The Origins of the Canadian Personal Finance Place

About 11 years ago I started writing this site, but today is the real reason behind why I started writing. Today is my son’s birthday, and if you have read through my RDSP section and a few other choice articles, you will know that it has been an “action packed” 11 years (to quote Ronnie Corbett).

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When both of us were much younger

Initially I started writing to “make a few bucks” or as a “side hustle”, not because I had any great acumen when it came to money (as you have learned if you have read more than 3 of my articles). As we realized the challenges that Rhys (my son) was going to have in life, I kept hoping that writing about it, might allow us to give him the help he needed. So far, while this site does make a little extra money, it only helps a little (for now). My wife has taken a job, and we are doing the best we can (which is pretty good) to help my son as he grows up.

In terms of how to make money on-line I have had a lot of advice, which I may follow one day, however, I also feel that I don’t want to “sell out” for a few bucks. Robb Engen from Boomer and Echo did a very good talk on his goals (in terms of income) for that site, and he actually helped me feel less “slimy” for trying to make a buck on this site, so I thank him for that.

Will you suddenly see ads for Money Mart or other places plastered all over this site, in a word NO! However in the immortal words of one of my favourite 80’s wrestlers, “Everyone has a price”, but I somehow really doubt anyone would be willing to give me that kind of money.

 

 

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Saint Patrick and Eleven Years of Financial Writing

It was 11 years ago this St. Paddy’s day that I started writing here, and it all started with the exciting First Entry, that started me on writing for 11 years (so far). That first post was very much just me seeing how the whole thing worked, and I have learned so many valuable things over the years from writing here.

Getting Better ?

11 Years Later

I can hear more than a few folks asking, When is he going to stop?(Dear Lord, When?!?), and to be honest I have no idea. I write less than before, but not too much less. This post makes about 2875 posts, which is astounding if you think of that in terms of the number of words written, but I hope that at least some of my words have been helpful to some folks. I have received a few very kind comments from folks, and I thank you for them, but I don’t think I will be retiring soon, but then again, you never know.

Top Posts and Why

Just a quick run down for my Top 5 ever posts and why they got written

  1. A Script for Customer Retention was simply me trying to make it easier for folks to get a better deal with whatever service company you are dealing with. It is interesting seeing the comments from the folks in the service industry ridiculing the whole thing, did I hit a nerve?
  2. CRA Child Disability Benefit (How To) is a post I wrote hoping to help folks, and it does seem to have helped, so if I write nothing else, this one post is the one I will point to as being some good that I did. As usual all I did was write down what my wife did (always good content).
  3. The Cost of Cheques a great deal of my writing is me ranting about things that have pissed me off, and this one is a classic example, and it even includes a hand drawn flow chart (written on a napkin).
  4. How Do I Retire at 35 ? is another interesting one, where it is me commenting on the folks who seem to think that you can actually “retire” at 35. What the hell are you going to do the rest of your life? Crochet? Seriously folks, you simply change to a lesser (or no) paying vocation at that age.
  5. Quicken 2015 Canadian Edition is popular because it seems to show up when folks do Quicken software searches on line, it shows up. I asked Quicken for a copy to review for this year, but never heard anything back. I suspect I may be leaving the Quicken lovers society soon (stay tuned).

My favourite posts (that don’t get many visitors, but that is OK) are:

  1. So that is what $50,000 looks like… was written when my oldest daughter graduated, and while the title can be interpreted as me lamenting the loss of money, it in fact is me celebrating making one of the best investments I have ever made.
  2. I’m an Adult Now? is a raw view of the death of my father. He was always seemed indestructible when I was a kid, but when you watch someone you love slowly waste away, it leaves you with some very definite ideas about Quality of Life when I get older.
  3. Debt is Like Fat is another example of how much of a struggle personal finance and life can be. I have packed back on a fair amount of weight since I started writing here (about 50 pounds), and I continue to fight to try to get back to a more reasonable weight if only to ensure I live longer. I feel there is more to say in this area, so again, stay tuned.

Thank you Dear Reader for staying around and reading along with my adventures in money.

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Now I’m Fifty Five

Some time in the past week or so I turned 55, which is another milestone in my life. I am now somewhat a Senior Citizen (after a fashion). I can start collecting CPP (at a large discount), and I can retire with my pension from work (at a large discount), and I even get discounts at a few stores and restaurants.

I have seen the world change dramatically over these years. When I was a kid:

  • Fifty Five

    Fifty Five (not a Prime Number Though)

    Banks were only open from 10 to 3 PM Monday to Thursday and opened Thursday night 6-8 PM and Fridays were open until 5:00 PM. Oh and there were no ATMs, those only started appearing when I went to University (remember the Johnny Cash Machine). Hence when someone wasn’t working all their hours in the office, the nasty remark you could make was “Sam works Bankers’ Hours“. Now that would mean Sam is working a lot of overtime. You don’t even have to go to the bank any more!

  • I applied for my first Credit Card and was turned down!
  • My first job was as a Paperboy and I collected payment every week, door to door. I delivered telephone books as a summer job.
  • The first few TVs my family owned were Black and White, and the first colour TV we had was leased from Granada.
  • My brother brought home his first computer in 1977 (I think), it was two boards with a 4 Digit display (I think it might have had 2K of memory). Later my Dad bought the family a VIC-20 and we played Pong (and the Sword of Fargoal) and thought it was great.
  • I got paid with an actual Cheque, that I had to take to the bank (which wasn’t open often (remember)).
  • I had to apply (and got turned down once) for a cheque payment card at Loblaws (so I didn’t have to carry cash to pay for my groceries).
  • My first mortgage interest rate was 14% and we locked in for 5 years because that was cheap.
  • I carried a dime around in case I had to make a phone call on a pay phone.
  • At my job when I was on-call I carried a pager, and I had a special device that held 8 quarters in case I had to call into work (on a pay phone).
  • It used to be normal to have someone pump your gas, there were Milkmen who delivered milk to your house, and there was even Mailmen who delivered Mail.
  • Long Distance phone revenues used to be the backbone of the telecomm world, now it is free. Remember waiting to call your mom until after Saturday noon until Sunday at 6 PM (so you got 67% off).
  • Entire technologies have gone by the way side:
    • VHS Video Tape rentals and Blockbuster, 8-track tapes, Audio Cassettes (remember the mixed tape?).
    • The AOL CD Coaster, but remember AOL still exists (and people are still paying for it).
    • The Pet Rock came and went
    • The entire Y2K thing
    • Direct Film, where you could get the film in your camera developed in 24 hours? How about film cameras?
    • Furbees came, went and came back

Yes, the world has changed a great deal in the past 55 years.

OK all you other “end of the Baby Boomers” crowd, what other fun financial things did I miss from yesteryear ?

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World Autism Awareness Day

Today we celebrate an important day in my household, my daughter’s birthday. It is also World Autism Awareness Day or as we call it in my home, Thursday (depending on the year). Allow me to ramble a little on the topic (apologies for those looking for financial discussions, I’ll be back after the Easter Weekend). 

I have written a great deal about RDSPs (Registered Disability Savings Plans) and how key they are for parents of children with Autism, to help plan for their child’s future, and in there I have also written a few snippets about the life of a Parent with a child on the Autism Spectrum, but let me touch on a few more things to maybe help some folks have a better understanding of the challenges, for parents of kids on the spectrum.

I wrote a while ago about Giving Advice to parents of kids on the spectrum, and while that article was a little raw, it does sum up some of the problems Parents have (and I’d like to point out not just for parents of kids with Autism, parents of kids with disabilities (visible or not) and some parents in general have the same issues). I try to offer advice to parents I speak with, only if asked, but I must admit that sometimes I feel the need to share my “wisdom” on the subject a bit too much (so the finger points at me as well). I think all parents are trying as hard as they can, just try to support them, and you are helping.

Rhys is our last child, and I think that was a good thing, in that, we learned a great deal from our 3 daughters in terms of parenting skills, and a fair amount has been transferable to Rhys. All three girls were “gifted” in different ways, so we learned a great deal about how to deal with the educational system, and the problems getting smart kids a good education in the public system (also from my late Mother-in-Law who was in charge of the Learning Disabilities Association of Halton, and from my Parents, as my eldest brother has disabilities as well). From these experiences, and after talking to the local public schools, we decided to take on the extra financial burden of putting Rhys in a private school, because Rhys is unique in that he is very high functioning and thus doesn’t really fit into the “Classic” autism programs, but nor does he fit into the regular school programs. I wrote about getting Rhys’ school fees as a medical expense, so we get  a little help, but Mrs. C8j went back to work mostly to help out in this area as well (no one is complaining here, just explaining).

Keep in mind that marriages that have children on the spectrum have a higher risk of divorce (but I suspect this is also true for parents of kids with all disabilities), and at times there is stress in all relationships, but I think Mrs. C8j and I are doing fine in that aspect. 

Do I want my son “cured”? I am really not sure what “cured” would mean? He is an amazingly complex boy, with an ability to surprise you constantly, what am I curing him of?

  • Do I wish he could deal with social interactions better? Yes, but I was an incredibly awkward kid socially, it is just I was ludicrously extraverted (and obnoxious). Rhys is learning slowly about social interactions, I don’t know where this will lead.
  • Would I love to see him be able to go to “regular” school? Maybe, I don’t really know, “regular” school never did me any big favors, it was only when I went to University that I started to realize my own gifts.
  • Is the world a better place with my son in it? Absolutely, Yes

So why would I want him “cured”? Please remember we are lucky that Rhys is high functioning, in that he talks, walks and if you saw him you really wouldn’t notice anything (except that he is only 10 but the size of a 14-year-old, but I suspect that is genetics). I have friends and have met folks who have children with Severe Autism, and I think they would give anything to have a child like Rhys, and their definition of “cured” would be different from mine.

In my life I am blessed with many things, and my children are my biggest blessing (and my wife, family and friends as well).

 

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First Real Post from 10 Years Ago

For those aficionados of my site, here is the my actual first post, where I sound like I am afraid I might give out bad advice (who me), so very lawyer like in content

Greetings and salutations

Well I have decided to give up some of my valuable TV watching time to put down on paper some of the tricks, traps, foibles and parables in the world of home finances (stuff like don’t spend more than you make, etc.,). Why should you read this? Well, I am NOT a financial planner or advisor and I do not try to pass myself off as one (I have the highest respect for anyone who wishes to use one), but I have learned a thing or two over the past 24 years of trying to keep my head above water (financially at least).

Now, before we go any further, I live in CANADA so before you ask lots of questions about 401K’s and why isn’t he writing his mortgage interest off on his taxes that is why (some of the ideas I will espouse are still applicable elsewhere, just be warned this is going to have a Canadian flavor to it.

Over the next few weeks I will be putting out (hopefully weekly) an essay on a topic that I have either just read about, just ran into (or just been run over by) or feel it’s an interesting thing to rant about (and a lot of my writing is gonna be rant-like, so my apologies for those accomplished writers or lovers of the Queen’s english).

Stay tuned!


Warning
I am not a financial planner, and you should never take information you find (especially on the internet) as “the gospel” or “the only way to do it”, these are things that I have seen and learned about. If you think these ideas might work for you, READ ABOUT IT ELSEWHERE TOO! I will have an extensive lists of books and other sites where you can learn more (or learn about the opposite of what I am talking about). This information is supplied as a learning tool, that is all. The last thing I want someone to tell me is, “I lost my house because of something you told me to do!”. If you are unsure of your next steps consult a financial planner, your religious councilor (mullah, priest, monk, whatever), a parent or a trusted family member. The more you talk with other folks, the more you will learn and the more likely you are to succeed!

I think I have lived up to that warning, don’t you? I do stand behind the, always get more than one opinion on any topic (medical, money or whatever), there are a lot of “crack pots” out there (you might even include me in that group).

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