What is Money?

Another one from my archives that I do like, as it goes back to the things I like to write about: My Family and Money.

Michael James posted yesterday an interesting article about inheritances and how money can disappear or dissipate at least from generation to generation. I commented on it and then spoke to Michael James about it (while watching a Little League baseball game).

I see problems with what a lot of people view what money is to them and without a good understanding of what money’s value is, and what it actually means to you it is very easy to spend it without thinking about it.

The Value of Money

Scenes Series $20 – front / Billet de 20 $ de la série Scènes – recto

Now that is Money to Me!

My eldest daughter and I have been having talks (OK monologues mostly from me) about her spending habits now that she has a part time job. I have tried to get her to understand that just because you earn money, does not mean you have to increase your spending to compensate for this (yes, I know sometimes parents should listen to their own advice too). She doesn’t seem to understand this point, or forgets it a lot, but I think I made a good point with her a couple of days back.

I still have access to her bank account, so I can see where she is spending her money (she doesn’t usually carry cash, she uses her debit card, and that is another problem, but also for another post). I saw that she had spent $6.95 at Pizza Pizza (presumably for lunch), I remembered she had worked a very long shift at her job the previous night and when I drove her home, she complained about how her feet and back hurt, so I tried to use this to explain the value of money to her.

I pointed out that, the lunch she bought and snarfed down without thinking about it, was almost an hour on her feet, scanning food in the express line at Loblaws (where her job is). Did she really think her lunch was worth the hour of standing, scanning products and listening to customers either complain or ask questions about what she was doing? I hope this helps her understand the value of money, I am not sure, but if it causes her to think, before she spends, that is all I can hope for.

I remember when I was younger, and I had a paper route, I got paid 4 cents a paper, for a paper route of 35 papers, for 6 days a week (I got paid more for Saturday paper), but at the end of it, I made about $8.40 a week and then maybe some tips from my customers. I could have easily gone to a movie every week, but luckily I was socially inept, and really cheap, because I knew how hard I worked to make that money, so I didn’t want to just blow it on the first thing I saw.

Wonder when I lost that?

How do you value money? Do you see the work that went into buying that iPOD? All comments appreciated.


Random Thoughts for a Black Friday

The carnage has already started, the sales are already on going, people are maming and fighting each other to get those elusive savings, yet here we set reading a blog? I think you are doing the right thing, Black Friday, to me is a bit of an overhyped idea. The savings I see seem good, but are they worth all the hassles and shopping? Maybe it would be better to sit this one out and make up a real plan of what needs to be bought before going out shopping?

The stock market reopens for half a day today, but given how badly things have been going, maybe it should just stay shut for a while. Not sure what has called the Bears out of hibernation, but the markets are down, down, down these days. The European economic world is teetering over the brink again, and now folks are wondering how many dominoes may fall, so doom and gloom really does seem to be the feeling in the monetary world right now.

In Canada there really isn’t a Black Friday, however, the stores are still trying to whip shoppers into some kind of frenzy so there are some having a Black Friday sale, but for me this week I didn’t talk as much about shopping, more about the following:

And thanks to those who added me on Twitter I am now over 950 folks who follow me, wow!

Black Friday, Charity and a few other things were on the minds of some of my favorite writers this week:

Other Bookkeeping

Black Friday NT Times

Where Do They Keep the Cheese Straighteners?

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“If you think the United States has stood still, who built the largest shopping center in the world?”

Author: Richard M. Nixon and who shops there?


Christmas Safety and Security

‘Tis the Season to be Safe

A while back I got into my car (which I park on my driveway) and saw that someone had broken into my car and had did a good job making a mess looking for things. This has happened previously to me (about the same time of year), and back then I did lose some money and an electronic device, so I am careful not to leave anything of great value in my car any more, so the thieves did not seem to get anything of value from this break in. I was surprised they did not even take my DJ Riko Merry Mixmas CD (guess they don’t know good music).

This inconvenience to me (I had to spend a few minutes checking things over and cleaning up) could have been much worse, had this been my wife’s car (which was locked and in my locked garage), because in there were presents and some other things of value, and that just reinforced to me the importance of being secure and safe at Christmas.

A few of the important security things to remember this time of year are:

  • Don’t leave gifts in cars, or if you do, don’t leave them in plain sight, put them in the trunk if you have one. For long term storage find a better hiding place for presents than your Van, because you are just asking for troubles otherwise.
  • Always watch your credit cards or debit cards at stores. This time of year there are more stories of cards being cloned or just out and out stolen at stores, so watch your cards, and make sure you are billed for what you buy too, mistakes happen. Watch your receipts as well, you need them to return things, and they say enough about you to be a valuable part of Identification Theft, as well.
  • If you are planning on paying cash, make sure it is well protected as well (especially in malls and bigger stores), lots of snatch and grab folks out looking for their holiday bonuses as well. If you misplaced your purse, how bad would it be? Do you have a list of your cards and such in case your purse disappears?
  • Your house is another area to make sure you are safe, especially if you are going away for any extended period. In our area of Ottawa break-ins soar at this time of year, because thieves know you have got more goodies around. If you are going away, make sure you have someone checking your house, or put in a home security system if you can afford one. For the love of Christmas, do not post on FaceBook “Off to Toronto for a few days!”, why not just put a sign up outside of your house saying, “We are NOT HOME!“.

I am not saying you should have a paranoid holidays, but take some precautions to make sure that you enjoy your holidays and don’t have any security breeches, to cause you problems.


The Good Wine: A Personal Finance Parable

I used to travel a great deal for my previous job, and on a couple of occasions I was lucky enough to travel to France. During one of these trips, we had enough spare time that one of our hosts brought us to a local wine shop, and there we acted like dumb Canadians and asked which wines should we buy that we most likely couldn’t get in Canada. The shopkeeper was very nice and accommodating, and he helped us all pick up a few bottles of some excellent French wine.

This trip took place about a long time ago (if my recollection is correct), and when I returned my wife was very happy to see that I had picked up this wine and we both decided that we should save this wine for a special occasion, and we put the wine away in our wine cupboard (no we don’t have a wine cellar or anything as fancy as that).

The Good Wine

This is a picture of the bottle of wine, for those wine enthusiasts, who think this is yet another story that I have spun out of whole cloth.

This wine sat in our wine cabinet for years, and many special occasions passed in our lives: The first new year, then another, then the Millennium, birth of our son, my finding a new job, and countless birthdays and anniversaries, yet we either forgot about the wine, or figured it was not the right time to uncork this special wine.

On Saturday this past week, my wife was in dire need of some wine for cooking, and we finally decided maybe it was time to try this wine (after all it was over 12 years since we had purchased it). I argued for a minute about wasting this wine for cooking, but decided we could drink the rest of it that evening, so I finally relented.

When my wife opened the bottle, it smelled very off, so she called me in to the kitchen to smell it. It did indeed smell very vinegary (if that is a word), so we decided to pour it on the steak we were marinating and the colour of the wine alone suggested it was very OFF.

So I had tried to get my wife a nice gift, in a hard to find French Wine, we had saved it away for a special occasion, but because we never followed through, when we finally did open it, the wine was horrible.

Financial Angle?

Is there a financial angle to this story, or is this just me telling another long winded story (no comments about that specific point please)?

Are you saving for a special occasion, or for your retirement? Sometimes it is important to remember why you are saving and complete your savings plan by getting what you were saving for, or you may feel cheated (which I did with that wine).

Make sure that you are able to enjoy that retirement or special occasion, or your saving may well go “off” and you will not be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour?

There are countless stories of people who worked themselves very hard during their working years and didn’t take care of themselves, and ended up dieing before they retired, or they were in such a bad state health-wise, they couldn’t enjoy their retirement.

What are you saving for? Remember your plan, and make sure you don’t cheat yourself.

Oh, and if anyone can tell me if this was actually a good bottle of wine, or whether I was sold a tourist special, please feel free to comment.


I Spent How Much Last Week

Quicken is a valuable tool for me to track my family’s spending habits. Sometimes it helps highlight spending changes. A while ago it found an interesting “I spent how much” moment.

I started working full-time in 1986, so some might say more than a generation ago. Depending on how you count, and when I was first hired, I was paid a reasonable wage (not an excessive one, but fair). My wife and I lived on this income in a good apartment, and we lived a frugal but reasonable life.

Flashback to a few years back. Two purchases eclipsed my yearly gross income for 1988 (2 years after I had started working full time). What did I buy? A house? A yacht? Nope, our “spent how much” moment of spending was on:

  • A used Toyota Sienna.
  • A knee brace for my daughter who has damaged both her MCL and ACL

That’s it, yes, a fairly significant expenditure, but remember this was more than I made gross (before the CRA got a hold of a lot of my income). The knee brace was actually about the price of 3 months’ rent from back then. It was, however, a necessary purchase (and I was reimbursed by my health plan).

Spent How Much?

  • The van cost about 43% less than our last van which we purchased new. We paid it off, with 0% financing over 5 l-o-n-g years.
  • We were offered “financing” from Toyota of 6.5% annually. I pointed out that my bank would give me a rate of nearly half that, they didn’t seem to care.
  • The purchase was not financed, and if I assume a 4.0% financing rate I have saved in the neighbourhood of about $4000 in interest charges (assuming a pay back over 4 years or so).
  • The knee brace comes in many interesting colours and styles (colour styles), including: Snakeskin, Butterflies and Star Spangled Banner. My daughter chose metallic black (I think Black is the new Black this year).
  • Didn’t get any car matts from Toyota, but given the recall issues about the placement of their car matts, maybe it’s a good thing I bought some replacement matts at Canadian Tire
  • Believe we got a full tank of gas with the Van (given gas prices that’s about $100 added in (at the time))
  • Got a reasonable trade in for the my GM Montana (that had a distinct odour of Anti-Freeze), so no complaints there
  • Knee Braces should never be worn backwards, or your knee will end up bending like an Ostrich’s knee, which is bad.
  • Certified cheques cost more to get from my bank, than a bank draft, so I saved $2.50 by getting a bank draft.
  • What is undercoating for, and why does it cost so darn much?

Lots of exciting factoids (where factoid means things interesting to me, most likely me alone).


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