Tuesday, August 19, 2014

That time the bank called me poor.

They call me superstitious. But I won't accept congratulations until something is official. I won't put friend's photos in picture frames for fear the relationship sours. I won't post a Facebook status unless something is for sure. It took me a year to even trust that my husband was "the one" and not going to end things the moment I succumbed to his charm and exclaimed to the world that we were "In a relationship".

Part superstitious. Part skeptic.

I've driven the same car for ten years. I've been known to make rash decisions but oddly enough, have trouble letting go once I've finally made a choice. I keep things and try to keep people in my life for a very long time. So sometimes, when I'm "all in", it's because I want the best for a lifetime instead of mediocre for a year or two.

I was 21 years old when I bought my first car. It was a red convertible Honda Del Sol and my mom was convinced that I would need a co-signer for the $10,000 loan. After all, I was fresh out of University with not a cent to my name and only held a part time job. She was astounded that I was able to secure this loan without being co-signed. My dream car sat in my driveway for 3 months because it was a standard and I didn't know how to drive it. I got my first real job in Mississauga and drove the hilly back roads of Britannia, riding that emergency brake the entire time. I loved that car. I remember the coolest girl in another school visiting our highschool with one. I remember having a friend that had her own jeep with fancy scriptina caligraphy on the side of it with her name; the "i" being dotted with a little heart. I did the same thing on my convertible, minus the "i." I moved on to another office job. This job I would spend the next 8 years at, developing business skills, creating a family and offering me my first real grown up salary.

Living on your own in the big city of Toronto can feel scary and lonely. When you don't have family that live in the city and your car breaks down, it's downright terrifying. Stories of tow truck drivers and breakdowns are a different chapter of my book of life, but one particular cold, dark and rainy December evening, my convertible roof was leaking on me and I smelled a faint smell of gasoline. I drove it straight to the Markham Hyundai dealership and bought a brand new, 2004 car. I didn't care that it was baby blue with speckled seats. I knew that it came with a 7 year warranty, roadside assistance, the payments were manageable and I felt safe and taken care of.

Ten years later I still have the car. It's taken me through roadtrips and breakups. It's where I shared my first kiss with my husband and the last kiss with my ex. It's housed many of my thoughts and tears, phone conversations and radio sing alongs. It's lived through fallen trees, ice storms, parking tickets and flat tires. It's hatchback has allowed me the freedom to not have to sheepishly ask someone with a truck for help in delivering things. It's driven me to photography consultations, shoots and weddings. Ten years later, I still hate the colour. I hate the speckled seats. And I park it at the back of a parking lot when shooting Doctor's and Dentist's weddings. It was time to part ways.

You see, to be professional, you have to look professional. So we were on the hunt for a new car. Mister salesman tried to talk me out of wanting the white car. A sunroof was a must, even though he informed me that nobody wanted a sunroof. Well guess what? I did. And if I was going to have a long lasting love affair with this vehicle, then I wanted it the way I wanted it. Apparently this school of thought is what got me in trouble.

I can count on two hands the amount of times this year that people have insinuated or outright said to me "you guys must be loaded." Trips, dinners out, new deck, hot tub, wardrobe, new equipment, and now a new car. What can I say? I want what I want when I want it. And I work goddamn hard for my money.

So you can imagine my shock when my girlfriend stated "Girl, you be T4'ing an Audi", and I went to the bank for a basic Hyundai and got denied. All through the dealership they congratulated  me before the deal went through. Talked about the big red bow that would be on the black car I just bought. And I shhh'ed them, informing them of my superstitions. It's not official until it's official. And when the dealership called me to tell me I was denied for the car loan, I sat there in shock.

Income is substantially lower than claimed.

Hold up?! Were they calling me a liar?

I didn't understand. I sent them my tax returns. I made six figures. How could the same young girl who once made $100 per week qualify for a car, when the new and improved business woman who hashtags the shit out of #bossbabe and works day and night to make a name for herself be denied a piddly monthly amount that last month alone could have bought the $30K car in full cash?

Hi Wendy:

You are correct that your Gross income was over 100K but the taxable amount (after deductions) is usually what the banks look at for lending purposes.
It’s always a catch 22 - higher income will result in higher borrowing but also an increase in income taxes owing.
Sometimes a lease payment  is easier to get.
Another way to help is go for a longer amortization period which lowers your payment which is easier to qualify for.
Hope this helps.


Erwin R Dely
Dely & Associates Inc.

This was a rookie mistake on my part. Sure, higher expenses resulted in lower income tax owing, but also brought my net income down substantially. Girl may be T4'in an Audi but in the bank's eyes, could only qualify to buy a fucking bicycle.

Let's just say it was a long drive to Quebec in my junker car that once housed all my memories. I was ready to part ways all too soon. How quickly I changed my tune and talked really nicely to her, to ensure we arrived safely. She didn't let me down.

Maybe this is a life lesson in being humbled. Perhaps it's not all about the shiny and new. Perhaps, like my starter camera that I refused to be ashamed of, but rocked like a badge of honour because that's all I could afford and succeeded anyways....perhaps it's great that I don't have car payments, or worry about the stone chips on my new paint. Perhaps the black car I didn't originally want but was talked into was never mine to begin with and is waiting for another proud owner to love it.

Perhaps this is a lesson that, as a new business owner, I need to make double what I make to get ahead in life and in the bank's eyes. Perhaps this is the kick in the ass I needed when haughtily complaining that I have to go do another shoot, when really I should be kissing the lucky ground I am blessed to walk on that I get to do this for a living. Perhaps I was taking my job for granted. Or becoming too cocky. Or not working hard enough. Perhaps my white Audi is waiting for me. Perhaps these are the lessons I'm meant to learn so I can share my experiences with new business owners and warn of the pitfalls of owning your own business.

Whatever the reason, I know one thing. I was humiliated beyond belief with that phone call to my dealership. I was left feeling stung and like an unemployed degenerate who doesn't work hard at all. I have an Indian friend who used to be picked on by our grade 8 teacher and used to tell him that he would amount to nothing. And dude is T4'ing a ferrari. So setbacks like these can only inspire us to do better, be better, work harder, strive bigger.

It's fitting that this is my last blog post of the past few years. Tomorrow I will introduce my new blog platform, and bid adieu to all the pages, photos and words I've poured out.

And I know one thing: bank loan or not. They may have taken away my dignity, but they can never take away my spirit and soul. Writing doesn't cost a cent. Either does heart. And if I need to grab a coffee in between posts and my ol' junker lets me down, I will ride that bicycle like a fucking boss.

Thanks for everything, all of you, always.



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