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15 wealthy people who 'lost it all' share their stories.

15 wealthy people who 'lost it all' share their stories.


Money comes and goes in waves. Almost everyone on earth has had their finances fluctuate in some way, you lose a job - you have less, you get another one, and you have more. But most people don't experience a massive class change in their lifetime, whether upwards or downwards.

There are international studies that show American class mobility is more myth than reality, and most people die in a similar class to the one they're born to financially. In fact, with rising inflation and the housing crisis, it's far easier to lose financial stability than gain it.

In a popular Ask Reddit thread, people who were wealthy then 'lost it all' or knew someone in that boat share what happened.

1. From HorsePaard:

My driving instructor used to be rich. He had a gym inside a shopping centre in the centre of the city. Then he did a stupid deal where he tried to sell it and didn't get all the details in writing. He intended to be partial owner, but he messed up, so the new owner simply kicked him out.

What stuck with me is that he kept defending himself 'it was understood verbally that...'. Well, I made that mistake too, though for only $200 or so. Anything about money, you gotta treat like a business.

2. From Nitrothacat:

My sister-in-law inherited 260k at the age of 18 and it was gone by the time she was 21. She also dropped out of high school and got a flashy apartment downtown because she thought she was set for life.

She pissed it away on three brand new vehicles at once, paying her boyfriend's child support, letting him steal money, and just buying a bunch of stupid sh*t ($130 yoga pants, $600 bed sheets). She's broke now. Doesn't have anything going on.

Another guy I went to HS with inherited 60k senior year. He bought a brand new 2013 GT500 Mustang in cash. He totaled it less than a month later, and...never put insurance on it. So he went from having 60k cash to being sued for some old lady's medical bills and her totaled car in four weeks. Last I heard he's still making payments to her five years later.

3. From Regota:

The Somali Civil war. My grandfather had a manufacturing company, but the war ruined it. My family used our last half-million to get our relatives out of the country.

4. From Isambard_Maxwell_II:

My SO's great grandmother was of minor Greek nobility. Had tons of old money from somewhere. When she got old her children decided to put her in the most expensive old people's home they could find, thinking she'd kick it in a year or two. Ended up living there for 15 years completely draining the family fortune. I think it's hilarious actually.

5. From Piya_r:

My wife's brother. He was a multimillionaire and now essentially lives on social security and a small commercial property he collects rent on. He made his money in the gift industry. He had a piece of Beanie Babies, charm bracelets, things like that. The industry just cratered around 2004 or so.

He lost all his money by investing in 'rock collectibles' like a Hofner bass signed by all four Beatles, a copy of Sgt. Pepper's also signed by all four Beatles, etc. Tons of stuff. Paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for some of it..all bogus, all fake. He bought all the stuff on trips to Hawaii, and the dealer was outed as a fraud.

He sued, but was unable to recover any of the money -- mostly because other people had sued the guy first and cleaned him out. He also blew through a million of it on just toys. Electronics, computers, gigantic TVs, etc.

6. From AbjectUnicorns:

The Vietnam War. According to my uncle, my father was considered one of the wealthiest men in Saigon prior to the war. He was the owner of an incredibly popular flour-making factory and was very famous. Our family lived right next to the mayor and had a tremendously huge estate with several luxury cars. Keep in mind this is 1960s in a third-world country.

Anyways, after the VC began to win the war, suddenly our literal piles of money in our rooms were worthless. I believe he had gotten about the equivalent of $100 USD for what were millions prior to the war. They had to evacuate from Vietnam and half of my family was caught while the half that I was in was able to escape by boat to Thailand and fly over to America.

My dad was caught and sent to a POW camp, but managed to escape (I'll save that story for another time). Prior to fleeing, my father gave explicit instructions to our grandma to never sell the estate, because it would be worth a ton more in the future. However, my uncles eventually pressured her into selling the land while he was in the POW camps and ran away with the money.

My dad was never able to forgive her for that and took that bitterness with him to the grave. Luckily our mother had tons of jewelry that she brought over to America. She slowly had to sell these pieces off in order to sponsor our arrival and fund the family while they struggled to find jobs here.

I had never experienced the level of wealth that my older siblings grew up with, but I can definitely see some forms of entitlement that they still have to this day. To be honest, I'm sort of glad that I grew up in poverty, it has shaped me into who I am today. Although I am moderately wealthy as a pathologist, I hope to impart the same level of modesty onto my children as well.

7. From Scrappy_Larue:

I'm in one of those businesses that the internet made less necessary. Think video stores, travel agents, newspapers, etc. It's like having the best horseshoe shop in town, ten years after the car was invented.

8. From desolateconstruct:

I knew a guy in high school who inherited six figures from his grandfather. He pissed it away on a fast car, and bulls**t. He was so broke come senior year he enlisted in the National Guard. He was partying one night, a few years later, in a wilderness area, was drunk and slipped in a creek and drowned. Tragic.

9. From PMmeyourPCpics:

A friend of mine was originally raking in 6 figures. He bought a large house with a loan in 2007 before its price crashed and he was left with negative equity. He was then let go from his executive job as his company and now working nearly 60 hrs a week to make ends meet.

10. From gil_beard:

My sister-in-law's dad won $250, 000 at the local casino. Low and behold his crazy ex wife, her biological mother, wanted to give their marriage a second try. This was a bad combo since together they form a bats**t crazy tornado and burned through the money in less than 6 months on alcohol, vacations, weed, and pills. After most of the money had dried up his wife filed for divorce again and took what was left.

11. From infinus5:

I know a guy who found a 47-ounce gold nugget while metal detecting in Australia, then spent every penny of it on stupid sh*t. It's like winning the lotto, most people don't know how to handle the money and lose it all real fast.

12. From Yonefi:

There seems to be a phenomenon with people who get lucky and confuse luck with ability/acumen. I know three people at different times that all got jobs due to who they knew rather than what they knew. 2 in oil 1 in ag HR (think scheduling 500 labors for a week during harvest). All made 200k-300k.

After several years of this, all three left to do their own thing. One started a gun business, one started a his own ag HR business, one started flipping houses (in 07). Within about a year all of them were broke.

Remember people if you got your high-paying job through a series of lucky strokes rather than a great degree, working your way up, or being the innovator, don’t confuse luck with skill. Drove me nuts that these guys would give all types of career and financial advice too.

13. From dva-kr:

I personally was never wealthy but I come from a very well-off family. My dad is a key player in a Fortune 500 company and is never home since he’s flying around constantly. I was always well taken care of and spoiled. (Three different luxury cars starting from the age of 16, college paid off in full, new clothes and always fed, a credit card paid by my parents)

Although I love my family and my parents, they expect total control over my life in exchange for the material possessions. They came from really poor backgrounds and are self-made so their entire lives have been centered around making money and being financially stable. To them, money is everything whether they know it or not.

I was not allowed to cut my hair in a certain way, dress a certain way, put my makeup on a certain way. I got in a disagreement with my dad so we did not celebrate my 18th birthday. Mom was embarrassed of my sexuality (bis**ual, dating a woman at the time) so she cancelled Thanksgiving a few years ago.

They love me so much but they spent their entire lives working toward a certain type of lifestyle and their firstborn does not match that picture at all. Anyway, I was s**ually as**ulted and it put a huge rift in the immediate family. We never talk about it but it’s unspoken knowledge.

I was wary of men for a long time and struggled with PTSD. To put it short, I was severely depressed for two years. I kept trying to get my life back on track but it felt hopeless. I wanted to go to psychiatrists, therapy, etc but my parents are very old-fashioned and don’t believe in that kind of stuff. I arranged my own care without them knowing and have been working on myself ever since.

I fell in love with an amazing man. Someone who has completely changed my outlook on life. They don’t approve because he’s a “broke immigrant” My mother and father who use to not be able to afford to eat look down on him because he’s struggling to support himself. He’s a wonderful guy who moved to America for a better chance at life.

He works three jobs, goes to college, and has never once made me feel unloved or unsafe. He looks at me in a way that I’ve never seen before and I truly love him. With all my heart. He’s the strongest, most kind person I have ever met. Someone with great initiative, a strong sense of morals, and a pure heart. I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.

My parents disapproved of him and this led to friction. It all boiled over once my mom called me and an argument started over my inability to handle a full-time job, full-time college, and my mental health. I wanted so badly to be normal and healthy and to be able to juggle it all but I just can’t. She started to blame it on him and call him a loser.

Call my best friends losers. Call me a disappointment. She’s apologized many times for treating me like an investment rather than her child and I normally just sit silently and let her tear me down but this time I really couldn’t handle it. She told me that the ass*ult was nothing and I was making problems over nothing and then mentioned my ass**lter by name and I hung up.

Respect is a huge deal in my culture so that was like a slap in the face to her. I silently returned some of the items they have given me and held over my head (like car keys and cellphone) in the middle of the night and cut them off. I moved in with my boyfriend and I’ve never been happier.

It’s only the first month and it’s so hard but I can honestly say it’s an adventure that we play together and I’ve never felt more confident about my future. I really love him...and for once, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

14. From TonyTheEvil:

My mother and her parents. My grandfather was working for a subsidiary of NASA during the space race. My grandmother did secretary work at local schools. The two were supporting four children and still staying upper middle class. They didn't live lavishly and my grandparents saved enough money to put all four kids through college. Then Nixon cut the space program.

They had to use all of their savings to live as my grandfather couldn't find a job anywhere because he was too overqualified. By the time any of the kids were old enough to get into college, they had no money to help them through, and couldn't qualify for any financial aid that there was since their father made too much previously.

15. From RaeADropOfGoldenSun:

I was never wealthy but my grandparents were. They definitely worked their way up from working class, but by the time they were in their 80s and I was in my teens they lived in a hotel room they bought out as a condo in one of the most expensive cities in America. They went on cruises multiple times a year, bought everyone lavish presents, etc.

My brother and I were both heading toward college and the plan was for them to pay for most of it, and my middle-class parents were relying on inheritance for a solid future. Then my grandpa died, and we found out he had been lying a bit about some of their finances. A blow, but no huge deal, grandma would just have to watch her spending a bit.

The big news came a bit later. My grandmother had invested a lot of money in diamonds. She always bought from the same guy at a very reputable jewelry store and she had thousands and thousands of dollars worth of diamonds. One day the guy skipped town without a word and it was revealed everything he ever sold was fake.

My grandma lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because suddenly all her diamonds were known frauds. She's old enough that she can kind of run on fumes for a while, but we're hardcore scrambling to figure out to do with no college payments or inheritance.

Sources: Reddit
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