A Money Coach in Canada

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Some terrific freebies this week:

1. citizensmall.gif will donate $1 to the foodbank for each gingerbread e-card you decorate and send. Fun for adults; even more fun for the kids. Try it!

2. The Pacific Baroque Orchestra violinis donating a free concert (‘Twas the night before Christmas) to the downtown eastside, Vancouver.

Biber, Corelli, Vivaldi
plus Handel’s exquisite Harp Concerto in Bb
Friday December 14
St. James Anglican Church

All are welcome; if you are able to donate at the door, all the better.

Musica Intima
Sunday 16 December

“Rose In Winter” includes traditional
and contemporary carols and
Biebl’s Ave Maria
By donation
St. James’ Anglican Church

For those of you wondering what all the fuss is about, here it is in a nutshell:

1. Cdn born Conrad BlackConrad Black became a self-made media baron. He is most known in Canada for starting The National Post (to which I subscribed, straightaway. For one thing, I was a lot more right-wing back then. For another thing, notwithstanding my politics, I am glad of diverse opinion in the media. Between his own op eds, Christie Blatchford and Mordecai Richler -RIP – it was a darn fine Saturday morning read.)

2. He got kicked out of Canada by a cranky Jean Cretien (presumably annoyed by a right-wing paper?) when the Brits made him a Lord.

3. Conrad and his brainy, beautiful wife Barbara AmielBarbara Amiel (with whom he is madly in love) became nothing less than celebrity figures in London, New York, and Chicago (take that, Jean!) Gossipy note: Elton John sent the judge a letter of support for Mr. Black.

4. He took his company (Hollinger) public in the States, in 1994. Alas, the fact that the company was now no longer his didn’t completely settle in his mind (I can actually relate. I can’t imagine ever selling and handing over control of Your Money by Design. I gave birth to it. ).

5. He had parties that would make Princess Diana (RIP) blush and … they started getting attention. In fact, one investment firm with funds in Hollinger demanded payback. And then a Hollinger board itself asked Barbara Amiel, ‘ahem, could you kindly describe what work you did to warrant the $276K we paid you’ to which she declined a response. And so on and so forth. In short, it began to appear like Black was spending money right, left and centre on a really wonderful life when the funds should have been going right back into the business. Inquiring minds of investors really wanted to know stuff. Throw in law suits, attempted tax evasion, and destroying documents and to make a long story short:

6.5 year in jail is what Mr. Black has to look forward to.

Sheesh. Martha one year, Conrad another. What were you thinking? (a question I still would like to pose to Bill).

Over on Ethical Banker  Erik wrote,

    Is it ethical for Banks to let your checking account go negative in order to charge and profit from NSF fees?
From a purely business standpoint I see why this is such a profit center.  A good percentage of people get into a financial bind from time to time. Unforeseen auto repairs, medical expenses, etc… but, the extent in which the banks charge these fees can make it almost impossible to recover from a financial issue.
For instance I had an emergency medical issue which tapped my checking account.  The payment was posted to my account immediately putting me a few dollars negative.  in the next few days charges made previous to the incident began to post.  Things like a cup of coffee at starbucks, dry cleaning, etc. Small charges.  Yet I incurred a $31 NSF fee for everyone costing me an additional $310 dollars on top of the negative balance.  $310 dollars for charges totaling less that $50 dollars?  This kick them while there down philosophy  in my opinion is unethical.  What are your feelings on this issue? Are there alternatives to traditional banking?

Most readers know that as I build my money-coaching business (Your Money by Design) I work part time for Citizens Bank of Canada.  CB (as we insiders call it.  Well, I do, anyway) prides itself on its ethics, and does business only with companies that are not in the nicotene, arms, nuclear, animal testing etc. business (that still leaves a lot of scope!).

We’re owned by a credit union (VanCity) although operate completely independently, but it means we genuinely put members first.  Nevertheless, we absolutely charge NSF fees.  First, there’s an OD fee of $5.  The member has about 24 hours to get the funds in, before we send the item back NSF.  If the member doesn’t, we charge an additional $25.

Why do we charge?  Because it honestly costs us.  For each OD, a live human being has to monitor the account:  will the member get the money in?  If not, a live human being also has to get the funds back from whoever we gave them to (eg. if it was a payment to your auto-insurance, we have to electronically contact them to reclaim the funds).   Many people erroneously think this is all automated and instantaneous.  It’s not as much as we think.  There are massive regulatory and privacy requirements, so electronic data is not flying across the web like we think it may be.   There are checks, balances and a wee bit of human intervention along each step.

The case you stated seems extreme.  If a member called me and pointed out what would happen, I would likely go to the mat arguing for a refund of the majority of fees (providing it did all indeed occur in one fell swoop, rather than over a month of routine mishaps).  The fact is, NSF fees frequently do hit us when it hurts – I’ve been there!  (I’m a money coach because I took my share of lumps and bruises).  It’s easy to interpret this as the bank hitting us when we’re down.  It’s not.   It’s simply a function of reclaiming costs-of-services-provided even though the ‘service’ is reclaiming your money (you didn’t have), an unwelcome service.

A group of us said stop sign to Subway Sandwichand McDonalds and wherever else we werej0309276.jpg

and decided for the month of november to lunchbox.jpg


cookingtogether2.jpg at home.

StrangeBird ,


TKO from Ontario

Wooly Woman



and Kristina

(wow – how’s that for alliteration!)
all gave it a genuine best shot.

Annnnnddd, by the highly technical random-machine aka Dane (mgr and amazing barista – ask him about the DaneFactor that separates his lattes from everyone else’s) at WorkSpace, the winner is KACIE!

Kacie – not sure if you live in Canada or the US.  Would you prefer a Choices or a Safeway $25 gift card? Leave a comment – or actually, send me your preference to ngzca at yahoo     com.   Congrats!

And congrats to all of us for a fun month of healthier eating (in my case) and fatter bank balances.

Million Dollar Journey had a really fun post that appealed to the voyeur in me. He asked his readers, how much do you tip?

As the holiday season approaches, if you want to be a santa, not a scrooge, check out the blog’s responses and see how you stack up.

And if you’re bold – leave a comment here: how much to you tip?