This story is shared by a reader, Miss L.
At the age of almost 30, when a large number of people my age are on their way to have a stable life (with solid career and finance), I have to go back to square one thanks to my awful way of coping and dealing with my personal issues. While I’ve always been a person who’s up for any new experience, there’s one thing that I didn’t sign up for and would rather do without: having almost zero in the bank account.
What led me to having zero in my bank account
There were many reasons that lead me to this situation, but mostly because I spent a lot of my money buying booze and weed to get over my personal problems (not exactly a smart thing to do). Since I kept consuming them too often, it started to take a toll on my health and cost me my job. This made things even worse. I went through depression during my jobless phase, and after months of being out of work, my money is almost gone as well.
Things took a turn for the worse and jolted me back to reality when I realised I’ve got only RM63.00 balance in my bank account. Right then and there, I knew I had to do something about it. And fast. I had to figure out a way to save my face. I didn’t have any other savings left at the time, and I really didn’t have anyone to turn to. I’ve a strained relationship with my family, so I never reached out to them. Only God knows how I felt at the time: anxious, scared, alone, humiliated, helpless, and hopeless.
My memory flashed back to the moment where I met an ex-prostitute who was also an addict and an alcoholic when I volunteered for a programme with my local church. She had financial troubles and had resorted to pushing drugs. Because she was an alcoholic it was nearly impossible for her to keep a day job. I know her case may have been too extreme, but I’m scared if I turned out like that.
Getting support & changing my lifestyle
I finally set aside my pride and seek help and support by approaching a senior pastor whom I’d known for a while. He helped me get into a recovering programme, among other things. I’d also taken my own initiatives and did these things to get out of the financial rut that I was in:
I cook more often, dine in and grow some veggies and herbs. I used to work long hours so most of the time I’d dine out because cooking was the last thing I want to spend my energy on. When I was on top of my game I didn’t really have a budget; I gave in to my cravings and what I felt like eating without any regard to the price or whether or not the food is healthy. Since I was recovering from my alcohol and drug addiction as well as not having much money, cooking my own food is definitely the wise option to save. Also, growing my own veggies and herbs turn out to be therapeutic. I received some free plants and seeds from an environmental NGO.
I take better care of my health. Not just in terms of what I eat and drink, but also my lifestyle. Back then, I wasted a lot of time thinking about my personal issues and remained inactive. I didn’t believe that exercising could help to improve my health because of how negative a person I was, and I thought that no matter what I do I’ll still be the same person. I’m glad I started jogging and participating in my local community. I also volunteered once a week to get out of my negative mind frame.
I rebuild my emergency savings. I had an emergency savings, but I foolishly used it to buy things I don’t need. Now that I’ve got a new job, I really keep to a tight budget and restrict my spending. When I was recovering, I tried to save even the smallest amount of money that I could. You should always do something that your future self will thank you for. I learned it the hard way and I definitely won’t be repeating the same mistake again.
I try to be more creative and resourceful. When it comes to getting around, I try to carpool with people I know in exchange for something (i.e. I cook for them). If I get bored and need to read something, I went to a book exchange centre. If I’m tired with the same clothes that I’ve been wearing, my close friends and I would do a ‘swap party’ where we get to bring our things and swap it with each other. There are so many leisurely things that I have to sacrifice in order to save, but it’s worth it.
I try to resolve every personal issue that I have one step at a time. The whole thing has also taught me how important it is to cope and deal with my problems well instead of just sweeping them under the rug and forget about everything. It’s not easy to undo all the wrongdoings which have been dragged for years and years, I think I’m getting somewhere.
Sometimes I often wonder to myself whether I could sustain the way I currently live. I’m honestly scared if I get too sad again and then I’d turn to my old ways of dealing with problems; which was basically just running away. This is why it’s important that you have people to support and be there for you, even if it’s only one person. That pastor who helped me opened my eyes that I still have a chance to turn my life around, even when I was feeling extremely hopeless.
– Miss L.
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