How one guys financial problems became his hobby



Let’s face it, if you owe money to people you have financial problems that need to be addressed and attacked with a plan.

Your money issues might not necessarily be problems that will cause you financial stress.

On the other hand if your debt keeps growing you may want to re-think how certain events might affect your stress levels.

Finances are for life not just until you are debt free because financial problems never really go away they just get masked with dreams.

Financial problems may be considered consumer debt, facing bankruptcy, creditors calling, owing money to family and friends, no money to pay bills and even the unknown. The list is endless BUT people with little to no money aren’t the only people with financial problems.

When you are in debt that can easily change if you lose your job and can’t pay the money you owe.

Can you see how that might be a problem? 

The birth of Canadian Budget Binder was created to share a journey of inspiration, new life and financial problems.

I’m that “guy” Mr.CBB A.K.A (MO), welcome to my blogging hobby!

Since the first blog post at CBB our budgeting journey sure has changed as expected. I thought I might tackle chatting a bit about living debt free, blogging and life changes.

You might think just because I moved to Canada with some money in my pocket meant that I shouldn’t have had any financial problems, think again.

Having a University degree and many years of working experience behind me in the UK I struggled to get a job in Canada. No one would hire me without Canadian experience. I would be lying if I didn’t say I could feel the stress mounting up.

Not only was I living in a new country where I thought it would be reasonably easy to find a job but my career seeking journey turned out to be a disaster. All sorts of things were running through my mind, mainly about financial security and my new wife.

My wife had a decent job but this was all about me. I was the one who was responsible for my career and I was faced with finding a job, using my savings or returning to school. Once I had my University degree swapped over and credits applied, off to school I went.

My financial problems weren’t over by a long shot. There was no way I was getting OSAP or any type of loan so the financial burden of my education was all on me.

When I started looking for a job in Canada the most I could get paid was minimum wage. It was disheartening knowing the education I had behind me but not a shock knowing what I know today. Most educated students struggle to find a job in Canada that eventually pays well.

There is such a misconception when moving to the USA or Canada to “live the dream”. Sure circumstances may be different in terms of economy but jobs are scarce no matter where you live.


Living Simple


Back in the UK where I bought my first house at 21 and my second at 24 I was always living simple. I knew that financial problems were only a step away if something were to happen to my career.

I don’t think many people give much thought to what they would do in the event they do lose their job as opposed to trying to be a good employee. Working hard, experience and a few bucks in the bank will only get you so far and I knew that.

I was always looking for a deal because living frugal meant I could pay my bills, mortgage and still have a few dollars left over to invest in my pension plan at work.

I don’t think looking back that I ever dreamed that finance would be such a huge part of my life today nor that I would be writing about it.

It’s amazing to see finance related posts I’ve written shared at The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and on some well-known financial websites.


Financial problems never end


It’s true just because you are debt free that doesn’t mean that your financial problems are over, far from it. Unless you have money in the bank that will carry you until you are buried in the ground then you have financial problems in your path.

So many people think that they will be fine come their retiring years relying on the government and the sale of their home but I don’t trust that for a minute.

Anything could happen and that’s similar to putting all of your eggs in one basket although some people only have this system to rely on.

Rely on your own savings and investments not that of which is apparently coming your way.


Where would we be if…


When I found my first job after my Canadian graduation it was then that I started to really get a grip on living in Canada and our finances. I had no idea about the cost-of-living until I had actually spent a good year here.

We weren’t using a budget yet but money was always a topic for the wife and I because we were starting our lives together and we knew we didn’t want debt to be a part of it.

I often wonder where we would be today had I have not had the career luck over the years. I certainly don’t think we would be mortgage free. Although it wouldn’t have been the end of the world because the mortgage typically is the longest debt held by a homeowner. Most don’t rush to pay it off as fast as we chose to do.

I possibly would be making less money than I do today which means that we likely wouldn’t be living in the house we have or doing the renovations that I’m doing.

I’ve since come to realize that no matter if you live in a house or an apartment that your financial problems never really go away.


Debt free doesn’t mean you’re done


That’s right just because you have no debt doesn’t mean that you get to live life for free or on easy street. When one door closes another opens especially in the financial world.

Our net worth may have gone up and is going up but since closing the door on our mortgage we welcomed our baby boy into the family. That means that we have baby financial problems to address with our budget.

The best part is those financial problems make it all worth it because he’s such a joy in our lives. Parenting is far from easy or cheap to do but very rewarding.

Paying for diapers and even his education savings put a dent in our pretty budget savings every month. Remember that door closing that I was just talking about… nothing lasts forever.

We are to the point where most of our net income is spent, if not now but very soon we will be living on a tight(er) budget. It’s not the end of the world for us because we could stop payments on certain things to liquify cash and life would go on.

My point is that with every level of financial freedom comes a new set of financial problems.

Once we moved out of our rental we were able to buy our first house together. It was then that money really took front seat in our financial conversations.

Fear of losing our home or not being able to pay bills set in and with that we were documenting our numbers on paper. It wasn’t long after this that we started to budget which was certainly different for us but boy did it open our eyes to the expenses we had and money we spent.

That’s why I started this blog. I needed a place to document our financial problems and share how we were going to combat them one by one.

I’ve since realized that we are far from alone in this budgeting journey. Many of you that read CBB are now budgeting and have come to realize just how important a budget truly is.


The fans want to know…


I get lots of reader mail here at CBB and I wrote this post today because I wanted to share with all of you about common questions we get from fans.

  • Why do you still work so hard when you have no debt?
  • You have no financial problems. You don’t even know what it’s like to be poor, those are financial problems.
  • A budget isn’t going to help us save as much money as you have.
  • The budget is only for people who earn lots of money.
  • Dude, you don’t need to budget, you’re rich.
  • Do you even make money blogging?

Those are just a few questions and comments sent my way about our financial journey. It is those types of questions that make me wonder just how much effort people put into their finances.

Some fans are just curious and really want to know… so they ask. I’m not offended rather intrigued how people view money. You can’t just be a money saver and think that you will get ahead in the game of financial wars. It doesn’t work that way.

I may not know what it’s like to be poor but I do know that my parents struggled and I didn’t get all the gadgets and fancy clothes like some of my friends. What poor is to one poor means something different to another.

Budgeting is for everyone and not just for those that are strapped for cash or in debt. We will continue to budget for as long as we can because we have experienced the benefits. We’d be fools to dump it in the trash and say we were done with it.

I never started this blog with the mindset “Can I make money blogging?” only because I had no idea you could nor did I care to.

This is not considered a business for me rather a place where I can talk about life and finances. Over the years I’ve realized just how much work it takes to monetize a website and be happy you don’t get those nasty pop-ups when you visit CBB.

Blogging has become my hobby and yes you can make money blogging although what I do make gets filtered right back into maintaining the blog. It’s not cheap running a blog especially if you have to pay people to help you maintain it.

We are hardly living on easy street and everything we have come to own is because we never gave up trying. Saving money is more than just setting cash aside every month. You have to take your entire financial picture and accept all of it as a financial problem you need to address.

Now that we are debt free I am faced with catching up with thousands of dollars of RRSP contribution room. My retirement is a big deal to me because my working years in Canada might not be as long as others.

This means when I come to retire I won’t be getting as much of a pension as someone who has worked in Canada their entire life. I’ll likely get a UK pension but I don’t even know what that will be and I’m not waiting around to find out before I take action.

My defined benefit plan at work right now is not permanent so until that day comes I’m treating it as a financial perk in the moment.

There are days I wonder why I blog and then there are days that I’m happy I’m still blogging. This blog wasn’t created to become as big as it has today but it has shown me there is a huge gap in personal outlets for people who want to talk about their financial problems and successes.

I believe that financial problems are a problem for everyone and until you own up to them they will sit quietly in the back of your mind. This little blog started out as the engine that could and is still chugging along at a fast speed.

I’ve learned so much along the way whether it be from other bloggers or from the fans who write or chat to me every day but my perspective on finance has changed. We only really get a glimpse into our own lives so we don’t know what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes.

I thought when we paid off the mortgage I would quit blogging like many PF bloggers who start a debt blog do. They get rid of the debt and they are gone forever. Not this guy.


Stick around and hang out with us


Canadian Budget Binder is a place where financial problems are real and we attempt to showcase how money affects not only our family but for all the fans who pop in on a daily basis.

The best part about being debt free is your financial stress levels are minimized. It’s been over a year now for us where we only pay for investments and living expenses. One thing for sure is that I can promise you your budgeting journey won’t be a waste of time.

If my hobby has become your daily stop to chat and read about financial problems and successes I welcome you to my second home.

This blog might not be successful financially but what we do have here is a fan base that is a bigger success on its own. I’m Mr.CBB and this is our financial journey.

Do you have a hobby that helps to keep you focused?


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  1. I actually had the making money mindset when I first started my blog. Oh how naive I was, thinking it was an instant money maker. When I read people said it’s a lot of hard work, I kind of thought to myself, yeah, yeah, I can do it. I’m a hard worker. No, blogging is a LOT of HARD WORK, but like you, I really enjoy it. Even during the time I wasn’t making any money at all. I never thought I would be still blogging up to now.

    My parents came to Canada in the 70s and were fortunately able to get decent jobs in decent industries. They have great pensions and are really enjoying their retirement. Unfortunately it’s not that way today and I can only imagine how frustrating it was for you and for people who are in the same boat. Having lived my entire life in Canada, I’m not sure if I could ever move to a new country and start all over again.

  2. Being debt free doesn’t mean you’re done! After paying off my college debt, I thought I’d be free, but financial problems just love to tag along. “I don’t think many people give much thought to what they would do in the event they do lose their job as opposed to trying to be a good employee. Working hard, experience and a few bucks in the bank will only get you so far and I knew that.” The thought of losing my job does not only affect myself but my entire family. I learned that I shouldn’t live by the day and keep paying debts but I should save and invest where my earnings will grow for my family.

  3. So glad you are still here blogging away for/with us!!!! Yes it can be very difficult getting on your feet in a new country, my grandparents did it after moving here from Great Britain as you have. There are often articles in the paper about people moving here that end up doing things like drive cab as the credentials are not recognized here, sadly. Very highly educated folks too.
    Finances are with us until well after we pass on… Memory serves me from when my Mom died it took Dad close to a year for things to be all said and done. I know he had to file a final tax return for her. There is a lot of paperwork to be done.
    What I get from your blogs and such every day is friendship, support and hope. Hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t a train. Hope that I can get some level of financial organization with the little we have coming in right now. Hope that I’m not alone struggling……. Thank you all for that.

    1. Hi Christine,
      Thank-you for your kind words. You’ve been around for a long time and I’ve come to bond with many of you. I’d miss our conversations if you weren’t around as I learn plenty from all of you. Blogging is not easy but I push myself to make sure I stick to a schedule but these days if I miss a day, oh well. I remember when I was blogging 7 days a week. I have no idea how I pulled that off because posts take me upwards of 5-7 hour to write and edit. It’s easier now. The best thing we can all do is take some form of action with our finances even if it is talking about it and finding new ways to make improvements. Mr.CBB

  4. I have a similar hobby Mr. CBB!

    “Budgeting is for everyone and not just for those that are strapped for cash or in debt. We will continue to budget for as long as we can because we have experienced the benefits. We’d be fools to dump it in the trash and say we were done with it.” Loved this! Our budget is our chance to figure out how we can reach goals and checkin our budget is our shot to see if we’re still on the same page.

  5. I’ve always done a form of a budget for about 20 years. I’ve always made sure that I’ve had enough money to pay the bills as they came due based on my pay cheques but I wasn’t aggressively paying back my debt. I did know what my debt was and a fairly good idea of how much I owed though.

    Since following your blog for the past couple of years, I have finally realized that if I want a life in the future I need to remove this debt from my life. Not saying that something else won’t pop up but it will give me the flexibility of dealing with it. My budgets have changed and evolved but they have also provided more information that what used to be there. I’m not worrying about becoming a millionaire or even have $10,000 in the bank as my current goal is to deal with my current consumer debt. It takes baby steps and lots of hard work will accomplish that goal.

    1. Good for you Dee. It’s hard to not want to budget once you see the benefits. I’m glad CBB has helped you. Once you pay that debt off it opens up many options for you. Either way with no debt in front of you life is so much easier.. less stress too!!

  6. I enjoyed this post and you are right…if you aren’t sitting on enough funds to carry you and your loved ones until you are dead and buried, there is potential for financial problems. Over the course of my working career so far I have faced financial challenges many times as you can see:

    1. after college establishing my own business in the Montreal area and before the business was even off the ground, having to
    purchase a car to earn the desired income (debt…yuck!)
    2. obtaining gainful employment in a new province, Ontario when my family transferred out of the province during a precarious
    political situation
    3. learning employment #2 did not suit me, I resigned BEFORE I had achieved a replacement position (not brilliant on my part!)
    4. struggling for 3 months with no income coming in and not qualifying for EI yet either
    5. at the end of my first marriage, I attempted to obtain a transfer with my national employer to another province but nothing in
    my field was available at the time. So one more time, I resigned without a good safety net in place because my savings were
    depleted satisfying the marital debt and getting out of our real estate holdings before I left for BC
    6. having become gainfully employed, I still needed to move back in with my parents while I saved enough to get an apartment.
    Trust me, it’s hard to go home when you have lived elsewhere for a decade!
    7. struggling for 3 months with no income and no extended medical either when I was seriously injured in an MVA plus had all
    sorts of medical expenses to pay before the car insurance claim was settled.
    8. struggling for 18 months working 2 full time jobs while hubby re-trained after being downsized from his position of 15 years
    9. more struggles financially when we had a health related uncertainty for hubby…especially as he carries our medical insurance,
    pension benefits & we could have been facing not just lost income, but some very expensive benefits as well
    10. not yet revealed

    Having faced all of the above, it has become clear to me that I need 2-5 years worth of “after tax” income in an emergency fund to handle our finances while we do whatever may be necessary to be financially viable again.

    It sounds like a lot of money but it lets me sleep at night. As we age, another downsize in hubby’s employment would likely not be replaced $ for $… no matter how hard we tried. It’s all well and good to have life insurance but what if you don’t die? Do you have a non-employer related disability policy? How about an emergency fund??

    1. Hi Mary,
      You nailed it with everything you said. Some people think they are on easy street because they have no debt but in reality they have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I often say Charity begins at home for this reason. By the looks of it your experiences have certainly motivated you to think about what you need in the event something were to happen again. Your number 10 may never come Mary but at least you will be prepared. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this Mary.

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