A Money Coach in Canada

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I’ve been a bit glum recently.
Bono summed things up for me with the query:

When you look at the world
What is it that you see?
People find all kinds of things
That bring them to their knees.

What I’m seeing up here in the north, increasingly, is just how complicated is the relationship between Canada and First Nations peoples. And it’s bringing me to my knees, frankly. It’s pretty damn dark. And that’s probably all I can say about it.

Reminders that sometimes Big Ideas that Change the World actually do get realized and really do start to change the world provide welcome cheer to me on this rainy Saturday in Yellowknife.

RED

The RED campaign initiated by Bono is one such Big Idea. Yeah, it can appear commercial. Yeah, it probably lets us all too easily off the hook. But as Raincoaster once pointed out (kicking my ass all over town, as only she can do! -I say with gratitude and affection), small starts can lead to deeper thinking about the underlying causes of injustice. So I say, YES! to RED!

What is RED? It simply offers each of us a choice as consumers, with several iconic brands, to select the RED brand item to purchase. A percentage of each sale then goes to a their global fund, and every penny goes directly to Africa, especially towards AIDS relief.

Products you can choose include:

Starbucks – RED card/mugs

Apple – RED ipod

Dell – RED computers

GAP – RED scarves, t-shirts

AMEX – RED card (UK Only?)

Hallmark – RED cards.

Sometimes when it all seems to overwhelming, and when I just can’t see how I can possibly be of any help to anyone, it’s nice to know other people with a whole lot more influence than me have done some serious legwork. The RED campaign has already raised millions of dollars, a scale I can barely comprehend.

Me? Sure, I’m in. I’ll buy RED when I can. That’s easy. The hard work for me is to find a way to serve (I am a civil *servant* after all) and not impose upon, the original peoples of the NWT – if it’s even possible.

I haven’t been planning to purchase a place here anytime soon, in part because I want to see how I handle this winter.  I’m giving myself full permission to return to Vancouver with my daschunds if we need to thaw out and can’t handle the ongoing cold and snow.

I was minding my own business on Thursday evening, greeting friends via facebook, when the ad appeared on the right.

Never did I think I’d consider a mobile home as a domicile, but, I mean look at those pictures!  In Yellowknife, either because we’ve had lame developers or in combo with difficult conditions (cold, isolation) for building, mobile homes are a-Plenty here and don’t have the connotations of The Boys.

PROS

1. It has the look and feel, nearly precisely, that I would want

  • laminate
  • wood stove
  • soaker tub
  • warm wood and white walls
  • crown moulding
  • stainless steel appliances (oh, to have a dishwasher again.  handwashing begone!)
  • yard that does not require upkeep
  • special bonuses:  the entertainment system (on my to-buy list, right down to the Bose audio system) and the persian rug runner down the length.  Seriously, it’s so.totally.me.
  • 1.5 minutes away from Yellowknife’s best trail and lake
  • close to the Co-op where I shop

2.  The monthly payments are only a couple hundred more than I’m paying for rent

3.  Unlike many people, I’m still gloomy about the long-term prognosis for the economy, and have been debating investing in real estate rather than stocks.  My hunch is that the north is going to continue to quietly boom and that real estate here is a good investment.

4.  I’ll verify this with an inspection (only 1 inspector up here apparently!  grrrrr) but it appears to be in good condition, including a 2007 furnace, a new fibreglass oil tank, and some kind of relatively new pvc (?) piping = not as likely to freeze.

5.  I estimate that in 3 years I’ll have built up about $20K in equity.

6.  It’s affordable.

CONS

1.  I hadn’t planned on this, at least right now, and don’t want to be rushed on at $250K choice.  The deadline, for reasons I won’t go into, is Tuesday (day after tomorrow).

2.  I’m not sure I can pull all my various funds together in time to get my down payment.

3.  The ceiling is rather low.

4.  I don’t know the market up here very well yet.   I suspect mobile homes don’t appreciate the way stick-built do.

5.  One huge, major issue.   The condo corp. is responsible for the roads and pipes and apparently they are well past the due-date for replacement, but the corp does not have the, oh, $20M or so needed.   Each person on the strata could well be on the hook for up to $50K, although then the equity would be higher as well – plus, their may be some federal funding available.

6.  My monthly costs will go up because I’ll now be paying heat, hot water and internet (currently included in my rent)

6.  And last, I’m just not sure I want to commit to a place yet.

Thanks to the fabulous Realtor in Vancouver, Urbanista, for some really great pointers on the real estate angle (like, lenders look at mobile homes differently).

Readers, any comments?  Ideas?  Objective thoughts? YIIIIKKKES! 😉

Squawkfox? Krystal? Canajun Finance? Four Pillars? – opinions?

IMG_0292

I’ve had a couple tough days.  I’m off work, ill.  Headache, achey bones, and a fatigue that’s taken me down for the count.  I hate being sick!  Additionally I’m missing a lot about Vancouver these days.  Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoy Yellowknife – but there are experiences and places and shops and wifi and people who are only to be found in Vancouver.  So in addition to bone and head aches, there’s some ache-of-the-spirit in the mix.

This evening I did what all sick people do to console themselves.  I made the treck to the video store.  Alas, I came out empty.  No The Wire.  No BSG til late July apparently.  I forgot to ask about Firefly (anyone seen the series?  I saw one episode – are they all as awesome?)

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Plan B:  buy some chocolate. One idiosyncrasy of life up here is that the majority of shops shut down at 6pm but not, thank goodness, Shoppers.  I went the distance, folks, I selected a beautiful Lindt milk chocolate bar, went to the til — and my debit card was declined.  And declined.  And declined again.  It’s payday and I work for the Gov’t so I’m guessing Central One’s servers went down, but in any case, so much for my chocolate.  Life was beginning to spiral downward.

Until a lovely thing happened.

The young woman at the til, seeing my crestfallen face, told me to hang on one sec.  She punched a few buttons on the til — handed me the chocolate bar, smiled, and said, it’s on me.  Not on the house.  It’s on me.

I stood dumbfounded.  Eventually I stammered out my thanks, and happily accepted the chocolate bar she had just bought me.

It cost her $1.50.   Not much in the grand scheme of things, but its impact was multiple time a buck-fifty.  It was a lovely, unexpected, random act of kindness.

I don’t know if I’ll make a point of paying her back or if I’ll pay it forward or quite what I’ll do.

I thought I’d start by simply sharing.

Readers, have you experienced a Random Act of Kindness?  Care to share?

ps: I got home, and reached a vancouver friend who, of all things, is also housebound.  He’d rented One Week, and I was able to find it on iTunes for rent, so we’re sharing a movie, virtually.  Life is lookin’ better.

I did a lot of free activity today – gardening, walking around town, chores — but for my fit in 15, I wound down for the day with some yoga in the privacy of my own home, for free, thanks to iTunes vidcast of YogaToday. (free always pleases this money coach, naturally)

Grassy Backbend
It felt soooo good. (and no that’s not me in the photo)

Readers: a point to you in the iPod shuffle giveaway if you can recommend other free exercise sites online – stipulation: they need to have vidcasts. And be reasonably female friendly.

I love free stuff! Or living large while spending little!

So here are some upcoming events for Canadians:

FREE OUTDOOR MOVIES this weekend for Williams Lake Folks:
Friday/Saturday May 29/30
DRIVE-IN
Sunset Time: 21:15
Movie 29th: ET
Movie 30th: American Graffiti
Location: Williams Lake Stampede Park (800 McKenzie Ave South)
Courtesy of FreshAir Cinema

CLUB FATASS is a misnomer! It’s a free runners’ club by the people, for the people. If there isn’t one in your community, you can start one with a little free help from the Club Fatass folks.

It’s DAY THREE of Staples’ 5 DAYS OF DEALS. Today’s deals include leather executive chairs, Notebook PC, Digital Frames and more.

Montreal – looks like you’re having a massive TOMMY HILFIGER SALE over the next two weeks. Time to get some great jeans!

Edmontonians, you’ve got a brand new FARMERS’ MARKET to visit. Fresh baked goods. Fresh Produce. Atisans.
Thursdays, 2 – 7pm.
93rd Street and 118th Ave.
Shop away!

The Regina LADIES CHOIR TEA MUSICAL is having their final concert (presumably of the season) on Sunday – only $12!

And for those of you preferring to hang out at home, Knowledge Network almost always has something of interest to watch. Check out their weekend lineup, which includes a documentary on Ansel Adams.

Me? I’m looking forward to Yellowknife’s first ever YKTweetup at (still unwired, but we love it anyways) Javaroma cafe.

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