Phoenix Pay System Side Swipe

As most Canadians hear every few weeks, the pay  system for the federal Civil Service has been updated, and the new system (called Phoenix) has had many problems, which has caused many serious problems for Civil Servants. These issues are being addressed, but there are still many issues with the new system. I am not affected by this system.

Folks have had to declare bankruptcy, have seen their credit rating destroyed, defaulted on mortgages, and many other serious issues. Who is to blame? I won’t touch on that point, but there is plenty of blame to go around.

phoenix pay system

One of the side effects is that the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign has suffered. Most Civil Servants are petrified to make any change that would cause their Phoenix profile to change. Evidently profile changes have caused Phoenix Issues (like stoppage of pay, wild changes in pay levels, etc.,).

Charities Paying the Price

This paralysis of profiles has meant that folks have not enrolled in the GCWCC or increased their charitable donations either. Many folks haven’t done this because they are recovering from Phoenix Issues, but still more are just afraid of what the changes might cause.

Let us hope the pay system issues with Phoenix are resolved (I say that both as a taxpayer and a Civil Servant) soon. I know the charities in Ottawa are hoping for resolution soon as well.



Personal Finance: Lenten Financial Journey

As part of Lent, I am reflecting on my previous writings a little more, and this little chestnut was from 5 years ago, however, I have done some editing  as well.

Mardi Gras was on Tuesday, so that means that Lent begins today and this is a perfect opportunity for folks to start something new with their Personal Finances (and their spiritual life, if they wish as well). Easter is a time for new beginnings or restarting something you need to resume, however, most people view Lent as a time to “find something to give up”. That is one way of viewing your Lenten journey, but another way is to look for something to Enrich your life for the 40 days of Lent (leading up to Good Friday and Easter).

Financial Lenten Journey

What areas of your personal finances could use either Enrichment or Better still a sacrifice that might help your financial well being? There are some very simple ones that I think about every year (and have done a few of them):

  • The Latte withdrawal penance. Cut out buying coffee for the 40 days of Lent and put that money aside, to either save, give to charity or pay down your debt. Keep track of this and see how much money you might be saving here, it’s worthwhile finding out where this discretionary money is going.
  • Read 4 Personal Finance books over the 40 days to enrich your understanding of your personal finances or your investing adventures. Building up your expertise over Lent is a good thing.
  • Brown bag it for 40 days, give up buying lunch at work, and bring your lunch instead. Another way to find out where your discretionary spending is going.
  • Take the bus to work for Lent. Leave the car at home, buy a bus pass and take the Bus to work. Yes gas is cheaper right now, but not driving might have other benefits for you (less stress, more exercise, etc.,).
  • Live on cash for 40 days and get rid of your credit cards. Freeze them in your freezer, lock them in your safety deposit box, or cut them up, but live on CASH only (no debit either) and see if you can do it, does it change your spending habits?

Think about these or suggest others, I am open to suggestions myself.


Bloggers for Charity

The Blunt Bean Counter has asked some of us blogging folk to support charities by auctioning off the opportunity to write guest posts on our blogs. I have no idea how this will work out, but I’m happy to give it a shot for a good cause. The first announcement about this blogger charity effort came out yesterday.

Guest Post: Charity Competition

I won’t repeat all the information in The Blunt Bean Counter’s announcement, but suffice it to say it is not often that I will offer to let folks do Guest Posts here (I get offers every day folks, so no this is not me asking for unsolicited content, if it is NOT in this context). If you want my point of view on Guest Posts, read Guest Posts: Please Stop the Madness)

I will blatantly steal the “rules” from Michael James description:
  • Click Here to submit your “bid” via e-mail to my secret lair.
  • The auction will close on 2011 Dec. 16. I will publish periodic updates of the highest bid and will notify the winner after the auction closes.
  • The winning bidder must send me (by email) a scanned copy of a donation receipt, dated between Dec. 17 and Dec. 31 to confirm that the donation has been made. Please block out any personal information; I only want to check the amount and that it seems to be a legitimate charity receipt. You may choose your favourite charity.
  • The “blogger for a day” post will appear on 2012 Jan. 17. I must approve the post contents. I will be very liberal with a genuine attempt to contribute an interesting article and will be very harsh with an obvious marketing piece. At the bottom of the post, the guest blogger can provide their name, name of their company and a brief description of their company and its products. Alternatively, the guest blogger can remain anonymous.

This is your one chance to guest post on this site!


Video: Sunday Thoughts Kiva and MicroLoans

A very interesting video from our friends at by one of the co-founders of

I am still not sure I buy into the Kiva concepts, and have not participated yet, but after watching this video I am starting to think that maybe I should. Remembering that Charity is a major pillar in all religions and is with most folks in general, but is giving to the 3rd world more important than giving locally? That is always a tricky question for me.

Who is my neighbour? The easy answer is everyone, however, in my mind it is not that easy, so if you watch this video, answer me this question:Who is your neighbour, and where does your charity go?

Jessica Jackley is the co-founder of, an online community that helps individuals loan small amounts of money, called microloans, to entrepreneurs throughout the world.


Is Regifting Gauche?

Given the tighter economic times we live in, the subject of Re-Gifting for Christmas has come up again in many conversations I have had with different folks. May as well get into the festive spirit and start this deep financial discussion up, about whether regifting (or giving someone a gift you previously received) is gauche or not.

As a method of de-cluttering your house, regifting can be a very effective technique for clearing out junk that is in your basement. If you have 4 deluxe cheese straighteners or worse 4 calling birds and you feel you don’t need these backups, giving them to your friends might be a good thing (for your basement). If your friend is in dire need of either of these gifts, they would appreciate receiving it as well (and thus it is a Win-Win for you).

From a Personal Finance point of view, regifting is ideal, because you don’t spend any money on it (OK, you bought wrapping paper, but that better be it), which is just fantastic!

I know of one very fun Christmas party where you brought a gift, but it had to be a re-gifted gift, and then we had to pick a present, but then the next person could take your gift, or one from the pile of gifts. This ended up being a great deal of fun, and a lot of crap left folks’ basements too. The only unfortunate part was that some folks took their new found crap home (I left mine at the bar).

The best type of regifting would be to simply find useful things and donate them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army (no they don’t want your Deluxe Cheese Straightener either). This is the highest level of regifting, and if anyone asks where the present went that you gave them, say you gave it to the Goodwill, because you thought it was that good of a gift, or you could simply say it got broken and you had to throw it out (the danger then is your friend might buy you another one, with this answer).

Another Fruit Cake the ultimate regifting

Oh Joy! Fruitcake!

A Simple Rule of Regifting

I don’t really have a big problem with folks Regifting stuff I gave them, but I do have one very simple rule:

Big Caj’s Only Rule of Regifting: Don’t give me back something I gave you, or I will urinate on your front steps

I believe I did amend that rule to also include Fruitcakes (the confectionery thing, not other uses for that word), anybody who gives me a Fruitcake, please expect some yellow ice on the walkway.

I may have other helpful holiday gift ideas as the season approaches, but if you have other good gift ideas, please send them to me, I’d love to hear them.

Ho, Ho, Ho….


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