Once upon a time there were three families, the Wetaskners, the Camrosers, and the Leduners. The Leduners lived just north of the Wetaskners while the Camrosers lived to the east. Over the years, the Wetaskner family had missed out on opportunities to make more money and often the money they did bring in wasn’t managed as wisely as it might have been. Instead of acquiring ‘good debt’ by investing in their house and property, they ran the VISA up on things like entertainment and consumables and acquired considerable ‘bad debt’.
The family began to look at their neighbours and compare their homes and yards. It was quite apparent their neighbours had nicer houses, yards and vehicles. They had built garages and bought holiday trailers. The Wetaskner family acknowledged they had let their property deteoriate over the years and wanted better. The family began grumbling. Each year, they looked at their neighbours with increasing envy and wanted to be more like them.
The Wetaskners sat down at the kitchen table and decided if they made a couple of major purchases it would be the start down the road to equalling what their neighbours had. So, they decided they would be the envy of their neighbours and others if they built a swimming pool and paved their driveway.
They were banking on the fact that Mr. Wetaskner might get a raise soon and hopefully have the money to pay for the new purchases and even have some money left over to begin restoration of their run down house and yard. They were confident this would lead to Mrs. Wetaskner and the children acquiring a new level of pride in their surroundings that would instill in others.
Mr. Wetaskner checked the bank account. There wasn’t enough money in the savings account to purchase the pool or the driveway (two major projects at one time) and in fact the family was having difficulty making ends meet for day-to-day operations. But, Mr. Wetaskner went ahead and borrowed the money they needed on the assumption it would re-invent the family’s future.
Yes, there were many maybys and uncertainties but he felt they had to start somewhere and the interest rates were as low as they were ever going to be. Mr. Wetaskner borrowed the money built the projects and then went to the boss’s office and asked for a 14.2% raise. This was the amount he figured he needed to pay for the new purchases and perhaps even start putting a little money aside for the future. His boss didn’t even consider the request. Although disappointed, Mr. Wetaskner thought it over and went back to his boss with a 9.4% request; an amount that would cover his existing and new expenses, but just barely. His boss thought that was pretty outrageous, too, and said ‘no’. He and his boss discussed a 7.4% raise but the boss told him to wait until March 11th, 2013 for a decision.
Wetaskners in a bind.
The 7.4% was going to be the best he would get and it wasn’t even certain the boss was going to approve that. And, it was not enough money to make the driveway and swimming pool payments, pay for an 8.1% increase in utility costs the City was proposing plus pay for existing expenses. On his limited and fixed income he was wondering how he would pay for increased user fees and the new swimming pool was using twice as much water as they had in the past. The family was spending considerably more than they were making and they had no savings to fall back on.
They were in a bind. Mr. Wetaskner explained the problem to the family. They would have to forego some of the simple, inexpensive, but good things they enjoyed before they built the pool and paved the driveway; the cup of Tim Horton’s hot chocolate following a walk around the lake in the park, local live theatre and stage performances, an occasional meal in one of the great local restaurants, speciality coffees and food, visits to the museums, visits to a well-equipped library or going to a movie. They could no longer afford to donate to local charities and clubs. Most of all, they would have to drastically curb spending on retail and groceries. They were fortunate they had health care and could still access one of the best hospitals and healthcare systems in the province. They were also fortunate to live in a community with top notch police and fire services.
The family began debating what should or could be cut. The debate became more and more heated. Each of them had differing views on items they could, or could not live without. Although Mr. Wetaskner did his darndest to keep the discussions focused on a solution, family members began yelling and even calling each other names. The family became split.
They finally made some choices. Difficult ones. Gone are many of the things they were hoping they could afford, but now they simply realize they cannot afford them. Gone are the aspirations they will be like their neighbours. Through the process they came to the realization they should acknowledge who they really are and embellish what they have rather than trying to be something they can’t be. They came to realize that although rich families play with expensive toys, poor families can have as much fun with inexpensive toys.
The new pool pretty much sits unused as the family cannot afford the maintenance and upkeep. The driveway looks nice in contrast to the old run-down car they own. The house has seen minimal and minor improvements ‘here-and-there’.
They still don’t know if Mr. Wetaskner will be getting a raise on March 11th But the Wetaskner family has refocused on what they want to be as a family. They had learned a very difficult lesson. The decision to borrow money on a ‘build-it-and-they-will-come’ basis was a bad decision that will haunt them for many years to come. But they put that aside and little by little they will realize the great things they have and build their future on them instead of trying to be like their rich neighbours.
Their neighbours the Camroser and Ledner families? Well they continue to enjoy the benefits of good planning, good management and continue to see consistent growth and improvement to their homes, yards, vehicles and other amenities.