Last Monday, my life changed forever. My husband and I went from earning an amazing income in the real estate business to making nothing…in a matter of days. The paychecks that once brought us an annual income of over $250,000 were gone. The real estate market crashed, and we were just one of the many who were unable to earn a living in that harsh market climate. We accrued a ton of debt, and endured a lot of stress, until last Monday.
On this website, and in my books, I have promised to share the secrets I usually share only with my friends-and I’m keeping my word. I want to share my story in hopes of it relating to yours and showing you, that in the end, everything will really work out.
With five children, one if them being away at college, we had an average monthly “out flow” of anywhere from $10,000-15,000. We worked as a team in real estate, so when the checks stopped coming in, there was no plan B. Why would there be? We were living a great life! We were working really hard and enjoying the fruits of our labor. We worried about money, but not too much. We certainly weren’t “stressed out” by it. We had retirement and savings for a rainy day.
When it happened, we really didn’t know what to do. It felt impossible at times, but I never gave up. I decided I would not allow that moment in time to define me, but instead I’d use it to teach me. I approached the issue with intention, instead of feeling like a victim. What happened to me was happening to everyone in real estate. We all went from feast to famine, it certainly wasn’t personal.
To reduce our expenses as quickly as possible, I disconnected and got rid of anything we didn’t need. I put my ego on the kitchen counter and did what I had to do. I refused to be negative about the situation, I didn’t buy anyone’s BS stories about how awful it was, that it would never turn around, and I worked my butt off to find a way out.
While in line at the food bank, I reminded myself how blessed I was to live close enough to be able to stop in for some of our grocery needs. Just getting bread and milk was a huge help! I fed a family of seven dinner every night for less than $10 (with leftovers for lunch the next day). I found it liberating and exciting that I had the ability to do that.
I’d been down this path TWICE before. February 6, 1996 and September 11, 2001…both were career ending for me. However, I did find a way out, just like I had done before. This wasn’t my first rodeo, and I often thought, “OK life, what’s next?”
Many of the people who consider themselves victims of circumstance stay stuck in that circumstance because they don’t accept what “is” and move on. Difficult circumstances happen in everyone’s life, and it’s a matter of how we handle the circumstance that determines the outcome. When people don’t recover it’s usually because they don’t recognize the lesson, take notes, take ownership, and move beyond it. They point the finger everywhere else but at themselves. One of my favorite sayings to my children is “when you have one finger pointed at someone else there’s four more pointing back at you.”
Here’s the way I saw it…I messed up!!! I put my family at risk by over extending myself and using credit instead of cash to live the lifestyle I was living. I should have been focused on paying down my debt instead of putting my credit to work, like I thought I was supposed to. Live and learn! When we know better, we do better.
Through the grace of God and my refusal to use credit anymore, I am currently debt free and actually putting money in the bank so I can buy a home again. I make less income now than I made in the past, but I’m so much happier. I have less “stuff,” but my life is so much more full and I want for nothing. I’m living my dream and you can too, you just have to be willing to do the work. You can read more about my story in my book, “The Secrets I Share With My Friends.” I’ve been told it’s life changing! It’s available on Amazon.