Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Altucher on Being Broke with No Skills and No One to Sue

James Altucher writes:
The week after 9/11 I decided to be brave and buy the stock market as it opened. This is how I went to zero. I lost basically whatever I had left. I finally couldn’t take it anymore. On Friday of that week at around 10:30 I had to sell everything. I was screaming at my broker on the phone, “I’m going to go broke!” And he sold whatever I had left. Scraps that I knew I could use to pay my mortgage a few months more. Starting around a minute later the stock market went on a run upwards that lasted at least three months. If I had held on for at least 5 more hours I would’ve doubled my money on the week. If I had held on for 3 more months I would’ve had more money than ever. Instead I was broke.

It took another year to sell [my apartment]. I started missing payments. I couldn’t afford diapers...

Nobody would return my calls. I asked my neighbor if a bank or a hedge fund would hire me. He said, “typically you have to have a track record that’s good.” And I was too ashamed to ask him more. I actually had no skills I could think of that could pay my expenses. Dot-com entrepreneurs were a dime a dozen and everyone was broke after the bust. No bankers or VCs would return my phone calls. There was nobody for me to sue. It was all my fault and I’m not a litigious person anyway.

One time I called my parents. I needed to borrow $1000. That’s all. After having millions. It was 14 months after 9/11. I finally had sold my place but the deal had not yet closed and I had no money. I needed money to move. To live.

They began to yell at me. They didn’t want to lend me the money. I hung up the phone. I didn’t talk to them for six months...

I stayed in my new house all the time, about sixty miles north of the city. I gained about 20 lbs because I was no longer pacing the streets of Manhattan at all hours of the night and there was blizzard after blizzard where I lived. I was in exile and I had no idea what would happen. For the first year after I moved into town I didn’t speak with anyone. I didn’t want to. This was only temporary, I thought.

The worst part was trying to find the strength to continue. So my projects turned to zero. What was the point. Day after day. All the music I had danced to just a few years earlier was now silenced. The jukebox was broken.

Read the entire story here,

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