Festivus Financial Airing of Grievances

Now that we have put up the Aluminum Pole (with no distracting tinsel), it is that time in Festivus for the Financial Airing of Grievances, and there have been a lot of things that got on my nerves this year, so listen closely, don’t make me repeat myself!Financial Airing of Grievances

  • Housing Bubbles, what is up with this stupidity ? What morons are getting into these bidding wars for tar paper shacks down by the lakeshore ? No one needs a house that badly! Learn some self-control, “I really want it” is not a good reason to overspend on a house.
  • Fintech , taking the same bad investing concepts, implementing them on a computer using a little Artificial Intelligence (AI), and claiming you will get better results? C’mon man! Until someone explains to me (a programmer/geek) about what Fintech is doing for me, I am not drinking this Kool-Aid. Fintech almost seems like an excuse to hide more of the decision-making process from the end-user.
  • Good Debt , if I hear another financial talking head say that there is such a thing as good debt I will be using the aluminum pole for something more than just Festivus. Debt is a financial tool ( a bad tool ), but it is not good. If you can’t afford something, maybe that is for a reason. Why can’t I have a house like my parents? Your parents lived through 20% inflation, you didn’t! Stop whining and live within your means.
  • RRSP or TFSA , if you are losing sleep over this topic, but you are still carrying debt, you need to give your head a shake. Pay off your debt, then put money in your TFSA and then put money in your RRSP (or your kid’s RESP or RDSP), yes it is that simple. Pay off your debts.
  • Adulting, seriously ? It’s hard being an adult, and no, nobody is going to spend a lot of time trying to train you either, you are going to learn by trial and error, and you are going to make mistakes. This is what being an adult is all about. Each generation learns this way, luckily you guys will do better than my generation, relax.

This year has sucked in terms of Musicians who have died, weird election results, and the media getting it all wrong, let us hope that 2017 is a better year, or I am going to have a longer list for the financial airing of grievances for next Festivus !

Next, financial feats of strength! Let’s rumble!

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8 Holiday Ideas to Save Money

Given the Holiday spending season is upon us, I thought I’d help out with some great Holiday Ideas to make sure that save money so the Grinch isn’t waiting for you in January, to foreclose on Whoville.

Save Money

The Spirits of Xmas: Santa 75% off with a Monkey in a Palm Tree

  1. Convert to Judaism, a sudden religious change will throw off your family and save you from Christmas, however, you will still be on the hook for Chanukah so keep that one in mind (8 Crazy nights of Chanukah).
  2. Regift, regift, regift, the importance of this at holiday time cannot be underestimated. Other folks have worked hard to thoughtfully buy you something, so you should repay their thoughtfulness by giving that thoughtful gift to someone else (and saving money).
  3. Declare bankruptcy now, and beat the January rush. No one will expect you to buy them a gift if you are bankrupt (and you might make out like a bandit with gifts of cash), whether you actually declare bankruptcy is up to you (you could save money by simply stating you did it).
  4. Abide by the Christmas Rules , if someone asks you what you are buying them for the Holidays, answer with, “That puts you on the naughty list” and then don’t give them a gift. The rules of the holiday are clear about who does and does not get gifts, and it helps save money.
  5. Honest Mistake Option, on Christmas morning when everyone is handing around the gifts and such, and they turn to you and say, “Where are the gifts that you are giving”, put on your best act and say, “I FORGOT! OH MY GOD, I am SO SORRY!”. It is easier to beg forgiveness (as always).
  6. Play Christmas Chicken, don’t buy gifts for people you don’t think you will see over the holidays, and if you do see them, carry an emergency gift card from a gas station that you can give them (beef jerky, a gift card, or maybe a window scraper).
  7. Christmas Roulette, claim that you took all over your Christmas money, went to Vegas, and gambled it all on the Roulette Wheel (if you want you can say you put it on Black and it came up Green), and thus you have no money left for the holidays. Be very effusive about the things you would have bought folks had you won.
  8. The Reason for the Season, stop worrying about the gifts that you are buying folks, and just do something nice for them that they need done (that they maybe can’t do themselves)? The idea of Christmas is not to bankrupt yourself and drive yourself crazy trying to find the last GI-Joe (with Kung Fu grip) (or that Hatchimal thing), I know I go to Church. You know what says “I love you” the most? You saying, “I love you!”, surprisingly.

Don’t I sound Grinchy? Send me a lump of coal by Paypal if you wish.

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Translation: “What the bloody hell is this??!?”

It's not quite what I had in mind

Someone please buy me this shirt (my size is XL)

For those of you who don’t know Very British Problems, sorry for the rudeness. There is even a series on Netflix to explain things better.

What does this have to do with money? Everything!

How many times have you talked to a financial planner or an investment broker and they hand you their final report, you cannot tell me you did not think:

“What the bloody hell is this?”

yet, you most likely said something much more, socially acceptable like:

“Could you explain to me your reasons behind this?”

or better still, if you really get a dose of backbone,

“It’s not quite what I had in mind.”

Seriously, this has never happened to you? I had one investment person tell me, “There is this new interesting stock that you should look into, it has got some really good press, it’s called BRE-X“. Even I (at the time pretty much as naive as a new-born babe when it came to investing) knew this was dodgy. I had another chap try to convince that Enron would be a good place to put my hard-earned money.

Never, ever, feel that you cannot be incredibly blunt with folks when it comes to your money. Do not tip-toe around folks’ feelings when your hard-earned income is involved, say what you mean, no need to be rude, but, no need to be overly vague either. You worked hard for your money, stand up for it.

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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  good news delivered using excel.

delivered using excel

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 it is easier delivered using excel…”

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?

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Michael James, inspired me to write another rant/commentary on the financial industry. He wrote about Mouths to Feed in the Financial Industry and it reminded me of a very funny monologue by Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker (Amazon Link) about how Fathers don’t ask for much in life.

What does daddy get for his hard work? The big piece of chicken at dinner! My mamma would kill us if one of us ate the big piece of chicken by accident!

Daddy's piece of chicken

That is a BIG piece of Chicken

What does this have to do with the Financial System? Everybody in the financial system thinks they are Daddy, they all want the big piece of chicken.

  • Mutual Fund managers want you to pay the front-end, back-end and high MER fees because they are doing that much work to invest for you. That is a whole chicken, not just part of it.
  • Banks think they are the Daddy, just for taking care of your money. There are banks in Europe giving negative interest on your money (the money shrinks if you leave it in the bank).
  • Any Cell Phone Company (in Canada) is your Daddy, how much do you think their service really costs, but they are making sure you get quality service.
  • Internet Service Providers are plumbing, but they want a big piece of Chicken for the way they count your packets (and charge you if you use too many)

Let Daddy have that big financial piece of chicken? No way! They get enough, without taking the big piece of chicken too!

 Image courtesy of piyato. at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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