Start me up

So I started a blog.  A personal finance blog.  But not a normal personal finance blog.  Most blogs I’ve read on the topic are heavily focused on the techniques and tools in order to grow your money (mostly investing).  This blog will have lots of posts on investing and other tools to set you up for longterm financial success.  But I’ve heard it said that money is only 20% about the mechanics or tools.  The other 80% is about your behaviour and mindset.  And while the 20% often gets the sexy titles on the cover of money magazines and on financial t.v. shows (Grow your Portfolio 30% with the Hot 30 stock picks this year!!!), the people who are really successful with their money, always focus on the methods to their behaviour and mindset over the techniques and tools of money.  I’ve felt for a while now that I had something to say, something of worth that I could bring to the table when it came to personal finance, and now here I am.  I have a blog.


Not many of you know my journey to get to this point.  I’m not a financial advisor, business major, nor do I have any experience selling investment products.  I don’t have any financial designations or formal training.  All the lessons and wisdom that I’ve gleaned come from lifeU, and from my own personal journey to learn what the best method is to achieve financial peace.


9 years ago I met a beautiful, talented, smart woman, and we decided to get married.  In the years before getting married, living on my own, working as a teacher, I had never really thought too much about money.  I’ve never been a big spender (frugal as I like to describe it; cheap to others), so making impulse purchases that would get me in trouble was never really a concern.  And yet, like so many other hard working Canadians, I was in debt.  My parents helped me with University, but I graduated with student loan debt.  I paid that off as I lived at home and worked, and soon was approved for a Manulife One line of credit.  This product basically allows you to deposit your cheques directly against your mortgage, and to use the equity in your home to live off.  It is helpful, in that you put your entire pay cheque against your mortgage every month, but the freedom to access the equity in your home can be scary, and it was for me.


Like I said, I’ve never been a spender, so I knew, or thought I knew, that I wouldn’t over spend.  But I was wrong.  I spent more than I made, which is a nice way of saying, I went into debt.  I paid for my masters degree (which I thought, and still do think of, as a smart investment in myself).  I bought a road bike (I like to cycle).  And whenever I wanted something, I never had to wonder whether I had the money for it, because I new the equity in my home would more than cover it.  I didn’t say no to much during this time.  Most purchases weren’t huge, but I got sucked into the thinking that if I WANTED something, it was the same as NEEDING it, and so I spent.


And I made several DUMB money mistakes.  I’ll share them along the way.  For now, let’s just say they range from the every day dumb (I bought a brand new car and financed it over a very long term) to the insanely dumb (I bought a caribbean cruise over the phone from a telemarketer and gave her my credit card number).  When it comes to dumb, I think we can all relate (or at least that what I tell myself so I don’t feel so stupid about my DUMBNESS).


When I met my wife and we decided to get married, she came to me one evening and expressed her concern at my lack of financial knowledge.  She said that it was important to her that I read up on issues of personal finance so that I would be better able to manage our household finances.  And so my quest of self-education began.


One of the first books I read was The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  You’ll hear me reference things I’ve learned from Dave throughout my posts, but what really struck me was that here was a concrete plan to build the foundation for financial success.  And, unlike so many things that I was reading in the news and seeing on T.V. about the state of people’s financial affairs, Dave offered real hope that a person COULD change their mindset and behaviour with respect to how they handled money, and could really change the course of their lives.


I was hooked.  I began to dive deep into the world of personal finance, reading everything I could get my hands on.  I went online and searched “best personal finance books”, went to chapters and bought some, and took others out from the library.  Millionaire Next Door?  Check.  The Wealthy Barber Returns. Check.  Millionaire Teacher (I really liked the sound of that one).  Check.  I added personal finance writers on Twitter and read newpapers and magazines that had anything to do with money.  It very quickly became a passion of mine to make sure that our new family’s finances were in order.


I quickly found myself devouring anything relating to personal finance, and because I was learning so much, I also found myself entering into conversations with people.  Some were my friends and family and others weren’t.  They weren’t total strangers or anything like that, just casual acquaintances.  As I learned more, I gained confidence to discuss why I was handling our money as I did, and I became more vocal when conversations turned to finance.  


After a few years of us sticking to our new financial plan, we had made some real headway.  We had a solid budget in place where every dollar we had was working hard for us, doing exactly what WE had decided it would do (I have a post on budgets soon).  We had paid off both of our vehicles (Watch for my post on car payments in the next little while).  We had set aside a large lump sum of cash in case of any emergencies and had started investing a portion of our income for retirement.  As soon as we had kids, we started putting money into an RESP.  We were building a solid foundation for our financial future, and those around us noticed.


It was around this time that someone mentioned to me that I should teach a class on the basics on money.  There were a lot of people that could really benefit from taking such I class, and she thought I would be a good fit to teach it.  I considered the conversation, and thought about how to reach people with the message that financial peace was not only possible, but probable if a person was willing to alter their behaviour and follow a series of simple methods with their money.


And so, here we are.  I have a blog.  The lessons, learnings and wisdom that I’ll share with you come from my own personal journey to achieve financial peace.  They are honest, real and uncensored.  I’ve made many dumb mistakes with money (and I’ll share them in detail with you so you can hopefully avoid them) but I’ve been fortunate to have learned a thing or two which has helped me lay a solid financial foundation.  I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned.  And I can’t wait to learn with and from all of you too on this journey.  I for sure don’t know it all, but I hope that my past experiences, the successes and failures I’ve had, and what we’ll learn together can teach and inspire you to reach your financial dreams.

16 thoughts on “Start me up

  1. I couldn’t have said it better. It is a behavioural decision…day after day after day. David and I have appreciated your perspective and your openness.

    This topic excited me to! What freedom there is in not being ruled by our money and by using it wisely and intentionally.

    1. Thanks Janelle. I appreciate your encouragement. You and David are great examples of what focused motivation and intentional behaviour can achieve!! Thanks for checking my site out! Look forward to future conversations.

  2. I have always respected you, You are a leader. I am looking forward to your blog. I will learn from it and be able to speak your words into others.

    1. Thanks so much Ann for your kind words. I hope what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, can help people to master their money and not be slaves to it.

  3. Love it Matt! So proud of you guys and your decision to share! Looking forward to reading and learning more!

  4. You are an excellent writer! I wish I had learned these lessons while I was younger. Looking forward to additional posts.

    1. Thanks Aaron! Appreciate the encouragement. I’m looking forward to sharing what I’m learning. I feel like I’ve learned and am learning so many cool things and I can’t wait to put them out there to help people and see what they think.

  5. Congrats Matt. The first steps the hardest! I love your honesty and openness to talk about what we’ve all been living in our own financial journeys! Sign me up for the next one.

    1. Thanks Dave!! As my mom always told me, honesty is the best policy! It’s not always the easiest, but it’s best. Having done dumb stuff, it feels better when we know we’re not alone. Thanks for the comment!!

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