Friday, November 22, 2013

Don't Sell Yourself Short.

A '77 Chevette. For illustration purposes only. (Public Domain, Wiki.)

A few years ago; the Bank of Nova Scotia’s TV commercial went something like this:

“If you’re forty years old and make forty grand a year; and if you want to retire with the same lifestyle that you presently enjoy, you’ll have to save something like $660,000 for retirement.”

This was actually pretty good advice, because it was accurate. It was a perfectly sensible projection of mathematical principles of interest and compounding, in addition to a planned program of further contributions and taking into account all known tax incentives.

At the time, I felt a sense of dread. Forty years old, on welfare, with unpaid student loans, and no real employment prospects due to three compression-fractured vertebra from an industrial accident, what would I be able to do about it? My case is certainly not typical.

But how the heck could you save that kind of money in twenty-five years at a rate of pay of $40,000 per annum? Well, they were projecting some kind of growth in your income, for their target audience was nothing if not ambitious, and craved all the perks and benefits, the visible ones, of what we presently deem a ‘successful life.’

I knew darned well I couldn’t do it, but I also wondered who could?

Who could? This was at a time when I knew damned well my own life hadn’t been all that successful, and that was about the time I started working my ass off to do something about it.

All these years later, I sure am glad I did, and yes, I kind of wish I had started sooner.

You live and you learn. What the hell. Shit happens and we all face challenges.

Back to the point.

You would have to save something like eighty or ninety percent of your after-tax income, or your investments would have to generate some crazy wild interest, or be compounded on a minute-by-minute basis. You must find $26,400 a year for your retirement, after all, after taxes and all other obligations such as food, shelter, clothing, and transportation back and forth to that lovely job of yours, all filled with glittering opportunities for future advancement or even just pay raises, right?

Right, ladies and gentlemen?

Now, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who found this commercial a bummer. In fact, now the Bank of Nova Scotia’s slogan is, “You’re richer than you think.”

That’s been their slogan ever since, ladies and gentlemen!

It’s a much better message. It tells the consumer what they want to hear. At my bank, they have a picture of a big green leather chair, where banking is, ‘comfortable.’ Yeah, that’s great. Recently my new credit card arrived in the mail. I was reluctant to activate it, but my fifteen year-old car blew up and it was going to cost $469.97 to redeem it from my mechanic, who’s at the top of my speed-dial list.

I had little choice but to call in and activate it.

The lady on the phone asked if I had any questions.

“I’m not too happy with the 19.75 percent interest rate,” I said.

“Well, on that, ‘green’ card, there’s not much I can do. We have another card, with a lower interest rate, but it doesn’t have all the advantages your card does. However, you are pre-approved for a raise in your credit limit if you renew it before March first. You’re pre-approved for $21,000.”

Twenty-one thousand dollars!

(Why aren’t I in Panama right now?)

I’m glad the bank’s fundamentals are intact and they’re not engaging in any high-risk lending strategies. It gives a real sense of security, knowing I can borrow $20,000 at barely twenty-percent in an emergency. (I’ve been thinking of emigrating!)

I’ve been on disability for seventeen years. My income is about $12,700 a year. My credit rating must be like encrusted in cubic zirconiums. So that’s the benefit of owning a junk-box of a car.

As a debt slave, I’m worth my body weight in something real expensive.

Canadian households spent over $71,000 in 2009, or about four years ago, on average, and the average Canadian family was carrying about $96,000 in debt.

Look on the bright side.

You’re worth more than you think.

Anyway, the good news coming out of the government is that the banks are doing real well.

(Good shot, man. – ed.)

Hell, even the economy is improving. The rich are getting richer and that’s good news for all concerned, right?


As for myself, I retired at age 33 to do whatever the hell I want, although there are certain restrictions.

If I live to be about 92, I will definitely get my $660,000 worth. It’s just spread over a retirement time-period roughly double that of what some other Canadian might reasonably expect.

I get to do whatever the hell I want a lot longer than some other guy.

And the best revenge is in knowing it—and in living it, ladies and gentlemen.

All I have to do is keep my head screwed on straight and stay out of trouble, avoid unfortunate marriages, write my books, have some fun with it and all that sort of thing.

The money’s not that great, but my life is a hell of a lot more successful than it was.

Anyway, my advice to young people today is to stay in school as long as you possibly can because it's a hell of a lot more fun than the real world, ah, don't smoke crack, know who your friends are and be nice to everybody, (although there might be certain restrictions on that last one. - ed.)

Shit, I almost forgot: Don't sell yourself short.

The world is your freakin' oyster.


Here is a link to Blessed Are the Humble, the latest in the Maintenon Mystery Series. You're certainly welcome to take a look at that if you are so inclined. Thanks for reading.

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