When state tax hikes hit $764 billion in 2011, I was one of those small business owners unprepared to deal with the 8.9% increase over the previous year. The high corporate tax increased my business debt, which affected my personal debt, too.
Only my wife knew how bad things were.
My neighbors were impressed by the three shiny SUVs in the driveway, the landscaped garden, and the outdoor kitchen I built for the barbecues during the Super Bowl season. They were also impressed that I owned a business that hired 20 salespeople to sell timeshare resort condominium units.
They affectionately called me “Big Al,” because of my bighearted blowout Super Bowl parties. My spacious home was the best place to be to catch the big game on a big-screen TV.
My wife and I entertained in style. Here, the beer always flowed out of a spigot. Here, the pantry was always packed high with big bags of potato chips and nachos. And, here we whooped and hollered as if every game was the final playoff.
I kept my business problems to myself. None of our friends knew how I was racking up credit card debt faster than Aaron Rodgers made touchdowns.
Then dad arrived and the game was up.
An Unexpected Visitor
My dad stopped by unexpectedly during one of my weekend blowout parties after he had missed his connecting flight to a business meeting in Houston. He spent most of the day outside by the pool, sitting on an Adirondack chair, reading a big hardback copy of Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
He only confronted me in the evening when everyone had gone home.
Apparently, he had sweet-talked my wife that afternoon into spilling our secret. It’s hard to fool a Scottish immigrant canny enough to get a loan to buy a farm in Texas, get rich as a farmer, sell it at a handsome profit, and then grow his wealth through myriad business ventures.
I expected him to lose his temper after he revealed how I hadn’t fooled him with my extravagant lifestyle. But the storm never came. Somehow he had mellowed out over the years. I thought he was being sarcastic when he apologized for not teaching me how to manage my money—but he actually meant it!
Resolving My Credit Card Debt
After dad found out about my high credit card debt, he called his accountant, who recommended that I get a consolidated loan from Brice Capital. A consolidated loan, he explained, offers a wide variety of benefits:
First, you can use it to pay off all your credit cards so that you don’t have any overdue balances anymore.
Second, you pay less on your debt because you are now paying a fixed interest rate, rather than the high-interest rates that credit card companies charge because they use a floating rate based on a benchmark that “fluctuates” or “adjusts” over time.
Third, since the loan is stretched out over a longer period, it’s easy to pay in small installments, a sum that you can afford based on your monthly income and expenses.
Once the loan had relieved me of the stress of my mounting debt, we spent long hours on the phone every evening talking about how to create a zero-based budget. This is a budget where you calculate all your expenses when you get your paycheck so that you have a zero balance at the end of the month because you’ve paid for everything and put away the surplus in a savings account.
Rental Real Estate
My wife had also told him everything about the timeshare business. She knew more than I ever realized. She told him all about the high turnover rate of salespeople and the high operating cost of the business. She even knew about the timeshare buyers who were threatening to sue me once they realized they had been talked into an unwise investment. He encouraged me to sell the timeshare business and get into rental real estate by hooking me up with his real estate agent.
After the Miracles
After the changes Dad worked in my life by introducing me to consolidated loans to manage my debt, budgeting to tame my spending, and rental real estate to replace my bad business model, I felt I owed it to him to live within my means.
The funny thing is that although I lost 60 pounds this year and quit trying to be “larger than life,” my neighbors still call me Big Al.