Three years ago, I walked into the office for the very last time. In a matter of minutes, my career was gone. So was my income. My benefits. My status. And even, my identity. What I didn’t know then, was how this single act would bring me freedom and the opportunity to reinvent myself, and to find joy in unimaginable places. Here’s my recap.
A New Perspective
In the first year, I had to overcome a lot of bitterness toward my former employer. Being fired didn’t bother me as much as the fact that no one ever asked me about the incident that led to my termination. I had built a stellar career over 16-1/2 years and had gained a national reputation in my area of expertise. But it wasn’t enough to keep my job. There was no due process, and that’s the thing that has always bothered me the most.
But now, it’s been three years, and my perspective has changed. I realize that I threw away my career. In one moment in time, my heart and emotion overtook my brain and my rationale. The stress, the pace of work, the lack of staffing, and the increasingly toxic work environment all led to the sudden end of my career. When I return to that day, I remember how I felt as I carried my boxes to my car: RELIEF.
I don’t hang on to bitterness – that’s a one-way street to negativity and depression. Sometimes, we need a push to build a better life, and being fired was the push that helped me create a much more satisfying, adventurous, and fulfilling life.
Truthfully, I still can’t believe this life! A few weeks ago, I found myself crossing paths with a bison in Texas. Last week, I was hiking in the Grand Canyon and visiting my child. And this week, I’ve been hiking the Sonoran Desert and watching amazing sunsets over Lake Havasu. It sure beats sitting behind a desk and tracking every 15 minutes of my time!
The Shift to RVing and Healthier Living
It took me 18 months before I realized that the “new life” I had created totally sucked! But then I realized I had options. Yes, it was scary to make these big moves, especially at my age. Now, I don’t even want to think about going back to the “old life.”
Becoming an Entrepreneur
Once my career ended, I pondered what to do next. I had accumulated a sizeable net worth over 20 years, and that gave me a certain amount of financial freedom. Freedom to venture out on my own. And I wanted to help other women reach financial freedom, so that if they suddenly lost their job or experienced a hardship, they wouldn’t have to worry about living on the streets. So I built online courses – the Dream Big Money Academy – and became a financial coach. My biggest mistake? Trying to do it on my own! I didn’t have the business experience, and more importantly, the selling acumen, to generate an income. And I am still playing catch up, as I work to transform my financial programs into a membership platform.
Certainly, the loss of my income combined with throwing money into business-building had a negative effect on my finances. But the bigger impact? My health! I hated my lifestyle. I was putting in more hours working for myself than I had when I reported to a boss. And it was so lonely. I sat behind my dining room table, day after day, looking at the same suburban street. My daily diversions were heading to the local deli, where I had a burger and beer, just to be around people. My weight skyrocketed. I was depressed and miserable.
Enter the RV Life
The switch to RV living was an instant boon to my health. I am now on my eleventh month of full-time RVing, and it suits me perfectly. I have an active lifestyle and continue to lose weight and get fit. More importantly, most days are filled with so much happiness and joy that I can barely recognize the “old me.” My identity is no longer tied to what I do, but who I am. And that, my friends, is the way it should be!
I have always been upfront about my finances in this blog, and I don’t plan to stop now. I think we would all be better off if we talked about money, rather than keep it secret and hush-hush. I’ve written about the adversity I experienced in my early 30s and my years of absolute poverty. I didn’t catch a break until I was 33, and since I lost my career at age 54, that gives me 21 years of decent income. For most of those years, I managed my finances as a single mom. Over that period of time, I built a net worth of over $1 million!
Negative Cash Flow
My day-to-day finances, at the moment, are a source of anxiety. My business efforts continue to drain my savings and my RV living expenses are higher than I anticipated. Each month, I have a negative cashflow. It’s not due to lack of effort – see my lineup of products. This is the year that I have to turn the corner and make money. Fortunately, there’s a big variance between my day-to-day finances and my net worth.
Net Worth, 2018 – 2021
In 2018, my net worth was $1.14 million. Today, it is $1.21 million. Here are some of the big moves I made:
Withdrew Roth funds to purchase an RV
Withdrew traditional IRA funds to cover expenses associated with getting my house ready for sale. Those funds were returned to the IRA upon the sale of the house.
Sold my house in May 2020. Since I had no mortgage, that move netted me about $270,000. Some of the funds went back into the IRA. About half went into a Vanguard brokerage account.
So even with a negative cash flow and raiding my savings accounts, my net worth increased by about 6% in three years. Certainly, if I had kept my job and added to my retirement and investments, that figure would be much higher. But given the circumstances, I’m pleased with the number.
The change in my net worth is an outcome of the large proportion of my portfolio that is made up of retirement funds, that have grown over time. By selling my house, my taxable assets are now at $194,000. At age 57, those assets should carry me into my 60s, even if my cash flow doesn’t improve.
My three-year anniversary was a cause for celebration. Being fired could be the best thing that ever happened! But there’s plenty of work ahead. Here’s my wish list for the next three years:
Prioritizing activities that bring me joy and happiness
Developing new friendships and connections on my travels
Dr. Brenda is a financial coach, educator, researcher, and sociologist. In addition to blogging at The Five Journeys, she is the founder of the Gutsy Women Club. Her passion is guiding people on their journey to financial freedom through coaching at DrBrendaMoneyCoach and online courses at DreamBigMoneyAcademy.com.
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