“Your book changed my life”
That was the subject line of an email we recently got, so of course we had to read it. Inside was one of the most inspiring stories that have ever crossed our inbox, and the fact that our book had even a minor role to play in that was beyond humbling. So we reached out to the reader asking if they’d mind if we shared their story with our audience, and to our surprise they graciously agreed to be interviewed. This is her story.
In 2019, you were in a pretty bad place. Can you tell us about that?
In 2019 I was living in Oregon, struggling to find work and stuck in a toxic relationship. I had a part time caregiver job taking care of older adults and was barely making enough to make ends meet. My boyfriend at the time supported me by charging me a low amount for rent and paying for the groceries. Because I was living there for a low cost, he expected me to do all his laundry, cook and clean for him. If there was a day he came home and laundry wasn’t done, he would scream at me and call me all these names. “Lazy, spoiled, don’t do sh*t with my life, not a hard worker, etc”. And then later that night he would manipulate me and try to make it up to me.
When I was at my caregiving job 3 days a week, I read every article and self help book I could get my hands on. I even reached out to a free hotline to talk about my situation. I came up to a conclusion that I need to get the strength and funds to get out of this situation. So I started to pick up overnight shifts for my caregiving job so I can make extra money to one day move out of his house. And then one day something happened that pissed him off. He put his hands on me and tried shoving me out of the house. I finally told myself I was done. I packed everything and slept in his extra bedroom that night. He tried apologizing later that night and I stood my ground and kept him locked out of the room. Next day when he was at work, I packed everything I could fit in my car, and took off to my sister’s house.
2 days after me and my boyfriend broke up, I got a phone call from my caregiving job. My client died. So there went my caregiving job down the drain.
So you were jobless and homeless. That sounds pretty horrible. What was that experience like?
I didn’t spend much time moping around. I immediately started looking for jobs and found a job as a fitness consultant. In the job ad, it looked like I could make good money. I would pull up to work everyday, with my car crammed with stuff and act like everything was okay while I was at work. It was a Monday-Friday 8-5 type job and that was so not me. I quickly realized after 3 weeks like I would never break minimum wage and make the money the job in the ad listed.
After work, I would check out places to live on Craigslist and get all these weird offers. Meanwhile my sister was telling me I can’t stay at her place much longer and needed to find somewhere else. Nothing was falling through and I needed to make a decision quick. Something in my heart told me to go to Southern California and start a new life. When my intuition tells me something, I go for it.
So I quit that job & took off with my dog to California with no plan. I had just enough money saved up to travel out there. The pay check from that job I just quit would come in by the time I found a place to rent in California. When I drove out there, I had 1 place lined up to check out when I got there. When that didn’t work out, I gave up and was getting ready to sleep in my car. Then my friend in San Bernardino reluctantly said I could stay in his extra bedroom until I found a place. 5 days later, someone offered me a pet friendly room in Harbor City and had just enough money to move in. Job wise, I found a donut shop job. I managed to get fired from that, 2 weeks later. And thankfully found a bartending job the same week I got fired.
How did you learn about investing?
I was only bartending 2-3 days a week and needed something to fill in my time. I had 5 roommates at the place I lived at and my dog had 2 dog roommates. So everyday I would take off, and try to be productive. I was reading every self help book and I was applying for every job. I needed something that was going to help me get ahead in life.
I was at Barnes & Noble one day when I came across the book, Quit Like a Millionaire. Off the bat, I was connected to this book. I was at the bottom & had hope I could create something better for myself. When I read the book, I learned everything about the stock market for beginners and it gave me the confidence to get started. I took action and opened up a Vanguard account. I had notes written in my notepad, which stocks the book used, and followed the general guideline to diversify it. I started with a bond and a couple of index funds. I tried a real estate index fund and an index fund that was not in the U.S. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I started somewhere and I did it. In December 2019 I put my first $4000 in the stock market thanks to the Quit Like a Millionaire Book. As months went along, I would look back at the book to go over everything and adjust my portfolio as I went along.
What got you out of this period of your life?
It didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual thing and I had to remind myself all the time, who I am, what qualities I have, and keep pushing to be the best version of myself. I had to keep telling myself positive things and stay strong, or else I would believe all the negative names my ex would call me. I literally would write out all the qualities I have and want to have. I wrote down all of my goals and went after them.
Staying positive was a must, I would tell myself all the things I am grateful for. The scarcity mindset mentioned in the QLAM book is something that really helped to get out of my situation. My expenses were very low and I kept putting my extra money into the stock market. As I was bartending, I met lots of people, which opened up new bar jobs and opportunities. I started making a lot more money and I stuck with my minimal expenses. This scarcity mindset helped me form this great habit of saving money.
How did it feel putting your hard earned money into the stock market just as it was plummeting?
When you have a goal to retire early and be financially free, it feels great to put your hard earned money into the stock market. Because of reading QLAM, I was ready when the market crashed in March. I didn’t know if it would keep crashing or if it was going back up. All I knew is that I was shopping at a discount and I love doing that! By building a portfolio that was similar to what is in the book, I was confident that my money would grow over time no matter what the market did.
Any chance the market dropped, was a time to put money in. No matter what the market did, I put money in it every month. I had a set goal to put a minimum $4000 in every month and I had to stick with it. I felt like I was putting all my money in and getting no reward, but because of QLAM, I saw that it paid off in the future by sticking to it. The sooner I build my portfolio, the sooner my money will compound.
You ended up getting multiple jobs even as millions of people in the US were unemployed. How did you pull that off?
I was lucky enough to not lose my jobs. Our bar was still open because we served food. Everyone tipped extra because they felt bad for us. I have been selling gym equipment for about 4 years now, and when COVID hit, my sales went crazy. Since all the gyms were closed, everyone started buying equipment from us and my commissions were great during that time.
I have been a caregiver for an older adult, so that also kept me occupied. Since everything was closed and I couldn’t travel, I had no choice but to just work all the time. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed, I was either making sales or doing my bartending or caregiving job. When the gym equipment job was very busy, I would fly out to Oregon to work in the warehouse for a week and make some extra money. Adapting during a time like this was important. I picked up so many random jobs, I can’t even list them all.
What did it feel like when you hit $100k in your investment account?
It was the last few days of December 2020 when I put in enough money to make my account at $100,000. When I saw those numbers, that’s when it hit me that I went from $0 to $100,000 in one year. I didn’t think much other than reflect where I was a year ago and how it all got started. It stemmed from reading QLAM and following the tips in the book. It feels great to reach a stepping stone, but it is going to feel better when I reach my goal and become financially free.
What advice do you have for all the people out there who feel as down as you did?
No matter where you come from and who you are, you can change your life around one day at a time. If you take action and work hard, you can build something great. Spend everyday telling yourself positive things and you will become it. Set goals and get after it. Do something everyday for your health, wealth, and education. Every day I get a workout in, eat healthy food, do something that makes me money and read a book or something educational.
Also I do something every day that makes me happy, whether it’s going to the beach, helping an older adult pull weeds, or going golfing. I have a college degree and barely put it to use. Don’t limit yourself to one line of work. Try everything and learn a new skill. Always be nice to everyone, you never know who you will meet and what opportunities will arise.
Whatever your situation is, focus on what is the next step you can take. Focus on what you CAN do and try to be as positive as you can. My bar that I work at just got shut down recently because of the health department and COVID rules. I don’t know when we will open up. All I know is that moping around and stressing about it wont help. I can’t control the government or the rules. What I can control is my actions and what steps I can take in the meantime.
In the end, have faith everything is going to work out. Not everything will come to you in one day, but if you build good habits and take action everyday, you will be heading in a whole new direction. A year ago I read QLAM, and from there I saved up $100,000 in a year. You never know what book or event will change your course in life and this is definitely one of them. Thank you Kristy and Bryce!
Wow, I am in awe. If you’d like to hear mode from Casie, drop by her Instagram @casiejohnsonn and say hi!
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