Finances, sminances!

I hate money.

Thinking back to a simpler time, when food, clothing and shelter were all provided.  When having a job was simply so we could go to the movies with friends or buy those expensive jeans mom refused to pay for because they weren’t necessary.  Thinking that life will be so great when I’m on my own with a full-time job and how money will just simply grow on trees so I can buy anything my little heart desires.

Oh how stupid I was!

I’m sure we’ve all stressed about money.  It’s an evil thing – it determines many factors of your life and can put a lot of strain on a relationship.  Then you become parents and that strain triples.  Not only do you have to clothe and feed them (who knew??) but you need to think about their futures.  Which forces you to think about your future.  Retirement?  Yikes!

Although I’m not a huge fan of sharing details about our finances, I will say that I think it’s important, no matter what your situation, to think about where all of your money is going.

About a month after our daughter was born, we started working with a financial advisor.  Probably one of our smarter moves as parents.  Even though my husband is an expert in government savings (it’s his job to know these things), we still benefit greatly from the outsider-advice and support that our financial planner gives us.  She’s practically part of the family.

Not everyone is aware that these services don’t cost you anything.  There are different agencies you can deal with or you can simply work with your bank.  We prefer the personal service that a bank can’t provide so we went with a popular investment company.  Our financial advisor comes to our home for meetings, she calls and emails on a regular basis to check in and she is available to answer our questions any time, without an appointment.  She is interested in every part of our lives.  She knows our kids, remembers details about our lives and listens to our concerns.  She has never tried to set us up with a product that isn’t right for us.  I can’t say that they are all like this of course, we lucked out for sure.  From day one, she explained that although in the beginning, she will make very little money off of us, the idea is that she will help us become more financially stable and educated and down the road, as we have more money to invest, she will make more.  When we do well, she does well.

So why am I even talking about this?  Well we had a meeting tonight and she actually asked us for some feedback about how she’s been doing over the past 3 1/2 years.  This definitely got me thinking… how has she been doing?

Pretty damn good!

We met her from a cold call she made after we received a Welcome Wagon gift shortly after our daughter was born.  Less than 4 years ago, we sat in our cozy 2 bedroom rental house telling her about how we were living month to month.  Our credit was bad, we had student debt and no savings.  The idea of owning our own home was a dream we thought completely out of our reach.  She set us up with the essentials.  RRSP’s, RESP’s for the kids, a savings account, life insurance (which is extremely important when you have debt & children) and most importantly, an overhaul of our household budget.  Turned out, we were paying our debts wrong!  Who knew you could pay bills wrong??

2 1/2 years later, we were debt free and were able to purchased our first home.

We’ve been here for just over one year now.  Wow, it’s amazing how far we’ve come.  We still have a long way to go of course.  We need to step up how much we are putting away for our retirement and for the kids.  We have new debts now that we need to take care of (bound to happen when you buy a house) and have a new plan in place so we can continue to move forward.  So we can get equity out of our biggest investment – our house!  To eventually buy our “forever home”.  To make sure we will never need to take out a 2nd mortgage to pay for the kids educations.

I guess what it all comes down to is that money doesn’t need to be that stressful.  There are ways to fix every problem and sometimes it’s good to just get an expert point of view.  When it comes to being a parent though, the most responsible thing we can do is not only save for their future but save for our own.  We don’t want to be a burden on our kids when we are old.  Most importantly, we want to make sure they grow up with good financial role models.

🙂

BTW, even if you don’t think you have any money to invest, you actually do.  When we first opened our kids RESP’s, we were putting away $12.50 per child a month.  That’s what we could afford at the time.

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