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.
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