What the Hustler Taught Me About Banking

One of my favorite movies is “The Hustler” (the original with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason). Mr. Newman played “Fast Eddie” Felson an up and coming hustler who wants to be a success, and his goal was to beat Minnesota Fats (played by Mr. Gleason). The movie is an intricate set of stories, one of which is the thematic premise about banking and the Hustler.

The Hustler at Amazon

The Hustler at Amazon Canada

“Always leave a mark with some money in their pocket, that way they keep coming back”

That is how banks have done it for years. Now they are finding new and more exciting ways to bleed some money out of you, but not so much that you decide to bank somewhere else (also, they are all doing it, your only other option is to put it in your mattress).

My opinion of the banks’ thinking in this area? Let me quote Fast Eddie from the Colour of Money:

“Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.”

They aren’t earning all this extra money, they are winning it off you, think about it.

Am I Just Being Bitchy ?

My apologies if I sound like I am picking on the Banks, this is actually true of all the Service Industries we deal with, especially the Cell Phone Companies, the Internet Providers, the Phone Companies, and the Insurance Companies.

Learn how the game is played, or you will get hustled.


Finance and Gen Y

Someone asked me, “What Gen Y has brought to the table?”.

My first response was: “No World Wars good, Pay Day Loans bad, but #ADDSociety is major thing”, which translates to they haven’t had a world war (yet), however, on their watch Pay Day Loans have exploded as a concept and it seems all of society has Attention Deficit Disorder (apologies to those suffering from ADD, I do not mean to ridicule you (in specific) all of society is like that).

Generation Y

Gen Y ?

The excuses I continually get from Gen Y in specific and Gen Y wannabes is:

  • It’s too complicated so I didn’t read it
  • I have too many messages so I ignored it
  • I can only read while driving, texting, drinking coffee, watching TV and shaving
  • I can’t get anything done unless I am Multi-tasking  (when in fact it just means doing a whole bunch of things at the same time, badly)
  • Yes I do sound like a crotchety old man

I think Gen Y is going to have to deal with a very nasty time bomb as they age, namely Boomers retiring and Gen Y having to support the aging “Greatest Generation Ever” (keeping their pensions afloat, as they live longer and longer). There is going to need to be a “paradigm shift” in how all this works, because it is pretty clear that all pensions (public and private) are in trouble, and barring a horrific plague there are going to be too many people trying to live on too little money (I may be proven wrong, but I doubt it).

Will Gen Y (in most western nations) never see the Inflation and High Interest rates that I grew up with? I don’t know, it really does seem that the days of Canada Savings Bonds with 19% interest rates are long gone (1981 I do believe was the last year with that).

Remember that the Boomers (and their parents to a lesser extent) are really the first generations that has ever had the chance to retire (folks died before retiring previously), will the following generations be able to do this? That remains to be seen.



Google Made You an Expert Investor ?

For the past little while there has been a determined group of folks who believe they are the next Woodward & Bernstein (read All the President’s Men to understand the reference) and if they can find something on Google or even Bing, it must be the gospel truth and thus they can base their entire lives on the basis of these findings.

Specifically the naive folks who believe that Vaccines are simply a scheme by large multinationals to make a fortune and poison our children, thus leading to the new outbreaks of Measles, and other interesting diseases (that were mostly gone from most of the world). I will simply comment that any individual wishes to argue with me that having my son Vaccinated caused him to be on the Autism spectrum, Bring it On, you are wrong.

However, this is not what I am writing about today (I could write far too much about the previous paragraph), I am writing about folks that feel that with a little bit of research they can become experts about investing. Yes, you should do plenty of research on whatever investing scheme you wish, however, this does not make you an expert. Just because I can watch a Youtube video on how to fix the rotors and brakes on my car, that does not make me a mechanic!

The people I know that have become good investors, took a while to figure out how to do it, and some folks (like me) ended up deciding that maybe we should use the simplest methods for investing and not try to “beat the market” (every time I have tried to beat the market, I ended up being the ball (not the Louisville slugger)).


Sometimes You Are the Louisville Slugger but Sometimes You are the Ball

An interesting experiment, do a Google search and figure out Warren Buffett’s investing philosophy is for Berkshire Hathaway ? Now you’ve looked it up (I would suggest if you can find anything on Blomberg you might have a good bit of detail) do you understand it? Think you can implement it? Should you?

Next question, if you can buy a “How to make a million on the market” system, what stops 100,000 other people from using that same system? Food for thought.


RDSP: Banking Challenge Ignored

I have waited 2 months for any bank or their representative to respond to my challenge laid down in RDSP: Question for Canadian Big Banks, and I am chagrined to say that none of them have even sent me a “Shut up you silly man” e-mail or comment yet.

Pablo Picasso's Don Quixote

Pablo Picasso’s Don Quixote (which is who I feel like right now)

I have done my best, I have complained to TD/Waterhouse about how archaic their deposit system is for their RDSPs, I have called out every other major bank for not offering anything other than GIC’s and Bank Based Mutual Funds for their RDSP solutions, and I have whined all over David Hodges at Money Sense (see the article), but nothing seems to want to change.

What are some next steps we can try? I would suggest that if you feel strongly about this contact your bank and voice your concerns, and if they ignore you, contact your member of parliament, as I will be doing today (my member of Parliament is Pierre Poilievre and he even has twitter, so let’s see what he does with a Tweet as well). Can an MP do anything about this? Maybe not, but maybe they need to be aware of it.

I would also suggest Tweeting your bank and ask them why the RDSP is being treated so shabbily ( maybe link to my original post as background ).

If you follow me on Twitter, you will see a sample tweet around 9:30 AM today (it is to my Bank TD asking why their deposit system is so cumbersome). I am not espousing SPAM’ing the heck out of the Twitter world with this, but it does seem that Tweets get addressed more than E-mails these days.

Maybe I am acting like Don Quixote on this subject, tilting at the Windmills that are the Canadian Big Banks, but I am tired of settling for the “we will get around to it eventually” response I get from anyone I talk to about this.


I’d love to say I spoke to folks and things got much better, but that would be a lie. I suppose it is time to start tilting at this windmill again.



You Aren’t Poor

You are just broke!

That pithy one liner is from our friend Gail Vaz-Oxlade‘s  TV show ’til Debt Do Us Part, and I really do like it.

Many times I hear from folks how poor they are, and how hard their lives are, then I talk to them and realize that their net income is nearly twice my annual income, yet they are having a hard time making ends meet? Say what?

An Interesting Video about BROKE Athletes

If you can barely afford to live in your rent controlled home, take the bus everywhere, and work 2 jobs to make ends meet, my guess is that you are Poor, you have no place left to cut spending on, because all you have left is the essentials of life. Poor is tough, and if you are in this situation you have my sympathies, and my hope that things get better for you.

If you feel poor because you can’t:

  • Afford a second car, and one of you must take the bus
  • Can’t go out to dinner as much as you want
  • Live pay cheque to pay cheque without lowering your debt, because you live in a house that has made you house poor
  • Feel hard done by because you can’t buy designer hand bags

Let me be clear:  You are not POOR, you are BROKE!!!!

The thing is that Poor is hard, Broke is fixable with lifestyle changes. Poor you have little or no control of your situation, however, Broke you can control things (you just choose not to).

If you are Broke, you can be fixed by simply spending less and altering your lifestyle to take lower spending into consideration.

  • If you can pay off your debts faster if you take the bus to work, and sell your car, why don’t you?
  • If you have 10 credit cards, and wonder why you have such a hard time paying them off, why not get rid of 9 (if not 10) of them?
  • If you complain that your only vacation is a visit to your parents cottage, and you really wanted to go south in the winter, why do you wonder why I might laugh out loud and threaten you with bodily harm?

If you have just figured out you are Broke, don’t be discouraged, be happy (in an obtuse way), it’s fixable! If you are Poor, keep working hard and try to get control of things (and if you do get out from under, remember how life was so you don’t end up Broke).


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