Christmas Advice: How to Deal with Uncle Frank the Financial Expert

Christmas is only a few days away. We will soon all be getting together with friends and families, to share in this happy season. The big Christmas question this year is how will you deal with your family’s financial expert Uncle Frank ?

Every family has an Uncle Frank (or Aunt Francine). The family member who claims to be a money expert and will chew your ear off about how they are doing well financially. How do you deal with a financial expert like this? You are OK with your investments, you don’t want advice, but if you duck Uncle Frank, Aunt Frieda (the crazy cat lady) will corner you in the kitchen.

If you are comfortable with it, you could simply argue with Uncle Frank about how leveraged Hedge Funds are the last thing your 70 year old mother should be investing in, or how the next market crash (or huge gain) may not be due to happen soon, but most folks just want to try to change the subject, or hide in the basement (or drink a lot more eggnog).

financial expert and motivational speaker

Uncle Frank telling some sage financial advice

As a service to my readers, here are some helpful phrases to throw at Uncle Frank. They may help you slow down this  relentless financial expert:

  • I have heard that with Trump’s election, the Russian economy will be making huge gains, so I am planning on putting my money in a Vodka Hedge fund.
  • Someone I work with has got me some inside information on how bees (the insect) will soon all be gone, so I should invest in honey futures (aka the Bee Movie fake out).
  • Given the exploding prices of houses and condos in Toronto and Vancouver, I have decided to live in a Van down by the river (aka the Chris Farley method).
  • I have a great multilevel sales opportunity that guarantees me huge paybacks, if I can get other folks to join in on this rare chance to make money, can I sign you up ?

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, catch up on your family’s news, but try to leave money discussions out of things. Are there any other escapes from Uncle Frank I missed ?

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No Good News Has Been Delivered Using Excel

This is paraphrasing something from John Oliver, on his HBO show. Excel is Microsoft’s spreadsheet/swiss army knife tool (i.e. you can do anything with it), but I agree with Mr. Oliver, I have never seen  good news delivered using excel.

delivered using excel

A great example of Excel Bad News, a list of bad PINs!

During my career I have seen the following information sent to me in Excel format:

  • Ranking of employees,  used to figure out who gets laid off
  • How much over-budget project is.

In defense of Excel, it is a magnificent tool in terms of accounting and complex arithmetic and such, and usually any good news that might come from an Excel S/S usually ends up being encapsulated into a Powerpoint presentation. If I receive only the data in an Excel S/S it is saying,

“… this is bad news, we don’t feel like “flowering it up” by putting it into a Word Document or a Powerpoint Presentation it is easier delivered using excel…”

I have seen this when folks discuss their finances, as soon as an Excel Spreadsheet is opened the level of tension goes up. Rarely does anyone bring up an Excel Spreadsheet up, with your budget on it, to show “… how well you are doing…”, it is to show where (precisely) you are failing.

Can you send good news in an Excel Spreadsheet?

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Up Selling in Banking

My wife went in to our Bank last week (the brick and mortar version), to cash a cheque. She decided to do this at a teller, and she stood in line for this privilege. As she got to the teller, suddenly she was accosted by the teller, asking about how our family investments were being handled, and whether we had an investment advisor.

Upselling financially

You want fries with your GIC?

Mrs. C8j has learned the answer to give, and she simply stated that we take care of our own investments and we were happy with that, however, evidently that was not good enough for this teller. My wife came home with a glossy brochure, and, a flyer about Financial Planning Week, along with the name of a “Financial Planner” who could help us out. I realize this is the bank attempting to “drum up some business” for their Financial Planning income stream, but it is another reason (for me) to stay away from my local branch.

As usual, I should thank TD for giving me more content to rant about, since without them I am not sure what I would be writing about.

Given I feel I have a smart and sophisticated readership, I’d like to give you folks some homework. I do plan on sending an e-mail to this planner and possibly going to visit with him to research how the system now works, however, what kind of questions should I be asking?

Questions to Ask Your Financial Planner

So far, I have a couple of obvious examples:

  • How do you earn your pay ? What is the difference between you and a fee-based financial planner?
  • What licenses, credentials or other certifications do you have?
  • Could I see a sample financial plan?
  • What makes your client experience unique?
  • Given I have a pension, what kind of a retirement plan do you think I should have?
  • Do you still make money if I lose money?

Am I missing other great questions to ask?

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99.9% of Financial Bloggers Agree

Don’t you just love that title? Doesn’t it make you want to know, what apparently such a large portion of financial bloggers agree on? Isn’t it a great manipulation of numbers?

I was in a course and the instructor felt she needed to get us to really believe a point she was making so she stated,

“…. 99.9% of the people I talk to, agree that…”

This statement is (of course) completely bogus, since I somehow doubt she has spoken to 1000 people about the point she was making (and that she only found 1 person to disagree, since I disagreed with the statement as soon as it came out of her mouth).

Certainty

Almost a Certainty ?

Are there concepts that Financial Writers agree on so aboslutely? What might some of these important ideas be, that most Financial Writers agree with?

  • If you spend less than you make, you will be able to stay out of debt, remember I have already written about 10 Steps to a Debt Free Life.
  • If you do nothing about your retirement, you will have a very uncomfortable retirement (unless you win the lottery, have a huge inheritance, or lived your life completely out of debt).
  • You must have an emergency fund, it must  at least 3 months gross pay, and it must not  invested in the stock market.
  • It doesn’t really matter if you put extra money in your Mortgage, RRSP or TFSA, as long as you do it, and stick to it (although 84.23% of Fin Bloggers might say start with the Mortgage and then, save it in something).
  • Pay Day loans are a bad idea, no ands ifs or buts.
  • The best time to figure out whether you bought the correct investment is 5 years later, but that won’t change anything (sorry).

Any other things that 99.9% of financial bloggers agree on?

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Personal Finance Tweets of the Week (End of Summer)

Haven’t done this for a while, but here are some of the more interesting financial (and other) tweets that I saw this week. Interesting that Twitter has also removed the 144 character limit on direct messages, so it has now become a full messaging system too.

I really liked this one, it was condemning the banks trying to encourage folks to build up more debt? Say what?

Uh oh, what about 54 year olds?

I guess the only advice that I can give is, just don’t look, or just don’t care?

What is the best way to teach kids about money? My 2 cents worth is there as well.

Glad to see the FAMSAC food truck rally went well last week. Evidently my Doppelganger (Mayor Watson) was there as well.

Remember you are not attached at the hip to your bank, if you can get a better deal, get it!

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