Y’all ever had that feeling where every time you make a little bit of progress, you take one giant step backward?
That’s been me financially for the last year.
When I last wrote you all (in October 2018…it’s been a while, hasn’t it?), I was home from my month long vacation, just starting my new job after being let go from my previous employer, and my rental home had just been rented–exchanging those mortgage/utility payments for monthly income, instead.
We were no longer hemorrhaging $3,500 in monthly expenses, and things were finally starting to stabilize just in time for the holidays.
To understand how I spent my winter months, you need to really grasp the brevity of my summer of 2018. Let me recap:
- I walked away from a stable job that I hated, and gambled with my financial security by taking a pay/benefits cut to accept a new job as a mortgage loan officer assistant in hopes of growing professionally.
- I used my new found confidence to buy a new house, and gambled with our finances by taking on a rental home rather than selling it.
- My new boss had told me that I was meeting expectations at my new job.
- Then… my new boss fired me because he said I didn’t have what it takes.
- I was 3 days away from making my very first payment on the new house.
- I was 33 days away from taking a month-long vacation. This vacation was already paid for, so there were no refunds or cancellations.
- My previous employer offered me another position (making even LESS money than the one they had just fired me from), but they said I couldn’t have the time off for my vacations…which they had previously approved. So, I rejected the offer.
- My other home was not rented yet, so I was carrying two mortgages, two sets of utilities, two yards to mow, etc…
Things got real, fast.
Do you have any idea what kind of head-space this situation left me in? After all of these gambles with the financial security I built and blogged about for years, it was taken away from me during a three minute conversation where he likely bragged to everyone at the office about how incompetent I was… while I went home and filed for unemployment.
Through all of this uncertainty, I couldn’t shake the disbelief I was feeling.
I have been working in finance/lending since 2011, I have CEO’s and VP’s at nearly every million and billion dollar financial institution in the city who know me on a first-name basis and will casually say hello to me in the grocery store. I have a prominent following of thousands of people across five different platforms who deeply respect my financial opinions and decisions. I was licensed to originate mortgages after passing a rigorous test that 60% of people fail on their first try. My own former-boss barely made a 70% (passing) on his first exam, however, I passed my test with an 86%. I had also originated $700,000+ in mortgages loans/leads in my 60 days with the company and closed $250,000…as an assistant loan officer while I was still training.
Clearly, I was 100% that bitch.
I had what it takes, but had been working for somebody who didn’t have the skill to recognize my potential worth. That’s the reality.
Yet, all of these accomplishments and entitlements did not change the fact that I was unemployed. I resented the house I was too broke to leave while being absolutely tormented at the idea that I was watching years of hard work and financial stability crumble from under us. I promised my husband that I would take him from poverty to millionaire status in his lifetime, however I had just tied up our life savings in real estate and got stuck holding a $3,500 budget deficit with no sense of career direction.
No matter how much I tried to stay calm, I was far from it. Upset or afraid isn’t the correct emotion I was feeling, nor was “disbelief”.
That was the feeling.
I was enraged and it pulsated through every inch of my entire body. I had placed my financial security, one of the most important things to me, in the hands of company who carelessly let me go because we didn’t have the same personality.
I’m not a quitter and that wasn’t an acceptable outcome to my newfound mortgage career, so I devised a plan: I was going to promote myself from Loan Officer Assistant, to Loan Officer…and I was going to succeed.
I circled a date on my calendar (February 15, 2019) where I promised my husband that I would seek out a hourly/salary job if I couldn’t pull off being commission only, metaphorically kissed him goodbye, and I mentally checked out of everything in my life that wasn’t focused on turning myself into a successful and producing mortgage loan officer.
For the next six months. I eat, slept, and breathed mortgages. I told my husband so much about federal mortgage guidelines that he could likely pass the mortgage origination exam himself. I critiqued every decision I saw my former boss make, and decided to build my brand by not being naive about the desires of those around me. I learned how to network, and started leading networking meetings. I met anyone and everyone I could, and built alliances. I signed up for seminars and lead seminars. I attended weekly webinars and trainings. I learned from my own mistakes and the mistakes of every person I had ever contacted professionally.
Basically, I was going to do what I do best, and exactly what I did to pay off my $50,000 of debt… by re-evaluating everything I was taught about the topic by those around me, and find the truth.
Now that I am approaching a year of being licensed as a mortgage originator, I guess we’ll never know if my old boss was right about me not having what it takes, because I managed to close nearly 4 million dollars worth of mortgages in my first 150 days alone. (edit: 11 million in the first 12 months).
With that being said, this marks the end of my 100% arrogant bragging.
Finding a work-life balance through this time period was tricky. I had the freedom to create my own work schedule and commute remotely, but I also had to turn every day into an income producing opportunity. Before I could blink, I went from not having enough tasks to do per day…to working seven days a week at 12 hours each day.
Soon after the commission checks started showing up, I recognized that I didn’t want to be one of my families from The Sims who had the perfect life and maxed out skill-sets, but no friends or family relationships because I was so busy building their careers.
So, I set up some systems, relied a little heavier on my own assistant (whom, I treat exponentially better than I ever was, by the way), and started to unwind a little bit.
And here we are, present day.
Although I absolutely killed it in my first six months, I still feel like I’ve got very little to show for it. While we caught up from months of my unemployment, we also went through a lot of financial hardships nearly the same minute I started earning an income.
My first true paycheck after August 15th came in on December 31st, so we had to cover all of our expenses for for the last 25% of 2018 by using savings and one paycheck alone. Alongside this time period, here’s some things that happened:
- I had to replace the HVAC on the rental house in December = $4,400.
- We had a tree branch come through our roof on our home, and also discovered improper workmanship on our chimney = $2,100
- My husband’s car developed an A/C leak, and went into the shop. = $450
- We had to rent a car while his car was in the shop. = $150
- Husband got injured and required physical therapy/medical care = $950
…to name just a few things.
We had to come out of pocket over $8,000 in unforeseen expenses. I am fortunate that we had the means, but writing those checks never got any easier. I am not a one percenter, so we did end up having to break out a credit card to the tune of about $1,900 during these months to help cover one of the emergencies, but I should thankfully be able to pay it back off by mid May and once again sit on the throne of debt freedom while I truly recover and rebuild my savings account.
It’s funny how resilient humans can be when we feel that we have no choice. I definitely stretched very far beyond my comfort level.
In June of 2018, I had no intention or even idea that I would work commission only… but by February of 2019, I was thriving at it, because I had to make it work. If you checked my bank statements anytime after buying our new house last year, you wouldn’t have found more than $5,000 on it…yet, I spent nearly double that in cash to cover emergencies when I had no other option.
Even then, there was a time very recently when my maximum savings balance was $250. For a while, my average savings balance was $5. However, I still found a way to survive while I worked on growth…because there was no other option. We are substantially more resilient than we credit ourselves for, even if we don’t recognize it.
The year 2018 was the single most turbulent year I have ever experienced since I left my abusive relationship in 2011. However, it was also a year full of milestones where I impacted more people in more profound ways that I ever thought I could, and I shaped my character in a deeper way that I ever envisioned for myself.
Just like my journey from $50,000 of debt to $0, success came with recognizing tough decisions and making necessary lifestyle changes. I did more than before because I stopped limiting myself to what I already knew how to do, and challenged myself to always do better.
Whether it’s your career, friendships, personal goals, debt free journey, financial stability search, or your mental health… be willing to fight like your life depends on it, because it does. This is YOUR life. Every decision you make affects tomorrow’s version of yourself for better or worse.
I could have succumbed to the pressure of my finances, sold my house, picked up another job I hated, and blogged about how bad life got before putting some cute optimistic spin on it. Instead, I stopped selling myself short and went after my exact worth. I am rebuilding an even more solid foundation than the one I recently lost, because I know how to adapt and learn from my experiences.
Moving to the new house and losing my job is a B.C / A.D. moment where one period of my life came to an end and another began. I am still learning how this shock has impacted my decisions going forward, but in one of my next posts… you’ll understand what I’ve got planned for our future.
My name is Adrian, and I will never sell myself short again out of convenience.