A little over 12 years ago (Sep 1999) I was lured to the USA with promises of dreams and opportunity. I had been working international in a couple of different countries for an American company and they wanted me to move to the US and work in the home office. It seemed like a good idea at the time as it afforded me the opportunity to get off the road. So I moved my family (wife and two children then aged 8 & 9) to the Seattle area.
It was really hard starting over in a country that is not very friendly at all to “outsiders” and where the establishment will stick it to you just because they can. With unfavorable exchange rates at the time we ended up depleting what savings we had just trying to set up a new home in a new country. Credit in any form was extremely difficult to get. In fact it was easier for a student with zero income to get a credit card than it was for me, simply because I did not have any credit history in the US. I had to resort to tactics like taking $5,000 of our hard earned savings and putting it into a secured credit card. The only place I could get vehicle financing was with Chrysler on a 3 year lease for a Jeep that cost me $560 per month. The stories go on but I won’t bore you with the details.
With hard work and perseverance life slowly started to turn around for us. I even had a 401K and was saving for retirement but, then in October 2001 the proverbial fan got very dirty. By December 2, 2001, a Sunday and the day the company I worked for declared bankruptcy, we had lost nearly everything. I say nearly everything because we still had our debt in the form of a $267,000 mortgage at 7.95% and of course the vehicle lease. We could not lose the debt could we? Anyhow, that company was Enron…
Today, 11 years later my house is fully paid for, my cars (X4) are all paid for, I have zero debt, 10 months cash in my emergency fund, a healthy retirement plan and a credit score of 802.
If there is one thing that I have learned through this experience it is this…
Cash is King! And that does not mean having the cash on hand but rather the ability to maximize and manage cash flow.