What does it feel like to become poor after being wealthy? (1)

Jerry Strazzeri, Analytical Lead at Google (2016-present)

I can tell the experience of a friend. who married a woman who was multi-millionaire since birth. Saying that they were rich is an understatement. They only flew first or business class, he got a new Porsche or Mercedes every single year and they lived in the best apartments in Manhattan,

I remember when he and his wife moved to New York they hired an interior designer from Milan to do the decoration. They spent around a million dollars only with the renovation and furniture for the apartment.

They had it all, and not even in my dreams I would imagine that one day they would lose it all.

However, like many other stories, they didn’t lose it overnight, but little by little.

I never imagined they would lose all their money because apart of being filthy rich, they were really lucky.

My friend’s wife grew up being a millionaire. Annual trips to Aspen with her family, then summer in Europe and everything we imagine rich people do. I was lucky to enjoy some of these perks when I was invited to one of their vacation homes.

They had a lot of money but they didn’t work. After all, they never needed to do it. She received a monthly allowance from her family that I believe was around 700K to 1M per year so they would probably not bother to work 9 to 6 to make $100K more.

They lived this life for around 10 years. Then, they had some disagreement with their family and they stopped receiving the allowance. They lived by their savings for around 3 years. During those years they lived a very good life, but not so lavish as before. After 3 years, when they were about to start selling everything so they could have some money, her uncle died. He didn’t have any kids so she received a good sum of money that was sufficient for around 3 more years.

When their bank accounts were about to run dry again her mother passed away and she inherited, along with her brothers, around 4M each.

For most people, it would be sufficient for a lifetime, but they made very bad investments along with some poor decisions and I don’t know how, but they ended up losing everything in around 3 more years.

After losing all their money they started living with the money of a trust her parents left to her, Something around 5K per month. But they are on their 50s, they never worked and have no professional skills and they have to pay rent (as they don’t have a home), pay all their bills and above all, health insurance with that amount.

I saw them around 6 months ago and they were miserable. My friend developed a neurological disease due to the stress he endured in the last years. His wife was making all decisions as he wasn’t able to do it anymore. Unfortunately, he is so sick that he couldn’t work even if he wanted to.

I was really sad it happened to them because they were really nice people, It’s easy to judge them for never bothered to have a job or be wiser with their money, however, she was born in a different universe for most of us. What we see as a lavish lifestyle she sees as a regular day since birth.

I asked them if they needed anything and obviously what they need is their old lifestyle back. They moved to a modest apartment in a different state.

She told me that the biggest issue is that they don’t know how to live like that. She can’t imagine what’s like to do their own grocery shopping, and worst than that, go to Walmart with a shopping list. She said that if she spent a little more on things she like she might not have money for the supermarket next week.

I would not dare to say that this experience was humbling to them because they were always nice people, the difference is that they were nice people with lots of money. The only positive thing I believe this experience brought to them is that they are no longer superficial. They used to see everything like poverty, sorrow, and problems from a different perspective, and I used to see them through a mask that looked like they were using all the time

Now, for the first time, I was able to see who they really are. What are their emotions, their fears, their desires, and their regrets… For the first time in their lives they desire things, they no longer pull their credit card and immediately satisfy their desires and in that sense, they look like real people for me.

Every time I visited them over the years I always invited them for lunch, breakfast or coffee and even though I’m not wealthy I always offered to pay, and 6 months ago, when I saw them for the last time, I invited them to have a coffee at Starbucks and that was the first time in more than 15 years that they said thank you after I offered to pay for our breakfast.

It felt different. They don’t need to thank me for anything because during their life, just by inviting me to stay with them, they offered me much more than anything I’ve ever offered to them, but for the first time in their lives, they are learning to value every small good thing that life gives to them.

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