Short little story.
Several years ago I made some non-refundable travel plans, picked up some photo equipment, and found myself laid off twice in a row by two different companies. Bad luck followed by more bad luck. Debt that was going to be paid off was .. not so quickly paid off. Instead it was put on hold. However, some companies like HSBC saw it to be a fit opportunity to turn my retail account (do not pay for 3 months kind of deal) with London Drugs (that I started for my camera purchase, one I don’t regret) into a payment plan. Having little other options and already paying off another loan, I took the opportunity to spread out the payments that I could while underemployed. This worked, but HSBC slapped 29.9% interest on the account because they could see that I didn’t have many options. After some time, I realized I need to pay this off first, so credit card debt started to build up instead. 19% interest isn’t as pressing as 29.9% interest. I switched my credit card to be 11% interest, and I started hammering away at the HSBC loan. At this point I had been gainfully employed again for at least half a year, and I realized all of this was unwise – I needed to consolodate my debt. I went to the banks and credit unions to help me out with a lower interest rate and a plan that made sense.
I went to my home branch of Coast Capital Savings – they wouldn’t help me out, even though I had been storing my money with them for around 28 years. CIBC wouldn’t either. Then the next bank I went to (I can’t remember now) noticed that I had been shopping around for some service (it shows up on your credit report) and also refused. So I was on my own with five figures of debt at relatively high interest. I was not particularly surprised that they refused – however, the message from Coast Capital Savings and CIBC was pretty clear: when you really need us, we don’t need you.
Later on, CIBC somehow got the idea that it would be smart to start sending me propaganda for their other, lower risk, financial instruments. It was pretty tacky. They would phone and mail. I told them to stop. It was not cool, obviously.
I set some goals for myself at that point:
1) Never get into that kind of debt again (make different decisions)
2) Remember how CIBC and Coast Capital treated me
3) Pay off the debt as my #1 priority, independently
4) Finish my degree in business, where interestingly I had done well in finance
5) Get out of debt WHILE going to school AND continuing to build my career
As of last week, #3 is done. I have with me a lesson that will help with #1 and I am making this post to help out with #2. I am well on my way with #4, and I have been lucky with #5 to actually be doing this. Work, friends and family have all been very supportive with my return to college as a mature student and I am pretty happy about that.
Of course these commitments to new goals can’t happen without paying a price of some sort. There have been some very dear-to-me casualties along the way, such as my involvement with VEMF at the management level, Justin and I have decided that Pacific Front Recordings had to cease operations as of this summer (though we’re still compiling payment info for artists obviously), and writing music itself has had to take a back seat. I’ll wrap up VEMF and PFR in their own posts as they are certainly worthy of it. Definitely my most special musical work this year has been with Vince Vaccaro and I’m looking forward to more collaborations with him.
For now I am concentrating on my career in the day time and my scholarly activities at night. What I cannot do right now is over-commit myself in the evenings or else I will not hope to have a shred of creativity for the projects I am passionate about. Make room for the things you want in your life, am I right?
Speaking of things I love, I have written and re-written a design post for www.gdc.net about 3 times over on a really broad, nebulous subject – the value of design. I have refined the idea a significant amount and it’s just about ready for prime time. I’ll cross-post it here and of course you’ll see it on the Graphic Designers of Canada home page when the time comes.