A Quora user recently asked, "What does it feel like to become a millionaire?"
Many people shared their experiences, but no story was quite so interesting, heartbreaking, and inspiring as Renee Wyman's.
Check out her story below.
I was born into the comfortable middle class, married a man fascinated with the stock market, and with him, between 1999 and 2000, made 10 million dollars day trading. Four million went to the government, and we kept the other six. It was all in cash because we rarely, if ever, held any stock over night. My ex-husband knew it was a bubble.
Prior to that, I thought I was doing pretty well, going from $9/hour from my first job after college to $90/hour as an independent contractor. I did that in just under 10 years. And that felt good, to buy the top of the line treadmill that I really wanted, stay in luxury hotels, live in a nice townhouse in Chicago, and buy pretty clothes.
But to average $5000 a day trading? And my husband at the time averaged $10,000 a day? That was surreal. We pretty much kept the same lifestyle. We couldn't go on fancy trips - the money was flowing in so quickly that the lost income would cost more than the trip possibly could . I spent my 5 year anniversary in a luxury suite at the Bellagio hotel. My bathroom (we each had one) had a couch in it. Our bank accounts grew so quickly. It was like playing pinball. After a while you are jaded at the million dollar score.
The best part was the security. I could loan my car to a friend without worry, knowing that if they totaled it, I could simply buy a new one. I slept well at night. I thought I could take care of my parents, didn't worry about the level of public education in Florida because I could afford any private school, and could send my kids to any college they wanted.
The worst part? The guilt. I didn't feel I deserved so much. I told myself that I didn't produce anything, didn't provide jobs, services. All I did was buy and sell the same stocks over and over. I didn't feel I was good looking enough to have all that money. Crazy, I know. And I couldn't buy really expensive clothes like Prada and Gucci - I just kept thinking about what that money could do for other people.
We did buy a very expensive home. We hired a decorator to make it beautiful. She screwed us every which way she could. Any time we hired a flooring company, landscaper, etc., they tried to overcharge us. But we enjoyed the home. We had a lot of parties, and people enjoyed coming to our house. But at the same time, I allowed that house to boost my self-worth. People would come to it and see my father-in-law's 60 foot yacht docked in the back (the back side of our house was largely glass), and ask us what we did for a living. People assumed we had our act together, but we didn't. I relied on that assumption as I hid my eating disorder and low self-esteem and my husband's increasing anxiety and depression. He couldn't get along with people, but they put up with him for a time.
Then, my husband lost the money. The market changed but his ego didn't. When we diversified our investments, the economy tanked. He also hired people who were big risk takers like him. I thought he was a genius with money because of the millions, but I realized too late that I was the practical one.
Now, It has been two years since my ex-husband moved out. We got divorced for many reasons, but not because we lost everything. I am back to managing my money really well. There was something about his refusal to watch spending that made me do the same. There were long periods where I was afraid to look at my balances. But I have hired a friend to help me with my finances and put a positive spin on my position. I was overpaying for phone, cable, and had subscriptions I wasn't using. I went so far as to cancel tv (we hardly watch it), and the cable company called me a week later and offered me a deal that included tv that was less than I was paying just for internet. Unbelievable.
The one thing that I have refused to do is a job I don't enjoy. I spent my younger years doing that, and feeling sick with dread on Sunday evenings. I literally lived off the last of the money (and some of my inheritance) while figuring out what I wanted to do. I have also been following an enlightenment path that has helped me achieve inner peace so that as I work more I can maintain happiness and balance. I know that many people in my position would have run out and worked two and three jobs, but I wanted to work smarter, not harder, and I felt the investment in myself was worth it.
The coaching and business consulting that I do allow me to work on my own schedule, so that I have time (and sanity) for my kids. I am not a 9 to 5 person.
A friend of mine has been in corporate training for big box retail for 15 years and is currently underpaid by the company she currently works for. I made more money training a small chain of stores as a consultant. I had no experience at all, but I used common sense, kindness, and her advice, and the client was thrilled with the result.
And this particular gig came out of nowhere - a friend of mine is the CEO of this company and reached out to friends (as she always does when a position opens up or she needs help), and something told me that there was more to it than meets the eye. Because I have stayed connected and intuitive, I was able to sense that. If I had been frantically trying to keep up with two jobs and a household, I wouldn't have.
The eating behaviors that I struggled with since I was 9 disappeared about 9 months ago. A doctor said something off the cuff that snapped me out of it. I think that since I was a child I dealt with deprivation on two levels - one, actual nutrition, as I did one fad diet after another that left me overeating on junk food, so that my body was constantly trying to get nutrients; and two, spiritual deprivation as I loathed myself and put others' needs and opinions before my own needs and intuition. I now feed myself really well on both levels.
So, in conclusion, I would not trade the inner peace I have now for the money or house or trips I had before. I can buy really beautiful clothes on ebay, and feel smart when I get a good deal. I feel smart for maintaining my car and learning that it could last another 100,000 miles. My kids are getting a very good education in a magnet program. And I do wish I could take them skiing or to Paris, but I am confident that somehow I have all the things I need.
Oh, and by the way, I did not lose a single friend when we lost the money. I was originally embarrassed, but then I realized they were impressed by my inner strength and calm. And I also had the big realization that my friends want to help. I used to be someone who was afraid to ask for help. Losing the money brought many blessings like that. I still like money, though. There is nothing wrong with it. It just can't substitute for spiritual wholeness.
Thanks to Renee for sharing her story!
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