Good Friday

The Easter season begins today with Good Friday, with that in mind I am going to enjoy this weekend with my family, and will be back on Monday.

Good Friday

Good Friday

I have spoken about Good Friday before so I leave you a short excerpt from my Faves page:

Personal Financial and Planning

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Banks Some useful advice I gave a friend that still is very true!
  2. Free Banking One of my favorite topics on how to get your bank to give you FREE banking for a while at least.
  3. Quarterly Personal Finance Status Report A way for couples to keep each other up to date on their financial status.
  4. Debt is Like Fat Another way to look at trying to get out of debt.
  5. Debt Makes Me Sick A frank article on my feelings about debt.
  6. I Should Divorce My Wife? An interesting point of view from the tax side of things.

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Personal Finance: Lent Begins Today

As part of Lent, I am reflecting on my previous writings a little more, and this little chestnut was from 5 years ago, however, I have done some judicious editing  as well.

Mardi Gras was on Tuesday, so that means that Lent begins today and this is a perfect opportunity for folks to start something new with their Personal Finances (and their spiritual life, if they wish as well). Easter is a time for new beginnings or restarting something you need to resume, however, most people view Lent as a time to “find something to give up”. That is one way of viewing your Lenten journey, but another way is to look for something to Enrich your life for the 40 days of Lent (leading up to Good Friday and Easter).

Financial Lenten Journey

What areas of your personal finances could use either Enrichment or Better still a sacrifice that might help your financial well being? There are some very simple ones that I think about every year (and have done a few of them):

  • The Latte withdrawal penance. Cut out buying coffee for the 40 days of Lent and put that money aside, to either save, give to charity or pay down your debt. Keep track of this and see how much money you might be saving here, it’s worthwhile finding out where this discretionary money is going.
  • Read 4 Personal Finance books over the 40 days to enrich your understanding of your personal finances or your investing adventures. Building up your expertise over Lent is a good thing.
  • Brown bag it for 40 days, give up buying lunch at work, and bring your lunch instead. Another way to find out where your discretionary spending is going.
  • Take the bus to work for Lent. Leave the car at home, buy a bus pass and take the Bus to work. Yes gas is cheaper right now, but not driving might have other benefits for you (less stress, more exercise, etc.,).
  • Live on cash for 40 days and get rid of your credit cards. Freeze them in your freezer, lock them in your safety deposit box, or cut them up, but live on CASH only (no debit either) and see if you can do it, does it change your spending habits?

Think about these or suggest others, I am open to suggestions myself.

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Financial Reboot

One of the major tricks I learned when I was an I.T. dude, was how easy it was to fix problems if you asked your customer, “Have you rebooted your system lately?“. I also knew this drove my customers nuts, but it worked most of the time, and they had to then go away, and I usually had a good chuckle.

When I was at the Maundy Thursday service at my Church during Holy Week, it ends with a complete stripping of the alter and the turning off all the lights in the Church, effectively ending the Church year, and then on Easter morning, this is the start of a new year, effectively a spiritual reboot.

Restart Financially?

This strikes me as a useful idea for those who may be stuck in a financial rut, or feel they are drowning in their own financial plans. I am not espousing declaring bankruptcy or walking away from your financial issues (that is the ultimate financial reboot, and should really be a solution of last resort), but I am saying that maybe a reboot in your financial thinking is needed?

How can you reboot financially? Some ideas that might work are:

  • Re-vamp your investment ideas, and move away from an active investment plan to a passive or Index based plan. Maybe your issue with your investments is that you just don’t know enough about how to invest (I know I don’t), but if you go with the indexes you are more likely to succeed (as long as you choose the right indexes). This kind of reboot in your methodology may help you in the long run?
  • If you and your spouse don’t talk about money much, maybe it’s time to reboot, and then plan weekly discussions about what is going on with money so that both of you know what is going on. This might ease the money tension in your house and give you new ideas about things.
  • If you have no financial plan, reboot, and make one. If you feel living day to day is not working for you, reboot and restart with a plan that will help you feel more in control.
  • When you retire a debt (especially if it is a Credit Card), maybe retire that debt vehicle (i.e. close the account), so that it cannot resurrect itself later. Rebooting your credit vehicles by getting rid of unneeded credit devices is a good idea, if you have had issues with them previously.

Rebooting your financial life gives you a fresh start, and maybe can put you back on the right path?

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An Easter Story: The Leather Coat

Sometimes some interesting stories happen around me that I like passing on in this forum. I am recounting this story to show that for all the complaining about the youth, I think the world will be in good hands when we old farts finally move on.

On Ash Wednesday this year, our Church ran its normal activity day (where the kids come and learn about Lent, Ash Wednesday and Easter), and a few other parishes also participated (my wife helps run these).

One of the activities for the high school kids (who actually take the day off school) is to go down to one of the Churches in the Ottawa Core, where there is a “lunch club” where folks of modest means (and many homeless people) come to have lunch, and have somewhere to “be”.  The teenagers from our churches went to help out at the lunch room, and to maybe get a glimpse of how some people have to live.

A few of the teenagers brought their coats in and hung them up, and unfortunately one of the coats went missing after lunch. Evidently where the kids hung up their coats was an “if you need one take one, if you have one leave one” area of the closet, so a very nice leather coat went missing. The jacket that disappeared was a treasured family keepsake (it had been owned by one of the young men’s grandfather). Needless to say there was a lot of rushing around to find the coat, but it was gone.

The kids returned to our Church and our minister got the whole story so he took the young man aside to talk to him about the missing coat. When our minister asked the young man if he was upset about the coat going missing, the young man’s only response was, “… at least someone will have a warm coat to wear tonight …”.

This is astounding, a kid who could have whined, complained, blamed, or at least been upset about the loss simply viewed the coat for what it most likely had become, a gift to someone who might need something warm to wear.

An astounding young man.

Note: I feel I can repeat this story, because our minister spoke about it in his sermon.

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Easter Bunny Bounces Jobs Into March in Canada

Yes, I know the Easter bunny would help the April employment numbers, but the headline is still great.

Employment is up and Unemployment is down for March 2012 in Canada (according to Stats Canada), which is very good news:

Following four months of little change, employment increased by 82,000 in March, mostly in full-time work. This brought the unemployment rate down 0.2 percentage points to 7.2%.


Compared with 12 months earlier, employment was up 1.1% or 197,000. Almost all of this growth was in full-time employment, up 181,000 (+1.3%), while part-time employment edged up. The total number of hours worked rose 1.6% over the same period.

The fact that it is Full Time employment is the most important news that I can read in that paragraph. The numbers of hours worked going up is good too.

Employment for Past Little While

Employment gains in March were spread across several industries, including health care and social assistance; information, culture and recreation; and public administration. There was a decline in educational services.

Interesting cross-section of jobs that were created, and all of this is good news for Canadians, but now we must wait to see that the ramifications are from Government cuts at the Provincial and also at the Federal level.

Unemployment for Past little While in Canada

A much more optimistic looking graph for Canadians.

The Big Table

As usual I include one of the Big Tables from our friends at Stats Canada, and some interesting numbers appear in the table.

Labour force characteristics by age and sex - Seasonally adjusted

February 2012 March 2012 Feb to
Mar 2012
Mar  2011 to
Mar 2012
Feb to
Mar 2012
Mar 2011 to
Mar 2012
thousands (except rates) change in thousands (except rates) % change
Both sexes, 15 years and over
Population 28,180.9 28,208.1 27.2 318.9 0.1 1.1
Labour force 18,740.3 18,792.8 52.5 128.9 0.3 0.7
Employment 17,354.2 17,436.5 82.3 197.2 0.5 1.1
Full-time 14,058.0 14,128.0 70.0 181.3 0.5 1.3
Part-time 3,296.1 3,308.5 12.4 15.9 0.4 0.5
Unemployment 1,386.2 1,356.2 -30.0 -68.4 -2.2 -4.8
Participation rate 66.5 66.6 0.1 -0.3
Unemployment rate 7.4 7.2 -0.2 -0.4
Employment rate 61.6 61.8 0.2 0.0
Part-time rate 19.0 19.0 0.0 -0.1
Youths, 15 to 24 years
Population 4,456.2 4,456.7 0.5 -1.9 0.0 -0.0
Labour force 2,822.8 2,843.3 20.5 -33.7 0.7 -1.2
Employment 2,409.1 2,448.3 39.2 -15.7 1.6 -0.6
Full-time 1,268.8 1,302.0 33.2 1.5 2.6 0.1
Part-time 1,140.3 1,146.3 6.0 -17.2 0.5 -1.5
Unemployment 413.7 395.0 -18.7 -18.1 -4.5 -4.4
Participation rate 63.3 63.8 0.5 -0.7
Unemployment rate 14.7 13.9 -0.8 -0.5
Employment rate 54.1 54.9 0.8 -0.4
Part-time rate 47.3 46.8 -0.5 -0.4
Men, 25 years and over
Population 11,609.3 11,622.2 12.9 159.6 0.1 1.4
Labour force 8,429.3 8,460.2 30.9 76.8 0.4 0.9
Employment 7,899.5 7,927.9 28.4 102.2 0.4 1.3
Full-time 7,281.3 7,305.2 23.9 88.9 0.3 1.2
Part-time 618.2 622.6 4.4 13.2 0.7 2.2
Unemployment 529.8 532.3 2.5 -25.4 0.5 -4.6
Participation rate 72.6 72.8 0.2 -0.3
Unemployment rate 6.3 6.3 0.0 -0.4
Employment rate 68.0 68.2 0.2 -0.1
Part-time rate 7.8 7.9 0.1 0.1
Women, 25 years and over
Population 12,115.4 12,129.2 13.8 161.2 0.1 1.3
Labour force 7,488.2 7,489.3 1.1 85.8 0.0 1.2
Employment 7,045.6 7,060.4 14.8 110.8 0.2 1.6
Full-time 5,508.0 5,520.8 12.8 90.9 0.2 1.7
Part-time 1,537.6 1,539.6 2.0 19.9 0.1 1.3
Unemployment 442.6 428.9 -13.7 -24.9 -3.1 -5.5
Participation rate 61.8 61.7 -0.1 -0.2
Unemployment rate 5.9 5.7 -0.2 -0.4
Employment rate 58.2 58.2 0.0 0.1
Part-time rate 21.8 21.8 0.0 -0.1
not applicable
Note(s): 
Related CANSIM table 282-0087.

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