Redux: Real World Example: Kids Allowances

Back in 2005 just when I was starting to blog, I never really knew what I was going to write about (nothing much has changed), so I wrote about the system I put in place to make sure that my kids got their allowances.

I still do use these accounts to transfer money to my kids, and I have added a few comments of my own to the original article.

Real World Example: Kids Allowances

OK, so back to what this blog is about, real world financial ranting.
I did rant a lot back then didn’t I?

The 10 Bob Note When I was Young That Would Have Been a great Allowance

The 10 Bob Note When I was Young That Would Have Been a great Allowance

For the longest time my wife and I tried to get the kids on an allowance, so that they could learn what money is, how it works and some responsibility, but inevitably, we’d forget for a couple of weeks, try to catch up and eventually just gave up (much to the kids chagrin). Interesting, we were trying to teach the kids responsibility and all it did was show how irresponsible their parents were (now THAT is ironic).  It’s funny as a parent your kids end up teaching you as much as you think you are teaching them.

About 6 years ago I was in the TD on one of my yearly visits, getting my bank fees waived for a year, and get them to fix something they had screwed up (I think it was my mortgage that year), when I asked about kids’ bank accounts. My brother sends the girls money every year, and we had got to the point where we didn’t want to just buy them toys with it. The poor woman whose life I was ruining for the day, said the accounts could be opened then (since the kids had SIN numbers), and the accounts would show up “under” my account on my on-line banking. At the time, that didn’t seem that important, but at the end of it, it really was the most useful part of the exercise, as I could then may transfers to the accounts for free, whereas now I would send it with a $1.50 service fee.

A day or two later, a light went on in my head. I called the bank on the phone woman (who I now call once a year, because I do most of my banking on-line, but couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted). I asked her to set up weekly transfers from my account to my kids accounts, thus assuring that the money was paid every week (whether I remembered or not). I am constantly amazed at how my thinking patterns work, I am not a Fast Thinker, but I do have good ideas, eventually.

Well, it has worked, the kids get their weekly allowances AND they actually do things like:

  • Buy clothes that they really want
  • Have somewhere to put their uncle’s money and can then buy what they want
  • Buy presents for their friends birthdays (that one shocked me the first time it happened).

So it seems this experiment has worked, chalk one up for me.

In the end, it helped the girls understand money a bit more. We were not that heavy handed in terms of things they needed (we ended up paying for a large number of things, but we also didn’t make their allowances that big either, but I think the experiment worked out quite well.


Tales of Financial Persistence

Yesterday I was relentless in reaching my goal of erasing from my monthly bills one of the most embarrassing charges I could have, as a High Tech Financial Blogger, and that is paying for America On Line services.

It all started in 1993 when I first joined AOL, and I got e-mail address awhit34109 AT . Back then we needed dial-up access to get to the Internet, and back then, it really wasn’t the Internet, it was just a bunch of Newsgroups and Forums all complaining about things (so not much has changed really). Back then AOL used to send you a CD every month (or every day) in the mail so that you would sign up with their Internet Service Provider software. It was a magical time, and I have used the e-mail accounts from there for a very long time.


The America On Line

Time passed, and the Internet changed, and suddenly I had Internet access that didn’t rely on a phone line and a modem to get connected? What? How is that possible? I was part of the initial trials of the Nortel 1 Meg Modem, which was in ill-fated product that got bulldozed by the Tech Standard DSL, and Nortel missed out big time on that, but I had unlimited, always up Internet access, and it was all good.

AOL saw this change and they introduced a “bring your own access” solution, which was much cheaper, so I chose to stay with them, paying about $8 a month for this privilege. I also got some emergency dial-up access if I needed it, and some other free stuff, and the AOL interface too.

Time continued to pass, many different e-mail providers appeared, and when Google introduced Gmail, AOL had already started to die (remember AOL/Time/Warner?) but I kept paying AOL, mostly because I was lazy and just never got around to it.

Finally yesterday, I called 1-800-AOL-HELP to cancel my fees based AOL, but evidently I can keep my AOL E-mail accounts too. After 140 minutes on hold (I kept track of it, on my phone, I had to wait that long to get through on the “I want to cancel my AOL” hot line), a nice young man tried to cajole me into paying $3.95 for some other odd service (basically for a version of McAfee that AOL would supply), but I stuck to my guns and said, “No, I want to cancel my AOL, but keep my e-mail addresses“. Evidently I succeeded, but I will see if they continue to keep charging me for this.

This AOL service is evidently what is keeping AOL afloat, as there are countless lazy uninformed stupid folks like me that have just never cancelled their AOL and continue to pay $11 a month for a service they don’t need to pay for? Many folks think they are paying for their mail services with this, but no, you can keep your e-mail for free (it has been that way for a long time), you are actually paying for Dial-up access, McAfee software, and AOL service line, none of which I have used in years (yes, I should be derided and ridiculed for this).

Hopefully, I think after a lot of persistence (and a lot of Muzak on hold), I may have succeeded.



Reversing Mutual Fund Purchases

TD’s Mutual Fund group proved yet again why I really don’t like dealing with them. Some might ask, “Why do I have so many TD Mutual Fund accounts?”. Surprisingly because I had a group of CT Mutual Fund Accounts, that changed over to TD Mutual Fund accounts (I should have just closed them and gone with TD Waterhouse accounts, but hindsight is 20/20).

One of the accounts is my “Emergency Fund“, and  I decided that I should maybe move funds from a T-Bill Fund to a Bond Fund (E-series) just for a little bit of growth. A Bond Fund is a little riskier than a T-Bill account, but it was not like I wanted to buy the TD North African Sahara Sand Fund or something risky like that (keep that in mind).

Transacation Cancelled

Transaction DENIED!!

The transaction went through (it actually showed up in my list of funds in my account) and then a day later, the transaction was reversed and I received the following e-mail:

Dear Investor,

We appreciate your business and thank you for your request.

For security reasons, we have not included your name and account number in this communication.  Please do not reply to this e-mail.  It is our policy not to send, nor to ask our customers to send account and trade-related information by e-mail.

After further review of your trade, we are required to reverse your trade request because it may not be suited to your current investor profile.  We have based this assessment on the information you provided us regarding your personal circumstances, investment knowledge, objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance.  Not only do we want to help you make the best investment decisions, we are required to assess the suitability of all mutual fund account transactions.  Please contact a Mutual Funds Representative1 to review and update the information we have regarding your Investor Profile.  

Part of me is glad to see this being done, thus stopping Grandmothers from taking their funds and dumping it into a Chinese Hay Bailing Mutual Fund, but seriously how is moving from a Money Market account to a Bond Fund that risky?

The other thing that really upset me was that the transaction went through, the Mutual Fund transfer appeared and then it was reversed! Wonder if anyone got a commission on that?

I dutifully called up to talk to a very pleasant young man, and he informed me that my Investing profile hadn’t been updated for a while (1997 to be exact), so maybe we could change things a little. We went through each question and at the end of it, I was still not an aggressive enough investor to buy the TD E-Series Bond Fund (TDB909 ) (not the first time I have been told I am Too Conservative in My Investing )

At that point we entered into a hypothetical situation where I might have asked the young man what I needed to do to allow me to invest in whatever I wanted in the Mutual Fund account, and the very helpful young man may have suggested we review a few of my answers. In this hypothetical situation, I might have changed my answers a little to reflect a more aggressive investing stance (after someone might have explained what each response might mean), and at the end of it, I might have been allowed to transfer my T-Bill Index Fund holdings into the TD E-series Bond Fund.

I really should just transfer these accounts into TD Waterhouse accounts, but maybe TD Mutual Funds needs a, “I Understand the Risks and Wish to Do It Myself” declaration, absolving them of any wrong doing, should I decide to buy the “Buggy Whip and Bumpers Mutual Fund”, or the like?


As predicted a market correction is happening (where predicted means, 8 out of the last 2 market corrections have been correctly predicted), and the world is excited. We have the crazed old sages saying, “See I told you!“, others saying, “Nothing to worry about“, and still others saying “this is why you should have an actively traded portfolio“, naturally my philosophy is, “I am an indexer, I don’t care what the Index did this past week“. I buy my Index Funds, I re-balance every 6 months or so (need to get my robo-balancer up) and that is about it. I lived through the great crashes of ’87, ’93, ’00, ’08 and hopefully I’ll live through this as well.


Fall Financial Haiku

Ebola is here on the North American continent and it has killed as many people this week, as were murdered in Toronto this week, but luckily it is filling every media outlet, all looking for new angles on how to scare the public more. I believe the odds of you getting hit by a car are a little higher than getting Ebola (currently), but those odds may shorten should Ebola become air-borne (cue dramatic music). Yes, it is an important problem, but right now, there is far too much being said about something that isn’t understood (much like money, these days). You are also more likely to die from the Flu this year (than Ebola), but will hospitals be full to the gunnels with folks with the flu thinking they have Ebola? I think so.

The Loonie is at a 5 year low being about 88 cents to the Mighty American Buck, but that will help Canadian exporters (not folks wanting to buy American deals for Christmas though).

Gas is dropping in price again, which will mean screwed up Inflation numbers next month, where I am sure even though food costs 10% more than last year at this time, we will actually be in a state of DEflation. I love how data can be jumbled around to reflect any message you want.

Good news on the Hockey front, neither the Leafs, Sens or Habs are already eliminated from the playoffs (but it is early yet).

My Writings for Week Ending October 17th

The turkey genocide of 2014 happened, with very little fan fair, but there is talk of more atrocities against our avian friends in the coming months in the name of American Thanksgiving and worse still Christmas! My writings were pretty thin this week, I guess I made a bit too merry for Thanksgiving?

Scotia Bank Value Visa

[click to continue…]


Old becomes New

After a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, as we dropped one of my daughters off at school, my son saw one of my daughter’s university buddies playing Guitar Hero on a PS/2 (evidently at University, the kids “rough it” by using 1 generation back technology), and my son was enthralled by the site of this game. His hand eye co-ordination was such that he couldn’t get the hang of the guitar, however, he remembered that we had a PS/2 in our basement, collecting dust, and I was ordered to set it up for him (well, it sounded like an order, I think he said please).

Good Fun

Previously Enjoyed Toys

Setting up the game was easier than I remember, as the TV we use for my son had a spare AVI port (you know that old Red White and Yellow cable we used to use on tube tvs?) and for the rest of the day my son was enjoying Simpson’s Road Rage (although he likes to play Air Guitar Hero (you walk around with the “guitar” acting like you are playing the game).

This all got me thinking that with my son, and how he has had many regifted toys over his life (he has  Teletubbies, Tickle Me Elmo and a Tutter from his sisters and many other older toys) and seems no worse for wear for me not spending many dollars on toys. I remember the amount of pain my wife went through to get those toys new (the Tickle Me Elmo craze was a scary time), and I am happy that they can actually be enjoyed again.

You do realize that Christmas is coming in a while, are you going to buy your kids or grandkids a bunch of toys, that may end up locked in a closet one day? What if you put some money in an RESP for them, or in trust for when they get older? Does old money get locked in a closet ?