When Harold came to Canada in 2007, his wife was pregnant with their second child and their first child was 8 months old. A friend had told them about Calgary, so they landed in the prairies to begin their new life. Harold had left his job as a dentist in Colombia and did not speak English, so the family was starting from the beginning.
“It was tough getting used to the culture and the new city,” Harold says. “When we came here, I found out that it was challenging to become a dentist here in Canada. I understand of course, there were a lot of steps to follow. But we didn’t have the money, we didn’t have the time, again because of the babies.”
Harold went to school to upgrade his English and complete a diploma in financial services, while working odd jobs to support his family.
He found out about Momentum’s matched savings program, a program where you save, and Momentum matches the money saved. When he enrolled, he was working part time hours and was also going to school.
“We were saving a little bit of money, but I wasn’t focused on a goal,” Harold says. “I learned to save for a goal and that was the down payment on my house.”
That down payment was the motivator for Harold and as a result, he earned the highest matched savings of any participant in the program that year.
“In the program, we had to save $50 a month. Then we moved to $200,” says Harold. “Because I was going to school, it was a bit tougher but still, I was able to make it. I learned how to differentiate the needs and the wants. I was able to save more, because I had a goal and I was committed to that goal.”
Harold learned that he needed to save for the future, and he needed to save for the unexpected. “If we just keep saying everything is fine, I’ll just start saving tomorrow, I’ll start saving next month, you never know what’s going to happen.” he says. Because of those lessons in savings, Harold also has an emergency fund in place to take care of his family.
Harold graduated from SAIT with his diploma in financial services and landed a job with the Royal Bank of Canada as a teller. He is now a mortgage specialist there and he makes a point of giving back to the immigrant community.
Harold’s final bit of advice is: “Have a goal and have a purpose and commit to it.”
Momentum’s Matched Savings programs are on hold but will start up again soon. Subscribe to updates here.