Fort Mac, Mothers and #MoneyTalk

Our thoughts and hopes for a better day are with the folks in Fort McMurray and the areas around that are being devastated by forest fires. Now is not the time to be partisan, now is the time to support our fellow Canadians:

Click Here to Give to the Red Cross’ Alberta Fire Appeal


The Ultimate Mother, “Gran” from Giles

You can also text “REDCROSS” to 30333, which results in an immediate $5 donation to the fund. Canadians stand together against this kind of devastation.

For those of  us not directly affected, maybe it is time to check your home insurance policies to see whether this kind of event is covered or not? It would be less than prudent not to do that right now. I wonder what this might do to home insurance rates?

Not sure how you could be unaware Sunday is Mothers Day, but it is time for you to remember the woman that was (and might still be) the center of your world. The one that guided you to where you are today. For those who no longer have their Mother, my sympathies, for those who still have their Mother, what are you going to do for Mom on Sunday? Why do you have to wait until Sunday to do it?

New fathers remember this advice I gave a while ago

A helpful hint for new Fathers out there, you may have the idea that your wife is NOT your Mother so you don’t need to get her anything, you are mistaken. She is your children’s mother, and if you don’t get her something expect a very cold and quiet Sunday (and the argument, “You aren’t MY Mother!”, really seems to exacerbate the whole thing), not that I am speaking from personal experience.

My Writings for Week Ending May 6th

A lovely spring week in Ottawa, with the Tulips starting to bloom (the squirrels have eaten mine already), but some interesting articles written as well.

With Fees and Penalties I wondered if some existing fees might disappear like the rewind fees on VHS tapes? I somehow doubt many are going away any time very soon.

Debt Consolidation and Tattoo Coverups has me making a connection between bad tattoos and debt (remember I have previously said that Debt is Like Fat and Debts are Like Weeds), and I think the point is well put.

A Money Thought

Don’t buy stuff just because it is on sale! –Anon

👇 For more great financial articles from this week click here 👇


Debt Consolidation and Tattoo Coverups

A friend of mine had a tattoo on her forearm that after a while she grew to dislike, so she decided to see a tattoo artist and have that artist (evidently a renowned artist) see what could be done with the tattoo. It was decided to cover up the first tattoo with another tattoo that might be more aesthetically appealing.

Bad Gibberish Tattoo

This tattoo says, taken advantage of (according to Hanzismatter), I guess they were

The artist did his magic, and now a simply line drawing of an amphibian, has morphed in an elaborate colorful collage with an interesting phrase. The replacement is about 300% larger than the original tattoo in terms of surface area. I hope my friend enjoys the “cover up” tattoo, but it got me thinking that this seems much like the constant refinancing, and blending of debt (into other debt vehicles) that many folks seem to be doing these days.

Covering up debt is not making debt go away, and while consolidation loans can make it convenient to have all (or most) of your debt in one (hopefully lower interest) debt vehicle, if you continue to live the lifestyle that got you into debt in the first place, you really are only making the debt bigger (much like the tattoo).

If you are using a Debt Consolidation loan to get control of your debts, make sure you have a solid plan in place to pay down the debt, and make sure that you are not growing the debt further. Debt Consolidation loans are simply a tool, they are not a cure, and as with all tools if you are not using them correctly, you can make one hell of a mess.

Mrs. C8j has pointed out that more than a few advertisements for Consolidation Loans imply that once you get the loan, you are “Out of Debt”, but your debt has not changed it is just all in one place. You are out of debt when it is paid off.

Another good point with the tattoo metaphor, at least my friend went to a professional to get the “touch up” tattoo (and didn’t rely on a friend of a friend who did these for fun). If you are thinking of a consolidation loan, see a professional credit councilor (or a similar financial service).




Fees and Penalties

Remember that great expression from your local video store

“Be Kind, Rewind”

Back then, some places even charged a penalty if you didn’t rewind your VHS tape. Interesting that this fee went away, but that is because the entire “VHS Rental” business disappeared. That sounds like a fairly sarcastic commentary, but how many fees disappear?

VHS Tape

I will bet there are readers who have never used one of these

  • My home telephone bill (yes I still have a land line) had a “Touch Tone” charge on it (up until July 2015), but if I tried to use a rotary phone I get nasty remarks from Bell, pointing out the technology really isn’t supported any more. The fee finally went away after Bell was shamed into removing it by the CBC.
  • How about that fun “paper charge” if you still got your bill mailed to you? Wasn’t that Green and cool? That went away (mostly) after the Government said they were not allowed. I actually can see why that charge was there.
  • Account fees for day-to-day banking continues at most major banks, even though many smaller banks offer free banking (PC Financial, Tangerine and others), yet we continue to pay for the services at major banks? Michael James has pointed out that eventually the Major Banks will take a dive and may finally stop charging these fees? Nah, never gonna happen.
  • On line trading fees started at $29.95 and it has dropped steadily since (and is around $9.95 or lower). Since I am pretty sure the trading houses are still making money on this, it does make me wonder how low could these fees go?
  • The airline industry seems to have completely built their profit structure around service fees, gas fees, take off fees, sitting in nice seat fees, not getting broken cookie fees, etc.,etc.,. and not many of those fees are going away. Aren’t they charging for carry on luggage now?

Are there any fees that may go away some time soon? I can’t think of many (maybe gas taxes once gas cars go away). Pretty sure overdraft fees will never go away.


You know that your taxes are due this weekend, so to quote one of my new favourite shows LetterKenny, Pitter-Patter, time to get at ‘er! (in terms of your taxes at least). The most interesting part of the show is that my daughter claims that she talks to people like that every day, so just remember when it comes to your money, “Keep yer eyes on the prize, Sky Chief” (to paraphrase), so get down to yer taxes. Hope this is advice you can appreciates.

RESP Piggy Bank

RESP’s Are Savings For Your and Your Child’s Future

There is a new report from the Government about the RESP program and who has benefited from this useful savings vehicle (for parents). The Report entitled, Canada Education Savings Program: Summative Evaluation Report, and the telling statement in the report (about whom uses RESPs) is:

Furthermore, it was estimated that over $400 million in grants (or 49% of all CESP expenditures) were distributed to families with a household income of $90,000 or more in 2013, of which $280 million (or 32% of CESP expenditures) went to families earning $125,000 or more.

I think this is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e. Rich folk are the ones using the program the most), in that more affluent families are more likely to open accounts, and thus more likely to build up grants from it. Very few lower-income families are even aware, that even if they put no money in, they can still build up savings for their kids future post-secondary education. While there are groups like that are trying to help get the word out, the Government does a poor job educating parents about the benefits of the program for lower-income Canadians.

There was a planned NCFBA semi-periodic meeting planned this week, but thanks to most un-excellent planning on my part things did not transpire as I had hoped. It is always fun to meet with my fellow Financial Blogging folk, because most of them are very interesting folks (you would be surprised what most of them do for their real jobs). It may have been better that I didn’t go, given my son has a terrible cold (I might have infected some of the finest financial minds).

My Writings for Week Ending April 29th

Another week and more odd news from Stats Canada in terms of prices of things, where we continue to be told that drinking gas might be the cheapest way to live? Good Food Still Is Not Cheap in Canada (Inflation for March), outlines how good food is getting more expensive but thanks to cheap gas and oil, we don’t really notice.

Self-Driving Cars Will Change Things, but not just in terms of technology and such, financially. The insurance world is still analyzing what this new technology is going to do to their bottom line. A well controlled piece of technology, instead of road raged humans? That equation should mean lower (if not missing) insurance premiums, shouldn’t it?

A Money Thought

Have more than you show, speak less than you know.

👇 For more great financial articles from this week click here 👇


Self-Driving Cars Will Change Things

I realize that self-driving cars will change how we drive, but it will also change many other auto related things as well (even some financial aspects of our lives).

What happens to Car Insurance? If most of the cars on the road are being driven by computer and such, will insurance rates drop? They should, but will they? Will we even need car insurance? The concept of lower rates for better drivers goes away, since none of us will drive, thus we should all get the same rate (shouldn’t we?). Other things that can affect your rates now come into question too:

  • Distance you commute to work, does that even matter any more?
  • Age of the driver, an 18 and 85 year old are the same when they aren’t the driver.
  • Type of car being driven shouldn’t really matter, in terms of whether it is a sports car, RV, sedan or pick up truck, only the relative cost of replacement (or maybe not?).
  • The theft portion of your auto insurance might be lower, as the new cars should be harder to steal (if new ignition systems are used), and certainly be easier to retrieve?

If cars are this much safer, do they still need to be that safe in terms of an ability to survive a crash? My guess is yes, since mechanical failure is possible (i.e. flat tires, failed systems, etc.,) so that kind of safety won’t be going away any time soon. The GPS industry will change, as our cars will have them built-in, will that mean the end of Garamond and other GPS companies, or will they evolve to some other useful idea?

Will we need to have parking lots? If a car can drop you off at work, and then either go home or drive somewhere else so that someone else can use it (e.g. your wife), then will the concept of a parking lot become obsolete ? Why do we need to tie down so much real estate so that cars can wait for us (hopefully somewhere close)? Wouldn’t I just send my car home after it dropped me off?

Google Self Driving Car

A Google Rendition of their Self Driving Car

Uber and Taxis might both just disappear, or maybe Uber would take over, if I could have my car drop me off at work, and then act as a “Ride Service” which I would be paid a premium when used? This might lead to a great deal less cars on the road too, that should lower insurance rate as well, shouldn’t it? Do you really need that many flights on shorter haul trips? Overnight car trips suddenly become more attractive and cheaper.

How will governments intervene into the technology? Will local governments be able to divert cars off heavily used roads to alternate routes? Schedule snow clearance and divert cars away from areas having snow cleared? Same would be true for road repair as well, you can easily divert cars elsewhere and be able to repair roads during reasonable hours (less work done over night). Will there be need for more roads? I think both sides of that argument are possible.

At first blush you’d think the following driving violations would simply disappear:

  • Distracted driving, since we don’t need to notice, we can be oblivious and not kill anyone.
  • Impaired or under the influence should go away, although if you are too drunk to tell your car to take you home, what do you do then?
  • Speeding? Again, I suspect there are going to be “cheat codes” to make that possible
  • Driving with an expired drivers license? Do we need those any more? Driving with expired registration might go away, if they hook into the government’s DB, and not allow cars that aren’t license to start.
  • Running a red light, or a stop sign, assuming everything is hooked together well.
  • Driving too slowly, will this mean that Quebec highways will no longer need posted minimum speeds?
  • Demerit points would go away, since it is a mechanical system doing the driving (you can’t penalize the human riding in the car, or can you)?

I am sure there are a few I have not thought about, but how will that change how Police work?

Will we have car offices, where we can work while commuting to our office? You aren’t driving, maybe you get some work done, or maybe you watch a movie? Will folks be tricking out their cars so that they are nicer leisure environments? Hacking the control systems will become a huge black-market for those wishing to get an advantage on things.

An interesting financial question is will families need to have two cars? If you can schedule things with pick up and drop off, maybe 1 car can deal with all the family transportation needs. Lower insurance and less cars means more money in family pockets.


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