Category Archives: Blog

Yes, Tipping Is Way Out Of Control

Like most of us, I’ve been hearing the reports of “attempted tipping” in the weirdest places and the pushback that’s now started. But until yesterday, I hadn’t really experienced it in person until my oil change. The terminal prompt to pay for it was pre-loaded with a new page of tips and tip suggestions: 20% 25% or 30%. WHAT? You want me to tip for an oil change? It’s a good thing I saw a tiny “skip” button at the bottom so I didn’t actually say anything or lose my mind.

According to Bankrate, 30% of us now think tipping is out of control and two-thirds of respondents have a negative view of tipping. No wonder when it’s pre-programmed everywhere and in your face in the weirded and (in my opinion) totally inappropriate places.

Two years ago we talked about tipping your flight attendant for selling you an overpriced snack or drink, but that was just the beginning. I recently heard someone say it was pre-prompted at a self-serve kiosk at the airport and another person was prompted for it at their drycleaner.

As a result, according to Bankrate, we now tip less and a lower amount. But tons of people still do. I have never, and would never, use a food delivery service, but 50% of people tip. Even Starbucks says that half their customers do tip (I don’t understand I don’t understand…) when paying by credit or debit card.

Broke People Can’t Stimulate the Economy

At the risk of stating the obvious: Broke people can’t help stimulate the economy. Just ask the U.S. what 2008 to 2011 was like. When both Canada and the U.S. have about 75% of the economic activity being consumer spending – when you and I cut down our spending, there’s trouble.

While we may avoid a recession, our consumer spending is going to slow down. Lots of people are still using COVID savings, but credit card debt is rising and every year millions of people are needing to get or renew a mortgage at rates of four to five percent higher and inflation has made almost everything a whole lot more expensive. That has to create a slowdown of some kind, in some ways, at some point in time. Less consumer spending leads to less retail sales, less manufacturing and less economic activity everywhere. The next wave is less hiring or layoffs, and the vicious cycle escalates.

But it’s not your job to stimulate the economy with borrowed money. That’s a financial suicidal pyramid scheme. At some point, you’re out of money, out of room on your credit card, and can barely pay the payments  you already have. But that’s what the government needs you to do in order to keep the economy growing. So, on the one hand they’re tightening up mortgage rules to cool down the market and warning that our debt to income ratio is over 160%. On the other hand, they really need us to keep spending so the economy picks up. Yup, it’s a vicious cycle with totally mixed messages: On the one hand they kept lowering interest rates to make borrowing easier and cheaper, on the other hand they hit the brakes with more mortgage restrictions to not overheat the housing market.

I talked to a lady last week that was really concerned that her husband’s hours would be cut back. They really need to keep earning their $70,000 family income or they’re in real trouble. In other words, they’re buried in debt from previously helping out the economy so much. Now they’re out of the spending business because they “need” every dollar of earnings to just keep their head above water. And that story applies to millions of Canadians. It was fun while it lasted – but they’re now in the middle of one giant hangover.

For teenagers, the number one favourite activity is going to the mall. Teenagers help the economy. They’ll spend $10 or maybe even fifty bucks. But when they’re out of money – they’re out of money. They don’t have access to credit cards. While teenagers are a big part of economic activity, it’s all with real money and not borrowed funds.

That’s why tons of teenagers are richer than their parents. Sure, the parents have a lot more money each payday. But within 48 hours, that’s all spent and gone…and then some… on credit cards or lines of credit. Teenagers don’t have that curse or opportunity.

I’m all in favour of helping the economy – right after you help yourself and get to be debt free. Then you’re contributing to the economy with real money!

Would You Like Me to Just Send You $1000 a Month?


Whenever I get emails from people asking for feedback or help with a financial mess, I’m more than glad to help. No, I don’t charge for it. I believe God gave me a purpose and passion and it’s called paying it forward.

But at some point, most people are really not interested in doing much (or any) heavy lifting. And I can’t fight harder for them than they’re prepared to fight for themselves. That was confirmed again by the last BMO Savings Survey. 30% of people want to save more but do not want to change their spending habits. Sorry: You can’t get there from here – it can’t happen.

The emails have a pretty consistent theme: Someone is spending more than they’re earning and they’re in pretty deep debt. I’m not in the middle of their mess, so it’s easier to see the fixes that’ll turn things around. Here are some of them that will sound so obvious, but they’re anything but when you’re in the middle of it:

No, you can’t send your two kids to private school when your income is $45,000. You can’t afford it. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you a great and responsible parent who can do 5th grade math.

You have a cell bill of $140 a month. That’s insane. It wasn’t that long ago you managed to live without a cell. Now anything but a full unlimited plan is  a necessity that you can’t do without? Mine is $39 with data.

Sell your car and get out from under the $1,100 car payments. They’re killing you. Drive a $3,000 used, reliable car that you buy for cash until your debts are paid. When you can afford it, you can turn right around and get an idiotic $1,100 car payment again if the debt-free thing doesn’t work for you. But you won’t do with, giving me two or three totally bogus reasons…actually…excuses why you love that $1,100 payment more than you’d love saving the same $13,200 a year.

You say you need to keep $4,000 in your savings account at half a percent while paying 22% on your credit card. Keep $1,000 as a starter emergency account; pay the rest on your credit cards today!

You don’t know the interest rate on your credit card and only know that you’re paying minimum payments of around $200 a month while charging about $800 or more. So you’re going further in the hole each month and tell me you have to have your credit card. Yes, you do. Because you’re so far in debt, that’s your only way to buy groceries and gas right now.

That’s just some of the very common ones. So what exactly do you want help with? You won’t downgrade your car, your cell phone, switch to an 11% credit card instead of 22%, or stop your credit card addiction. News flash: I’m out of ideas to help you. The only other thing left is for me to send you $1,000 a month. Is that why you got in touch with me? That’s not being rude, it’s caring enough to be honest, and seeing the reality of your income and expenses. Numbers don’t lie.

You don’t have a money problem as much as a spending, thinking, planning and discipline problem. You want your toys, gadgets, and vehicle more than you want financial freedom and becoming really wealthy.

Costco Under Attack – But Why?

Media stories, lead by the toxic wasteland of social media, have hammered Costco for the last month or so – for no valid reason.

Costco is, and always has been, a membership-required store. Anyone without a membership can go with someone who has one and shop. But no membership – no shopping. Seems pretty simple. However, when Costco implemented some self checkout machines, the non-members shopping there rose drastically. After all, there isn’t a cashier checking the picture on the membership. So Costco has implemented some random check at the self-serve lanes and that’s what set off social media. When that happened, TV, radio and others weren’t far behind – for no reason other than to amplify the stupidity of social media.

So, at the risk of stating the obvious, I’ll explain it again…to people who aren’t actually going to read this – or care about logic: I paid for a Costco membership – as did millions of others. THAT is what lets me shop there. No, you can’t take someone else’s and shop there. You can’t take someone’s pink card and think it’ll cover the insurance on your car. You can’t use someone’s membership and show up at a private golf course, or a friend’s drivers license and somehow think you’re good to drive with that. You may not believe this, but people pay for things in order to have, access or use them.

Go get a membership if you really want to shop at Costco. It’s not expensive or hard to obtain. Until then, let me see if you’re going to complain about any of the other examples (and hundreds more) I’ve listed or shut up about the stupidity of your social media campaign.

Definition Of Financial Success?

A couple is in bed with the husband closing up his laptop: I just paid the mortgage, the car loan and the electrical bill! Look at the balance in the checking account (he says proudly): 74 cents!!

Love it. Sadly, I wrote down the quote but not the movie I was watching. While the writers thought it was funny it made me think of how many people can’t actually accomplish that without an overdraft or some of their bills going on a credit card…

Airline Ticket Vouchers Question

In the time of Covid when the world was off its axis and not rotating, airlines issued millions upon millions of dollars in voucher credits to tens of thousands of travelers.

Yes, a lot of us complained that we should have been refunded, but the airlines fought that like crazy. After all, a credit means you have to fly their airline at some point or forfeit the credit. Yes, politicians talked about it a lot and promised (or did) hold “hearings.” That’s the cod word for: We understand a lot of you are mad and this makes it look like we’re going to do something. We’re not really going to be able to – but it’ll get you to think we’re on it…

These IOUs come with a voucher number and, with most airlines, a PIN number to be able to use them. One of mine was from Air Canada. My bad in that I had forgotten the voucher email for the $244 was separate from an email with the PIN number. Thus, I printed the voucher, checked the amount and then (and now) deleted the junk emails from them. Well, it turns out that I deleted the separate PIN number email.

On October 20th, 2022 I started my part-time work contacting Air Canada to get the PIN replaced. This week (8 1/2 months later) I finally received a replacement.

Almost NINE months of written attempts (to have all the backup documents)! It makes me wonder how many thousands of people with the missing voucher and/or PIN, or an incorrect amount from dozens of airlines don’t spend the (about 30) hours to get their credit in a usable format.

And THAT is why airlines fought like crazy to avoid actual refunds on our credit cards….

Manufacturers Want Your Dashboard Back!

In the next two years, every vehicle manufacturer is going to find one (or two) ways to get back their dashboard display.

The displays have gone from simple to complex computers in the last ten years or so. These days, they’re Bluetooth, backup cameras, all kinds of displays, radio, syncing and much more. At the same time, more electric vehicles mean less income for car dealers since these vehicles don’t need oil changes and the likes.

This is the way all manufacturers have to increase their revenues – a lot! It’s not just going to be an additional charge because that’s one-time revenue source. It’ll be a monthly subscription that will be revenue streams for life. Great for them – horrible for vehicle owners and buyers.

Different manufacturers will get there in different ways: Some will charge to have the display functioning at all. One is working on having the Bluetooth function only work with an active subscription while another is going to have it triggered to keep the air conditioning working. That one is particularly nasty – but will, of course, be really effective.

Years ago, many included Sirius radio for a six or 12-month trial. However, the renewal for pay subscriptions were extremely small. This time, they will control the process and it’ll all be their revenue. It’ll be under the guise of “updates” to keep things functioning. No, you really don’t need an “update” to keep your Bluetooth interface working or your AC to run. But that’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

Oh, and if you’re a fan of AM radio, there’s a good chance that’ll stop being included in your stereo a year or two from now. It’s already “missing” in a lot of electric vehicle models.

FTC Sues Amazon Over Prime

After a two year investigation, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is suing Amazon for deceptive sales practices of their Prime program and the hurdles to cancel.

While Amazon denies the allegations, the FTC claims Amazon has all kinds of little tricks and hidden consent to get people to sign up for Prime. They also make it difficult to complete a purchase without Prime, and hide the consent in purchases without disclosing the sign up is actually for a monthly recurring subscription.

After that, the hurdles continue when wanting to unsubscribe. Internal memos, discovered by the FTC, show the company calls it “Iliad” after Homer’s poem about the Trojan War. The process is all about discouraging people from cancelling without a lot of hurdles, hassles and hard to find places on their site.

This follows on the heals of an FTC settlement with Amazon over privacy “lapses” with Alexa and Ring. The fine was $30 million with Amazon “disagreeing” with the claims, but settling to resolve the matter. That amount of the fine is literally the equivalent of a one dollar speeding ticket in the revenues of the company. I disagree in that this matter should never have been settled but pursued. I have no idea why anyone would pay to purchase an Alexa or Ring doorbell that have a long long track record of spying on the purchaser. Sure, we keep telling pollsters that our privacy matters – then to a lot of things to insure we lose it – VOLUNTARILY! No thanks.

RBC Fraudster Attempts Heads Up:

Typically, frauders call in an attempt to talk to you. They don’t leave a message because they want to actually reach you in order to scam you.

However, a new one just surfaced. It’s an actually recorded message left on your voicemail. There was a charge of $120 something declined on your RBC credit card. Your account has been blocked, please call us at 1-800-283…..

It’s fraud! Not on your credit card, but the call, message and scam! It’s a wave of RBC calls right now and it’ll be other issuers down the road.

If you don’t have an RBC credit card, you’d obviously know that. However, I do. You will immediately know it’s a scam when the phone number they leave is NOT the one on the back of your credit card. Any card issuer will leave only THAT number for you to call – period.

If you want to double check it further, call the number on the back of your card or log into your account. Both ways will verify for you that your account is just fine.

Yes, 100% of all scams can easily be prevented. Use some common sense and double check. No, your grand daughter has not been kidnapped or is stuck somewhere and needs money. No, your already ‘friend’ on social media has not set up a second account. No, your card isn’t blocked if the message doesn’t have the main customer service number on the back of your card. No, your bank isn’t calling you to ‘test’ your account and nobody from nowhere legit is calling you to get your personal information verified or your card PIN number! Ever ever.

Freemium Is Coming to An End

The business model of free tech apps for your phone or other device is quickly ending. Those are all the apps that you can download for free with basic features and the option (and constant push) to upgrade to the paid version. It avoided having to do advertising by getting you the free app in return for continuous pitches to upgrade.

That model has been around for 20 years, but it’s over as investors are pushing the companies to generate some serious revenue. At that point the app will stop working unless you supply your credit card to either buy the full app, or pay a monthly subscription.

Some great health apps recently gave one day notice to upgrade or lose it. Sure enough, the following day the app stopped working. Mailchimp has severely reduced their free app content, Zoom has vastly restricted use, Amazon did the same thing already, Peacock stopping their free streaming version, and a ton of others.

I’ve had it happen on four apps already. One I did spend the $24.00 to purchase it as I would NEVER pay for a subscription – ever. The other three I’ve had to say good-bye to.

This actually started with a security camera company last year: Buy our cameras and you’ll have free lifetime license for the software. Well, one day the app stopped working and they were holding their customers hostage. In that case, they reversed the decision because the “free for life” was in their terms of service. In other words, they were stuck, or were going to be exposed to lawsuits. That’s not the case for most others. Terms of service aren’t geared to be to your benefit.

An entire generation of people who grew up with their phone are getting a rapid reality check and shock. They’ve never experienced having to pay for these apps. That’s quite a rude awakening and the tech companies are hoping they’ll just step up and pay.

So with streaming services subscriptions and the cell bill, add a bunch of app charges and it’s not too hard to imagine vast numbers of people having 12 to 15 monthly charges on their credit card leaking a lot of money out of their wallet.