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Boxing Tuesday, Opening Up and #MoneyTalk

It is a long weekend, but a weird one since most of us haven’t really been going into work. Is it a long weekend? Well it will be in Ontario, because on Tuesday May 19th 2020 more stores will be opening up. Will this cause a Boxing Tuesday effect (i.e. people lining up to get in, showing up at 5 AM)? Maybe not, but it may cause more shopping mayhem. Stores that have opened so far do seem quite, crazy.

In Ontario we are only in Phase 1 of opening back up, and there are many rules still in place, but will people follow the rules? That remains to be seen. We see our rowdy southern neighbors are already acting like, it was all a bad dream. Time will tell whether this is the right way to do things. My opinion is a slow opening is a good thing, but until we have a vaccine or cure, we won’t be anywhere near “normal”.

Much more financial help announced by the government this week, and you should read about all of them. Seniors are getting some money, students are getting some money, etc.,. The Tories are worried about possible fraud in the system, I am confident the CRA will find the obvious ones. I am with the pundits that are asking, how will this all be paid for? Again, we shall see.

Note that Unemployment rate is now at 13.0%, that is a very high rate of Jobless Claims.

Inflation (year over year February 2020) 2.2%
Bank of Canada Overnight Rate April 21st0.25%
Unemployment Rate (as of April 2020)13.0%
GDP Growth January 2019-201.8%
Population of Canada (Jan 1, 2020)37.894 Million
CIBC current prime rate2.45%
BMO current prime rate2.45%
Scotiabank prime lending rate2.45%
TD prime lending rate2.45%
Some Useful Financial Data for Canadians as of May 16

Past Writings

My hope is that my prediction that things will change in the world of office design really will change, but I am pragmatic enough to know it may not happen in my career space.

  • The Death of the Open Concept Office Space is my perusing of a CDC report and hoping that it really does mean the end of the open office space, and get back to a bit more respect for employees. Is this really going to happen? We shall see.

It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.

Josiah Stamp

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More Financial Writings for a Long Weekend

Some interesting reads for your long weekend, while you are still practicing social distancing (I hope). It was also Privacy Awareness Week this past week, did you realize that?

From Kiplinger Magazine June 1, 2020
A Polite Spit Take

Tweets of the Week

The PM makes a very good point, if you are shopping right now, Buy Canadian, and even more, Buy Local. So many small businesses need the business (Jeff Bezos is about to be a Trillionaire, so he doesn’t need it).


Possible the most esoteric Twitter discussion about Bitcoin, ends up with J.K. Rowling buying one? The Interweb is a wild and whacky place!

Don’t really care, I still am not buying any…

Videos of the Week

Preet has been pumping out video content about all the new COVID19 programs, and here is another good one. Can someone please send him a razor?

Just Subscribe to Money School, Your Life Will be Simpler

What if there was no Privacy?

Luckily this is not how it works…. yet

Random Thoughts from the Past

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The Death of the Open Concept Office Space

Thanks to COVID-19 Office Planners may finally be forced to give up on the Open Concept work environment. For those not sure of the term Open Concept is where the team workspace is open there are few if any walls and all can easily see each other and speak to each other. The concept was supposed to create more communication and co-operation between team members.

I have worked in these environments throughout my 35 years of working in office spaces, in varying styles and such, and I have loathed the concept completely. There is no privacy, there is no sense of personal space, and you get to learn far too much about your co-workers lives. To be fair, in some instances this model can work well, if the team is a support team that all share tasks, however, that is the exception, not the rule.

The nicest office I had, was when I first graduated, it was spacious and had a locking door, and every office since then has been less and less ideal. COVID19 and the now provable spectre of the Pandemic, open concept offices are the worst design to battle the spread of germs and viruses. One might even argue, that it is an optimal design for the spread of germs, viruses and rumours.

Erin Bromage wrote an excellent essay about the spread of COVID19, “The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them“, he points to a CDC paper, “Coronavirus Disease Outbreak in Call Center, South Korea“, which has an office lay out that is similar to many now set up in many different companies.

Figure 2. Floor plan of the 11th floor of building X, site of a coronavirus disease outbreak, Seoul, South Korea, 2020. Blue coloring indicates the seating places of persons with confirmed cases. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/8/20-1274-f2

The figure shows how the proximity of folks sitting near each other spread the COVID19 very quickly. There were very few walls and impediments to the air borne spread of germs.

The direct quote from the CDC report is:

This outbreak shows alarmingly that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can be exceptionally contagious in crowded office settings such as a call center. The magnitude of the outbreak illustrates how a high-density work environment can become a high-risk site for the spread of COVID-19 and potentially a source of further transmission.

Coronavirus Disease Outbreak in Call Center, South Korea

Anyone who has worked in this kind of environment knows full well that once someone on the team picks up a cold or the flu, it will easily cycle through the group, so this information is by no means surprising to me.

September and the start of school usually meant someones child would bring home a new flu or cold, which would then be passed to their parents and then throughout the team sitting in close proximity (as a crude example).

Alternatives

The alternatives is going back to a more segregated model, where teams may be in proximity but they are closed off from other groups (and hopefully each other) using walls. This is a less optimal use of space, however, now the argument of passing of disease can no longer be easily ignored.

Companies that have this configuration are now scrambling to alter their floor layouts to allow a resumption of work in a safer workspace (safety from virus spread). I have already read of temporary walls, and plexiglass going up, but these will end up only being interim solutions.

There will be a great deal of money spent to retrofit these office spaces. Open Office was the office space of tomorrow, are they now the office space of yesterday?

Contrary Views?

Of course there are, Bloomberg is of the opinion “Why Open Offices Will Survive“, seems more like optimistic hoping on their part.

The Associated Press seems to be more on my side with, Cubicle comeback? Pandemic will reshape office life for good.

Coughs and Sneezes Travel How Far?

Kind of Gross really…

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Post COVID-19 Budget ?

Now in the 2nd month of the COVID-19 lock down (May 2020) many folks are starting to see exactly where they have been spending money. Those lucky enough to have kept their jobs, but were asked to try to work while at home, now have a good snapshot of their spending habits, while at work.

Now, you should have a good perspective on how much you spend on:

  1. Commuting, gas costs, or mass transit costs. Did you ask for a drop in your insurance rates for your car? You should. What if you chose to take mass transit when you return to the office? How much would you save.
  2. Eating and drinking at work. How much were you spending on a few coffees, and your lunch? How about those Friday lunches out with a few drinks, or after work drinks?
  3. Clothing and dry cleaning and such. You might not have a solid hold on how much you spend here, but you haven’t really been able to buy new clothes (as easily) these days.
  4. Various subscriptions and gym memberships and stuff. You aren’t still paying for those are you?
  5. What extra costs you have incurred not going to work
    • Extra electricity usage?
    • Internet, did you upgrade your access?
    • Did you add new streaming services?

These expenses and a few others I didn’t mention should help you see where your money is going.

What To Do?

With this data you could:

  1. Make a budget for the COVID19 era (for lack of a better term). How much should you spend while you are locked up at home? This may be helpful so you now understand what you are spending money, and where you can save money.
  2. Make a budget for your return to work, and maybe cut this spending in 1/2, giving you more money to live with? When you return to work is it going to be full-time? If not, maybe you need an interim budget and then a return to full-time work budget?
  3. Figure out if working at home full-time, part-time or occasionally might be a thing for you? Many folks like working at home, I enjoy the interactions of an office, but you at least have a view of how this might work.
  4. See how much money you have saved and maybe put that on your debt load?

Something for you to ponder while you are at home not spending money.

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Opening up, May Day, COVID19 and #MoneyTalk

Another day to celebrate with the proletariat, our brothers and sisters who have thrown off the shackles of oppression, happy May Day! During the COVID19 lock down celebrating any day, is something. I think it is Friday (May 1, 2020) today?

More talk of restarting things in Ontario, which will be a slow process. In Ottawa things are very bad in our Seniors and Care Residences, and that is a concern for all of us. How to keep our Seniors and those who need our help, safe, is the most important plan.

This Wouldn’t Worry You Would it?

Not sure about the wearing a mask thing. I did see that the NFL on-line store is selling NFL Team themed masks, which would be cool. Wearing a Vikings mask would be good, but I would really like to walk into a bank wearing an Las Vegas Raiders mask.

Now is the time to ask for help or lowering of fees from your Bank, Insurance Company, or Internet Provider/Phone Company. Banks have claimed they will lower rates, but I haven’t seen it (TD’s Unsecured Line of Credit is at 5.60% (their prime is 2.6%), yet my Tangerine Line of Credit is at 2.45%). Your Car Insurance should be lower, you are not driving as far, yet I didn’t get much back from my Insurance company. As for Bell, they have actually raised my rates. Yes, the answer is always NO, unless you ask. If your income is curtailed, you should ask for all the help you can get.

Inflation (year over year February 2020) 2.2%
Bank of Canada Overnight Rate April 21st0.25%
Unemployment Rate (as of March 2020)7.8%
GDP Growth January 2019-201.8%
Population of Canada (Jan 1, 2020)37.894 Million
CIBC current prime rate2.45%
BMO current prime rate2.45%
Scotiabank prime lending rate2.45%
Some Useful Financial Data for Canadians

Past Writings

I did an interview with Tom Drake and that seems to cause more posts on the topic of RDSPs:


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More Financial Writings for Troubled Times

Some interesting reads for your weekend, while you are still practicing social distancing (I hope).


Tweet of the Week

Gail Vaz-Oxlade has been posting about her Master Money Class, and this tweet is an important thing for folks with kids with a Disability Tax Credit.

This one from the New Yorker is a bit too topical.


Video of the Week

I must admit I am a bit of a Fanboy for Stephen Fry, fairly sure I’d watch him read quietly for hours.

Corona Virus (in the UK) by Stephen Fry

Preet is showing off his prowess in Financial Matters, and also his ability to grow a very bushy beard.

75% Wage Subsidy and CERB Repayment? | Canada Emergency Response Benefit and CEWS (Wage Subsidy)

One more from Doug Hoyes, which really does make me sick.

The Vultures are Circling due to COVID19

Random Thoughts from the Past

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More RDSP Talk

A while ago I spoke with Tom Drake at Maple Money about the DTC and RDSP. After some judicious edit’ing Tom has published the Podcast here. As usual you can read about the RDSP on my Registered Disability Savings Plan page.

For those unaware there are a bunch of very smart folks that I use for research on this topic (my wife being a major contributor), and whenever I do one of these talks, I get a few things not quite right (and this is no difference). My source at ESDC (who is very patient and kind) points out a few of my fumbles: I mention that the program is 10 years old, it was started in 2008, so that is a 12 years in 2020.

RDSP and Bankruptcy

Doug Hoyes and I have discussed (on his Podcast) about the topic of RDSPs and bankruptcy, but my source now states clearly:

“The Bankruptcy Act was changed last year through the Budget Implementation Act.‎ See 67(1)(b.3) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Act.”

ESDC Source

134 Paragraph 67(1)‍(b.‍3) of the Act is replaced by the following:(b.‍3) without restricting the generality of paragraph (b), property in a registered retirement savings plan, a registered retirement income fund or a registered disability savings plan, as those expressions are defined in the Income Tax Act, or in any prescribed plan, other than property contributed to any such plan or fund in the 12 months before the date of bankruptcy,

Bill C-97

RDSP After DTC Lost

If the beneficiary loses their Disability Tax Credit (DTC), it used to be that the RDSP had to be closed. I waffled around this one with Tom, but the actual answer is:

“As of Budget day 2019, a RDSP n‎o longer is required to be closed due to loss of DTC. During a period when the beneficiary in not DTC eligible no contributions can be made to the plan except for the rollover of funds from a RRSP of a deceased parent or grandparent upon whom the beneficiary was dependent.  During a period of DTC eligibility, the beneficiary will not accumulate annual grant or bond entitlements. The Assistance Holdback Amount will be determined as the ten year period immediately prior to the beneficiary being DTC ineligible, and will remain that period until the end of the year the beneficiary turns 50. Each subsequent year the AHA will decrease by a year. (51-9 years, 52-8 years,… 59-1 year). The year the beneficiary turns 60, the AHA is nil. Should the benficiary requalify for the DTC, the plan will operate as normal.”

ESDC Source

So the money hangs around until the person turns 60 and then can be withdrawn, as Tom Drake pointed out should be the case.

Each time I talk about the Registered Disability Savings Plan and DTC I end up learning more myself.


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