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Random Thoughts on Gettin’ Old

Livin’ Longer and Weather Bombs!

This past week I crossed the half century line in my life, and as usual I took time to reflect on the amazing thing that has been my life. Lots of other interesting stuff happened this week as well, but as usual, I ended up mostly thinking about my life instead, but that is to be expected once you cross the Half Century mark.  The New Year continued on, financially, with the markets not to sure which way to go, so they mostly just hovered for now.

Given the astoundingly bad weather most of the world is living through, let’s hope this does not translate into Financial Storms as well. The amount of snow falling elsewhere almost makes me jealous it is not falling in Ottawa, however, that feeling passes after a while.

Most of this week was a bit introspective, however there were some posts that were not completely about me:

  • On Turning 50 points out that 50 years may have passed, but not a whole lot of much has really happened during that time.
  • The Financial Time Machine List is another look to the past to learn from my mistakes post, where I lament the mistakes of my youth, but if I hadn’t made those mistakes, would I be who I am now?
  • A casual comment by a co-worker was what got me to write Read Financial Documents Before Signing Them, and you shouldn’t sign anything until you have read it, it’s just good sense. I borrowed that Bible reference as well.
  • There was some good news this week with Employment Up a Little in December, and those jobs were mostly full time ones.

The weather bombs of the week were not the only thing folks were writing about luckily, but these kind of storms usually have an economic impact somewhere along the way:

Other Bookkeeping

Weather Bomb

Weather Bomb!

Remember that I also micro-blog on Twitter, where you can see a whole plethora of good articles and pithy comments by me as well. Twitter feed where I re-tweet many great articles by some of my featured writers (and make the occasional odd or off colour commentary on life (in 140 characters or less)). I am also on Digg as Big Cajun Man, on reddit , Tumblr, and other Social Media sites (look for the BigCajunMan userid) as well.

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Remember

“If you don’t like the weather in Halifax, wait five minutes, it will get worse…”

Author: Anonymous

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Personal Finance: Snow Day!

Back in 2008, Ottawa actually got a snowstorm. In Ottawa snow can fall most months other than the summer months.

Yes, the forecast “weather bomb” has appeared and dumped a bunch of snow on Ottawa, thus causing all drivers to lose their brains, forget how to drive in snow. The added excitement that even those who own snow tires most likely do not have them on their cars yet, so today will be a day for accidents and arriving very late at work, if at all (thus causing significant economic hardship for a lot of folks (ok, not really but I needed to connect it back to Finance somehow)).

This kind of weather excitement will cause the CAA to take hours to respond due to their towing service being overtaxed pulling folks out of ditches, cause the police to answer hundreds of calls about accidents and will have Hydro crews out restoring power to lots of folks, so maybe it would be a good day to be Calm, and pleasant with everyone? Just idea, folks, we are all in it together!

It Snowed In Ottawa

Caution for Ontario Drivers

Put on your snow tires if you live around Ottawa is the first caution because we DO need snow tires up here (I don’t think I can convince folks from Toronto that, and if you live in Windsor or Niagara, yes, you can live with all seasons, I guess).

For those who can drive across a bridge to Quebec, here is an interesting quandary: Quebec has mandatory snow tire laws. Are they going to enforce those laws for out-of-province vehicles? I would guess they might not, but you never know.

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Stock Market Bottom Today

This was written back in 2008, when I was unemployed and the stock market was still falling. The market issues were due to the Credit Bomb of 2008, but it snowed in Ottawa. Interesting times. The statement Stock Market Bottom is a misnomer since the bottom is Zero.

My regular readers will remember last week, I asked, “What is the Bottom in Stocks”. I pointed out we would not know what the stock market bottom is until six months later. I was proven right again yesterday when I (eternal pessimist) thought there was no way things could drop any lower. Things got worse. Canadian financial stocks (banks and financial folks) retook a hell of a pounding. TD and BMO both retook hits. 

TD’s drop had a minuscule basis as their Ameritrade division announced some fairly neutral numbers. The whole TSX went “Financial Apocalypse” for the last 45 minutes of trading. Many losses were incurred in that short time frame (stock value losses, I mean).

I keep wondering whether this is the bottom, but as I have said, we will only know in six months.

Financial Impact on Me

My RRSPs continue to drop in value. I am glad it is Dividend time since my DRIPs (Dividend Reinvestment Plan) will kick in. This means I will be buying some very cheap stock with it. I also continue to collect old investment vehicles into a single set of investment vehicles. The question is when and what to buy. I continue to “waffle” on what that decision might be.

E.I. Not For You

I got a call yesterday from a lady at the Employment Insurance office asking me a bunch of questions about my severance package and how it had been implemented. She was new on her job, so she and I fumbled around a few questions, and I think it has been straightened out for now, but this did bring up an interesting point, which is that you MUST apply for EI when you are laid off, not when you think you need it. If you don’t use it immediately, your claim may be disallowed for taking too long to fill in the correct documentation.

At the end of the conversation, the lovely lady mentioned that I would not be eligible to get EI for about a year (the length of my severance package in their calculations). This didn’t surprise me, but I know now that someone at the EI office has said it to me out loud.

Weather Bomb

Ottawa will be the victim of a Weather Bomb in the next day or so. Before you start thinking that the folks at Environment Canada have created a Weapon of Mass Destruction that will cause massive storms, that is not what the term means. It is an actual Weather Forecaster term to describe a quick and significant drop in the Barometric Pressure, which is usually part of a severe storm system.

What does this have to do with Personal Finance? Everything!

  • With 15-30 centimeters of snow coming Do You Have Your Snow Tires On? I don’t! If you live in Quebec, remember you need to have them on, it is the law now.
  • Do you have enough food at home in case it is hard to get out in the next day or so?
  • Is your furnace in good working order?
  • What if the power goes off, have any wood in for your fireplace?
  • Does your snow-blower work? Does it have any gas?

All those points either cost or will cost you money if they aren’t dealt with, so keep this in mind with the coming of “Old Man Winter.”

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Snow Tires Off

One of the things I have learned over the years is that if you drive on your snow tires for too long in the spring (or say over an entire summer), your snow tires degrade very quickly during that time, and they soon become useless if you are not careful. It is a hard balance to figure out when you should remove your snow tires in the spring (in Ottawa, in the Sault or places north, I am sure this isn’t even being discussed yet). I called my mechanic and he is inundated with folks wanting their snow tires off and their summer tires back on, so I know that I am at least part of the crowd.

When I was younger one year, I figured I’d save myself some money because I needed to get NEW summer tires but my winter tires were relatively new, so I decided to stay on the winter tires all summer, for my troubles I ended up with:

  1. Bad gas mileage
  2. Badly worn snow tires (that had 1 season left in them after that summer, and they didn’t really do that well that 1 season either)
  3. A noisy car all summer (snow tires on clear pavement are noisier)

Time to take off the snow tires and see if you can save some money on the ever increasing price of gasoline here in Ottawa.

You can drive your winter tires all summer, however, next winter they will no longer be effective. You can run your all weather tires all year, but that means you are never really using the right tire, are you?

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Snow and Aging Workforces

More snow in Ottawa, seems like a broken record, but I think I have got my per use costs on my snowblower down to around $6.00 per use, but I also may have to buy another 10 litres of gas because I am running out. My guess is there is going to be much more snow coming and I am astounded we have anywhere to put the darn stuff.

Financially for the city of Ottawa it means more likely an overrun in their snow clearance budget (that they have been able to use as a “slush fund” (sorry for the pun) the past few years). This will most likely mean higher taxation coming (along with ludicrously higher water rates too).

The Aging Workforce

Stats Canada published Canada’s Changing Labor Force 2006 report and it is an interesting read.


Census data also showed that the aging of Canada’s labour force continued between
2001 and 2006. In 2006, workers aged 55 and older accounted for 15.3% of the total
labour force, up from 11.7% in 2001.

Why do I care? I am heading into that area very soon, and I keep wondering what is really going to happen when all of these folks “retire”? My suspicion is they really won’t retire, they will just change careers and become part time employees or something like that. There will be a shortage of trained folks in a lot of areas, but my opinion is it won’t be as bad initially, because a lot of those folks are just going to “scale back” work, and not actually stop working.

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Update

Updated, from the 2016 Census, even more aging workers. Results from the 2016 Census: Occupations with older workers , and an interesting graphic.

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