You owe me!! (Not the brightest thing to say.)

Have you ever had someone say “You owe me!”?  I have to say that’s not the brightest comment to make.



man-carrying-boxCharitable actions require no acknowledgement or they are not truly charitable.  For example, you notice someone struggling at work and offer to assist them.  They accept your offer but don’t say thank you.  Yes, it’s rude but to come back to them and say “You owe me one” is worse.  What appeared to be charitable on your part actually had a price.  That’s not charitable.

I appreciated your help but forgot my manners.  When people are under great stress like someone struggling with losing a child, that can happen.  When my son was fighting cancer, neighbours brought food and helped in various ways.  I don’t remember if I said thank you for everything.  I like to think I did but there is no way I could guarantee that.  Do I owe you?  Yes.   Should you expect anything?  NO!!

I don’t know about you but when I hear “you owe me”, my back goes straight up.  If I had known there was a cost, I may have declined your offer.  When you expect something in return, it’s no longer a gift.  You’re fishing for something from me and I’m not sure if I’m willing to pay your price.



When I share ideas or offer assistance, I have no expectations.  I do have hope.


It’s my hope that:

  • I can provide a bright spot in your day to help put a smile on your face.
  • I can share resources and ideas that you can use to find whatever success means for you.
  • I may lead you to something that may improve your circumstances.
  • I may lighten your load so that you can focus on the important things in life.
  • You find it in your heart to #payitforward

I’ll be honest.  My giving is selfish.  I take pleasure in helping others find peace with themselves and finding their success.  It’s up to them to decide what that is.  When I see others achieve personal growth through something or someone I introduced them to, there is a sense of satisfaction for me.  Thank you is a great way to acknowledge the actions but not necessary.  I got what I wanted when you achieved your goal.

If you ever hear me use the words “you owe me”, please stomp on my foot or something!  It’s rude, ignorant and destroys trust.  Not really a great way to earn loyalty.


Make it a great day!


P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful for all the people who have provided assistance or moral support throughout my life.  I’m thankful for the people that have allowed me to help when I can.  I’m thankful for every opportunity God gives me for personal growth.

What are you thankful for today?

What is a coffee worth?

Many of us take a cup of “Timmy’s” coffee for granted. On the way to and from work. Maybe even one during the day.

Have you ever thought about the cost? Do you think it would be reasonable to expect to afford a “Timmy’s” a day when you retire?

When I first became a financial consultant, I needed to devise my own story about the importance of saving. The story needed to be something that most people could relate to. Thinking about how my father-in-law met his wife at Tim Horton’s, I realized that many of us likely buy at least a cup of coffee a day. Or more. This is often referred to as “The Latte Factor”. Try tracking every coffee or drink purchase for a month and see what that adds up to for you!

Coffee in retirement.

latteWhat is your latte factor?

In order to afford a cup of coffe a day when you retire, how much do you need to save? The calculations below don’t factor inflation and assumes a rate of return on investments of 8%. That would be considered an aggressive rate of return with no allowance for the expected coffee price increases.


You would need to have approximately $6,000 saved by age 65 to pay for a cup of coffee a day until the age of 92.

Now, let’s back up a bit. How much do you need save per month in order to have that money for a cup of coffee a day? If you start at age 45, you need to save approximately $11/month until age 65 just to pay for a small Tim’s a day.

Do you suffer from The Latte Factor? Will you be able to afford to buy a coffee a day when you retire? Use the links above to calculate your numbers!

This is the time of year we are starting to think about doing our income tax returns. You might want to think about getting together with your financial advisor to think about building a plan to include your latte factor. You are working hard and deserve that coffee a day!

Make it a great day,


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for financial advisors. I’m thankful for a job that allows me enough to afford a coffee a day. I’m thankful for Tim Horton’s!

What are you thankful for today?


Toronto Commutes. What does it cost?

What does it cost to work in Toronto? The Toronto commute is a rough ride. Fasten your seatbelt for this one!

These days, it’s hard to make a living wage outside of the GTA. With the very rare exception, the only options are to live a pauper’s life or commute.

Estimating the cost of the actual physical effects of commuting are difficult but as a father, I can’t imagine having done this when my kids were younger. I don’t get home until at least 7 most nights and my kids were in bed at 7:30. That’s divorce material.

Imagine only having two hours a night at home to do anything. By the time you have dinner and clear the drive in the winter, there’s not exactly a lot of energy left for spouse and children let alone time for yourself.

Then there’s the financial cost. We can measure that one.

DRIVING (Using Barrie to Toronto as the example.)

401 CommuteLet’s assume you have a reasonably economical car. What is the monthly cost to drive? The time from North Barrie to Queen’s Park can vary from 1 hour and 20 minutes to over 2 hours.

Gas (20 days @ $15 round trip) $300.00

Parking (20 days @ $10/day – good luck with finding that!) 200.00

Maintenance (Conservative estimate: $2,000/year) 165.00

Ammortization or lease 200.00

Monthly cost to drive $865.00

When you drive, you have to stay awake and assume all the responsibility for your vehicle. That means the loss of about four hours a day that can be used for a combination of productivity and/or sleep. There is an increased cost for insurance, which I didn’t even include. That effectively increases the financial cost of driving to over $1,000 per month.

There is no tax deductibility for any travel by car.

GO TRANSIT (Using Barrie to Toronto as the example.)

There are two stations in Barrie. I have used the northern most station for pricing. Scheduled run time is 1 hour, 55 minutes from Barrie North to Union Station. Add another 10-20 minutes for the TTC ride back to Queen’s Park.

GO_Transit_609-aGo Presto Pass for 20 round trips $403.25

TTC Pass (Get back to Queen’s Park) 133.75

Total Go Transit $537.00

Hard, upright and stationary seats. Brightly lit and noisy, although I hear they have the top level designated as a quiet zone now. Generally uncomfortable.

Monthly passes are tax deductible provided you keep all the receipts. CRA will ask.

GREYHOUND (Using Barrie to Toronto as the example.)

Greyhound-compressedThe Greyhound starts from the downtown Barrie terminal and makes one stop before leaving the city (Anne St. & Dunlop St.) before continuing directly to Yorkdale. From there it makes a few stops along University Avenue and ends up downtown. I get off at University and College where I walk a little over a block. The bus will stop at Eglington, St. Clair, Bloor or Wellesley if that works better for you. Travel time is 1 hour and 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on weather and traffic. The good drivers will go around highway issues where possible.

30 Day pass, unlimited travel. $328.03

Total Greyhound Cost $328.03

Having commuted the last four years on the Greyhound, I have learned to sleep on the bus. As a result, this means I can take a little more time for a bit of a personal life during the week!



Choosing to drive will give you more flexibility on your timing. There is a cost though, it doesn’t make any sense to leave during rush hour because you will spend the same time on the road anyway. This leads to a sore back and ongoing anger issues!

Using the Go Train ties you to their schedule which, in some cases, is a little better than the Greyhound. The train actually takes a little longer but has marginally better departure times from Toronto on the homeward trip. The seats are very uncomfortable and the lighting makes it more difficult to snooze. You are literally sitting knee to knee with the person across from you. I’m just not that friendly! Even the train is susceptible to weather. The tracks have been known to freeze from time to time and trains break down just like any other vehicle.

Greyhound has limited runs compared to GO. Buses are an ageing fleet and drivers are not consistent. I have to say, the Barrie drivers that were originally with Northland are by far the best. Seats are far more comfortable and recline. Lights are turned off and there is an expectation that all devices are using headphones and people are keeping discussion to a bare minimum.



Greyhound is by far the most economical choice. The ride is more comfortable and by choosing to sleep on the bus, I recover some personal time. I don’t have to change modes of transportation (other than driving to and from my parking daily parking spot in Barrie) or worry about maintenance, gas, insurance and all the rest that goes with maintaining a vehicle for commuting.

Hands down, Greyhound is the best option!


Thinking out loud…

We need to do something to make it viable for Greyhound to continue these rural routes. I realize Barrie has the GO Train as an option but it’s not a good one and it’s too expensive. Greyhound is letting go of more and more rural routes because GO is “eating their lunch”.

Oh, and the GO Bus? It’s a “milk run” and makes far too many stops. I remember taking the GO Bus to Hamilton with two kids about twenty years ago. That cost me $60 back then and it took me five and a half hours. I’m pretty sure it was over two and half hours just to Toronto. You can bet I never did that again!


Make it a great day!


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for the opportunities in Toronto. I’m thankful Greyhound can get me there. I’m thankful for the wonderful drivers that risk their lives for us every day.

What are you thankful for today?

The end is just the beginning. Happy New Year!

happy_end_of_old_year__2013The end.

New Year’s Eve marks the end of the year.  What does that mean for you?

The answer is different for everyone depending on the lens you are looking through at the time.  A lot has happened over the last 365 days.  For some, there may have been tragedy that made the year difficult.



  • Loss of a loved one.
  • Career change or job loss.
  • Financial disaster

You may or may not have had control that would have changed the outcome.  There is nothing you can do about that now.  What you do have control over is how you choose to react.  Just remember, you made it through and you’re here to go forward.  Celebrate that!

Alternatively, you may be ending what seems to be the most wonderful year of your life.

  • Started your first full time job in your chosen career.
  • Got a new pet or started a new family.
  • Had the most amazing experience visiting a new place.

Whether the year was good or bad may well depend on how you choose to look at it.  It’s like reading a chapter of a book.  If you learned from it, there was a benefit.  If you didn’t learn anything, you just wasted time you’ll never get back, never mind the money you wasted in the process.


happy-new-year-2014The Beginning!

New Year’s Eve brings hope for new beginnings.

This is the time of year you can make bold changes and people will celebrate those changes with you.  (Ok, maybe the crabs won’t!)  Most are reviewing the past year with every intention of making change so there is no surprise when you do the same.




What are  your plans for this year?

  • Education?
  • Career Change?
  • Creating a financial plan?
  • Creating a master to-do list?

2013 is ending and 2014 brings the opportunity to start something new.  Are you up to the task?


Year in review.

One year is like a snapshot of life.  It will start and it will end.  There is no stopping time.  Make every moment count.  You can lose and make money over and over again but you can’t buy more time.

I hope you enjoyed the great moments in 2013.  Whatever challenges you faced, I hope you find the strength to learn from them and move forward with a mind open to the opportunities that the new year brings.  Happy New Year!


Make it a great day,


P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful for every breath I take.  I’m thankful for the time I had with my son.  I’m thankful for the opportunity a new year brings.

What are you thankful for today?

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Should you say Merry Christmas or something else?



DiwaliDon’t you find the phrase “Happy Holidays” to be rather generic and non committal? That’s a logical phrase and doesn’t come from the heart. It didn’t have any significance for me and you felt that.

When you have a strong belief, there should be no fear of professing that. If a Jewish person wishes me Happy Hanukkah, I really appreciate that. If someone who is Hindu wishes me Happy Diwali, that would warm my heart.



I want heartfelt wishes. I have no interest in platitudes.



ChristmasTree2013-2Wishing you Merry Christmas by no means indicates that I don’t respect you or your faith. I absolutely respect both. To be honest, your taking offense would be offensive to me. The reality is that Diwali and Hannukah mean nothing to me personally so I can’t give you a heartfelt wish using those words.

As a Christian, this is a time we recognize the birth of Jesus Christ. This is a time for family, friends and is a celebration of life. When I wish someone a Merry Christmas, that means I offer the warmest wishes that I know how. That comes from the heart.

So, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



Make it a great day,


What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for all my friends and family. I’m thankful for my faith. I’m thankful for tolerance.

What are you thankful for today?