F-U financial experts, life 'aint perfect.
"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."
We didn't have much trouble keeping our grocery costs in line when we had no money. When I grew up, my single mom had to pay everything in cash.
The rent, the utilities, the groceries. Everything we did was only paid with money earned AFTER the paycheque was cashed.
That's how I learned to be cheap.
I moved out of the house in the middle of grade 12 when my mother left Winnipeg to move to a farm. My job at Superstore paid enough, and I worked enough hours to support myself.
Right after graduation, I moved to Saskatoon and joined my father in the dental supply business. Within a short time, I discovered credit.
My problems began.
It was just too easy to spend in advance of the paycheque! Instead of paying AFTER I got paid, I didn't have to wait and used credit to buy a motorcycle. A car. To party. In the midst of party time my daughter was born. Now the credit card needed to be used to support a family. At 19.
I always paid the priorities first - the rent, the utilities, a phone. However, the credit lesson begun. As a dumb kid I decided I could afford a Trans Am. Like who needs a Trans Am with a baby seat in the back? I did. The problems began.
The loan was equal to the lot rent in the trailer I had purchased. I used credit cards and minimum payments to get baby stuff. Never catching up and eventually getting to the point where the minimum payments needed to be disregarded. For several years, I was able to balance living and keeping creditors at bay.
Then life happened.
A relationship not based on true love, but convenience. A baby girl, and then another one. Debt up to the eyeballs and a high risk interest rate (rates that we don't even come close to today!!). The type of interest rates that you will never pay off.
My Father had decided to exit the Dental Supply business and sold to Sinclair Dental - which didn't help matters. My position as a young, single father. Going through divorce, no longer supported by the family business and in debt beyond my abilities forced me into a bad position in life. Going to court and paying all costs of legal actions against me only made it worse. My paycheque was garnished and I no longer owned a home. My 4 year old car had over 400,000km and I couldn't afford to buy a new one...and the transmission broke.
I am proud that I have always "found a way" to deal with issues. I could have easily declared bankruptcy. I tried to petition the courts to reduce my child care and alimony...I partially won. I was given two years of alimony and my ex-wife was told she had two years to find a way to help earn a living. Still....two more years of paying out more than 50% of my earnings (about $40,000 a year at the time before tax and expenses). It was a start.
My assets were all sold. All retirement plans cashed out. I changed companies and the owner of a company called "Arcona" gave me a personal loan for over $30,000 to bail me out of debt. He also guaranteed me a minimum amount that would service the remainder of my debt, help pay my rent, a new car payment, and get back on my feet. A personal loan that I could pay back interest free.
It saved my ass.
So the next 15 years I spent doing all those things we are told to do. Putting away everything I could afford in an RRSP. Buying a home and trying to gain equity. I leveraged my assets as quickly as I could - but mostly I WORKED MY ASS OFF paying back all debts, and forcing myself to save and invest.
I am paid commission. I also pay all my own expenses. So I had to BUILD MY BUSINESS. It's pretty hard in a competitive business like ours - despite what people think - the fact that HEALTHCO and DENCO and many other mom and pop suppliers and manufacturers have either consolidated or gone bankrupt should prove some of the point. It's hard work and smart investments and volume that ultimately help pay the bills and keep you afloat.
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! I KNOW YOU DO!
The perception and reality of owning a business. Paying for life is not what these "Financial planners" ever tell you.
The fact is.....life happens. Who ever plans on having a kid out of wedlock at a young age. You can argue all you want - and ya, it was not the best circumstances. Financially my life has never been a perfect railway track like the planners lay out - where you save 10% of every cheque when you start your career. Maximize your retirement. Pay off your mortgage. Save enough for your kids college fund.
They forget about all the people that live cheque to cheque and have huge debt! How about the student debt. The costs, risks and liabilities to open a small business? The amount you need to re-invest in that business to keep it open. The sacrifice of family and home life working nights and weekends just to stay afloat and pay back creditors with insane lending rules. The people who leverage everything they own to take a chance and hopefully build a little equity.
....and they get sick. divorced. family issues. lose their job. unemployed. bad financial investments. partners who F*** them over. scheisters who steal their money. take their entire life savings.....
That kind of life happens.
It often feels that my life revolved around learning a lot of lessons.
I spent over a decade building up my assets, paying my debts and making sure I only had LOW INTEREST and SMART DEBT. The kind I could truly leverage. The child support payments eventually dissipated. I kept working days, nights, weekends and invested most of my paycheques to make up for the lost years. Lived within my means. Rarely travelled. Never ate out. Sacrificed nights out. No drinking. Watched every penny that came in and went out. Budgets. Leveraged all assets to purchase real estate and rent it out. Used even more equity to open a business.....
Then life kinda happened. Divorce. Again. F***
The lessons I learned over the years of building my finances back up - there is no time to waste. Instead of arguing, and paying lawyers and more important - sacrificing my happiness.... I settled quickly, amicably and moved on. Split it in half and let's go. I'm in my mid 40's and no time to waste.
So here I am on my 53rd birthday.
Still saving over 25% of my earnings. Maximizing paying off mortgages. Leveraging my current assets and taking chances. I have an amazing and supportive partner.
I joke with her that I grew up with no money. Lived in a trailer. I could go back to that. I just don't want to. I am actually scared shit*** of going back there. So instead I keep the petal to the metal. Continue to take my chances and work my ass off. My business is never closed, and I LOVE it so much - it never will be.
The whole point of this rather long story??
No matter where you are at in life....life will happen. You can only control what you are going to do next. Knowing and working with so many people over the years that have successfully transitioned their debt into tidy security for themselves and their children....I know it can and will continue to be done.
You should work with a financial expert, but ultimately only YOU can decide to handle your future the way it needs to be handled.