On Thursday, October 26th, Montreal movers and shakers enjoyed a value-added networking opportunity: not just by connecting new contacts, but inspiring them to connect with their own finances too.
While personal finances aren’t always a top of mind discussion over cocktails and gourmet bites, Tangerine’s You’d Look Good in Orange event powered by Notable Life made financial literacy fun (but actually), pairing perfectly with Financial Literacy Month in November. This was thanks to a dynamic panel of industrious individuals who were quite candid with their financial struggles and successes – from taking that sometimes-needed help from the parents, to learning how to manage unstable revenue streams.
Moderated by popular Montreal radio and TV personality Anne-Marie Withenshaw, the panel featured familiar faces from the professional sporting world to the dating industry elite. The panel included retired Canadian freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau, famed YouTuber PL Cloutier, Co-Founder of Osheaga and VP of Concerts and Events for Evenko Nick Farkas, and Founder of Dashing Date, Kavita Ajwani.
As it turns out, like many of us pavement pounders, even the panelists have learned major financial lessons throughout their career – and some learned it the hard way.
The struggle was real for Cloutier, who found himself on the verge of bankruptcy in 2014 after his regular – and lucrative – gig in television ended not long after he had purchased a condo. “Sometimes you make money, and one day it can stop,” said Cloutier, who had taken the advice from friends to buy property. The problem was, he hadn’t planned for the loss of income. “Always be nice to your mom,” he said of a lesson learned, admitting that she “saved him” for a few years, while he saved any income that was coming in. He has, of course, since turned his YouTube hobby into a full business.
For Bilodeau, the journey to becoming a top tier athlete within his sport came with a similar reality check in financial responsibility. “Until you’re number 10 in the world, it’s hard to break even financially,” said Bilodeau. “As you evolve into the elites, it gets more and more expensive, because you’re on the road skiing 12 months a year – in Australia, new Zealand, Switzerland and Chile on the off-season – and it’s fun, but the expenses increase and the revenue isn’t necessarily there. As you get to the top, you finally get contacts, sponsorship and expenses taken care of by the government.” Not surprisingly, he cites his biggest lesson as learning to save. “Save as much as you can to help your transition because you never know when your transition is going to come,” he says.
Of course, this “transition” isn’t exclusive to the sports world; it happens in almost every career path. Describing the process as a “labour of love,” Farkas admitted that he maxed out three credit cards, making payments of “$100 a week,” in the early days of building his company. “Use other people’s money,” Farkas joked when asked of his greatest financial lesson to date. In all seriousness, however, he said that securing financing from the beginning when launching a company makes the whole endeavour “less stressful.” He also advised to treat the company money the way you would your own.
For Ajwani, her biggest challenge wasn’t a lack of money. She admitted that access to money was never necessarily an issue; her lesson learned came in not understanding the value of a dollar and therefore being frivolous when it came to spending. “I have always had access to money through loans and whatnot, but at a very young age I think I made a lot of mistakes in not appreciating the value of it,” said Ajwani. “I spent a lot of it carelessly.” As a result, she says she learned to educate herself financially – something that has proved tremendously valuable.
The lessons the panelists learned early on in their careers surrounding saving money mimic the challenges that many millennials face, whether when starting a new business or starting their lives. While they are now successfully earning and saving, the panelists all agreed that having the financial wherewithal to save earlier on in their careers would have been beneficial. It would be remiss of us to not point out while discussing this Tangerine event, that Tangerine’s savings account has no minimums, no service charges and no fees – plus new clients can earn a 2.40% interest rate if they also open a Tangerine Chequing Account.
In addition to leaving with a few more Instagram connections and business cards, guests, which included event circuit regulars, change-making creators and up-and-coming business leaders, left with financial insights and a newfound confidence when approaching their own finances. We’re dismantling the myth that financial literacy isn’t fun one awesome event at a time!