By the summer of 2015 I had consolidated my debt to a lower interest Credit Line, and paid off my OSAP loan. My RBC Visa was still open and I still carried a balance on the card – usually around 5K but that amount was slowly increasing as each month passed.
I had been promoted to a Supervisor at the hotel which came with a decent pay increase, which meant a more consistent paycheque. I felt like I was on the right track to being debt free.
Something was Missing
I realize now that even though I had been able to consolidate the debt to a lower interest payment, I was missing a key element: Money Management.
I had bad spending habits.
I didn’t know what my monthly cost of living was, I couldn’t answer exactly how much was owing on my loans and at what interest. I was blissfully ignorant to everything related to my personal finances. If I didn’t think about it too much, it wouldn’t be a stress or worry.
Out of mind, out of sight was always my attitude when it came to finances.
I always thought Money Management was only for those individuals who actually HAD money. Those who needed some help with their investments, stock portfolios, RRSP, RESP’s etc. Thinking back now, it was so naive to think that way.
I was wrong. I needed to learn proper Money Management skills and I needed to become my own financial advisor.
By the summer of 2015 Stan and I had built a solid relationship. We were dating exclusively, said our “I love you’s” and began talking about us and our future together. This was, and still is one of my favourite parts of our relationship.
Conversations about our plans, goals and aspirations.
Planning a life with family, what we want to do with our kids and travelling. Brainstorming ways of making money without having to go to a “9-5”. The freedom we would get from working from home or working while travelling.
It was all so exciting!
I remember feeling anxious, thinking we didn’t have enough time in our lifetime together to do everything we wanted. Almost like this rush and push to start moving forward and changing my ways. I felt the urge to do it, but I didn’t always know how. I still don’t.
I just knew I wasn’t utilizing my full potential and I had a long road ahead. It felt nice to have a partner to motivate me and teach me.
Changing with the Seasons
Change was coming, in so many ways. Financial changes, learning how to navigate the new relationship and adjusting to living with Stan. We met in our early 30’s and we both knew that we wanted to start a family as soon as we could. This is how our lives changed from 2015-2020:
2015 – we met
2016 – moved in together
2017 – engaged
2018 – married (6 months later)
2019 – had our son Benjamin
2020 – Talks about baby #2
Also during this time my experience with real estate investments began:
2016 – purchased a 1 Bed + 1 Bath condo with M.P (friend and investment partner)
2017 – purchased a 2 Bed + 2 Bath condo with M.P
We were very fortunate to be able to purchase our first condo before the stress tests were in place. We put 5% down at 2.74% interest and a 5 year term. It already had a tenant and we were getting $1650 in rent. We still had to each contribute monthly to the investment account to cover maintenance fees and expenses, but we were okay with that.
Now, I wasn’t okay with it because I understood how my investment would grow. I wasn’t okay because I understood that contributing/saving the money each month was an investment for my future.
It was my old way of thinking that made it OK to contribute monthly.
Living Month to Month, Paycheque to Paycheque
I still had a “paycheque to paycheque” mindset.
All I focused on was my rent, bills, cost of living and nominal contribution to carrying the condo. As long as my paycheque could cover it, I was fine with it. No forward thinking, no thoughts about my financial plans for the future.
When you factor in my bad Money Management habits, I was not in a good financial place. I was still making purchases on my credit card (dining, drinks with friends, the occasional new outfit), and ONLY paying the minimum payment. See how sneakily and quickly consumer debt can add up?
I only had myself to blame. I only had myself to change. It was time for a mindset makeover.