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I screwed up. What next? *Super long, you probably shouldn't read*

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 

As the title states this is going to be pretty tl;dr. Sorry in advance. If you do read it, there's a good chance that at some point you're going to want to berate me and call me a huge idiot and all that. It's certainly warranted, but I'm hoping the discussion will be focused on solutions rather than the problems. There are Cliff's at the bottom.

 

I'm 23 and I've put myself in the hole, literally and figuratively. I didn't go to college for various reasons and after my initial ideas failed I worked odd jobs, lived off a credit card for a little while, etc. I landed a decent gig a couple years ago with a base salary of $37k with, 401k, good insurance, 2 weeks vacation, 1 week sick, etc. through my mother, who was very close with the executive in charge at the company. Not long after being hired good things started happening for me. I was able to move out and furnish a condo, had spending cash after expenses and savings, and was a very important employee at work. My job was in education and while I wasn't a teacher I interacted with the students on a daily basis. These students happened to be 18-28 year old women, and I happen to be a bit of a wallflower who was starting to break out of his shell. I ended up getting honey where I got my money which is a big no-no and was basically the only thing I could get fired for as I had a cushy safety net through my mother if any issue arose. My direct supervisor was the most hated person in the company but due to some office politics she wasn't going anywhere regardless of her job performance. 

 

Going back to the part about me being a wallflower, I had a few friends in high school but I had confidence issues and my parents were really restrictive about where I could go. When I was 14 I went to the mall with a friend after school and while walking home from the mall with my friend, my mother sped beside us and made a big spectacle about me not calling her to let her know where I was; I was supposed to call her about 20 minutes prior and forgot. After that I never had friends over or anything. As I got a little older my friends would go to parties on weekends but I never went. I couldn't think of a good way to lie to my parents about going to parties, even if I didn't drink. My dad was abusive and a bit of an alcoholic, and when he said he'd beat my ass if he found out I'd been partying, he meant it. I did sneak out a couple of times but decided the risk wasn't worth it. When I was 20 I started breaking out of my shell but I worked by myself/with mature adults from age 18 up until then, and I didn't really have any people my age in my social network. I also found something else around that time...

 

I've played card games my entire life, playing online poker when I was 13-14 during summer instead of working a job. I stopped playing when I was 15ish but decided to try again at 19. I got decent at it; enough that I supported myself with poker for about 6 months prior to my new job starting. I found strategy forums and after participating in the communities I had myself a group of friends. Maybe they weren't "real" because at that time I had not met them in real life, but I talked to them on Skype all the time, swapped money from poker site to poker site with them, basically trusted them and treated them just as I would a "real" friend. When my job started, I was rollin'. I was making a couple thousand a month from poker in addition to what I made at work. Two streams of income seems like a good problem to have, but when you've grown up a pauper and were taught how to manage money by people who live paycheck to paycheck and on a host of credit cards (my parents) all that cash is a catalyst for disaster. I paid off my consumer debt and was living well, but I never saved money. I bought a drumset, clothes (I discovered StyleForum at that time and developed an addiction to Common Projects), basically all things I wanted but could never have before. In August of 2010 I signed a backing arrangement for my poker play. Under the contract, my backer would supply buy-ins for all live and online poker tournaments, and would pay for the hotels when I traveled for poker. In exchange, I would get 50% of the profits, but I'd have to win back any buy-ins lost before we split any profits (this is known as makeup). With this agreement in place I could  I decided it was time to meet a few online players in real life at last, so I went to Vegas in October of 2010. I played a couple of tournaments for my backer but mostly came to meet friends and enjoy the things that 20-somethings enjoy in Vegas -- booze, drugs, gambling, strippers, dining and the parties that go down in Sin City. I was in Vegas for about five days and I spent a lot of money, most of it on my credit card because my credit union locked my checking account after a good-sized withdrawal at a Vegas strip club and I neglected to call the bank about it. Around this time I had some things cooking at work with the ladies. A couple dates, a couple nights out, two trips to Vegas and one big night where I threw down with two other guys for a table, bottles, all that good stuff at a popular club on the strip. The two guys never paid and I got stuck with the bill, which I put on my credit card because I was cash poor. During these few months of degeneracy I got deep in debt, about $40k worth, but I wasn't terribly concerned because I had poker and a job and I'd be okay.

 

Around March of 2011 things were rough for me at work. The girl I was seeing (one of the students) and I broke things off in bitter fashion, and it greatly affected my personal and professional life. I dreaded showing up every day and seeing her, and instead of being an adult and dealing with the mess I created by getting involved in the first place I let the break up eat at me. My workload was steadily increasing and I found myself doing accounting and managerial tasks in addition to my usual duties. Thankfully poker was going pretty well and although I was only playing part time, I had won nearly $50k. After makeup and the profit split I had just over $20k to put toward my debt. Then on April 15th the US government seized the major poker sites along with player funds. I'm personally owed five figures that I'll likely never see. I slipped into a cycle of hating work all day, coming home and smoking a lot of weed and watching TV. I spent basically everything I earned on weed and dining out, and I just made the minimum payments on my remaining debt because I simply didn't care. In late 2011 I had a meeting with my supervisor at work and was informed that someone had seen me out with a student. I bullshitted my way around it in the meeting, but I figured that was it. I was caught, and to save my mother the embarrassment of me getting fired for it, I subleased my condo, sold my car, quit my job and with about six months of living expenses saved up I moved out of the country to play poker online. I played for a few months, didn't do very well and have accumulated some makeup. I'm not terribly concerned about the makeup figure and can clear it in a month or two. I can also ask my backer for money for living expenses if I need it, but I'd rather just go home than do that. I recently came home to assess my life and try to make the best decision I can for myself at this point. Here are what I consider to be my options:

 

- Go back to school. I wasn't a good student in high school and will likely have to take some classes before I can enroll full-time and work towards a degree. I'd be going to community college and then transferring to university. I have a decent idea of what I'd like to study, but I'm not certain yet. I don't know how I'd fund this short of student loans as my parents have no money, I don't qualify for many (if any) scholarships or grants right now. I have part time work lined up already and it can become full time, but it won't pay very well. I'd have to live at home (which I don't mind too much but it could be a problem) and even then I wouldn't make much of a dent on my debt which is $400/month for the minimum payments right now. Going back to school would also put me in contact with people my age and give me an opportunity to make friends and be somewhat normal. I've found that I'm not a freak, I just struggle to make friends my age because I put myself in so few situations to meet them. I feel like if I don't find a way to interact with my peers I'm never going to develop those kinds of skills and it's going to affect other parts of my life too. I like this option best but graduating college with student loans and a heap of credit card debt seems scary. I do have a good amount of work experience and am qualified for a lot of positions which pay decently, though.

 

- Go back to work full time. Through industry contacts I can get myself a full time job, but again I don't see this helping me with my credit card debt too much. Despite possessing the qualifications most firms require, it's unlikely that I'll find a job that pays similar to my old one without a degree, and my parents will be much less reluctant to let me stay at their house if I'm not in school. What this will do for me long-term depends on what the position is. My last job had zero upward mobility, any future employment should have something I think.

 

- Move abroad again. I can live abroad for about $400/month more than what I'd spend if I stayed home and went back to school. I'm a winning player over a sample greater than 3 million hands, so I have a high level of confidence that I'd be able to make money but the game is quite volatile and I could easily go another month or two without making a dime. I could comfortably live abroad for at least three months on the savings I have. The work is isolating, hard on the body, stressful, and it's hard to find a work/life balance in poker. The feeling that I have to win is not a good one, and the added pressure surely had a negative effect on my play during my last trip abroad. Poker is a means to an end and if I choose this route I want to be out of the game within a year or so.

 

- A combination of things. I can move for a month or two with the intention of coming home, working full time until school starts in the fall and then adjusting my work hours if needed. If poker doesn't work out, I can quit the game and won't owe the makeup until I decide to play again, but I'll have used up a decent chunk of my savings on the flight, living expenses, etc.

 

Cliffs: Got good job. Did a terrible job of managing my money and myself. Quit job. Have about $20k credit card debt and six months living expenses. Have a few options but not sure what's right for me. 

post #2 of 58
Ok I read the first couple of paragraphs and it seems like you are telling your life story in reverse. Can we get a synopsis?
post #3 of 58

Get a job! Since you're young, accept that you may have to start at the bottom and pay your dues. Learn to live within the limits = your paycheque, and talk to your creditors to negotiate a payment arrangement for your debt. If you can, try to get a degree that may compliment your career aspirations.

 

Going to school for a degree is really worth it if you really want to study a topic and pursue a career in that field, don't study for the sake of studying.

 

I day-traded for a few years before the stock market bust and no matter how good you think you are, nothing meets a steady income wih possibility for upward mobility - poker doesn't offer you that. You admitted that poker is boring and there's no social life. Moving abroad is merely avoiding your issues, when money runs you, you eventually have to make a decision.

post #4 of 58
Basically you sound like the typical early twenties loser who wants to live large without holding down a steady job and thinks poker/day trading/flipping houses, etc, etc. will give you a steady income which, surprise surprise, it won't.

You're only 23. You're very young and have plenty of time ahead of you to get your life on track. Go to college, get your degree, and use the time you are there to learn how to manage your money and figure out what you want to do with your 20s/early 30s.
post #5 of 58

 

 

 

You say you didn't do well at school, but you're obviously intelligent -  playing poker successfully requires smarts, not that I speak from experience, and you write reasonably well, a rare skill. You're still very young and unencumbered relationship and dependents-wise.  

 

Clearly you're sitting close to the top of the tree in terms of privilege and opportunity, so relax and enjoy it.  A long way to go b4 point of no return on any of life's pathways.

post #6 of 58
What Pliny said.
Is your backer going to break your legs if you keep losing? If not, go play poker and get out of debt. Also, 20k aint shit. It might not seem it but if you are able to get in touch with the companies you can work out a payment plan and be out of debt in a few years. Figure out what kind of work uses the same skills as online poker and go do that. DO NOT MOVE IN WITH YOUR PARENTS!!!

If you had a good relationship and they weren't a combination of restrictive and abusive I might say go for it back it is better to live like a pauper then take a step back emotionally and move home.

Unless you have a really clear idea what you want to do, stay out of school for now. If you do have a good idea and a clear plan then o back and borrow the money if need be. It sounds like you could play a little live poker while in school, enough to make some spending cash anyway,a nd you would not have to be so deep into it.
post #7 of 58
Oh, and did you at least have some fun? 20k is not much and it sounds like you have had some life experiences that will only help in the long run. Probably more so then holding down a shit job or going through the motions in college would have.
post #8 of 58
read the first sentence. will read later...
post #9 of 58
You actually probably qualify for many scholarships and grants. If you're thinking of returning to school, meet with advisers (academic and financial) at the school and get the details. You won't be able to make a good decision without them.
post #10 of 58
Along the same lines: Get some IRL friends instead of seeking counsel in anonymous message board types for life decisions. Also, get an editor, unless this whole thing was just a believeability test for some character you're writing about in your Great AMerican Novel (this sort of sounds like that). Come to think of it, if that is what this really was, you should still get an editor.

I have pals who have done the living abroad thing, and it doesn't work out (i.e. they get bored and it's unfulfilling and smog/lack of decent health care drives them back to their home countries).
post #11 of 58
IMO you should get a PGDE/bachelors of education, then move abroad and teach if you like it. For example in Hong Kong you'd have a cush job that I'd envy, making 6000~ USD a month, with just a Postgrad diploma of education in the government NET scheme.
post #12 of 58
Poker should be a hobby, if it makes you money then all the better. Always treat it as the icing on the cake, rather than your sole income. Bottom line is no matter how well anyone plays, you can still lose, as there is still a huge luck factor. You could play a complete idiot who doesn't know how to play, but if somehow he gets better hands and continues to win you will lose.

I hated school too, but there's many job opportunities where the minimum requirement is a bachelor's. without that degree you will be screened out without ever getting the chance of interviewing.

Get a job pay off some bills, get yourself situated for the next 6 months. Enroll in a community college in the meantime, and start classes in the fall. Do not spend a cent you don't need. Mean's not going out, not buying clothes, walking instead of driving to run easy errands nearby. Sell off what you can. You can bang out community college in 2 years easily, then transfer to a university to finish your bachelors. Apply for financial aid, you can finish your degree at university in 1 year after doing 2 years CC if you work hard.
post #13 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by munchausen View Post

Ok I read the first couple of paragraphs and it seems like you are telling your life story in reverse. Can we get a synopsis?


Cliff's at the very bottom. I couldn't think of a way to ask for help without giving a lot of details. Without them people would be asking me how I got into this situation, etc.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord-Barrington View Post

Basically you sound like the typical early twenties loser who wants to live large without holding down a steady job and thinks poker/day trading/flipping houses, etc, etc. will give you a steady income which, surprise surprise, it won't.
You're only 23. You're very young and have plenty of time ahead of you to get your life on track. Go to college, get your degree, and use the time you are there to learn how to manage your money and figure out what you want to do with your 20s/early 30s.

I won't disagree. I had a sort of Jekyll & Hyde personality when it came to money/lifestyle. I always owned efficient used cars, lived in an inexpensive condo and got a roommate, etc. and understood how to live below my means, but sometimes it didn't work out in practice. I think my mistake was developing a lack of regard for money, which I think came from poker because winning or losing a few thousand in a day was common. After I started playing higher stakes tournaments I went through the stage of trying to impress people instead of just being a normal guy. It didn't help that the majority of people in my life were other 20-something poker players who had the same habits. Most of them are/were in school and didn't make the mistake of using a credit card like I did though.

 

I've always known that poker is an unsteady way of producing income, and an unsustainable career for a lot of reasons even if you're a decent winner. Poker has always been a means to an end for me, but without any direction in my life as far as education or a career goes I've kept playing.
 

 

     Quote:

Originally Posted by Pliny View Post

 

 

 

You say you didn't do well at school, but you're obviously intelligent -  playing poker successfully requires smarts, not that I speak from experience, and you write reasonably well, a rare skill. You're still very young and unencumbered relationship and dependents-wise.  

 

Clearly you're sitting close to the top of the tree in terms of privilege and opportunity, so relax and enjoy it.  A long way to go b4 point of no return on any of life's pathways.



Thanks. I didn't do well in school because the value of education was never instilled upon me by my parents. My father was a high school dropout and my mother went to a technical school, and neither of them every really discussed college or the importance of getting good grades. I was told not to bring home F's or else I'd get my ass kicked, and that was about it when it came to education in my house.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCal View Post

What Pliny said.
Is your backer going to break your legs if you keep losing? If not, go play poker and get out of debt. Also, 20k aint shit. It might not seem it but if you are able to get in touch with the companies you can work out a payment plan and be out of debt in a few years. Figure out what kind of work uses the same skills as online poker and go do that. DO NOT MOVE IN WITH YOUR PARENTS!!!
If you had a good relationship and they weren't a combination of restrictive and abusive I might say go for it back it is better to live like a pauper then take a step back emotionally and move home.
Unless you have a really clear idea what you want to do, stay out of school for now. If you do have a good idea and a clear plan then o back and borrow the money if need be. It sounds like you could play a little live poker while in school, enough to make some spending cash anyway,a nd you would not have to be so deep into it.


 

No, my backer understands the nature of the game. Some of the other players he backs have been in $250k+ makeup on multiple occasions so I'm a pretty small part of his operation. I can quit and walk away at any time if I choose to do so with no repercussions.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCal View Post

Oh, and did you at least have some fun? 20k is not much and it sounds like you have had some life experiences that will only help in the long run. Probably more so then holding down a shit job or going through the motions in college would have.


Yeah, I've had some great experiences. I met a lot of interesting people and have traveled to some cool places. I also got to compete for, and came close to winning, a few mid-six to low-seven figure prizes. I think it's pretty cool to have had that kind of opportunity at a young age. My confidence in whether it was all worth it or not is low at the moment due to the consumer debt, though.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LooknGr8 View Post

Along the same lines: Get some IRL friends instead of seeking counsel in anonymous message board types for life decisions. Also, get an editor, unless this whole thing was just a believeability test for some character you're writing about in your Great AMerican Novel (this sort of sounds like that). Come to think of it, if that is what this really was, you should still get an editor.
I have pals who have done the living abroad thing, and it doesn't work out (i.e. they get bored and it's unfulfilling and smog/lack of decent health care drives them back to their home countries).


I'd give the opinions of some message board posters more clout than the average college student in this case. I've found there are some very smart folks on this forum and I can get better quality, more objective criticism from a crowd who has been there and done that. Also, the act of getting friends is one of the things I struggle with most. How do you meet people when you have a limited local social network and many of those in your social network (old friends, a few coworkers) share few, if any, commonalities with you anymore? I'm a much, much different person than in years past and I really don't fit in with my old friends. If I had avenues for putting myself in social situations I'd likely be just fine because I like people/conversing/telling jokes, but I don't know how to create those avenues. Hopefully that makes sense. By going to school I can join clubs, meet people in my classes, and work a retail job on the side, or at least something where I can be sociable. However, without a clear plan of what I want to study and why, I feel like I'd just be going to fill the void in my life, and I'm not sure if it's worth the student loan debt.

 

This isn't a test for a novel. What I wrote above is a condensed version of my teens/twenties, I didn't feel the rest was applicable to the discussion and it's already too long as is.

 

 

Something I didn't mention in the OP is that I have a field of study which interests me, philosophy. This skills required to major in philosophy like creative thinking, effective communication, etc. are things that I have a genuine interest in. Being further in debt scares me a lot though. I'm going to see a guidance counselor this week so we'll see what my funding options are.


Edited by WhoopsBusto - 3/4/12 at 6:30pm
post #14 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoopsBusto View Post

Something I didn't mention in the OP is that I have a field of study which interests me, philosophy. This skills required to major in philosophy like creative thinking, effective communication, etc. are things that I have a genuine interest in. Being further in debt scares me a lot though. I'm going to see a guidance counselor this week so we'll see what my funding options are.

Do not go to school for philosophy. You can read major philosophers for free and get annotated textbooks that detail particularly important/difficult concepts.
post #15 of 58
Well, the good news is that you are not literally in a hole.
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