A Money Coach in Canada

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I’ve been thinking a bit about death and dying, in part because of Remembrance Day this week and in part because the 1st anniversary of my father’s death is coming up.One of the things that caught me off guard – although thankfully, there were family funds set aside – were the expenses associated with dad’s funeral. Flowers for the casket. Burial permit. Honorariums for the lovely, lovely people who assisted with the funeral. Cost of printing the service bulletins. Putting notices in papers. The casket itself. Death Certificates. And much more. (oh – little known fact – the Gov’t gives you a bit of money back but you need to submit forms / documents).

Anyway, it made me think: How prepared am I for my funeral? How prepared are you?  

Truth be told, I haven’t yet put together a cohesive plan, but here at 5 starting points we should each consider. After all, this is our final Goodbye; the last memory we will have created for those we leave behind.  So we should think through the event itself ensuring it reflects whatever it is we want reflected about us.  And we should ensure the finances are prepared so that our loved ones don’t have that stress on top of everything else they will be dealing with (for the record, my dad had a fund and for that we were all grateful).

Your Funeral or Celebration of Life – 5 considerations that involve money

  1. Do you want a funeral? Or a celebration of your life? What will you want included?  For example, I know I will want some professional musicians; some simple but probably expensive flowers; a couple (Anglican) priests; the service printed on heavy paper; and a space that can handle quite a few people if I die in Vancouver where most of my community is.
  2. Will you want a wake?  A reception after the service?  Something simple, or elaborate?
  3. Will you want to be cremated, or embalmed, or none of the above?   What are the costs in your area?
  4. What kind of casket and tombstone will you want?
  5. And what kind of ongoing upkeep, of your grave, if any?

After thinking these through, I think it is worth creating some sort of fund.  The other option is for your survivors to pay then get some kind of reimbursement from your estate, but why not make is simple and ensure there are funds readily available right when needed?

 

Photo Credit:  Marksd

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What goes on in the House on the Hill is not ALL that different than what goes on in your house. It’s just writ large.
They negotiate, forge alliances on some things and will forever disagree on others and they HAVE A BUDGET.

If in your house, your partner or family member wasn’t fully forthcoming about the budget or how he or she spent your joint money, how would you feel?

This video (Thanks, Andrew Coyne) gave me a bit of an AHA moment – I hadn’t previously made such a direct comparison, but now that I think of it, it’s obvious. It’s 3 minutes to watch and don’t panic when he introduces himself. It’s accessible. Just keep doing the mental comparisons between your house and The House.

Hang on to your hats, folks. We’re about to enter a crazy time of the year.

Your shopping is probably mostly done (right? RIGHT??) but there’s plenty of in-the-moment wallet busters in store (sic) for the next 10 days. Here are 5 last minute tips to spend smart between now and New Years.

Gift
1. Run, don’t walk, run to your nearest dollar store to pick up gift cards, wrapping paper and bows. You don’t want to spend a fortune on this at the Brand Name store on Christmas Eve! If you have 90 minutes of time, an even better idea: make your own bows from leftover wrapping paper like Karen does.






Happy New Year!
2. New Years Eve. Going out? Leave your keys and your plastic at home. Decide how much you’re doing to spend and use cash. Save yourself from yourself! No oops-overspending hangovers this January 1st on my watch! 😉












3. Create your “standard-polite-decline” in advance to excuse yourself from potentially pricey on-the-spot invites you receive (we’re going out for lunch, join us!). Your line can be whatever works for you. Ideas: a gracious and classic, “Thanks so much but I have other plans” or “another time”; if suitable, ask if you can check your calendar first; have a standby excuse “I need to take the dogs for their walk”.






iPhone
4. Travelling? Call your cel phone service provider today to be clear about extra charges. Avoid nasty surprises when you get your January bill! I usually purchase about $10 from Bell so I can make extra calls while in Vancouver.












5. Don’t apologize for not spending. I’m not saying cheap-out. But controlling your spending over the next 10 days should be a badge of honour. Settle that within yourself, and then let your actions and your words flow from that place.

This is a guest blog by a coworker with a lively online persona … but not from my lips or typing shall his/her identity be revealed. I did manage to coax out this guest post on the all-too-common habit of eating out too much for our budgets to handle. Northerners or readers in remote places will particularly relate, I suspect!

Lunch for Wednesday

Having a single income, owning a home with constant repairs needed, and living in the North where the cost of living is at an all time high makes a person consider setting up an IV system instead of paying for real food. Add to this the temptation of working downtown where there are at least half a dozen establishments with friendly staff waiting to take $20 and hand you a quick answer to the question “what’s for lunch?” and I’ve found myself looking at an empty bank account wondering what happened more than once.

One solution to this is to stop eating. A BETTER solution to this is stop impulse eating. When I moved out of my parent’s place at age 17, some of the advise my mom gave me was “always lock your door”, “cook big meals that can be frozen”, and “learn to budget”. The last two I’ve really taken to heart recently. Every pay day, I sit down and think of what I want to eat for the next two weeks until my next pay cheque. On my last shopping trip, I got everything I needed for breakfasts and lunches for 2 weeks for about $45, and everything I need for suppers for $50, including snacks and desserts. That is every meal I will need for 2 weeks for under $100.

When shopping for food, people tend to do it all in one place, which is understandable, but tends to lead you to do all of your shopping at higher end grocery stores where the meat and produce is fresher and readily available. Unfortunately this also means that the frozen and boxed items are more expensive. Frozen foods, preserves and dry goods are made to the same factory specifications, which from a freshness standpoint makes it a moot point as to where you actually pick them up. A can of soup is a can of soup. My tendancy now is to pick up all of my dry/frozen goods at a grocery store down town, which is the cheapest in YK, and then pick up my fruits/veggies and meats at a store closer to my house.

Another way I save on my food bill is to make a big meal every weekend and freeze the majority of it in single serving containers. If I make a soup or stew on the weekend in my slow cooker (which is a marvelous invention might I add), that will do me for a week or so. Now, the same soup for lunch every single day tends to get quite dull, which is why I make something different every weekend and stockpile my frozen meals. Lasagana here, stew there, pulled pork every once in a while, and I’m happy.

We as Canadians tend to waste a lot of food. One reason being that we buy too much of it, and we buy it on an impulse. When I got home from the store, I used to have to clear out some space before I was able to put any of it away, and a lot of the new items I was putting in the fridge was the same stuff I had just tossed out because I didn’t use it the last time. Just because it sounds like a good idea in the grocery isle, doesn’t mean that you will use it. I’ve also taken to looking at my grocery cart a lot instead of what’s on the shelves, either planning meals in my head and making sure I only get what I need, or just trying to aviod the “oh shiny” reaction to a new flavour of chocolate coated something-or-other that may catch my eye. When it comes to treating myself, I could justify pretty much anything, so long as there was carmel filling involved somehow. Now, it’s 1-2 treats tops per pay period.

All in all, this has made for a much smaller food bill, and a much healthier diet. No more coming home from the store feeling like I accomplished something, then realizing that I spent $100 or so on treats, and only have enough real food for maybe 4 meals. Who knew that taking my mom’s advise would work out so well :).

-Luggy Deadnick

Readers: I eat out for lunch maybe once/week, tops. That’s partly due to the fact that I can walk home – in -30C, mind you – every day for lunch. How often do you buy lunch, and what do you attribute it to?