Act 212

Get cash back on debit purchases when travelling

I haven’t had much luck finding credit union ATMs in the maritimes. I tried because I abhor ATM fees and the credit union network offers Ding Free use of ATMs in their network. I tried a causes populaire (the French version of a credit union) but got dinged $3.00 – Argh. A few hours later I picked up a few things at the grocery store. I should have skipped the ATM all together and taken cash out during the retail transaction. It would have saved me money and irritation. Lesson learned.

Act 197

Interview your banker – Part two

Hands down, best business meeting ever. I spent an hour with the commercial lending manager at my financial institution. I was very impressed with the level of preparation made on my account (pun intended). A thorough overview of my business and personal finances was undertaken and I learned a great deal.

The most important of which is, that somewhat like Jeopardy, the answer is always in the question. Three years ago when I asked for an operating line of credit for my business (and left with a new mortgage instead), I should have asked how to get a line of credit. Not wether or not I could have one.

Debt isn’t something that happens to us, like chicken pox or a cold, it’s something we let happen. I let it happen. Three years ago, I made a big mistake and I see it more clearly now. But today, I learned what a realistic expectation for a line of credit is, the range of the ratios (debt equity, working capital, debt financing ratio) to aim for, that the work you do lines up with the work that is done on your behalf by your lenders and accountants so that the effort you put into your business or personal wealth is an accurate reflection of your reality and your dreams. I only wish I’d had this meeting three years ago.

Fourteen years ago we had negative net worth. We started a business from nothing. Today, we have positive net worth and a business that provides for our livelyhood and that of the people who work with us. That’s not nothing. Every day I’m in the office, I walk up these stairs and it reminds me. We built this and we’ll keep building it one lesson at a time.



Act 36

Ask questions.

And keep asking them. Every time I hear about record bank profits, my spider sense starts to tingle. And every time I hear about record personal debt levels for Canadians, I have to wonder why we aren’t drawing a cause and effect relationship between the two.

I thought this was an interesting perspective about money supply, income distribution, the real economy and the financial sector.

I also read what the people at Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition have to offer

Specifically, their question 3 of 10 questions to ask about bank profits “Do Canada’s big banks serve people and businesses trying to create jobs well?” 

We do know that of the banks’ total lending to business of about $600 billion, only 3% is small business lending (loans under $100,000), while 77% goes to big business in loans over $5 million. The small and medium-sized business sector has created 90% of the jobs in Canada since 1983, and employs half of all working Canadians. If banks do not meet small businesses’ demand for capital, they prevent jobs from being created.

And, I would add, keep those Canadians in debt, helping banks earn bigger profits. 

Everyone wants in on the debate. Recently TD released a report stating that the income inequality gap is not growing which has been valiantly debunked by Armine Yalnizyan in a letter to the National Post. Not to be outdone, the Canadian Banking Association is happy to share that profitable banks are good for Canadians.Question is, which ones.

I’ll keep asking.