Riches to Rags: 5 Tales of Woe From Those Who Had It All and Lost It

From riches to rags, a financial; story of loss and balance.  Alamy
Alamy

Climbing the ladder of success rung by rung can be a slow process. But once you get there, the opposite experience -- sliding down the chute of economic despair -- can happen all too quickly.

Those in the financial problem-solving business witness this riches-to-rags pattern every day. From their vantage point, it's easy to see how anyone -- no matter what their background or financial means -- can let bad money habits lead them into hard times.

"Even if you earn a law degree or have a high rank in the military, that doesn't mean you necessarily know how to handle money," says Albert Guadiano, counseling director for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater San Antonio.

Facing financial failure is tough for anyone -- perhaps even more so for successful people who want to keep up the facades of their former statuses. But eventually, they must take action to avoid total disaster -- and often that action is turning to a credit counseling organization.

We talked to credit counselors (one who is a former debt collector) across the country, and came back with five extreme cases of clients who went from riches to rags.

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