It didn’t seem like Stephanie MacGregor was in trouble. The 40-year-old fundraising consultant pulls in $85,500 annually, owns a condo in Ottawa, and has only one dependent: her five-year-old daughter.
But a few years ago, she had a wake-up call when a friend pushed her to track her debt on a spreadsheet.
How can one not be aware of their debt? I guess if one doesn't bother paying it off, then it's easy to lose track. Thank you, compound interest!
Mortgage aside, her $50,000 in debt was spread over four credit cards and three lines of credit. She paid her bills as they came in and had an RRSP, but she dipped into it.
Holy Schnikes! She ought to get Christmas cards from Visa and MasterCard.
When I lived in Saudi Arabia, my dad gave me one Saudi riyal for each day I attended school. That's about US$1.25 for a week. Unlike my siblings, who also got this luxurious pocket money, I would actually save the pennies. They would spend it on junk food at school; I would take my own lunch from home.
Why did I save? Well, we used to visit our relatives in Pakistan once a year. There, my saved riyals could buy a lot more. I would rent movies, buy magazines, detective novels, music, food from street vendors and -- my personal favorite -- play arcade games. By saving my pocket money for one week in Saudi Arabia, I could buy around 60 coins at a Pakistani arcade!
Strangely, my siblings didn't pick up on this simple concept. Now, I know that my behavior was abnormal. They, like too many people, couldn't delay gratification or think long term. Of course, I might have expected too much; at the time, we were pre-teens.
That's why it's stunning to read of people who after going through university still don't get the basic idea: save and live within your means.