Air Miles Blinks, Advent Begins and #Moneytalk

Air Miles has finally capitulated and will not expire 5-year-old miles starting on January 1st, which is a victory for consumer advocacy folks like Ellen Roseman and Robb Engen who have fought this decision very hard. Is this the end of this whole thing in the news? Maybe not, as folks are now complaining that they spent their miles quickly when they heard of the initial decision and are now upset they didn’t have a chance to keep accumulating points.

Air Miles Christmas Tree

Not This Year’s Tree, we haven’t got ours up yet, too worried about Air Miles I guess

Advent has begun so you can now put up all your decorations are garlands and the like, but so many of you already had stuff up Mid-November didn’t you? At least try to follow the Church’s calendar for that stuff.

Whenever something is in the news, it brings out the scum, as we are now seeing with the Phoenix payment system that the federal government has tried to get running for a while. Luckily I have had no issues, but some folks are not getting paid, while others are being overpaid, and that is where the story starts to get interesting. There are folks evidently calling Civil Servants and saying they are from the Phoenix pay system and they want their money back (only, no one is doing that right now evidently). These scammers are trying to make some quick dough off a flawed government system.

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My Writings for Week Ending December 2nd

A simple little bit of writing for me this week with Debt is a Four Letter word. I was positive I had already written that exact story, however, after I heard our friend Preet B. use it, I went into my archives and found that I had not written something with that exact title. I have said there is no such thing as good debt, but not that Debt is an obscenity.

A Money Thought

I think Kerry sums up the whole Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., sales thing nicely in this one tweet

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Debt is a Four Letter Word

I am astounded that I have not written something with this title before (in fact I was positive I had). I have talked about how there is no such thing as Good Debt but I guess the word Debt as a social obscenity was missed, but make no mistake Debt is a four letter word.

I was happy to see noted financial expert Preet Banerjee using this same sentiment in a presentation to financial writers. Given the low interest rates we have lived through, folks have no idea the impact that a quadrupling of the prime rate (to say 8%) might have on folks. Could you live with the Interest portion of your mortgage payments to Quadruple?

The explanation that resonated with me (from Preet) was you are not borrowing money from the bank, you are borrowing it from your future self (and you had better hope future you is really successful).

Debt is a Four Letter Word

Debt is a four letter word (thanks to for the image)

The numbers do not lie, every dollar you borrow today, future you has to repay, with interest on top of it. Currently interest is low, but how much longer will this last? Look at your Mortgage statements, does it tell you how much interest you pay off for each payment? If it does triple that, and ask yourself, “Can I afford this?”. If you want to figure it out yourself try my Mortgage Payment Calculator.

I am not even going to touch the levels of consumer debt (i.e. Credit Card, short term loans, auto loans, etc.,), the amount out there right now makes me shake my head.

Other Debt Posts from me? I can’t put them all here, the post would go on for pages, but here are a few of the latest.

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Black Friday has arrived (it has been here in terms of Black Friday Sales for the past month, so nothing new in this version of MoneyTalk ). Who will be wasting hours at work to find that ultimate sale? I won’t, I usually end up buying AntiVirus software and that is about it. I always wonder how it is Black Friday, when the mortar and brick stores typically open on Thursday evening?

Black Friday NT Times MoneyTalk

Where Do They Keep the Left Handed Cheese Straighteners?

I am saddened to hear that all the Turkeys that are pardoned by Presidents, typically died soon after, because “eating turkeys” are bred for white meat not longevity (Today You Learned).

The hottest Thanksgiving topic this year? How to deal with Political Discussions at the dinner table. Whatever happened to discussing candied yam recipes? What is a candied yam, by the by. I do enjoy the exploding deep frying turkeys though, nothing can beat those yearly traditions.

I watched an 8 year old do tax calculations last week, which was really interesting for the first little while, but then it ends up watching someone do Tax Calculations. She did hole hoop nicely though. See the video at the end for details on this. Seems like a lovely young lady (but I wouldn’t want to watch the Blunt Bean Counter do tax calculations either).

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My Writings for Week Ending November 25th

After my time at CFPC16, I felt invigorated, so I wrote two articles this week, and have introduced a few new tricks as well.

Not sure whether other folks used the old SRA reading system, but I did, and it struck me that you could use SRA Readers for Financial Literacy and Money Concepts ? That methodology of starting off with more simple topics, and then build to the more complex ones.

The EQ bank folks were at the conference again this year, and one of their folks started talking about making banking more straight forward,so naturally that caused me to ressurect a 50 year old expression with, WYSIWYG Banking. You’ll have to read to figure out what WYSIWYG means (and how to pronounce it as well).

A CPFC16 Thought

The most interesting arrival tweet, by far, but I am not surprised either.

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What the heck is WYSIWYG Banking? Why is it not possible to have a single bank account, that I can do all my banking with, without having to worry about transaction counts, and fees? This was the core of the presentation from Dan Dickinson of EQ Banks on the weekend, where they explained how their single account solution works (Tangerine also has a similar type of account), but this got me thinking about how (thanks to technology) banking has changed, yet, some “traditions” continue on (i.e. the Chequing Account, the Savings Account and the High Interest Savings Account).

Bank Fees and accounts should be WYSIWYG Banking

What are you seeing ?

What do I mean by WYSIWYG (pronounced “wiz-ee-wig”) ? In the 80’s the tech world wondered at text editors which were WYSIWYG, but in the 60’s we loved a song by the Dramatics of the same name:

What You See is What You Get

OK, so the Dramatics song is actually called Whatcha See is Whatcha Get, but you get my point. Having an editor that showed you what your final document might look like was a huge breakthrough.

What do I mean by this archaic technology phrase? Why is it that if someone talks about a new and exciting banking account it comes with about 30 disclosures/commentaries (usually in a very small font at the bottom of the page) (disclosure: I stole that line from the EQ Bank guy), how is this that much different from one of the standard accounts I have.

If I do more than 2 withdrawals or payment transactions on my HISA (High Interest Savings Account), I get dinged with a huge fee (I think it’s like $7.50), and my chequing account pays no interest whatsoever, but I keep asking why? Yes, in the days of ledgers, and paper records keeping this made sense (maybe), but now the record-keeping is all technology based, so why can’t I have a single bank account? Why must I have:

  • A chequing account, where I do most of my banking like paying bills, writing cheques, etc.,
  • A savings account (or a HISA) to put my rainy day money
  • An Emergency Account, that is a safe place to put money, but I can still get at quickly if there is a problem.
  • Not to mention all the registered savings accounts that I have.

It is starting to get to the point that I have as many bank accounts as I do log in IDs on the Internet (OK not that many but I have well over 10 different accounts, and that is only with 1 bank, I have other accounts at other banks).

Tangerine and EQ Bank look like they are trying to get to a single bank account (or WYSIWYG Banking), but they are not quite there yet.

Yes, this is a great song too!

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SRA Readers for Financial Literacy and Money Concepts ?

Remember as a kid, when you were in class, and the teacher would bring the old SRA Readers box out? Maybe this is a 70’s thing, but I remember that, and it helped me not loathe reading as much as I did. Can we borrow this idea for Financial Literacy?

SRA Reading System for Financial Literacy

SRA Reading System

The system helped kids progress through reading stories that became more complex, as you moved through each level or Colour. You would get questions on the story to make sure you really understood the whole story.

I enjoyed the competition that it introduced, as each kid in the class would proudly say what colour they had achieved, and when I remembered this I wondered wouldn’t this be a wonderful way to teach Financial Literacy and other Money topics?

Start with simple money concepts, then move onto saving and how money can grow, move on to banks and how they work, and once those topics are well understood then bring in the concept of leverage and credit, and finally how Mortgage, and complex investing concepts work. Each section could be easily broken down, and at the end of it you could be confident that the kids have learned about the topic.

Anybody up for putting this together?


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