My name is Dickson Maiden, born and bred in Zimbabwe. In 2007, I migrated to Canada where I was based in Montreal for three and a half years. After I acquired the relevant documentation, I managed to secure a job in Customer Service. Within a few months in this position, my boss advised me that the payroll processing method they were utilizing was being converted to a direct deposit method of payment. He therefore advised me to open a bank account so that my wages could be deposited in my account rather than me collecting check and then go deposit it via Western Union.
After doing some research I successfully opened an account with a reputable bank in Canada. Once completed, I was advised by the banks Financial Advisor that l had been pre-approved for a credit card. This surprised me as it was unfamiliar territory,
my home country did not offer me credit cards and I was not sure how I had come to qualify. I was further advised that the card would be sent to me by mail in the next couple of days and I would only be required to pay the minimum payment before the due date, and all would be in order.
Now, I must admit that as a young man in his 20s this offer was enticing, and I believed that this must be the “American Dream” that everyone talks about. So, after a little debate, my brother and I made the abrupt decision to move out of the house we shared with my mother and grandmother. This was a terrible mistake, one of my worst life decisions. After a couple of months, my credit card was maxed out and the minimum payment expected was now higher than initial $10 which was unaffordable.
I felt helpless and needed to correct this immediately. So, I decided to visit the branch for further understanding of my account status and what it meant. To my surprise I was informed that my credit history (whatever that was) was amazing and they could do a balance transfer to my card. Apparently, this would lower my expected payments whilst giving me time to clear the current debt. All this information was news to me, I did not quite get it, and neither did I pursue the issue any further; I was more focused on the fact that my stress had been somewhat alleviated, another mistake!
Unfortunately, a few months down the line I got laid off because the company l was working for closed their Call Centre. I searched for another job tirelessly and thankfully after a few months I got a job in landscaping, but again it was seasonal. At that moment I was desperate, no money was coming in and bills were piling up. This American Dream seemed to be unattainable, I was clueless and in a big mess.
I had lots of questions but had no one to ask. I would spend nights thinking about my life and how I had allowed things to get out of hand. I had no one to blame but myself. I asked myself questions like
”Is everyone living paycheck to paycheck? Is this the American Dream? Was l dealt a bad hand? How am l going to get out of this situation?”
All l was hoping for was for someone to come and save me, but truth of the matter was, no one was coming, l had to save myself.
I started researching about other provinces and possible opportunities. I then recalled that l had a friend who was based in Edmonton, Alberta who had shared how well things were going there. I went on Job Bank and looked for any job openings in my field. I had to act fast. I made the decision to skip my rent and car payment that month. Me and my girlfriend at the time moved to Edmonton, Alberta during Easter. We had no clear plan, in fact we were homeless for a couple of nights, sleeping at the West Edmonton mall parking lot whilst we looked for accommodation. Luckily, we found a place to stay, and we started our new life there.
As an ambitious person l still had some hope in this American Dream, and I did promise myself I would figure out how to achieve it.
Currently, I am a Marketing Director at this firm. We educate families on simple financial concepts that can change lives. I only wish I had known what know now, the moment l got to this amazing country, my life would be at a different stage.
That is a little bit about Dickson Maiden.