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Are Canadians Financially Stupid?

An interesting comment was left on my post yesterday about Instant Income Tax Refund systems, which made the bold statement, “…the average Canadian is stupid about money…”, and I don’t think I like or agree with that statement, but I do wonder are Canadians financially stupid ?

While I have berated folks for using Pay Day Loans, Carrying Credit Card Debt, and various other “financial running with scissors”-type issues, I hope I haven’t made my readers feel “stupid”.

Are Canadians financially stupid ? I think we have many different issues with our money, and I might describe them as:

Dunce Hat
All Those Who Agree I have a Hat for You too!
  • Naive, would be a good adjective, since a lot of folks I have met, really don’t know much about the “science of money”.  What worries me is that they don’t want to know or learn about what they don’t know. You wouldn’t do this if you had a major disease, would you?
  • Mad Cap, or Whimsical, given that this generation (or at least the one behind me) really can’t remember the bad days of the 70’s and 80’s when interest rates for loans were over 20%. There is a naive belief that interest rates of 4-5% is actually high, and I can assure you, this is very much not the case (from a man who’s first mortgage interest rate was 12% for 5 years and it was a good rate (for a while)).
  • Indiscreet, I have been told a lot of really personal financial information by a lot of folks, and more than once I have told them that divulging this information to an acquaintance might not be a very good idea.
  • Uneducated, that really sums it up nicely. Many Canadians just have not taken the time to read, or learn about the “science of money”. I think high schools really should teach more about money, because the financial parasites try to catch folks very early.

I hope that if I have used the word “stupid”, folks have not taken it to heart. Think of it more of an aggravated utterance by a friendly teacher (yes, I am not friendly and I am a crappy teacher, but you can see where I might be coming from). I don’t think my readers are “stupid”, but if you are doing those things that I constantly rant about, you really need to get Educated!

Are Canadians financially stupid?


Resolutions for 2012

In preparation for 2012, I started writing down the things that I’d like to accomplish for the coming year, and I was diligently scribing and wracking my memory for ideas, and making up goals for myself and such, when I remembered that I had done this pretty much every year for a long time. I have obsessively written things down, with goals and stretches, on how I was going to make myself a better person, and make my life better, but at the end of it all, I realized the best way to do this kind of self-improvement exercise.

This methodology may not be for everyone as it takes a very high degree of self-control and self-confidence to do this, so if you want to try this concept, please keep in mind it may not work for you.

First type up your list of resolutions or goals, and put it in your favorite format be it Powerpoint Slides, Word Document, Google Document, or type it up on an Olivetti portable typewriter, but the actual print out is the important part of this, you must have this important list in hard copy format.

The next step is to read this list over very carefully three times so it is all fresh in your mind. Read it out loud if that helps it sink into your subconscious, and hopefully it gets into your psyche.

Once you have done this, get a box of matches, light the document on fire, throw it into your fireplace, and say out loud, “Fuck Forget this!”, and walk away from it (if you don’t have a fireplace, find somewhere safe to put the burning document once you have lit it). Go over to your computer if you still have a soft copy of the list, and delete it too.

Why would I do this? I end up doing this around July anyhow (i.e. realizing that most of the list is unattainable and very optimistic planning on my part), I am just cutting out the wasting of 7 months and all the angst and guilt associated with it.

If you want to make a better life, live it, enjoy it, and don’t worry so damn much (and for the love of Christ, stop making bloody lists to improve yourself, the best way to make a better you is to make yourself happy). Stop being a tight-assed, uptight, worry wort, and just enjoy the life you are living. No I am not saying run wild and do as you please, but you know what you need to do, you don’t need a list to torment you.

You have just read my New Years Resolution for 2012, I think I nailed it.

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No One Complained (Hear no evil)

In Ottawa we are having a bit of a brew ha ha (maybe even a hullabaloo) about OCTranspo (the bus system) and their latest set of optimizations to their routes. Mayor Jim Watson (who I hear looks a lot like me) has said he really has only received about 100 complaints, which seems remarkably low (given everybody I know who takes the bus has complained about it to me). I think the Mayor may have poked the bear on this one, and he may receive a few more complaints thanks to his comments.

I have noticed that no Bank CEO has stood up and made proactive statements like:

  • I only have about 100 complaints about our bank’s service charges
  • Our credit card’s interest rate policy is never complained about by our customers
  • I feel my bonus package for the coming year does not compensate me sufficiently given the good work I am doing for our customers

Yes, I am being very facetious about this, but making the general statement,”… because I have not heard much complaining the system must be just fine…” is really a┬áred flag in front of a bull. The banks public relations gurus carefully train their public faces to not talk about things like bank fees directly, because they know that folks hate them, and pretty much nothing a CEO says can put the fees into a better light (aside from saying, we are abolishing our fee structure, in favor of a no-fee structure).

The hear no evil concept doesn’t work well for a lot of things (financially):

  • I haven’t received a credit card bill lately, so it must mean I don’t owe any money. I really think that is a dangerous game to play.
  • My wife and I don’t talk about money issues, which must mean she is happy with how things are working. Really?
  • I’m saving a lot of money by not replacing my roof and it doesn’t seem to be causing my house any problems.

Just because you don’t hear about trouble, doesn’t mean it’s not happening, maybe it’s just being very, very quiet.

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Election Day Comes to Ontario 2011

In Ontario the Good election day has finally arrived and now we can choose between, What’s his name, That Guy, and that Nice Lady (I kid you not I barely remember any of their names it has been that dull a campaign).

You would have thought someone who had introduced so many taxes, and such would have a Democrats chance of getting elected in Texas, but Dalton McGuinty seems to be holding his own and at worse he will have a minority government this time around. It is hard to believe that the Big Blue Machine used to rule Ontario with an iron fist for so darn long, but I guess those days are long past. The Tory leader (Tim Hudak), seems to find new ways to trip himself up, or aggravate some new part of the province, and both Liberal and Tories have been running the standard attack ads that have marked the last decade of politics in general (i.e. point out all of your opponents mistakes and faults, while never talking about what you might do, policy wise).

Vote Ontario 2011
Vote Ontario 2011

Then you have the NDP leader (Andrea Horwath) whose name always escapes me. She has run a relatively positive campaign, is attempting to continue the Jack Layton Orange Tide that started federally, but I suspect all you need mention to any Ontarian is Bob Rae and they just won’t be able to mark a ballot for the NDP (but I may be wrong).

The major points of this election were:

  • If you vote Liberal again you’ll get your asses taxed off, and they are going to break all their promises
  • If you vote Tory you’ll go back to the days of Mike Harris when your Grandmother couldn’t get her hip replaced, and the schools were infested with rats
  • Oh my God, you aren’t thinking NDP are you? Oh dear, don’t you remember Bob Rae?

OK, I am being a little facetious here, but most of the campaign has been just that banal. I think the big loser no matter how it all falls out are the Conservatives, since they had this election in their back pockets until Mr. Hudak started opening his mouth (and his handlers couldn’t figure out how to make him more palatable to “the center”).

If you live in Ontario, remember to vote. If you want to have fun, come out of the voting booth holding your nose and hand your ballot to the elections folk, and see how they react.

If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain!

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I’m an Adult Now?

Wrote this shortly after my Dad passed away in 2011. My Dad was a very hard working man, with a very English sense of humour, and I miss him every day.

That realization came to me the day my Dad passed away around Easter (yes my Blogcation, wasn’t really a vacation it was me helping out my Mum (as best I could) to deal with my Dad’s passing). I still haven’t really come to grips or feel comfortable writing about this subject, but the N.C.F.B.A. did convince me that when I did, it would be OK, as long as I was honest (thanks Preet, Michael James, Canadian Capitalist, Larry Mac and My Own Advisor).

With this in mind, I have actually written a few posts already about this topic and what I have learned over the past few months, but I want to edit them before posting them (so that they simply aren’t cathartic and emotional explosions from me) .  One idea and post that came to me right after my Dad’s passing was the realization of when you reach Adulthood.

I am an Adult Now?

As I was driving to my Parent’s home (about a 2 hour drive) just after my Mum had called to tell me about my Dad’s passing, I had a lot of thoughts and emotions going on but the one that really stuck with me from that day is, I am an Adult Now (and frankly it scares the hell out of me).

Most of us grow up with our parents, and in most situations we start endowing our parents with super powers (in our own minds). Parents are indestructible, they are infallible, and they are someone (or more specifically the ONE) who can make things better (I find it hard to believe my kids think this way about me). This begs the question: when your parents finally pass on, what happens then? Who takes care of you then?

I think the easy answer is, “now it’s time to put on the big boy (or girl) pants and start doing the job yourself“, but that almost sounds trite. There are a lot of people I know that have had to start taking care of themselves very early on in their lives (and I respect those folks a great deal), so me lamenting that I am now suddenly under all this pressure at the tender age of 50, sounds like a pile of self-pitying crap, but it is still how I feel.

Having had a few months to think about this, it is natural to mourn the loss of someone who has been a large part of your life, and to lament their departure with some self-pity, and I guess I am getting used to being an Adult, I might actually even figure out how money works.


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