The Money Toxin

When things are going well, is it in your best interest to temper your enthusiasm? Not let your dreams and desires get away from you. Or should you just go get them while the getting is good. Liberals/Democrats would say go for it, do what you want, there is better to come. Conservatives/Republicans would say, stand pat you never know when the shoe will drop. I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Growth at the Playa Paraiso en Magante has been steady and uphill over the last two plus years. Every month things just continue to get better, even in what would be considered low season. In the first year of operation The Playa had no business, the direct result of the destructive nature of the previous tenant, the dreaded Captain Ahole. In the first three months of the business that year (Apr/May/Jun) The Playa saw just ten guests stay in the cabanas and for the full year of 2017 (Apr-Mar) had just 196 nights of occupancy. At the time our small business triad were thrilled that we had started to get people to come to the little ‘Secluded Caribbean Beach Oasis’.

Fast forward two years and in the first quarter of 2019, we have had 161 nights worth of stays. That’s right, almost the equivalent of what was accomplished in the first full year of business. That in anyone’s world, is quite the increase! With this increase in occupancy comes an increase in revenue. Don’t get fooled, we are not talking a lot of money, but we are talking about enough to say things are going well. This is the perspective that Ginger and I, two of the three members of the small-business triad, have. The last third is Wendy and since all the revenue from this increase is going into her pocket, she is seeing things in a slightly different light.

To Wendy this revenue is nothing she has ever experienced in her life before. From her perspective things just keep getting better and she sees no reason this should change. There is less caution in her attitude every time I talk to her. I am seeing something that I have seen before in others and something I am sorry to say I have experienced before, it is that ‘I can do anything I want, any time I want to, because I’m feeling rich’ mentality. The feeling you have when you’re flush, maybe even a little ahead, and you know there is more coming in. Money is a powerful toxin.

To date Wendy has been very good with the money that has flowed in. At first because it could do little more than pay the bills, but by year two it had improved enough that there was money to invest back into the business. Year three is starting out to be a truly boom year, and her plans for the not too distant future have become grander, both personally and business wise. She is starting to do all the things I did when I got my first taste of decent money, spending money in my head that I had yet to earn and then spending the same money twice!!

“I’m planning a vacation in August,” she told me last month, “I’m going to visit my friend in Canada for three weeks.” Okay, that’s a big-ticket item but if anyone could use a vacation it is Wendy. She has only been away from work a few days since this all began and even then, she was in contact by phone. I, for one, learned a long time ago that if I wanted to truly get away from my job, I had to leave the country. The same would apply to her and the girl has never left the island!!

Travelling to Canada is not cheap, but it is not so expensive that it should drain every last peso from her account. She has eliminated the most expensive cost in the way of accommodations, by staying with a friend. This would also, I assume, eliminate transportation and sightseeing costs. Still stuff is far more expensive in Canada than the Dominican Republic. So, I figure that a three-week trip for two to Canada under these conditions would cost between $3000US-$4000US including the round-trip flight. Not cheap, but not extreme.

“I think I am going to buy a car,” she said to me last week, “for the business.” Oh, oh!!

“I did not know you knew how to drive,” I replied in Spanish to this message.

“I will learn,” she replied, “and I could rent it to the guests, and you would not need to rent one from the airport. It is a plan.” Hmmmm… that whole statement from beginning to end is fraught with danger!!

That aside though, I have looked for vehicles in the DR for my future there and they average between $7000-$12000US for something gently-used. A car also makes sense, since the business is busier and Wendy’s need to get to the market for supplies has increased. You can only transport so many bags of groceries on a motorbike and with Amazon Rueban. Now realistically the cost is not any different from here in Canada, but everything is a negotiation and I think you can find a decent vehicle there for $6000-$7000US. Not cheap, but not extreme.

Under the current circumstances, in regards to business at The Playa, either one by itself could be doable in the not to distant future, but both? No, this is spending the same money twice and spending money you don’t yet have! Still planning and thinking about it, are different than actually pulling the trigger and spending the money to come. Been there… done that!! Still paying it off!!! I am Wendy’s friend but I am not her keeper, so I give the best advice I can. “Poco a poco,” I say, little by little.

“Si,” she replies. Telling me that she is aware that all things take time, but I can tell that the money toxin has infected her.

“This is for the future,” she reassures me, “I will borrow the money from the bank, because I also need to build my new house.” See I told you!!!

The money toxin is exhilarating when it first takes hold. It causes the brain to go in all different directions. It gives you an endorphin rush that allows you to dream without limit and honestly, it feels damn good! But I have spent most of my life on the backside of that rush and from personal experience, I can say it really sucks! Thinking about spending money that does not exist is harmless until you try and do it, then when reality kicks in, you are faced with a mistake you can not get out of.

Wendy is not a young woman, and hopefully her maturity will help to curb her enthusiasm towards her new found wealth. If it does not, she will find herself in a place she will not like being, and the conversations we have will take on a whole new tone. “Poco a poco” is the only true path to achieving your dreams… on your terms. Fast and furious rarely ever works out for the better. Just ask the hare that raced the turtle.








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