The Online Subscription Trap - And How to Avoid It

budgeting tips & tricks Feb 08, 2021

In the 21st century, in the developed world, online subscriptions are ubiquitous. The average person might have ten or more online subscriptions of various types. Here are just a few examples:

  • Online games, especially MMORPGs ("Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games")
  • Zoom, GoToMeeting or other videoconferencing software
  • Non-native calendar and/or planning software
  • Tax preparation software
  • Netflix, CBS All Access, Hulu and other video streaming services
  • Spotify, Apple Music, and other audio streaming services
  • Newspaper or magazine subscriptions
  • Cell phone plans
  • Workout apps such as Peloton, Strava, etc.
  • Meal planning software
  • Learning platforms like Masterclass, LinkedIn Learning, etc.

The shift to paying by annual subscription for services like these, in most cases, actually makes sense. It provides the developers with a steady stream of income that they can rely on, making investments in improvements and in new product offerings less risky. This in turn can result in a...

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My one, cardinal rule for investing

coaching investing Feb 01, 2021

I am not an investment advisor. 

Let's just get that out of the way at the outset, because I don't want anyone to think I can (or will) tell them which investment vehicles to use to make their money grow.

I can, however, tell you where NOT to put your money.

Almost any investment can be good, given the right circumstances.

But here's the one investment that's NEVER wise:

The investment you don't fully understand.

This is my one, cardinal rule when it comes to putting money aside for the future: never get into an investment if you don't 100% understand how it works. 

I got to thinking about this over the past week, with all the excitement around  GameStop and the hedge funds being hoisted by their own petard. If you're not familiar with the story, check out this excellent article that explains what happened in layman's terms.

A lot of people who know little to nothing about shorting stock, or stock market investing in general, have jumped on the bandwagon that's...

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Less expensive isn't always better

shopping value Jan 25, 2021

When we are watching our pennies, as many of us are in these days of COVID-19, your default position tends to be, go for the least expensive option, always.

For many of our daily needs, that's an excellent strategy. Buying in bulk, shopping the sales, clipping coupons...these are all good ideas, as a general rule. 

But when we are so focused on price, we sometimes tend to forget about the other side of the equation: value

Value, in this context, refers to things like quality of workmanship, source, warranty, and after-sales service. Generally speaking, the less expensive an item is, the lower its overall value. 

Sometimes, this might not matter to us. We might choose to buy an inexpensive piece of clothing, knowing that it will likely not hold up under repeated laundering for more than a year or so. If we already have several shirts, buying another one of low quality at a low price point, because it's in a fun print or is cut in a funky...

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Why every woman needs a credit history

Most women of my generation (Gen-X) and younger have at least a minimal credit history. Credit card companies love to extend credit to university and college students of both genders (start 'em young!).

You might be surprised, but I actually think this is a good thing. With a relatively small credit limit, students can learn the ropes of how to manage a revolving credit line, and prove to the banks that they are responsible with their money. (Yes, I know some don't learn the lesson and go overboard on spending - that's a topic for another day).

Unfortunately, there are still a sizeable number of older women (Boomers, for example), whose credit history is entirely intertwined with their male spouse. As recently as the 1970s, many banks would refuse to issue a credit card to a woman without her husband's signature.

Believe it or not, when I got married in 1996, and wanted to open a joint account with my husband, at first they only ran a credit check on him, and when they...

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Taking Charge of Your Financial Life

Every year at this time, I like to take a step back, and do an audit of sorts on my financial activities for the year gone by. 

This is something everyone should do at least once per year. It doesn't have to be in December - you could be reading this article at any time of year, and there's no time like the present.

The only requirement is to set aside enough time so that you can properly assess everything. A regular two-day weekend can be sufficient. It's tempting to skim past the uncomfortable parts of this process, but that's where the most important lessons lie. If you don't allow enough time to work through this process, you won't get the full benefit from it.

Here's the simple, three-step process that I follow each year; I hope you find it as helpful as I do!

1. Compile a list of the major financial decisions you made this year. 

Did you make any major purchases, such as a house, a car or other large asset? Or did you sell any of these large assets?...

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A New Community - You're Invited!

You probably noticed that I didn't post last week. 

There's a good reason for that - I've been cooking up something special for my audience. 

I wanted to create a space where people can connect with others like them, who are looking for answers about managing their money, and where they can feel safe asking the questions they might be embarrassed to ask in an open forum.

When it comes to money, there really is no shame in not knowing something; it's a complicated subject! 

But plenty of people are still shy about admitting that they have questions. 

Whether you are an employee contemplating making the move to running your own business, a single mom trying to make each dollar go a bit further, or someone who's afraid they'll never be able to retire because of the debt load they're carrying, my goal is that the Money. Demystified. community will be a great resource for you.

Just click the link below to apply for membership in the group. You'll be asked a few...

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How to Finish the Year with No (Financial) Regrets

coaching money mindset Nov 30, 2020

'Tis the season for spending.

It's easy to get swept up in all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday excitement, and spend money you might later regret spending.

We've all done it - but that's cold comfort when you're staring at your credit card bill in January. 

Here's a bit of advice from someone who's been there, learned a valuable lesson and mended her ways. 

I hope you'll take it to heart.


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How to Avoid Getting Sucked Into the Black Friday Black Hole

coaching money mindset Nov 23, 2020

Black Friday.

It’s a great day for retailers – it marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and theoretically the day their bottom line turns from red (representing a net loss) to black (representing a profit). Yes, it’s true – most retail businesses only break even and begin to turn a profit in the last two months of the year. They depend on consumers to go on a spending frenzy in those last 34 or so days in order to balance their books.

Their advertising will try to convince you that it’s also a great day for you, the consumer, with sales galore and deals unparalleled at any other time of the year. But the truth is, for many people, it’s quite the opposite. Black Friday brings out the worst in many of us, both in terms of our social behaviour and our spending habits. (And for the purpose of this discussion, I’m including Cyber Monday as well).

At this time of year, we are bombarded with flyers, radio and television ads, not to...

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How to Stop Shopping on Impulse

coaching money mindset Nov 16, 2020

“I need that!”

How often have you found yourself saying this, or some variation of it, when you see some gadget, appliance or toy for the first time, whether it be in your neighbour’s kitchen, on TV or on social media?

But we don’t really mean that we need that item. What we mean is that we want it. Sometimes we are willing to admit this, and we’re using the expression in a joking way. But sometimes, we end up convincing ourselves that it is an essential purchase.

I decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to start drinking celery juice every day, for health reasons (I know – don’t ask). I quickly discovered that making celery juice with a regular blender is a major pain. Suddenly, I needed a juicer. Guess what? That appliance has been sitting on a shelf for the past year, unused, and I’m now looking to sell it. (If you know anyone who’s looking for one, let me know!).

How does this sort of thing happen? Well, I have a couple...

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When Is It OK to Take Sides?

ethics politics Nov 09, 2020

They say it’s best to avoid talking about religion or politics – especially politics, these days.

People in the public eye, such as actors, musicians and other “celebrities” are told to “stay in your lane”, and that they have no business voicing their opinion in the political arena – as if their choice of occupation negates their right to exercise the same democratic freedoms the rest of us enjoy.

Individual business owners and corporations are advised by experts not to make their political positions known, in order not to alienate a segment of their audience.

Isn’t that good advice? Well… yes and no.

It’s one thing to avoid taking sides regarding political philosophies; I agree that that is rarely a good idea for someone running a business, unless it’s a deliberate choice and part of your “brand”. But there is a difference between a political leaning, and a moral position. And, if you’ll pardon the...

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