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Happy Thanksgiving America!

Pass the TurDuckEn

The biggest holiday in the U.S. is today, and I wish my American Brother and all my friends South of the Border a most festive holiday weekend. Evidently, there is more travelling for Thanksgiving than for Christmas, and tomorrow being Black Friday the orgy of spending for Christmas will start in earnest.

Given that many stores are open today in the States, I am confused as to why Black Friday is still so important, but I guess tradition states that it must be the biggest sales day for stores. It is interesting to see that there are online Black Friday sales (even in Canada), which begs the question, Why? I guess we in Canada feel inferior to our American neighbours and must join in with the spending splurge on Friday as well.

Black Friday NT Times
Where Do They Keep the Cheese Straighteners?

Why Black Friday?

The term Black Friday is open to interpretation, it’s first use was to describe the 1869 Stock Market Crash (yes they had Stock Crashes even in the 19th Century), but in more modern times it is associated with the idea of the day that Retailers Break Even on that day (thanks to the massive sales throughput of that day). I think that is an interesting theory, not sure if it is the truth, but a good legend.

Lots of folks get injured on Black Friday chasing down those elusive great buys, and many stores are opening at 4:00 AM to drive their customers’ delirium even higher. I think it would be interesting to observe this, but those crowds scare me, so I would stay away from them.

Much like Boxing Day here in Canada, Black Friday seems to be an excuse to buy another Deluxe Left-handed Cheese Straightener, because it is on sale! There should be a converse day to Black Friday like Declutter Monday where you must now take your excess Cheese Straightener and give it to the Good Will or Salvation Army (maybe have that day in May to create a feeling of need by November again)? Just an idea.

I guess the day after Black Friday is effectively Red Saturday given the amount of money spent by consumers, they are the ones that have now gone into the Red putting retailers into the Black? Again, just conjecture on my part.

Enjoy your Football, Parades and then your spending on Friday, but remember, someone has to pay for all of this eventually.

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Jobs and Job Fairs (again) and Random Thoughts

When I was job hunting (many years ago), I dropped by a Job Fair in Ottawa, and was astounded to see the number of people at this small job fair and also by the fact that I knew so many of them. It drove home hard just how many folks are looking for jobs right now. The other fact that had me thinking was that very few (if any) of the exhibitors wanted resumes, they were simply talking about their company and wanted candidates to submit their resumes to the company website.

This means no one will read resumes after this show much (they may have a bunch sent to them electronically, but my guess is they will simply add them into their job database and forget about them).  HR rarely reads resumes sent to them directly, they wait for software to “screen” candidates for them.

The important point to remember that if you are job hunting, you need contacts to get jobs. The number I have heard quoted is 75% of jobs are never posted, they are filled by folks that the company knows about from internal contacts.

Another free piece of advice, talking to other Unemployed folk, is not networking. Talk to people with jobs, they will know of jobs where they are or who might be hiring, unemployed people rarely know that and can’t help you that way.

Random Thoughts: Financial Apocalypse Over? (April Fools!)

The financial blogging world this week had an eclectic cross-section of articles but some that I enjoyed were:

A final job hunting tip, if you are lucky enough to find a job, remember those who are still looking, and help them out as best you can as well!


Economic Update: Take that Fat Cats!

Jim Flaherty came through with an interesting and, I would say, very optimistic Economic Update (mini-budget, whatever) yesterday that aimed for something that all voters love to see under financial siege, Government Agencies and MP’s.

No Debt Financing?

With some very creative and optimistic accounting, the Finance Minister is promising to try to have either balanced budgets or very small surpluses up to 2013, which is very contrary to what most economists are saying is possible in the current economic instability (i.e. Financial Apocalypse).

Flaherty did couch his optimism with the following cold statement:

“Any additional actions to support the economy will have an impact on the bottom-line numbers in our next budget. These actions, or a further deterioration in global economic conditions, could result in a deficit.”

So he isn’t saying there will be deficits, just that there will be measures taken to avoid debt if possible.

Take that Ottawa Fat Cats

Ottawa Fat Cat
That is a fat cat

No, that is not a real Ottawa fat cat, it’s my cat from when I lived in Kitchener, but he is a good metaphor for the “Fat Cats” in Ottawa.

Some of the measures against the “Ottawa Fat Cats” taken will be:

  • Elimination of the $1.75 per vote allowance to support political parties that receive more than 2 per cent of the vote, staring April 2009. I really like this one, because all of the politicians are howling about it, so it must be a good thing.
  • Wage controls holding increases to public servants, including MPs and senators, to 2.3 per cent for last year and 1.5 per cent for each of the next three years. I really like this one, because the MP’s are mad about this as well, and the public service doesn’t like it either.
  • Slash cost overruns on government travel, hospitality, conferences, exchanges and political services, this sounds like something they should have been doing already? What exactly were they doing before this, wait, I don’t want to know the answer to that one, so please don’t answer.
  • Provincial equalization payments are gauged to the average GDP growth over a three-year period. Can’t wait to hear Dalton McGuinty tirade about this one.
  • No mention of any extra taxes, but since this is not a budget, then I guess nothing has to be mentioned about that (yet).

Other Steps

Some pro-active steps being taken are:

  • Giving $350 million in equity into the Export Development Canada and another $350 million in equity into the Business Development Bank of Canada. Interesting, guess I should send my resume in there since they might be hiring soon.
  • A scary one for soon to be pensioners is allowing federally regulated pension plans to spend 10 years instead of five to make solvency payments if necessary. This is a slippery slope I think and it could end up like some of the private pensions that are woefully underfunded these days.
  • Only allowing seniors to withdraw $7,500 instead of $10,000 from their Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs), which is supposed to slow the cashing in of stocks and mutual funds I guess.


Random Thoughts For Friday

A week where we looked closer at topics that is near and painful to my hear:

  • Monday was a discussion of Investment Planning and my normal honesty that I am as good a golfer as I am an investor at times.  I do however have a plan that I am living up to right now, and am glad I have not bailed out the way I might have in my younger days.
  • Horror Stories from the Financial World was Tuesday’s post, where I talked about a pay per use card that still charged 365% interest if you paid it off the wrong way.
  • Wednesday we went to one of my favorite topics, which is getting Free Banking and how if you are persistent and are willing to move banks, you can get Free Banking from the major banks (in Canada at least).
  • Finally I talked about Bank Fees in general and my views in that area.

In some of the other blogs I read usually:

Enjoy your weekend, I will be hanging out in gyms all weekend watching U15 girls play basketball.

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Friday Random Thoughts

We interrupt this discussion about Personal Finance quarterly statements for a quick look at the past week:

  • The Canadian dollar is back at par with it’s American cousin. This is better for the Canadian manufacturing world, however, is it enough? The interest rate drop being assumed by the financial markets we find out about in a few weeks so stay tuned.
  • Today is BLACK Friday! Which does not mean that the Mist is going to take over your small Maine town, it is allegedly the biggest shopping day in the U.S. and the “Black” actually means, this is the day that retail stores in the U.S. finally go into profitability today (i.e. Black). Go see the Mist anyhow.
  • It snowed like heck the past day or so in Ottawa, which means more and more folks slamming into each other, towing companies phones ringing off the hooks and the sales of snow tires and snow tire installation sky rocketing as well. Do you use snow tires? If you live in Raleigh Durham, I know why not, if you live in Ottawa, what was your reason again? Best line read is, “It’s about the cost of your insurance deductible to buy snow tires, think about it”.
  • Retail sales are down 0.2% in September, which is interesting, given all the “hub bub” about cross border shopping, you would have thought that the stores were abandoned, but that is not the case yet.
  • I continue to enjoy some time off work, that is another interesting end of year “finance” thing to look at. How much vacation do you have left for this year? Does your company pay you out for unused vacation, or do you lost it? If you lose it, USE IT! If they pay you out, that is another idea to keep in mind as well (could you use an extra week’s pay)?

Have a fun weekend all, the Personal Finance Quarterly report seminar continues on Monday with Debts (something almost as scary as a Stephen King Novella).


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