Debt & Frugality

As Didi says in the novel (Findependence Day), “There’s no point climbing the Tower of Wealth when you’re still mired in the basement of debt.” If you owe credit-card debt still charging an usurous 20% per annum, forget about building wealth: focus on eliminating that debt. And once done, focus on paying off your mortgage. As Theo says in the novel, “The foundation of financial independence is a paid-for house.”

How to pass on Money values to your kids

By Matt Matheson

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

(Part 2)

When we had kids, both my wife and I discussed how to be intentional about teaching them about money. We’ve read books, articles, and looked at resources online.  We wanted to be sure that they knew what a healthy relationship with money looked like in the areas of faith, family, and work ethic. We wanted them to know what a truly wealthy life looks like.

Our plan to do this was to model handling our money responsibly. And we wanted to give them real-world opportunities where they could begin to make financial decisions on their own, at first in a supported environment, and later on, independently.

With our first child, our daughter Gemma who’s getting ready to turn 5, we’re in stage 1 of teaching her to be a wise manager of her money. She’s being supported, taught and encouraged to make good choices with her money. She’s also being given lots of opportunity to fail with money. Also known as non-catastrophic failure, it is an essential element to learning, and one many kids are being robbed of by overprotective parents.

So how are we doing it? By teaching her the basics of how to give, save and spend…in that order.


Gemma has been on commission for about four months and it’s been going quite well.  Every Saturday she gets paid $1.50 in six quarters. Some people may think that’s cheap, but I prefer frugal. 

My wife decorated three old loose tea containers with fancy wrapping paper and glitter letters to store her bounty.

The first thing we do when she gets paid is put 25₵ in the Give container. As people of faith, we tithe a percentage of our income to our local church and other charities.  We want to instill the value of generosity and gratitude in our children, and so before we’ve spent or saved, this money goes into the Give fund.

Recently, we went out and used her money (she has stockpiled $4) to buy some gifts for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. Before we went out I showed her a short video and we talked about how some kids don’t have much money, and how we can give to them.  It was awesome to see her picking out the items for the box and growing her giving muscles right before my eyes.


The next place money goes is to her Save container.  It gets three quarters, the most of any jar.  Before she’s touched any cash to spend, this “invisible money” disappears into her saving fund so she doesn’t even miss it.

We want to impress upon her the value of delaying gratification. We want her to experience the joy you get from passing on the temporary good feeling of spending now, for the amazing feeling of satisfaction and self-control you have when you buy something you’ve been saving up for.

Right now, she’s not saving for a car, university, or a down payment on a house.  We’re not that crazy.  She saves for larger purchases that she wants but can’t buy on impulse and that we’re not going to cave in and get her on a whim.

A Teachable Moment

A few weekends ago, she and I were hanging out and she let me know that she had seen a Spirit Riding Free toy that she wanted to buy. (For those who don’t know, it’s a Netflix show, which is pretty solid for little kids. Continue Reading…

Money lessons for my newly engaged daughter: She’s 4 years old

By Matt Matheson

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

My daughter is engaged.

Before you congratulate me, don’t.  I’m not happy.

It’s not that my prospective son-in-law is not a nice guy.  I mean, no one is ever good enough for your daughter, but he’s a solid kid.  Comes from a good family with good values.  I’m not totally sure what he wants to do with his life, but who among us knew exactly what we wanted to do when we were that age?

She says they’re best friends, and that’s definitely important.  I know every father who marries off a daughter probably feels this way when things get serious between his “little girl” and some new kid on the block, but they just seem so young.

They’re 4.

No Laughing Matter

That’s right. friends, last week my daughter announced she was getting married … at 4.

I know I should laugh and think it’s cute, but it actually kind of touched a nerve for me.  I mean, she’s only 4 and I know, Lord willing, that I’ve got a lot of years left with her before she strikes out on her own. But it made me realize that I don’t have as much time as I thought. It made me think that the time I do have, I need to be using wisely with her.

When we had our first child, I was chatting about parenting with a friend of mine who had kids in their teens.  He said that almost all the teaching and parenting he had done happened before 5. After that, he said, your job was to support and encourage your children.

I’m not sure I totally agree with him on that, but I will say that most of the impact you have on your kids will happen when they are young. That is, without question, true.

Big Dreams

As my wife was relaying to me the particulars of how I would be in the Guinness Book of Records for having the youngest child ever married and I was calculating the cost of the wedding, she told me a few things that stood out as far as the impact we’ve had on our daughter.

First, she is her mother’s daughter in so many ways.

Just like my wife, G knows exactly what she wants.  Apparently, she and the new fiancé have already discussed getting a dog and a cat.  They’ve decided on sleeping arrangements which include a bunk bed. She wants three kids and a house that is “a little bit cool.” And they want a van, because of the sliding doors.

For me, this all seems a bit strange.  Not the bunk beds — that makes total sense to me if I think like a 4-year-old — but just the level of dreaming she has done.  We’ve taught her, somehow, to dream about her future.  I’m not sure exactly how we accomplished this. My wife and I talk about our future plans a lot, what our hopes and dreams are, and maybe that has rubbed off on her.

I’m glad she has dreams. I know they’ll change (I hope the cat never materializes) but I’m glad she feels safe to dream.  I want to make sure she never loses that, and to encourage her to think big and not limit her expectations of what life offers.

A Wealthy Life

Second, this conversation reinforced that what we are teaching her about money is sinking in.

As she and her new flame were discussing what they were going to spend their money on, he remarked that he was going to spend all the money on “popcorn and candy.” My daughter asked matter of factly, “Why do you want to spend all your money on that? You’re not spending MY money.” Continue Reading…

Financial Resolutions to stick to in 2018

By Jamie Wharton

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

The new year is a perfect time to set goals for yourself to help keep your finances in check. It’s not too late to make a few resolutions to get your finances in order, so start your 2018 off on the right foot!

Cut down on needless expenses

An easy way to save money in the new year is to stop spending cash on things you don’t need. Cut out that daily run to your favorite coffee shop and make your own coffee before you leave for work. Do you get your nails done every two weeks? Make your salon trip exclusive for special occasions instead. Unnecessary spending habits can be broken, so cut costs where you can.

Tackle your debt

Make it a point to get your debt under control this year. If you can afford it, start paying more than the minimum required payment and pay off any interest you’ve accrued over the years. A majority of debt comes from student loans, so check out your options for refinancing. Earnest is a great option for student loan refinancing! The sooner you make a plan for repaying your debt, the better.

Set short-term goals

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by setting a huge goal you know you can’t reach. Continue Reading…

Blue Monday: Here’s what gives us the financial blues on this saddest day of the year

Feeling the financial blues a bit today? Little wonder because today, Monday, Jan. 15th, is Blue Monday, dubbed the saddest (most depressing?) day of the year.
 Call me a masochist but I also decided this was the day to download the 2017 online version of TurboTax and at least confront the looming reality of preparing another year’s tax returns. The program said it can be used to print and file your 2017 tax return by mid-January, and that NetFile will be available as of 6 am on February  26th. How depressing is that a mere two weeks after the holidays?

But if the thought of filing your taxes doesn’t make you blue, or even the snow that’s falling as I write this, maybe the thought of credit-card bills from the holidays will do the trick. Credit Canada and the Financial Planning Standards Council today released the results of  a Blue Monday themed Financial Blues survey that revealed that 53% of Canadians are “already feeling financially blue, with the younger generations struggling.”

The Financial Blues Survey was based on a Leger poll that asked Canadians “when it comes to your finances, what makes you blue this time of year?”

Well, bowl me over with a feather: the start of another tax season didn’t make the cut in the poll, or at least the top five “standout” findings. Here’s the top candidates for feeling blue in January:

  • 20% of us have a credit-card balance larger than our savings accounts
  • Younger adults aged 18 to 44 are especially blue about finances right now: 68% of them versus just 41% for adults aged 45 or older
  • 25% of us lack the funds to take a winter vacation in the sun
  • 6% have already broken their financial new year’s resolutions
  • 21% over-spent during the Holidays

Credit Canada CEO Laurie Campbell  says that while “we are seeing a good deal of Canadians stressed out about their financial situation … the takeaway message is that there is hope. Develop a plan, tackle debt, and realize your financial potential. There are professional resources available to you, so don’t feel you need to go it alone.” Continue Reading…

January is a great time for these 4 financial planning action items

January rings in the New Year, a sign of optimism, and the annual promise of something new: adopting resolutions, setting goals and looking ahead. It’s also a time to reflect on the previous year. Making resolutions is common for many, but less than 40% will actually achieve what they set out to do.

Nevertheless, for those looking for improvement in their financial health, here are some good habits to follow at the beginning of each year.

January is a good month to…

1. ) Calculate your net worth

You know how to do this. Total up all your wealth building assets – home, investments – subtract your debts – mortgage, credit cards, car loan, and voila – the resulting total is your net worth, or in other words, the current picture of your financial standing.

There are lots of online calculators that help you do this, but don’t stop there. Redo the calculation at least once a year. Create your own spreadsheet so you can compare several years. It will help you see if you’re moving in the right direction. Otherwise, how can you know if you’re getting ahead?

Also read: Your financial plan is a compass

Focus on what you can do to improve your finances, and if you find yourself getting off track, do some course corrections and carry on.

2.) Revisit your goals

January is also a good time to review your goals. If you have a spouse or partner, set aside some quiet time this month to have the money talk. Have an honest discussion about your short-term and long-term goals and check to see whether you are still on track to meet them.

Or, maybe your situation or priorities have changed, and you need to reassess. If something is not working, go back and modify. Since you can’t know what the future holds for you, a period of five years is a manageable target.

Also read: Create your own financial plan with these eight steps

Map out a few steps for the current year that will see you heading towards a better financial situation. Continue Reading…