Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Passion, belief and a little ranting

Do you ever start something with no clear intention of which way you want it to go? I'm struggling with the direction I want to take this blog, hence the lack of posts thus far. Do I want to use it to impart facts and advice about finance? Do I want to make it more personal and relate it to stories from my life? Is it going to be a sounding board for my thoughts or a business platform?

I'm going to take a page out of my oldest and dearest friend, Darren Stoupe, who has just embarked on his life coaching career and let my heart guide me. Maybe today I'll talk about faith and passion.

It's funny. I think, like most of us, we tend to take a lot of things at face value. I just had to take my children to the dentist and left there with estimates equaling over $2000 for work that needed to be done just for one son alone. How does a 7 yr old end up needing that much done? However, I'm not a dentist, and I felt I had to take the information that I was told and make a decision to go ahead with what needed to be done for my children's sake. I sure hope all of it was completely necessary because there is a whole lot of blind faith that just went into that decision.

I used to also have a lot of blind faith in the banking institution. These are people we trust, we listen to, we hope that we are getting the right advice from because, like a dentist, that's their job... to help us make the best decisions, just in this case it's with our money not our teeth.

I would say that I used to be like most average Canadians out there when it came to my financial literacy. I'm pretty sure that anything I knew about investments, retirement, savings, protection... all of it was learned quite literally from tv commercials and a very small portion when I sat across from a banker because the tv told me I needed to start saving for my retirement young. I remember leaving that appointment when I was 25 thinking, "Okay... I guess I'm on track even though I really still have no idea where my money is going."

So I continued to put my faith in the system and 5 years ago felt the need to refinance my mortgage to pay off a small amount of outstanding debt. We made our appointment and left there with an additional $45,000 on our refinanced mortgage. The debt we were trying to pay off was $6000. He told us since we were refinancing anyway, why don't we take a little extra to go on a trip, put some in a GIC and max out our common shares. It all sounded great. He was our banker. We felt like we had a relationship with him and trusted him so we signed on the dotted line.

Fast forward 5 years. I had forgotten all about the "extras" that we'd been advised to do, so I made an appointment to find out exactly what all my money was tied up in. My 5 year GIC earned me 1.16% interest, not even keeping up with inflation, and when I decided to take it out, I had to pay a 15% withholding tax fee right off the top, and now I get to claim it as income next year so in the grand scheme of things I actually lost money on that "guaranteed investment". The common shares earned me less than 1% last year and upon inquiring if I can withdraw them I was told that I have to apply and the application may be denied. If they let me actually have MY MONEY, half of it was put into taxable areas, so now I get to pay tax on that stuff too. Lucky me. The money that we had put into our account 5 years ago to pay for a trip for our family ended up being whittled away by bills or coffee or eating out.

I left that bank furious that I had let myself be manipulated by the system when I didn't have the financial education to make informed decisions on my own behalf.

What I didn't know then was that  if you borrow money to invest, the government allows you to use the interest payments as tax write offs, but only if it's taken as an investment loan. Because all of our money was taken out as a mortgage, I didn't get that little advantage, plus I got the added bonus of having to pay interest on that entire $45,000 for the life of my mortgage. 25 years of paying 6% (at the time) on $39,000 and also a huge chunk of that was put into taxable areas so now I get to pay tax up to three times on the same dollar.

Now you tell me that the banker had my best interest at heart.

And my fear is that there are SO MANY PEOPLE out there who don't know any different that keep putting all of their faith into a system that so very obviously is about their bottom line instead of their customers. It's evident every single year when we see record profits of $19 BILLION DOLLARS being recorded. It's time we use the programs out there to OUR advantage instead of allowing the banks to keep facilitating our demise into debt.

I simply can not sit by and watch people get screwed over by the system any more. We deserve to have options. We deserve to be educated. We deserve to have people actually looking out for OUR best interest instead of their own.

That's why I developed a passion for helping people.
That's why I talk to everyone I meet.
That's why I believe in what I do.

And hopefully, I can stop what happened to me from happening to anyone else in the process.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I'm coming out

Months ago I sat down with a friend, Susan Rochefort of the very successful Lime Green Realty, and asked for her advice on how to market myself. I was hesitant to put it all out there and was committing a cardinal sin of life... worrying too much about what people would think about me. She suggested starting a blog, letting a little bit of my vulnerability show, and it took a good long while, but I decided that without action, there is no result. So I sit here, exposed, palms up and want to "come out".

I spent the majority of my adult life working my way up the retail corporate ladder, with my first job out of college as a cashier at a leading grocery chain. It wasn't long until I was dissatisfied and looked for new positions with other leading companies. In the end, after about 15 years I ended up proudly managing an entire store for a small Alberta company. I loved my customers, but working for a small business didn't afford me the financial luxury of continuing to work for the same wage and pay for daycare for two small children. I officially could not afford to stay working.

The solution: open a dayhome, then I can be at home with my boys and earn an income at the same time! Brilliant! Now I was self employed. How wonderful to not have a boss anymore micro managing me, quotas to fill, sales goals to achieve, store audits to survive, inventory to control. Now I was in charge of my time, but what I didn't realize was that, essentially, I had bought myself a job. Maybe I didn't have someone over my shoulder every day, but what I did was just transfer my dependence to the parents of the children I watched. 

Job stability = 0
Each time a parent got laid off, moved, had a baby, or the children came of school age I watched my income walk out the door and began to stress over replacing it. 

Paid Health care, Sick days and vacation time = 0
Anyone who owns a small business can tell you that if you don't work, you don't get paid. There's no such thing as paid time off. In fact, if I took any time off I had people asking me to give them discounts, so I lost money if I ever took any time off.

While I got to stay home with my children, I didn't get to give them the attention that I thought I would or that they deserved. While I took my role as a caregiver very seriously and loved all the children that were trusted to me, I was so tired of kids by the end of the day that my own boys didn't get the best of me ever. 3 years into running the dayhome I thought I was going to have a mental breakdown. I was not happy. I was now a struggling single mother who knew she needed to make a change, but I could not see putting myself back into a position where I was working for corporate America, giving my time and energy to continue to work paycheque to paycheque while some CEO at the top of the ladder cashed in record profits from my hard work.  I couldn't afford to go back to school. I needed something that would allow me to still be a mom and put my family needs first. Not an easy thing to accomplish

I knew I needed to find something, but I felt stuck. 

That's when I was given the opportunity to change it all.

For the past two years I have been studying, learning and training in the financial sector with a company that is progressive, puts their people over profits, gives everyone a chance to have their own successful business regardless of their background and is on a crusade to leave no family behind. I am extremely privileged to be able to sit across from families no matter their financial situation and teach them how money works so that they don't have to continue leading quiet lives of desperation, sinking in debt, unsure how they will be able to keep their standard of living after retirement, pay their bills, EXPERIENCE life instead of watching it pass by. What better business to be in than one that is geared towards serving people?

 “When you are able to shift your inner awareness to how you can serve others, and when you make this the central focus of your life, you will then be in a position to know true miracles in your progress toward prosperity.”  - Dr. Wayne Dyer

I truly believe that everything that we attract in our lives is a by product of how we conduct ourselves. Help others and everything else is a by-product

I have had the honor to be able to already hear the words "I can't thank you enough. You literally saved me and my kid's lives by sitting down with me" and I am going to make it a goal to touch as many lives as I can.

I am determined to leave a legacy. I am determined to make a difference. I am determined to leave every situation better than it was before.

I have been blessed with the means to be able to do that and instead of hiding behind the old me, I wanted to introduce the new me.

Shellie Michael, crusader.