A Money Coach in Canada

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I’m sure the local video rental store will have all I need, but I couldn’t resist trying out zip.ca – Canada’s answer to netflicks.

It seems a really good deal.   For $6 monthly, I get one free dvd mailed to me, with a return envelope, each month.  I received my first dvd today – the first 3 episodes of The Wire, if you’re interested.

It took me a while to figure out how the ordering process works – you select dvds by “zipping” them on the site, then as they come available, zip sends them to you.  This means it’s not for those who absolutely want a particular movie within a couple days, but that’s fine with me.  When you get the dvd, there is no due date, so I can watch it whenever I want – although to get the next dvd I need to return it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a movie to watch …

photo credit:  pedrosimoes7

Guest Post

Paul LeBlanc, President
FASTSIGNS Vancouver
Suite 200 – 625 West Kent Ave.  Vancouver BC V6P 6T7
Office:   (604) 327-3278  x 23

94709171_6e9ea0e08bphoto credit:  Roland

I sell advertising for a living.  I have nothing at all against advertising.

I run a sign company.  And while we do make some signs to direct and inform people about various things, about 90% of what we make is advertising of some form.

So I am a big believer in advertising, and do lots of it myself.

Nonetheless, my favourite radio station carries none at all.  There is a rumour in the land that this might change, and despite my belief in the value and power of advertising, that news makes me very unhappy.

First the story.  Hubert Lacroix, Prime Minister Harper’s appointment as president of the CBC, was speaking to the Empire Club in Toronto last month.  During his speech, he mentioned that “increasing the advertising we accept on the air” was one way they might consider to address their funding problem.

My second favourite radio station carries many, many ads.  CKNW, the longstanding and very successful bastion of west coast talk radio, carries so many ads that sometimes it’s a real effort to find the content.  And while that content sometimes seems to consist of nothing but phoned in rants to put every jaywalker in jail for 20 years, it’s still a great snapshot of what a good chunk of the citizenry is thinking.  Their coverage of provincial politics is often pretty good, and yes, it probably is the radio station I would turn to in an emergency, at least if it was a local one.

But I know that CKNW needs to sell ads to stay on the air.  It has a giant corporate parent, Corus Entertainment in Toronto, which is publically traded on both the TSX and NYSE.  So the message CKNW beams out over the airwaves will never rock the corporate boat too far.  More to the point, CKNW, or any commercial enterprise, will not run programming unlikely to draw the large numbers of listeners advertisers want.

So I want a non-commercial option.  I want the radio station that gave me Gwynne Dyer talking convincingly about how a south Asian war might be caused by climate change.  I want the radio station that called Romeo Dallaire night after night in Rwanda during the genocide of 1994.  And I want the radio station that spent five days in a row debating the relative merits of a bunch of Canadian novels.

Even if fewer people listen to these programs than listen to the CKNWs of this country (and that’s not always true) those ideas need to get out.  They need to be heard and the country as a whole benefits from them being told.  That’s why our scarce tax dollars should continue to be invested in CBC Radio and why CBC Radio can never be allowed to turn into CKNW.

I have started a small Facebook Group to see who agrees with me on this.  If you do, please drop in and join up.

Readers, I bet you have opinions.  Chime in!  Should CBC resort to advertising, or will that completely and irrevocably change the nature of the CBC?

I used to feature case studies on Saturdays.  For the next few months, however, I am not working with any clients in order to focus on settling into my new job and my new life up here in Yellowknife.

In lieu, I thought it would be interesting and fun to take questions, and give my thoughts on my Saturday posts.  If you have a money question or an issue, please e-mail me at (my first name) AT (your money by design – all one word) DOT commercial (abbreviated).   I will take great care in obscuring your identity.  Consider it no-charge, lite money-coaching!

This week’s question is from S, from the west coast.

Q:  Who would I talk to about when to w/d from my RRSps to help with debt or liquidate assets? or If a 2nd job would be necessary? Is that a debt counselor or an Accountant or a Financial Planner?

A:  The first thing to know is there is no real right answer.  Obviously, if at all possible, leave your RRSPs intact – so sacrosanct are they, that RRSPs can’t be touched if an individual goes through bankruptcy (with limited exceptions).

Regarding who to talk to,  if you have relationships to any professionals you mentioned (Accountant, FP, debt counsellor), by all means have an informal conversation about it.  I would also include a money coach in the mix.  I have a couple names in your geographic area I can give you (e-mail me).  Ultimately, it is always your own judgement call.  After getting other people’s ideas and opinions, its time for you to sit down alone with a tea, a pencil and paper, and write out all your options.  Take some time (several days, minimum) to let your ideas settle, then make your decision.

Here are a couple of my own thoughts:

Regarding RRSPs / 2nd job:

1.  RRSPs     Here’s the thing with taking money out of your RRSPs.  It will give a measure of immediate relief, and may then free you up to get some financial issues sorted out.   But typically, people have a yo-yo relationship with debt (rack it up, panic, pay it down, repeat).  It would be a shame to plunder your RRSPs only to find yourself in a similar situation again two or three years down the road.   The much harder work, and ultimately more productive work, is to look at the underlying factors that created the issue, and address those.

2. 2nd Job  By taking a second job rather than an RRSP withdrawal you accomplish two things:  1.  You increase your net worth (extra money to reduce debt, rather than diminishing your assets)  and  2. You open more doors for yourself.  It could be that the second job would lead to a career that enables you to meet your needs in a way your current career does not.   It could connect you to more people who in turn could open more opportunities to you.

Debt comes and it goes, S.  Good for you for asking the question and putting yourself in the driver’s seat.  Pop by again once you’ve made your decision, and let us know how things play out for you.

Readers:  have you ever either taken a second job or used your RRSPs to pay off debt?  What was the long term result?

2066724689_ca8c887aa7True story, by Captain Sarcastic, verified (and expanded upon) by Snopes:

On my way home from the second job I’ve taken for the extra holiday ca$h I need, I stopped at Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat. In my billfold is a $50 bill and a $2 bill. That is all of the cash I have on my person. I figure that with a $2 bill, I can get something to eat and not have to worry about people getting upset at me.

ME: “Hi, I’d like one seven layer burrito please, to go.”
IT: “Is that it?”
ME: “Yep.”
IT: “That’ll be $1.04, eat here?”
ME: “No, it’s to go.” [I hate effort duplication.]

At his point I open my billfold and hand him the $2 bill. He looks at it kind of funny and

IT: “Uh, hang on a sec, I’ll be right back.”

He goes to talk to his manager, who is still within earshot. The following conversation occurs between the two of them.

IT: “Hey, you ever see a $2 bill?”
MG: “No. A what?”
IT: “A $2 bill. This guy just gave it to me.”
MG: “Ask for something else, there’s no such thing as a $2 bill.” [my emp]
IT: “Yeah, thought so.”

He comes back to me and says

IT: “We don’t take these. Do you have anything else?”
ME: “Just this fifty. You don’t take $2 bills? Why?”
IT: “I don’t know.”
ME: “See here where it says legal tender?”
IT: “Yeah.”
ME: “So, shouldn’t you take it?”
IT: “Well, hang on a sec.”

He goes back to his manager who is watching me like I’m going to shoplift, and

IT: “He says I have to take it.”
MG: “Doesn’t he have anything else?”
IT: “Yeah, a fifty. I’ll get it and you can open the safe and get change.”
MG: “I’m not opening the safe with him in here.” [my emp]
IT: “What should I do?”
MG: “Tell him to come back later when he has real money.”
IT: “I can’t tell him that, you tell him.”
MG: “Just tell him.”
IT: “No way, this is weird, I’m going in back.”
The manager approaches me and says

MG: “Sorry, we don’t take big bills this time of night.” [it was 8pm and this particular Taco Bell is in a well lighted indoor mall with 100 other stores.]
ME: “Well, here’s a two.”
MG: “We don’t take those either.”
ME: “Why not?”
MG: “I think you know why.”
ME: “No really, tell me, why?”
MG: “Please leave before I call mall security.”
ME: “Excuse me?”
MG: “Please leave before I call mall security.”
ME: “What for?”
MG: “Please, sir.”
ME: “Uh, go ahead, call them.”
MG: “Would you please just leave?”
ME: “No.”
MG: “Fine, have it your way then.”
ME: “No, that’s Burger King, isn’t it?”

At this point he backs away from me and calls mall security on the phone around the corner. I have two people staring at me from the dining area, and I begin laughing out loud, just for effect. A few minutes later this 45 year oldish guy comes in and says [at the other end of counter, in a whisper]

SG: “Yeah, Mike, what’s up?”
MG: “This guy is trying to give me some [pause] funny money.”
SG: “Really? What?”
MG: “Get this, a two dollar bill.”
SG: “Why would a guy fake a $2 bill?” [incredulous]
MG: “I don’t know? He’s kinda weird. Says the only other thing he has is a fifty.”
SG: “So, the fifty’s fake?”
MG: “No, the $2 is.”
SG: “Why would he fake a $2 bill?”
MG: “I don’t know. Can you talk to him, and get him out of here?”
SG: “Yeah…”
Security guard walks over to me and says

SG: “Mike here tells me you have some fake bills you’re trying to use.”
ME: “Uh, no.”
SG: “Lemme see ’em.”
ME: “Why?”
SG: “Do you want me to get the cops in here?”

At this point I was ready to say, “SURE, PLEASE,” but I wanted to eat, so I said

ME: “I’m just trying to buy a burrito and pay for it with this $2 bill.”

I put the bill up near his face, and he flinches like I was taking a swing at him. He takes the bill, turns it over a few times in his hands, and says

SG: “Mike, what’s wrong with this bill?”
MG: “It’s fake.”
SG: “It doesn’t look fake to me.”
MG: “But it’s a $2 bill.”
SG: “Yeah?”
MG: “Well, there’s no such thing, is there?”

The security guard and I both looked at him like he was an idiot, and it dawned on the guy that he had no clue.

My burrito was free and he threw in a small drink and those cinnamon things, too. Makes me want to get a whole stack of $2 bills just to see what happens when I try to buy stuff. If I got the right group of people, I could probably end up in jail. At least I’d get free food.

A few tasty morsels for your enjoyment:

Isabella, the blogging therapist, wrote about employment counselling and chaos theory. She was taking notes at a conference, so be prepared for a good romp from thought to thought!

And guess which profession is least trusted by Danes?  Politicians?  nope.  Used Car Salespeople?  nope.   Give up?  Head on over to Jan’s blog to find out.

Netchick discovers you can pay to speak to a North-American based rather than India based Dell Customer Service rep.

Darren Barefoot may have found the solution to the “What To Do with my Digital Assets” problem.

Sid describes year one as a retiree.

And Peter, of Peter’s Useful Crap fame, has found an alternative ADSL provider to Telus and Shaw for Vancouverites, if you’re in the market.

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