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Financial First Date Questions

Given my amazing relationship skills (yes, like my investing, blind luck can be passed off as a skill), I figured I’d help out some folks with a set of useful questions that you can ask on your first date to find out if that person is compatible with you (or not), and has no Financial Skeletons in the Closet. These financial first date questions are important to a relationship.  I actually stole the concept from Reddit, but I have put a very financial spin on things, and please add your own questions in the comments, if I miss any good ones.

Good Financial First Date Questions

Rubik's Cube
Some Say Relationships are like a Rubik’s Cube
  1. How many credit cards do you have in your wallet? How many total?
    Note, if the answer is more than 4, run, don’t walk to the exit door
  2. Have you declared bankruptcy in the past 10 years ?
    This might even be a pre-first date question.
  3. How much did that purse cost? -or- How much did that watch cost ?
    If the purse cost more than your monthly rent, you are out with someone who likes the finer things in life (and that is not a compliment).
  4. Do you smoke?
    Any answer other than “no” means higher insurance rates later in life.
  5. Active, Passive or Dividend Investing?
    If the answer is, “I beg  your pardon?”, steeee-rike three!!! Can a dividend investor live happily with an active investor?
  6. Would you rather owe 100 people $10 or 1 person $1000 ?
    Again, there is no correct answer, the correct answer is, “Why would I owe people money?”
  7. When you need cash, do you use a “white” or no-name ATM?
    There is no way you should stay with someone who thinks $3 a withdrawal is OK.
  8. TFSA or RRSP ?
    Again, the answer “What?!?” is an automatic FAIL! However, if they answer TSFA, be on your guard.
  9. How much debt are you currently carrying, and what is your plan to pay it off (if you have debt)?
    If the answer is, “I have no debt”, he or she is a keeper! However, if they say they are carrying $120K in student loans, ask what their profession is, if they are a Dentist, Doctor or some other well-paying professional, then you might be OK, but be wary.

Conclusions

Who said romance is dead? Best to ask these financial first date questions so you don’t end up in a Loveless, Sexless Marriage.

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2015 The Financial Year of the Mason Jar

Mrs. C8j is an avid reader of many diverse sites, and trawling Pinterest and such (where you can find Big Cajun Man as well), and she thinks that the new big exciting thing in personal finances and budgeting for this year is the Mason Jar.

As a Small Cajun Man, when I grew up, Momma C8j (my mother) had lived through rationing in the UK (and WWII) so she was very frugal and very careful with all kinds of food so we had an entire pantry full of mason jars for canning of:

  • Tomatoes, that Momma C8j had grown in the garden, and then used throughout the year in all kinds of wonderful sauces, soups and stews.
  • Strawberry, and Raspberry Jam, that she bought at the Jean Talon market in large quart baskets, when they were in season, and we enjoyed fresh jam all year round.
  • Some lovely pears and home made fruit cocktail, again from the market when in season, so we had this for the winter.

Mason Jar and Budgeting

Behold the Wondrous Mason Jar, for Tomatoes and Cash?

Growing up I viewed the mason jars as a part of life, and a way to make sure we had tasty food all year ’round. Momma C8j is the ultimate frugal lady, she worked hard to stretch a dollar as far as she possibly could (I wish that was genetic, but I never quite got the hang of it).

Later on, when I got to University a Mason Jar was used to hold Long Island Iced Teas or Bloody Caesars or the like. It was an odd site for me, seeing the frugal masonry jar being used as a liquor container, but, life changes.

Now mason jars are an entire bloody industry. You can buy candles that reek of cinnamon, cranberries or other obnoxious odors, in a masonry jar, absolutely not a frugal usage of this divine device.

Getting back to Mrs. C8j’s (my wife) observation, the main new exciting use of the humble mason jar is for budgeting and saving money. Strangely enough Big Daddy C8j (my late father) used a mason jar to hold his spare change (but that was because we had so many of the darn things), so I guess he was way ahead of his time, but I digress.

Many years ago, our friend Gail Vaz-Oxlade had her show “YOU SPEND TOO DAMN MUCH MONEY YOU MORON!” (I think it was called that, I might be mistaken), but she used the humble mason jar as a way to budget and segregate your funds to ensure you didn’t misspend your moneys on the wrong thing (they were all labeled carefully). This seems to be the new “In Vogue” way of doing budgeting (I guess Gail was way ahead of her time too).

I think this is an interesting “thinking differently” idea for folks who are used to living out of their wallets and using their debit cards (i.e. use cash only and segregate that into specific “pots”), but I am now wondering if maybe I should be buying stock in Corning or whoever makes these mason jars? Will there be a sudden shortage due to the glut of budgeting folks (and malodorous candles)?

Budget however you like, but if you use mason jars as your methodology and you fail do not blame the humble mason jar, it is the Symbol of Frugality to me, and should be held in great esteem!

Welcome 2015 the year of the Mason Jar.

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Favorite Financial Tweets from MMXIV (2014)

Given Twitter is one of the major Social Media sites that drives traffic to my humble Personal Finance Site, I figured I’d show some “love” to them as well. These are some good financial tweets from the past few months, from some folks who are on my twitter list.

Financial Tweets of 2014

I am still figuring out the best way to embed these tweets into my posts, but this seems to work nicely.

Not sure I disagree with Mr. Adams

Excellent graphic to teach you how not to buy and sell stocks (boy as a couch potato investor I do appreciate this more and more):

Wondering about that high-speed trading stuff? Here is a nice tweet that gives you an idea of just how fast things are on the web:

[continue reading…]

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Redux: Real World Example: Kids Allowances

Back in 2005 just when I was starting to blog, I never really knew what I was going to write about. So I wrote about the system I put in place to make sure that my kids got their allowances.

Real World Example: Kids Allowances

The 10 Bob Note When I was Young That Would Have Been a great Allowance
The 10 Bob Note When I was Young That Would Have Been a great Allowance

My wife and I wanted to get the kids on an allowance, so that they could learn about money. Inevitably, we’d forget to pay for a couple of weeks, try to catch up and eventually just gave up (much to the kids chagrin).

Interesting, we were trying to teach the kids responsibility and all it did was show how irresponsible their parents were (now THAT is ironic).  It’s funny as a parent your kids end up teaching you as much as you think you are teaching them.

About 6 years ago I was in the TD on one of my yearly visits, getting my bank fees waived for a year, and get them to fix something they had screwed up (I think it was my mortgage that year). That is when I asked about kids’ bank accounts. My brother sends the girls money every year, and we had got to the point where we didn’t want to just buy them toys with it. The poor woman whose life I was ruining for the day, said the accounts could be opened then (since the kids had SIN numbers), and the accounts would show up “under” my account on my on-line banking.

At the time, that didn’t seem that important, but at the end of it, it really was the most useful part of the exercise, as I could then may transfers to the accounts for free, whereas now I would send it with a $1.50 service fee.

A day or two later, a light went on in my head. I called the bank on the phone woman (who I now call once a year, because I do most of my banking on-line, but couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted). I asked her to set up weekly transfers from my account to my kids accounts, thus assuring that the money was paid every week (whether I remembered or not). It is amazing at how my thinking patterns work, I am not a Fast Thinker, but I do have good ideas, eventually.

Well, it has worked, the kids get their weekly allowances AND they actually do things like:

  • Buy clothes that they really want
  • Have somewhere to put their uncle’s money and can then buy what they want
  • Buy presents for their friends birthdays (that one shocked me the first time it happened).

So it seems this experiment has worked, chalk one up for me.

In the end, it helped the girls understand money a bit more. We were not that heavy handed in terms of things they needed. We ended up paying for a large number of things, but we also didn’t make their allowances that big either, but I think the experiment worked out.

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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 a while 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.

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