The Sky is Falling…into our Bedroom

In 2010, my wife and I built our home on a great lot in Bridgeland.  We sit on a hill with a view of the Calgary skyline and can walk to downtown within 15 minutes.  We love our community and home, but this year we were hit with a homeowner’s nightmare (a major roof leak).

When I say leak, I mean the whole roofing system was compromised (it is a complex roof with peaks and flat patio spaces) and unfortunately for us, our lovely home was under siege from a sudden attack of water.

The entire upper level of our home had to be ripped out and the roof completely rebuilt, as our family of 4, along with 175 lbs of Labrador Retriever retreated to our new living quarters (the basement) for 4 months.  Going upstairs was entering a world of poly covering everything…like a scene from Dexter.

The home no longer has new home warranty, our builder is long gone and insurance is working with us, but the shock of the sudden disaster and the financial implications to Mike Holmes it and “Make it Right” are big (think six figures big).   However, I’m a bright side of things kind-of-guy and I always look for lessons-so here they are:

You need liquid savings and ideally more than a couple months of living expenses.  If you have good equity in your home, you need to have access to it.  Adult problems may be a new furnace in -30 degree January, or a whole new roof and upstairs! For anyone that has put a lot of equity into their home, a secured line of credit is a tool they should have.  I cannot imagine how much more stressful it would be if we couldn’t write a cheque to fix it. Good luck going to get a mortgage with half your house ripped apart-and I deal in mortgages every day.

Families can bond in tough places and small spaces.  We had the girls on mattresses in the TV room.  We had the spare bedroom.  The dogs hung out between the two.  You make it work.  As long as you are healthy-it just doesn’t matter.  We felt like we lived in a small apartment and that was cool.  Space is great, but so is closeness.  It turns out, we all really like each other-for reals!

You can’t sell it and you can’t live with it, so fix it.  This is true in a lot of situations.  You have a tough hand, so play the game and get it done.

Plans change, or at least get put on hold.  We had plans to go to Scotland in 2018.  Now we don’t.  The reason might be the best lesson of all.

We sat down with our girls and explained we cannot get on a plane and stay in castles and learn about another culture by diving into it, for one simple reason-we have limited resources.  Fixing the house is going to cost a lot of money and we have to fix it.  Why is this so important?   Because it it about teaching our children the real value of a dollar.  When my youngest said she wanted to go back to Disneyland and then quickly followed that up with “never mind, we don’t have money, because of the roof” I think the message is getting through.

This roofing adventure is almost over and in the end we may have less cash, but are a little richer nevertheless.

Wedding Season-Is it Over Yet?

Now that another season of weddings is drawing to a close, I have to say I love marriage. I love my marriage. I love religious marriage. I love civil marriage. I love gay marriage. I LOVE MARRIAGE! But I hate weddings. I don’t hate having a wedding, or attending a wedding, I just don’t like what having a wedding tends to entail these days. And more importantly what they do to brides and grooms.

I am all for the celebration of two people committing to each other and I love parties, but the time, effort and money that I see going into a wedding blows my mind.

When I sit down with a client that is struggling to pay bills, or save for a down payment telling me that they are planning a big wedding celebration that they clearly cannot afford, I have to wonder why? Celebrate your love and union with your family, friends and partner-throw a party, pop some bottles and eat some ribs-but don’t go into debt to do it!

Furthermore, don’t let planning a wedding consume you. It is not that important. Your marriage is-your wedding isn’t.

Here are my top tips for those looking to take the plunge:

1) Don’t go into debt to have a wedding. This is likely the biggest mistake you can make heading into a marriage. Finances (along with infidelity), is the most common reason for divorce. Starting your marriage under an unnecessary debt load is putting pressure on your finances and your marriage-where’s the love in that?

2) Don’t extend an engagement for the perfect venue (whatever that means)-if you have 2 years to plan a wedding, you will take 2 years. If you have 6 months, you will take 6 months. Both events will essentially be the same.

3) Accept by telling any supplier you are planning a wedding means at least a 25% premium on their fee (I don’t have statistics to verify this-but I am confident you could plan the exact same event labelled as a family reunion for a whole lot less money.) Weddings have become a huge industry. You are paying a premium to have a wedding-know this going in and budget accordingly. You ought to prioritize and be willing to cut things. Your centre pieces are great-but were they really worth the $1000?

4) Remember it is not YOUR DAY. Sorry, it just isn’t. You are throwing a party and it should be about your guests. They are coming for you, so please acknowledge that fact by ensuring they have a great time and don’t have to incur costs that may be beyond their comfort levels. Making them wait, not having transportation options, having 7 speeches about how great you are-this is all about YOU. Make it about the people that are there to celebrate you, your love and your commitment to each other. You wouldn’t throw a dinner party to honour yourself (unless you are at narcissistic A-hole.). So don’t throw a wedding doing that either!

5) Your wedding day may very well be the best day of your life (although it will likely be replaced with a new greatest day at some point), but remember, it is just one day. What really matters is your commitment and effort to every day that comes after.

Marriage is not some amazing, blissful fairy tale on its own. Marriage is empty and you as partners need to fill it. Commit to your vows. Your commitment to love, support, passion, compromise and adventure-taking less and giving more-that will make your marriage full. If more couples put the time, effort and resources into their marriages that they put into their weddings, I think we would see a lot more happily ever after.