June of this year marked a very important milestone for my success as an individual. I passed 5 years of continuous sobriety! It feels good. It really does. Looking back on my past and reflecting on where I was just 5 years ago to now is amazing. The transformations that have taken place in my life are incredible. My health, my marriage, my career, my spirit, my finances everything about me is in a completely different place than it was 5 years ago. Since this is primarily a financial/ sobriety focused blog I want to take a few minutes to just relate to you where my finances have come over the past 5 years :
5 years ago in June of 2008 I was approximately $150,000 in debt. Now for some individuals this might not seem so bad however the majority of that debt was on a property that I had purchased in 2005 for 129,000. By June of 2008 the property was worth 30,000. In addition to some small credit card debt and car loans I was in a bad place. All in all my net worth was around -$110,000 , in the hole over 100k! at the fresh age of 23.
Some other factors that were destroying my life:
I was absolutely out of control with my drinking. I worked in the restaurant business which afforded me a decent income, but with that income came surroundings and a lifestyle that glamorized alcohol and drugs. All of my coworkers liked to "party" , a term used to downplay the fact that we were all alcoholic drug users. With the thrill of cash in pocket on a daily basis and a cast of friends who loved to "live it up" I was leading an impulsive addict driven life that was taking me down into a dark spiral.
My marriage was suffering. The stress of the above mentioned debt. The stress of being in a job I needed to leave for my own health. The stress of not having any career outlook. The stress of knowing I was not the person I should be. All of this stress and guilt was absolutely taking me into a depression which further drove the addictions.
Ding Moment :
I remember a hot humid south florida summer night one evening. I had been drinking for hours and still had that migraine/dehydrated type of headache associated with hangovers. The problem was I was drunk, not hung over. I remember taking the trash out to the dumpster and looking up at the sky, the moon, the clouds. It just dawned on me, "This Sucks!" I thought to myself. Here I am getting drunk alone and for what. I wasn't enjoying it. It was just making me sick. That was my aha moment. Not your typical "rock bottom". I had a job, I wasn't in jail, I wasn't getting a divorce. Some parts of my life were ok. But for me this was my "bottom". The book you read in alcoholics anonymous has a quote which says basically "you hit bottom when you stop digging". For me this was it, I was sick and tired of digging a deeper hole for myself and so I stopped. I went through some periods of sobriety off and on from that point forward and stopped completely in June of 2008.
Now what has happened since then? Well lets just say when you finally are able to gain self control, when you finally are able to check your addictive impulsive childish selfish personality, when you are finally able to use the ancient forbidden word of "NO" with yourself things do begin to turn for the better.
As a matter of fact it has been stated that until you are able to control your vices and really get a handle on your addictions it is impossible to win with money. This is true.
I started at the bottom. I quite my restaurant job in 2008. This was a difficult decision because I was leaving a good income. But it was necessary to distance myself from the lifestyle that was taking my life. I looked into various career paths. Electricity has always intrigued me and I had a couple buddies who were electricians so I looked into an electrical apprenticeship. I was accepted! However this was 2008 and the world was falling off a cliff due to the tanking real estate/ stock market/ etc. etc. the "great recession" was at its worst. So the apprenticeship program I was entering did something it had never done in it's entire history, it suspended the program for over a year. 18 months to be exact. This left me desperate to start a job, newly sober, and lost.
I took a job delivering food for a local mom and pop wing restaurant. The money sucked, but it did keep us fed, it kept me busy, and most importantly as I was driving around in my car day to day it allowed me to find myself. I listened to motivational tapes, I listened to financial advisers, I listened to uplifting messages. I introduced myself to Dave Ramsey during this time period. He is an ultra conservative radio talk show host who is the absolute best when it comes to motivating you to change your financial picture. We decided to try and do a short sale on our condo since my income was slashed. We paid off our credit cards, we paid off our cars, we got out of debt, and we started actually saving money. A lot of this was my focus was so intense on turning things around and with all the energy I had from my sobriety I focused this "addiction" towards finances and gaining wealth. At times even this was unhealthy and my wife would surely tell you I have at times shown the same ugly selfish addictive qualities when it comes to wealth as I did with alcohol, which is true, I work on it. But the difference is that in the end this focus actually has the power to have a positive result as I will show you, and given the choice between drunkenness or trying to gain wealth I think the latter is a better pursuit.
Fast forward to February of 2010. This was a BIG day for us. We were granted a short sale from our bank. The noose that was our property was being lifted from off our shoulders. Since we didn't have much and our income was near poverty the bank eventually sent us forgiveness of debt letters cancelling the deficiencies.
I have to admit that this forgiveness was a huge role in where we are today, but an even larger role is the lessons that we learned along the way. By the time the bank did this for us we were well on our way to gaining financial steam and really changing our family tree. I started to log my progress at this time on networthiq.com , we had around $15k when I joined the site. The electrical apprenticeship finally restarted. I found gainful employment, my wife also has seen several raises through out the last couple years. We have cash flowed her college, she is now about a year or two away from a bachelors. We have shunned debt. We paid cash for a small rental house in my home city which is bringing us a small income. We have been maxing out our Roth IRA's, and really just trying to live simply and not raise our lifestyle every time more money comes into our lives. Just trying to be content is key.
Today 8-4-2013 we have a net worth of a little over $130k. I'm 29 years old and in a place of peace that I never imagined. So basically if you look at the math nearly a 250,000 net worth reversal in 5 years! and keep in mind we were making an average of 50k combined a year through out this period.
Blessings do come into your life when you are ready to let them.