We live by stories and can take lessons from tales of achievement involving those who started with nothing, then set a straight course for success and financial security and never strayed from it. Among the famous, for instance, there are plenty of inspiring stories about individuals who rose from humble and even tormented beginnings to become happy and secure – all thanks to hard work and to the respect they gave to money while making the most of life’s opportunities. For those deeply in debt her story should inspire. Debt management programs for Canadians are a great way to create your own debt success story.
Take Canadian songstress Shania Twain. A small-town girl from Timmins, Ontario, she grew up as one of five kids in an impoverished and deeply troubled home lorded over by an abusive stepfather. Debt problems plagued the family. Sometimes the children had only bread and mustard to eat, and they would huddle together beneath quilts because heating bills went unpaid. They often wore plastic bread bags over their shoes to protect their feet during Canada’s cold winters, and they regularly went to school without lunch.
“Shania discovered she had something to offer the world – a great voice and a talent for song writing. She dreamed that one day her talent would blossom.”
On top of that, the children lived in fear of their unstable, physically violent stepfather, who frequently took out his rage on the kids and their mother. Shania recalls one occasion where the man beat her and dragged her around the house by her hair. Shania somehow found the strength to endure.
She discovered she had something to offer the world – a great voice and a talent for songwriting. She dreamed that one day her talent would blossom. So she set to making her dream come true. Even as a young girl, she put her gifts to use. As she grew to womanhood, she diligently practiced music and started performing locally. She also grew to respect money. As a teenager, she started singing for $25 or $50 an engagement, with proceeds going directly to the family finances.
“Through frugal spending she stepped up to keep the family going. Things like debt consolidation for Canadians weren’t around so she spent long nights performing at bars and at gigs on the road.”
“Growing up poor taught me to be resilient, to be patient, that life has its ups and downs. I don’t regret it – it made me strong,” Shania once told CBC News.
As a young woman – when her mother and stepfather were killed in a car accident – Shania had to work to help support her younger siblings, which only strengthened her resolve to apply herself. Through frugal spending and smart budgeting, she stepped up to rise above debt problems and keep the family going. She spent long nights performing at bars and at gigs on the road. In the process, she connected with other musicians. Then she took the initiative to prepare a demo tape of her songs and sent it to a record company.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“Shania’s success demonstrates that even the toughest, most painful obstacles in life can be overcome through diligence and a can-do, positive attitude”
Shania went on to become one of the highest-selling female musicians of all time. Unlike many other celebrities who rose to great stardom, she didn’t let the fame go to her head. Nor did she spend her money foolishly. Today, her net worth is estimated at more than $400 million, clearly with no prospects for her having to live on bread and mustard sandwiches ever again.
Here is a strong-spirited woman who early on, and against great odds, learned the secrets to personal and financial success. These include making the most of what you’ve got, setting goals, budgeting, saving, and helping others and oneself by taking responsibility. Above all, Shania’s success demonstrates that even the toughest, most painful obstacles in life can be overcome through diligence and a can-do, positive attitude.
Grateful for her good fortune, Shania is giving back to the community. She has initiated Shania Kids Can, which raises funds for various activities that help disadvantaged kids build a better future.
* Blog content provided through the support of platinum sponsors of Credit Education Week Canada’s Focus Magazine