“Everything I have, I owe to fear”

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Hello my name is Stephanie. I want to introduce myself and share how I got interested in money. 

I grew up with a single mother for most of my childhood. I never knew my father. We were poor, but I wasn’t aware of that until much later. When I was 12 my mom met a man who she ended up marrying and we moved in with him. My mom was happy. She lived in a house they owned for the first time in her life. Also for the first time, we had money. 

I never liked my step-dad. After he moved in with us I started having insomnia and seeing therapists for anxiety. As soon as I was old enough, I started staying away from home as much as possible. By the time I was in high school, my step-dad had started drinking. Soon he was being abusive to us. Mostly my mom, but sometimes me too. Eventually the abuse turned violent and my mom moved us out of the house into an apartment. Without my stepdad’s income though, we couldn’t afford to live on our own. Eventually, my mom made the decision to move us back in, despite the danger. I couldn’t understand this decision. I understand now that she wanted to get me through high school and into a good college before she pulled the plug for good. This was entirely a financial decision. 

When my mom moved us back into the house with my stepfather, I changed. I decided that from that point forward, I would never be dependent on anyone. I vowed not to marry. Not to have children. I told myself I would always choose the hardest path in order to prove myself. I would be superwoman. I would be rich. I would be smart. I would be perfect.

It has taken me a long time to speak about this openly. I have been told “I’m independent to a fault” by my closest of friends. That hurt, but I know I’ve changed. I’m softer. I care less about being the smartest, having the coolest job, being the best. I’m engaged - something I never anticipated. 

Not everything that came out of this story is bad. I got a job before I was legally allowed to work and started stockpiling cash around my room. I always had my eye out for opportunity. I opened a Roth IRA at 18 and started investing. I taught myself everything I could about money. I learned to save. I learned to budget. I fired my stock broker and started building my portfolio from scratch. I sold everything and moved to Europe at age 30 to become better acquainted with my real father. By 32 I reached financial independence, and I “retired” from my corporate job with SpaceX. I’m incredibly grateful, lucky, and privileged. I owe it all, all of my success, to fear.

I want to take my experience, and what I learned along the way, and use it to help other women. I’m passionate about helping women reach financial independence. My sincerest hope is to motivate this learning from a place of empowerment, rather than fear.

Stephanie Xenos, Money Muse