A Fine Friday on Vacation

I have been enjoying a vacation this week, where I actually didn’t really relax, I took care of a great deal of things, but I also took a planned week off writing for this site, just to see how I felt about not writing. Every once in a while I feel a little run down, and feel I am putting out even lower quality drivel than I normally do, but I am happy to say, I did miss writing, so I should be back to a more regular writing routine in the next couple of weeks. The site will be changing a little bit as well, as I am getting bored with its current lay out, and I don’t feel like I am maximizing my ability to get my messages out (or getting very good exposure to the over 2600 articles I have already written).

Big Cajun Man Photo

The Big Cajun Vacation Look

If there are any suggestions that you have for the site, please feel free to drop me a line at ‘bigcajunman @ canajunfinances.com’ (I may not reply right away, that account is actually inundated with get rick quick and boner pill e-mails). You can also send me tweets at @bigcajunman as well, I am all over the Social Media thingy.

I did read some of my favorite writers this week, but I won’t point directly to their writing, I’ll be a little more direct with my statements about each site, and why I find the writings interesting to me. I actually read a veritable cornucopia of sites during my day, as I am a little scatter brained (i.e. I can’t really concentrate on a single subject at a time).

Who am I reading now? It’s easy enough if you look in the right column, you’ll see most of these names, but I’ll elaborate on things a bit more.

  • Michael James is a good friend who I talk with regularly and has given me great advice along the way. If you are not reading his site, and at least using his writings as a baseline to work from, you need to do that, now.
  • Preet Banerjee is also a good guy, who I view as a friend, who has forgotten more about investing than I will ever figure out, listen closely to what he is saying on TV and on Radio.
  • Ram at the Canadian Capitalist is another excellent resource, who seems to have retired for now on writing, but go through his site, most (if not all) of his advice is still very much topical and very good. His example portfolios are exactly what start-up investors should use as a template.
  • Larry MacDonald is writing here and there these days, but he may start his own site some time very soon, and if he does, you should read that as well. Larry is an economist and a writer, who is on the ball.
  • Mark Seed from My Own Advisor is a relative newcomer, but from what I can tell a great deal of you have figured out that he is worth reading (and I am green with envy for his readership). Mark brings the Dividend Investing world to light for me, so I find his writings helpful for me to understand an area which I don’t talk about much.
  • Mark Goodfield from the Blunt Bean Counter is another good guy, he has given me personal advice which has helped me out with my dealings with the CRA (about medical expenses and such for my son who is on the Autism Spectrum). I don’t usually have much good to say about accountants, but Mark is the exception to that rule.
  • I have only spoken with Gail Vaz-Oxlade over the phone, but she did make a great impression on me, and if you aren’t reading her site, you need to add her to your list of sites to read. Her blunt approach to advice is exactly what the world needs now.
  • Robb Engen and his Mum (Marie) write a  very good set of articles over at Boomer and Echo, which I don’t always mention, but again, you should be reading these articles, and they are now in the business of Financial Advice as well.
  • Barry Choi over at Money We Have is still a newbie in the Financial Writing world, but his interesting article about his Financial Advisor here certainly still gets a lot of interesting comments.
  • Kerry at Squawkfox is another one who is not writing as much, but that is mostly because she is on many other main stream medias, and she is a busy mom too. Her writings are very eclectic, but still mostly on the money side of things.

Oh and you should add XKCD.com to your reader too!

These are only a few of the places I wander, whilst cruising the Information Superhigway, other less money related sites also include:

  • Popular Science is always interesting for odd scientific information that I wouldn’t realize, had I not checked out their fine site (with no comments).
  • I like Lifehacker mostly because it usually has an article a week on something that I go, “I NEED TO KNOW THAT!!”, or a Eureka article, as I call them.
  • I have been reading Postsecret for a while, it is an entertaining, interesting, sometimes troubling but never dull set of Secrets published on line.

Reading all of this can be time consuming, but can be helpful, and maybe save you some money, so have a look at them and maybe subscribe to their mailing lists, RSS feed or one of the other social media presences that most of these folks publish.


Remember my RSS feed is available too, and I have added an RSS Comment Feed as well. Have a look at my micro-blog on Twitter, where you can see a whole plethora of good articles and pithy comments by me as well.

My Twitter feed is where I re-tweet many great articles by some of my featured writers (and make the occasional odd or off colour commentary on life (in 140 characters or less)). I am also on redditTumblrPinterest and other Social Media sites (look for theBigCajunMan userid) as well. If you have social media accounts, don’t forget to votefor my posts (see the nifty dashboard on the bottom of each article, where you can cast your votes).As they say in Quebec, vote early and vote often!

This site is iPhone Friendly (and Android iPod Touch and iPad Friendly), enjoy it on the go, in a readable format for the device. If you are reading with an iPhone or Android device, drop me a comment and tell me if this needs any improvements.


Bazaar: Where Clutter Goes

If you aren’t a regular Church goer you are missing an amazing opportunity to declutter your house, the Church Bazaar (and maybe the Spring Garage Sale).

A minister once said to me, “Many folks think that the middle step between your house and the curb, for junk, is the Church”, which is very true. People constantly drop the oddest things at the Church thinking that we might be able to use them:

Truly Xmas Crap
Hopefully not this crap
  • Tractor feed printers and paper
  • Computers from the 1980s
  • Old lamps and chairs
  • Old coffee makers
  • etc., etc.,

The one time the Church does want your junk is for the Bazaar (if your Church Bazaar has a White Elephant or Kids section). Mrs. C8j diligently cleaned out the garage (so I could use her Do You Store Your Tires) and we found a few useful bicycles that the Church would love to try to sell for some extra money.

The danger of the Church Bazaar is that if you attend it, you could end up buying more stuff and cluttering your house, so the Bazaar does have a dark side to it as well. For those of you who keep saying things like, “I could make money selling that on Kajiji or eBay”, dream on, very few do, and more end up with basements full of junk. Besides, why would I buy your junk online when I could go to a Church Bazaar and get it cheap?

The funniest thing is when I have worked at a White Elephant table, and folks show up and want to haggle over prices. The conversation goes something like, “I’ll give you $2 for it”, and my response of “OK”, seems to upset them a great deal.

Other Clutter Articles


Financial Punch Lines

So I have wondered what my readers hear (or have heard) in terms of financial punch lines in their lives? Throughout our financial lives we have heard many of these punch lines. Closing lines if you are talking to a salesperson.

Yes, I have talked about Financial One Liners before, but this is more specific, that “closing line” the financial “person” used when you concluded your transaction.

Financial Punch Lines
Take his wife… please! Henny Youngman the King of the 1 Liners, from Wikimedia

Would you like a great example?

“I am sure this will help your family’s financial security”

Is one that I have heard from a Mutual Fund Sales Guy but also from the first major mistake I made, which was buying whole life insurance when I first graduated from University (I abandoned the plan after a year and bought 10 year terms ever since).

“You have made an important decision which will help you and your family’s future”

Again, a mutual fund sales person used this one on me too, I dumped those Mutual Funds after 4 years of 1.1% growth (during the 90’s).

 “I am psyched to have a new client, and we are going to do great things together”

A financial planner/insurance/mutual funds sales dude who was positive he had me “on the hook” and was going to get me to sign up for his program, that was not the case. We met this guy at an “investment fair” in Ottawa (where I almost invested in a brewery that went bankrupt (one of the reasons I remember this)).

What other financial punch lines, or closing statements have you heard, that you have lived to regret in your life??


Personal Finance Napkin Scribblings

The title does say it all, sometimes I have ideas and have to write them down or I forget them, so this is a glimpse of the creative process involved in this blog:

What do I Scribble While at Lunch?
What do I Scribble While at Lunch?

If you can’t discern my scratchings (on an actual napkin):

Napkin Back Personal Finance Tips

  • Stop going to places that give you free napkins! (think about it)
  • All the best plans started on an envelope back or a napkin
  • Good Debt still looks stupid written on a napkin(then a nice graphic)Still looks stupid to me
  • Don’t write on napkins with a file point Pilot Pen too!


Financial Reboot

One of the major tricks I learned when I was an I.T. dude, was how easy it was to fix problems if you asked your customer, “Have you rebooted your system lately?“. I also knew this drove my customers nuts, but it worked most of the time, and they had to then go away, and I usually had a good chuckle. A financial reboot might not be a bad idea as well.

a financial reboot

Now THIS is a COMPUTER (Vic 20)

When I was at the Maundy Thursday service at my Church during Holy Week, it ends with a complete stripping of the alter and the turning off all the lights in the Church, effectively ending the Church year, and then on Easter morning, this is the start of a new year, effectively a spiritual reboot.

Restart Financially?

This strikes me as a useful idea for those who may be stuck in a financial rut, or feel they are drowning in their own financial plans. I am not espousing declaring bankruptcy or walking away from your financial issues (that is the ultimate financial reboot, and should really be a solution of last resort), but I am saying that maybe a financial reboot in your  thinking is needed?

How can you reboot financially? Some ideas that might work are:

  • Re-vamp your investment ideas, and move away from an active investment plan to a passive or Index based plan. Maybe your issue with your investments is that you just don’t know enough about how to invest (I know I don’t), but if you go with the indexes you are more likely to succeed (as long as you choose the right indexes). This kind of reboot in your methodology may help you in the long run?
  • If you and your spouse don’t talk about money much, maybe it’s time to reboot, and then plan weekly discussions about what is going on with money so that both of you know what is going on. This might ease the money tension in your house and give you new ideas about things.
  • If you have no financial plan, reboot, and make one. If you feel living day to day is not working for you, reboot and restart with a plan that will help you feel more in control.
  • When you retire a debt (especially if it is a Credit Card), maybe retire that debt vehicle (i.e. close the account), so that it cannot resurrect itself later. Rebooting your credit vehicles by getting rid of unneeded credit devices is a good idea, if you have had issues with them previously.

A financial reboot gives you a fresh start, and maybe can put you back on the right path?

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