I first wrote this as a guest post at the personal finance blog, Thrifty Enough, which no longer exists. I’ve reached out to the former owner of that site as well as the new owners of the spinoff site, The Money Mix. I have everyone’s permission to republish this article since it was no longer live on any site.
This post starts with a woman’s story of recovery and so I’m listing this as my third article in my series, titled Inspiring Women in Recovery.
That being said, I’m making some edits with how my thinking has evolved.
Transformation Begins with Tenacity…and More Importantly, I’ll Add Jesus.
At the time, I first wrote this article, I had been sober 8 and ½ years. I’ve met and helped a lot of women along the way, some who have stayed sober and many who have not. At the time I’m editing and re-posting this article, I’m 9 years and 10 months sober.
Being sober is what has allowed me the focus and determination to pay off my debt. I now apply that same resolve to building wealth. However, and this is a BIG however I’d be nowhere if it weren’t for Jesus Christ. I certainly wouldn’t have sobriety, sanity, debt-freedom, wealth, or purpose had I not been completely broken and then chose to surrender to Christ.
I recognize that it may not be popular, but I don’t care. I’m not going to downplay the real reason for my transformation. It all started with my surrender to Jesus and then, like the woman featured in this series, I tenaciously grabbed hold of my recovery and didn’t let go.
Inspiring Women in Recovery
An old friend came by my apartment about 1 & 1/2 years ago. Her story is worthy of a share. If you’re here for the financial advice, stay with me as I think you’ll find some lessons here that can be applied to transforming your life financially.
The Back Story
I met this woman in the rooms of recovery. She was just out of prison and wanted to stay sober. I started out as her temporary sponsor which turned out to be a several-year relationship and a lasting friendship.
Her story is much more extreme than mine. She had been a heroin addict and prostitute for many years until she and her pimp/drug dealer/caregiver were busted and put in jail. The good news is that she got sober in prison and started attending recovery meetings there.
She was released much sooner than he (actually he is still in prison). When she got out, she didn’t quite know how to make it on her own but her pimp had outside resources and made sure she was taken care of financially. It was a sick relationship. She didn’t know any better.
What Does it Take?
She had one very specific characteristic that has proven to be a key in her transformation. This gal wanted to stay sober more than anything else in the world.
She possessed TENACITY.
- The quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip.
- The quality or fact of being very determined; determination.
- The quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence.
I recognized she was serious and so I was willing to pour into her life. Her actions showed me what she could not necessarily communicate.
Here is what she did:
- Showed up every time we had a meeting scheduled
- Prayed with me when she lacked the faith
- Was honest and open with me
- Asked questions
- Took suggestions
She just kept at it with tenacity. Simple. Powerful.
The change in her life wasn’t quickly and to be honest when I sponsored her she wasn’t even willing to cut the cords with her sugar daddy. She couldn’t see how she could survive financially without him.
I did something, not on my own accord, but by the prompting of God. I listened and didn’t judge her. Additionally, I accepted her. Yeah, at times I would tell her in love that the relationship with this guy was not healthy. But most importantly I kept loving her.
Sometimes We Get to See the Fruits of Our Labors
Well, when she showed up at my apartment last year for dinner, she sat across from me and looked me right in the eyes and thanked me. She thanked me for believing in her when no one would.
I’m happy to report that she has cut off ties with the sugar daddy and when we talked about it, she had the most profound reflection. She said, “while it was the best relationship I had ever had with a man, it still wasn’t healthy. I deserve something more.” Wow, wow, wow!!!
She went on to say that she still wasn’t quite sure how to have a healthy relationship to which I replied, “this, what you and I are doing right now, is very healthy.”
Today this woman is working to support herself and her daughter. She is going back to college. Actually, both she and her daughter attend the same community college. And I love this next part – they both sign up for one fitness class together each semester to stay in shape.
Additionally, she is helping other girls in recovery. How? By doing the same things I did with her. I did with her which are the same things my sponsor did with me. And that goes back a great many generations. It is a beautiful thing.
Yeah, this transformation blew me away. I hope it does to you also.
How Does This Translate to You and Your Fiances?
We may not all have stories as extreme as the friend I just told you about, but we all have struggles. We all suffer.
Chris from Duke of Dollars, shared a great little story with me when he was commenting on one of my articles. He shared how during an interview he was asked two questions to which he gave the same response. The questions were:
- What has been your biggest accomplishment in your career so far?
- What was the biggest challenge you’ve had?
When he gave the same answer for both, the interviewer told him that typically happens.
I loved Chris’ takeaway, “in other words to accomplish something great, you must have the challenge to accomplish it!”
I say fight for greatness. Face your struggles. Endure the challenges.
I’ve seen so many people give up right before getting their breakthrough. Don’t give in, the other side is worth it.
Tenacity as a FIRE Walker
I see this same trait in a lot of the people I meet in the FIRE community, which BTW stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. FIRE is outside of the box kind of thing. It’s different than what most of the world is doing. It takes tenacity.
Saving to be financially independent and/or preparing to retire early takes some serious intentionality.
By being intentional with my life,
- Paying off my debt
- Moving to an apartment within 1 mile of my job
- Maxing out my retirement accounts
- Inviting friends over for dinner rather than going out to eat oftentimes
- Recognizing I have more than enough clothes
I’ve discovered a new joy. That joy is found in rich relationships with people. I love to have deep conversations with people and I’ve found that can be done without spending a lot of money. 🙂
It’s about figuring out what you value in life and then getting after it.
Additionally, it’s about increasing your income and employing some career hacking.
What you do with that extra money is what will take you to the next level.
We live in a world where we can see the highlights of everyone’s lives on the socials. Don’t try and keep up! As Rachel Cruze says, Love Your Life, Not Theirs.
Here are 7 examples of the type of tenacity I’m talking about:
#1 – Find happiness in frugal, simple living. See the Frugalwoods for a great example of this.
#2 – Be bold and develop a high savings rate. Joel, from FI180, has a great turnaround story.
#3 – Invest in the market for the long haul because you know it to be a roller coaster of a ride. A ride that will leave you breathless and exhilarated. A ride that will allow you to retire. My personal favorite to listen to on market investing is JL Collins. And not just because he has a deep, gravelly voice. He knows his stuff and makes it simple.
#7 – Lastly, retire and pull the geo arbitrage lever like Jim is doing.
There are so many more examples of bravery that I could not possibly mention them all here.
I argue that the same actions steps my friend took in order to stay sober is what it takes to be on the path to FI or FIRE:
- Show up
- Believe (for me that involves prayer)
- Be honest and open with yourself and your mentors
- Ask questions
- Take suggestions
I’m blessed for the life I live and the people I meet. I get to hear/see miracles all the time in recovery. Now I get to meet amazing people on this FI journey.
What about you? Isn’t it about time you go boldly in the direction of the life you want to live?