No Good News Has Been Delivered Using Excel

This is paraphrasing something from John Oliver, on his HBO show. Excel is Microsoft’s spreadsheet/swiss army knife tool (i.e. you can do anything with it), but I agree with Mr. Oliver, I have never seen someone give good news using an Excel Spreadsheet.

These are the WORST PIN you can Have!

A great example of Excel Bad News, a list of bad PINs!

During my career I have seen the following information sent to me in Excel format:

  • Ranking of employees,  used to figure out who gets laid off
  • How much over-budget project is.

In defense of Excel, it is a magnificent tool in terms of accounting and complex arithmetic and such, and usually any good news that might come from an Excel S/S usually ends up being encapsulated into a Powerpoint presentation. If I receive only the data in an Excel S/S it is saying,

“… this is bad news, we don’t feel like “flowering it up” by putting it into a Word Document or a Powerpoint Presentation…”

I have seen this when folks discuss their finances, as soon as an Excel Spreadsheet is opened the level of tension goes up. Rarely does anyone bring up an Excel Spreadsheet up, with your budget on it, to show “… how well you are doing…”, it is to show where (precisely) you are failing.

Can you send good news in an Excel Spreadsheet?


Up Selling in Banking

My wife went in to our Bank last week (the brick and mortar version), to cash a cheque, so she decided to do it at a teller, and she stood in line for this privilege. As she got to the teller, suddenly she was accosted by the teller, asking about how our family investments were being handled, and whether we had an investment advisor.

Upselling financially

You want fries with your GIC?

Mrs. C8j has learned the answer to give, and she simply stated that we take care of our own investments and we were happy with that, however, evidently that was not good enough for this teller. My wife came home with a glossy brochure, and, a flyer about Financial Planning Week, along with the name of a “Financial Planner” who could help us out. I realize this is the bank attempting to “drum up some business” for their Financial Planning income stream, but it is another reason (for me) to stay away from my local branch.

As usual, I should thank TD for giving me more content to rant about, since without them I am not sure what I would be writing about.

Given I feel I have a smart and sophisticated readership, I’d like to give you folks some homework. I do plan on sending an e-mail to this planner and possibly going to visit with him to research how the system now works, however, what kind of questions should I be asking?

So far, I have a couple of obvious examples:

  • How do you get paid? What is the difference between you and a fee-based financial planner?
  • What licenses, credentials or other certifications do you have?
  • Could I see a sample financial plan?
  • What makes your client experience unique?
  • Given I have a pension, what kind of a retirement plan do you think I should have?
  • Do you still make money if I lose money?

Am I missing other great questions to ask?


99.9% of Financial Bloggers Agree

Don’t you just love that title? Doesn’t it make you want to know, what apparently such a large portion of financial bloggers agree on? Isn’t it a great manipulation of numbers?

I was in a course and the instructor felt she needed to get us to really believe a point she was making so she stated,

“…. 99.9% of the people I talk to, agree that…”

This statement is (of course) completely bogus, since I somehow doubt she has spoken to 1000 people about the point she was making (and that she only found 1 person to disagree, since I disagreed with the statement as soon as it came out of her mouth).


Almost a Certainty ?

Are there concepts that Financial Writers agree on so aboslutely? What might some of these important ideas be, that most Financial Writers agree with?

  • If you spend less than you make, you will be able to stay out of debt, remember I have already written about 10 Steps to a Debt Free Life.
  • If you do nothing about your retirement, you will have a very uncomfortable retirement (unless you win the lottery, have a huge inheritance, or lived your life completely out of debt).
  • You must have an emergency fund, it must  at least 3 months gross pay, and it must not  invested in the stock market.
  • It doesn’t really matter if you put extra money in your Mortgage, RRSP or TFSA, as long as you do it, and stick to it (although 84.23% of Fin Bloggers might say start with the Mortgage and then, save it in something).
  • Pay Day loans are a bad idea, no ands ifs or buts.
  • The best time to figure out whether you bought the correct investment is 5 years later, but that won’t change anything (sorry).

Any other things that 99.9% of financial bloggers agree on?


Personal Finance Tweets of the Week (End of Summer)

Haven’t done this for a while, but here are some of the more interesting financial (and other) tweets that I saw this week. Interesting that Twitter has also removed the 144 character limit on direct messages, so it has now become a full messaging system too.

I really liked this one, it was condemning the banks trying to encourage folks to build up more debt? Say what?

Uh oh, what about 54 year olds?

I guess the only advice that I can give is, just don’t look, or just don’t care?

What is the best way to teach kids about money? My 2 cents worth is there as well.

Glad to see the FAMSAC food truck rally went well last week. Evidently my Doppelganger (Mayor Watson) was there as well.

Remember you are not attached at the hip to your bank, if you can get a better deal, get it!


Financial Jargon Overload

One of the more interesting tasks I have is, when reading a bunch of articles on financial topics (yes, I really do that, I don’t just make this all up myself) is the constant use of financial jargon (which a lot of folk (including me) are not even sure what the terms means). It’s natural for folks who talk about certain topics to slip back into using jargon, in High Tech the use of TLAs are rampant (Three Letter Acronyms), but many folks either don’t know what the Acronym means, or worse have the wrong understanding of the TLA (sometimes they even jump to FLAs).

Financial writers at times assume a more sophisticated readership, or worse, they are just showing off by using “big words or phrases”. The over use of catch phrases is another topic that drives me spare, and while I realize they can be useful reminders, it doesn’t mean I can’t feel annoyed (as well) reading them.

What do I mean?

  • Pay yourself first, yes a wonderful sentiment, I fully comprehend it, but now every time I read this I almost scream, who gets paid before me? I get the money THEN I pay everyone else. The point being made is that you should put your savings first and then pay everyone else, but reading, “pay yourself first” causes me to twitch involuntarily these days. I might end up in jail if I “paid myself first” because the Tax Man wants his money first!
  • Good debt, kindly just intercourse off, debt is like the news, it is neither good nor bad, it is, you decide whether it is good or not (by the way, DEBT is BAD)
  • Dollar Cost Averaging, this chestnut has been around since I was in short pants, but what does it really mean. One definition I found said:

    a system of buying securities at regular intervals, using the same amount of cash for each purchase, over a considerable period of time regardless of the prevailing prices of the securities, resulting in having bought the total at an average cost.

    So really what is being said that if you just keep buying at regular intervals, you’ll be OK. Many times this is used as a response to folks who want to “time the market” or “beat the market”, just buy it at regular intervals, and you should be OK.

FInancial Jargon

A Bubbling Jargon Stew

  • Ethical Investing , while the sentiment is lovely, it is about as likely as finding a Filet Mignon on sale at a Vegan restaurant. I must admit I am quite jaded in my old age, but Ethical investing just seems so improbable. It sounds as unbelievable as Church Going Atheists (IMHO).
  • Beating the Market, this one astounds me that experts keep using it, but luckily it helps me, so maybe I should stop complaining. All of these experts throwing money around like drunken sailors in a strip club, helps keep the indexes growing, and strangely they don’t beat the market (and if they do, it is for a very short period of time). You know who really beat the market well? Bernie Madoff, he did a great job of beating the market (I hear).

Feel free to call me a hypocrite on this, I know I have used this type of jargon before, but I will try to reform and stop using this Financial Verbal diarrhea.


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