As regular readers will know, Valentine’s Day is a special day for me because on 14 February 2011 I was officially declared bankrupt.
Two years ago!
As the recent Valentine’s Day drew near I looked back at the past two years, and it was interesting to remember just how different each of those years had been.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I didn’t find out that I was officially bankrupt until 21 February 2011 so to me that day was the beginning of a new era.
Getting that ‘phone call from my new bankruptcy trustee that Monday afternoon had been both hugely liberating, in that I was now debt-free, but also unnerving, in that I was now reduced to a ‘cash-only economy’ and that was it.
What would the future hold?
Fortunately, and thanks especially to my personal growth since mid-2007, I decided to focus on my second chance in life as a positive rather than a negative.
And several surprises lay in store.
One of those surprises was staying in hotels.
In early 2009 I had spent most of two months working in Canberra. Overall it had been a hugely rewarding experience, and one part of it I had especially enjoyed was staying in hotels (so much so that it has become a component of my 10-year plan).
Yet because of my ever-increasing debt problem, between early 2009 and 14 February 2011 I only tried this new interest once.
And after I went bankrupt, staying in hotels seemed like something I wouldn’t be doing for a long time, or only for work.
Yet only weeks later in March 2011, I would stay in hotels twice – first to another part of Sydney for one weekend to get away from the noisiness of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, and later to Wollongong for this experience.
And a few months later I spent a few nights down in Canberra, which back in February would have seemed impossible.
But all of those experiences turned out fine through careful planning, being in the right place at the right time and having the self-confidence that I had seriously lacked in years past to take those chances.
As well, I got a lot of satisfaction out of paying cash for those stays, because once I handed over my money that was it – no more worrying about future bills and interest.
It was very liberating, indeed.
Another surprise was that going bankrupt partly led to a purchase two months later that would have an enormous impact on my life – my Kindle.
Just then, I went back and re-read my first post about my Kindle, and several things about it made me smile.
One thing was reading the reasons I’d been mulling over to buy one. They’re all true – but one missing reason was my bankruptcy, which back then was something I wasn’t yet comfortable blogging about.
Another thing was that vague notion I had had of perhaps getting a Kindle “later (that) year”.
And another thing was wanting to own an iPad as well, but that’s a story for my post about Year Two.
A more detailed account of my second year as a Kindle owner is also another story for another post – but in brief I will say here that the amount of physical space and especially money that I’ve continued to save has been very rewarding.
Another surprise, and the biggest one of all, was that as more and more months of Year One went by I not only survived but thrived.
In fact, by the end of 2011 I was often telling people that bankruptcy had turned out to be one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.
While I certainly regretted the years of foolishness and mistakes that had led to 14 February 2011, bankruptcy had given me a second chance at life and especially to get my finances right.
I learned new money skills, rediscovered old ones and began turning my life around.
At times I was genuinely amazed at my new life, and it showed.
At Christmas 2011 when I holidayed and saw my sisters again, they told me how much different I seemed to the “preoccupied” brother they had noticed at Christmas 2010, when I had feared that my world was going over a cliff.
Now, though, life had gotten much better and was staying well.
And then came Year Two.
But that’s a story for another post.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂