be leaf in transformation

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 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.

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  1. Congrats on the paying off the debt. Am on schedule for doing the same before Christmas 🙂
    Shame about the label but well done for doing it in the first place. Not good about the Banks, and hope that fate doesn’t befall anyone else.

  2. If you are considering getting a debt settlement it would be wise to utilize a debt relief network instead of going directly to a particular debt settlement company. The top debt relief networks only allow debt settlement companies into their network who have a proven record of successfully negotiating debt settlements.

  3. Nicely done, sir. Not an easy balance to strike, and I know your pain with the fair weather friendly financial companies. I’m sorry to see the end of PFR but I understand necessity. In the most brutal terms, sometimes we have to cut the fat to stay lean, so the south can rise again and blah blah.
    You have risen above, as if there was ever any doubt. As you always will.

  4. Jitesh, thanks! I like your perspective on the label. We accomplished what we set out to do with it and I think in retrospect it was a pretty special thing. More on that later 🙂
    Adam, great question. I have mixed feelings on this subject, mostly because I like to support local business on principle. However, they didn’t help me when I needed it, but that is perhaps because of legitimate risk assessment. I am hesitant to go with a big bank like Royal because that further concentrates money in one spot, but to be honest Royal has always treated me far better than Coast Capital ever has. Royal is who handled one of my business accounts in early 2000-2002 and they were great to work with – much more personable than Coast Capital – who talks this talk but doesn’t walk the walk in my experience. All this said, I believe that if I stay with Coast Capital then I am forcing myself to accept what I get from them in the future, which I doubt will be much. Thanks for asking this question, it’s forced me to think about the issue in some depth.
    Adrian: You were a key part of support for PFR in its inception, coming out to shows and doing a very important photo-shoot for us that yielded mad promo action. We could not have done it without this kind of passion and talent and I think it’s a great testament to the kind of community we all made for ourselves. Kudos! I’m excited to see you launching a venture of your own as well, I’m staying tuned via RSS 🙂

  5. Davin, congrats on paying off your debt!
    I’m sorry to hear that you have had less-than-pleasant experiences with Coast Capital. James and I have had just the opposite – in fact, we haven’t even opened a bank account in Kelowna since we moved, as we can do pretty much everything online through CC anyway, and we can’t find any credit union here that comes close to offering the same services for as low prices. We’ve had lots of great in-person experiences with them, too. I hope you figure out a good solution for a bank that works for you!

  6. Great post Davin. That’s a huge step… congrats on paying off your debt. That’s not easy to do at all.
    And you’re right, sometimes things have to fall by the wayside… but at least it doesn’t have to be forever, it can be for a little while 🙂

  7. Glad things are getting back into order for you, and I’m glad you weren’t run over by a streetcar and stopped blogging. =)
    Out of curiosity, and if comments is the venue for such a question, how did icky money stuff take you away from VEMF?
    Best wishes for a PFR 2.0 in the future. =)

  8. Wow Davin, very impressive short story, congrats sir. I have never had a good time with Pacific Coast, and have never dealt with the CIBC; however I must say that the Royal has always been good to deal with.

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