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Help, I’m no longer able to Keep Up with the Jones

It’s been a rough day for the Full Time Finance household. Our net worth recently went to 0 and all our stuff is about to be repossessed. I am no longer able to keep up with the Jones. I am wondering what’s  next. I should have taken the advice of all those great personal finance bloggers, including my own. Where did I go wrong?

From Financially Independent <SIC> to Broke

How did I get in this situation you ask? Well, it started when my sure fire bet to short the S&P 500 when Donald Trump got elected failed because I timed my bet wrong. I was sure it would eventually drop, but my broker has been regularly calling my margin calls. If he’d just let me ride for a few more weeks I am sure I’ll end up ahead, just look at the news media this week talking about the upcoming crash. Even with the loss we would not have a problem except we used the cash I would otherwise have used to pay for the mortgage on my 15 real estate rental properties on our margin investments. Leverage was really helping me out there, my real estate investments had my assets measured at 10 Million, even if my Net Worth was only 50 dollars. I don’t know how I lost money, no one ever loses money on home leverage. Sadly, they have already started repossessing our real estate rental properties.

I still have the Biggest House and Baddest Cars on the Block (or I do until they are Repossessed)

We stopped paying our primary home off in January once our investments started going south. I used the payments to shore up my margin position to hold out until the market turned down. I gather they won’t foreclose on us for at least a full year, so I should be good. Either way it’s free living in my 20,000 square foot home for the foreseeable future. Man is my neighbor jealous. I’m the king of the Jones after all.

Still, I’m saddened when I think of that tow truck last week taking away my Ferrari and Porsche. I swore to the man I’d be able to make up the difference when I get another job! But he just did not understand that my new Ferrari was my key to buying happiness.

Who says Laziness is a Bad Brand for an Employee?

What happened to my job you asked? Oh, I quit going to work back in June. My boss was horrible and it hardly seemed worth it given how much I was making in the market. Anyway, they fired me for cause last week, it’s their loss.  They said something about my brand being an unreliable lout that never shows up for work.

Plan, What Plan?

So what about my Emergency fund? Well 1 month ago we were out and one thing led to another. I used the emergency fund and our Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to buy a new Porsche. What’s another $50,000 in credit card debt. I can use the $1000 in reward points to pay for food next month. Besides the card is only 23 % APY and I can pay for it when I get a new job. Until then I can pay the 10 dollar minimum payment and I am good. It’s only $11,500 a year in interest, no big deal for a big shot like me that usually makes 6 figures. Besides if I couldn’t keep up appearances what would my neighbors think?

For Whom the Bell Tolls, No longer able to keep up with the Jones

The final straw though dropped last night while I was lying in bed watching reruns of Dallas. I was just about to find out who shot J.R when the door bell began to ring continuously. I finally reluctantly got up and walked to the door. I yelled, ” I’m coming!”, but they just kept ringing that blasted door bell. I figured it was the foreclosure papers for my McMansion. The thought was initially depressing, but then I remembered it’s way too soon for that. It’s only been 3 months of lack of payments. I quickly got excited as maybe it was the guy delivering my new Porsche. Maybe I could keep up with the Jones yet. Either way I needed to answer the door to get that blasted ringing to stop. I swung the door open on its hinges, but there was no one there. At first I thought it was a prank and looked all over, but still no one. Oddly the ringing had not stopped………..

Suddenly, I bolted up in bed to the sound of my alarm clock going off. It was all a dream. That was one frightening nightmare.

Sadly, I know there are people out there where my ultra exaggeration of keeping up with the Jones and poor financial decisions rings a bell. If anything in this post bears a ring of truth to you, if the bell is not an alarm clock awaking you from a bad dream, then it’s time to adjust your lifestyle. Many of the poor decisions in this post I have linked to better ones I’ve written about in other posts. Hopefully this gets you started. For everyone else still reading, quite obviously April Fools.


  1. The Green Swan
    The Green Swan March 31, 2017

    Hitting us with an April Fools joke early…! 🙂 Scary stuff man. April is financial literacy month. Hopefully it is a wake-up call for many to get their personal finances back on the right path. Baby steps can be powerful.

      [email protected] March 31, 2017

      I’m certainly a proponent of incremental improvements. I wasn’t aware it was financial literacy month though.

  2. Leo T. Ly @
    Leo T. Ly @ March 31, 2017

    You almost got me there FTF. I thought it was a little strange when I started reading. It doesn’t sound like you and I was wondering what’s going on. Are you living a double life? Luckily, I was just being fooled. Glad that you’re not one of the jones, otherwise our PF community will be having one less financially responsible soul.

      [email protected] March 31, 2017

      🙂 Well Rich from Penny and Rich did ask me if I was a Russian hacker a few weeks back…

  3. Jim @ Route To Retire
    Jim @ Route To Retire March 31, 2017

    Now that’s some funny stuff!

    I’m glad I don’t personally know anyone who’s in that deep, but I do have friends of mine who want people to be impressed by them and spend the money to make it happen. It drives me nuts, but you can’t really help people until they’re ready to be helped.

    — Jim

      [email protected] March 31, 2017

      I certainly know some people who do some of these things. Thankfully I’ve only read about people well out on the extremes.

  4. Max Your Freedom
    Max Your Freedom March 31, 2017

    It’s ok to admit that the picture in the post is not a stock photo. In fact you can be seen in the background admiring the rear end of that beautifully designed automobile. Seriously…nothing wrong with that. In fact one of the best ways to combat the “keepin’ up” disease is window shopping, as you’re clearly doing 😉 The great thing about Financial Independence is knowing you have the ability to act on impulses like the ones you described, but having the discipline to just window shop instead.

      [email protected] March 31, 2017

      Ha! Actually, I personally took every picture on this blog. In this case I’m the guy behind the camera, the person walking by is some other attendee of the Detroit Auto Show, Circa 2009. I do like to window shop though.

  5. Gary @ Super Saving Tips
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips March 31, 2017

    That’s quite the nightmare! While most people don’t make *all* of the mistakes, most everyone makes at least one of the mistakes that leads them down the road of poor finances. The great news is that there’s just about always something you can do to turn things around. Of course it’s better to avoid them in the first place!

  6. FinancePatriot
    FinancePatriot March 31, 2017

    I have had friends that have dumped their 401k investments when the market tanked, only to get back in way later, after the recovery of investments was in full mode. I am glad that I have stuck every downturn through.

      [email protected] April 1, 2017

      Sadly I had a family member do the same thing. I have since stated to manage their investment portfolio.

  7. Troy @ Market History
    Troy @ Market History April 2, 2017

    Holy cow you almost got me there.
    Actually, I do know some people who lost a lot of money shorting Trump’s victory win. It just proves that you should not mix personal political leanings with business/money decisions. Business is business. Everyone who said “Trump will start WWIII b/c he’s a racist/misogynist/barbarian” turned out to be wrong.

      [email protected] April 2, 2017

      They say all good fiction has some grounding in reality. It would not surprise me if someone out there was in this exact situation.

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