Financial Worries Counted and Compelled

I was reading a very interesting post about avoiding my financial nightmare from plunged in debt, which did remind me of my own question of why are there so many things to worry about at 2 AM? Anxiety, and money worries can become quite the 800 lb. Gorilla in the room if we allow them, but we really shouldn’t.

As (the late) Zero Mostel points out on the Muppet Show:

Once they are counted and compelled,
They can quickly be dispelled.
Like figments of my own imagination.

Maybe not dispelled, but certainly accounted and planned for. Fears spawn more fears, and then spawn imaginative (if not even irrational) fears, that may cause you to plan or attempt to remedy the wrong things. Reading the entire monologue is entertaining, but even this small excerpt can show how quickly you can jump to some seriously weird worries:

Fear of elevators falling
And the taxman someday calling
And the accidental walling of myself
Up inside a clammy, dank old dingy cellar,
Where the spiders weave around my tummy,
And the worms and bugs and crawly things
Squirm and squiggle at me person.

That’s a little over the top, but if you don’t take inventory of your financial concerns you could go into that kind of Financial Funk (as it were).

Write things down, write what you are worried about down, and then read it. Does it seem terrifying?

If it is, then maybe get help, but maybe it is not as scary once you write it down? Write down all of your financial worries and see if they are rational and solvable, and if you can do something about it, do it! If they end up being an irrational bunch of clap trap, then shred, burn or mutilate them to show your disdain for them. If they are really specific things that you think you can fix (maybe with help), then do it!

Sometimes once you see your problems written down on paper, they seem less terrifying (and maybe more solvable).


What Happens When Your Daughter Gives you a Pig?

One of the more interesting gifts I received for Christmas was an interesting gift from my youngest daughter.

All of my daughter’s know (and I think read) this site, and hopefully some of what I write about has rubbed off on them (well I can hope), which brings me to this interesting gift.

What does this gift mean?

What does this gift mean?

This is the Money Savvy Pig designed to teach kids about money choices and how to set financial goals. It’s an interesting idea and evidently it is not recommended for kids under the age of 3, but how many folks are teaching their 3 year olds about financial goals?

The more interesting question is, what was my daughter saying with this gift? Is it a gag gift? Is it a jab at my Dad the Financial Blogger? A hint that I should save more money for her education? Interesting question, any ideas out there? Oh, and yes, there is no money in it yet (if you look closely at the picture).


Honest New Year Resolutions

Yes, a new year is upon us and like the rest of the heard, I am sure you have made some resolutions about how you will be a better person this coming year. I applaud your originality, OK, that ruins my “no sarcasm” resolution, and I am writing this on New Year’s Eve.

Last year I wrote some Sarcastic New Year’s Resolutions, so why break with an old tradition let us see if I can hit a few more of the more trendy resolutions for 2014.

My Personal Opinion On Resolutions

My Personal Opinion On Resolutions

Financial Resolutions for 2014

As I pointed out the “not write any more sarcastic posts” one is already shredded, so we shall forget that one completely.

  1. Control impulse spending better than last year, but those boxing quarter sales are just so enticing, I am not sure how I can stop myself from not buying that 110 inch TV for $150K. Seriously, I am only human, how can anyone resist that?
  2. So the automatic saving thing didn’t work too well this past year, so what I should do is put the money in my TFSA, that way I know I can’t easily take money out every month. That may cause a problem around March when all the Christmas bills show up, so I might have to then get another line of credit to pay for all of this, so I had better not have a resolution about not adding any more credit lines to my financial world.
  3. Don’t join a gym this year, since I haven’t figured out how to cancel last year’s gym membership, so maybe I’ll buy some exercise equipment. I figure a tread-mill, stationary bike and an elliptical trainer (and maybe some free weights) should be sufficient, and the fitness supplier has a buy now, pay at the end of the year deal, so that will work out well (if I can figure out how to cancel my old gym membership).
  4. I should really get a new car, because my current one is a bit tatty, and with a lease it is dead simple and so cheap. Another bi-weekly payment won’t hurt me (that much), and I get to raise my self-worth by getting a new car (and not that crappy old thing I am currently driving). Cars are a valuable asset, so it will actually make me worth more.
  5. Eat out less than we did last year, of course we ate out 4 out of 7 nights last year, so I only need to go out 3 out of 7 nights and we are ahead, so that should be easy (except when you get home and you really don’t feel like cooking, but you are hungry, then that doesn’t really count).
  6. To save money on coffee and lunch at work, I am just going to steal other folks’ lunches out of the fridge, and drink coffee from the coffee fund, and just not pay for it. This means this is basically free, and a huge saving, except for those days where I really need a latte, then screw it, I am going to get my $7.50 coffee!
  7. Get rid of cable, because it is too expensive, but then I can sit at home and complain about nothing to watch on TV and be generally miserable. I could get an antenna, but it would make me happier just to bitch and complain, and it would help me feel more pious as well.

Any other useful resolutions that I have missed?




Elf on the Shelf (for Money)

One of the “traditions” many families do every Christmas is play Elf of the Shelf with their children. The “game” consists of buying a book, which has an Elf included with it. The parents put the Elf in different places, and the children must go find him (her?).

Should you wish to buy an Elf, here is a link

Evidently this Elf goes back to the North Pole every night and reports back to Santa if the kids have been naughty or nice (think of it like Santa’s version of the NSA). To me this is a pretty darn creepy looking elf, and I am not really sure what it is teaching our kids, but if you read the Wikipedia entry for the game you might get a hint.

Suppose we had a Financial Elf on the Shelf™ might that help us control our Festive Christmas Spending? Better still how about this idea, knowing how our friend Gail Vaz-Oxlade hates over-spending, how about a Financial Gail on the Shelf™?

If every time you came back from shopping there was a small Gail Vaz-Oxlade waiting for you, that simply said, “What did you buy this time? Could you afford that?”, and every night she went back and reported to “Santa” on whether you were good financially or not? (and if you were naughty Santa cut up your credit cards).

Better still, the Gail on the Shelf can also go into your wallet and replace your credit cards with cards that say, “You Cannot Afford this!” and a picture of Gail wagging her finger?

An Excellent Photo for the Replacement Credit Cards

I think I could make a pretty penny selling this (of course I’d have to give Gail royalties as well). Have I missed the point on this odd new Christmas “tradition”?


Did Shylock Have the Right Idea?

In the Merchant of Venice, Shylock (the alleged villain) is portrayed as a loathsome character (Shakespeare shows how Anti-Semitic the times he lived in were) who wants to exact his vengeance on a “hero”, Antonio, by making the terms of a loan include a pound of flesh if money loaned by Shylock is not paid back by Antonio. Spoiler Alert when Antonio defaults on the loan Shylock never gets his payment, however, I have to wonder, did Shylock not have the right idea?

Click here for a FREE Kindle Copy of this Classic

Currently if I have a credit card, I can borrow money with very few physically painful consequences, other than adding more to my current debt load. Eventually I could get to a point where the credit card company might call a collection agency, and I might have to see a credit councillor or even worse, declare bankruptcy.

Still doesn’t really seem as bad as a pound of flesh, does it? Yes, it’s a terrible thing to live through, but let’s ask the question would anyone use credit as easily if the consequences were as severe?

In the horrible days that were the 1980′s loans were at 19%  and that was for a mortgage, not for silly things like credit cards (which weren’t being handed out like condoms during Frosh week). Would higher interest rates cause a less loosey goosey attitude towards borrowing in the 21st century? Maybe, but 15% for a mortgage and a threat of losing a toe if you miss a payment would certainly lance any housing bubbles quite quickly, and cause most folks to really figure out if they can afford the $500K condo they think they can afford.

Shylock’s only short coming was that he didn’t specify that he wanted a pound of flesh ,”… organs, blood, bone and all”, then again, if you are writing a contract where you are attempting to maim your customer, would the wording really matter that much?

Am I being facetious? Perhaps, but it will be quite interesting to see if (and when) interest rates finally return to a more normal level.