A Money Coach in Canada

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3787374339_3cc190c23ePhoto Credit: Pink Moose

Grrrrrr.  I’ve been losing my grip on the investment scene the past few months and completely missed that Dollarama went public (ie. folks like me and you can buy shares in it).

It opened at $17.50/share and went up to $19.26 in its first few hours of trading – in other words, a number of people think it’s worth buying and swiftly drove the price up.

I continue to be pessimistic about the fundamentals of our economy (essentially, Canadians are fuelling our gross domestic product by deepening our personal household debt to an all time high (or low!); 58% of Canadians surveyed last winter said day-to-day living expenses is what is deepening their debt), which informs my choices of investment —  I’m looking for businesses that cater to people sensitive about their budgets.  This means a business like Dollarama is Of Interest to me.  And I missed the news!

Over this weekend I’ll do some investigation into Dollarama’s financials and let you know what I find out, and if I decide to invest.  Any opinions, readers?

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Ironically, I was listening to a podcast by the Financial Post about Canadians heavy use of credit cards, when I read their tweet about Canwest filing for bankruptcy protection.  Canwest was unable to make its interest payment on its $4Billion debt, among other things.

For Canadians unfamiliar with the name Canwest, think:  Global TV and the National Post.

It was one thing to cheekily forecast the Great Fall of corporate Big Media.  But I find myself anxious as empire after empire actually does crumple.

My friend Pete tweets:  Monopoly capitalism only benefits the monopolist & the politicians they fund to create, maintain, & protect the monopoly.  With media monopoly capitalism consumers suffer, less innovation, less diversity, higher prices, more homogenized content, etc.

Certainly this has seemed the dominant view in the blogosphere as citizen journalism has ascended.  There was an impassioned hope that we would get less news shaped by those with money and power, and more news from diverse and formerly marginalized voices.  In short, the news would become re-democratized.   This was something easy to get excited about!

I have three concerns that temper my enthusiasm.

  1. No successful business model has been established for new, democratized media that I know of.  Is NowPublic profitable, for instance?  What if there were no traditional media left, and no sustainable business model for citizen journalism emerges?  At the end of the day, money is the difference between ongoing news, or chaotic bits & bytes of news, or silence.
  2. I believe trained journalists are better at sussing out and relaying stories than the rest of us.  I know, I know, multiple truths and all that … but … some of us are more diligent at fact-checking and at knowing which questions to ask and at knowing where to find reliable information than others.  As media empires shed off trained and experienced journalists, I’m not confident that the crowds of volunteers who replace them will provide the same quality of stories.
  3. Hyper-local news has its place but I also want global information sifted through and collated in some fashion and that requires economy of scale.  I have yet to see (but would be happy to be proven wrong) a non-corporate site that can pull off acquiring footage and information gleaned from around the world.

In short, it was invigorating to watch the rise of the little guys in the mighty world of The News, but as it looks more and more likely that the giant is truly slain, I’m wondering if it will all work out in the end, or not.

Readers, what do you think?  Is the time of traditional media truly over?  Are you confident we will find equally reliable sources of news not fed to us from corporations with vested interests?


Photo credit:  AllAboutGeorge

On Feb 20, 2009 I boarded a plane and moved from Vancouver, my home of 20 years, to Yellowknife.   I was born and grew up in Yellowknife, so it’s not quite as impetuous as it may sound.  I moved for two primary reasons:  The Gov’t of the NWT offered a job I couldn’t resist and I wanted to help my senior parent transition to life “down south”.   In the decision making process, I wrote out pros and cons, but I overlooked a few!  Here are 5 factors that deserved more sober attention than I gave them:

1.  The value of my professional network I’d built up. I hadn’t fully grasped the implications of starting from scratch, at this stage of my life and career.  Over two decades in Vancouver, I’d built up a vast network of people who knew me, knew what I was about, and knew what I was capable of delivering.  I underestimated the quiet sense of security that provides a person.  My colleagues up here are wonderfully warm and receptive to be sure, but nothing can replace two decades of building up a professional reputation.  This leaves me feeling a lot more professionally vulnerable than I had expected.  I often feel like I have to ask for the benefit-of-the-doubt since my new network hasn’t actually seen demonstrated results from me yet.  Presumably this will diminish with time, but still, I wish I’d reflected more deeply on this.  Lesson: factor this in, and ensure there are support structures in place to compensate for this loss.

2. The job is quite different than what I’d expected.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it may play out very positively.  Nevertheless, moving 3,000 miles to make that discovery is unsettling.  When making a career change within your geographic area, you are more likely to be in better touch with an informal network that can give you a clearer picture of the employer.  If you discover it’s not what you want, after all (and I’m not saying that’s the case for me!  It remains to be seen…), it’s a whole lot easier to opt for a Plan B if you’re in your home stomping grounds.  Lesson:  dig a little deeper, if possible, to get as complete a picture as possible of the new job context.

3. The situation has changed for my parent. One of my reasons for moving up here has been unexpectedly eliminated for reasons that have nothing to do with me.   Lesson: In retrospect, I wouldn’t move for the sake of another person, unless things had been really nailed down. I think of all the women/men who have moved for the sake of a new relationship only to discover the relationship didn’t work, and shake my head a little.  If you have a story to tell about that, I’d like to hear about it – leave a comment!

4. The personal impact of changing cities. Because I grew up here, I thought I knew Yellowknife, and in many ways that’s the case.  But I didn’t realize how deeply I’d miss a few elements that align with my values and aren’t available to me here.  These include my formal, gritty, inclusive (!) parish church which nourished my spiritual life, it includes digital infrastructure (YK isn’t really wired), and above all it includes my home – I’m in an adequate rental unit but it doesn’t provide the sense of contentment and “at home-ness” that my condo in gastown provided.  These are taking a cumulative toll on me and I wish I’d taken them into greater account in my decision-making process.  Lesson: Clearly identify values critical to quality-of-life and weigh them heavily into the decision.

5. The ancillary costs of a move.   For me it’s been:  $1200 to build a fence for my dogs, $1000 for a winter parka, $3000 to paint and fix up my Vancouver condo for the tenant, easily $2000 in replacement costs for furniture which I didn’t bring with me, $2000 in airfares for Christmas … you get the picture!  Lesson:  just like home renos, I suspect moves always entail unexpected expenses.  Add 50% to the estimate!

I cannot conclude without saying this:  None of this is in any way a reflection on Yellowknife or my new job.  Rather, it’s a sober acknowledgment that in many ways, this move was a Bigger Deal than I’d originally anticipated.   Maybe, like a lot in life (parenting?), it’s a good thing we don’t know all the challenges in advance or we’d stay in our comfort zones.

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Credit:  Maria S Forever

I’m finally at the age that I believe I can defend a long-held-off splurge for myself:   A Good Wristwatch.  As in, TAG Heuer good.

Oh yes, much as I preach and try to live contentment with what I have, these watches have been my secret object of lust for quite some time.

There’s just one thing.   A few months ago, my watch (just a basic one) strap broke.   Guess what.  I haven’t missed it.  Not really.  When I want to know the time, I check my iPod Touch.  Or my BB.  Or my monitor.  Or the sign on the mall at the YK Centre (which, incidentally, let all us Yellowknifers know that it’s down to 4C these days).

Curses!  Just the time when I can justify this purchase, I find I know longer need a watch, and perhaps don’t even want one!

That led me to another thought.  First this internet/ShinyBrightObject age took down the music industry.  It’s currently taking down media as we knew it.  What do you think, readers?  Is the Era of the Wristwatch now over, too?

Sorry – I don’t know where I originally heard this!
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Estate Planning

Peter was a single, ugly, pot bellied 45 years old guy living at home with his father and working in the family business.

When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune.

One evening at an estate planning & investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

Her natural beauty took his breath away. “I may look like just anordinary man,” he said to her, “but in just a few years, my father will die, and I’ll inherit 20 million dollars.”

Impressed, the woman obtained his home phone number and three days later, she became his stepmother.

Women are so much better at estate planning than men.
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Just a little fun for the weekend.