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Showing posts from September, 2020

Revisiting a Classic Film: My Left Foot

From a distance of more than forty years, I remember finding a well-used paperback on a shelf when I was 12 or 13. It had probably come from one of Toronto’s dusty used book shops (the modern shops are not nearly so dusty as the old ones were!). These have mostly disappeared from streets like Queen and King and Dundas and Bloor. You would walk into one of these overheated shops on a cold, winter day and inevitably there would be an eccentric character wrapped in an ancient scarf and sweater behind the till. You may have been hard up and hard done by but for only a pittance, you could buy some pages of escape.   
That paperback was Christy Brown’s autobiography, My Left Foot. In just a page or two, I found myself immersed in a rough and tumble world of Dublin’s working-class men and women.
I liked them immediately. The Browns were a family of fifteen. Da was a bricklayer and Ma was the loving life force that held it all together. There were children everywhere in a crowded house and ne…

How to Give Financial Advice on Buying a Home

As a financial professional, you are more objective and knowledgeable about financial matters than most people. However, there is a line to walk. You do not want to give the impression that you know everything because you don’t. You also do not want to be the one who knows a lot but never helps anyone.When someone is purchasing a home, here is how to give solid advice without overstepping.First, suggest they begin saving early. They will need a downpayment. Do not be specific about what downpayment they will need. This will vary. The smallest downpayment possible is 5%, but this does not apply to everyone or to every property. The average Toronto home price in September 2020 is 1 million dollars, but you know how averages work. Suggest they speak to a mortgage professional who can help with specifics. Be sure to tell them to put their whole downpayment in a single accessible Canadian bank account. Regular automatic deposits to this bank account are a good way to go.
Along with the down…

Brief Review of a Classic: Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery

Booker T. Washington (1856? - 1915) was born into slavery and rose to become one of the most prominent American public figures and intellectuals of his time. Washington lived and worked in a straight line - he committed his career to the school he was instrumental in founding, Alabama’s famed Tuskegee Institute. Building up the school and his fund-raising meetings and speeches took him to the power and wealth centres of the East Coast of the United States where he earned a reputation for fine oratory and reasonable, responsible views by the standards of influential persons of his day.
Perhaps it was unavoidable that such a prominent African-American would be a controversial figure in his day as well as our time. In some of his talks and writing, he appeared to favour segregation. Some of his audience might have thought he favoured training in manual labour rather than intellectual education for professional careers. He seemed to design his public presentations for white audiences and f…

2020 Financial Lessons for Kids

Our kids are living through times, unlike anything that we have ever experienced. They have been home from school for a half-year. They have been told to wear masks because everyone around them might have cooties. There are questions about how society and the economy will unfold over the coming years. 
Those who are children today will face new financial opportunities and challenges that we can only begin to anticipate. We are tempted to normalize and behave as if things will continue as usual, even while the world is undergoing radical change. We want the kids to be safe and secure, but the best way to do this is to prepare them for the world as it is and as it will be.
In Canada, the most secure jobs in 2020 are with governments, particularly health care. Will this continue as governments engage in massive deficit spending that will require decades of debt repayment? What about university education? Will this continue to be the most reliable path to middle and upper-class financial se…

Review of Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It Every Time

Maria Konnikova’s book is a lively and educational read. With a series of expertly-told stories, the writer takes us into the world of ‘con games’.
Konnikova opens with a story that has the bonus of Canadian content. Ferdinand Waldo Demara, without a medical degree, assumes the role of a surgeon lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Navy. One afternoon, a rickety boat pulls up alongside the HMCS Cayuga. The Korean War is underway and the boat is packed with young men who were caught in an ambush. Under the pseudonym, Dr. Joseph Cyr, Demara takes charge of the messy bullet and shrapnel wounds. Somehow, over the following 48 hours, Demara fakes his way through nineteen surgeries. He has the help of a field guide he had persuaded a physician back in Ontario to create “for the troops” in the event a doctor wasn’t readily available.
With all the publicity that accompanied this heroic day, Demara is discovered by the real Dr. Joseph Cyr who had known him in a different disguise, Brother John Payne…

Is This The Time To Purchase a Vacation Property?

Today is a warm, but not hot, day here in Toronto. Our minds are turning with the weather toward the Fall Season.
As a savvy financial professional, you know that a good time to purchase a vacation property is when the crowd is moving on to other interests.
Like a lot of people, you previously considered purchasing a vacation property but waited. Now might be the time for you to act.
This Spring and Summer, the cottage country market was busy with a lot of people who wanted to escape the city. Demand was strong. A lot of us discovered that we do not need to be in the city 100% of the time, or at all. 
Out of habit, we sometimes still speak of ‘summer homes’ but a lot of us like to get out there four seasons of the year. Swimming on a warm August day, Thanksgiving and the spectacular Fall foliage, snow falling on trees, Christmas and New Year’s guests, and the first warm days of Spring. Why miss any of it?
You might be inclined to wait until Spring along with a lot of other people. Or you c…