So with their help and input that's just what I did. You might be thinking 'Oh come on woman, it's not rocket science, have you never thought to do that?' Actually, no! Sure there were things I wanted to do, even dreamed of doing but either the timing wasn't right or I just didn't need to be doing them right then. And then I just sort of forgot really. All those years of experience, all those skills were just meaningless words on my CV. They looked flash but they weren't being brought to life. When you think about it though, who DOES really talk about things like that? It's certainly not a taboo subject or anything, it just never seems to come up. You may know what a friend's job title is but you rarely know exactly what that job entails. I realised that after my job hunting post when people were contacting me asking what skills I had and whether I had ever done such and such. In most cases I had been doing them on a professional basis for 15 years! But whilst in 10 years of blogging I had shared everything with readers from what I was cooking for dinner to the penguins on my pyjamas, I never once talked about what I could do.
Fortunately over the space of a couple of days, the people who I mentioned above helped me to see and no sooner had I put my name out there, or someone else had done so on my behalf than the work began rolling in. It was pretty much immediate, amazing! A whole world of work and untapped resources I never knew existed! And then as if that wasn't enough, something else happened. Wendy Gower and I are not related and have never met but we have a lot in common. Wendy first came to people's attention just over a year ago when a national current affairs program filmed a segment on her thrifty lifestyle entitled 'Is this Australia's stingiest family?' I've never liked the word stingy but even though the title may have sounded less than complimentary, the nation embraced Wendy and her family and since then she has never looked back, helping thousands of people improve their lives and their bank balances through passing on her knowledge.
Wendy's experience reminded me of my own several years before. Back in 2007 Campbell Live filmed a segment all about our family and the $21 Challenge and the same thing happened. While there were plenty of sceptics (after all you can only convey so much information about how to survive on $21 in a seven minute segment!) there were many, many more people who wanted to know more and wanted help. Ultimately this led to the writing of the $21 Challenge book but from then on I began receiving invitations to come and talk to groups of all kinds, often fitting hundreds of people into city libraries. One visit to a group of struggling WINZ clients was so successful, the co-ordinator went on to introduce a six-week program in her own and other branches, based around the principles of the $21 Challenge. I even taught a three-week program at the local high school, which was heaps of fun but more importantly highlighted a huge need and a gap in the education system. Many times I thought how amazing it would be to design a money saving program which would be made available to every high school and educational institution in NZ. Moreover, I wanted to be the one to teach it. But it wasn't possible. Simple Savings was a small team and we were constantly flat tack, there was already far too much to do! So my little dream stayed just that; a dream. Maybe once or twice a year it would pop up in my head and I would think wistfully 'Yeah, I wish I could have done that', only for it to quickly disappear back to where it came from because it was always too impossible to consider.
I can't remember if Wendy added me as a friend on Facebook or vice versa but for a while she was just one of those 'Facebook friends who you don't actually know in person but are nice to have anyway'. Until I wrote that post and out of the blue she contacted me to say 'You still have so much knowledge. Why don't you go and talk to people and help and inspire them to save money the way you used to? I know firsthand there is a demand for this in NZ but I can't be everywhere. You could do it though!' What, you mean go and do the absolutely most rewarding, most enjoyable thing I had ever done? The thing I had totally forgotten all about for like - ever? The thing which I never had the time to do before but I did now? Maybe I could!
The next day I took the plunge and placed my first tentative post on our local Buy and Sell Facebook community page. Immediately there was interest and as I watched it climb my inbox started to go crazy with messages. My post hadn't been on the page ten minutes before there was a request from the careers officer at the local school to come and do a workshop. And then another school. And then I started to talk about the things I used to do, the groups I used to talk to and realised that whilst there may have been seven years between me being on Campbell Live and Wendy being on A Current Affair, nothing had changed. Saving money hadn't gone out of date. People still needed help and didn't know how to help themselves. And most shockingly of all, there was still next to no money saving or management education in schools. This was apparent from all the twenty-somethings who posted on the page 'Yes, this is so much needed in schools!' 'I wish I'd had something like this when I was at school' and on it went. And bingo. Up popped my dream. My dream of being able to visit every school in NZ and teach school leavers how to save money. Or just as importantly, how not to waste it. How not to make the same stupid mistakes so many of us adults did because we didn't have anybody to teach us and WHY. I realised there was no longer anything stopping me from doing it. I also realised that although the timing may not have been right before, I was so much better equipped now to undertake this job through the events of the past few years. Before when I used to talk to people about saving money, I could talk the talk and I could walk the walk but I did it out of lifestyle choice, not necessity. I hadn't been to the desperate places many of the people I was talking to had been. But now I have. I can actually convey through my experience what debt feels like. And I know that I'm going to be one hell of a teacher because of it.
I already felt I was on the right track but just to make sure I sought advice from the wonderful Glenn Larsen. He was the miracle worker who believed in me and fought the banks to enable me to buy Nawtypoo Cottage and has been a much valued friend ever since. I knew he would tell me straight up what he thought and awaited his visit with fear and trepidation. I totally expected him to say 'What the hell are you thinking you mad woman? Sell your house right now and get yourself out of this mess!' But he didn't. Instead he helped me devise a plan which will hopefully help to keep a roof over my head while I'm getting this new venture off the ground. My first school workshop is August 28th and a community one for the rest of the town will be shortly after to co-incide with Money Week from August 31st - September 6th. After that, who knows? Support has already been incredible and I have meetings coming out of my ears. It's a big risk but what the heck, I'm used to taking those! And if I'm really lucky, it might just pay off.
I'm going to call my workshops the Bright Future Program. It just kind of jumped out at me but I rather liked it because for me it has two meanings. Hopefully I can make a difference in people's lives and help them achieve a brighter future through my teachings. But throughout this whole crappy few years, you my readers have helped to keep me afloat by always writing to me and telling me how positive I am in my posts. It always blows me away to hear that because I feel like I'm just whinging! But indeed I have always prided myself on being an optimist and to hear it from others makes me stronger every time. So Bright Future it is!