Random Thoughts: Wild Finishes

As a young lad, I enjoyed walking to Jarry Park to watch the Expos play baseball, and I even enjoyed watching baseball in the Olympic Stadium, but my love for baseball has really wained (due to the length of the games), however Wednesday night we saw two teams manage to Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a spectacular manner. This kind of unbelievable finish gives you hope that the Global economy may actually turn itself around, but that remains to be seen. Will I be watching the baseball playoffs? I think it will be much like you watch most baseball games: you turn on the game, watch the first inning, go out cut the grass, check out the 4th inning, read War and Peace from cover to cover, watch the 7th inning, count every grain of sand in the Sahara, and then catch the 9th inning.

Go Expos! Yes I know they don’t have a team (yet), but I can always dream (of Rusty Staub, Mack Jones, Bill Lee, the BUS Squad and Blue Monday)

OK! Blue Jays! Let’s, Play, ball… no seriously, this week I was all over the map in terms of content, but still some interesting stuff:

Were other financial bloggers fixated on baseball and such? I doubt it:

Carnivals this Week

I did make it into a carnival or two this week too:

Other Bookkeeping


A True Expo!

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“Only Burnside could have managed such a coup, wringing one last spectacular defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Author: Abraham Lincoln (allegedly)



I Don’t Trust Cash?

Let me state that while I espouse the use of cash (as opposed to credit cards), I still don’t trust cash (completely) either.

How could someone not trust cash? It’s so universal and colourful (in Canada) how could you not trust Sir John A., or Wilfred Laurier? I used to completely trust in cash, but then an incident happened to a co-worker that has made me wary of money, from that day on.

The story is a simple one, the co-worker was going to move about $5,000 from one bank to another, and wanted to do it as cheaply as possible (i.e. with no fees), so he went to the bank where the money was coming out, and asked for it in cash. Extricating this amount of cash was not easy, but eventually the bank relented and gave him the cash (for no extra fee).

Off this acquaintance went to the bank where he was going to make the deposit, the teller while surprised to see that amount of cash, deposited the money, no questions asked, and voila, large amount of money moved with no fees, or charges for bank drafts, or so he thought.

The phone rang an hour later at this chap’s home, it was the bank, evidently there was a problem with his deposit, and they’d like him to come in.  He arrived at the bank, and the manager was there and ushered him into an office and the questions about where the large amount of cash came from? My friend replied it came from another bank, and that this was his way of saving service charges. The Bank Manager was very skeptical, because one of the bills deposited was in fact counterfeit. What the fudge?!?! Sure enough the bill was bogus, and the depositing bank refused to honour it thus the deposit was now $100 less (and there was a large service charge for the screwed up deposit too). My friend pleaded with the deposit bank, to no avail, he then went back from the withdrawing bank, and they said it was not possible for them to have given out a counterfeit note, so they were not going to help either.

After a great deal of arguing, and anguish my friend ended up $100 in the hole plus a whacking service charge, all in the name of saving $5.00 for a bank draft, hence my incomplete trust of cash.


Debt is Just Not Your Fault

Mrs. C8j pointed out that on one of the new radio stations in Ottawa, there are ads running for various “Debt Help” services that are cropping up (much like weeds in the springtime).

The ads are quite comforting telling the listener (I am paraphrasing):

… it’s not your fault that you have gotten into over $10,000 in consumer debt, it is the global economy collapse that causes it all, but we are here to help you get back on your feet…”

Seriously? They also point out that you may have lost your job, which may have caused your problems with your consumer debt (as well), which is a little more believable (but debatable if it is a valid excuse or not). How is it possible that the Greek Government’s default on their debt is causing me to build up consumer debt? That must have been part of math that I must have missed (advanced quackery calculus).

Another “debt counseling” firm claims that by helping you with your debt problems, you will be helping the Canadian economy to recover from the recession. Wow, my Mastercard bill is what is slowing down Canada’s recovery? Sorry guys, I would have done something about it if I had known!

The other interesting thing to note is that a great many of these new Debt Help offices, sometimes play dirty tricks with their customers, in that they negotiate a settlement price with the creditors, but then charge a “fee” for this service. I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge them payment for their services (although in many instances, consumers can do this work themselves).

Even more despicable is one place where they will put you on a debt repayment plan, however, they have already paid out your debt, and then start charging you interest on your debt repayment schedule (effectively becoming a replacement for the Credit Card company for gouging their customers). Again, these companies are taking a risk with these folks, but the interest rates they charge for their debt repayment scheme seem a little concerning (i.e. higher than banks charge their high risk customers).

Is it your fault you have a high consumer debt? You know my answer is, Yes, you bought the stuff, or built up the debt, how is it anyone else’s debt (yes, you could be paying off a loved ones debt, or something noble like that, but you know I am not razzing you guys) ? My only advice is to be careful if you are trying to extricate yourself from the clutches of consumer debt, sometimes you will only go from a Bear chewing on your butt, to a Tiger chewing your ass (best metaphor I could come up with).



September the Month of Exasperation

This was pointed out by our amigos at Boomer and Echo, however, I’d like to expound on it myself.

I don’t know when September was officially declared, “Harass, Vex, Accost, Beg or Annoy” month by the canvassing and money wanting world, but I suspect it happened when I wasn’t watching.

This month of September I have been:

  • Called thrice nightly by two separate 1-800 number, which may or may not be asking for donations, I don’t know I haven’t answered. Yes, I should answer and say, “Take me off your list”, but that does not seem to work these days.
  • Every other night around dinner time someone is coming by to canvass for some worthy (or in some cases bogus) charity. They apologize for interrupting your dinner, but I have almost asked, “What else would I be doing at 6:00 PM?”
  • Leaflets left at my door about how I am being prayed for, by one of our local churches (does that mean I have to pray for them now?).  Seriously, you couldn’t pray for folks in Africa who are starving, or prisoners of conscience, you had to pray for a pudgy, middle-aged civil servant? Your Church seriously needs to rethink your priorities

I realize that these folks are not working in any kind of concerted effort to drive me completely around the bend (but then again, maybe they are) but I am getting very fed up, and I suspect I am going to have to apologize to some poor soul after reading them the riot act about being harassed for money, when they knock on my door at 6:00 PM (again).

The alleged no call phone list seems to be a sham, as I am constantly barraged with phone calls for people asking for money, or worse to sell me something. Are charities on the no call list? I think I donate a fair amount in terms of money and time, and I’d really just like some peace and quiet, how do I make this happen?

For those who may be reading from these organizations, I do give to charities, I do donate my time, and I even pray for folks, but can you just cut a poor guy a break? I might actually give to an organization that advertised:

“… this year, we are leaving you alone, you will not see our canvassers at your door nor will you be getting phone calls from us, simply give us what you think you can afford…”

My guess would be this is never going to happen, but I can still hope.



Surreal Paragraphs Found in Credit Card Bills

My current credit card balance is quite large this month due to a bunch of specific previously planned expenses (and a couple that we hadn’t planned).  The bill will be paid on time, so there is not too much worry about starting a cycle of credit card interest charges (at least that is my plan, unless I forget to pay on time).

Having wandered through the wonderland of spending, I tripped across the following sentence:

At your current rate of interesting, if you make only your minimum payment by its due date each month, it will take approximately 22 year(s) and 2 month(s) to repay the account balance shown on this statement.

Holy Calendars Batman!!!! 22 years? Aye Carumba, that is an astounding time frame. So my estimation if we were making this same payment that the effective yearly rate is about 22% and I’d end up paying in total about 500% of the initial amount on the credit line once all payments are made, pretty cool eh?

This is atrocious, and makes me wonder how folks can do this? I have a line of credit that charges me currently 4% interest and if I was a bad bank customer I guess they might charge me 8%, but the Credit Card company can charge 22% (or so)? Wow, I guess I should start my own credit card company, if I want to get rich? Yes, I know that is unlikely or illegal or both.

The amazing things you can read on your credit card statement.


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