Conscious Consumerism

Young Money: WrapUp

Nick OgdenComment

For the past 3 weeks I have been talking about different aspect of a young person's finances; from my basic ideologies around personal economic stability, real-estate and the importance of starting to buy young, and details around Canadian and U.S. banks as well as tips to choose a good bank. This week I am going to wrap all these up and tie it these themes together to try and explain why I think these 3 important issues will lead to overall better global health. 

 Nick's personal photos 

Nick's personal photos 

First off, if we understand our money and what our money can and cannot do then we will have a better understanding about our personal financial stability. Understanding how to create a stable platform, economically, we will have a stable foundation to build the rest of our lives on. The old adage: "Money doesn't buy happiness", is only half true. You cannot buy your life and you cannot buy the people in your life that will contribute to your happiness but you do need a certain level of economic stability to ultimately have less worry then someone who is not as economically stable. This sounds cold and elitist, I know, but it some respects it is true. If you want to live in a city, buy a home, be somewhat stable in these rocky global economic times then yes, you will have to create some personal economic stability to be happy. I have been fortunate in my life that even growing up when we didn't have much money, as a family, we were still okay. We still had a house. I still went to school. We made it through. Everyone's roads are different, Keep that in mind. Do your best to try and create economic stability for yourself.

Secondly, buy a house. If you are living in a market that is stable and does not have over-inflated prices (I'm looking at you Vancouver and Toronto) then buy a damn house! You will not regret it! If you live in an over inflated housing market then look at other options, look at a near by town that's up and coming, look at income trusts where your money will be pooled wth others to buy a large piece of property or building. There are always other options then just the typical method to land ownership. I am a firm believer that buying property before you are 30 is one of the best ways to create a stable economic future for yourself. If you buy young, especially right now where mortgage rates are so low (in Canada) and give yourself 20-25 years to pay it off, you will be laughing when you want to retire. If you are wiling to put in a lot of extra work and have 6+ properties to look after for 20-25 years, you willing be ROFLing (yes, I just used a 2011 joke). Really take the time now to think about what you want your working life to look like and if you want to retire when you are 45 then jump on the real-estate game now! 

Lastly, when you go to buy your mortgage or to commit to a bank for the rest of your life, there are some things to think about. I wont dig to hard into the list but the main things are: what are the banks interest rates compared to its piers, what is the banks economic track record through national depression, and what fees are associated with the various accounts the bank offers? I also discussed why, as Canadians, we should have faith in our banking system compared to that of the United States. In Canada we have a national regulatory board that adheres to 3rd party global standards which ensure that our banks are maintaining a certain level of status-quo. This ensures that every bank and credit union is governed to a standard that creates a stable base for Canadians to store their money in. Having a bank that is stable is one of the key fundamental traits to an economically stables individual. 

So, what does any of this have to do with conscious consumerism and sustainability?

Everything! When we are financially stable we can make rational decisions and purchase products that are not only of a higher quality but also made with the earth's better interest in mind. We can take the time to research the brands we are buying, use our economic vote, and create a trend that is more sustainable for the global ecosystem. As I have said before, our purchases have power. The brands and business we choose to support can either harm or help our planet. We, as consumers, have huge power to influence our global ecosystem solely through our purchases. If we take the time to understand that, we can change every market on earth to curb our ecological impact; we can change the planet for the better. When we have a stable personal economic environment we can choose "spend more" now and "save more" later. 

Thank you for reading, and don't forget to SUBSCRIBE! 

Young Money: Bank Rolling and Internet Scrolling

moneyNick OgdenComment

***** I am not a financial advisor. These are my opinions.*****

Last week I talked about why I thought every young person should have their finances in order or at least on the path to be in order by the time they are 30 to buy a home. I briefly mentioned that Canadian banks are somewhat more stable and have better reputation globally  then their American counterparts. Today, I will talk about why I think that is as well as a brief guide into how you can evaluate a bank's offerings. 

First off, what regulates Canadian and American banks?

In Canada we have the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. The long and the short of it is that the COSFI checks Canadian banks and other financial institutions against federal regulations while keeping in context with the Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (all of which are international agencies). The COSFI has a very positive reputation with these external parties, which keeps the COSFI (as a supervisory role) in check. This is an extremely positive thing! 

In the United States the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is the institution that checks some financial institutions. I will say though, when doing a quick Google search, I had to do a secondary search to find this information, unlike the COSFI who directly came up in my initial search. The OCC does NOT regulate all the financial institutions in the United States. This I found very interesting because unlike the Canada government, the United States government has limited control over their public's access to financial institutions. For instance, Credit Unions are regulated through the National Credit Union Administration; State-Charted Banks through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve Board AND state banking regulations. This seems very top heavy and even though multiple regulatory boards sometimes mean better outcome for consumers, having regulatory bodies that differ from one financial institution to another is a bit unstable. 

One of the biggest reason why having one regulator for all financial institutions is in time of crisis or demanded market shift, as seen during the 2016 up-selling scandal in Canada. Essentially TD, one of Canada's biggest banks, got caught in rather grey sales practices. So the COSFI swooped in and took notice, they are not only checked TD's sales practices but also checked that of all financial institutions. In Canada, during these times of whole market shift having one regulating body makes the change relatively easy. As I mentioned earlier, the United States has many regulating bodies that govern market shift.  

Secondly, in Canada we do not have Provincial or even City banks like that are found throughout the United States.

For example I was born on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where currently there are roughly 11 different banks (I may have miscounted because there are so many!), with a resident population of 15,000 that is insane! How on earth can just over 1000 people per bank keep it stable?! I do not have the answer but it certainly scares the daylights out of me! In Canada we do not have as many regional, provincial or city banks with the exception of the regional credit unions. This creates a very stable atmosphere for consumers to handle their money in. This does however make competition a little more loose when trying to get the best bang for your buck. 

How do I choose a financial institution? 

There are a couple of things that you should look at: 

1. Your current financial needs. If you are a student, what bank offers the best account privileges in their student packages. From personal experience, going over my transaction allotments really hurt!  

2. What kind of fees do they charge for basic checking accounts? This can be a tricky one that you may have to actually ask a teller about, sometimes banks have hidden fees that are not advertised on their website or pamphlets. 

3. What are the interest rates like on saving accounts? The old adage still rings true "The rich get richer." Banks will offer higher interest rates to people with higher dollar valued savings accounts, and those who keep their money in the accounts longest and add try to grow it. This is because banks use your money to invest and run their own financial flows to stay stable and to make more money for their investors. 

4. How accessible is the bak? I literally mean how many fiscal branches in your area are there, if it is to hard to get to maybe choose a different bank. It is always a good idea to make yourself known to your local branch, customer service works both ways. If you are friendly and a regular user of any establishment you are guaranteed to get better service then the people who are rude and try to get out as quickly as possible. 

5. What are the current interest rates for borrowing money? This is an important one, if you are looking to borrow any money for any reason and are up to date with your banks rates then you will not be misguided by the lender. Knowing the interest rate of other banks is even better, banks want to loan you money at the highest rate they can without scaring you away to another bank. If you use your knowledge of other banks against your bank, you can make quick decisions and maybe get a better rate. 

6. What is this instutitions past like? I mean how has it fared in the last 5 years compared to other banks and how has it fared during economic crisis? If we look at the 2008 resession many banks were put into crisis mode and had to borrow from the Canadian Government. Only a select few financial insitutions remained stable and calm during these times. Don't just look at current offerings, also look at the history of the financial institution.

What I would like to leave you with is this, if you are not sure about your current financial institution shop around. Compare our financial institutions to those in the States, we have less selection but we have a much more stable economic environment for consumers. Think about what your bank is telling you and be aware of other offerings in the market. Do not be afraid to shop around and use other information from other banks at your institution, stand up for yourself. 

***** I am not a financial advisor. These are my opinions.*****

Next week I will tie the series together and hammer down what the heck they have to do with conscious consumerism and living a more sustainable life. Trust me, they are connected! 

Thank you for reading, and don't forget to SUBSCRIBE! 





Young Money: Realtime Real Estate

moneyNick OgdenComment

Last week I discussed some of my ideologies around money, they were more or less my opinions on what young people should be thinking about currently to set themselves up for a stable economic future. As I stated last week, I am NOT a financial advisor but I think I do know a thing or two about current economic trends for young people and what track will set ourselves on one of financial stability. This week I am writing about real-estate.

Real-estate to me is like talking about what I had for dinner last on Saturday during my date night with my SO, it is fresh on my mind and I love discussing it (food and real-estate alike). This week I am going to discuss why I think every young person by the time they are 25 (at the latest 30) should at least have some of their ducks in a row and start thinking about buying a home. 

25 years old. You are bold. You are ambitious. You have money coming in. You may or may not have a family yet. You are at the start of your life. Unfortunately for you money doesn't go as far as it did for your parents BUT thats okay! The ideologies around money for our generation are changing and I think for the better. Less and less young people are spending their money on non-durable goods and buy goods that are at the vert least somewhat-durable. A non-durable good is an item you buy that its value degrades instantly when you buy it, this does not include things that are necessary for life like food and water. This doe however include goods and serves like clothing and experiences (clubbing). Young people are buying less poorly made clothing and are willing to either buy second hand or buy quality goods from local or smaller retailers. What does this mean for personal finances?

This means that young people are understanding the value of their dollar and for one reason or another are either not spending as much on non-durables because they are cheaply made, want something to last, AND understand that non-durable experiences are cheaply made as well. This creates an environment that sustains economic stability, The understanding of ones dollar and its buy potential is important. There are those in older generations that have yet to figure this out. Understanding the power of ones money does a few things: makes money real, gives one the understanding of the value of money, and makes cash flows more tangible and easier to manage. These three things are fundamental when thinking about buying real-estate.  

Real-estate is one of the oldest forms of retirement saving funds there is. Real-estate is one of the most stable, smart, and safe investments a person can buy. Obviously there are specific risks involved, like the housing bubble of 2007, but overall real-estate is your best bet for long term economic investment. I will discuss the housing crash and why, if you do your research, it should never affect you in next weeks article. 

Real-estate in Canada is rather stable, in Nova Scotia it is even more so and here are some reasons why: 

1. Our banks are better, Canadian banks are more stable then their American counterparts, 4 of the top 10 banks in the world are in Canada. 

2. We have a low young-unemployement rate as well in Nova Scotia.  

3. There is less income disparity, compared to the US who has a Grand Canyon between the rich and poor, in Canada it is more shallow (mostly due to our taxation laws).

4. We have better social mobility, if you are born to into a lower income family you are twice as likely to move to a higher income bracket in Canada then in the United States. 

5. Nova Scotia has a steadily increasing population, recently with young people. and we have on average affordable housing prices.  

So let us talk about some reasons why buying young is a smart decision and why real-estate is one of the best investments you can make.

Buying your first home, may that be personal or rental, requires a morgtage (unless you have $250,000+ hanging around). Usually, 20% down on a 20-30 year term is the norm. This means that of what ever the sale price is you will put 20% of it upfront from your pocket and then take the next 20-30 years to pay of the rest. Lets say you buy your first home at age 25, you will be between 45-55 before that property is fully yours. Starting young gives you the financial freedom to not be pressured to pay off your mortgage when you are thinking about retirement. Now, this is where it gets interesting. If you are like most people you may buy one or two homes in your lifetime and when it comes to retire you sell your payed off home and add that to your retirement portfolio and live the rest of your days paying condo fees. Simple. One big cheque at the end of your working career to add the cherry to your retirement. What if there was a better way? 

Most people stash money away and trust investment bankers to make good decisions with their money and steadily grow it until they want to retire. There is a better way to save!

Save in land. Save in property. Make passive income. Be uber economically stable! I am eluding to, instead of buying one or two personal homes for you and your family to live in, buy 2 or 5 or 8 homes and be set for life! If you are willing to put in 90 hour work weeks for the next 20 years and retire in your mid-40's then this is your dream investment. I am of this mindset. I am willing to put in the 90 hour or more work week so I can spend the majority of my life doing pretty well what ever I want. This isn't going to come easy though. That 90 hour work week is going to be filled with 3am my-toilet-overflowed-calls and pay-me-or-I-will-have-to-evict-you confrontations. But I am willing to do all that and more to live the ultimate life. Freedom. Many people I know are entering their professional jobs, working 9-5 Monday to Friday, saving for retirement, and then calling it quits when they are 65 (more like 70). This sounds awful. Literal prolonged boring awfulness that wont stop for the next 40-50 years. Becoming a real-estate entrepreneur and putting in the hours now sounds more like my cup of tea. Always something new will be happening. It will give me the ultimate freedom to do what ever I want. If I can grow it up quickly enough it will be self-sustaining and I can hire people to do the dirty work for me, leaving me time to get even more creative. 

Someone once told me that I am too creative for business school. Today, 3 years in and thinking about the people I've met, about the things I've done, the things I've learned; I laugh at that person. Business can be the most creative outlet in society has to offer. It is how you approach is how creative it can be! 

By understanding what your money can do you can create the future you want for yourself; I would strongly suggest taking a long hard look at real-estate and what it can do for you and what you can do for it. Start young. Pay it off young. Retire young. Create your future. Don't let it create you. 

Thank you for reading and don' forget to SUBSCRIBE! 


Young Money: Ideologies around economic stability.

moneyNick OgdenComment

*** Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor***

Sunset Path.JPG

I am a 24 year old, educated, driven, innovative individual who thinks that he can figure his life out through means of self goals and rigid progress checks. If you are like me, then you doubt your future economic stability. But there is still hope.

I am lucky, I have support around me and mentors that help me make personal and financial decisions. From these people I have learned some very valuable things, so here is my attempt to blend my fundamental qualities with these old wisdoms. 

Pay your debts. I am sure that this has been drilled into your head countless times or you have at least heard it somewhere. I don't just mean your big financial debts; I mean any debt of time to yourself or others (that's a big one), small little friend loans, immediate family borrowings or any other family financial borrowings, and finally knowledge. Lets break this down.

Time. This by far is the one I struggle with the most. I have a hard time saying no when people ask favours or need me to commit to something weeks in advance. I live my schedule very week to week setting big allotments of time for special occasions and other significant events in my life. My week to week is very blocked out with strict times in which I work, complete my university course work, time for family, and personal time. The old adage is true, time is money. When I know that I have allotted time for something specific and I am eating into that time I tend to get very anxious. How is this relevant to economic stability? If you think in terms of your time being worth a certain "hourly wage" what do you think you are worth? How do you think you should be compensated for the time you spend doing the day to day things you like to do?

For me, I am always working (despite my significant others best wishes). I play a constant balancing act between personal downtime and what I like to think of as active pay time. During this "active pay time" I am not always "getting paid" a monetary value. For example, when I am doing school work, I have already paid out thousands of dollars to learn this material so in essence I have paid for my time through the acquisition of knowledge, how I study this knowledge and what I retain are the economic benefits I receive from this time. When I spend my time working on NO Standard Co. I will receive the benefit at a later date through people buying into the brand and through the spreading of knowledge around the NO Standard Co. beliefs. Time always equals money but that currency may not be Canadian, U.S., Bitcoin, or other monetary currency. 

Small Loans. With this I am actually referring to owing your friends a monetary value for which you have not yet paid. Why is it important to pay these back? The repayment of even the smallest loans to the most informal lending source builds trust. With this trust you build relationships. When the trust in a relationship falls then you are losing the economic value of that relationship. Hold on, isn't that a bit... Cold? Yes. Thinking of people in terms of relationship value is cold but at some level we all do it. It isn't healthy to think of people as monetary pawns and I am not saying they are but rather everyone relationship you have has economic value. For example: a person's guardians have economic value in the raising, spending during that raising, and support of the child they are raising. If we think of ourselves as an investment that our guardians put in then we can consider the possibilities of what that means. Your guardians invested their time raising you. Your guardians worked most of their adult life so you could have a, hopefully, bright future. This is not only an investment of money but also time. Think about that. This leads into the next section of family loans, tying this back with the beginning of this paragraph paying back small loans establishes and strengthens relationships. What this strength gives you is the possibility to rely on relationship when you need to draw on its resources, may that be knowledge or money. 

Knowledge. Do you know what you don't know? This is a question that was put to a class of second year Dalhousie management students during the first day of our Knowledge Management course. Short answer: no. I now know what the professor was getting at that though, we do not know what we do not know. I have taken this to heart and have tried to set my mind on a path of openness and understanding towards peoples opinions and differing ideologies. There is always something to learn from everyone. I will again state an old adage: knowledge is power. In todays economy this is more true than ever. It is hard to find a professional job without first acquiring some level of knowledge and training. The time and money that you invest now will pay off fruitfully in the future, I can almost guarantee that! 

So lets talk money and tie this all together!

The biggest financial mistake that many young people face is pushing off the negative affect debt has on their current and future economic stability. As many young people did when they were 19 I got my first credit card, it had a limit of $500 with an interest rate of 23%. The $500 cap was a saving grace a few times. At 19, unless you are a hotshot genius rocking the tech world or something similar, $500 should be your cap and should be a set cap for everyone. Credit card debt is ruthless, it will sink you credit score and throw you into bankruptcy faster than you can blink, not literally. Having a credit card is a double edged sword, it can build your credit but also create a false stable economic environment. What I mean by this is that having a credit card limit of $8,000 to some people might mean spending $5,000 of this and paying the minimum payments. DO NOT DO THIS! Credit cards should be looked at as liquid assets that should not exceed ones monthly income. There are other forms of debt that are "good" and much safer for those big purchases. 

Car loans and mortgages are two of the best ways to build your credit in a very structured and somewhat safe way. At the end of the day, between 3-7 years from now when you are done paying off your car, you will have the car. Unlike credit cards which are usually a bunch of small purchases that we could never put in front of someone if asked. A car is a big piece of metal that, yes, depreciates BUT not at the same rate as the goods most likely purchased on your credit card. A car is a major piece of a young persons financial portfolio because if payed off and payed on time it adds great to your borrowing capabilities. The best asset one can have is real-estate. Big. Tangible. Solid Asset. I will talk about why I think real-estate is a young persons best investment in next weeks post!

So what does all this mean when trying to make myself economically stable? 

First, don't live outside your means. Create a living situation that you are paying for goods and services with real money and not credit.

Second, pay down your debts! Do not let your student loans, credit card debt, car loans, etc. set you back. Pay your student loans above the suggested rate and apply for zero interest as long as you can. Pay more than just the minimum on your credit card!!! Make regular car payments and save a little money to pay it off sooner by placing down lumps sums as well as your regular payments. 

Third, understand the relationships in your life and listen to those that have experience in fields that you are not sure of. Reading books and articles, listening to podcasts are great but no one knows more about your economic environment more then other people in it! Listen to them and understand what they are saying to you! 

Fourth, align your time with your goals. If you are in school, you payed to be there so set time aside and study so you get all you can out of it. If you have a significant other, get them involved in building their own economic stability. 

Fifth, say thank you. Start with your parents or guardians. They took the time to raise you and have contributed to your journey thus far and will continue to if you want and let them.

Sixth, be driven. If you have a goal, set real dates and reach them! Make a future that is bright and positive, it begins with economic stability. 

I will leave you with one thought: as young people we are all struggling to create economic stability in our own lives, so help anyone you can if they ask. You have knowledge too! Create a future that is stable not only for yourself but for everyone. 

*** Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor***

Thank you for reading. 

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