Tom's Story

Hopefully you have come to this page to learn all about me, Tom Swan. I bet you are thinking why should I listen to this guy? How do I know if he really knows what he is talking about? Those are excellent questions and I promise to answer those questions and maybe a few more in the paragraphs to follow.

I was born in 1971, about 30 miles north of Detroit. According to my older sister, I was supposed to be a girl. She had prayed and prayed for a baby sister, but God blessed her with an adorable little brother. Both of my parents worked to make ends meet. I even remember my dad working 2 jobs when needed. I did not grow up rich. Until I was about six, my mom sewed the majority of my clothes. No, she was not a designer for Gucci or Ralph Lauren. But in the mid 70's it was acceptable to have a mom that was also a fashion designer. I didn't need $100 jeans or $200 designer boots to be cool. I had polyester pants and my red fake fur coat. Don't be jealous!

My fist real lesson in money came when I was playing Monopoly with my sister. I owned several properties with houses and motels, all that I had bought with cash! By definition I was a 10 year old real estate mogul. Every time she landed on my property she had to pay big bucks. Life is good when you have money. Unfortunately, it was only a game.

I got my first credit card shortly after my 18th birthday. It was cool; I could buy things and I did not have to have real money. I was too young to care about interest rates, besides I could buy cool stuff like a waterbed and a VCR. I thought credit cards were the next best thing compared to sliced bread! Umm...scratch that, they were better than sliced bread.

Let's skip ahead 20 years, my wife and I were living the American dream...all on borrowed money. We had two car payments, a couple of personal loans, a $38,000 student loan, a mortgage, and 34 credit cards. Yes, I said 34. I'm not bragging because now I am old enough to care about interest rates and we were paying over $1,200 a month in finance charges. If you just didn't say holy cow, you should have.

We realized we were living the "we deserve it life style". You know, you tell yourself you work hard and you deserve to eat out four times a week. You deserve to have a brand new car. You deserve to spend $25 a week on coffee and lattes. The truth is we did both work hard, so we did deserve it alright...we deserved to be broke. We had developed some bad spending habits.

We started looking for a way out. I got some books about getting out of debt, I did some research on line and we attended a workshop about eliminating debt. They all had some good advice but the common theme was I had to live this frugal lifestyle, where we couldn't have any fun, we had to eat Ramen noodles every day and separate 2 ply toilet paper. If you can do that, good for you! I couldn't or shall I say I wouldn't! I needed to find a balance between eliminating debt and still being able to live. Don't stop reading now; we are almost to the good part.

Since that time, we have learned a lot about money. We learned how to create a balanced plan for our spending, savings and debt reduction. We replaced most of our bad spending habits with some good ones and as result we have paid off over $78,000 worth of debt. We are not debt free but every month we get a little closer.

Every day, I try to share what I have learned with others. I am now a Certified Credit Counselor and I have hosted more than 60 financial workshops since 2009. I founded Live Financially Smart with a mission of providing financial educational programs that help ordinary people create a balanced plan for their money. I have a huge passion for helping others and I would be honored to help you too.

Ok, enough about me. I hope I have answered all of your questions. Now, let's talk about you. How can I help? Call or email me today. I am excited to hear your story and help you create a plan to Live Financially Smart.

Thanks for reading,

Tom Swan