Living Frugally: Staying Frugal Through the Struggle, Part I concluded with the question, “How long did it take me to fully recover, to get back on my feet?”
After selling a lot of my possessions and reducing my expenses, I suddenly felt stuck. What else could I do in order to keep increasing my meager savings and get ahead financially? Then it hit me; I could use my talents. I had always been told I should be a teacher, so I decided to teach what I knew – martial arts and hip hop dance. I put a low-cost ad in the paper and before long, my phone was ringing, with future students on the other end on the line. While this didn’t bring home a ton of money, it was enough that I started paying off some of the debt caused by the identity thief. I got a secured Visa in order to start rebuilding my credit and I started a savings account with around $300…and at that point, $300 was a lot of money in my world! I finally felt like things were looking up.
One very important event helped me tremendously. A friend told me about a monthly plan that would allow me access to attorneys who could advise me on my situation. Only five minutes into the DVD presentation I hit pause, got online, and signed up. As mentioned in Living Frugally: Staying Frugal Through the Struggle, Part I, I was arrested multiple times for crimes I never committed, each time paying bail to be released. The law firm was able to refund my bail on four of the occasions. I then repaid family and friends from whom the bail money had come. The attorneys also spoke to the IRS on my behalf and showed that I didn’t owe the taxes they were seeking. I was very impressed with everything the attorneys did for me. That fact led to my next frugal decision…network marketing. I asked my friend how to make money with the company. She explained, I signed up, and within three months I earned three promotions and three raises. Enter massive sigh of relief and a sense of accomplishment.
I continued shopping at thrift stores and clearance racks while marketing the legal plan. I still bought the lowest-priced fuel and went to free – or almost free – events with my son. I only used my secured Visa after sending a payment in the amount I planned to spend and I saved as much as possible. I still ran into setbacks but I pushed forward. Eventually I reached an income level that allowed me to get an apartment and purchase a used vehicle, 100% cash. I’d like to say that was the end of the story but it was not. However, I had reached a point where I could relax and felt zero financial anxiety. There would be many more years of suffering the consequences of the thief’s actions. But through it all, Living Frugally played an important role in helping me bounce back and rise above!