She never called again.*
** This series of posts was started back in July – due to the nature of writing it was extremely painful and took a long time to get it just right to release my shitty experience to the world.  Earlier this week, I listened to Melanie from Dear Debt be interviewed on Farnoosh’s podcast , So Money.  She spoke about following the same stages of grief when she was in debt.  I am glad to see great minds think alike!!  Knowing this, I am guessing there may be some people out there reading who may be wondering where to start.  To you I say, just take a moment to breathe.  When you gather your strength, go back through these steps.  Feel them completely – you will get through this and I am always here to help.  Also, if I could give one piece of advice that you can listen to today – do not take shame in your mistakes – it doesn’t help to resolve them.  Accept them and move forward.  Use your mistake as a learning experience.  There is no such thing as perfect – I know, I really really tried.  Perfect is boring.  Make mistakes, fix them, move on.  The ride will be so much better with a few bumps in the road – I promise.**
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46 thoughts on “Pt 3 -Recovering From the Fall of My Empire

  1. Wow, you really did go full circle! I love that it had a happy ending – a better unit and no mortgage! Super cool! Where can I buy a $65k condo with a good view? Haha.
    Sounds like you’re living the dream, even it took a very unexpected path to get there.

    Can’t wait to read more of your stories!

    But most importantly, I hope that writing all this down was a positive experience for you to be able to feel vulnerable and to share all of this with the world.

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    1. Hey Tj!

      Thanks for reading and sticking with me through the process. It has been somewhat therapeutic but also way more difficult that I thought it would be…no wonder it took me 3 months to finish this post! 😉

      There are still some good deals to be had in the city. I am always looking! I still feel the need to itch that scratch. Anything under 100k is like candy to me – can’t get enough! But I don’t buy anymore…I still can’t get a loan (11 months to go!). In the meantime I am saving cash and waiting. I still love the idea of real estate as a retirement plan, but this time I will go about it a different way. The more responsible way. One at a time until they are paid off!!

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      1. I can rationally understand why real estate brings a lot of people success, but emotionally, my experience left as a property owner left me a bit sour on the whole thing, even if I did ultimately make a decent profit off said property. For the long term, it’s stock and bond funds for me. That being said, I probably would be comfortable taking a 30 year personal residence mortgage if I knew that I wanted to stay in one place for a long period of time. I just don’t want to be an accidental landlord again. For me, sub-$50k is where I get pretty excited, because I could easily pay cash, but why not take the cheap debt vs. comparable rent payment. The trouble, I feel, is when you keep going with the leverage and think that you’re invincible. So you’re plan to pay off one at a time is probably the safe route, particularly after the experience that you had a few years ago.

        My favorite part about personal finance is seeing how we all have different ideas of what works for us. Like you, I used to be very vocal about what other people should and should not do, but ultimately concluded that it’s silly and sometimes even hurtful to talk money with people in that way.

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      2. Yes, sir! I am no longer as judgey as I once was…but I still have opinions – particularly if I see someone going down the same road I traveled. It is so hard not to speak up and try to correct them My tongue has holes in it for how often I have to bite down. 🙂

        One thing is for sure, I will never leverage my future income against my current finances EVER again!! As for the 30 year fixed – I know I will never be that stable of a person to want to sit still for that long – I’m certain my blood is half gypsy. The next loan I do will be 15 year and with intent to rent. You’re right – we are all so diverse in our plans!! Good thing there is plenty to go around. 🙂

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  2. Wow what a roller coaster of emotions that you have been on. You are an incredibly strong person for all that you went through and I have to admit you’re a better person than me. If I saw the former tenant I probably would have left and never picked up her call. Thanks for sharing your story and I’m sure you will touch many people’s lives!!!

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    1. Too funny – I was writing a comment on your post when you were writing me!!

      I sometimes think of that tenant and wonder if she ever recovered. If not, I wonder if she is still alive. I put a lot of time into counseling her and trying to help her but it wasn’t enough. Strength is a funny thing. I was strong enough to get back up but I wasn’t strong enough to help someone else do the same. I feel I failed her but I also feel that I couldn’t expedite her demise to get her to her lowest so she could rebuild. That is something she had to do herself.

      I am happy where I stand today and I hope you’re right – that my experience can help someone. Thanks for taking the time to comment! 🙂

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  3. You sound awesome. I know this story is one of heartbreak and I don’t envy the lows, but I don’t think anyone can read this and not realize that you will be financially independent in 6 years. Mainly because it sounds like when you say you’re going to do something, it happens.

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  4. Yay for happy endings. Miss Mazuma, you are a very strong person, and also a very kind and empathetic one. I am glad that we are blog friends. I pity the fool(s) who ever stand in your way in the future , they are going to have no idea what hit them.

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  5. Julie @ Millennial Boss

    You’re tough as nails! I can completely relate to the pressure to have all your shit together and to be successful for friends and family. Thanks for a refreshingly real post.

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    1. Awww – thanks, Julie! It is difficult to be “that” person but at some point you realize others are just as willing to help – it’s a matter of accepting it. That’s so hard to do when you’re so independent!! I learned a lot and am thankful for everyone who helped me along the way.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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  6. wow that is intense! I can’t believe you’ve been through all that and can still retire in 6 years!!! And OMG, 65k….I couldn’t even get a parking spot in LA for that! 😦 Would you ever get back into the real estate game or is your paid for unit good enough for you? I often wonder if I “need” to buy a place somewhere as a rental until to be “wealthy.” Some make it seem like you do, others do not. Thoughts? Sounds like kind of a pain in the ass to me!

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    1. Haha – being a landlord IS a pain in the ass…as documented by my freaky tenant! And, yes, 65k is a steal. My little pocket of the city is out of the fray yet still walking distance to the Lake, Wrigley Field, and the bus to the city picks me up right in front (30 min ride). It’s a cheap girls dream come true!!

      I don’t think real estate is necessary to your portfolio. It is tempting, but it isn’t exactly passive income. You could have someone manage it for you but there are costs associated and when there is only one it may not be worth the costs…it definitely isn’t worth the cost for what my unit would bring in. Then again, it is nice to know that if your whole world goes to shit – you will always have a roof over your head.

      I will definitely buy again..I’m already looking! My main focus is places under 100k, allows dogs, and allows rentals. It has to be a unit I would live in and I prefer something a little ugly to give me a project. One of my bucket list items is to flip a property for profit so I am hoping that will be my next step. I can’t get a loan until September of next year (4 years for short sales) so until then I am saving up so I am ready to dive in…. Then again, the tiny house movement is exciting to me. Perhaps a piece of land I build on… The possibilities are endless! Whatever I do, I know I want to keep my cost of living the same as it is now.

      Thanks for popping over, Tonya!! 🙂

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  7. Wow, Miss Mazuma! What an incedible journey you’ve had. Thanks for sharing so openly. While I’m sure you won’t want to repeat a lot of these experiences ever again, your ability to come out on the other side is what will help you succeed HUGE in the future. Future set backs will pale in comparison, right? Have you considered your next real estate deal to include a property manager? For me, I can’t live (invest) without them. 🙂

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    1. Hi Michael!

      At the time I had these properties I lived nearby so I didn’t have a problem doing it myself + they were super easy to get rented with Craigslist – big city living has its upsides! The unit I live in now will eventually become a rental and when it does I will definitely hire a manager. I only have the one but I have no intentions of staying in the city once it is rented.

      And you’re right – all else will pale in comparison to what I have gone through already! In fact, the year I became a tenant again, when I was just starting to rebuild, my car was stolen! I walked out to the street to get groceries and it was gone. Nothing. All I could do was laugh…Seriously? That’s all you got, Universe? Having already been through my own form of hell, that day barely made me flinch. I had a new understanding of life and decided whoever took my car must have needed it more than me. But it’s not all bad news…3 months later I got it back (minus a catalytic converter). 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment – I look forward to reading to reading more of your blog!

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      1. Wow, stolen car? You’ve got some incredible stories to keep sharing. I LOVE your attitude though. Someone else needed it more! 🙂

        BTW, my first “rental” property was unrentable! Yup, a pretty big mistake upfront, but a fantastic teacher through experience. Cheers!

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      2. Ohhhh – is there a post about that?? I need to keep digging on your site!

        I am new to WP and hate that I haven’t figured out this comment section like being able to allow links…maybe a question for the forum?

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  8. prudencedebtfree

    Wonderful! Thank you for sharing this story. “The answer to all my questions started and ended with Me.” So tough. So powerful.

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    1. Thanks for reading thought them, Ruth! 🙂

      I can honestly say I feel better today then I did at the very peak of the hill before I slid down. I have a better understanding of what I was trying to accomplish and now I have the knowledge on how to go about it. I am so grateful for that experience even if it cost me dearly.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!!

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  9. That was a great end to a good series, nice job! I understand using hiking to clear your head and reset. I did that in college when I had just paid for 3 semesters out of pocket for an undeclared major… I went hiking on the AT to figure out, do I need to be in college. If so, what is my degree focus and plan and if not, what job will I get without a college degree? It worked great and ultimately led me to my career now. That was a good 4 months or so of hiking. I didn’t do the whole thing though, just ~1400 miles from Maine to the VA/NC border.

    I’ve had some posts that took some time to write and get the courage to put out there. Like my dad’s suicide post took a long time to get the courage to write. Once I started writing it was about 20 minutes though, bang, done. not really any edits. It’s tough putting hard truths about yourself out there for others to read, judge, support, who knows what the reaction will be?

    Thanks for writing these and good for you for not dwelling on it too much and instead taking charge and making changes!

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    1. Mr SSC – thank you for your kind words. I am sure writing about your Dad was extremely difficult but therapeutic at the same time. We spend a lot of time processing behind the scenes until it just needs to be let loose. Once the levy breaks, you wonder why you tried to hold it together for so long. I am sorry about your Dad and I hope those wounds are healing.

      Hiking the AT is a dream of mine. I thought I would do it back in 2006, but I read too much about single women alone and decided Spain was a safer route…funny that traveling to a foreign country where you dont speak the language would be consider more safe! Anyway, now having hiked through 8 different countries and traveled extensively on my own, the AT is back in my sights. There is nothing in my mind that a 13 state hike can’t cure… I would love to hear more about your adventure!! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow! Congratulations for buying your new place in cash had a great time! Do you know how much it is worth now?

    I was wrong about the timing of my Bank of America loan modification. It was in January 2013 I believe instead of 2012. I found the post where I wrote about it linked below.

    Is really awesome you went through this cathartic process of healing. I’m sure you’re going to do great!

    Sam

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    1. Yes! I was wondering about that. Man, had I only held out for that modification my life would have turned out so much differently!! 😉

      I wrote in pt 2 comments about the price but tlet me repeat it here in case anyone else is curious… The unit I am in now sold at it’s highest for 120k, I bought it in Oct 2014 for 65K, ad currently they are selling around 75k. I think next year we will see a big rebound in my building specifically because it is the only one in our neighborhood under 100K…only time will tell though!!

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      1. Ohhhh – shoot. How do I do that?? I am so bad at html and I dont see an option for it on my comments section. I need a WP 101 class stat!! 🙂 Thanks for looking out for me, TJ!

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  11. Second Julie – you are one tough cookie! Such an inspiration.

    I feel like I’m just emerging from a little bit of a rollercoaster of my own of the past couple years – being financially drained by a partner, separating, buying my own house (a long held dream) and reconciliation. I’ve been through all of those emotional stages and really working hard on the acceptance – leaving behind what could have been and focusing on building back up.

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    1. Honestly, that is the hardest part…what could have been. I take solace in the belief that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. If it was possible before to change things, they would have changed when I tried my hardest to will them to. Life just doesn’t work that way.

      My mom always loved this quote from the movie Parenthood and I think my mom is pretty smart:

      Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
      Gil: Oh?
      Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
      Gil: What a great story.
      Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

      Screw the merry-go-round…I’ll wait in the roller coaster line. 🙂

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  12. HI miss Mazuma, I too am a Flight attendant. I started the major changes in 2012 too. There are so many good quotes out there that have influenced me. 1 . I’d rather be at the bottom of a ladder I want to climb than half way up one I don’t 2 . The greatest gift we can get is a “simple breath” ( Johnny Depp) 3 Be a better person tomorrow than today (Sydney P ) 4 track spending , optimize, and save, shoot for 50 percent savings rates and get FI fast. 5 Self reflection and practice are two very underrated things to improve your life. 6 read this blog from David at Raptitude called ” what you want is never a thing” read it about 10 times. I believe getting to where you want financially is 90 percent psychology and 10 percent math. Whenever I present FI ideas like yours, my coworkers often say “Yeahbutt” to anything I say. Then I come back with , ” YEAHBUTT…………If you can’t say rabbit say hare.” Which makes no sense but so does their insane spending habits. so long from Hawaii, John K

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    1. Hi John! Happy to see another FA out here in the PF world. Love all those quotes – it seems sometimes the words were searching for are already out there! 🙂 I still love your #1 I’d rather be at the bottom of a ladder I want to climb than half way up one I don’t. Such a great visual too!!

      Yes, there are always going to be non believers…especially in our biz! I laugh about the time we got our big contract retro check (2008?) and the unofficial poll was that 70% of girls were buying bigger boobs with theirs. No judgement on the boobs…I just can’t believe they had no other place to put that money! 🙂 Oh well, to each their own. In the meantime, I’m stoked to be the passenger on the plane because I can afford to travel and not just work there.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment!

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    1. YES!! Please do! 🙂

      Greed was a big downfall to my situation though at the time I didn’t see it that way. My grandparents had always owned property and, after my parents divorce when we moved into one, I remember thinking how lucky we were to have somewhere to go (even though they charged mom full rent!). I really saw security in the places I was buying – like I might be broke but I would always have a roof over my head. Only in hindsight did I realize that the real security I needed was having ONE roof over my head…not a bunch of partial roofs. I was trying to build in a few years what my grandparents took 20+ years to build. Stupid. :/

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. And shoot me a line if you make it this way!! 🙂

      Like

  13. Drlanucha

    Love this, love you and all that you have taught me ❤️😘. Cheers to happy endings and knowing there is wisdom to be had in every trial of life .

    Like

    1. Aww – thank you! I am hoping that 6 years from now I am where I think I will be but if this experience has taught me anything it is to expect the unexpected. That being said, these days I am more prepared to handle financial downfalls. Over prepared in fact.

      I am so excited to see where my new focus will bring me. This community has been amazing and so supportive so I thank you and everyone else that takes the time to interact. It makes a huge difference and holds me accountable to continue on this journey even when things get tough. 🙂

      Like

  14. An incredible journey, Miss M. You describe each portion and stage so vividly that I see a book or a movie here – starting and ending with El Camino, and then maybe a postscript. Seriously, I’d be looking for an agent. Your story is riveting.

    The one comment that struck me was how you relied too heavily on outside variables. There’s a lesson there. It’s hard enough to rely on ourselves and what we can control. But if we put too much faith in things we have no control over, we’re gambling big time.

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    1. Aw, thanks Mrs Groovy! I don’t think Hollywood will be knocking on my door any day soon which is just fine with me – I’m still seeking the Hollywood happy ending. 🙂

      Definitely the outside variables were a big eye opener for me. That is why I take this FI goal of mine with a grain of salt. The idea is great and I aim to succeed but the realities of sudden illness or medical expenses on a single income are hard to ignore…especially with my job. But there is no sense wallowing in the negative. Already been there and moved on. I look forward to all of the twists and turns that come my way. 🙂

      Like

  15. That’s an incredible story, and you’re a very good writer, Miss Mazuma!

    Like you and many others I’ve got my own dark period that had a lot to do with real estate and poor choices, so this really resonated – thank you for sharing your story! I think it can offer hope to those still struggling.

    Like

    1. Thanks, Ty! Sorry to hear you went through a similar situation. It helps to know that no matter how bad things are someone before you has made it through. I hope others are able to see that from my story and know they aren’t as alone as I felt back then. Now I know better and when future issues arise it will be easier to move forward.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. 🙂

      Like

  16. Wow, Miss Mazuma. You have a remarkable story. I admire your grit and determination to not let it define your future. What strikes me most is how normal it all seemed until the bottom fell out. I could have been in the same position just as easily. Thanks for sharing your experiences here.

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    1. Thanks, Matt!

      You’re so right – it DID feel normal until it wasn’t. I suppose looking back I had moments that I may have questioned the future momentum, but those moments were fleeting! I am happy to be a few years removed – standing on my own two feet without the assist of the banks or a mortgage. That has made all the difference! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

      Like

  17. This is a really well written and engaging series of articles. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to face everything you went through and it’s truly inspirational to hear to you were still able to wish your old tenant well after it all. So many people get gobbled up by the pursuit of material wealth and the determination to ‘win’ that they lose their humanity along the way. Sounds to me like you’re a bit of a role model after all this – you might have made the mistakes, but you learnt from them and in the end you survived and became stronger. Keep up the good work!

    Like

    1. Thank you, Henry!

      Someone asked if I could go back would I have changed anything…my answer is no. I live real estate, still do. I learned so much from this experience and more so from writing about it. I would say that had I read this before buying my first property I would have gone at a slower more realistic pace. Hopefully this reaches someone in that position. 🙂

      Like

    1. Awww – thanks so much!! I figure if there is one thing I can do it is to be honest with myself and my readers. Fluff has never worked for me! 😉 Thanks for stopping by to comment (super comment!) and I am so happy to have you here!!

      Like

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