Young Upstarts

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Interview: Margaret Curlew, “Mompreneur” And Real Estate Investor, Toronto, Ontario

margaret curlew

Margaret Curlew, Ph.D., is a specialist in income generation and wealth-building. She mentors individuals in their pursuit of financial independence. Her new book is “Mom To Millionaire: Finding the Path to Financial Peace“.

Curlew recently spoke with YoungUpstarts and shared her insights on achieving financial success.

Here is some of our conversation:

In what ways have the strategies for generating wealth changed in recent years?

Things have changed so much in recent years. I remember when, growing up, I was told that if I wanted to be rich and successful I needed to be a good student, earn multiple degrees, get a great job and work hard at it. I was taught to be frugal, play it safe, work hard at my job and hope for a raise and promotion.

I followed this advice, but I didn’t experience financial success. I wasn’t broke, but I had to watch my finances carefully to make ends meet. I dared not dream of a big house or a fancy car. The American Dream was a myth for me. It seemed like the harder I worked, the more I was spinning my wheels.

From examining the careers of some highly successful people, I can confidently say that wealth-building strategies have evolved dramatically. In today’s world, if you want to achieve financial freedom, you need to:

  • Make money work hard for you, NOT work hard trying to bring in more pay
  • Build multiple streams of income, NOT depend on salary from one job
  • Start your own business, NOT work for someone else until retirement
  • Use debt to build wealth, NOT to rack up nonsense debt that becomes a burden and liability
  • Take calculated business risks, NOT take reckless, poorly investigated risks
  • Have a mindset of entrepreneurship, NOT of an employee

What are some distinguishing characteristics of successful, self-made people and why should we take note?

On my YouTube channel, SuccessTips TV, we discussed the particular traits and mindset of high achievers and successful people, and determined that they have these characteristics:

  • They believe it is possible
  • They do more without asking questions
  • They don’t need to be prompted to take action
  • They resist the fear of failure
  • They have no patience with procrastination
  • They self-motivate
  • They’re always on the hunt for opportunities

You state in “Mom To Millionaire” that it takes a radical mindset to achieve financial success. What do you mean by that?

In today’s world, you can’t continue to practice the same wealth-building strategies as your parents and grandparents. In their day, interest rates on savings and investments were 12 to 15 percent. That was a viable way to build wealth or a retirement nest egg. Today, you’d be lucky if you got 1 percent on your investment — meaning, your money will never grow. Meanwhile, the cost of living rises daily.

In one of my previous jobs, I maxed out my retirement contributions for years. I invested every extra bit of cash I had. Six years later, my balance wasn’t even enough to cover 1 year of living expenses. That’s when I decided to go rogue. It was my life, my future, and I wasn’t going to let anyone else manage it.

Track your net worth. Is it close to where you want it? If not, ditch whatever you’ve been doing and develop a radical mindset. This means, adopt new financial strategies that will help you generate enough revenue to support your dream lifestyle. Decide to be a victor, not a victim. If you’ve been working hard for 5 to 10 years and are still living paycheck to paycheck, then quit that job and get a better paying job — or take the leap and start your own business. It might fail, but so has your financial situation over the past years. If you’re broke, you can’t keep doing what you’re doing. Jump ship, take a leap of faith and be your own financial guru to secure your future.

Describe what to include when drafting a plan for financial success.

If you’re at the point where you’re drafting a plan for financial success, Kudos! You’re half way there. Realizing that you need a financial plan for success is a huge step. You’ve spotted a problem, acknowledged it and now want to fix it. A lot of us go through life living in denial. That’s why bad situations don’t change and issues aren’t ever fixed.

In drafting a financial plan, first decide your dream figure/net worth and when you want to achieve it. These two factors will drive all the decisions you make moving forward. The journey may be steep and rugged, but you’ll get there.

What are the pros and cons of putting money into savings or retirement accounts?

It’s crucial to be frugal and save up for a couple of years when starting out, but don’t make saving your life-long mission. Save enough to have some cash/capital so you can take the leap to either start your own business or invest in one with potential.

The pros of putting money into savings or retirement accounts:

  • You earn interest (how much though?)
  • You put money away that you’d have otherwise spent
  • You make your money work for you (how hard though?)
  • You’ll be prepared for unforeseen expenses

The cons of putting money into savings or retirement accounts:

  • Very low interest rates
  • Someone else, who doesn’t have your interest at heart, is managing your money
  • You’re restricted and unable to invest your money as you wish
  • You miss out on business venture opportunities
  • False sense of security

How is leveraging debt to build wealth a feasible way to become prosperous?

In my teens and twenties, debt was the forbidden word in our household. My credit card balance was always zero because I’d pay it off each month.

Today, I’ve found success in real estate investment. My first rental property cost $155,000. My savings were nowhere close to that amount. I was able to purchase it through bank loans and mortgages. The last property I purchased was $430,000, plus closing costs, plus renovations. I didn’t have that amount in my bank account, either. But with creative financing (debt), I was able to purchase the property. Good debt, like mortgages or loans, is advantageous for business growth and development.

I’ve used debt to create and grow a multi-million dollar business. Had I waited for my savings account to grow into enough to purchase properties, I’d have never been a business owner.

Good debt used for making smart investments can allow money/debt to work for you. You just need to be the puppeteer. Direct the borrowed money where it will work hard for you and pay itself off.

If you could share just one piece of advice on the best strategy for pursuing financial success, what would it be?

Know your purpose. Know why you want to achieve financial success. This belief will help you to weather storms and the tough times that come with chasing success.

Learn more at margaretcurlew.com.

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Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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