Financially Acting in Haste

Many times I have espoused that if you feel you are not getting the service level you want or you are paying far too much for these services you should simply change your bank or find a different service provider (with phone services, cables services and internet services), however sometimes acting in haste can have some unpredictable consequences, so while you should act, always take a moment and figure out what possible ramifications there might be from you making a sudden change.

I write this remembering a story of my childhood where my Mother first taught me that you must stand up for yourself, however, that can cause unexpected ripples elsewhere in your life.

My Mother is an astounding woman, has worked very hard, and is a very independent person (even now when she is 90+), but this happened when she was much younger. She had gone to her Bank to do some banking (remember this was in the early 1970’s for a timeframe) and many times she had received condescending comments about “shouldn’t your husband be here?” from the Bank Staff (implying that my Mother couldn’t nor shouldn’t be making financial decisions on her own).

At the time my Mother had her own job as a teacher, her own income, her own benefits yet the Bank continued to treat her as a simple appendage of my Father. As a bit of background my Mother got a Statistics degree from University College of London in the early 50’s, when women did NOT get those kind of degrees, so while I would not view her as a feminist, she was and is a very strong believer in her rights.

All of this came to an interesting crescendo one day when a Bank teller refused to do a simple transaction for her without my Dad’s signature. The account was a joint account, however, either was allowed to sign for transactions, however this teller would not budge, and refused to let my mother do this simple transfer without my Dad’s signature. For my Mother this was the line in the sand, and she decided she had enough of this.

She thanked the teller, walked away (politely) then went over to the Customer Service desk and asked to close all of her accounts with the bank. My mother could not close any joint accounts, but she did in fact have her own account and a Chargex card with the bank as well, so she closed both of those and came home. The bank didn’t really care, I guess they thoughts it was some overly emotional woman flying off the handle, but my Mother refused to do business with them.

This story in itself would be a good example of standing up for yourself, but it also has an added epilogue which is important to remember too. The next day my Dad went to buy something downtown, didn’t have enough cash with him so he used decided to use his Chargex card, however, that Chargex card was not actually his account, he had a card off my Mother’s Chargex card, and thus the transaction was refused. My Father was not very happy about this, he ended up using one of his own Credit Cards, but when my Mother heard of this, she had a good laugh (my Father was not as amused by this turn of events).

Acting in Haste ?

Happy Birthday

The moral of the story: Stand up for your rights, don’t take crap from any service provider, especially your bank, but remember if you make a rash decision,  maybe think about it for a few minutes and figure out what all the ramifications of the decision might be.


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 is something I remind my co-workers about often, and it is something to keep in mind when doing financial planning as well. 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 because you are monitoring your spending and religiously using Quicken does not mean you are actually Achieving anything (other than time spent looking at numbers). Grouping together a set of activities that are similar, 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 have a plan on how you will react to the information to make any kind of impact on things. Mindlessly doing busy work may seem satisfying, but if you have nothing gained from it, why did you do it in first place? Having a plan or at least spending thresholds that you can act upon will make this data collection steps towards a worthwhile goal, but you must do more than just collect data, you must analyze 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? I guess in terms of the contest, but not in terms of them doing this during work hours.

If you are not sure why you are doing something menial every day 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


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