Every once in a long while, I participate in the Weekly Self-Promotion Thread on the r/financialindependence subreddit. On one such thread recently, it was brought to my attention by a throwaway account1 that I might be a hack fraud. Not me specifically, but all of us nasty little non-FI financial independence bloggers talking money all the time on the Internets. How dare we!

After my initial rage-fueled anger binge, including terroristic threats, destruction of personal property (allegedly), police intervention, and a few nights of lockup,2 I reflected and thought: “You know what, Vigilante…he’s right!”3

I am a fraud.

The Vigilante is a mask of shame behind which I pretend to be a financial whiz. In reality, I have a negative net worth. If this big secret got out, who knows what would happen to the dozens of dollars in income this website generates for me?

 

Anybody buying this fake guilt thing?

Of course not! I’m here precisely for the reason of sharing with other young middle class Americans the ongoing tale of a Millennial come-from-behind success…while it’s still in progress! (And while they still have a chance to do the same!)

I started from the typical spurned law student combination of massive debt and unemployment in my mid 20s. Then, I passed through a period of earning the average garbage man’s salary, where I was able to patch the hole in my sinking ship. Now, from a peak negative net worth of around -$200,000, Mrs. Vigilante and I have righted the ship to the tune of approximately +$150,000 in about two and a half years, without ever earning a combined salary over $100,000 until this year!

Here’s where we stand today:

Vigilante Net Worth 3Q 2017

Assets not on FIRE5
Assets on FIRE4
Liabilities
Net Worth: -$40,045.33
House: $230,000SIMPLE IRA:$17,942.77Mortgage:$173,960.65
Vehicles: $12,500457(b):$15,426.03Student Loans:$177,066.75
Pension:$13,294.14HSA:$4,820.19
Cash:$5,000tIRAs: $11,998.94
Subtotal:$260,794.14Subtotal:$50,187.93
Total Assets: $310,982.07
Total Liabilities: $351,027.40

There’s a lesson here, and it’s one that has come up in our comment section here before: A poor person might not always be poor, and a rich person might not always be rich. It’s hard to judge a person’s financial acumen from a snapshot of their life.

A poor person could be a new immigrant, but could also be the next Bill Gates. Or, a poor person could be a recent victim of identity theft, a small business owner about to have a big breakthrough, or a brand new college graduate just about to start earning real money. A rich person could be the beneficiary of a massive windfall that will soon be wasted, like lottery winnings, inheritance, and divorce awards so often are.

Call me a fraud if you will. But I’m confident that I’m offering helpful insights into the life of a person who knows how to build wealth and is on the journey from poor to rich. And I’m hopefully offering some inspiration to my fellow Millennials who might feel like their situation is lost, but they really just need to learn a little self-help.

And please, send more criticism my way; the internet loves a battle, and the more controversy I can rile up, the more ad revenue this place generates!

  1. A reddit term for an account made just to leave a particular comment or set of comments, generally of the type that you wouldn’t want to have associated with your regular account. In other words: the account you use to bully people when you don’t know what you’re talking about.
  2. I think that’s what internet trolls want to achieve, right?
  3. Another tip for you non-redditors: All internet denizens are “he” until proven otherwise, at which point they will generally be asked for proof of an inappropriate nature. It’s not the most friendly environment, generally, but sometimes you can find a beautiful, helpful sanctuary like r/financialindependence!

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