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Stuff Worth Thinking About

A septuagenarian should have some perks. One of them should be to speak on the topic of their choice, forever.

Making Easy Things Hard

Are we having fun yet!

Are we having fun yet!

Aging is a pain in the butt, joints and eyelids

Have you ever asked an old person a question?

You probably have and won't again unless you have to. We go on. And on. And on...

It's not fair.

When I speak, people roll their eyes, make stupid excuses, slink off, accuse me of lecturing or hit me with a stick.

How come the young get called things like "you little whipper-snapper" and I get to be an "old fart". Even when you try to stylize and embellish it to "olde fahrte", it still doesn't cut it. Even I would rather be wet behind the ears instead of between the legs.

Baby Boomers, those of us aged about fifty-seven or older, no longer get any respect.

When my grandson was born just over a dozen years ago, I was looking forward to the day he would ask me questions like "Why is the sky blue?"

Instead, what I got was a three-year-old heavy equipment know-it-all who told me what an articulated dump truck was and what it was going to do next at a ready-mix concrete facility. He liked watching heavy equipment at work, so I obliged him on this field trip.

During the early days of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, I remember men, older men, saying things like "we should never have given women library cards". They were joking, but not.

This is An Articulated Dump Truck

I Didn't Know That!

My grandson and I have spent the better part of every summer, spring and Christmas school break since.

He has taught me a great deal since as well. Who knew?

I should have. The mother of my grandson was among the first children in our little city to have access to a personal computer, but more importantly, "The Internet" in the 1980's. In my view, at the time, the three "R's" and knowing the right questions to ask the internet was going to really propel human intelligence forward.

It was an advantage I gave my children I certainly don't regret. Even though I had to fight them for computer time, and it was my business computer, not the family TV set. I figure we have to love our children more than ourselves otherwise they will take away our internet access when we get old and depend on them.

My kids and grandson don't have library cards. Maybe we should never have given them access to the internet.

But one of life's biggest disappointments is that they don't need me for what old dads and grampas used to be needed for; good, sound, unbiased information and the wisdom of life experiences.

It's okay, because I am still needed in different ways, but still, I really did want to show off what I learned in life. Damn that internet!

So now I write instead of talk. And you thought you could get me to stop with the wordy diarrhea!

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A Cup of Coffee or a New Car?

What do you pay for your daily coffee?

What do you pay for your daily coffee?

Easy but Hard to Get to Financial Independence

If you bought a house twenty-five years ago, paid off the mortgage and have little in the way of personal debt, you are probably financially independent. At least that should be the case if you live in Canada.

I am a relic in the world of retail banking. I used to ask loan applicants all kinds of questions to make sure the loan I approved was actually going to help the applicants move their lives forward financially as well as ensure the lender's investment in these people was sound. That's right, an investment, just like a bond or a stock.

One of the things you used to get when you applied for a loan from old school lenders was fundamental financial advice.

"I can't approve your mortgage application because...But here is what we can do to help you be successful in the future with any lender."

And I would show them how.

While I did work for banks, most of my career was with Credit Unions and I started when they were a blip on the landscape of financial institutions. "Nor for Profit, but for Service" was an actual motto in use at the time and the accompying logo had a man walking in the rain carrying an umbrella.

Credit Unions did learn the hard way why it was important to generate enough profit to stay solvent the last time there was raging inflation in the late seventies/early eighties.

Since lenders earn their living lending money, corporately or individually, one needs to think of making loans the same as selling cars. Slam dunk, or "no/low risk" applications were the ones, as lenders, we were always happy to oblige, and quickly!

Marginal applications were the ones that proved most difficult and the most satisfying, if it got approved. It was the marginal ones I approved that really changed people's lives, not the slam dunks.

Here is an example of a slam dunk I approved but didn't want to on the basis of poor purpose for the loan back in the eighties. (It actually was and probably still is a qualifier.):

Joe Schmo walks in looking for tens of thousands for a fancy schmancy pick-up truck. Because interest rates were high at the time and because it was a personal or car loan equivalent, the length of time to pay it back had to be short, thus payments were high. Much higher than the mortgage payments he would have had instead to buy the house to replace the rented mobile on a rented pad his wife and three children occupied. I even showed Joe how he could have his house and modest pick-up too!

Nope, had to have the truck. I felt so badly for his family I wanted to reject the application but couldn't for fear of losing my job. It wasn't my job to judge.

I don't know what happened to Joe or his family. I didn't care a lick about Joe but always felt badly for his family.

As the person responsible for disposition of foreclosed property once upon a time, I have never forgotten what a mobile home looks like when nobody cares anymore, and children were living in it just before we had no choice but to take it. (In this case, it was a walkaway.) There was moss growing on the living room floor to name just one of the many and disturbing deficiencies.

At least once a year I run into John; a fellow I helped buy his farm. He thanks me every time and says in a real loud voice for others to hear how I found a way to do the deal when others couldn't or wouldn't.

It is so satisfying to hear even still. Bankers get such a bad rap!

I personally find it hard, very hard, communicating with people with poor priorities or so focused on what they want they can't see the obvious.

I haven't lent a dime in decades, except to my kids. over and over again. Being the Bank of Mom and Dad is a great opportunity to teach them about personal finance.

In fact, it may be the only place. I still can't believe they teach health and the importance of physical fitness in the classroom while financial fitness is left whistling in the wind. It just doesn't matter how physically fit you are, the stress of being "poor" in North America will reduce you to rubble anyway.

So, what's with the coffee on wheels?

A pretty typical $10,000 car loan at 10% repaid over five years will cost you about $213/month or about $49/week or $7/day.

Personal Loan Calculator

In the US, a 24 oz. Espresso Frappuccino at Starbucks will cost you $6.61, after sales tax if you live in Washington D.C. and $6.44 if you live in Ottawa.

So, assuming you are among those that has to have their daily dose of caffeine at expensive sellers of caffeine, what do you get at the end of five years?

You might get coffee gut, or you might even meet the partner of your dreams at the local kiosk as you whiled away your day playing Sudoku. But you won't get ahead financially.

We live in a free society where people have the right to make personal choices, even bad ones.

But, if they asked their dad or grampa if they should buy Starbucks every day or replace their clunker, or invest in something, anything, for the same money, I'm pretty sure dad or grampa would say something like "Why don't you just make coffee at home and take it with you? And, make that coffee kiosk money work for you.


Almost $10,000 Indulgence after five years, or...

Yes, they are very yummy!

Yes, they are very yummy!

$10,000 Car and Common Sense

Old, but only 65,000 km! Should last a while.

Old, but only 65,000 km! Should last a while.

Grampas Aren't the Internet or Social Media

So, before you relegate your "old folks" to a home, even their own, and forget about them, here are a few things you should remember:

  1. they actually know how to add, subtract, multiply or divide on paper or in their head
  2. they actually know how to spell words and compose things without having to look it up or rely on some other aid or tool
  3. they may even know how to separate fact from fiction
  4. they know what questions to ask
  5. they know there is no such thing as good or bad luck forever, but they do know there are good and bad choices one can make forever
  6. And, they may not know how to build a nuclear weapon, but they will be able to tell you why you shouldn't

Give your old fart a big hug today!

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