Any bad experience can be a good one

Bla bla bla.

Silver lining in a cloud and all that horsesh*t is probably what you’re thinking right?

What about the fact that I lost my job! Lost my home! Ended up having to move to a crappy part of town where I’m getting shot at! Eating rice with soy sauce to make it through the day!

Yeah, ALL of that sucks. Don’t get me wrong. IT ALL SUCKS.

Life has hit rock bottom for you, and you’ve had to do some things you aren’t happy about and normally would not have done had you done X, Y and Z.

But that’s all in the past now. It’s moot. Emotionally heart wrenching, painful beyond belief …. but MOOT.

The real question is: What are you going to do now? TODAY.

Are you going to sit around and moan about your life?

Maybe take up begging (what I call the lazy way out for people who are educated, but too proud to take ANY job that comes their way) to ask for money from strangers who may be facing similarly horrible problems, like this woman? (Pictured on left)

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a sad situation. Why did it have to happen to you? And why not to someone else?

I don’t have the answer to that, but what I CAN tell you is that if you are a fairly healthy, educated person with no visible or mental disabilities, and you are resourceful and hardworking, you can get off your ass, take your hat off from the pity party and pick yourself up off the floor.

This woman, went from a bookstore owner to being homeless. She lived on food stamps. She couch surfed. And was a former accountant.


Take what you’ve got and RUN WITH IT.

She had food. She had shelter (even temporary) and she has marketable skills that don’t have to be used or pigeonholed into one industry — accounting.

She wasn’t a former housewife, unceremoniously dumped on her ass, lacking ANY skills whatsoever and she has OPTIONS, even unemployed and homeless.

As a former accountant and business owner, she can do anything that relates to the skills she has learned:

  • Organization
  • Bookkeeping
  • Accounting Principles (GAAP)
  • Marketing/Advertising Skills
  • Dealing with Suppliers/Vendors (Accounts Receivable/Payable)
  • Managing Employees
  • Payroll
  • Running the numbers and seeing the signs when she’s in trouble

And that’s just off the top of my head. Heck, who knows? She could be a closeted web designer too!


You’re thinking: What the hell do you know? You haven’t lived in despairing poverty, or been shot at, or lost your home, your job, your sense of identity!?!

And you’re right. I haven’t. I totally give that to you.

But what I do know, is that your sad situation CAN be turned into a good one if you have the right perspective, even if my experiences were nowhere as awful as yours.

A lot of things I’ve been given in life, were out of luck. But I do have the mindset that I make my own luck (which in other words, can be called hard work).

When I wanted money to pay for rent and my tuition, I hustled around town, knocking on store owner’s front doors, and asking them if they were interested in having a website done for cheap for them.

Many politely declined, but after weeks, I started to get tentative calls about a couple of website jobs here and there. It wasn’t much money as I was starting out, but the small amounts helped pay some of the bills.

So no. I don’t know what it’s like to live on KD day after day. Or to live in poverty. Or to dress like a cast member of Roseanne’s. Or to beg for food using food stamps.

But what I do know, is how to deal with MY problems in life that may seem daunting to some, easy to others, and overall still a challenge for ME because we’re all at different places and stages in life.


Look, I’m not trying to say: You DESERVE to be poor. You DESERVE to have had lost your job. You DESERVE to be eating only rice and beans.

Nobody deserves ANYTHING. Good or bad.

What’s dealt to you in life, is by stroke of luck and how you handle a devastating blow, turning a bad situation into a positive one.

I’m going to sound all cheesy on you right now, but take this experience you are going through as a GOOD one. Look for the positives in it and understand that it was partly your fault (maybe), but also the fact that life just happened to deal you a rotten hand.

But what you shouldn’t do, is give up. Like this woman. As I said on Madame X’s blog post about her, I couldn’t bleed a heart for her.

I was sad and sympathetic for her, but slightly annoyed.

To me, she took the easy way out. Sitting in front of your store for a while, begging for money is something I’d do if I was in horrible, horrible shock. Numb, dazed…

But she seemed pretty sound of mind. She was a former accountant, then a bookstore owner. She saw all the signs before she had to abruptly close her store, what she called “little OH SH*T moments”….

She was getting behind on rent. She just.. (in my opinion after reading the article)..let it all slide down to hell in a hand basket.

When you start getting behind on rent.

Or you start seeing numbers grow bigger and bigger (like your debt), I know that people can’t all be flexible enough to spot the problems and go: Oh. OH. We need to re-assess the situation and make a Plan B Exit Strategy before this gets out of control.

But you gotta admit. She turned into an Ossie the Ostrich instead of panicking like Chicken Little, the way she should’ve.


And your bad situations can actually help others. Like me for one.

I read that story, and renewed my resolve to keep finding ways to balance out my life so that I could live on very little each month, learn how to curb my tendencies to upgrade my lifestyle, sort out my priorities and have a rich, fulfilling life without putting ALL of the emphasis on material goods (what? I still like to shop.)

I also learned how to spot moochie, parasitic people, learned to NEVER get into debt for a car loan I cannot afford, and how not to buy more house than you can afford.

After reading these articles, BF and I sometimes talk about them… and we like to re-assess our life every 6 months or so.

Recently, we moved to a smaller studio apartment and started implementing other strategies to cut back on our budget (BF is heavily invested in saving on food for some reason).

But we did it. We chopped our budget by around $400 EACH when all was said and done.

Yet, with a different mindset, we don’t feel like we’ve lost anything at all, or feeling imprisoned. In fact, we feel like we’ve GAINED a perspective on life — that it can be simpler, less stressful and even better than before.

I also read many other blog posts about really CRAPPY things that happen to people, like having to agonize over losing a home, or having to file for bankruptcy.

And I feel terribly bad for everyone…. but I do take it in stride and reflect upon the situation, and apply it to my life to see if I could come up with a contingency plan to make sure that I NEVER get into that position.

I even have these quiet moments, when I look back at how f*cking lucky I got in some situations.

And I think: Wow, I scraped by the skin of my teeth with getting what I might term lucky with choosing the right job, being put on right projects and just being at the right place at the right time to clear my debt in such a short amount of time.

But now that I have perfect 20/20 hindsight, I’m re-adjusting my situation constantly, to make sure that I never have to say something like: That was a close one, again.

Some, weren’t even in my control.

Like how my parents managed THEIR finances, gave me a bad start in life, but there has to be a turning point where you say: Enough is enough, I gotta take control and clear this noose of a debt.

And my parents being such financial misfits, helped me get to where I am now.

You can’t always be going up in life. You gotta come down sometimes. And learn that you need emergency funds to help cushion that fall.

And you gotta know when to pull the plug on a bad investment, be it the stock market or your home hobby.


Not everyone’s situation can be easily solved.But that’s the challenge of life. That’s YOUR challenge.

To sit down, dig deep into your psyche and soul, and list out ALL of the things you are unhappy with, be it your body, your career, your love life, your home, your rent, your bills… and listing them in priority of the most stressful to the least, make small actions towards improving your situation.

Even if nothing major comes of it, at least you’re doing SOMETHING. You’re being proactive rather than throwing up your hands and saying: WHADDYA GONNA DO? *SHRUG*

How many times have we watched debt repayment shows (okay, maybe just me…, look into it) and only after being told that they HAD to make an extra $900 a month to make their budget balance, did these people get off their asses and start searching out for creative ways to generate the money?

One guy was so into gambling that he got himself $30,000 in trouble. To make an extra $2000 a month or whatever it was, he channeled that love of poker into becoming the dealer at poker games, collecting a couple of hundred bucks each night.

I don’t know if that’s entirely legal, but my point is that creativity bursts out at unexpected times when you are faced with a Do or Die situation.

And why is it that we need some stranger to come in, mentally slap us, to take action?

The financial adviser (Gail Vaz-Oxlade) never actually goes out and finds ways to help people make money. Instead, she tells them they have to do it. Period.

And they do.

They canvass family members for odd jobs, take on extra shifts, start a side business, start delivering papers.. and they find a way to squeeze water from the proverbial stone.


Burying your head into the sand will not help. My Cheap Opportunist sibling didn’t pay taxes for 8 years.

Can you believe that?

He didn’t pay taxes for 8 years and ignored his student debts until they ALL went to collections (All $76,000 worth of debt) and buried his head into the sand like a frightened ostrich.

We had NO IDEA what the situation was, and when we found out, we were both angry, disappointed and most of all sad that he didn’t think he could ask us for help.

I know not everyone has the personality to be a tiger. I know.


I’m related to the King of all Ostriches.

But when you feel overwhelmed, ASK FOR HELP from a tiger you know. They’re more than likely happy to sit down with you and pen out a rough plan, and maybe do even more, like coach you.

All it takes, is a simple, polite request. It’s really that easy.

So don’t give up and resort to the lazy way out — begging, mooching, lying, stealing… you have to really look into yourself and ask if that’s the person you want to be, and if you can be happy being who you are.

And this is the reason why I can’t bleed a heart for her.

Call me a bitch, and you’re right, I can see where you’re coming from, as we all have our own biases and different points of view.

But I grew up with a different mindset than yours. I’ve noticed that people who grew up rich (and well educated, not spoiled.. etc), tend to be the nicest people in the world, because they never had to want for anything, and have had a really wonderful outlook on life from birth.

They’re so wonderfully sweet, and sympathetic to every person, and they truly, vehemently try their best to make things right because they feel like everyone should have had their outlook on the world.

I have so many friends like that.. that it’s hard not to get caught up into their rosy outlook on the world.

That’s nice, but not for me.

I’m not saying that’s wrong or bad, but since I didn’t grow up rich, I don’t blame my parents (except for lying to me) for what happened in life.

They’re who they are and I cannot change them, only love them, and mitigate the risk.

What I am happy about, is hearing my parents’ stories of how they struggled through WWII and all I can think is: Thank goodness I didn’t grow up during a war. How awful it must have been!

I prefer to think of it as a difficult lesson to learn about life, and to be tough on myself NOW (as I have seen firsthand what can happen when you don’t take charge of your life) so that the world doesn’t come crashing down around me in a rosy blur.

I still have a long ways to go, and I revel in the challenge of cutting down a budget or REALLY asking if I want that new necklace I’ve been eying lately.

But I’m saving my heart for people who really need it — the ones who grew up in the ghetto and can’t catch a break, the people with no marketable skills whatsoever, stuck in a never ending cycle of poverty and despair, and those who have physical or mental disabilities to limit their earning potential.

So? Is your heart still intact?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.