You thought you did everything right. You had a six to eight month emergency savings account. You had $12,000 in your savings. You had $8,000 in your savings. You paid cash for your house and paid off all your debts leaving you $5,000 in a comfortable savings account. You thought you had it all wrapped up. You thought you were safe.
Then the pandemic hit. And by April 1st, you lost your job. You went on unemployment insurance, finally, after a few rough weeks. Your spouse was working. Your bills were low but after a few months, you still went bust. Just like all the other 40 million or so ‘prepared’ people. Your spouse or significant other just joined you and those 40 million out-of-work human beings. They lost their job/business/career too.
You’re down to zero, baby. And by December 26th, that measly $282 you get from UI is going to be gone. You can’t pay your car loan, your private student loan, your rent, your mortgage, your gas bill, your electric bill and you can’t seem to hustle to get any side work whatsoever.
We are at the junction now where the above scenarios are becoming true and more prevalent, as per this recent article from Buzz Feed News (click here) People, literally, have nothing left. They have zero money. These are unprecedented times and there isn’t a blueprint written to bring anyone back from the depths of despair.
I went broke twice in my lifetime. I feel their pain. I went bust in 1987 with the Stock Market Crash. I owned a company (mold injected plastic parts for the medical industry) that 100% of my customers were Wall Street Corporations. When the market took a dump, so did they and then so did I. I was out of business within a month. And I was heavily in debt. I can tell you what I went through to recover (filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, which meant I had 5 years to pay back all my creditors. I paid them back in three years!) but there wasn’t a pandemic at that time. Eventually hubby and I had to downsize drastically BUT we were able to find jobs.
Fast forward to 2001 and again, I was running my own business at that time (a computer business) when the Dot Com Disaster hit. It was NOT a good time to be running a computer company! My company was 4 years old. The 1st year I grossed $800,000. The 2nd year I grossed $1.2million. The 3rd year I grossed $2million. The 4th year, when the Dot Com Disaster hit, I couldn’t even make $500 in a week! This time, I was again heavily in debt but I avoided bankruptcy.
This 2001 decline, I took very hard. I was older, not much wiser and it was much, much harder to recover and build back our lives up from zero. When I went broke, it was quick and it was fast. You have no idea how quickly money can just run through your fingers. Suddenly people, upon hearing about your rapid decline, somehow manage to alert you that you owe them money. So, you pay and pay and pay till you get to zero. Then everyone scrams. No one is your ‘friend’ anymore. You’re nothing but trash to them. And that includes your family and whomever you thought were your closest friends.
No one wants to know you when you’re down and out.
Not even your own children. When they have to drop out of college, or apply for student loans, or move out of the dorm and into their uncle or aunt’s bedroom, who live closer to the college than you do! You get to endure painful criticism. Name calling. Isolation (you get invited to nowhere). After all, it’s your fault you went under. You don’t know what you’re doing. You didn’t plan well.
It wasn’t until this pandemic hit that even my own children finally understood, “It’s The Economy Stupid“. The economy changed, through no fault of your own and you went under. No need for the blame game. Now my kids understand why momma had to sell the childhood home one day before it went into foreclosure. Now family and friends can relate to downsizing. Moving away. Doing whatever it takes to survive.
I don’t know what advice I can give to anyone currently suffering financial ruin from this pandemic. I can only tell you about the drastic measures my husband and I had to endure in order to keep on going. Last night, while I lay in bed, I had contemplated how I would write this article. Suddenly all the horror stories popped back into my brain. The embarrassment of taking on a job, any job in order to get some money. The reality that I had no clothes nor any money to buy any clothes when I finally found a job. I held my skirts together with safety pins. The threats from collection companies, the phone calls from the sheriff, the threats of homelessness, not having enough food to eat or the inability to keep the electricity running is a nightmare I could never wish on my worst enemy.
Since we were self-employed we couldn’t get any benefits or food stamps. My husband would sneak my kids into his mothers house and we would cook up pasta and butter before his mother came back home just so my kids could eat. My father and sister called me every foul name they could think of: ‘White Trash’ being one of them. One night Hubby and I had no place to sleep. My father would only let me live with him during the week when I had my kids. On the weekends, he threw me out. One weekend, hubs and I sneaked into his parents home but his grandmother caught us. She screamed and yelled to get me the fuck thrown out, which they did. It was 3 am. We slept in my car. It was disgusting.
One horror that I remember is back in 1987. A friend of mine offered to loan me fifty bucks. He lived in Staten Island. You had to pay a dollar toll to get over a bridge to get into Staten Island from Brooklyn. I didn’t have the guts enough to tell him I didn’t have the dollar to come pick up the money. I lied and said I didn’t need it. But I did.
There was a point that I was so low, I contemplated suicide. The pain of not having any money is so intense, it is the most horrifying event any human can endure. I remember one night, I was so distraught I was going to kill myself just to relieve myself from the pain. I was on the floor of my bedroom, bent over in tears. The TV was on and for some strange reason, it was tuned onto this show called ‘The 700 Club‘. Now people may not think there is such a thing as divine intervention, but people, it really is true. I was crying because I thought the local sheriff was coming to arrest me because I had no money (that’s what your mind does to you when you’re stressed out over money. no sheriff was coming)
Pat Robertson and his side kick at that time (1987), Denuda, were talking about recovering from money problems. Pat had written a book entitled ‘A Guide To Financial Freedom‘ whereby he explains and councils, in deep detail how to manage your money, how to turn it all over to God and how to rebuild your life from the ground up. I sat up and listened to what Pat Robertson had to say and then I called The 700 Club (call the CBN switchboard at (757) 226-7000 or for prayer call (800) 700-7000) and they sent me the information for free.
I still have that little guide book till today. I followed the guidelines to the letter. I rebuilt my life. I rebuilt my wealth. All to lose it once again fourteen years later. No worries. No problem. I picked myself up again in 2001 and I can honestly say, it has taken me thirty-three years but I finally have my financial life under control. With the help of God Almighty.
You have to start off and ask God for guidance. You have to realize that sometimes God will allow the consequences of earlier actions to remain in order to reinforce the lesson. God does not promise to remove every difficulty but no matter what circumstances are encountered, God promises peace.
Friends, when you don’t have a dollar cash to your name, you’re broke. I was broke, yes….but….I wasn’t poor. I still owned assets. And I think owning assets have been my greatest savior. None of these possessions, however, are mine. God owns them. Once you firmly believe that, and transfer ownership to God, God will keep his promise to provide every need we have through physical, material and spiritual needs, according to His perfect plan.
You have to decipher needs from wants. You have to create a written plan. You need to distinguish living essentials. You must think before buying anything. You have to master doing things on your own. You have to stop buying on credit. You must avoid leverage. You must practice saving. You have to establish a tithe. Now, I don’t give any church money. I tithe in other ways: helping people for free, buying food, meals, donating clothes, helping out others physically or manually. You must accept your new life. You must learn to live on what God provides. Avoid indulgence. Limit time with business and others. Spend MORE time with your family. Your first priority, however, is putting God first.
Once I said these magic words (and they are supernatural!) “God, I do not own anything. Everything is yours. Do with it as you want (but I will manage and take care of anything you send me dutifully)” watch the wonders that God will bestow upon you. It may take a while but you will see. A job offer comes in and pays you more than you expected. That’s the power of God. Money is found, that you swore you didn’t have. That’s the power of God. Someone will appear in your life who will lend a hand, give you a lift up. That’s the power of God.
Mock me all you want. But if you are like me and what I was back in 1987 and 2001, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. God knows that one of the best ways He can reach people is through the wallet or the pocket book. Nothing gets your attention as much as the lack of money can.
Surely you know that God is stronger than this pandemic? This pandemic can not take God down. And if you believe in Him and pray for help, God most surely will not turn you down. God will lead the way. God will help you make a plan. And trust me, when you do get to the other side, you will come to the realization that you are better off than you were first starting out. That’s the power of God. God controls the earth, the food, the water, the rent, the mortgage, those overflowing credit cards….He can show you the way and bring you to the other side.
I took a few snapshots of the little pamphlet that The 700 Club sent me back in 1987. I still have it and keep it next to me, in my bedroom night table, top draw. You can see through my writing on the pages how I followed the plan, made up a budget and calculated my journey back to solvency. God is greater than any foolish political hack that may come in to office. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. The rest is between you and God.
If you have any questions or would like to email me to discuss anything, you can reach me: PhotosByCindi (at) yahoo (dot) com Or if you’d like, you can call The 700 Club directly: call the CBN switchboard at (757) 226-7000 or for prayer call (800) 700-7000. They are open 24/7/365.