By Mandy Froelich / Black Hills Financial Planning

There’s no feeling like the recognition of heavily screwing up. In early 2018, this feeling sunk into my core.

While living in Las Vegas, Nevada (a city not suited for my soul), I was contacted by a broker who noticed my interest in cryptocurrencies. Over Facebook, he shared that he worked with Adas Fortress, a trusted firm that helps people like me invest their crypto. Naïve to the trade, I bought everything he had to say hook, line, and sinker. Over a couple of months, he would check-in and ask about my family, see how I was doing. The casual way we interacted caused me to build trust for this person I had never met – or fully investigated.

Finally, after a few months of being pestered by this individual, I gave in to the notion that perhaps, someone else could manage my money better for me. While visiting Seattle, Washington, in October of 2017, I made the risky decision to transfer $10,000, soon after followed by other transfers amounting to roughly $16,000. The agent had promised unrealistic returns – which should have been a red flag.  For example, by investing $16,000 I’d have $45,000 in liquidity within 4 months. But at the time, I was merely good at saving, not so much investing. For this reason, I was scammed.

After about a month or two, I began getting nervous. The agent didn’t respond as often. And, I couldn’t see any growth in my online portfolio. I got nervous and asked for a withdrawal. They allowed one of $2,500 – stating that I should re-invest or else would fall behind in the planning and it wouldn’t be as effective. By this point, Aaron and I were in the process of planning to move. We had experienced enough of Las Vegas and I was pushy to invest in an RV with our newfound profit and travel the U.S. Well, we sure had a lesson coming…

After moving to South Dakota, amidst the process of renovating a used 27’ camper trailer, the realization that we had not only lost all our savings but that we needed $7,000+ for effective renovations, sunk in. It was a hard day. I felt so stupid! My fervor for truth led me to truly investigate the company, and I quickly realized it was a scam. The phone number didn’t work, the contact disappeared off Facebook, and furthermore, there was no information on the company from the Better Business Bureau.

Dealing with the loss of money was easier than the shame of investing poorly. But you see, I know I’m not the only one who has done this. With a micro-loan and as much encouragement as I could muster, Aaron and I rebuilt our lives. We developed a new plan – move to Colorado, in our newly-renovated camper trailer and pickup (ooofta, that was an expensive Lemon). We experienced plenty of breakdowns and at one point, were literally one day from becoming homeless.

We traveled to where I could get work: Boulder, Colorado. I drew upon my strongest strength at the time: cooking. With a job at Whole Foods, we decided to navigate down to the Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado, while I worked and we both tried to find a permanent place to park. The issue is, Boulder heavily frowns on parked RVs and campers long-term. So, it was a freaking ordeal to find a place to live. We had 14 days – and then we’d be booted from the Fairgrounds. Talk about pressure!

Near the Boulder County Fairgrounds

In between shifts, Aaron and I would post ads on Craigslist, Facebook, hand out flyers to residential locations with space, and contact folks through AirBnB. Thank God, the only person who actually responded did so on the last day. Even then, they weren’t sure it would be a good fit. One of the individuals is a goat keeper, bee herder, Jungian philosopher, and their husband is an amazing sculptor.  They live in the mountains outside of Boulder – Nederland. After helping them load hay, they later suspected we might get along due to our work ethic.

They invited us up for tea one day and to see the place, and we mistook it as an invitation to come park. As awkward as it was, it worked out. After parking the 27′ camper and negotiating a rental price, we collectively agreed to try it out. Over the summer, we helped out with the goats and maintenance on the property. We survived a broken heater in early April snows, and we learned to love and heal in our simple existence. The mountains, as they always are, were restorative.

Our renovated camper

After a handful of months, we secured a house in Longmont and sold the camper. We adjusted to a life with fewer unknowns, more stability, and a lot more understanding of how to spend our money. But, that didn’t solve the $14,000+ debt that had been wracked up to save our butts after losing more than that to scammers. So, the rebuilding process began.

What We Did to Recover In Under 3 Years

First and foremost, we both landed jobs. As a horticulturist, Aaron worked with cannabis grows. I decided I didn’t want to be in a kitchen all of my life, so transitioned to working as an office manager at a chiropractic clinic. As I managed all of the insurance billing, marketing, and office management, I realized a love for business growth and financial management. This is what inspired me to go to school for business and accounting.

In the last few months of my course, I was scouted by a mutual friend to consider financial planning work. With my history, I never considered that track for me. But, the more I looked into it, the more I realized that it is an area of passion, as I know there are more people like me who could use help to heal financially. From my experience, I now had a deeper desire to not only build my own wealth, but help other people recover from difficult financial situations, too.

It wasn’t easy. I’d wake up at 5 a.m. to indulge in a brief run, and then head to the office. After work, I’d drive to the school for 4-hours of class. By 11 p.m., I’d return home for a quick bite and chat with my husband. Then, we’d go to sleep and do it all over again. It was hard work. But, I learned that with most things in life, hard work, persistence, and patience really are the keys. It paid off!

Three years after the incident, our debt is largely paid off. Now, in 2021, we own our home, our two cars, and our land. Furthermore, I now work from home doing what I love – which is helping people create the same sense of satisfaction, financial healing, and stability that I’ve been searching for all of my life.

I understand how bad it can feel to get burned. Truly, there are some not-so-nice people out there. But as someone who has experienced first-hand the oily lies told by scammers – and fallen victim, I will never judge. Rather, I will only extend a hand to help folks like you rebuild your credit, get out of debt, and develop a nest egg so that when you are ready to retire, you can actually stop working and just enjoy life.

Financial planning might not be “sexy” work. But, it is life-changing. My husband and I were so lucky to not end up homeless after our scamming incident. Rather than look back with hate or fear, I look back with admiration at what we overcame due to the fire lit inside us from the experience. Our financial health has never been better, which is why I wanted to share this story.

You can come back from anything. Even if you’re $500,000 in debt, there are options. Maybe you’re in a tough space. Maybe you’re doing well but don’t know how to manage your money. Whatever the case, you’ll find an understanding, compassionate, and trustworthy advisor in working with Black Hills Financial Planning.

My Thoughts on Cryptocurrencies

As a final takeaway, I do not think cryptocurrencies are “bad.” Rather, I do think they will become more utilized in the future. For this reason, I am still invested in Bitcoin, Etherium, Litecoin, and others. The important distinction is that I am managing my assets myself, not entrusting them over to a company to do whatever they want with it. If readers desire, I will share more information on cryptocurrencies as an investment option in the future.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below!