Have you noticed lately that no matter how hard you work, it is impossible to get ahead? I have. Have you ever wished that you could just trade in this life for a new one and a brand new start? I did.
It sounds too good to be true, but really, it is not. What started off as a move made out of desperation that turned out to be the best move of my life! Before I go into more detail on how I did it, how I broke free from the chains of debt to live a happy life as somebody new, I first must tell you about who I used to be.
My name is Robert Wise; no my name was Robert Wise. I go by Charles Palmers now and I have to tell you that Charles Palmers has a much better life than Robert Wise ever did. I had big ambitions growing up; I wanted success, a flashy car, money in the bank, a hot girlfriend, and a house with a pool. I did good in school, as a matter of fact, I was in the top 10% of my class and I was going to go onto college and get a degree in Business Administration and then set foot on the path of my career, which I envisioned as illustrious and lucrative and that I would be in a position of respect, running a company or even owning my own company!
Little did I know that I was not the only student with that very same dream; being in the top 10% earned me a small scholarship but it only paid for a fraction of the tuition and there was books and living expenses to take. I was taking a double major, economics and business administration so I had double the work, which meant that I did not work while at school. My parents sent me enough money to live frugally on and with each cup of soup that I ate; I vowed to only have the best things when I ran my own company. I racked up student loan debts and figured that when I graduated that I would be hired immediately and could pay off the debts.
I had never been more wrong in my life. I graduated college with a double major in Business Administration and Economics and I knew, just knew that I would have so many job offers that I would have to pick and choose what job I took. I received a very shocking wake-up call to reality the first month after graduating. Instead of being flooded with job offers, I had no job offers. There were simply too many people going after the same jobs.
My parents were able to help me out a little bit, but it was not enough and so I applied for as many credit cards as I could. I tucked them away and tried to not use them but it became impossible, and so slowly but surely, my cards were getting maxed out. I ended up with appendicitis and that hospital stay added well over $30,000 to my debt. Before my credit cards got maxed out, my car died and I bought a new one while my credit was still decent, but I struggled still and when it came down to paying rent or my car payment, I chose to pay the rent.
Finally though, I got a call for a second interview at a company who needed a ‘document’ specialist; the company was an international company and well known and I was thrilled! I celebrated when they made me an offer and then I was crushed when I discovered that I was going to be working in the mail room and in their document management room, meaning I would be scanning in all incoming mail and all generated paperwork for minimum wage.
It was a starting point, but after two years, I was at the same place. By then, I had managed to only gather more debt. I had taken out a personal loan, with a high interest rate, and then could not make those payments either. After five years I had $160,000 in student loan debt, over $16,000 in credit card debt, $40, 000 in hospital bills ( interest had added $10,000), and the personal loan debt of $15,000 and since I had been evicted, I owed the property management firm $6,000 and another $3,500 in various utilities and miscellaneous bills.
I was drowning in debt and working 60 hours a week hunched over a scanner, scanning in baskets and baskets of paperwork. I was renting a room and my degree, along with most of my stuff was in a box in my parent’s garage. I rarely answered my phone because nine times out of ten it was a debt collector. My car was repossessed and I was taking the bus to work, but since I was just another drone, nobody noticed.
I had nothing to my name except a pile of debt; my furniture and most of my stuff was in my parent’s garage and basement. I started to wonder about what would happen if I had no debt to my name but was that possible. What if I had a new name though? A new name with no debt, was it possible? At a used bookstore I found a book about off the grid living, it was written by a man who had escaped his own debts by selling his possessions, obtaining a new identity and them moving out of the country.
According to the book, it takes very little capital to start over in a country like Cambodia, and business savvy Americans can make themselves a very nice life there. I was able to discover an email address for the author and I sent out an email, telling him how much I had learned from his book. Weeks passed and I was becoming more and more depressed; I felt hopeless.
One day I checked my email and there was a reply, with a phone number. I had to get a long distance calling card, but I called the author and spoke to him and he agreed to help me with the only part that was holding me back, getting a new identity. I sent a photo via email and within a month, I received a slim package in the mail, a whole new identity.
I sold off my furniture, my childhood collectibles, and whatever jewelry that I had and had a nice small bankroll to go from. I told my parents that I was being transferred overseas and they assumed that my company was transferring me, and I let them think that.
I used my new ID to get a plane ticket to Cambodia and then with all that I owned in two fat suitcases, I was off to my new life. I landed in a new country as a new person and for the first time since before I graduated from school I was looking forward to the future.
I found cheap lodging and quickly was hired by a local business to work as a supervisor in their manufacturing plant. Within a year, I had moved up to having my own office and a salary that allowed me to have my own house, a pool, a car, and respect. I had a future and I had hope. My phone did not ring with creditors calling and I no longer had to count pennies to pay bills and eat. I went to bed with a smile and I woke up with it still in place.
I had to lose myself in order to reinvent myself but that is exactly what I did.