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 Post subject: Uzbek immigrant
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 1:15 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 12:10 pm
Posts: 3
I was born and raised in Uzbekistan. Most people I knew there were making between $50 and $200 a month. However, our standard of living was very good. I just graduated from college with Master's Degree when I met my husband who was a charming American. When we got married and moved to U.S., I discovered that my husband had some serious financial issues - he used my brand new credit history to apply for various business and personal loans, over $250,000 total, which he never repaid, was shopping every day for gadgets and frivolous things and spending lots of money without having any savings. Less than two years into my being in U.S. I had to declare bankruptcy (without even fully understanding what it was). We had a baby boy and I staid home.

Eventually, I went to law school, while also working in the restaurants, which was an ordeal since I turned out to be the clumsiest waitress in the history of the modern world. I remember carrying a tray full of crab legs, potatoes and lobsters and thinking how my 5' 100 lbs body was not properly designed for this. I also worked in the Chinese restaurant without understanding a word, and other waiters often laughed at me (whole-heartedly so), when I tried to pronounce the names of the dishes. I also worked as a telemarketer and cemetery sales person trainee (!). I was awful at both. My mother left her high-paying job and her family in Uzbekistan and moved in with us to take care of my son. She was horrified by the conditions I was living in, but I never questioned my husband (cultural thing).

My husband's philosophy was - you can never save enough money, so the best way to do it is to earn more. Needless to say, he did neither. Also, he spent everything I earned on shopping. Once he spent the money I saved from my tips for the return ticket for my 1 y.o. son who was visiting Uzbekistan with my mother. I was devastated. However, I increased my hours at the restaurant, took the shifts no one else wanted, and saved enough money for their return. Eventually I was fired because I couldn't keep up with all the tables I took out of desperation. I spent hours at night at the law school library after classes and work, studying my way to top 10% of my class. Throughout my law school I had a chipped front tooth (!) which I couldn't repair because of lack of insurance and money.

Sometimes things were so bad that we had no money on baby formula and I had to get it from the food banks. I wore used clothes which is completely against my culture. However, he insisted on living in "prestigious" neighborhoods and driving expensive cars. All of our money went to rent and car payments. He also insisted that since babies don't understand anything, it's ok to buy all the used stuff for them. My son had used everything - carriage, clothes, blankets. I am still upset over this.

Once I graduated from law school and passed the bar I became an attorney. I became more assertive about the finances and insisted we moved to a tiny apartment downtown Woodbury, NJ where I worked as a judicial clerk. Initially he complained that he doesn't want to live "like an immigrant" and that he needs more privacy. However, I insisted on that. I was walking to work and keeping the budget for groceries and everything else. I still did not know anything about finances and could barely use an ATM. After finishing my clerkship, I remember receiving a statement about having $1000 in my 401K. I showed it to my husband asking what should we do with it? He said: cash it. So I did.

Why did I not leave my husband? Because of the Uzbek (read Eastern) culture. The more American I became, the more it was obvious that I should leave him. While I was working long hours as a litigation attorney, he staid home after another failed "business" and called me at work 10 times a day asking why we did not have money in our bank account. I had to log into the online bank account and explain him all the charges that he caused by shopping at the Comp USA, Home Depot, thrift shops, Costco, Wal-Mart, etc. One year ago I left him. The decision was accelerated by my father moving to U.S. and instantly being appalled with my husband's behavior.

I started studying the personal finances, mostly on the web and at Barnes & Nobles. I maxed out my 401K (PRNEX, TRSGX, RPMGX) and IRA (VEIEX & VTSGX), invest in DRIPs (MO, PG, INTC, BAC, KFT, XOM), and saved nearly $60,000. I plan on saving $2,000,000 in 15 years. Of course, I make a lot more money than I ever imagined and more money a year than my friends in Uzbekistan will make in their entire life (result of long hours, hard work and multiple salary negotiations sessions). However, I live in a small apartment with cheap rent which belongs to the City, drive a 10 year old car, not interested in shopping, send my son to a public school (despite a huge pressure from my colleagues and friends to send him to private school), automatically deduct the investments before other expenses, and if anything is left over at the end of the month, I invest it, too.

My only indulgences are travel and various activities and toys for my son. I also spend money on health and dental insurance for my family, life and disability insurance, car insurance, and 529 for my son. I don't want my family to ever go through the bottom the way I did. We now have a security of our investments and emergency fund. Unlike most of my friends, I resist the urge to buy real estate (which is overpriced here) or lease a luxury car. However, I feel happy and secure. The only legacy left from my ex is: me occasionally shopping for clothes in second-hand stores (I'm sure i saved thousands of dollars that way, but I am considered stylish and polished by everyone :)) and my ruined credit which forces me to pay cash for everything (which is actually good). I am also dating a great guy (and teaching him about finances :)).

I never told my story to anyone, even my closest friends. My childhood friends would never believe it, since I grew up in a wealthy and educated family. However, the way I always say it to my mom: the first generation of immigrants always have it rough, but on their shoulders the next generations prosper. I certainly hope this will be true for my son.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 1:52 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:46 am
Posts: 86
This is a very inspirational story. It is encouraging to read about your experience of taking charge of your life and your finances. Thank you for sharing.

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Patrick
http://cashmoneylife.com/ :: Your Money. Your Career. Your Life.


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 Post subject: thanks
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 3:15 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 12:10 pm
Posts: 3
i am only 29 but feel old and wise because of everything i've been through. my friends are saying i look the same way i did when i left Uzbekistan 8 years ago, so that makes me feel better :)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 5:32 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 6:18 pm
Posts: 47
Wow, that's really impressive. Good for you for taking the driver's seat on your financial future.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:28 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 12:10 pm
Posts: 3
Thanks :D


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 2:16 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1322
I'd like to add my respect and awe at your ability to rise above all these hardships and make it through brilliantly...many people would have just given up in your situation. I work with a woman from Bosnia who has managed to build a great career for herself in the US after everything she'd been through over there...I have huge admiration for immigrants who are able to make it in a country like the US despite language, cultural, and professional differences.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 3:11 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 3:56 pm
Posts: 322
Location: left coast
Great story. Glad you left your jerk of a husband. Wish you nothing but success and happiness.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 5:27 pm 

Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 7:20 pm
Posts: 309
I loved your story! Your son has a great role model!

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 Post subject: Re: Uzbek immigrant
PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:33 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:32 pm
Posts: 205
I know this is an older post, but this is simply an amazing story, Tegaychik!

tegaychik wrote:
However, the way I always say it to my mom: the first generation of immigrants always have it rough, but on their shoulders the next generations prosper. I certainly hope this will be true for my son.

Read the book, Millionaire Mind, or the Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley (who studies millionaires), and he says that first generation Americans see what a great country of opportunity it is and take advantage of it. Interestingly, second and third generations tend to get caught up in the consumerism and many times burn through the money their parents or grandparents accumulated. And interestingly, first generation (millionaire) Americans work so hard (usually their own business) they don't want their kids to go through the same things, so they encourage them to go into the professions. Well, I guess you've done both.

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 Post subject: What a beautiful story!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 9:17 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 7:54 am
Posts: 3
Location: Rural Nevada
Congratulations, Tegaychik! I, too, was married to a dishonest, selfish spendthrift and deadbeat husband. Prior to my marriage, I had lived simply, peacefully, and below my means, although I was very ignorant about investing and the importance of the saving over time/compound interest equation. Less than three weeks after my wedding day, I was introduced to the Crazy Town lifestyle of bounced checks, electricity being turned off, calls from creditors, etc. I had married an older, divorced "entrepreneur" from Southern California who would browbeat me when I would challenge him about his poor financial management practices. I was "too young and inexperienced in the world of business to understand the way 'the big boys play'," and, as a teacher, I was just "a working schlep" who would never become wealthy because I didn't have "the street smarts" to get rich!

Fast-forward several years, and we were living in Europe with our own business. I'll say one thing for him, he made me grow up about money because once he'd brought us so close to the brink that we were about to lose our business AND our housing, I called his bluff and took over the management of our business and personal finances. I put him on an "allowance" (how demeaning!) because he could not be trusted otherwise. Over a couple of years, I turned the situation around and saved our business and our financial lives. Still, having that level of distrust, fear, disrespect and antagonism put the nail in the coffin for the marriage. Ultimately, I left him. I took half of what we had, and he promptly raided our corporate business account, hid the raw materials and dealer files of our business, and left the country, leaving me to face the creditors, with no business to run.

Still, I didn't run from the situation. I started my own business immediately so I could pay the creditors from the old business, then saved my money and moved back to America. My now ex-husband still contacts me periodically, trying the old game of manipulating me with regards to money. I am proud to say that since my return to America five years ago, I have increased my annual income significantly. I now own my own home, have an excellent part-time day job with benefits, and a thriving service business. It is still hard, and I live very simply and am still paying off debt I incurred in the early years of my return, but with the help of all the wonderful information and support available in America, I have been able to educate and empower myself. I am 42 years old, and have less than 10 grand saved in my IRA, but at least I am on my way. In the last five years, I have had to battle depression, poverty, a car accident and the injuries associated with it, the trauma of the single dating scene, and, of all the bizarre things, an adult-onset case of epilepsy!

Hang in there, Tegaychik. You're doing a fantastic job and setting an excellent example for your child. You are an inspiration to me and countless others.

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 Post subject: Re: Uzbek immigrant
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:52 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:19 pm
Posts: 1716
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Wow, your ex-husband is a selfish, manipulative jerk, and I'm glad you finally came to your senses and realized your own self-worth. Congratulations on your inspirational story. However, I just wanted to comment on this:

tegaychik wrote:
He also insisted that since babies don't understand anything, it's ok to buy all the used stuff for them. My son had used everything - carriage, clothes, blankets. I am still upset over this.


In this case, I feel your husband was actually right. Why would it matter whether your baby was wearing brand-new clothing, or hand-me-downs? They outgrow clothing so quickly, it doesn't make sense to spend good money buying brand-new clothing every month, when borrowed or used clothing will work just as well, for a fraction of the cost.


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 Post subject: Re: Uzbek immigrant
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:37 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
kombat wrote:
Wow, your ex-husband is a selfish, manipulative jerk, and I'm glad you finally came to your senses and realized your own self-worth. Congratulations on your inspirational story. However, I just wanted to comment on this:

tegaychik wrote:
He also insisted that since babies don't understand anything, it's ok to buy all the used stuff for them. My son had used everything - carriage, clothes, blankets. I am still upset over this.


In this case, I feel your husband was actually right. Why would it matter whether your baby was wearing brand-new clothing, or hand-me-downs? They outgrow clothing so quickly, it doesn't make sense to spend good money buying brand-new clothing every month, when borrowed or used clothing will work just as well, for a fraction of the cost.


Well, the difference is that only the baby got used stuff; if everyone were sharing in that, it would feel a lot different. The husband wasn't being frugal, but cheap.

Some used baby things are a Very Bad Idea, for safety reasons.


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 Post subject: Re: Uzbek immigrant
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:10 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:19 pm
Posts: 1716
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Daedala wrote:
Some used baby things are a Very Bad Idea, for safety reasons.


Like what?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:38 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:11 pm
Posts: 171
Location: Colorado
Car seats first and foremost. But there's other stuff, like recalled products. For instance, Walmart is http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/17/AR2008041704205.html off their shelves. Always a good idea to check for updated safety/recall info on secondhand stuff, but on baby stuff in particular.

Zulu


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:21 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:19 pm
Posts: 1716
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Zulu113 wrote:
Car seats first and foremost.


Maybe I'm just being ignorant here (I don't have any kids), but what's wrong with used car seats? Assuming, of course, they haven't been involved in a crash.

Zulu113 wrote:
But there's other stuff, like recalled products.


OK, are we talking about used things, or recalled things? Recalled products are probably not safe, regardless of whether you bought them new or used. I'm simply wondering what the big deal is about feeding your kid from a used (but sterilized, of course) baby bottle or laying him down in a used crib, or dressing him in used clothes?


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