Confessions of a PF Blogger: A Second Chance

Confessions of a Personal Finance Blogger It’s been a while since my last installment of CoPFB and with all of my recent life changes in the works, it’s high-time I continue with my series as the next piece reflects a monumental shift in my life…at that time, the second of sorts that would inevitably be the building blocks for the financial life I now lead.

When I last left off, I shared my story about becoming homeless, penniless, and mostly direction-less.

All of that changed one fateful day when I made my weekly trek to my P.O. box.

The Best Mail Ever

A habit I’d begrudgingly established out of sheer necessity to keep my credit score intact, I hated picking up my mail. There were days when all I wanted to do was drop the stack straight into the recycling bin because I knew the letters and envelopes I held possessed nothing but further bad news for my financial health.

But as luck would have it, that day would change everything in a greatly positive way.

As I weeded through the stacks of “pay us now” credit card bills and junk mail (ironically, you can still be solicited to open more credit even when you don’t have a full-time job and your current credit cards are nearly maxed out!), I came across a standard-sized envelope with a logo I’d recognized from some of the interviews I’d had while visiting schools in Boston. Immediately, my heart sank as I thought this no doubt had to be a rejection letter for the live-in position I’d applied for a few weeks prior.

You see, even when all hell was breaking loose with my financial situation, I still managed to keep my professional and educational pursuits on the straight & narrow. While I was visiting Boston to conduct my grad school interviews, I had applied for a part-time job that provided all living expenses.

I’m Moving to Boston….Now

Apparently, I should have thought differently. In my hand, I was holding an offer letter for the job stating I needed to move to Boston…in less than 1 week.

Let’s just say the phrase “flood of adrenaline” doesn’t come close to describing how I felt as I literally sprinted out of the Post Office, ran the 6 blocks to my friend’s apartment, and burst through the front door breathless all the while screaming, “I’m going to Boston!!!”

Me, My Debt, and One Long Road Trip

A long story short, I packed up my car and promptly moved myself–along with $14,000 in credit card debt–across the country to Boston within a week.

More than the beginning of my graduate studies, this was a second chance at getting ALL of the pieces of my life together (And as can be guessed from my other posts about grad school, I was on my way to begin studies at Harvard–who would have thought a strawberry-picking country bumpkin would end up studying at an Ivy League school??). :)

As I drove along in my car (the gas for which I charged on my credit card), I couldn’t help but think that amazing things were in store for me and that no matter what life threw my way, my hard work, determination, and positive outlook would always win out in the end…..

 

This post is part of my Confessions of a PF Blogger series.  Other posts include:

 

Confessions of a PF Blogger: Powerless

Welcome back to CoPFB!

Confessions of a Personal Finance Blogger In the last post, I shared how I ended up becoming homeless after having no way to pay my rent.While I still remember that day vividly as if it had been yesterday, I’ve since lost most memory of the haze that was the following few weeks after.

Sure, I remember packing up my car with whatever belongs I could fit in it.I remember pushing my couch out onto the front landing of the apartment building with a sign on it that said, “Free to a good home.”

Feeling Lost

Most importantly, I remember the feeling of being lost as I wondered where in the world I could live given none of my family even lived in the state where I was at the time and my friends had struggles of their own.

As I drove, for the last time, down the beautiful, tree-lined mountain pass that had carried me to/from my apartment so many times before, I was numb to all emotion. While I had cried my eyes out mere days ago, on this day I had nothing left.

The frustration, sadness, overwhelm, stress, and anger of the past month had finally taken their toll on me: I was drained and at the end of my rope. If this was what the phrase ‘Rock Bottom’ referred to, then I certainly was there.

Getting it Together

Miraculously, something clicked in my brain that spawned a spark that would eventually ignite the fire to allow me to get where I am today, financially speaking. I needed a job, and I needed a job yesterday. So I parked my car in the local grocery store lot, walked down Main Street, and applied at every place I noticed a ‘Help Wanted’ sign in the window. Within 2 hours, I had secured part-time employment that would help me get through the next few weeks before it was time to move to Boston.

While I’ll forever be grateful for these opportunities as they allowed me to crawl out of the financial abyss I had landed in, I can’t discount how humbling an experience it was.

There I was, an honors scholar who’d graduated college with a dual degree in International Business and Marketing, a person who’d previously held a job making over $95K/year right out of school, working behind a cash register (and praying for tips from the tourists who were buying their $6 coffees so that I could scrape enough money together to figure out the next chapter of my life).

Never one to be too proud, I had accepted my fate and I knew that my past choices were the reason I was even in this position. In a nutshell, I had finally accepted that I was financially powerless…..

 

This post is part of my Confessions of a PF Blogger series.  Other posts include:

 

 

         

Confessions of a PF Blogger: Homeless

Confessions of a Personal Finance Blogger Welcome back to CoPFB!

In my last post, I detailed how I found myself with $1 to my name.

Even after years have passed, I still remember that day as if it were yesterday–I remember walking the last walk through the parking garage to my car (feeling ill), I remember mindlessly navigating myself to the nearest ATM (running a red light in the process), and I remember the pit-in-my-stomach feeling when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent.

No Money, No Job, No Home

I was already a week behind on the rent (and wouldn’t be living for Boston for another 3 weeks), had no job, and no money. As I walked back to my car, I found myself thinking about the piles of mail I had woefully neglected for quite some time. Then it hit me: credit cards send you those convenience checks where you can just write them out and have the cash you need. Eureka; I could pay my rent!!

I hopped in my car, sped home, and tore through the envelopes. I wildly threw the papers everywhere, searching only for the glorious checks that Citibank had sent me time and time again.

A Hair-Brained Idea

At last, I found a set. I held it up, beaming; proud of myself for figuring out some way to get out of this mess. I ran out of my apartment and headed to the nearest Wells Fargo.

As I stood nervously in line, I ignored all of the feelings and instincts screaming at me that this wasn’t a good idea. But as the next available teller smiled and asked me how he could help, I timidly set the checks–hands trembling–on the counter and squeaked that I’d like to write one out for cash.

His response?

He laughed at me!

Apparently, the type of check I was trying to use as a cash advance was only good for balance transfers. Furthermore, with the amount of credit card debt I was carrying (about $13K at the time), there was no way my available credit could accommodate the cash advance, associated fees, and immediate interest. Essentially, I had nothing but a piece of useless paper in my hands.

Flaming red in the face and eyes brimming with tears, I high-tailed it out of there. I spent the next 20 minutes sitting in my car crying, wondering what to do. Here I was, a bright (4.0 student in college!), educated, motivated woman with no money, no credit, no job, and soon, no place to live.

Admitting Defeat

As I contemplated the very few options left for my situation, I made the hardest financial decision I had made up until this point in my life: I called my landlord and told her that I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent next month.

Then I drove home and began packing my things because while I may not have had any money, I still had my moral compass pointing due-North. In good conscience, there was no way I could stay in a place where I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent.

If I didn’t figure the situation out soon, I would officially become homeless.

 

This post is part of my Confessions of a PF Blogger series.  Other posts include:

 

 

 

             

Confessions of a PF Blogger: $1 to My Name

Welcome back to CoPFB!

Confessions of a Personal Finance Blogger It’s been a while since I’ve posted in my Confessions of a PF Blogger series.In the last installment, I alluded to a challenging personal situation that led to my eventual financial demise.

As I was contemplating whether or not to continue these posts, I realized the entire point of creating this series was to share my financial experiences, no matter how wild, sad, silly or serious they may be.No matter how I slice it, all of these stories help form who I am in addition to laying the foundation of my rocky financial journey. So awkward moments of comment cricket-chirping aside, it’s time to bring these posts back to life.

When Spending Sprees were the Norm

For a while, I continued along in some sort of haze. While the emotional pieces eventually fell back into place, I found myself becoming quite accustomed to my new spending sprees as well as the type of life they brought with them–even if it was only an illusion of a life that I thought I wanted.

I began to think of myself as a hard-working person who “deserved” to have new things, expensive dinner tabs, vacations, etc. Despite my aptitude for clearance sale navigation and affinity for bargain-store pricing, I still managed to spend an exceeding amount of money on needless things such as clothes and shoes.

Queen of the Shredder; Princess of Interest

I also developed an aptitude for shirking financial responsibility–I was the Queen of the Shredder, the Princess of Interest. I charged and charged and charged some more. I began playing balance transfer roulette when I started to have a hard time paying the minimum payments on my sizable credit balances.

I also applied for new cards like a child tears through a Halloween candy stash–I was out of control and nobody knew the difference because I lived on my own, made my own money, and “paid” my own bills.

That was until I gave my notice at work because I was moving to Boston for grad school in a few months. I gave one full month’s notice but it was cut short by three weeks by my employer. So there I was with three weeks less pay than I’d counted on: penniless, in a mountain of credit card debt and the rent was due in one week.

$1 to My Name

As I packed up my things in my office, I realized that I wouldn’t have enough money to pay my rent. After I put my things in my car and drove my final drive out of the parking garage, I went to the ATM to check my account balances:  I had $27.32 in my account and my electric bill was set to pull, which was $26.44 (thanks to my trusty Excel sheet, I could look up exact figures..haha!). Essentially, I had $0.88 to work with.

Add in the pennies and dime in my pocket and I had a whopping $1 to my name.

Enter PANIC.

This post is part of my Confessions of a PF Blogger series.  Other posts include:

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