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Formerly Rich People Explain How They Lost It All

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We tend to think of "rich" as some sort of destination or goal post. It's a place we work hard to get to, and once we get there we're good. Rags to riches story over. Somebody turn it into an inspirational movie with a strings-heavy soundtrack.


But what about riches to rags stories? Do they really happen?

One Reddit user asked:

Ex-rich people of Reddit, when did you lose everything?

And yeah, pretty much none of it played out like the Goldie Hawn classic, Overboard. The real world is much, much crueler and doesn't involve anywhere near as much amnesia.

Millionaire For A Moment

My ex had a friend who inherited a million dollars in cash and near-cash assets when his only parent died. He was 20 years old.

Now, you aren't just going to retire at 20 on a million bucks - but it's a great way to pay for college, maybe buy a car and a down payment on a house, and save/invest the rest. Basically, it's a really good way to start your adult life and nearly ensure you'll be quite wealthy in your later years.

Did he do any of that? Nope.

He bought himself a ridiculous luxury car, bought cars for his friends, bought wardrobes of designer clothes, threw huge parties repeatedly, etc. Ended up broke in two or three years and went back to waiting tables to make rent.

Sad to see.

- 05110909

Dad Was Cooking The Books

Growing up, my best friends family was extremely well to do. I'm talking running with the bulls in Spain, private jets to Aspen to ski kind of rich. My friend had every toy, gaming console, and cool piece of clothing imaginable.

Right before our senior year of highschool, my friend's dad ended his life.

Turns out he was cooking the books at his business as well as falsifying his his taxes. The company was basically worth nothing. He was looking at 30 years in prison, so he just decided to end it all.

My best friend went from a 6,500 square foot mansion on the water to a 1,200 square foot apartment with his mom and two siblings.

He eventually adjusted to being normal like the rest of us and he is still my best friend.

- TonyDanza757

Would Have Been Set For Life

fox tv marcus pierce GIF by Lucifer Giphy

Maybe not exactly rich, but my sister would have been set for life. Her father died from cancer and she lost both her eyes to cancer at the age of 6 months. The way things were set up, she was going to be able to draw her father's social security the rest of her life so long as she never married and had a full ride to an all blind college, dorm and everything, paid for through scholarships.

She was a really smart, straight A student and she was going to be a court stenographer. So, this pay combined with the social security may not have made her exactly rich, but she would have been extremely comfortable in life/close to rich.

A little white before she was suppose to leave for college, my parents found a note on to the front door. It was from her and her new husband.

She had ran off and gotten eloped! Right out of high school!

He discouraged her from going to college. The man was 20 years older than her, about a year or two older than my mother. He later admitted he wanted to marry my sister because he knew she'd be able to draw a disability check.

So, not only did she lose her scholarships, but she also lost her father's social security before she even received the first check from it. And that man got her involved in a lot of drugs.

He was a man from the local church that basically manipulated my sister and did that thing that most abusers do by making the person they're targeting feel incredibly special and desirable. My sister, being only 18, I think 16-17 when they met, took the bait.

They divorced and she's clean now, had been for a few good years. But now has to live off her disability check and food stamps.

She talks a lot about how she wished she had just gone off to college and it's sad to see how one bad choice changed everything. She really encourages her daughters to focus on education and was one of the driving forces that encouraged me to get my GED when I dropped out of high school.

- PixelsationStudios

I Don't Regret It At All

I wasn't "rich" but comfortably upper middle-class. If I wanted to spend my birthday in Paris, I could, for example.

However, I was in a toxic marriage and had been out of the workforce for years raising my children. Once they were older, I got help for my depression and got out of the toxic marriage. At the time I worked for a local newspaper and was able to put a down payment on a modest house for myself and the kids.

Then the housing market crashed. Then the print news market crashed. Then my ex-husband withheld child support. I had several VERY lean years while I built up my own business, and it was incredibly hard.

But you know what? I don't regret it at all. I came through to the other side a stronger, much happier person. I have a great relationship with my now-grown children and their children. My income isn't impressive, but I have what I need. I can stand on my own two feet and overcome adversity. Looking back, I wouldn't trade the experience of the last 15 years for anything.

- sirdigbykittencaesar

Taking The Breakup Badly

I wouldn't say I was rich but I had a job that paid $120,000 year working quality control for a pavement company. My girlfriend of 10 years (who I was about to propose to) left me out of the blue.

I had bought a ring. I saved up enough money to help with the wedding and even enough to put down on a decent condo for a starter home.

Anyway after she left me I fell into drugs and alcohol and ended up losing my job.

I also got into a car accident when driving drunk. I hit a concrete barrier and only hurt myself, thank god. Don't drink and drive.

Believe it or not I still kept drinking.

I broke my my back and shoulder blade in an atv accident - again I was drunk as f*ck. Now I'm held together by pins and needles and am in constant pain.

I can't do labor work anymore and now make minimum wage in the food industry. I lost 3 more jobs due to drugs and alcohol before I finally checked myself into rehab.

- canadianpresident

The Bosnian War

I have never been rich, but my family was well above average when I was a kid. My father was a mechanic and in 1981 he bought a car repair shop that made us money pretty well.

Then in 1992 the Bosnian war started and our hometown of Sarajevo was put under a siege that lasted until 1996.

In 1994 we were able to escape the city and move into a refugee camp. When the war ended we returned to Sarajevo and my father's car repair shop as well as our home were in total ruins after all the artillery and mortar fire.

We were able to get a new home fairly quickly with the help of some of our relatives, but we never got the car repair shop fixed. It was in such bad condition we just demolished it after we had sold all found scrap metal and usable tools.

- BrunoOtus

Riches To Rags To Riches Again

My parents had built up a multi-million dollar company over a couple decades before and during my early childhood.

Around 2006 they separated and ran each other dry in court. Then the crash came and bankrupted both of them and they lost everything they put years into.

After my mother's parents passed away she was able to take a portion of an investment account that built millions from her father's stock from working in the railroad industry.

My father rebuilt his business from scratch repaired his credit and has grown it bigger than it ever was before.

By the age of 21 I've witnessed my life go from rich to broke to wealthy. I am in a great position in life now for my age, but work, plan, live and learn like everything could be again gone in the blink of an eye.

- ObamaPhonesForSale

Expensive, But Cool

twins yes GIF Giphy

"Congratulations! You're having twins!"

Wasn't rich but doing pretty good...but damn kids are expensive. But they're cool so all is good. Who needs to travel anyway?

- I_Liked_Waterworld

Dissolved A Thriving Company

During this year's outbreak, after I gave out my company's final cash flow to employees, we dissolved the thriving international trade company, and I ended up the same.

Although the company has no employees, I still stick to it and don't want to give up the support of our international customers. I never give up, but this year is not good.

- JD868

An Alzheimer's Donation

My Grandma lost it all because of her Alzheimer's. She inherited most of the money from her husband when he passed. It totaled a bit over $2mil with about $150k divided between the 5 children.

My father (her son) does everything for her as she is 93 and has severe Alzheimer's. The plan was to split the money equally between the 5 children when it was her time.

About 2 years ago she started asking my father for money to pay for groceries and other random little things. He got curious about why she would need money and checked the bank account with the inheritance in it.


It was all gone.

She had gotten the approval to empty the account from the bank - without my father's consent. That consent was supposed to happen given her mental state.

She donated everything to the Catholic Church...

Not saying that is a bad use of the money, but could've been used to improve the lives of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

- PleasantLawfulness

Marry Back Into Wealth

Family was wealthy - or more precisely my grandfather was wealthy. Somewhere in the mid 7 figure range.

My grandfather started his own company and was making bank. He had 3 daughters and finally a son - my dad.

My dad was a slacker through and through. My grandfather knew this but had advise all his kids to marry wealthy. My 3 aunt's married wealthy and all still live in that mid 7 figure lifestyle.

My dad married my mom (a farmer) and had me and my siblings.

We immigrated to Canada and still made bank. Definitely loved comfortably up until my grandfather passed. Then my parents got divorced and my dad had custody of us.

He left the country and took my 2 siblings with him. Dumped them in a boarding school and left me with relatives in Canada.

At this point my mom had already gone off and was doing her own thing. Many relationships and my dad had dried up all the inheritance with his lavish spending.

I'm talking straight out of a movie. He had girlfriends that he gifted vehicles, luxury clothes, etc to. Meanwhile I started working at 16 so I could afford lunch because my relatives didn't care about me.

My dad has still told me to this day that I should engage with wealthy people and marry back into wealth.

- _apollo-the-sun-god_

She Got Nothing

I have an older relative who lived in luxury, her husband took care of everything and she was living in different countries every other year and had mansions.

That must've made her think she was invincible because she f*cked some other dude and had his kid. Her husband wanted at least loyalty from her - so he divorced her.

She got nothing, she now lives in the boonies and the only thing that reminds her of the previous lifestyle is the engagement ring she lied about losing.

Her baby daddy actually took custody of the kid and raised him well.

The husband has never contacted her or her family, believing they hid the affair from him.

- MUSTARDUNAVAILABLE

Reichpogromnacht

My family used to own several apartment buildings and the German equivalent to malls. They were also Jewish.

On the reichspogromnacht (1938, the Night where the Nazis staged a "people's uprising" against the Jews. Most rioters and looters weren't, in fact, angry Germans but SS and SA dressed in normal civilian clothing) they were having dinner with friends as were therefore not at home when the Nazis raided and burned their house.

They paid a Taxi driver to to drive my grandfather through Berlin for the rest of the night while looting, murdering, and the first deportations were happening and went back to the friends place they were having dinner at. The next day, all property was seized by the nazis, the bank accounts taken, the house robbed and partially burned.

They took the last bit they had, bought jewelry, fled to the Netherlands and went to America.

- MeMphi-S

War Reparations

My great great grandfather was the mayor of Prague (twice) as well as a successful lawyer, and my great grandmother owned several hotels where wealthy people would holiday on the Mediterranean.

Then Czechoslovakia turned communist and the government told her they would seize everything and she could leave or they would seize everything and she could stay.

She left and came to Australia. My grand parents and mother too.

Apparently there are letters from various war reparations departments in Europe suggesting that we may or may not have returned monies awaiting collection.

However since my grandmother and great grandmother have passed on, the chain of providence is getting thinner. Not to mention the costs of getting translators and lawyers involved just to find out if there even is anything of value in there.

Could be several hundred thousand euros, could be several euros. But since we can't even travel to Czech Republic at the moment there is no way to know

- W2ttsy

A New Roommate

When my dad left my mom for someone twenty years younger. My dad was hoping my mom would let her move in with us.

- goldenwaterfalls


If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

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