The last two years have been nothing short of a disaster. Personal and financial turmoil are my close friends. I try to remove myself from the turmoil rut, but another day brings another issue. Issues can range from my checking and saving accounts being low, and a bill is due today. In the past bills did not worry me, and I viewed payment as my civic duty. When you have money, you have no issue with meeting your financial engagements. Today I see creditors as the scum of the earth. Thanks to the creditor for giving me a bunch of unsecured credit you knew I could not manage to pay. Remember on the application when I filled in the salary section? Yeah, the one you saw and then gave me this ridiculous spending limit. Also special thanks to the creditor for making the interest rate high enough so we can have this payment arrangement relationship into infinity. I should even blame myself because I decided to obtain and use these credit cards. I usually use credit only in financially tight times. Lately, every day seems to be a financially tight one.
As you begin to own more things of higher value, the costs to maintain these things are ever-increasing. Now I am getting punished for investing in my future. I own an investment property that has tried to bleed every dollar from my pocket. Bleeding every dollar is an understatement. The property has single-handedly bankrupted me both financially and emotionally.
What started as a property to renovate and resell has turned into a nightmare. The flipping process taught me contracts do not matter. Long story short, we found a contractor to renovate the home we purchased. We were able to finance the house in under 30 days for both purchase and renovation through a hard money loan. The contractor began working on the home, and it was one setback after the other. First, the contractor wasted about two to four weeks to obtain permits. Once permits were obtained, the contractor noticed more issues with the home. Some of the problems were frivolous and some serious, but all in all the costs for the project were ever-increasing. We then noticed the contractor spent more time asking for additional funds than working on the project. I got burned, and I have tons of knowledge about construction. Learn from my mistakes when picking a contractor do your due diligence:
- Do not choose the lowest quote: This was our mistake. Sometimes a contractor may underbid a job. The contractor knows if they are in the middle of the job, you are more opt to agree to a change-order and increase the contract price.
- Licensed & Insured: Always make sure your contractor is licensed and insured. Yes, a contractor who is not licensed or insured may be cheaper. You should consider the long term effects if there is faulty work. You will now have to redo work you have paid for already. An unlicensed worker has no real incentive to “make it right.”
- How long has the contractor been in business: This was another of our huge blunders. Our chosen contractor was in business for under a year. You want to work with a contractor who has been in the game for several years. You can check references, etc.
- Work inspections: You should have planned inspections with the contractor. Make surprise unannounced visits to keep the contractor honest. You should check the condition of work and determine if the contractor will meet both time and financial goals. Do not trust the contractor and walk-away. Would you give someone a lump sum of money and walk away?
Here’s why the setbacks pissed me off the most. First, we spend countless days and hours finalizing the scope of work. Second, we spent weeks working on the pricing of the project. Within a couple of weeks, all of the negotiations flew out the window. The contractor walked through the home on numerous occasions, but as work began, everything’s wrong, and the proposal needs to be revisited. Now the contractor can dictate progress. The contractor can stop work until they receive payment.
The hugest lesson I learned from the renovation project is fire early and often. So what the contractor will be upset or you do not want to be confrontational. Severing a negative relationship in its infancy will save you a ton of money, in the end, trust me. As the contractor made mistakes, I came home and vented instead of communicating with the contractor. A lot of the niceties stemmed from a previous personal relationship with the contractor. Another life lesson you can have a friendship or a negative account balance the choice is yours. I chose the latter and waited until I could not deal with the contractor anymore. When I could not deal with the contractor anymore, and my banking accounts were looking weak now, I decided to freak out and fire the contractor.
In the end, the contractor filed a lawsuit against us. Who knew you could create a frivolous lawsuit and get paid because the defendant is tired of getting whacked by legal fees. When going to court and being represented by an attorney, you have to remove all emotion. No matter how pissed or upset, you create a goal and stick with it. I made the common mistake of leading with emotions. Always remember emotions cost money. How much are your feelings worth to you? Remove the feelings and move with a sane mind, or entrust someone else for your emotional checks and balances. Here’s a hint the average attorney costs around $275 an hour, so it’s cheaper to share your emotions with a therapist.
Even though we had a contract with the contractor, it seemed like the court never considered the document. Here’s another lesson learned when communicating with a contractor pick one communication avenue. I would highly recommend the mode being email. The contractor can notify via email so that you can keep a chain of the communications. If the contractor refuses to communicate via your accepted mode, ignore them, and reply from your accepted method. You’re in charge and dictate your project, not the contractor. After all who’s paying for this you or the contractor? Now you can see why I’ve delved into this personal and emotional rut.
Depression has become a common emotion in my daily timeline. The slightest of issues can turn my day upside down. Waking up in the morning proves to be the most challenging task. Going to bed at night can be an even more difficult task. At night I think about all of the bills which are due or creating ways to break this chain of financial and personal rejection — reading through various money-making schemes on the internet. The schemes always show smiling people who are making a boatload of money. The scheme still has an investment for which seller views as nominal, which is not nominal for half of America if you are deciding on investing or buying groceries this month. How can I afford to invest? I have bills due today, and the prospect of waiting on future money will keep me up even later at night.
Waking up in the morning is the worst! I am tired from staying up the night before. None of my questions from the night before are answered. Unanswered questions create a state of uncertainty, which then manifests into anxiety. Staying up the night before did not generate an additional dollar only created more anxiety. Starting your day with a bad attitude from being tired and defeated will only make your day worst. Sometimes I gave up before the day even started. Negative energy creates further negative energy. I will now spill my coffee on the kitchen floor. Forget to lock the front door and have to turn back home. Of course, my first interaction at work has to be with the worst person in the world.
Usually, I am not a depressed person, and some view me as the life of the party. Even in my times of deepest pain, I manage to keep everyone around away from my pain. I have gotten pretty good at ignoring my needs and servicing others. Ignoring my personal needs is probably what got me into this mess anywhere — working hard to appease everyone no matter my consequences. Considering my consequences has forced me to view things on the selfish side. Learning the power of no will probably remove people from my life. If people hate me saying no, then they were only around me for the fringe benefits of our relationship.
I was not always on this side of the financial spectrum. Years back I had terrible credit, and I was able to repair my credit. I purchased my first home, and I felt that I could conquer anything. I sat generally with five figures in my checking account. I was able to invest in the people around me. Funny how I’ve invested in people around me and received minimal gains or returns. Asking for the initial investment has turned into a running joke. Hey, do you have my money? Then I envision what new story I will be today. The story will always involve the reason as to why the individual does not have the money.
Meanwhile, if someone invested in my, I would break every barrier to ensure a return on their money. Another lesson learned people do not think like me. I was able to give my family a better quality of life. Without money, you can have happiness, but you also need money to navigate around our society. Seeing unused funds in my checking account and chasing financial prosperity, I began investing.
A lot of my investments failed. I decided to purchase a barbershop. The barbershop I believed I could run hands-off. I have read countless books about workweeks of less than twenty-hours. How a CEO managed a multi-millionaire dollar corporation in their spare time. Maybe working limited hours worked for that CEO? I need to be hands-on and understand every aspect of the business. Nothing should be done in a hands-off approach unless you like putting money on a park bench and walking away.
I can create additional revenue through the barbershop. The barbershop turned into another money-draining disaster. Here’s another scenario where I chose staying open and being friendly on my own dime. Staying open and being nice was terrific for the staff. The staff will do as they please. At times I wondered if I worked from them? What I should have done is either not buy the barbershop or fire everyone and start a new shop. I learned one lousy employee could sabotage a whole business. I was more concerned about losing money today and allowed the sabotage. Closing the shop was not an option. Looking back today, closing the shop to straighten out employees or obtain new employees was not a bad idea. Instead, I allowed my staff to bully me and underperform. I cannot say I was bullied but prompted to work for the better good of the shop by the employees.
Meanwhile, the employees would not help me build the shop or consider my better good. Instead of the barbershop making money, the shop was losing money. I now had to pay rent, utilities, and any other expense out of my pocket. Why would the employees care? I am allowing them to take advantage. Plus all of the shop’s mishaps is not costing them a dollar. Do I value being liked, or am I afraid of being confrontational? Confrontation is a necessary evil to success. For there to be growth, there must be friction. Pain comes with growth.
Above all of the things, I have stated I have been hit with a whirlwind of bad things. I have been navigating my finances in murky waters without a flashlight. It’s incredible to see the average expense is $100. Going to the supermarket entails three bags, a combined two days of food for $100. Buying basic groceries can have you reassessing if food is necessary. The next incremental amount which seems easy to spend is $1,000. I noticed my car was making a funny noise. Bring the vehicle to a mechanic he tells you the problem and the price tag. Wow! I have to spend a whole week’s salary to have my car on the road again.
Under this climate, I am unable to make a mistake or have an unexpected expense. You know it’s bad when you begin questioning if you need to go to the doctor. I know out the gate I have to pay for the copay. Once I pay the copay depending on what the insurance carrier covers this month, it is open season for the medical biller. The insurance carrier will pay some bogus amount, and you will be responsible for the remainder of the bill. Reviewing WebMD and receiving my honorary WebMD Doctorate in medicine has become a necessary evil. Nothing in my budget allowed me to get an infection which required a doctor’s visit. So either I forgo a bill and obtain a late fee or worst. I’d instead work my “Online Message Board Clinicians” for a diagnosis.
Now anybody who sends me a bill I view as an enemy. Another stress to consider tonight before I go to bed. Another stressed-out morning is ahead. I started reading self-help books. Self-help books are amazing! The books tell you to do this and that. One of the concepts I clung to was speaking things into reality. Yes, I will get a raise and pay all of my bills. Yes, I will become a better person. After a week of positive statements and no results, I go back to sulking. I want to see real change today! I have to remind myself that I did not create all of these bills in one day! That’s an incorrect statement. The furnace broke, and I did not have reserve cash.
The contractor charged a couple of thousand dollars. I quickly apply his balance to my credit card. See how I did everything in teams? My first teammate was the HVAC repairman. When he provided the estimate, I needed another teammate for financial support. So I checked with checking account, and he was running on fumes. I then checked in on old reliable my credit card. Yes, my credit card has never failed when I swipe it. The credit card fails me in the end because I have been paying this balance so long I forgot what I bought. So yes in one day I racked up debt that’ll take me a year or so to play. A moment on my card translates to the credit card carrier standing in my kitchen waiting for their allowance to go out and play.