The One Life Lesson I Wish I Had Learnt, Before I Lost My 9-Digit Inheritance Overnight

(6 Minute Read. Enjoy!)

Have you ever lost anything you truly loved or meant the world to you? After which, have you ever regretted not being prepared for that loss? Were there lessons you wished you had learnt earlier? Well, I’ll cut to the chase – I did lose everything I had, I wasn’t prepared for it at all, and there were certain life lessons I wished I had learnt before my life crumbled into a million pieces.

Since you’re here, you’re probably wondering – Just what in the world did I do to lose everything that I had? I’ll tell you, and I must say that it isn’t pretty.

 

But First, Here’s a Peek into My Previous Life (of Luxury)

Yeah, I grew up in the lap of luxury. My parents’ net worth amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars (yes, a 9-digit net worth), the wealth having been passed down for multiple generations. My father had assets, such as hotels and other properties, all over the world, and he took me on business trips to check out new assets that he had just acquired. He also often regaled me with vivid details of his business encounters, believing that one day I would be the one to control his empire.

Because my father had been so fond of me, anything I wanted, I could have had. I stayed with my family in a house that costs $25 million. My parents had no qualms dropping $1,000 on a single meal for our family. We travelled multiple times every year. I’ve flown on business class as well as first class on the most expensive airlines. I was always driven around by our own personal chauffeur. When I was in college, I blew through thousands of dollars of my allowance every month, without even thinking to save much of it. When I turned 21, my parents gifted me with a quarter of a million dollars in stocks.

I was spoilt and entitled beyond belief, thinking that I (somehow) deserved everything that I had.

Until it was all ripped away from me overnight.

 

How I Lost My Massive Inheritance Overnight

When I was 22, believing that my parents would love me unconditionally, I confided in them that I was dating someone of the same gender, and that I intended to spend the rest of my life with her. They persuaded me to leave her, but I told them firmly that I couldn’t do so; I was happy, and I valued happiness above everything else. My parents couldn’t bear the shame and humiliation of their beloved daughter “turning gay”, and tormented me emotionally for years on end.

First, my parents demanded that I return the quarter of a million dollars in stocks that they had given me. Since it was already mine, I (technically) didn’t have to return the money. But I did return it – every single cent of that money. Losing all that money didn’t hurt that much; the emotional torment from two of the people I had loved most in the world was a million times more heart-breaking.

Next, I was taken off my parents’ wills as a beneficiary. In addition to that, I was also told that I was no longer fit to run their empire in the future. After my parents took away everything, they cast me out. They looked at me like I was some pitiful, wounded animal on the streets, and asked me this one question that still sends chills down my spine – “Are you sure that kind of happiness is worth losing everything?”

I couldn’t bear to answer them. But despite all that they put me through, I stood my ground.

 

But Despite all the Crap, There’s Always a Silver Lining

A silver lining? Cliché? Totally, but do bear with me.

I am a firm believer of the fact that there’s always a reason for every single struggle you go through in life. These struggles aren’t there to just torment you to no end. These struggles aren’t there to just make your life miserable.

These struggles are to you like the much-needed medicine for a sick patient. Sure, they come into your life, mess with you a little bit, drive you a little crazy (or maybe a lot crazy) – the same way most medicines taste awful. But when you’ve learnt what you so desperately needed to learn, and you take a look back at your life, you actually smile a little. You cringe at the shitty times you had, wondering how you ever made it through, but you’re grateful for the things that those struggles have taught you. You’ve become a better person – you know that, and you’re happy about that.

This long-drawn and agonizing episode in my life, despite being absolutely harrowing, had resulted in me learning many valuable lessons. So many. But if I were to pick just one, it would be this one.

 

It’s Never Too Early to Start Saving

A lot of us like to think that we’re still young. That we have loads of time till the reality of retirement planning hits. That we need to live our lives to the fullest now without holding back or caring about savings. I hate to break it to you, but that’s just not the case.

I was no different; I was young, in my early-20s, doing what everyone else was doing, and thought every single one of those things too. I went through the vicious cycle of consumerism – getting some money and then spending almost every single cent of it on fancy dinners, overpriced booze and other fun stuff. I did save a little, but it wasn’t much. Maybe a couple hundred bucks a month, and that was all.

When all hell broke loose at home for me, I only had a few thousand dollars in the bank. I didn’t have a place to stay, I didn’t get enough to eat, and I still had student debt to pay off. I could only work part time as a tutor since I was still studying in university, but it wasn’t even close to being enough to cover rent, food, transport and the works.

I couldn’t do anything as I watched my world crumble around me, and I sure as hell didn’t know how to move forward from that.

With barely any savings, I was stuck in a terrible bind. 

I often look back and wish I could slap 20-year-old me across the face as hard as I can. “Stop partying”, I would tell myself. “Stop spending so excessively”, I would tell myself. “Stop doing things just because others are doing them”, I would tell myself.

“You’d never know when your whole world might fall apart”, I would tell myself.

I always wish I had saved more. I did enjoy tutoring and with the regular handouts I got from my parents, I could have easily saved $500 to $1,000 a month. I always wish I could take back those years I spent partying and all my money I spent on stupid shit, and that would easily be another $20,000 to $30,000 in my bank account. Enough to rent a place. Enough to eat three meals a day. Enough to pay down student debt. Enough to be confident in myself and not to feel helpless.

But I’ll leave that in the past. All my stupid mistakes and all the struggles I’ve faced in my life has made me the person I am today. And that person finally realises the true value of money. That person is frugal. That person doesn’t spend any money on stupid shit that doesn’t make her happy.

That person has a fierce motivation to be financially independent. And that person wants to avoid, at all costs, feeling so damn helpless ever again.

So if you’ve been living a life a decadence beyond your means, stop. Start saving – even if you’re young. I’ve never come across anyone who has lamented “saving too much” and wishing that they had spent more when they were younger. And I probably never will.

You don’t want to wait till something nasty happens before you wake up and start buckling down. You don’t want to make the same mistakes I did – so be prepared to face whatever struggles that may come your way.

Don’t regret like I did.

Love,

Liz

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14 Comments
  1. Hey Liz,

    Just found your blog and have read through a few posts. I really enjoy your writing, but I have to say this post was deep and I applaud you or sharing. You hit home on a few points that I think about all the time. Why didn’t I do more of this when I was in school….? Anywho I just wanted to say that and tell you I will definitely be reading more of your content and I am excited to follow your journey!

    Best,
    Nick

    1. Hi Nick!

      Thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by my blog; I’m really, really happy that you enjoy my writing!

      As for wishing that we had saved more earlier, it’s best for us to leave that in the past, despite how difficult it may be. I think it’s a blessing that we are discovering the importance of frugality and saving now; some people never discover that their entire lives. So, don’t live your life with any regrets of the past. Let’s work on ourselves with a view to the future. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Liz

  2. Really enjoying reading through your blog… Then all of a sudden I read this post and holy crap I’m speechless! I’m so sorry you had a bad experience with your family and coming out. Ultimately it’s these moments that make you such a stronger person later in life.

    Definitely want to slap the 20-yo version of myself too. I was decent at saving, but knowing what I know now I could have done so much better!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Joel, it truly means a lot to me. And yeah, while the experience was very troubling and left me fairly emotionally scarred, I can definitely say that I’m a wiser and stronger person today. Everything I went through changed me for the better. 🙂

      And true that! Knowing what I do now… Man, I could have done a lot better too. But I’m glad that we learnt our lesson sooner, rather than later. With this, we can look to the future and do even more!

  3. This is a brave post, thank you for sharing your story! I am so sorry you had to go through that. I hope you and your girlfriend/wife have created your own family (each other, friends, etc.). Having people in our lives who love us unconditionally is so important. And is worth more than money.

    Your story is uniquely yours (and I think is a tale that is very unusual among personal finance bloggers). Embrace what makes your life unique.

    Peace,
    Ann

    1. Hi Ann, thank you for your well wishes. It’s so heartwarming to receive such kind words from open-minded people like you, and it makes me really happy. 🙂 And I totally agree – having people who love us is worth much more than money.

      I’m glad you find my story interesting and unusual! I definitely will embrace it. 🙂

  4. I agree you should start saving at a young age I wish I did. But I don’t think partying etc is a waste of money & time. I had the time of my life from 17-25 before I started to settle down, but I still managed to buy my first home during that time at age 22. These are the years to be selfish (pre kids) and all about you having heaps of fun but saving a little too. You are still very young it’s never too late. I didn’t start living intentionally & simple until I was 33.
    It’s so sad to hear your story with your parents how narrow minded of them how do you just drop your child from your life due to their life choices. I wonder how your parents would have reacted if they didn’t have insane wealth in their own life. If they were just normal folks like the majority of us, would their views have been different as they wouldn’t have had a “millionaire image” to uphold.. because I cannot imagine myself as a parent , my parents or any parents I know not supporting their child no matter what their sexual orientation or other life choices.. it’s every parents obligation and greatest gift to love a child unconditionally.. You are one remarkable young lady I wish you all the success & happiness that’s coming your way . xx

    1. Thanks for your input, Karena! I agree that it’s important to have a good time, definitely. But I think the difference between you and me was that you were more mature in setting aside savings for yourself. For me, on the other hand, I spent everything that I had. Which left me in a pickle when things got rough. So yeah! It’s good to have fun, but also put aside some money for a rainy day 🙂 How did you buy your first home when you were 22? That’s incredible! When I was 22, I had almost nothing in my bank account!

      You’re definitely right about this. If my parents were like regular folks, I don’t think they would have dropped me so easily. From the fights I had with them, I could tell they were under a lot of pressure from the rest of the family. Everything is always about image, image, image. And it wasn’t only about sexual orientation. My parents used to try and get me to buy more expensive clothes. Otherwise, as my mum told me, “people would think I’m poor and have no clothes”. It’s not like I dressed like a bum, I just didn’t have that many pieces of clothing to wear. It’s sad, really.

      I still do believe that my parents love me, though. I think they were just trying to force my hand. To make my life so miserable that I would have no choice but to go back to them. I guess I would say that my parents care about me, but they just show it in an extremely weird way though.

      It is very very encouraging to hear your incredibly kind words, thank you so much! Growing up, I kept thinking I was in the wrong. That I’m doing a wrong thing by loving someone of the same gender. So I’m really happy to know that the world has amazing, open-minded people like you. Thank you so much for making my day 🙂

  5. Its so admirable on your part that you paid back the $250K to your parents. I totally understand why you did and i’d Like to think I would too.. But I’m not sure I would have. I would have called it an ‘ignorance tax’ on their part.. You had no obligation to return a gift, yet they had an obligation to you, to love you unconditionally and they failed.. But kudos to you for your choice to return it.

    1. An “ignorance tax” sounds about right, Karena!

      You know, my parents told me that I could no longer work in my dad’s business because I was now “poor” and would have the inclination to steal from them. (Crazy, right?) If I hadn’t returned the money to them, I’m sure they would have used it against me to prove their point.

      Also, I was trying to salvage my relationship with them. If I had chosen not to return it, it would have been an instant killer. At least now, (I think?) things are getting a LITTLE better. Hopefully in time to come, when they see that I’m steadfast in the choices that I’ve made, and that I’m happy, they may change their minds? Hopefully. I don’t actually know what will happen.

  6. When I was 22 I had no savings either really I partied a lot and don’t regret it, I mentioned you can have fun and save a little but I did non of the latter. I started simple living and watching my finances at age 33.. But I purchased my first home (2 bedroom) at age 22, which was two decades ago so house prices in Melbourne were cheap back than $96,000 and I put down $2,000 for memory , so definitely not doable nowadays in Melbourne and I worry my kids will never own their own home in years to come.. I’ve since moved out west from city of Melbourne 30 minutes out in Bacchus Marsh. A beautiful country town with many fruit & vegetable farms..

    1. Wow, thanks so much for letting me know. It’s so interesting to hear about this. I went to Melbourne a few years ago, because my mum’s best friend resides in the heart of Melbourne. She was lamenting about how expensive housing was!

      I googled Bacchus Marsh. It looks stunning. I should definitely check it out one day 🙂

  7. Where do you live that a “cheap” home is $800,000 for 2 bedroom? That is insane amount of money. You made right decision to not buy, that is a lot of mortgage commitment per month. The Rent v Buy debate will always be around and it comes down to personal choice, just like everything in life..

    1. I live in Singapore, which is one of the most expensive cities in the entire world. The cost of living here is through the roof. The sad part about it is that while there is public housing (which makes buying a house significantly cheaper), my partner and I can’t qualify for that within the next decade. Just because we’re in a LGBT relationship. So the odds are stacked against us and it doesn’t leave us with much choice. There also isn’t a countryside that we can retire to. Everywhere in my country is expensive.

      We still want a place of our own, so we just have to work around all those obstacles.

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