How I Survived Prison And Accidentally Found My Path to Wealth

[Hey guys!! I have SUCH a great post for you today, and one that I am beyond honored to be able to feature as our friend “comes out” here to share his incredible journey with us. If you only read one article today, I hope this one is it. Please pass it on afterwards!]


My goal is to save one reader’s life out there with this story about drugs, death, and the ten-year prison sentence I survived. My name is Billy B. from Wealth Well Done, and this is how I survived prison and accidentally found my path to wealth.

My nightmare began on a summer-school morning in 2002.  I was a normal 21-year-old college student who stumbled to class with a drug hangover.

As I walked home, I called a friend who had partied with me the night before. His roommate answered the phone.

“He’s dead!  He’s dead!”  He yelled, “You have to get out of there now!”

I dropped the phone. I heard his voice yelling at me. “The police are here and they’re looking for you!”

I ran out of my apartment not knowing what to do. The police were already in the hallway looking for me. They stopped me as I tried to walk past them.

I felt their handcuffs slide on my wrists.  I said in shock, “But my friend was OK when he left?”

“You’re in a lot of trouble kid,” they said, as they walked me to their squad car. I remember staring out the window as they drove me to jail. This wasn’t supposed to happen to good kids like us, but it was happening to me.  As I walked into my first jail cell, I broke down and cried into my pillow so the other inmates wouldn’t hear me crying.

Reckless Homicide By Delivery of a Controlled Substance

My friend walked home and died in his sleep that night.  The following day I was arrested and charged with, “Reckless Homicide By Delivery of a Controlled Substance” for the death of my friend.

I sat in jail for a year going through the trial. The police only had to prove that I had provided some of the drugs we used that night, and I had done that. I never meant to harm anyone. We never thought we could die. It was a harsh awakening to what can happen when you choose to make risky, dangerous decisions with your life.

Eventually, for my first time in serious trouble, I was sentenced to ten years in prison for what I thought was just “innocent and fun” partying.

[You can read the entire story of that night here, as well as my court case and the entire 10 year journey of getting through prison. Bookmark it for later – I think you’ll get something out of it.]

10 Years of Prison

The hardest part about being sentenced to prison was figuring out what I was supposed to do next. Was I supposed to wallow in shame and depression for the rest of my life? Or was it OK for me to forgive myself and fight for a second chance?

I struggled with these questions during my first year of incarceration. I eventually decided that it was OK to forgive myself for the mistakes I’d made. It was an accident; I wasn’t a bad person. I decided to take my future into my own hands, and even though I was going to be in prison for the next ten years, I chose to make fighting for my second chance my next mission and purpose in life.

I stayed sane in a prison by falling in love with writing. Writing daily journals allowed me to mentally escape the concrete-blocks and razor-wire-fences surrounding me. Writing set me free to explore the landscapes in my imagination, and the spiritual forces creating my reality. Rather than being defined by the prison I was in, I let my new self-exploration and self-education define who I was becoming.

I started to dream about becoming a great writer. That dream gave me a challenge to work at every day. I kept very detailed notes about the adventures I experienced in prison. My prison journals now total over 3,000 pages. I publish these journals at my other blog: The Purpose Pages tells the story of how I built my character to become the person I am today.

Recapturing My Freedom

On August 21st, 2012, I was finally released from the prison that had held me captive for 3,650 days. (There was no good-time or parole offered in the state of Wisconsin so I had to do every day of the ten years) My loving and supportive friends and family picked me up at the front gates and drove me home to Minnesota where I started my new life.

This is a picture of me the morning I was released:

billy b out of jail

My transition back into the free-world felt incredible. But it was scary and challenging at the same time. It felt amazing to do anything I wanted, at any time. Even the simple things like cooking my own meal, at a time I decided, were stunningly beautiful. But I also felt like an alien as I adjusted to a new society I hadn’t interacted with in ten years.

I went to prison when I was a 21 year old kid. I was now a 31-year-old man who had forgotten how to do normal things like drive a car, and create an email address.  

The technological advances I encountered were stunning. I hadn’t seen the internet in a decade.  I had never touched a smart phone. I had no concept of what social media was. I had only heard about these things from new inmates arriving to prison to begin their 5, 10, 30 year, or life, sentences. They’d try to explain what had happened in the free world since I’d left, but the concepts were so foreign that I could never fully understand them.

Getting Back On My Feet

As I re-entered the free world, I was faced with the challenge of starting my life over as an adult with no job skills, work-history, or network of people to ask for help.

But rather than being discouraged by the skills I didn’t have, I tried to focus on the skills I did have. While in prison, I had learned to communicate and be friends with every race, economic-class, and personality-type you will find in America.

I had grown up in the white, educated suburbs, so I felt comfortable in these privileged environments. But in prison, I had learned to make the street-smart decisions that determined life or death among minority groups. Another one of my strengths: I didn’t have any fear. After all, what’s left to be afraid of once you’ve survived 10 years in prison? Nothing! I was ready to live!

Six days after being released from prison, I returned to college to finish my senior year. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA. But I knew proving my “classroom intelligence” was the easy part. The hard part was going to prove that I was “street smart” enough to will my dreams into existence once I encountered the challenges in the real world.

I got my first job stacking magazines on shelves at big-box retail stores and I made $9.25 an hour. It wasn’t a lot of money, but I was proud that I had just gotten a job. I continued interviewing for better jobs. At one of these interviews, a business-owner offered me some advice that would change my life:

“I can give you a job.” he said. “But I can see you have natural people and sales skills. You also have the ambition and fearlessness to be an entrepreneur. If you’d like, I can teach you how to start your own business. You can work from home and sell my products, and anything else, you’d like.”

In prison, I spent my time training my mind to spot opportunities. I instantly saw a cool one. So in 2014, I started my first business. I went door-to-door introducing myself to businesses, and I asked them if they could use my company for their branded apparel needs (t-shirts, jackets, hats, etc). I heard a lot of “No’s,” but I started to get some, “Yes’s” too. By the end of my first year, I was amazed that I’d sold $180,000 worth of product. I was now profitable enough that I could start saving money.

Accidentally Building Wealth

I saved every dollar I made in my first two years. I had learned in prison that happiness is not dependent on needing a lot of money. Happiness is found when you have the time to explore the dreams of your soul, and then executing plans to turn those dreams into your reality.

Money didn’t exist in prison, and I loved not having to worry, or think, about it. But I found very quickly that money mattered in the free world. You needed money to live, or you’d quickly be heading back to prison.

That realization motivated me to save $40,000 in my first two years of freedom. In 2013, I met my wife and we had a wedding in my parent’s living room for under $1K. We bought our first house with the remaining $39K we had so we could start our own life together. We continued to save aggressively because I one day dreamed of returning to a life where money didn’t matter. I wanted to spend my life thinking, studying, writing, and developing my own philosophies on what the meaning and purpose of a great life is just like I had done in prison.

My journey to wealth really happened on accident. I was so focused on building my new life, that I didn’t realize that my saving and investing habits were making me rich along the way. I am still amazed that I have only been out of prison for 5 years and I am worth around a quarter-million dollars with holdings in cash, stocks, and real-estate.

The truth is: If I can still fight for my dreams with a smile on my face, after all the crap I’ve been through in life, then anyone can do it if they try hard enough!

This is the day we bought our first investment property:

bill & amanda investment property

The Drug Epidemic Is Real

I recently read a New York Times article stating that drug-overdose deaths are the highest they’ve ever been in America. 1-in-3 American’s have a criminal record. All families have felt the nightmare of drug-abuse and incarceration in some way. I realize I can do something about this. I can help fight against this problem.

The first step I am taking to achieve this goal is to publish my first novel, “Spark” at, Wealth Well Done, and give it away for free for a limited time. You can get it here.

I wrote “Spark” with the famous young-adult novelist, Gary Paulsen.  (Author of 180+ books, including, “Hatchet” which sold millions of copies.) Gary heard about me when I was in prison, and once he read my writing he asked to be my friend and writing mentor. I wrote the novel “Spark” as a practice story for him to teach me how to write better. You can imagine how ecstatic I was the day I got a letter from a famous author in my prison cell, asking me to call him at his home to talk about writing! Even though I was in prison, it was one of the best days of my life.

“Spark” is the story of a kid in serious trouble.  He meets a successful businessman who survived his own troubled life in prison. It is a mentoring story about what I would say to my troubled teenage-self if I could meet him today. My dream is to become a great novelist who can inspire people to live more awesome lives.

In conclusion, please share this story. Together we can save at least one person’s life out there. There is a drug and prison epidemic happening in America right now. We can do something about it.

I’ll be responding to all comments below. Contact me with questions and ways I can help. The more we talk about overcoming the prisons we all find ourselves in – whether financial, emotional, or physical prisons – the better we can make this world.

Billy B. is the blogger behind, and is on a mission to help re-define wealth. The wealthiest person is NOT the person with the most money. The wealthiest person is the individual who best masters their mind, compounds their cash, and PURSUES THEIR PURPOSE IN LIFE. You can find him on Twitter @WealthWellDone as well as on Facebook.

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  1. The Dad Wallet September 22, 2017 at 6:23 AM

    Amazing story and I am so glad you were able to forgive yourself and come out with a better attitude about life.

    Thanks for being willing to use a gift for others to hopefully help even one person today!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 9:31 AM

      Thank you @mydadwallet! I didn’t just write this article for me. I forgave myself years ago, and have moved on from the majority of pain and shame I felt in the first years after this happened. But I wrote it for all those people who are secretly going through really hard times in their life and may not know what to do next. I just want to give them encouragement that it’s Ok to forgive yourself, and work your hardest for a better future. You can do it! I believe we are all meant to help other people. If you let your pain destroy you, you’ll never be able to help anyone else. Forgive yourself and move on, and you can help the army of people who are waiting for you to help them. That’s my thoughts and experience at least. Thank you for the encouragement. I think for the rest of my life my goal will be to just find the one person out there who is just like me and my friend, and just try to help them before it’s too late.

  2. Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle September 22, 2017 at 6:40 AM

    Wow! That’s an incredible story. I can’t imagine how life has changed for you from the 10 years in prison. You are so right though. Even in a nice area like where we live, we’ve seen the families ripped apart by drugs and it’s not a pretty thing to see.

    I haven’t ever thought about the not needing money in prison. It’s an obvious thing, but how that helped you grow towards saving and wealth is an interesting path. I can imagine that you never saw that coming.

    I love that you found a woman that thinks like you, and is good with the less expensive lifestyle. My husband tells me all the time that he is glad he married a cheap wife (I tell him that he needs to figure out a better way of saying that :) )

    This is such an inspiring story and one that can definitely change lives. It’s awesome to see you working to do that, saving kids that are on the same path you were on.

    Thanks for sharing your story and good luck!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 9:52 AM

      @Ember!! Cool, so happy to meet you for the first time! It is so true how my money-free life in prison never really prepared me for the life I was eventually going to live. Prison was like living on an entirely different planet. And ten years is a long enough time that it becomes the only planet you know, and you begin to forget about the free world on planet earth that you once came from.

      I really never dreamed of being wealthy? How could I? In prison, I was making .40 cents an hour tutoring grown men to pass their GED’s and .40 cents an hour was considered an educated rich man’s job!!!! I was just so focused on not screwing up my second chance at life, and making something meaningful out of it, that I didn’t even realize how money was impacting my life along the way.

      I started out as a purpose-of-life/ meaning-of-life blogger at But I realized it was hard to create consistently great content about the purpose-of-life which is really an un-quantifiable, unique subject for every person. I remember going on a walk last year after I realized that my net-worth had almost “accidentally” hit the $150K mark, and it hit me. What I can be really good at is writing about “Wealth,” because I believe the wealthiest people are the people who live with the greatest calling of purpose in their lives, and that’s how and why I started writing about how our journey to find purpose in life intersects with our money at, Wealth Well Done.

      And thanks for the sweet comment about my wife :) We met at a church bonfire 4 years ago now. We both wanted the same life. She loved me even when I was working for $9 an hour and living in my parent’s basement. I figured if she could love me when we had nothing, then our lives wouldn’t be any different when we had $$$$. We have $$$ today, but we are in love with the simple things in life that don’t cost much money to obtain like friends, walks, and long bike rides.

  3. Mustard Seed Money September 22, 2017 at 6:45 AM

    Awesome story Bill!!! Such an inspiration and especially from where you come from to where you are going now. Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 9:57 AM

      Howdy friendly Rob!! Anyone who just read this story, and enjoyed it, I need to give a huge shout out to @mustardseedmoney who was gracious enough to read an early draft, give it a quick edit, and challenge me on parts to make it better. He’s a good friend, and is a colleague on my faith journey. Give him a read when you have the time!

  4. Cubert September 22, 2017 at 6:51 AM

    Congratulations, Billy! You’ve taken a supremely difficult set of circumstances and dug deep to find redemption.
    Your story gives me pause when I think about my own kids going off to college down the road. All we can do as parents is warn them about the risks of substance abuse, and hope they avoid serious mistakes. I’m glad you’ve taken the path you have – to share your experiences in way that could help avoid similar tragedies.
    Since you’re in the twin cities – It’d be neat to get together for a coffee some time.

    1. J. Money September 22, 2017 at 9:35 AM

      The kids drinking/drug stuff scares me too :( I’m amazed how many of us make it through high school/college after all the binging we do as if we were invincible! Hard for Billy here and his parents, but even harder for his friend’s parents :(

      1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 10:18 AM

        Hey J$, you hit a subject right on the head I want to mention quickly for any kid out there reading this. When we were kids having fun partying, you only are thinking about how your decisions may be impacting you. It wasn’t until my life was taken away from me, that I realized how my decisions impacted everyone else who knew and believed in me. My decisions devastated alot of people, included my parents and friends who had to say goodbye to me, and that was hard to accept. STOP AND THINK ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE IN YOUR LIFE WHO WILL BE IMPACTED BY YOUR DECISIONS. You are alot bigger than just yourself, and it will hurt you greatly when everyone around you is unintendedly hurt.

    2. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 10:08 AM

      I’ll never turn down an opportunity to make a new, good, healthy friend. I had a Puerto Rican cellmate who said this to me and I’ll never forget it: If you want to know who are, just look at your friends. I’ve read your blog and you’d be a great friend to have. I’ll hit you up on twitter to connect soon.

      I do speak in high schools, and treatment centers when I can. I do believe I can save one kids life out there. I’m very open about all of this in my personal life. I have just never shared it online before. But there just comes a time in everyone’s life where you have to take a risk, and do what’s right, even if it’s scary. The time had come for me to do that today.

  5. Mrs. Adventure Rich September 22, 2017 at 7:28 AM

    What an amazing and timely story, considering the drug epidemic that is highlighted in the news on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing your story, Billy. I imagine that getting to the point of forgiving yourself was hard, but I am so glad that you took that step and have moved forward with making a difference in the lives of others through your story, book and blog.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 11:50 AM

      Your totally dead on Mrs. Adventure Rich. There is a crazy opiate/heroin epidemic happening right now. While J$ and I were working on this, we exchanged a few articles on how crazy bad it is out there. Even the Fed is getting scared. Check out this Newsweek article that 20% of America’s labor force is losing the ability to work because of heroin/opiate addiction. It’s not just affecting the people who are dying anymore!!!! Less workers, means totally different taxes and economic situations for the rest of us who can work. It’s a nightmare that’s starting to trickle into everyone’s life.

  6. RJ September 22, 2017 at 7:29 AM

    Congrats on the book! And on what you’ve accomplished with your life.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 11:52 AM

      Thanks @RJ. Hope you can follow along on the journey. Now that that book is done with, I can start working on my next one. One day I just dream of writing a great American novel. I’ve done my best so set myself up to have some fun and very productive years through the ages of 36-66. It should be an exciting, meaningful, and productive ride which is my favorite way to live life.

  7. Chris September 22, 2017 at 7:44 AM

    Very inspiring story Billy.

    When you really put things in perspective a bad situation really could be worse. Practicing gratitude daily and appreciating the small things in life go a long way. Most people are afraid to take chances, but you managed to become fearless.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 12:08 PM

      Dude, totally, and you hit on a very important note. I remember when I first got to prison, I was faced with 2 choices that would chase the course of my future: 1) I could think everything was unfair, be angry at the system, and blame everything and everyone else for the reality I was in. Or 2) I could be grateful that I was still alive, and that I would one day have a second chance at life, because I was definitely on my way to accidentally overdosing eventually. I thought blame and anger would only destroy me. But being grateful for what I did have, my life, would allow me to find peace and happiness no matter where I ended up. I chose to be grateful, and hungry to change my life, and that has made all the difference. I learned through all of this that fear is just a figment of our imagination and not to pay attention to it. Everything that is wonderful, beautiful, and meaningful in life lies on the other side of fear, and if you don’t push through your fears you will never know who you are or what you were created to do. Peace, friend.

  8. Menard September 22, 2017 at 7:45 AM

    250K five year out of prison is really impressive. I know people who don’t have a tenth of that 10 years out of college! Hope your story doesn’t inspire people to go to prison first to get wealthy, Lol. Kidding aside, I wish you and your family the best life can offer.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 12:20 PM

      Yes, $250K is ALOT of money and I am sometimes even stunned by that amount and how fast it’s accumulated. But I am saving it for the right cause. I dream of leading a massive ministry who can fund alot of projects and give alot away to people who need it more than I do. If I can do $250K in 5 years, what can I do in twenty or thirty years giving everything I’ve got to my dreams?

      It was strange when I first got out of prison at 31 and met some of my old friends and peers. It was amazing that I didn’t feel that far behind everyone like I thought I would. In fact, some of my friends were still in the same area we grew up in and I felt like I had traveled around the world after everything I’d been through!!!!

      I read this quote in prison, and it motivated me through all those years: “Your 20’s are for finding yourself. Your 30’s are for creating the visions you found.” That quote was so inspiring to me, because it allowed me to dream of executing all of the dreams I was finding inside of myself while I was away.

  9. Rachel September 22, 2017 at 8:03 AM

    Wow. What an absolutely inspiring story. I wish this were the case for more inmates out there. But I know that the harsh reality is that sometimes prison becomes a cycle, for those who struggle getting back on their feet in the free world. I hope that one day your books touch the hearts of those that live that struggle, and those on a similar path in their younger years. Good luck with your journey on becoming a novelist and achieving financial freedom!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 12:42 PM

      Sadly, you’re aware of the truth to what happens to most inmates. I was kind of rare because it was my first “bit.” For most guys, it’s their 2nd, 3rth, 8th time through those revolving doors. I remember the first prison I arrived to I was nervous and intimidated about what I’d find when I walked into general population. By the end of my sentence, when they’d move me to a new prison, I’d immediately start looking around for guys I knew and friends I had made years earlier. Prisons are full of the same people you see over and over again.

      But the truth is, there are some people who have made it, that you see every day, and you just have no idea what they’ve been through. I never wanted to go back. I consider doing something once in life, good or bad, is an adventure to learn. If you live the same mistakes twice, you’re just wasting your life and I don’t like to waste my life.

  10. Lily @ The Frugal Gene September 22, 2017 at 8:03 AM

    This is definitely not your ordinary prison story. I heard the guys that come out are so wrecked they find ways to go back in. Like a horrible womb. I can barely imagine the feat of 250K after 5 years! Nicely done Billy! Thanks for telling us your story and yes I did bookmark the link in full. I’ll the listening to that for my commute this morning.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 1:30 PM

      Thanks Lily. And I agree with you, this is not your ordinary prison story. I had a very wise gangster friend tell me this once, “You’re alot like the dolphin that occasionally gets caught in the tuna net. They don’t mean to catch dolphins, but it happens sometimes.”

      There are alot of inmates who are awesome people when they’re sober, but unfortunately many of them start using again once they get free, and that brings out the worst parts of their criminal tendencies. If there was only a way to keep them sober through the challenging times they will face, I think you’d see a lot more success stories. Unfortunately, the only cure for sobriety is hard work, and hard work isn’t appealing to a lot of people.

  11. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance September 22, 2017 at 8:05 AM

    This is one of the most inspiring personal finance stories that I have ever read.

    I’m sorry about the incident and what you went through afterwards. But I’m glad you have gained so much strength and wisdom from it to get back on your feet and build your wealth and family. Thank you for sharing! :)

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 12:51 PM

      Thank you for your encouragement. I take pride in my positive attitude, and being willing to fight against everything that tried to destroy my life. But I definitely regret some of the decisions I made before everything went wrong. If I could do it over again, I would have done EVERYTHING so much differently. But we all face those regrets in our life, and we have to live with the decisions we made. It’s important that we don’t beat ourselves up for our bad decisions for the rest of our lives. We all make mistakes. We all pay the consequences. And then we need to forgive ourselves and be secure in our decisions to move on and correct our futures from all the things we’ve learned in our pasts.

  12. Mr. Freaky Frugal September 22, 2017 at 8:17 AM

    Billy – That’s an amazing story and I’m so glad things turned out well. I know this is a strange question, but do you think you would be successful as you are today if you had not gone to prison?

    As a side-note, the US has the highest incarceration rate out of any country in the world. It’s really insane!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 1:48 PM

      I’ve often thought about the answer to your question now that a successful life is a reality for me, and not just a dream…. I can think of 4 possibilities of what would have happened to me if I didn’t go to prison.. 1) I could have died the next night at the next party and my life would have ended. 2) I could have struggled with a secret, functional addiction and just “gotten by” in a job for 5,10, or 30 years. 3) I could have eventually grown out of my partying adolescence like my best friend did who now owns 12 properties and is retired at 36. We’ll probably never know what would have happened.

      I did have a good friend tell me this once, and it’s what DID happen to me. He said, “Sometimes, when you hold certain types of personalities back from what they are meant to do, that energy builds up inside of them like they’re being held in a slingshot that’s pulled all the way back, so when they are finally released, they shoot ten times as far as they would have if they simply rolled through their life.” Who knows what would have happened. I can only speak of what did happen.

      1. Mr. Freaky Frugal September 22, 2017 at 4:16 PM

        Thanks for the thoughtful response!

  13. Penny September 22, 2017 at 8:17 AM

    Billy, I knew you were remarkable, but now I see that in a whole different level. Thank you for sharing your story here and for writing for young people. Having seen the impact that drugs have on teens today, I can’t even tell you how important work like this is and how grateful teachers are for writers like you!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 2:03 PM

      Thanks for being a cool friend to me for the last year, Penny. Sorry I didn’t tell you all of this sooner, but I had to wait until I was ready. I am ready now, and am ready to start my mission to help teachers like you make a more profound impact on their kids. And if you ever need one of the best don’t-do-drugs speakers around in your Midwestern classroom, you have my contact info and I’d be honored to “guest teach” for you for a day. It’s something I love to do, and have a lot of experience doing.

      In prison, I was actually part of a very select panel of 7 inmates who would tell their stories to high-school classes who would come to prison for a day once a week. The kids were blown away by us. It became such a popular program, kids would sign up for the class just to take the field-trip to come meet us. Our first speaker looked like a normal 40 year old guy, until he got to the part of his story where at 16 he decided to murder his mother and father after an argument, and had been in prison since. We used to get letters from teachers about the stuff that came out in their classrooms after those days. I guarantee there’s thousands of young adults out there who remember those days as clearly as I do.

  14. Ms99to1percent September 22, 2017 at 8:20 AM

    That’s a really inspirational story. Glad to see you were given a second chance and are doing great in the real world.

    What advice would you give parents in order to protect their kids from this drug epidemic?

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 2:17 PM

      Thanks. I had EXCELLENT parents who weren’t drug users, so they weren’t prepared to know how to spot or deal with a drug using child. So I’ll NEVER criticize their parenting job. They did the best they could, with the knowledge they had.

      But what I’ll do differently, is really encourage to get to know my kids even if they think totally differently than me. I’d rather know who they really are, rather than have them lie to me because they’re afraid to tell me who they really are. I will HATE it if they ever tell me they love drugs, and think using drugs is cool. But at least I’ll know who they are and what I’m dealing with. In my opinion, the truth is always better than being lied to, because even though being lied to may feel better temporarily, at least with the truth, you know how you can help and what you’re working with.

      How can you protect your kids from this drug epidemic? Probably the same way you try to protect them from getting into bad debt, and having unprotected sex and becoming parents long before they’re ready. You teach. You show. You help. You discuss. And you just hope enough of those conversations stick in their brain when the time comes for them to make their own decisions. Hopefully, they won’t have to learn the painful way through experience, but we all have to hit our rock bottom sometimes before we’re truly ready to learn and change everything about ourselves to become better people.

      1. J. Money September 26, 2017 at 4:26 PM

        Was really interested in hearing this answer here as a parent of two little kids myself. Thanks for taking the time man (and really, for answering EVERYONE’s comments here!).

        1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 26, 2017 at 11:11 PM

          Thank you for having me on! Interacting, making new friends, and doing stuff like this is what makes me feel alive. I feel like I am meant to do it, which is what motivates me to keep building my blog even when it’s hard. This is what I like to do more than anything else in life, which is why I want to give my life to making it my every day reality.

  15. Gwen @ Fiery Millennials September 22, 2017 at 8:24 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story, Bill. I read that and was blown away. You’re a pretty awesome dude and I’m happy to call you a friend. Keep up the great work!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 2:23 PM

      Well thank you Gwen! Looking forward to wandering through a party or two with you at Fincon. My partying side never left me. I just tweaked it a little bit to always lead me to healthy partying environments, rather than leading me into destructive partying environments. See ya soon sister. :)

  16. Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions September 22, 2017 at 8:51 AM

    Wow Bill – you definitely surprised me after sharing a little last night on Twitter! This is such an important story. I’m glad you reached a point where you could share. It could change many lives. One of my best friends from high school is dealing with the pain of having an addicted son who is in prison now. He went in to an Emergency Room with a weapon demanding drugs. And now he’ll spend many years in prison. I hope he comes out with as positive a life ahead of him as you.

    1. J. Money September 26, 2017 at 4:27 PM


    2. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 26, 2017 at 11:14 PM

      Hey Vicki! I must have missed your comment the first time through! Oh well, we’ve known each other for awhile now, so just know I think the world of you!

      Drug addiction is an evil thing. It turns people you love into animals you don’t even know. I also hope he figures it out in prison. Sobriety has changed alot of people’s lives. It’s just hard to stay clean. But that’s the reality of life…. What’s hard, is usually the best for us. What’s easy, should often be avoided at all costs.

  17. Money Beagle September 22, 2017 at 8:57 AM

    What an amazing story and it just shows the repercussions our actions have and how we have to be careful.

    Would love to subscribe, hopefully the author might consider publishing a full RSS feed? Sounds like a great journey so far and ahead.

    1. J. Money September 22, 2017 at 9:39 AM

      I agree! Add up an RSS icon, sir!

      In meantime, you can find his feed here:

      I have a web plugin that auto-shows them for me anytime I’m on a site :) Although tacking on /feed to most blogs also does the trick (at least wordpress blogs).

    2. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 10:59 AM

      Thanks for the advice @money beagle!!! RSS feed? Remember, I just learned how to start an email address 5 years ago, so every once in awhile I am reminded that I am still catching up on technology terms and still battling my technology learning curve in freedom. :) I’ll figure out what an RSS feed is like I did everything else when I first get out:. Read a couple articles on it online, and then figure out how to get an RSS feed up this weekend by trial and error!

  18. Leo T. Ly September 22, 2017 at 9:01 AM

    Very inspiring story billy. When something goes wrong in your life, it’s not about how hard you have fallen. It’s about how you get yourself backup after a hard fall.

    Your story have reminded us that people need to make smarter decisions. When I was younger, some of my friends were trying the happy drug, ecstasy, and they raved about it as being the greatest thing on earth.

    I had heard people died from consuming fake drugs or overdose, so I declined. I am proud to say that I had never tried any drugs and I am glad that I am drug free and would keep it that way for the rest of my life.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 3:35 PM

      You are right on @Leo. Just like in any race, competition, or event, people won’t remember how you started. They’ll only remember how you finished. That was an extremely motivating thought to me as I one day dreamed of finishing my race through life strong.

      I try to never glamorize drugs, as with those glamours highs, comes alot of baggage most would never want to deal with such as addiction, financial problems, mental problems, death, and incarceration. Sounds like a great time, huh! Sure, drug-free people missed out on some of my experiences, but judging by that above list of side-effects you’re probably not too upset you missed out on those experiences.

  19. Miss Mazuma September 22, 2017 at 9:15 AM

    You are one of the most inspiring people I have met – always smiling, always upbeat, and always in the mood for some groovy tunes! What happened wasn’t your fault (it could have happened to many of us), but the lessons learned helped to shape who you have become. Prison could have been wasted on you but you kept your mind moving forward with your faith in the driver’s seat. It has been incredible following you on your journey this year and I am so happy to call you both friends. Congrats on the guest post!!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 3:41 PM

      Another shout out to one of the FABULOUS editors on an early draft of this article, my friend @missmazuma!!!! Thank you! Thank you! It wouldn’t have been this piece without you. And thank you for the compliment. When I was in prison, I was a little nervous how people would respond to my story. But once I got out and started living, I found that almost everyone responded exactly like you. They wanted to help. They wanted to support my journey, and be part of it. They wanted to see me succeed because deep down in every good person’s heart is a desire to help other good people succeed. I say all that to say this: No matter who you are, or what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, speak your truth, and ask for help. There’s millions of good people in this world want to help you. But it’s up to you to find them, and be vulnerable enough to ask for help, and be tough enough to work for the help that is out there.

  20. Dave September 22, 2017 at 9:22 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story. My nephew got a DUI last Saturday night. He flipped his car over and had drugs in his blood too. Other than a broken foot, nobody got hurt. I told him that at age 19, he can change his life. If he does not change, it is only going to get worse.

    I enjoyed the spiritual aspect of your story. There is freedom after you forgive yourself. You have a story that can help many people. The money is great, but that is the real gift.

    1. J. Money September 22, 2017 at 9:40 AM

      You should pass this to him in hopes it scares him on how easy it is to go to prison!

      1. Dave September 22, 2017 at 10:08 AM

        Great idea. I will do that.

    2. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 4:01 PM

      First, I love J$’s comment. Share this with him. Second, in an above comment I referenced a speaking panel I was part of in prison. One of the guys I spoke with for years was a 19 year old college student, who after celebrating buying a new house with his fiance, had too much too drink at a restaurant. On the drive home, he hit a freeway bridge support, killing his fiance instantly. He woke up in the hospital handcuffed to the bed, and eventually had to do 9 years locked up. Every time you get into a car when drinking, you take the chance waking up into a nightmare like he did.

      And yes, $$$ is fun. But being at peace with yourself, your life, and your purpose provides value FAR, FAR, FAR beyond anything that money will ever provide you.

      1. J. Money September 26, 2017 at 4:28 PM

        Oh $hit!! It’s so crazy how fast your life can change just like that!

  21. PaulM September 22, 2017 at 9:39 AM

    To echo others, it truly is an inspiring story and one where adversity was used to promote positive change. I’m curious as to whether you’ve told your story to inmates as an example of what they can achieve. If you change just one person’s life in each audience, you would have accomplished more than most of our leaders have done. Much success.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 4:15 PM

      Hey @paul. Yes, I’ve been invited to speak in some jails and prisons. It’s especially kind of cool when I’ve visited places I was incarcerated in street clothes and actually get to walk out of the locked-doors on the way out!!!! That wasn’t always the case.

      I enjoy helping anyone who wants help, and is willing to work and sacrifice for a better life. I personally don’t do well with people who come up with excuses,and blame for why their lives suck. Crappy lives are usually the product of the people living them, so if they can’t accept that fact, I get frustrated and bored fast and I don’t stay long!!!!!

      The passion I have burning in my heart is more for teaching people how to architect their dream life, and achieve their purpose in life, than just simply being a don’t do drugs, or stay out of prison speaker. But like I said, put me in front of any crowd that wants to learn, and change, and work as a team to become better and smarter, and I am in my most blissful element.

  22. Doug Boraas September 22, 2017 at 9:59 AM

    “I turned 21 in prison doing life without parole! ” Famous song by Merle Haggard with a similar story to yours! Congrats! Job well done!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 4:23 PM

      I met alot of those guys. I still consider some of them friends. Alot of long-timers like that are alot different once they’ve been sober for a few years. Heck, one of my best friends, and smartest men I ever met in prison, was once voted, “The Most Dangerous Man in the State of Wisconsin Prisons” by the Milwaukee paper. He eventually became a born-again Christian, and has spent the last 30 years helping guys like me prepare to become successes. He knew he may never get out, but that didn’t stop him from helping those who would.

      The saddest stories to me were the young inner-city gang members, who were sentenced to life in prison when they were 16. Alot of them had never left the bad neighborhood they were born into. They’d never been in love, or had a chance to see outside of that world. They were frozen in time as grown kids. At least I had traveled, and been in love, and had seen that there’s a bigger world out there and had something to look forward to. That’s my feelings and perspective at least. Take it for what it’s worth.

  23. Dads Dollars Debts September 22, 2017 at 10:12 AM

    We are currently dealing with a young family member who is involved in drugs. He grew up much like you in a upper middle class home, but got involved in drugs. He recently had to be pulled out of freshman year of school due to these problems after just 2 weeks. We are supporting him and hoping for the best. Thanks for your story. It gives me some hope that he too can succeed, if only he survives the next few years and stops using.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 4:31 PM

      I feel for you, and I’ll pray for you. That’s a difficult situation, and I’ve seen that situation go both ways. I’ve seen young people like this turn into AMAZING adults. And I’ve also seen them self-sabotage themselves to the point of no return and destroy their lives. But you’ll never know what they’ll become unless you at least try to help like you’re doing. Let’s just hope he falls into the 50% category who survives those difficult years and does something special with their lives. I encourage you to share this article with him. Hopefully he’s not in the “know-it-all” “that-will-never-be-me” mode like I was a youngin.

  24. Ty Roberts September 22, 2017 at 10:29 AM

    I’ve seen firsthand how drugs can completely wreck the life of a person. It’s terrifying how quickly one can surrender control to an addiction. Regaining that control is a never ending battle for an addict. Thanks for sharing your story, Billy and congrats on your financial success.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 4:41 PM

      What up @TY!!!! Addiction is a nasty, nasty, nasty thing. There are alot of horrible things that happened all at once in my life. But one thing I am grateful for is that I went to prison and got clean when I was still in the “fun partying” stage of drug use and got caught before the claws of addiction went deep inside of me and changed who I really was. I quit drugs before that happened and I am grateful. I have seen friends lose themselves in addiction and become liars, and thieves, and people I wouldn’t trust in my home. I am so regretfully sad that my handsome, charming, talented, incredibly good-hearted friend died way too soon. But I am grateful I got caught before I turned into someone that I would have been ashamed to be because of drugs.

  25. John C @ Action Economics September 22, 2017 at 10:34 AM

    My sister in law had a similar experience, just on the other end. She went out with a friend, they were drinking and taking pills at a house party, and in the morning she didn’t wake up. Her friend, the guy who sold them the drugs, and the person who owned the house never got in any trouble over it. I know that none of those people intended for what happened to happen, and I know that you didn’t intend for your friend to die. It’s strange how in our justice system some people get the book thrown at them, while others don’t even get a slap on the wrist for the same exact thing. Two of the worst things imaginable happened to you in the same moment, you lost your best friend and were arrested for causing his death, I can’t imagine the pain you went through during that period of time. You’re success on rebuilding your life after getting out of prison is nothing short of amazing. Good luck on the rest of your Journey!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 4:59 PM

      You said so many powerful things in this comment, I can’t think of much to add to it. Only, (and this is to help anyone reading this) Always avoid the mindset of thinking in terms of what’s fair, or unfair. Once I start thinking that things are unfair, that only leads me to anger, bitterness, and paralysis of productive action. Life is what it is. Take advantage of the things you can control, and always work on making those things better. That is the true path to wealth.

  26. Dora September 22, 2017 at 10:38 AM

    This is the second most inspiring story I’ve heard in the past week alone. The first I came across was Kyle Maynard, an athlete that broke down walls of limitation by deciding what he wanted. He recently did an interview with Tim Ferriss on Fear Less with Tim Ferriss. If you haven’t heard of him, I recommend searching the episode and watching.
    It is truly amazing to see how a mental shift helps overcome insurmountable circumstances.
    Great job. I know what I’ll be reading this weekend.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 5:05 PM

      Well thanks, Dora. The mental shift is EVERYTHING. How else can you explain the crazy extremes that happened to me? I’m not the smartest, most talented, or most connected? But I was willing to take a risk and totally shift my mind to a better place, and that was the action that produced hundreds of thousands of dollars in results. I think you inspired me to write more about this “mental shift” in the future, as that’s the point I’ve been trying to get at, but was never able to define. Thanks!

  27. The Savvy Couple September 22, 2017 at 10:52 AM

    Awesome post. I worked as a Jail Deputy for 2 1/2 years so I can always relate to articles like this.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 5:07 PM

      What up @savvy!!!! Though we’ve lived on different sides of the glass, we’ve survived the same places. Nice to see you on the other side, and I hope we both never have to go back! I’m sure it wasn’t the funnest place on your side either.

  28. David T September 22, 2017 at 11:25 AM

    Hey, thankfully I’m not struggling with drugs-our struggle is a very low income for a family of five in an area with few good jobs and unavoidable home maintenance! ;-) Not sure how to get to a better situation… I love Gary Paulsen’s books and have been reading him all of my life! So cool that you guys worked together!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 5:10 PM

      Cool man, Gary was a huge inspiration and part of my story. I also grew up reading his books, so it was crazy the day I got a letter from him telling me to call him at home. Our conversations about writing will be living inside of me forever every time I fool around with new story lines, and new word combinations to play with.

  29. Kimmy September 22, 2017 at 12:17 PM

    Bill B. U are cooler n cooler as we get to know u. I didnt read story yet but i will!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 5:14 PM

      Is this one of my favorite commenters? Kimmy Corvette? God bless you. If this is the right Kimmy, that post you inspired a couple of weeks ago got featured on a few other sites and was read by 1000+ people. You’re right here with me as part of our team inspiring people to live more fulfilling lives! Here’s the post I am talking about:

      1. kimmy September 23, 2017 at 9:50 AM

        yes it iz!!! how ya doin buddy! the story was great. i cant beleive u got so long for just partying with a guy. sux royally.

  30. Mrs. Picky Pincher September 22, 2017 at 12:22 PM

    Duuude, I had no idea about this! That’s insane. I’m sorry this happened; I’m so amazed that you were able to really make something wonderful with your life after this experience.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 22, 2017 at 5:20 PM

      My favorite Duuuuuudessss!!! You’re one of those people I’ve known for a long time, so I totally get your shock. In person, I usually don’t tell people my entire life story until they get to know me a few times, so I get that shock alot. They’re like, “NO WAY!!!! You’re the most normal guy I know, yet you’ve lived the craziest life I know.”

      I just want to inspire everyone to make something wonderful out of everything, good and bad, that they have experienced. That’s more important to me than $$$$. That’s the dream I live for. Thanks for being a loyal reader, supporter, and friend of the blog. It means ALOT to me. :)

  31. Joe September 22, 2017 at 12:44 PM

    Great job turning your life around. A lot of people get stuck in the wrong track and never got out. Sounds like you’re doing really well. Congrats.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 11:28 AM

      Thanks Joe. This was my only defined goal every morning when I woke up: I didn’t want prison to beat me. Every day was a fight against it. Every day I dreamed of walking out of there as physically, mentally, and spiritually strong as I could possibly be. I envisioned myself walking out of there every day, and I worked toward that goal every day. Then, when my 3,650 days were over, I was that person who was ready to tackle every challenge in front of me. I hadn’t been beaten. In fact, I was physically, mentally, and spiritually stronger than I had ever been. I had prepared so hard, that when freedom finally came, game time was almost easy.

  32. Chris @ Mindful Explorer September 22, 2017 at 12:45 PM

    SO much good in this story, never look at the past but be mindful as you take each step in the future. Understanding what we can control is so powerful and it appears you have a firm grasp on this. Kudos to not just focusing this on money… you have made it more than that and your future efforts are about balancing life energy and making a difference through the unfortunate circumstances of the past. You could have acted differently but you decided that wasn’t going to happen…..the rest of the story will be great to follow along with.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 11:30 AM

      Thanks Chris. I am grateful for everything I have, which is probably the source of 90% of my happiness. I am especially grateful to meet people like you to journey through life with. Check in on me from time to time. It would be an absolute honor to continue to write for people who I look up to.

  33. adri September 22, 2017 at 1:56 PM

    All of the tears.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 11:33 AM

      Adri, it means a lot to me that you took the time to comment. It’s scary to put myself out in the open like that, to your encouragement helps kill that fear. I can only hope and pray your tears were from the substance of great meaning, and not great sadness. God bless you.

  34. Tara September 22, 2017 at 2:54 PM

    great story, thank you for sharing! Do you talk more about how you live after prison? Were you able to move in with someone to help compensate for the low income? Did having a felony record affect your ability at getting a job? Also, do you advocate for former felons? I know recidivism rates are high and studies prove that a support network and job placements really cut down on reentering prison. I am more curious on those initial years out of prison… if you have it somewhere please share!

    Also, amazing how far you’ve come. :)

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 11:58 AM

      Hi Tara: Here’s a few answers to your questions. (You asked alot of deep stuff, so I have to be mindful of J$’s blog and be careful I don’t write a 30,000 word book back to you!!!!!)

      In my blog I talk write about all of the insights that have made me successful once I got out, so now that you know my story, you can probably read between the lines to find that info. I haven’t written too much about the first 2 years of being free, because I was just so overwhelmed with trying to get my feet back under me I didn’t have alot of time to reflect, think, and write. But as I get more comfortable with writing about this stuff, I am sure I will start incorporating flashback posts into my blog about what that transition was like. Remember, this is not the end of my story. My blog, and story, are still in the infancy stage so we have 10,20, 30+ years of writing to go! I am also pretty confident I’ll eventually write a memoir book about everything so just keep following me along for that.

      I was very blessed that I was born into a family who had resources to help me during my transition. This is why I always say you shouldn’t compare my success, to another person getting out of prison. But this is true for everyone in life. We’re all different, in unique circumstances. The quickest way to discouragement and depression is to compare your life to others. Also, most inmates are fathers, which takes up alot of their time and money when they get out. I was alone so it was alot easier for me to only focus on my life. My family doesn’t believe in “giving” their kids money. But they are big believers in “helping” their kids have every opportunity to succeed on their own. So they let me stay at their house for free for the first year as long as I was working and going to school and building my future. We had an “unspoken” agreement that I couldn’t spend money on non-essential things until I was out of their house and living on my own. They helped me take care alot of the “small” things, so I could focus on the “big” things like graduating college, finding a place to live, and getting a job. I only had a little bit of schooling left, so I qualified for a school grant that paid for my education.

      Do I advocate for former felons? I advocate for ANYONE who wants to work as hard as they can for their second chance. If people like this happen to be felons, then I advocate for them. But I don’t just advocate for felons because their felons. They have to want a better life and get it themselves because nobody else can do it for them.

      Did having a felony record impact me getting a job? Sure, sometimes. But the truth is, we all have things that get in our way of what we want!! My attitude was, if someone said “no” to me at a job interview, then I’ll just go to the next company and apply. This is America. The land of opportunity and second chances. If someone says no to your dream, just go to the next person and prove to the first person that they made a mistake. Success is a numbers game. No matter who you are, you just have to keep going and trying until you eventually break through, or people see enough talent and determination in you, that they’re willing to change the rules for you. That’s what happened to me. Talent, work-ethic, determination, and a positive attitude trumps everything in America.

      1. J. Money September 26, 2017 at 4:34 PM

        Love all these thoughtful replies man, I’m getting motivated myself by all of them! :)

  35. Jeff @ MaximumCents September 22, 2017 at 3:06 PM

    Great story. You were able to succeed because you used your intelligence, street smarts, and grinded. Very inspirational!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 12:13 PM

      Thanks. I like to think of my story as proof of what happens when you combine intelligence, street smarts, and a grinders attitude. Magical things result when those qualities are combined. The results I have gotten in my life are not because I am “special.” Anyone can combine those above three things you mentioned in their life and they will get the same results no matter who they are, what their skin color is, or where they came from. Truth is truth ,and that is #truth.

  36. Peter September 22, 2017 at 3:44 PM

    Bill, thanks for sharing your story, I feel blessed to have been entrusted to read it before you published it here, and I’m proud to call you a friend (on an unrelated note – we’ll still have to attend a Vikings game sometime soon!).

    I’m so glad you’re doing your best to turn the bad that you did and that happened to you around for the betterment of others. You so easily could have allowed what your situation to overwhelm you (I’m sure it did at times!) and send you down the wrong path. I’m glad you found a strong faith to help guide you through and lead you to a better life.

    Sometimes it takes something bad happening in our lives to open our eyes, and it seems like God has worked wonders in yours, even if the refining process was extremely painful.

    To me this verse speaks to your calling now:

    The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Isaiah 61:1

    God bless my friend, and I look forward to all that God has in store for you!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 12:24 PM

      Man, that was amazingly inspiring to me. I have a huge white board in my home office. I think I am going to write that scripture down on it to remember my mission every day. And yes, the first two years were overwhelming. Luckily, I got my faith pretty established in the first few months so that helped calm everything down. But it took me 2 years to really figure out what I was supposed to do with my life in prison. Then it took me another 4 years after that to really find the visions of what I was truly capable of. So if anyone thinks finding yourself happens overnight… It took me 6 years of working at it everyday just to start understanding myself and my mission. And yeah, we’ll be hanging out at a game soon enough. I hope your families health is doing better. That was some scary stuff right before the last game we were going to attend.

  37. Christine Luken, Financial Lifeguard September 22, 2017 at 4:54 PM

    Wow! What an amazing story of hope and redemption! Thanks for the courage to share your story. It’s never too late to make a new start in your life or with your money.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 12:28 PM

      Nope. It’s never too late no matter who you are. I remember when I first got arrested, it was heart-breaking for my dad because he thought my life might before before it even got started. His a financially savvy guy too, so he worried about retirement for me and all those things. But financially it hasn’t really impacted me much at all. Financially, I’m back to the place like nothing ever happened. You can accomplish amazing things when you put your entire soul into accomplishing a goal.

  38. Steve @ Think Save Retire September 22, 2017 at 10:57 PM

    Holy. Shit. Man, you have a lot of guts to come clean like that, and I absolutely admire you for doing so. That definitely was a huge step to take. Congrats on completely turning your life around. Incredible story.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 12:32 PM

      Sweet, Steve. Some of our biggest life missions are the ones were most afraid to take. I am ready to start embracing my life mission to help people overcome their challenges, so your friendship and support is beyond valuable to me. I’ve just got to save a few hundo’s more in the bank account, and I’ll be sending you a DM to meet you and your wife out on an independent road somewhere in America.

  39. Physician on FIRE September 22, 2017 at 11:37 PM

    I’ve been looking forward to this one going live. I had the pleasure of hearing the story in person a few weeks ago, and I was rather astonished, having met Bill previously but knowing nothing of his past.

    His enthusiasm and positive outlook on life are remarkable given what he has endured. Those traits are also contagious, and I applaud Bill on what he is doing with his life, website, and more.

    I will also say that he handles a mountain bike very well for someone who probably didn’t put foot to pedal for a solid ten years.


    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 12:44 PM

      My next post on Wealth Well Done this week will be about that wonderful mountain biking experience with the one-of-a-kind @Physicianonfire where we actually hung out in person for the day so check that out. I’ll have to drop a link to that article here when it goes live.

      And no, there was no mountain biking trips planned for us by the prison guards, haha. Growing up as a competitive ski racer, anything that has to do with hills, angles, gravity, and speed becomes almost a second nature no matter how long you’ve been away from it. My brain just knows how to process all of that information very fast, which is why it’s one of the most exhilarating things I love to do. Looking forward to the next trip to see you.

      1. J. Money September 26, 2017 at 4:35 PM

        Haha… nice.

  40. Mr. Tako September 23, 2017 at 1:10 AM

    Fascinating story! Proof once again that if you set your mind to it, you can do anything!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 12:47 PM

      You’re so right! There’s really only two decisions that will shape the quality of everyone’s individual reality. You’re either going to set your mind to accomplishing something and actually do it! Or you are going to find excuses, and reasons to blame others, for why you’re not going to do it. The quality of everyone’s future is ultimately decided on how they react to that decision. Not much else matters.

  41. FIRECracker September 23, 2017 at 1:46 AM

    Wow, what a story! Very inspiring and it just goes to show, no matter what mistakes you made in the past, no matter how bad things seem, if you forgive yourself and are brave enough to make changes, you can fix it.

    Thanks so much for sharing this story, J!

    Congrats on turning your life around, writing a book, and inspiring others with your story, Billy B!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 1:05 PM

      Thanks Kristy. I follow you from a far as I have a strong passion for the entire REVOLUTION concept. If I really want to rock out, I’ll put on some Rage Against the Machine, and let my mind go to intense places thinking about the revolution I’d love to one day be part of. My first idea for a blog name years ago was, Life Purpose Revolution, so when I first saw your blog name, I felt an affinity toward it.

      I was disappointed that I couldn’t be part of the international get-together you were just at, but I have this invisible “ankle bracelet” type word called a felony in my passport paperwork that keeps me in the USA for another 4 years at worst. But I didn’t lose any sleep over it. I’m just excited, grateful, and blessed to spend every day free in America for the time being.

      Thanks for the compliment on the book. I have alot more to accomplish, but I’m building a good start. My fearless, extroverted mind will be wandering around fincon in a month, and I am always open for a solid conversation about writing. Peace out sister.

    2. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 2:17 PM

      I forgot to mention this other unique fact on why I peek into the millennial revolution occasionally… I find your take on being a millennial very interesting, because in some ways, my experience being a millennial was taken away from me. I am a millennial, but I never feel like I can identify with many of the millennial issues I hear about. Right when I was about to graduate college and start experiencing those issues myself (getting my first real job; starting a career; being on my own for the first time; having my first adult relationship; struggling to find success and meaning with things not going my way and entry-level wages, etc) I was yanked out of that millennial experience and thrust into an entirely different world (prison) that demanded a totally different set of strengths from me. So sometimes, when I read your writing, I vicariously live through your words and attitude to understand the experiences I missed about being a millennial. That’s just a perspective I’ve thought about before as I’ve read your writing in the past. Hope you find it interesting. Thanks for commenting.

  42. Carrie Willard September 23, 2017 at 7:56 AM

    Thank you for sharing your story and being vulnerable. I’ve forwarded this to a few people. I just finished reading your book and have assigned it to my son (homeschool!). Now following your blog. :-)

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 1:12 PM

      Your comment symbolizes what I dreamed of every day when I was in prison. If I could just help one person. If one person would just find my writing interesting, then I could be at peace with all the pain I was living through. You have no idea the emotion I am feeling right now as I read your comment. It means so much to me that you are able to find something of value after all the hell I had to fight through.

      My wife was home schooled so I am very familiar with her unique education. If I could help in anyway make your lesson more unique, memorable, and interactive with your son, I’d love to help. Send me a contact form on my blog if you ever want to schedule a short conference call with your son about writing, what it’s like to be a writer, and what went into creating that book. I feel honored that you put your valuable time into reading it. Thank you.

  43. Bailey @ Becoming Bailey September 23, 2017 at 8:18 PM

    Wow. I have been following your story on J$’s blog for a while now. Thank you so much for sharing your story! God is using you to share about the dangers of drugs and that ending up in prison can happen to anyone– it just takes one mistake– but also to tell a story of redemption and grace. Will you be attending FinCon next month? If so, I would love to hear more about your story in person!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 23, 2017 at 9:01 PM

      Well thank you so much @bailey. I can tell you’re a person of faith also, so I look forward to going deep with you in conversation about everything God has done in our lives. And yes! I’ll be at Fincon from Wed-Saturday! I’ll be staying at the hotel so I should be easy to track down. Contact me on facebook or twitter, or send me a contact form on my website, and it will all forward to my phone.

      You also hit on an important subject I haven’t talked about in these comments yet: GRACE. One very powerful thing I realized through this journey was how graceful God is and is willing to give anyone a second chance. For the dumb decisions I made, I deserved to be gone forever. Not only did I get a second chance, I got the opportunity to create an INCREDIBLE second chance with my life. That’s grace. I am extremely appreciative and grateful for that grace because I don’t believe I deserve anything.

  44. Libby September 23, 2017 at 9:23 PM

    I’m an active member of Al-anon and it is heartbreaking to hear the parents of drug-addicted kids speak. One mother has two daughters in their early 20’s who are both heroin addicts. She texts her daughters every day to tell them that she loves them. She also knows that each day could very easily be the last one for her girls. Another parent thanks God every meeting that her heroin addicted son is in prison so that he is safe.

    Thank you for spreading the message about the very serious drug (and alcohol) problem that exists in our society.

    I’m so glad you have had the opportunity to do a 180 on your life.

    1. J. Money September 26, 2017 at 4:37 PM

      So scary :(

    2. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 26, 2017 at 11:21 PM

      HI Libby: My parents went to an al-anon group for a minute after I first got in trouble to try to understand what happened. They eventually had to leave, just because it got too hard listening to relapse stories and they didn’t want to start to believe that was going to be my future. But I do know they greatly appreciated that group for the time they were there as it helped them understand that it wasn’t their fault, and to know that they were not alone in this world.

      I now know people with drug addicted children. Even though I’ve been through it, it still breaks my heart. Honestly, this is the reason why I share my story like this. If I can help just one family avoid that nightmare, it will be all worth it.

  45. Financial Samurai September 24, 2017 at 1:00 AM

    Man Billy, 10 years! I can’t believe you didn’t get half time for good behavior like so many other states.

    Does life feel amazingly blessed every day now that you’re free? Or have you got used to the freedom? Do you feel 10 years was a fair sentence or too little or too much?

    I got in trouble when I was younger too, and because of the trouble, I appreciated every single day much more.

    31 is still very young, and it’s great that you make your wife and you started your business. Entrepreneurship is the one escape hatch I can allow anybody to succeed, despite the grades, problems with the law, another hiccups along the way. At least this is how I thing for my son, if he doesn’t do well in school and stuff.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 24, 2017 at 4:28 PM

      Thanks SAM! I am actually a big fan of what you did, and do, @ Samuri so it’s a pleasure to finally speak with you!

      Yes, it’s been 5 years since the last time I was in a prison cell, and the feeling of waking up in my own king bed with my wife, walking outside on my deck with a cup of coffee, and getting anything I want to eat NEVER gets old. Of course there are days where I get frustrated, or a little anxious about my financial and business ups and downs, but before I get too discouraged, I remember this line I heard in prison that proved totally true: “The worst day on the streets, is better than the best day in prison.” That sentence is totally true in my life and helps put my worst days into a positive perspective.

      I do avoid the thought of pondering the “fairness” of what happened to me in my 20’s. Because the second I allow myself to feel that it was “unfair,” it makes me mad and bitter, and I simply don’t want to spend the rest of my life in that mindset. It’s done. It’s over. It’s just the reality I had to deal with, and I don’t let my mind go much further than that.

      The problem with the state of Wisconsin, is that their politicians ran on popular, “Get Tough On Crime” platforms to get elected in the 1990’s, so by the year in 2000, they had built 10+ new prisons (cost tax payers hundreds of millions in taxes to lock up new inmates) and lengthened all prison sentences by taking away all chances of early parole. They called it “truth-in-sentencing.” Every day you were sentenced to, you had to do no matter who you were or what the situation was. Do I think this was a “smart” idea? No. Minnesota and Wisconsin are states with similar population sizes and crime rates. Yet in the 2000’s, Minnesota incarcerated like 8,000 people. Because of politics, Wisconsin was forced to incarcerate like 3X as many people with 25,000 inmates in prisons. It was a waste of tax payers money in my opinion as the average cost of each inmate is like $35,000 a year. So my ten year sentence, cost the state about $350,000 dollars. From an economic perspective, it probably would have made more sense for me to be paying tens-of-thousands of dollars in taxes like I do today, rather than sucking up nearly a half-a-million dollars that residents had to pay on their tax bills. From a “fairness” perspective, I would have probably gotten less than a year in Minnesota with a long probation period. But I had to do all ten years in a Wisconsin prison. But like I said, feeling like life is unfair is one of the quickest routes to discouragement and anger. Life is just better when I avoid thinking too long on the subject, so that’s what I try to do. What happened to me and my friend was a crappy situation for EVERYONE. It’s over now, but if I do eventually have a chance to try to improve the system, I will.

      Your comment made me recall a very powerful, vivid, and future-changing moment that happened to me early in my prison sentence. Before going to prison, I always just thought life would work out for me if I just “looked the part” of being successful. But once I was in prison, I realized for the first time in my life that it was going to be 100% up to me to make a success out of my life. I realized for the first time that my future wasn’t going to be up to my parents, my school, or my skin color. My future was going to be 100% up to me and my ability to fight through adversity and earn what I dreamed of. That was the moment everything changed for me. It motivated me to take all responsibility for my life into my own hands. Honestly, it’s been 15 years since that moment, and I still live with that attitude everyday. That revelation was probably the original source of everything I’ve accomplished so far. Thank you for making me remember that moment. It was such a powerful moment I think alot of people could learn from. I am going to reach out to you in private and see if you’d ever considering a guest post based on the moment. That is how my attitude changed everything about the course of my life since. Thank you.

      1. Financial Samurai September 24, 2017 at 9:20 PM

        Thanks for your reply Billy. I read your longer post on the 10 years in prison as well. Really insightful stuff. Feel free to email me whenever. Always interesting to get some new perspective on things. Thx

        1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 24, 2017 at 10:47 PM

          Super cool, I’m coming at you soon. And by the way, I love to golf. I’m just a recreational player who can hit a straight ball and make par once or twice per 18. I just love the views, and the journey through a course. I may have to add a round with you to one of my dreams in life! I would be in heaven. #goals!

  46. C.J. Cato September 24, 2017 at 11:59 AM

    Man, that was pretty intense. I’m not entirely sure why you were responsible and not the person that chose to take the drugs… but I guess that’s the law. Anyway I’m so glad you were able to come out the other side of this in a positive way.

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 26, 2017 at 11:03 PM

      Thanks CJ. You were exactly right… That was the law, and even if I disagreed with it, I couldn’t do anything about it. Once they put you in prison, they basically forget about you for all the years you’re in there. Even today, I am somewhat shocked I survived it as I did. But just like you, I am so glad I made it through and can still enjoy my life on the other side.

  47. Brent Truitt September 25, 2017 at 8:18 AM

    Wow Billy. Brutal story. Some real bad luck mixed young mischief. So now you’ve walked through the valley, you can appreciate how lucky you are to be free and alive.

    Great post!

    1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 26, 2017 at 10:59 PM

      Thank you, Brent. And yes, I am not a normal person, with normal experiences, and a normal perspective, and I am grateful for that uniqueness everyday. I’m just happy that that nightmare is over now and I NEVER have to go back and live it again!!!!! I am much happier out here free and alive.

  48. Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom September 25, 2017 at 3:20 PM

    Wow!! It is is so inspiring that you took such a difficult situation and turned it into something so positive. I’m sure it was hard to publish something so personal, but think about how many people will read this and know life is what we make of it. We can look at hard times and be negative about them; or we can see them as an investment in our future. Mind over matter and all that jazz.

    This is such a testament to how strong of a person you are. I noticed many of the comments were from people who have read your stuff before and never knew this about you. THAT is a sign of character, my friend. Choosing to take your past and say, “Let me help YOU,” instead of “poor me.” Awesome read.

    1. J. Money September 26, 2017 at 4:39 PM

      I was one of those people as well over the past year or so – had no idea until he told me one day he had a secret! And what a secret that was, haha…

      1. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 26, 2017 at 10:57 PM

        Can’t wait until we’re friends fo-real in person! Bring on the tunes and dance floor at fincon!!!!

    2. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 26, 2017 at 10:56 PM

      Hi Krystal: I just want you to know that your comment was EXTREMELY touching to me. Your comment helped me give purpose and reason to all of my suffering. Referring to my attitude, and my friendships, as “character” was extra meaningful. People aren’t born with “character.” They have to work for it, and fight for it, and earn their character. I worked very hard for mine, and I so appreciate your words encouraging me that I did a good job. The journey through prison got very lonely at times. It means so much to me to have friends like you now. Stop by my blog anytime and say hi.

  49. Oliver @ September 29, 2017 at 7:32 AM

    I felt that strong urge to share your story after reading it now. I pick you as an inspiration to my clients suffering from loss of hope and self-confidence due to debts and failed attempts in their careers.

  50. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done September 29, 2017 at 10:04 AM

    Hi Oliver: I would greatly encourage you to share this story. If I can help you inspire your clients in any way I would be happy to do it. In fact, I think my dream life is to be able to help people suffering from the things you described: such as: “loss of hope, self-confidence, debts, and failed attempts at their careers.” My life is a perfect example that even if EVERYTHING goes wrong for you at one time, it doesn’t mean you can’t work at a second chance where EVERYTHING can go right for you. That sounds like my ultimate message, and something that I am so passionate about that I would happily give my life to. Reach out to me anytime, as helping you inspire you clients sounds a life dream of mine. Thanks for commenting!

  51. Andy September 30, 2017 at 9:55 AM


    A very inspiring story. I got sick from taking a controlled substance as prescribed for a very short amount of time. A benzodiazapene. I was sick for over two years bed, house and couch ridden. I am finally mostly recovered. I had to quit my job and I was judged by some friends and professionals because drug withdrawal comes with a stigma. My true friends and family supported me during my recovery. I started out blaming everyone. Over time I practiced acceptance. The Power of Now by Eckhardt Tolle helped me through the acceptance process. I had to be patient and let my body heal. Prior to this my wife and I saved 50% of our income into index funds but we were still big spenders. While I was sick we had to live on one income. We learned how easy it was and came to conclusion that we have “enough” and have a networth over a half million and still growing at the young age of 39 and 41. We now embrace simplicity and minimalism. Sometimes suffering can bring positive changes to people. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope to blog about my journey someday. I just need to practice my writing skills.

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 3:00 PM

      Oh wowww….

      I hope you do start that blog! Just pour it all out like this comment here and you’ll be fine! People love reading real and raw words – you don’t have to make it fancy or perfect :) Just start getting it all out there!

    2. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done October 3, 2017 at 10:31 PM

      Hey Andy, THANK YOU for being open, real, and honest and sharing your story with me. It is helpful because it helps me realize that I am not alone in this world, and other people also have had to deal with significant challenges that they have had to overcome. Drugs, even prescribed ones, can be a very deceiving substance in our lives and bodies, and like you, I am grateful I no longer have to deal with that nightmare. I am grateful to hear, that like me, you have been victorious over your challenges and gotten your life back on track. Index funds worth half a mill??? What an awesome personal feat and testimony! I bet you realize this life-truth as clearly as I do now: Money is great, but it isn’t nearly as great as the value of our health and freedom.

      I’ll echo J$’s comment: Just start writing, and learn what you want to sound like through trial and error. Your above comment communicated very clearly to me, so don’t stress that it’s not perfect. Heck, I’ve written thousands of pages, and I still write blog posts that I can barely look at because I think they are terrible writing!!!! But you know what, at least I wrote something and I usually publish them anyway, because at least I did something, and my motto is that doing something terribly is better than the 95% of people who do nothing at all. Just try. You have nothing to lose. You’re already a winner. You can do it, friend!

  52. Mr. Groovy October 4, 2017 at 7:00 AM

    Holy crap, Billy. You are one remarkable dude. I’m speechless. One of the most inspiring posts I’ve ever read. I’m also very interested in your thoughts. How do we end the drug scourge? Prison doesn’t appear to work. Do we legalize all drugs, control their potency, and focus on rehab rather than jail for addicts? I’m all ears, my friend.

  53. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done October 4, 2017 at 11:15 PM

    Well. thanks Mr. Groovy! I’d love it if you shared this article with the Mrs Groovy, as she was one of the first followers of our blog. I am sure I’ll eventually start sharing more of my experiences on my blog, but I have always been a little nervous about doing it before because of how it may reflect on my business. (Even though some of my clients may even have MORE respect for me because of it) But as I save more money, I am becoming less fearful of just being myself, because if someone doesn’t like me because of the hand I was dealt in life, who cares! I probably don’t want them as my friend anyway.

    How do we end the drug problem? That’s a tough one. Prison is a joke, and is probably why prison is just a revolving door for people who can’t, or won’t, figure life out. My experience in prison was that they threw me in there for 10 years, and basically said good luck and we’ll see you again when you’re release date comes up. I am not sure how that is supposed to help non-scary people like myself. I mean, I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone in my life!! I have no idea on how incarcerating me for that length of time was beneficial for society in any way. I suppose prison does have it’s place for sadistic killers and rapists, who need to be in cages, but most drug-offenders aren’t evil people. They’re our brothers, uncles, fathers, sons, mothers, and sisters who just got caught up in some bad stuff they probably regret.

    Personally, I am not a fan of drug legalization, as people who have a problem will have a problem with any substance no matter its potency. It’s like telling an alcoholic they can only drink beer instead of whisky. Trust me, they’ll just find a way to drink more beer because they don’t have the off switch in their brain like everyone else.

    I’ll really need time to think about how to solve the problem as a whole, because the only thing that really worked for me was just my discovery and dedication to my personal responsibility to change my life. I wanted a better life. I wanted to live. I wanted to stay out of prison. I wanted a better future for my family. It wasn’t until I wanted these things, that I was willing to change everything in my mind that led me into that mess.

    I think you have to give each person the choice: If they want help, they should be given help. But if they don’t want help, they will destroy themselves and their lives until they are dead no matter what help you give them. There is nothing you can really do for people who don’t want to change or get help.

    Ultimately, the truth is, that change is hard work. And unfortunately, not everyone wants to work hard. But there are those people, like me, who want and are willing to do anything they can for a second chance. Unfortunately, a lot of them, like me, are stuck in prison for years on end with absolutely no way to get out of there until their release date finally comes up. It’s a very sad story for everyone involved. I’m just grateful that it’s over for me now. My mission now is focused on more preventative work, where I hopefully can show people that you can live a better life by choosing to work hard for your dreams, rather than going down the easy path of paying $5 for a hit of drugs to at least feel like you’re in control of your life, when in reality your life is rotting away.

  54. David W. October 8, 2017 at 10:00 PM

    From a criminal defense attorney, former public defender, and FI fan, congratulations.

    So many kids never learn. The system couldn’t care less about them, either. But some survive and eventually thrive by their own sheer will and smarts. I’ve had a few go on to be responsible, successful people. And I’ve had many more come back over and over again.

    Thanks for your story.

  55. Billy B @ Wealth Well Done October 11, 2017 at 10:42 PM

    THanks David. This comment means alot to me, because you’ve been there, and you know how tough it is to fight back against a system that really doesn’t care about your well being at all. I feel truly blessed to be one of the ones who fought back against it and am free to make something of my life now. Your compliment means a great deal to me. When I was alone, I was motivated by thinking one day smart people would give me credit and compliments for all of my hard work, rather than looking down their noses at me. Your comment shows me that my dreams are coming true.

  56. Teresa @ Empowered Borrower April 7, 2019 at 2:50 PM

    This story is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing it; I’m sorry I’m so late in the game picking up on it. I am so happy that you were able to put your mind in the right place and let nothing stop you. As a public defender, I fight very hard to try to stop situations like yours from occurring. As you can guess, I absolutely agree with you that prisons serve no purpose for the drug epidemic. I just really love that you fought for yourself and are achieving your dreams. Please keep writing about your journey and advice for others on how to reach for financial independence. I will share your story with clients who feel like they have no hope.

    1. J. Money April 8, 2019 at 6:52 AM

      So glad you enjoyed this, Teresa – thanks for stopping by and saying so :) I hope it indeed inspires your clients!!

  57. Katie Camel May 29, 2020 at 2:23 PM

    Awesome story! I heard your interview on ChooseFI and found you so inspiring. I’m so glad you found your way through prison and have come out even better on the other side. You’re correct that drugs have ravaged nearly every part of our American lives. They’ve destroyed parts of my life, but those experiences have made me who I am today. Without them, I don’t know that I’d be on the path I’m on. Not that I condone drugs, but I’m just saying that sometimes something good can come out of something horrible.

    Anyway, I hope this is allowed, but I included your interview on my favorite FIRE content of 2019. I’m sorry I missed this post last year.