A Money Coach in Canada

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#4 Bus Stop Ad ~ W. Hollywood

A prospective tenant, in her 20s I’m guessing, could not give me a series of post-dated cheques because she did not have any. Full stop. No cheques. Never had had, either. And why would she? Our debit and credit cards, paypal, and ability to e-mail money or electronically transfer funds don’t leave much need for cheques anymore.

Cheques are a nuisance in my books. Receiving them necessitates a trip to a bank machine. (This is a compounded difficulty for me since there are no credit unions up here, so I have to save them up til my next trip down south.) Writing them means I need to ensure a supply on hand, plus keep tabs on which one has or has not cleared my account. Please, just let me click a button.

Having said all that, I hired a tradesperson today and have to admit I was rather touched. The company accepted my cheque on good faith, as opposed to many other places in my Vancouver years which required a certified cheque or scrutinizing all manner of ID before accepting one. Yellowknife is kinda nice that way – extending good faith on things (Once, a woman let me walk out of her shop with $20 worth of goods because I’d forgotten my wallet at home. Another time, a cashier personally paid for my $2 chocolate bar because I didn’t have cash on me and I hadn’t realized it was a cash-only shop. I guess she saw my desperate need for a chocolate fix! Yes, Yellowknife is awesome like that).

Do you ever use cheques any more? Does it drive you nuts, or is it just a part of life for you?
(A lite question on a Friday night. But your answers determine whether I’d ever purchase stock in Davis and Henderson. Just kidding.)

Seaside Worthing, UK

Value: the relationship between the consumer’s perceived benefits in relation to the perceived costs of receiving these benefits

Holiday: A vacation or holiday is a recreational trip or a leave of absence from work for recreational, cultural or religious purposes.

I had my first “real vacation” in years this July. Not only was it absolutely lovely, it was also high value for money.

What I would do differently:

  1. Spend the bucks on a pleasant flight. I used Canadian Affair. They were the lowest price, but man, were we packed in there. On the way home, I could not relax my arms without bumping into the big guy next to me, and I had no way of stretching out my legs in any direction. At 5′ 10″, nine hours is a long time to be crunched up in an airplane seat! Next time I’d either shell out for their Xtra Leg-Room seats or consider another airline.
  2. Buy my tickets earlier.  By the time I got organized to purchase my airfare, I only had limited options.  My trip ended up being a few days shorter than I would have liked – I only just got over jetlag and I was heading home again.  Note to self:  book at least 2 months in advance.
  3. Withdraw larger amounts of cash.  Yikes! I erroneously thought I could use HSBC machines for free, so made multiple withdrawals of £50.  Oops!  A Mistake, at $3 per withdrawal!

What worked well

  1. For a girlfriends’ meetup in London, we booked in at a Travelodge.  I momentarily had my doubts when I saw how small and basic it was.  But of course we only used it for a few hours to crash in – we were in London for heaven’s sake! – so I’m really glad we used our money for enjoying ourselves out and about instead of a prettier pillow. (Good call, Wendy!)
  2. Purchasing 50 minutes of international cel phone use with Bell.  You’ve heard the stories, and so have I – travelers unwittingly racking up $6,000 bills by using their phones abroad.  Many people advised me to purchase a disposable cel over there, but in the end I opted simply to purchase 50 minutes from Bell – more than enough for the quick calls I made.  It gave me peace of mind for a manageable price.  Yes I kept my data roaming turned off. (Well, mostly, except a couple quick gmail and twitter checks.  Fingers crossed.)
  3. Mama Mia! Selecting the Saturday Matinee instead of evening performance.  This saved us money and kept us free for a night on the town (Covent Garden is a Lot.Of.Fun)

What I wouldn’t trade for the world:

Staying with friends.  I am blessed beyond telling by my treasured friends.  Of course staying with friends has all the pragmatic benefits of no accommodation costs, of personal tours of gorgeous places (like the Ely Cathedral and Polesden Lacey National Trust), and some home-cooked meals.  But far beyond that, for me, it adds the depth and meaning of reconnecting with people you love.  Oh, and, who start the day with coffee in their garden like this:
Breakfast in England at a friend's

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So like any Canadian with a penchant for shiny, bright objects, I’m considering the Kindle as a Christmas present for, well, myself.

I divested myself of a household full of books a few years ago (yes, it hurt) in favour of Audible.com. But I miss reading.

It’s available from the States for $259USD (approx $275 Cdn) plus duty, and we need to purchase all the books from the US amazon site in $USD.    (side factoid:  apparently the average book takes 60 seconds to download).   We can download over a cel wireless connection, however, unlike its US counterpart we won’t have browsers on the Cdn Kindles so we can’t surf the net.

Three questions I’m curious about are:

  1. Which wireless company will provide the wireless connection – Bell?  Telus?  Rogers?  (he he – I wonder if they even know amongst themselves who got the contract!)
  2. Will apple produce a kindle-killer tablet in 2010, as rumoured?
  3. Can my eyes bear to look at an lcd screen any more than they already do?

Photo Credit: goXunu

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Photo Credit: mysza

One of my girlfriends dreads gift shopping events – birthdays, weddings, and above all else, Christmas. She feels like whatever she purchases just won’t cut it with the recipient. Similarly, a former client of mine deliberately traveled out of town on any occasions involving gifts, holding the firm view that she’d rather choose what she wanted for herself rather than accept whatever someone chose. Fair enough. (No, they weren’t sisters!).

Me? I enjoy the process of selecting gifts, for the most part. Most of the time, I’m reasonably confident that the recipient will enjoy what I’ve purchased, at least enough to have made the effort. And usually once per season, I find That Perfect Gift which goes over particularly well. For instance, when cds were just coming out (yes, I’m That Old), I found a christmas album (The Hollywood Bowl Christmas Album, recorded in 1957) which had been a christmas staple in our family, but the vinyl version had long since been all scratched up. It wasn’t spendy, but it was quite a hit. And usually once per season something I was less confident about ends up being a surprise hit. Perhaps I have particularly polite friends and family, but on the whole, selecting gifts is pleasurable.

I’m curious: do you enjoy selecting gifts, or hate it? Do you have any awesome “find” stories to share? Or any disasters?

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Photo Credit: Angie22

I saw Twilight this weekend. Allegedly it’s as popular with the yummy-mummy crowd as its original teenage target market.

I can see why. While the acting was wooden and the dialogue banal, there’s no question that the eye-candy factor was off the scale. More importantly, and I expect this is the real appeal, it had all the themes of a classic high romance. Edward Cullen, a vampire, is entirely smitten with the gorgeous, strong-but-innocent Bella. So smitten is he, that he will wrestle down his most primal blood-lust urges in favour of offering her his love, his protection and his fierce yet tender care. Again and again he comes close, so very close, then with difficulty pulls himself back and practices Restraint of the Highest Order.

What woman wouldn’t respond to a gorgeous man who denies himself so entirely, for her sake and the sake of their love?

I couldn’t help but wonder:  does a woman or man who practices self-restraint with their money (I’m not talking cheaping out here, I mean practicing self-restraint for the greater good) have any sex appeal at all?  Any?

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