Erin Bury on quitting a job for a risky salary, investing in her 20s and more

What’s the best money advice you’ve ever received?

Pay yourself first. One of the first money books I ever read was The Automatic Millionaire, and it really emphasized the importance of setting up automated bill payments and savings so that you always prioritize your long-term financial health. That really helped me when I was in my twenties; I didn’t make a lot of money, but even if I put $25 of each paycheck into an RRSP, I was able to build up savings, which in turn helped me buy my first property at age 29.

What’s the worst money advice you’ve ever received?

To stay in a stable job because of the salary. When I was 23 I worked at a PR agency, my first job outside of college. I was approached to work for a startup, and several people in my life told me to keep the stable job, especially since it was the height of the 2008 recession. Luckily my mom gave me the best advice: “You’re young, take the risk. What’s the worst that could happen?” That decision set me on an entrepreneurial path, and 15 years later my life is fundamentally different – and better! – because I didn’t [focus solely on] that stable salary.

What is the most underrated financial strategy?

Prioritize emergency planning. Now that I have an online will, I am very passionate about building solid emergency plans. I have a life insurance policy, a will, power of attorney documents, a password manager app, and written instructions that my family or executor could carry out if something were to happen. Most Canadians don’t think about this, but they should.

What is the biggest misconception people have about growing money?

That the stock market is the only way to grow your wealth. I’m not a stock market person – it’s just not my area of ​​expertise. Instead, I focused on growing my wealth through real estate and entrepreneurship. There is not just one path to success.

Can you share a monetary regret?

I didn’t start saving until I was in my early twenties, despite having a job since I was 14. If I could go back in time, I would even save 10% of every paycheck, and I would have bought an apartment in Toronto in 2007 when I graduated from college and moved downtown. I rented an apartment from 2007 to 2015 and thinking about how all that rent could have paid off a mortgage makes me a little sick!

What’s the first big purchase you made as an adult?

It was a pre-construction apartment in Toronto in 2014. I was running a marketing agency working with condo builders, and while working on a launch event I decided to buy one of the units with my savings. Luckily they were flexible with the payment terms. That unit was not ready until 2020 and we lived there briefly before deciding to sell it this spring. The apartment was greatly appreciated during that time and I am still proud that I was able to buy it on my own and really got off to a flying start with my real estate portfolio.

What’s your take on debt?

Debt can be used as a strategic instrument, both personal and business. For example, we’ve raised convertible debt from Willful, and it’s a strategic way to raise outside funding without having to put a fixed value on the business.

Personally, I believe that there are good types of debt, such as home equity lines of credit that help you improve the resale value of your home or invest in new properties, and bad debt such as high-interest credit cards. As an entrepreneur who has gone through periods where I paid myself nothing, there have been times when I have lived off credit cards. Bad debt is often unavoidable, but it should always be a means to an end.

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