2015 The Financial Year of the Mason Jar

Mrs. C8j is an avid reader of many diverse sites, and trawling Pinterest and such (where you can find Big Cajun Man as well), and she thinks that the new big exciting thing in personal finances and budgeting for this year is the Mason Jar.

As a Small Cajun Man, when I grew up, Momma C8j (my mother) had lived through rationing in the UK (and WWII) so she was very frugal and very careful with all kinds of food so we had an entire pantry full of mason jars for canning of:

  • Tomatoes, that Momma C8j had grown in the garden, and then used throughout the year in all kinds of wonderful sauces, soups and stews.
  • Strawberry, and Raspberry Jam, that she bought at the Jean Talon market in large quart baskets, when they were in season, and we enjoyed fresh jam all year round.
  • Some lovely pears and home made fruit cocktail, again from the market when in season, so we had this for the winter.
Mason Jar and Budgeting

Behold the Wondrous Mason Jar, for Tomatoes and Cash?

Growing up I viewed the mason jars as a part of life, and a way to make sure we had tasty food all year ’round. Momma C8j is the ultimate frugal lady, she worked hard to stretch a dollar as far as she possibly could (I wish that was genetic, but I never quite got the hang of it).

Later on, when I got to University a Mason Jar was used to hold Long Island Iced Teas or Bloody Caesars or the like. It was an odd site for me, seeing the frugal masonry jar being used as a liquor container, but, life changes.

Now mason jars are an entire bloody industry. You can buy candles that reek of cinnamon, cranberries or other obnoxious odors, in a masonry jar, absolutely not a frugal usage of this divine device.

Getting back to Mrs. C8j’s (my wife) observation, the main new exciting use of the humble mason jar is for budgeting and saving money. Strangely enough Big Daddy C8j (my late father) used a mason jar to hold his spare change (but that was because we had so many of the darn things), so I guess he was way ahead of his time, but I digress.

Many years ago, our friend Gail Vaz-Oxlade had her show “YOU SPEND TOO DAMN MUCH MONEY YOU MORON!” (I think it was called that, I might be mistaken), but she used the humble mason jar as a way to budget and segregate your funds to ensure you didn’t misspend your moneys on the wrong thing (they were all labeled carefully). This seems to be the new “In Vogue” way of doing budgeting (I guess Gail was way ahead of her time too).

I think this is an interesting “thinking differently” idea for folks who are used to living out of their wallets and using their debit cards (i.e. use cash only and segregate that into specific “pots”), but I am now wondering if maybe I should be buying stock in Corning or whoever makes these mason jars? Will there be a sudden shortage due to the glut of budgeting folks (and malodorous candles)?

Budget however you like, but if you use mason jars as your methodology and you fail do not blame the humble mason jar, it is the Symbol of Frugality to me, and should be held in great esteem!

Welcome 2015 the year of the Mason Jar.

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Favorite Financial Tweets from MMXIV (2014)

Given Twitter is one of the major Social Media sites that drives traffic to my humble Personal Finance Site, I figured I’d show some “love” to them as well. These are some good financial tweets from the past few months, from some folks who are on my twitter list.

Financial Tweets of 2014

I am still figuring out the best way to embed these tweets into my posts, but this seems to work nicely.

Not sure I disagree with Mr. Adams

Excellent graphic to teach you how not to buy and sell stocks (boy as a couch potato investor I do appreciate this more and more):

Wondering about that high-speed trading stuff? Here is a nice tweet that gives you an idea of just how fast things are on the web:

[click to continue…]

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“Everybody’s Got Plans…”

The real quote is from Mike Tyson,

‘Everybody got plans … until they get hit.”

Mike Tyson Manteresting

Mike Tyson Speaks the Truth

This is true in all walks of life, not just pugilism. What is wild is I already wrote about this topic 8 years ago.

If I could find a Financial Planner who would help put together the original plan, but have as part of that plan a “Plan B” and/or “Plan C” as part of that original plan, or gave an outline of a “Plan B” as part of Financial Planning, I think I might hire them. I have spoken to folks who were told what the risks were when they started to invest like:

  • The Stock Market is Volatile, if your risk aversion is high, then maybe you should be in Bonds
  • Bonds may not pay as high a rate as you wish
  • Things may go wrong
  • etc., etc., etc.,

However, do planners have other interesting ideas like:

  • If there is a market correction along the way, we will not be getting out of stocks, but we may rebalance things at some point during the adjustment, to make sure there is even distribution, in the portfolio.
  • If you suddenly have a large bill for your house, we can take money from the more liquid areas in your portfolio to pay for it, and then plan on how to pay it all back.

Planning is fine, but all plans change, due to unforeseen circumstances or just “life in general” (i.e. “… until you get hit”), your plan must either be flexible enough to deal with this, or you must be flexible enough in you financial planning to reconsider things, and change your plans.

Photo courtesy of Manteresting (NSFW)

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Adapt Your Financial Goals

When I started working at BNR and then Nortel there was always a “goal” for the company, and one of the most interesting goals was Vision 2000. This goal was that Nortel was going to be the #1 Telephone equipment sales company in the world, and (I think) Nortel achieved that Goal, however, by the time that 2000 rolled around, the Goal no Longer mattered. The business of selling phone switches was circumvented by the Internet and Wireless phones and how all this worked together.

This is why it is very important that you set your Financial Goals, but you also every once in a while do a “sanity check” on the Goals themselves to measure whether they are still relevant.

Changing Plans

Always have a Plan B

Say you had children and you had a plan with RESPs and such, but then your child was diagnosed with a disability? Suddenly your goals may no longer be relevant, however, you can change them and react to the change in life that has happened to your child and to your financial plan. This happened to me, although I am not quite sure what my financial plan was then, it now includes an RDSP and saving for my child’s future as a disabled Canadian.

If you suddenly got a windfall of money from an inheritance or a bonus, it is obvious that your plans are no longer up to snuff (unless you planned for that, in which case, good planning!). When you end up “in the money”, don’t just squander it and then have to make up other plans (like what to do when you are out of bankruptcy), rethink and re-jig your plans or expand your goals.

If one of your goals was to have $2 Million saved for your retirement by age 55 (a good goal, in my opinion), however, over time you have also built up a substantial amount of discretionary debt, which will not be paid off by the time you reach age 55, your retirement savings Goal is now irrelevant. If you reach your goal of having $2 Million in savings, yet you are carrying $300,000 in mortgage and debt by that age, your goal has not really been achieved has it? Stop saving, kill the debt and then get back to your plan.

All plans need to be tended often to ensure you are chasing the right brass ring, or ensuring that the brass ring is still there and that you still want to have it.

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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?

 

 

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