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.
#19: Christine Mc:
Money and I have had an on-again-off-again relationship my whole life. Sometimes it’s good sometimes it’s bad. We’ve taken turns mistreating each other and both of us have landed in the gutter more than once. Lately though, I have to confess it’s mostly been me abusing Money. I’ve been quite dominating towards it. I found out that Money likes being controlled, bossed around, told where to go and when. It enjoys everything about being assigned, limited, and stretched. I like being Money’s dominatrix. Initially I was a little timid about the change to our relationship. I thought Money and I wouldn’t have as good of a time like before. Turns out, we have a better time. Our relationship has really grown. It listens to me more, I get all my needs met and, in turn, Money is happier too. It knows what its role is and how it fits inside our relationship. The real bonus is that I get to decide what kind of fun we get to have once our needs are met. We are both more creative. It’s exciting to see how far our relationship has come since I took control. We’re deliberate in our choices and purposeful in our actions. We’re not perfect, but we enjoy the process of being a work in progress.
#20 Christa C:
The most important money lesson that I ever learned happened when I was six. (Was I lucky or what?) For my sixth birthday one of my Dad’s friends gave me a homemade wooden duck piggybank with clear plastic sides. That night when I was waiting to be tucked in Mom sat down on my bed and talked to me about my gifts and how lucky I was.
Prior to this I had been MUCH more excited about the My Little Pony stable but what mom said next has stuck with me throughout my life. Mom handed me my new piggybank and told me that of all my gifts this one was the most important because it promised me a future. This was my new savings bank and it would let me have a wonderful life. Every time I got money at least half of it was to go into the bank. She lovely told me I couldn’t touch the money I put in the bank until I was all grown up and needed it go to university or to buy a house. Learning to save, Mom said as she gave me a hug, was a gift I could give my future self.
I filled that bank with nickels for making my bed, quarters for sweeping the floor and pennies I found on the street and in less than a year it was full. Then came the day I felt like I’d really grown up because Mom took me to the bank to open an account with the $67.03 I’d managed to save. I couldn’t see over the counter but it was one of the proudest moments in my life.
Mom was right. Learning to save was the best gift I’ve ever given myself. That $67.03 and the money that followed went to pay for my university education. 24 years latter I don’t manage to save half of my income anymore, I still put money aside every month and don’t owe a cent.
#21 Zsanett B:
I was misused. Don’t mind me I am not complaining I’ve been misused many times before but I expected more of Ms B. She has used many versions of me in her life from Hungarian forints, to euros, to dollars and always took good care of me. But along came her first credit card in Canada and she got confused. I know she is not alone. The moment I become a piece of plastic, people tend to think I am infinite. And sure enough I fell through Ms B’s hands like sand through a sieve.
See, I don’t judge people. I am here to help you through life in the modern world but if you don’t educate yourself on how to use me properly, you will end up hating me and stressing about me. Just like Ms B did for the first few years she spent in Canada. Coming from a small European country to Canada full of opportunities and shiny new stores, brands and credit cards, she fell off track easily. By her 4th year here she and her DH racked up some substantial debt, including the worst of its kind: pay day loans. Don’t even get me started on those, if I had a choice I’d refuse to be associated with them altogether.
Come December last year Ms B really started to feel the rope getting tighter. As Christmas passed and the big pile of gifts lay around mocking her with their existence, she knew something was wrong. In January Ms B and her DH finally hit rock bottom, when she had to cash in her last emergency fund that she kept if anything unexpected happened to her loved ones in Hungary and she needed to fly there ASAP. Her last safety net went to rent.
I still remember how upset she was. With the emergency fund gone, bills in arrears, a credit card close to maxed out, daily calls from the pay advance people and the due date of a buy now pay later plan approaching with the speed of light, she knew it was time to change things. But her first attempts were frustrated. Her long time and only bank in Canada refused to give her a consolidation loan and her credit card company declined all her effort to lower interest rates for her.
Little did these companies know that if Ms B is passionate about something – and trust me by this point all she could talk about was me – that’s when she operates the most effectively. She took the only route that was to be taken and started to gobble up all information related to me: she watched TV shows about financing, read books, blogs and websites discussing budgeting. She did an extensive research about banks and credit cards and the credit score system. All that with one goal in mind: to prove lenders that declined her that she can do it on her own and indeed do it better!
She set up a budget, she tracked expenses, planned purchases, reviewed and revised her numbers until she was happy with the results. In little over 4 months, the collection calls stopped, due to a thorough investigation about past hydro bills a substantial credit was rewarded to her, her credit card was paid off and she was pretty happy about herself.
Except for one little thing. She still wanted revenge on her bank and credit card company. Using her previous research she moved all her earnings along with her pay roll to a no fee online bank where she feels like a valued customer again. She also applied for a cash back credit card and does not intend to use her old card for anything but a small monthly payment to keep the card current for her credit history. I’m proud of her, she learned her lesson. I am sure I’ll be used properly in her hands in any situation.
#22 Amy W:
The best experience I’ve had is about lost and found money. Nineteen years ago, our son was born with congenital heart disease and Noonan Syndrome. We went from a double income and barely scraping by to a single self-employed (need I say more?) income. Times are always tough for us as I’ve been home with him ever since his birth. He is medically fragile (5 heart surgeries to date).
The last time we filed income tax was tax year 1993. My husband didn’t make much money and we feared he’d owe money and that would be another bill we could not pay. Then I heard that the child tax credit was retro active and since I had 2 kids, one handicapped, I calculated approximately how much we would get. I was allowed to use the disability credit to go back ten years.
So I did ten years taxes (yes I still had all the paperwork) and although the government wanted proof of these kids, I got a cheque for over $40,000! We not only got the retroactive CTC but past GST cheques as well! So now I bet you’re asking what did we do with it? Well, we paid up our bills, gave ourselves a little each to spend and went on our first ever mini vacation to Banff for my sister-in-laws wedding, which we could never ever have otherwise afforded and used the rest as an income so when the bills came in we could actually pay them (priceless).
As a footnote, I’d like to mention that since I did so well with the government a close friend of mine confided in me and said they too haven’t filed for like ten years either and were in serious trouble with the gov’t. They were even close to suicide over this. So I opened ten years of mail and filed the taxes. They received a cheque for like $35,000 back. I now do friends and families taxes. Even took the H and R block course.
#23 Megan S:
My parents were good at hiding things: Easter eggs, birthday presents, the amount of their debt. I grew up in a family where a penny earned was a penny to spend and thinking that if I had money, it meant I could buy whatever I wanted. It wasn’t until recently that I learned I really grew up with a spendthrift father and an overburdened mother. She had student loans, but he had consumer debt; as soon as something was paid off, he bought more. As a result, my mother is facing the prospect of working well into her seventies—as my father sits home—because she refuses to retire while they still have debt. As for myself, I learned from my father: I wanted to go back to school—despite already having two degrees—so I took out a loan; I didn’t have a job, so after a day of writing résumés and sending out applications, I spent money in order to relax. Luckily, I woke up. Now, I can cite my gross income, net income, my disposable hourly income; I can cite the exact amount I spend per month and on what; I contribute monthly to an RRSP and emergency fund. I’m so well organized that my financial advisor suggested I apply for a job at the bank! I’ll even have that pesky student loan paid off in November—more than 7 years ahead of schedule! As a reward, in 2013 I’m taking my mother on vacation to Ireland —a vacation that will be completely financed before we leave!
#24 Therese G:
Money talks! But, all it ever said to me was, “Be free”. It was so easy to hear money talk, and even easier to set it free. Just ask my girlfriends – they’ll tell you that I’m a great listener, and fun to shop with too!
As a child, I was always told to save money, however until recently I never really understood what that meant. The only penny that I really saved was one that I found in my backyard over 30 years ago when I was about 12 years old. It was a Canadian penny, dated 1916. What a treasure! I truly believed that one day, it could make me rich!
A few years ago, a fellow runner shared her budgeting methods while on a run. She explained, “Your goal at the end of every month should be to have zero dollars in your bank account, and here’s how…” At that point, my thoughts turned to my girlfriends. How could I abandon our regular shopping trips? Those trips simply would not be the same without moi! What kind of a friend would I be? I could never do such a thing!
Years later, up to my ears in credit card debt, the value of saving money and becoming debt free all made more sense after reading Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s book, Debt-Free Forever. While I miss my regular shopping trips, I have learned how to better manage my finances, thanks to Gail’s guidance! It took me nearly a lifetime to learn how to manage my finances, but it’s never too late.
Today, I still have the Canadian penny from 1916. While I thought it would have been worth hundreds, or maybe even thousands by now, apparently it’s only worth a penny! But, we all have to start somewhere, and as the saying goes, “A penny saved, is a penny earned”.
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.