People often tell me that I must have been lucky to get to where I’m at in life, to which I reply “Yes I’ve been lucky, and I find that the smarter and harder I work, the luckier I get!”
Yes I am lucky, in that I chose to move to Canada from England when I was 22, to have worked in numerous positions with New Holland farm equipment in Canada and the USA, to have married a farm girl who shares my work ethic and financial values, to having three healthy children with great partners and good jobs, and to have three healthy grandchildren.
When I first moved here, someone suggested I buy something on credit and make all the payments on time, to establish a good credit rating. So I bought a Canon camera from Woodwards and did just that.
Being involved in the farm equipment business for 27 years taught me a lot of life lessons. I’m now 18 years working in financial services, where I feel truly lucky to be able to pass that experience on.
A Product Manager at New Holland had a favourite expression, “Always give 110% to everything you do in life, especially for the company.” This has served me well over the last 44 years. I also believe that unless you have passion for what you, don’t do it, as life is too short to accept mediocrity.
I come from a farm family with six kids, and we all had chores to do. Between working on the farm and at a local garage, I soon realised that I liked fixing stuff. I earned good enough marks to get scholarships for two years of agricultural mechanics training, and a year of agricultural engineering. I then spent a year in the USA as an exchange student, traveling and working around the country.
On returning to England, I felt claustrophobic and decided I wanted to get back to North America’s wide open spaces and standard of living. Calgary seemed like a good spot, and I arrived there six months after applying to immigrate. I worked at a couple of interesting short-term jobs then got hired as the service rep for New Holland for central Alberta. This led to a range of different jobs in Canada and the US, ending up back in Alberta, eventually becoming a partner in a farm equipment dealership in Grande Prairie, then to Stettler doing what I do now.
Some simple rules I live by: If you do well in your community – give back. It’s better to earn interest than pay it. If you have to pay interest, it’s better if you can deduct it. Use credit wisely. Pay cash unless borrowing to buy a home or for business. I never carry credit cards balances. We pay for everything we can with credit cards that give us travel points, so flights to visit our far-flung family are free.
Become your own banker. We use a unique banking product that combines our mortgage, line of credit and chequing accounts in one. We pay simple daily interest when using the line of credit, and earn high interest when there’s a positive balance.
I learnt long ago that patience is a virtue when buying or selling. I own a BMW sport-touring bike and a Honda ATV, both which I paid cash for, and have minimal dollars tied up in. I lease my VW Jetta diesels for four years, then buy out the lease and sell them at a nice profit, which pays the first year lease on the next one. I take the time to do a careful analysis of vehicles that hold their value and are easy to resell.