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Why Don’t They Empty the Dishwasher?

And other questions about Teenagers

One of my pastimes is as an assistant coach on a girls’ basketball team, and a few weeks ago the head coach asked me a very good question, “Why aren’t they running the offense?“, which is a question we ask each other a great deal, but I had a momentary epiphany which I like a great deal (still).

Why don’t they empty the dishwasher, even though we tell them to do it every day? Why when they finish emptying the dishwasher don’t they put dirty dishes into the dishwasher?

It really does sum up the problems we have with the young ladies apparently not listening to us, they just don’t seem to remember things that we think are very important. My opinion is that they think these are “requests”,  they simply don’t listen or they don’t think the tasks are very important, but that is not really the point of this post.

We keep thinking the girls are making “mistakes”, but I don’t think that really is the case, it is just they simply don’t think of it at the time (i.e. a sin of omission not a sin of misinterpretation or mistaken action). We will keep working with the young ladies (although the season is coming to a close very soon), maybe they will have an epiphany of their own.

Sh*te Vortex

I have surmised this is what happens to a lot of folks when they start creating the Shite Vortex that is their financial situation, they are not trying to create it, but by forgetting the simple rules that Financial Bloggers spew (sorry a long weekend of dealing with bodily fluids) daily, they create the problem.

This doesn’t excuse either our players or the folks who create Financial Shite Vortexes, it just allows me to understand the thinking processes a bit more (I empathize, but I don’t sympathize). Understanding why mistakes are made, gives me hope that the “mistakes” can be averted the next time.

Why do you think folks do those weird things, that they know are wrong, but do them any how? Do you have a dishwasher that never gets emptied?

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Choosing a Career: an interesting Paradox

My youngest daughter will be graduating from high school in a few months and she is concerned that she has not got a solid idea of what she wants to do at University and where she wants to attend. I have told her not to worry about it, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I graduated and even then I am not completely sure I ever really decided it just kind of happened (and I was very lucky).

She then said to me that a friend was talking about going to Africa to teach English (interesting I would have thought you were going over there to work for OXFAM or some aid group, do the folks in Africa even want to learn English? They have over 200 dialects, don’t they? But I digress).

I heard that one and said I wasn’t sure that was a great career move, and my daughter said she agreed with me, she thought it was a very interesting choice. I thought about it further and in my mind it strikes me as a very adventurous choice for an 18 year old to take be they male or female.

Last week I started French training, and when I walked into class I smiled. I have two instructors (one does the morning and one does the afternoon) and both of them are from the area around the former French Congo (Burundi, Zaire, etc.,) , so they are Africans that have come to Canada to teach French. Their skills at teaching are very good, and I think they have made a good career choice: they have come from Africa to Canada, to teach French.

I understand people coming to Canada to teach and enjoy a good standard of living and such, I am not as sure about “adventurous” choices like going to Africa to teach. I am glad my daughter has chosen not to investigate the “English teacher” option any further.

When I was younger folks talked about going to Europe to travel, and see the world, and I didn’t think that was a very good idea either (so this may just be a personal opinion), but I told my French instructors this story (about young ladies going to Africa to teach English, and their opinion was going to Africa to teach English might be  a little too “adventurous”  as well.

Maybe I am just a little too conservative? Xenophobic?


Financial Parables for Good Friday

Good Friday

Given today is a day off, and a day I will be spending at Church and with my family I figured I’d leave my readers with a few of my favorite financial parables for Good Friday. I should be back on Monday (or maybe Tuesday, we’ll see).

You’ll find this list and a few others in my Faves menu up top of this.


In personal finances sometimes a lot can be learned in parable format.

  1. Parable: Money and the McDonald’s Play Structure
    How can my son getting stuck in a McDonald’s play structure have anything to do with money? Read and you will be amused to see where I went with this story.
  2. Best Financial Advice Ever Given
    Outlines a parable my Dad told me when I borrowed a large amount of money from him. I have used this parable many times myself.
  3. Don’t Pass it to the Other Team
    How does the Carleton basketball coach have anything to do with finances? Read and you’ll see a long stretch.
  4. The Dangers of Advice
    How I inadvertently gave very bad financial advice to a dear friend.
  5. The Good Wine
    Sometimes you shouldn’t keep things for too long, just like a special bottle of wine I once had.
  6. Fathers and Money
    Not really a parable, but more of a tip of the hat from the man that I learned the most about life from, even though I am pretty sure he is unaware of just how much I did learn from him.

Enjoy your Family and enjoy the new beginning of this Easter.


“Don’t Mistake Activity for Achievement”

This quote (Don’t mistake activity for achievement ) from John Wooden reminds my coworkers about often, and it is something to keep in mind when doing financial planning. John Wooden was the dean of College Basketball coaches in the U.S., but his simple theories on life live on in so many ways.

Simply monitoring your spending and religiously using Quicken does not mean you are Achieving anything (other than time spent looking at numbers). Grouping together a set of similar activities is still not assuring any achievement in that area.

If you:

  • Download all financial transactions into Quicken
  • Keep all of your receipts
  • Make sure you know the value of all of your assets (stocks and such)
activity for achievement
The True Wizard of Westwood

All you are achieving is information collection. You must act on this information or plan how you react to the data to impact things. Mindlessly doing busy work may seem satisfying, but if you have nothing gained from it, why did you do it in the first place? Having a plan or at least spending thresholds that you can act upon will make this data collection step towards a worthwhile goal, but you must do more than collect data. It would help if you analyzed it as well.

A great example of this was pointed out by a coworker, who mentioned that a “guess how many rice kernels are in a jar” contest had been won by someone, who had guessed 5000, and the actual grain of rice count was 5018. So someone during work counted all 5018 rice kernels? Was that a good use of a worker’s time? In terms of the contest, I guess not in terms of them doing this during work hours.

If you are unsure why you are doing something menial everyday task, ask yourself, what am I achieving doing this?

Collect data, however, use tools to analyze it and then act upon the new information you have learned, and you will be achieving more than simple data collection.

If you wish to read more about the Coach


Read Financial Documents Before Signing

Sure I Read It (maybe)

Most financial documentation is treated the same way as the Bible, in that most people claim to have read it, but few really have done so (and even fewer can remember the contents (and still more misinterpret the contents), of those who have claimed to have read it). This is what the financial industry is hoping you will do, so it is in your own best interest to read all documentation over carefully, to at least understand the financial “jist” of the document.

What do I mean by financial “Jist”?

  • Is this a “cover my ass” document from the financial institution so that you cannot sue them later? Most equities/mutual fund/etc., documents are this type of document. The company has lawyers who are trying to get you to absolve the company of any guilt if you lose your family fortune. I have no doubt Bernie M. may have had the exact same documents that folks signed without asking first what they meant.
  • Hope you read the fine print, because you just stepped into a financial leg hold trap, document. These are more insidious documents, in that whoever is trying to get you to sign it is attempting to trap you into terms that are beneficial to them, but not to you. These happen more than you think, so it is important to make sure that what you are being told verbally, matches what you are signing.

The cover my ass document seems to be appearing everywhere, as more interesting litigations appear, and while very annoying, are not as disturbing as the financial leg hold trap documents.

Leghold trap

That is gonna hurt!

Who might have a financial leg hold trap document?

  • A lender who is telling you one set of terms verbally, but putting in writing a different set of numbers, or worse, not telling you about penalty clauses that can be invoked, if you attempt to break the loan agreement. What are the costs of breaking your Mortgage or Loan? Can you answer that question? If not, you had best go find out, you might be unpleasantly surprised by your agreement
  • Car leasing agreements that have many extra penalty clauses, or return fees that they may not mention (and you’d only find out about if you read lease agreement closely). Saying, “You never told me that”, isn’t going to make those charges go away.
  • Warranty agreements that state that the vendor has a right to refuse warranty work, with no excuse. This one I have heard of, and you really do need to read what warranty and return policies are when you buy things. If you haven’t read the warranty statement closely you might be left out in the cold.

If you are really unsure of the contents of a document, simply don’t sign it until you are confident you know what its contents actually mean. Claiming ignorance later is not really a great defense, and if this is something financially important to you maybe you need a lawyer or at least a trusted friend look it over.

In this instance reading is believing (and understanding, hopefully).

My motivation for this article was from two sources:

  • One of my favorite sites is Hanzi Smatter which is dedicated to the misuse of Chinese Characters in Western Culture, where you will find countless examples of folks who have had Chinese character tattoos put on them using the Chinese Gibberish font. If folks don’t check what is being etched onto their body for the rest of their lives, when should they check the validity of a set of characters?
  • A work associate who seems to have been caught in a Mortgage Bear Trap, where if they wish to break their Mortgage agreement they must pay a penalty equal to all interest charges throughout the life of their mortgage contract (not the standard three month, 6 month or remainder of agreement penalty). Yikes!


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