A Week of Stories
Posted by Gail | Filed under This & That
On June 18th I asked you to submit your stories (150-350 words) about your experience with money for a chance to win free copies of The Gail Way and a free copy of a Gail book. This week from Monday to Thursday, I’ll be posting the stories I received for you to read and vote on. Whoever gets the most votes each day will win a free copy of The Gail Way. Tell your friends and family to come read your stories and vote for you. Tweet the contest. Put it on your Facebook page. Remember, whoever gets the most number of votes wins The Gail Way package and a chance to be entered for the book. On Monday July 16 I’ll repost the most popular stories and the person who gets the most votes will win a copy of a Gail book, winner’s choice.
#13 Jaclyn O:
After my dad made some really bad decisions, my parents separated and my mom filed for bankruptcy when I was very young. She then vowed to teach me all about money so I never had to do the same. And what a great job she did! Starting at age 7, she taught me all about bills, budgets, paychecks, taxes, RRSPs etc and how to run the family money. We would sit at the kitchen table with all the paperwork and a calculator twice a month, and I still remember these nights!! She had me get a job and pay rent (small amounts) so I learned to manage my money in my own way. She also taught me to do my own taxes by hand so I never have to waste my money and pay someone to do them for me Thanks to her, I’m proud to say I’m a 24 yr old university graduate with no debt; I paid my way through school by working and getting scholarships, and travelled to about 10 different countries along the way. I live on my own, have my own car and manage my money very well. I know that budgets are great but that they change almost as often as the weather because life is unpredictable! I have perfect credit and am now starting to save to buy a house!! I’m also proud to say that my mom was a great example; she bought her first house just 8 years after filing bankruptcy!
#14 Joy P:
No one at the bank told me how much I would need to make to actually pay back my student loan. Oh if I only could go back in time and tell eighteen year old me how things really work. I’d tell me to open a saving account and to plan for repayment the day I signed the papers. Instead I spent what was left over after tuition book & board, got suckered in to the $500 credit card and not understanding how that worked I would cash advance my payment on that credit card. Money slipped through my fingers in the form of pizza and nights out at the pub. I still owe on that credit card due to a reduced income and using it to fill in the gaps with medical expenses. I am staring down the barrel of bankruptcy. I worked my butt of paying off all the other debts over the past 10 years. I am burnt out and facing a decrease in salary due to cut backs.
When I discovered this “down to earth”, “tell it like it is” woman on Slice I paid much more attention to my money. I started a rule of transferring 10% of every deposit made in my chequing account to my savings. I was far from making this a retirement fund, it was more of a band aid fund to prevent using debt. I worked on my budget and increased my debt payments, just rounding it up to the nearest hundred. This made a significant difference in the interest I was paying. A pleasant surprise came this year when my husband actually got a tax refund (it has been shuffled off to Student Loan for years so we got used to never having it) We promptly paid off our loans saving us $500 a month.
We are now working on savings, I opened RESP accounts for my kids and an RRSP for myself as well as a TFSA. I use my regular saving account for short term savings and the TFSA for larger goals.
#15 Megan P:
My husband and I really related to the Baby Edition of “Til Debt Do Us Part.” We were just starting to plan for having kids and wanted to be sure we were in a strong financial position before I went on maternity leave. We had a good plan, we were putting away extra money, and we were finding inexpensive ways to source the things we needed. Unfortunately, not all pregnancies go according to plan. I had a miscarriage and suddenly was off on medical leave much sooner than we had anticipated. Our financial plan had not taken into account what would happen if I stopped receiving a full paycheck almost four months sooner than anticipated.
We struggled through and made a very emotional decision to try again for a child only a few months after I went back at work. We didn’t really review our financial plan – we were still putting money aside for when I would be off, but hadn’t dealt with coming up short from going off early. Again, things don’t always go according to plan and after being back at work for only seven months, I was off on medical leave again. Needless to say, our finances hit a reef.
There is a silver lining. We have now worked out a plan to compensate for all the time I missed at full pay. We know how long it will take us to pay off that accumulated debt, while still saving something towards having a family. We were able to put aside our emotional preferences and realize that waiting to try again when we were in good financial shape would be much less stressful than trying to juggle debt and a new pregnancy. We now have a plan for if I have to stop working very early. We now know that when we do have kids, we’re going to be able to afford the change in lifestyle.
#16 Michelle S:
My experience with money started fairly typically, I grew up in a working class family. We had what we ‘needed’ and my parents saved for what we ‘wanted’. We were occasionally allowed to pick a treat at the grocery store, but more often than not, we knew not to ask. Report card day was my favorite day! Better than my birthday or sometimes even Christmas because I knew that there was cold, hard cash coming my way. My mom always said “it’s your money, you can do what you want with it” and *that* is how I learned to spend!
By 13, I was a babysitting Czar, I had enough money to fund a small island nation. I spent money as fast as it came in. I had clothes, CDs, make-up, jewelry and more clothes. At 14, I got my first part time job and entered the workforce. I continued to spend and shop this way until University. I had very little money actually saved for University, but I was able to pay my tuition and books easily with the money I was making at my part-time job. My parents paid my rent and I was responsible for living expenses. I quickly learned what it was like to be BROKE. One nice thing about University campuses, there are “free credit cards” everywhere! I remember applying for my first credit card and telling them I didn’t really have any money and doubted I would qualify. I distinctly remember them telling me it didn’t matter because my parents had jobs and it would be ok. Sure enough, that beautiful piece of plastic arrived in the mail a short time later.
I promised myself that I would only use it for emergencies. Soon, emergencies meant ordering pizza and going out for dinner with friends. I justified it, saying that I was still working and I could easily pay it off when I got my paycheque next week. Of course that never happened, and I even remember one time actually taking money out of the bank machine on my credit card, only to put it in an envelope and put it back in, in order to make the required payment.
This spending behaviour continued throughout university. At 22, I married someone with a similar spending pattern. We filled our apartment with “buy now, pay later” furniture and electronics, never really giving much thought to saving. Shortly after marriage, we decided to start a family, and unfortunately despite costly fertility treatments (that we put on credit) we were never able to conceive. Ultimately we decided to adopt. Adoption was a blessing to our family, but it can be very expensive. Over the next 5 or 6 years we easily spent $80,000 on our adoption journey.
Flash forward 2 years, my children are 6 and 2 and my husband decides he wants out of the marriage. I can’t really say I blame him, the fights about money were ongoing, it caused stress, and I had my head in the sand about bill-paying. Often bills were paid late as we juggled money from account to account. We looked like we had it together, but we were struggling to keep afloat.
I remember as a child, my mom telling me to make sure that I had some money that my husband didn’t know about it. I watched her leave a marriage where she had spent 17 years being as a “Mrs” appendage to my dad’s name. She had no credit history, good or bad and at nearly 40 had to ask her father to co-sign for a car and house so she could take care of us.
Now, here I was a single mom with two small children of my own, in a giant house I can’t afford. It was really the first time I had to get real with myself and figure out what I was going to do. The children depended on me, and I although I knew my parents would help if I was really stuck, I wanted to face my new life with my head up and priorities straight. I took that tiny bit of money that had in hidden my drawer and went to the bank. I opened an account in my name with almost $400 and I knew that no matter what, I would be ok.
I started to follow Gail’s strategies and watching every episode of every one of her shows. At first I would justify it and say “Oh, my problem isn’t that bad”. But, suddenly I had to figure out where my money was going. I realized how much I wasted. I learned to make a budget and to pay my bills on time. I’ve learned to save some and determined what my spending priorities are. I was actually so excited this morning when I opened my Mastercard bill and for the first time in a long time (since University?) I actually have a zero balance! I know my spending habits aren’t perfect and I’m still making some mistakes. I’ve enlisted the help of a financial advisor and have started to set up some RRSPs for my future. For the first time in over 20 years, I am aware of what I’m spending and what I’m saving. I can give you my bank balance almost to the penny and I have a really focused plan moving forward.
Gail, I cannot thank you enough for your tips and strategies. Without knowing it, you’ve been like a friend to me for the past 3 years. I hear your voice in my head when I’m making financial decisions, I’ve heard and seen and read your opinions and I carry that information with me. When I am unsure of something now, I go to your Blog and my answer is usually there. So, thank you, thank you, thank you!!
#17 Louise V:
Both my husband and I were over indulgent in our 20’s accruing a lot of debt. When we first started dating we watched Till Debt Do Us Part every week and even spent our first Valentine’s Day at the Royal York at a lecture with Gail. We decided to clean up our own messes before getting married and then work together to create our best life. In a year we paid off $20,000 in credit card debt. In the 5 years following that we have gotten married, bought a home, paid off our car, saved $50,000 in RRSP’s and tucked away a small emergency fund. Our goal was to retire early and live well.
On February 1st we welcomed our sweet little boy Aidan into the world after 2 years of trying to conceive. We have been living on ¼ of our income and it has made us see that even though we were doing “all the right things”, we were still living a life of excess. Our priorities have shifted to our little boy and come January my husband will be leaving his job to be a stay at home Dad. Our income will take a hit but to us it is a worthy sacrifice. We will remain debt free; we will still save for retirement and we will still have a life. We won’t be buying a second car; a bigger home or a boat but that is ok. We choose to live on less money to be able to give our son more TIME.
#18: Sandra C:
It is said that people have a ‘relationship’ with money. If money were my boyfriend people would gasp when we walked by, hand in hand, and whisper things like, ‘So, when did they get back together?’ My neighbours would complain about our loud fights and my Facebook friends would be highly entertained by my relationship status updates.
Six years ago my husband and I were $34,826.00 in debt. I handle the bi-weekly bills. When I sat my husband down and showed him The Books, he was silent. Head in his hands, scary, silent. When he broke the silence we began our buckle down. We hit the jars! We have two boys and at the time they were really young (read: not as expensive as they are now).
My Dad and Step-Mom offered to help us out with a $15,000.00 interest free (!!!) loan. We’ll take it! Thanks guys!! We decided to honour their loan by writing up and signing a payback plan, a contract of sorts. It really helped to secure their faith in us to honour our debt and it kept us focused. Every year I wrote up a review of payments and outlined future payments to come. I sent this along with post-dated cheques.
Whenever I sat down to pay the bills I conjured up a mental image of myself with an ax, chipping away at our debt. Chip, chip, chip, for three years. At times it felt like forever. In retrospect, meh, not so bad.
In 2009 I went to my neighbours to buy a basketball net for my boys and she mentioned they were going to put their house on the market. We lived in a duplex and they lived in a detached bungalow. The perfect place to raise two teenage boys! I peered over her shoulder and said, ‘Oh, really?’ Oi, talk about impulse purchase! We sold our home on October 31 and the very last cheque to my parents was dated for November 30. It bounced. We were paying the lawyer and the bank fees and transferring money from another account and the cheque bounced. I sent them another cheque that also covered the bounced cheque fee.
Money and I are still trying to be compatible. For the first two years in our new home we went a little off track, $19,654.00 off track. We hit the envelopes, because we couldn’t afford jars, in January 2012. We are now $9200.00 away from being in the black AND we have a savings account…with money in it!! This time is for keeps, I can feel it.
Vote for your favourite story in the comments section by including the # and name for the post you enjoyed most on today’s blog. The story that gets the most votes will win a copy of The Gail Way and have their story entered into next Monday’s Vote-Off. Monday’s winner will receive a Gail book of their choice. Good luck everyone! I thoroughly enjoyed your wonderful stories.