Get After IT!

I have always been a strong believer in getting things done. Procrastination is a dirty word. If something can get done, it should get done. Leaving things for tomorrow has never made any sense to me. This is certainly the case when it comes to personal finance. The earlier you start the better you will be. I recently came across an article in the Globe and Mail by Rob Carrick as a memo to twentysomethings to not be too eager to buy real estate. You can read the article here:…/patience-…/article23295965/

This “advice” drives me nuts. Sure some twentysomethings should avoid buying real estate, but for many, if not most, buying a home early in life can be one of the best financial moves they ever make. Like most things in life, with real estate, the earlier you do it, the better the long term return. Language and music skills, athletics and yes, finances! The best thing I have ever done for my personal finances is buying real estate early in life. Yes, it forced me to grow up a bit, but that is okay. Being a responsible society contributing adult is not a condition to be avoided! Why was it such a good idea? For starters I got lucky (this is an important caveat), I hit the rising market homerun-but that is not the whole story. I also lived for free. Yes, for free. I was able to do this with renters/roommates paying for my mortgage and bills. In your twenties you are a lot more open to a frat style house and this is great way to own and live. I essentially went through college building tax free equity on the hard earned dollars from other college kids, or those twentysomethings that didn’t want to own, but were happy to pay me to live in a home. I learned how to be a landlord, manage renters and maintain a home. I had real world experience and responsibility, but could still play like any college student -as my living cost was paid for. There is no way I would have done this later on. If I had waited I would have not wanted roommates (I am too old for that!-Would be the excuse). I would have missed an opportunity and frankly missed out on 10 years of investment gains that I will never be able to make up in my lifetime. This move set me far ahead of my peers from a financial standpoint (I still lack that tall gene), simply from owning a home long before any of them thought about it. Did a sacrifice a bit of freedom? Perhaps, but the long term gains, have made up that “freedom” in spades.

Like a Girl

I am blessed to have two little girls. I must admit when I imagined fatherhood, I never thought I would have two girls. I have an older sister, so I imagined having a girl, but I always saw a son as well. I think this is pretty natural for men. However, having girls is a real eye opener for a man. I really cannot imagine my house filled with anything but girls, now that I have them. Seeing the bond between sisters is just beautiful. However, when I tell people I have two girls, or when they see my two little ladies, I often get these sorts of responses:

“Wow, I feel sorry for you when they are teenagers”

“Now you have to worry about all the boys. I am lucky, I just have to worry about one boy”

“Good thing you own a shotgun”

I know these comments are mostly in jest, but they are really bad gender stereotypes. I am honoured to have the responsibility to raise, thoughtful, smart, confident and beautiful women. Women-that will have a sense of self-worth. Women-that will know what love is and what it means to be loved. Women-that will know what a good man is and how they ought to be treated. Sometimes, I may have to wear fairy wings and paint toenails, but what is more manly than that? I am not worried about boys, or hormones. I look forward to these stages ahead and the growth I will experience as a father and man raising my girls.

Now, if you are a father with boys in this coming generation, I hope you are teaching your sons to cry like a boy, express emotions like a boy and nurture like a man. You better, so your sons are prepared for girls like mine. If you ask my daughters to speak like a girl, you are going to get a precise and confident opinion. If you ask one of my daughters to do ladies work, she’ll change your flat tire and frame your basement. And if you ask my daughters to throw like a girl-watch out, because they’ll bring the heat!


A Week in Her Shoes

This was not a social experiment, but the result of necessity. My wife lost her 98 year old grandmother this past week and headed to join family and celebrate her life. My wife’s family is from Barbados (a nice perk compared to in-laws from Brandon, MB-no offense, to Brandon). However, from Calgary, the trip is a long one. To further complicate things, I was in Montreal at the annual mortgage conference when this was happening. We literally crossed paths at the airport in Calgary (me on my way home, her on her way to the Caribbean.

So, there I was with my 2 kids (aged 2 and 5), active dog and the need to be running my brokerage, especially after being away from it for 5 days. I have a great team at Mortgage Connection, so that part went off without a hitch. So, just the kids, this will be fun, this will be easy. It certainly has been fun, but it is not easy. I already know my wife is a huge part of my success; she is my constant cheerleader and support. She never complains about early mornings, my extended nights. How I am always buzzing with ideas, can be a bit high-strung and sometimes go into super mortgage mode. She just takes it in stride and takes care of things. The truth it she is much more part of any and all my successes than I even knew. I always feel blessed to have such happy kids, such a loving, inviting and warm home. I now have a much better idea on what it takes to pull this off (there is nothing like real work experience).

Some points that really hit HOME this week:

1) Never ask a mom what she did today: First off this is a thoughtless and empty question. I hate this question for anyone, but especially a mom. Instead, ask what happened today that gave you a good laugh, made you smile, or happy. After being home for a week, I was quite content to get meals in the kids, the dog walked, some outdoor play time and a bit of laundry folded. If I showered-bonus. Asking me what I did would likely result in me saying: “Well, I survived, the kids are sleeping and no I didn’t vacuum and yes we are out of milk. How was your extended business lunch and hot latte?”

2) You will miss adult conversation more than you think. Yet, talking to children is way more REAL!

3) Crafts, clay, painting, games and Lego are actually more fun as an adult then when I was a kid. How does one go about working for Lego- specifically in the product testing area?

4) Planning and a schedule is more of a suggestion than a rule: Set an alarm, get ready for school, or dance, or gymnastics with what seems like plenty of time, only to be derailed by a terrible two tantrum, or, “Where is your jacket? How is it not in the closet? It was here yesterday?” 20 minutes later, jacket found in the toy chest and now late-awesome. Oh and my coffee is sitting on the counter, nice and cold with one sip missing…

5) Never tell me a stay at home mom doesn’t have a job. They have a full-time job, with no breaks, no pay and very little respect from society (which is a complete joke considering they are raising society). Working moms you have a double whammy. How you keep the two worlds on track is remarkable-all I can say is Bravo. Now a single working mom-that is a task that is beyond me. After playing that role for a week, I really don’t know how you beautiful women do it. The older I get the more I realize women are far superior to us men. From now on I am referring to them as WOWMEN.

For more stuff like this-check out Mortgaged, Married and Minivan’d


A Lession in value and other things…

Should a five year old have access to an iPad-maybe? I mean it certainly has some apps that kids love. And Steve Jobs did help my eldest learn to count when she was 2. I am sure child experts will say limited screen time is a must, or that they shouldn’t be on it at all. I am no expert and I am worried kids are too into gadgets (but adults are the worst example!) This is not about the appropriateness of iPad usage-it is about what to do when your child breaks said iPad.

Our daughter dropped ours and the screen smashed-I mean Charlotte’s Web style. This was an accident though-she literally dropped it. So, anger is not the right reaction. Here is an opportunity for a lesson.

The first question from her scared self-“Can we fix it?-can we get a new one?”

The right answer-“No, we can’t-not now.” The iPad is expensive, it costs a lot of money and we can’t afford to go buy one right now. We need to live WITHOUT this now.”

Whether we could run out and buy a new one, or not is irrelevant. What we can TEACH in this moment is that things cost money-money has value and things that cost money have value. Money has limitations and sometimes we do not have the resources to just buy something.

So, I asked my daughter-“What do you think we can do here?” her first response “Ask Santa for a new one for the next 6 Christmas’s”

This is pretty good, but I followed up with another question “Well, you broke it, so what do you think YOU could do to help fix the accident?”

“Well, Daddy, I could do more chores, I could save my money and I can help buy a new one.”

I responded “Yes, you can, but it will take a really long time to have enough money to get a new one.”

And here is where the life lesson sinks in.

“I have to be okay with that Daddy, it costs a lot of money and i’ll help-we can live without an iPad right?”

“You bet we can darling-you bet we can.”


Man, Step Your Game Up!

Men, we need a pep talk. Fatherhood is not a job-it is a choice. You chose it-whether you were ready to or not. As such, be a dad. It is easy to be a father on a birth certificate, but to be a dad- now that is manhood. What do I mean by be a dad? I mean, be present, not just be there. Present means listen to your kids, relish in their dreams and goals, encourage them, guide them-BE WITH THEM (and please put down the smartphone!) Love their mom. She is their source of breath. They will learn love from how you love. Even if you have a failed relationship-show love. Remember half of your child is your partner or ex-partner . Do not keep score with your spouse. Kids are not a weekly chore list. No dad deserves a medal for giving mom a break. THEY ARE YOUR KIDS! That said, give mom a break. Motherhood just might be the toughest thing to do in this world-because for a child, mom is the world. I get you work and are tired, but weekends are not just for you. I can’t believe how many dads I know that go out drinking on a Friday and leave it all on mom. Go ahead and have a few pops with the boys, but you better get up first thing in the morning and experience the hangover with a toddler jumping on you (because there is nothing like it!)

Okay Dads, that is enough of a rant-but do yourself a favour and be a MAN.

The Delicate Dance

My little girl started kindergarten this week. I wasn’t one of the parents that was crying, but on the inside I had a bit of a lump in my throat. Wow, has time flown by already.
We had the option to partake in class for the first couple of days, but my wife and I decided to just drop our daughter off. This is her time and we not only do not need to be there, we really shouldn’t be. We want our kids to be free to discover a new thing without mommy and daddy. I understand why many parents chose to stay. They wanted to ensure their child was okay. Perhaps they wanted to see what the environment was like and how the teachers were. Of course we care about all these things, but the start of school didn’t seem like the time for this. We too, will experience this, through volunteering in class throughout the year. The start of school is a big step for parents, but really it is a bigger step for the kids. It is another step towards independence. Seeing this growth is AWESOME, but it is HARD for us.
This is all part of the delicate dance of parenting-the art of holding on and letting go at the same time.
This hits you in a variety of ways. School is a big one. Going back to work after a maternity leave. Or even the time your little toddler no longer wants you to ride down the slide with them. Walking a daughter down the aisle is perhaps the most symbolic gesture of letting go, but the reality is we do it everyday a little bit. I don’t think this beautiful dichotomy will ever leave. With each new day, we ought to hang on a little less and let go a little more. My advice-embrace the growth and enjoy the new stage. Love and remember the stage that passed. You will never fully let go-they will always be your baby-even when they have babes of their own.becksandellieMy wonderful wife and eldest daughter 2012