All of us face loss at some point in life: whether it is the betrayal of a friend or a significant other, the passing of a loved one, or financial trouble. While most people spend their energy earning money, others possess multimillion dollar wealth — but none of us are 100% protected from failure.
My friend married a woman who had been multi-millionaire since birth. Saying that they were rich is an understatement. They only flew first or business class, he got a new Porsche or Mercedes every single year and they always lived in the best areas in Manhattan. They had a lot of money, but they didn’t work. After all, they never needed to. She received a monthly allowance from her family that I believe was around $700,000 to $1 million per year.
They lived this life for around 10 years. Then, they had some disagreement with their family and they stopped receiving their allowance. But they were in their 50s, they had never worked, and had no professional skills, and they had to pay rent (because they didn’t own a home) and all of their bills. His wife told me that their biggest issue was that they didn’t know how to live like that. She couldn’t imagine what it was like to do her own grocery shopping. When I saw them for the last time, I invited them to have coffee at Starbucks and that was the first time in more than 15 years that they said thank you after I offered to pay for our breakfast. I would not dare to say that this experience was humbling to them because they were always nice people, the difference is that they were nice people with lots of money.
I once had it all — literally what seemed to be the pinnacle of my life or so I thought. We had just purchased a beautiful new home in a great area of the city. We had zero debt, plus 6 figures in the bank. Then everything came crashing down… fast and HARD! For reasons too long to list, my 14-year-long relationship with what was supposed to be my “life” partner dissolved. And with it, I also lost my immediate family — goodbye brother and mother. At the same time, my work decided to let me go. My ex wanted to keep every single thing we possessed! And he would not let me go.
I stayed with nothing and had to start over. Moreover, I had to pay for my very expensive divorce attorney. A few months later my old job asked me to come back. So I returned… 45 lbs heavier and clearly depressed because of everything else that was going on in my life. Everyone at work was flabbergasted. Most could barely recognize me. Some naively asked if I was happy to be back. I responded, “This feels like attending your ex-boyfriend’s wedding and he’s marrying a supermodel.”
In 2011, we were living in Dubai at the time and living a very good life. Good private schools for me and my little sister, fancy cars for my dad, expensive purses and clothing for my mom. And of course an amazing villa close to the beach. In mid-2016 my dad was sued for something he didn’t do, and it pretty much ruined his reputation. We lost all of our savings and he had to work from 6 a.m. all the way until midnight in an attempt to get a raise in order to keep us safe financially. The raise didn’t come. We moved to a smaller home, and he sold all the cars except for one.
And the saddest part of all this is that I feel ashamed of it. It really hurts to see your old friends living so lavishly, spending thousands a week, where you are unable to spend close to anything. It really hurts when all your friends are having a reunion to meet up and catch up with each other, but you can’t afford to fly out and stay in a hotel. But I have learned to stop being like this. I am doing the best in school that I have ever done. While the people around me at school are busy doing and selling drugs, I am the only one mature enough to not want to ruin my future. I am the only one looking for legitimate ways to make extra money on the side so that I don’t overwhelm my parents.
The global financial crisis caused me to lose $3 million. So I started to look for work in my field, but it was all in vain. I had never even gone a month without a job since I was 12 years old. My confidence was shot — I mean decimated. A friend of mine owned a couple of car washes. He offered me a job. It was outside work, taking orders when people drove into the wash. At first, I declined the offer all because my father used to say it’s a humiliating job, whenever we saw someone working at a car wash. But later when I didn’t have money for my niece’s birthday present, I agreed.
On my third day of dragging myself into work, the raven-haired stunner that I’d hired as my assistant 5 years prior pulled in — driving a brand new Lexus. NOW my humiliation was complete. And yet… just as I was about to die from shame, something happened that literally changed my life. She smiled, jumped out of her car, ran over, and gave me a hug. We chatted for about 10 minutes and she said she was happy to see me, that I’d been a great boss, and that she was glad I was working. None of the many people I used to work with considered me a loser. They respected me. And there was even an article in a local lifestyle magazine about me.
When I was a baby, my parents had a big house with 2 maids, a cook, a nanny for the children, 2 gardeners, a gateman, and a driver. There were parties almost every night. The house was so big that my mother’s parents and 2 couples who worked for my father lived with us. Then my father moved away to Japan and my mother made do with a much smaller house for us 4 children and only the nanny.
From then on, our fortunes fluctuated depending on my father’s finances. My father ended up developing one square mile of Shanghai and 2 square miles of Beijing at the end of his life, but that money was stolen by his employee when he died. My life since has been sometimes rich, sometimes so poor that I was living on $10 a week at the end of the month. Honestly, those fluctuations never affected my emotions. Money comes and goes, it does not mean anything as far as your self-respect is concerned. I now like to walk, read good books, watch Netflix, play bridge, get together with friends, and especially with my brothers who were so good to their baby sister when I was young. I feel very fortunate.
Before the outbreak of civil war in 2 of my major markets, I had a comfortable living on a small country estate with horses, 4 cars, nice offices, and a big bank balance. After the outbreak, I lost the lot. My wife and I split up at the same time. I started a new business, then sold it, and put all my money into my second wife’s family farm, built that up over the next 5 years to be a significant exporter of horticultural products, and employ 180 people.
In 2002 the violent farm seizures in the country where I lived resulted in me being put in a jail cell. After 3 days in horrendous conditions, being given the option of agreeing never to return to my farm and being released or facing a probable 6 month stay in a distant prison if I did not. That was after 2 years of intimidation, death threats, and the wholesale theft of my crops and equipment.
Lost everything again, we moved to Canada at age 54 with just 2 suitcases each and enough cash to buy an 8-year-old used pickup truck. What have I learned from this? It’s not what happens to you in life, but what you do about it that counts. I found out who I really am and I am extremely grateful to be alive.
I have a family member who went from having a $5 million net worth and living in Beverly Hills, to being a taxi driver. The reasons for this were his poor investment choices, extravagant spending, and multiple divorces. He can’t quite let go of his glorious past. In fact, he tells his taxi passengers about the mansion he used to live in. For a while, he was holding out hope that he could “turn things around” by betting on the right stock. Now he’s worried about how he will make ends meet once he can’t drive a taxi anymore. He has purposely lost touch with all of his friends because of the embarrassment.
Going from being wealthy to being poor isn’t necessarily a death sentence — plenty of people have bounced back from bankruptcy. Unfortunately, this relative of mine chose to blame everyone else for his problems instead of coming to terms with his predicament. Sadly, age 68, his time had run out. The lesson for me is to stay conservative in my investments, live below my means, and most importantly, don’t get divorced!
I considered myself a financially well-off mortgage broker before the crash in 2008. I had spent the majority of my savings months before on back surgery, because I didn’t bother purchasing insurance. I didn’t think I needed it because l took my health for granted. Midway through my recovery, the mortgage business crashed and burned!! No savings, no incoming work, unable to get processed loans closed, no money coming in. My father died unexpectedly and I was consumed with sadness. I had to sell all of my belongings, move out of my home, and trade in my car.
7 years later I’m still living within a budget. My bills are minimal and I pay cash for everything, including my car and furnishings. I’ve gone on to get my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in my lifelong interest in Psychology. I do preventative healthcare and have coverage for any medical expenses. I don’t buy new, always second hand. I buy disaster furnishings and make them into something I adore far more than anything that’s new. I’ve learned more about life and myself since losing everything, than I did the 25 years before that. I feel grateful that the circumstances occurred the way they did for me to get to this place in time.
It feels like you are the biggest loser in the world when you lose everything. It is embarrassing, you don’t want to go out because you “know” everyone is laughing at you behind your back. You want to just hide out and become a recluse. For me, the losses were sudden and huge. However, I must admit that these events made all the difference. I realized who my true friends were. I quit throwing money away by chasing multiple things at one time and started to focus on what I could do best.
It was because I was broke that I built my current empire, because I was able to see a different side of life. I also don’t live a wealthy lifestyle now, even though I make a lot more money than I ever have. Could it happen again? Yes, but it’s a lot less likely. Would people laugh at me behind my back? Of course, they would. That’s what haters do. Does it matter? No, I know that because of my previous lessons, the next time I would have to climb out of the hole it would be even easier because of the people (friends and family) with whom I have surrounded myself.
This family consisted of a mother, a father, and 3 daughters. In the 2000s they owned a big trading space in the local market. The trading was going well and they decided to build a 3-story house with a basement and an attic. But in 2010 they were spending a lot of money: they bought an apartment in the capital for their oldest daughter, the middle and younger daughters were traveling a lot, and the head of the family bought an expensive car and had lunches in restaurants on a daily basis.
In 2013, the administration of the market refused to “extend” the rental contract of their golden space. They rented a different trading spot, but things were not going that well there. Life became more difficult. In addition, the big house started to show its disadvantages: it required a lot of heating in the winter and the monthly bill for it was about $400, the bill for electricity was $100, they also had to pay property taxes. The father’s heart couldn’t stand the situation and he died. Out of all of the other family members, no one wanted to go to work and it was actually hard to do, due to the fact that they had no experience.
The main idea in these situations is to start investing the rest of the money into things like buying property that is easy to rent out or sell, and to stop overspending money and live on a limited budget.
When I had money, I had a good life. When I lost it all, life started to change for the worse. I never had millions — I was just very comfortable. I had a decent apartment, a good wife, enough money to take 4 vacations a year, and all of the toys that I could reasonably have wanted. But it all went downhill in 2000 when I trusted the wrong person to be the General Manager of my company. He got greedy, started stealing money from the company, and kept on stealing until it sent the company under. I sunk my life savings into a new business venture that didn’t pay off.
So for most of the last decade, since I lost everything, I have had to survive on starting a small business of my own with no capital behind me. My wife stood by me for the first couple of years of having no money, but she got impatient after a while and divorced me. If I had to summarize what it feels like to lose all your wealth in one sentence, I would say that it feels like being involved in an accident where you end up being partially paralyzed. I always remember that line from Fight Club — “You don’t own your possessions, your possessions own you.”
The financial collapse destroyed both of my businesses — a 15±year-old reliable marketing firm and the 5-year-old blooming web business. The complete and instant loss of all revenue from my reliable firm was shocking. We went bankrupt right before Christmas — we didn’t have anywhere to take our stuff. And we didn’t even have money to pay the movers. We had to sell many of our things to feed ourselves.
Now, I feel scared. What happens if something happens to the mini-van? We drive it as little as possible. Of course, there is the shame too. It’s lessened, because we know that the financial crisis was beyond our control, so I can only imagine how bad it would be if this had happened at a different time. And then there is the anger. I worked every waking hour for years and years to build my 2 businesses. And I’m now in my 50s, so the odds of saving enough for any kind of retirement get steeper by the month. I’m probably at the worst part of this right now.
I spent my childhood in a well-off, a bit-above-the-average-income family. As I got older, less money started coming in and by the time the economic crisis hit, my whole family went from hero to zero (family business went bankrupt). And since everyone in my family never gave a second thought to the fact that they might not make as much money as they were right now, nobody saved money. We went from never worrying about a dime to eating the same huge pot of beans 5 days straight in 6 months, skipping all high school holidays, events, and most 18th birthday celebrations (since I couldn’t bring gifts).
Let’s just say it was an eye-opening experience that I would never rewind and change. I’m 23 now, have a stable freelance job and own my own agency as well. Currently, in the final months of paying off the massive debt and I’m supporting my 8-year-older sister, father, and mother.
In the ’90s, I had a classmate whose father was very wealthy. Their family lived a luxurious lifestyle and my classmate would always brag about it. 10 years later, I turned up in the district where my school was located and peeped into a shop. A loader passed by me and his face seemed very familiar to me. He appeared to be my classmate who, after graduation, got enrolled in an institute for a prestigious economy specialization (with the help of his father).
Afterward, his father had some disagreement with his business partners and he was seriously betrayed. He lost his business and had to pay off a huge amount of money. Since there was no place to take the money from, he had to sell their property. After that, the whole family moved into the one-bedroom apartment of their granny and lived on her retirement allowance. My classmate didn’t finish his studies because they had no money to pay for it. He had to start working, but his experience and knowledge were only enough for him to be a loader at a grocery shop. This was a totally different guy compared to the one I knew at school — he was no longer an arrogant “Richie Rich,” but a shabby man with an empty gaze.
Are you aware of cases where wealthy people suddenly lost everything they had?