A Money Coach in Canada

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My favourite local comedienne, Marlene, of the Assaulted Fish clan, had this very disappointing experience when she wanted nothing more than a good, sustaining bubble tea (for readers who haven’t heard of bubble tea … it’s the asian (Taiwanese?) answer to lattes, but tea, with the extra twist of tapioca tossed in. looks weird. tastes wonderful). The story raises the question: When do you take the loss and when do you ask for your cash back? Here’s the episode in her words:


401935678_a642fd31bc_m.jpgSo this happened to me weeks ago but the trauma lingers. I’m sharing this story because no one should have their bubble burst.

I love bubble tea. I don’t need an IV of the glutinous goodness, but I like a refreshing, colourful beverage from time to time. Unfortunately, there’s a dearth of quality bubble tea shops in Kits. I’m not talking about slushies – even I can whirl those up at home. But sometimes, only a regular pearl milk tea will do.

It was a cold and un-stormy night. I was dying for a bubble tea fix and the Dragon Ball Tea House – reputed to have THE best bubble tea in Vancouver – was the closest dealer of the stuff. I’ve had their drinks before and was always sort of disappointed. But desperate cravings called for desperate settling.

The place is empty and kinda messy. Behind the counter, some dude (presumably the owner) is yakking away on the phone. He sees me and gestures to someone at the back. This older woman, wearing bright yellow cleaning gloves, comes out and starts speaking to me in Mandarin. I don’t speak Mandarin. She soon realizes this and calls for someone else in the back.

A floating head appears. Seriously, this girl is so tiny they have to redesign a car for her. She also looks like a victim of child labour, but I’m pretty sure it’s just the Asian genes manifesting.

“Yis?” she says.

“Could I get a regular pearl milk tea, hot, to go?”


“Um, $4.00?”

“Yis.” And off she goes.

Now, I’m sure there are different ways to make bubble tea and I’ve never made one so what do I know? But I’m preeeeetty sure you don’t make it like this:

Floating Head first pulls on a pair of gloves. Not the ones Subway Sandwich Artists use to slap together bun and meat, but these huge, bright yellow, heavy duty, rubber gloves. The kind I use when I’m going to be scrubbing toilet scum for hours.

Naturally, I start to think the bubble tea might be radioactive.

Floating Head takes a cup and proceeds to fill it with tea from three, THREE different tea tanks. Then she puts my cup into the microwave, THE MICROWAVE, and dings it for a minute. Then she takes the cup over to the bubble vat…and well, I can’t really see anything anymore because of the way the counter is designed. But I do hear a couple of “plops”, which I take to be my pearls slopping into the cup of microwaved tea. I hear some stirring…then some more stirring…then one more for good measure.

Suddenly, a yellow gloved hand appears on the counter. It gropes around like some dis-membered thing until it manages to latch onto a lid. This is when I notice that the glove is wet and kinda discoloured. A second later, my bubble tea complete with spoon and napkin, appear on the counter.
“Uh, thanks.”

“Yis.” And off she goes.

At this point, I’m still hopeful. Maybe the microwaving and multiple tea pumping are just some ancient, long-forgotten methods for making the perfect bubble tea…

But no. There, on the white lid, are these black flecks of god knows what. They’re all over the lid, the spoon, the napkin. They look like maggots that have undergone some crazy cell division. There are tons of them!

I can’t believe I left the place without demanding my money back. I actually carry the abomination to my car, where I stare mournfully at it, lamenting the loss of four hard-earned dollars, before pitching the cup of evil into the garbage.

I ended up consoling myself with a spinach and feta crepe. I have had bubble tea since…but only from Richmond.


Readers: I bet you’ve had something similar happen. For me, if it’s under 5 bucks I seem to just do the same are Marlene – leave bummed but without making a fuss. How much does it take for you to ask for your money back?

Photo Credit: phoosh

Guest post by Jonathon Narvey

Go Green, Save Money

Ever since An Inconvenient Truth became synonymous with the fight against climate change (rather than a commentary on my slowing metabolism and receding hairline), green companies selling eco-friendly products have gotten some great buzz. People are investing in solar panel roofs, hybrid cars and – of course – lots and lots of shiny new bicycles.

But going green shouldn’t necessarily imply one has to go out and spend money on a bunch of new stuff, even if it has the “green” stamp of approval. Buying a new hybrid car can actually be worse for the environment (and your budget) than just buying a used non-hybrid car, if you factor in the carbon emissions used to manufacture the new vehicle.

Basically, you need to balance the costs of your green purchases with your ability to afford your good intentions, along with your expected savings over the long run.

What this means for people of any budget is thinking about the three R’s: recycle, re-use and reduce. The ultimate goal for most people making eco-friendly choices isn’t merely to be seen as environmentally-friendly (although that’s definitely a consideration), but to actually be living sustainably.

Maintaining your transportation, whether it’s a car or a bicycle is cheaper than buying something new and means a factory doesn’t have to use up more of our planet’s finite resources to produce another one. Don’t buy bottled water – it’s expensive and produces a lot of plastic for landfills. Eat a vegetarian meal when you can. It’s almost always less expensive, and meat production causes a whole host of environmental problems. Check here for more great tips.

Both financial and environmental sustainability are intertwined and require common-sense solutions.

Principal Consultant Jonathon Narvey blogs about current affairs and life in Vancouver at Currents.


photo credit: cogdogblog

Loads of stuff!

Army & Navy Shoe Sale til the 27th

BC Book Prize soiree for the literati, at the Metropolitan Hotel, Vancouver, Sat. Apr 19th (free)

Heads up: Linens ‘n Things has filed for bankruptcy. Not to be a vulture…but… keep alert to firesales.

CIVITAS discussion group presents a talk by Dr.Michael Byers
Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at UBC.
Dr. Byers will discuss his recently published book “Intent for a Nation: What is Canada For?”
Where does Canada stand in the world?
Can we rediscover our national self-confidence? These are issues Dr. Byers will also be addressing.

SFU at Harbour Centre, Labatt Room
Thursday, May 1, 2008 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Admission by donation ($5 suggested)
For reservations, call 778-782-5100.
For more information, call Mary at 604-687-8695

2259265239_0587c19e8e_m.jpgYou can just imagine the conversation. The approaching-retirement couple are assured by the financial planner/banker that, even if the worst case scenario occured – the mortgages (surely one of the most secure investments) went into default – the investment was still backed by the property. So yes, it is a conservative investment.

It sounds good to the couple (it would sound good to me!) so they hand over most of their nest egg and the funds are then lent out ultimately to people who don’t have the best credit, but want to buy a home.

Everyone wins. The people who need a mortage but don’t qualify through the usual lenders get a home. The investors make a reasonable rate of return, with the property to back it up. It’s all good.

Except the worst case scenario indeed happens. Over and over again. And next thing you know you’ve lost a massive part of your life savings.

Now what? Who pays?

According to the globe and mail, Canadian banks have agreed to lend billions of dollars in a plan to staunch the blood, in exchange for a legal bill that disallows any lawsuits against them.

Last week, Canaccord Capital made an offer to its investors to buy back their investments at par, to prevent a lawsuit. Watch for a similar offer from Credential Securities this week.

Readers: what is your opinion? At the end of the day, is this an investment risk like any other? Should the investors bear the brunt, and the responsibility, of this debacle? Or should they be allowed to sue the banks and institutions that sold them the product?

Time to get back to some basics – fun basics – about being smart with money on my blog.

So here’s a lite one for today with the potential to save you money depending on how many readers leave comments (hint hint).

Q: What’s one thing you’ve spent money on that ultimately saved you money?

A: (from me) – my moka and a little whisking devise that froths the hot milk. Lattes every morning, and I genuinely prefer my own to the ones I buy = saved probably in the neighbourhood of $100/month.


(photo credit: Yakobusan)

A: from my blogging buddy who’s doing his PhD in Environmental studies: his laptop bag (sorry – I don’t fully understand this – you mean you got a good deal? if so, where? or do you mean it’s sturdy and has protected your laptop?)

 Over to you, readers!  What have you bought, that saved you money?