Firming Up Your Financial Future — A Financial Literacy Month Wrap-Up by Casey Palmer and Scotiabank!

We need to evolve our money mindset.

Firming Up Your Financial Future — A Financial Literacy Month Wrap-Up by Casey Palmer and Scotiabank! — Money Mindset — Shackled to Money

November’s Financial Literacy Month, and it gives us a real opportunity to take a look at our books and what we’re trying to do with our resources at hand. School. Kids. A new home or retirement—goals quickly become pipe dreams if we don’t know how to plan for our success.

Take a moment and ask yourself just how much you know about your finances. Are you choosing the right investments?  Making the right moves today for a better tomorrow? The sad truth is far too few Canadians are well-versed in financial matters, and in an age where Canadians are continuously borrowing significantly more than they’re earning, that makes for one huge problem!

A Time for Planning

A Polarioid photo of Casey Palmer, circa 2002.
Casey Palmer, circa 2002, who confused “fresh to death” with “vest of death”. Hoo boy.

We need to keep life as interesting as possible, lest we lose the will to live life at all.

It sounds drastic, but it’s true. We get to January  and all of a sudden, all the awesome that happened in December is long gone, leaving us with credit card bills, miserable weather, short days and dull routines. Life is so short and yet, without fail, we do this to ourselves every year, searching for something that can get our excitement levels back up.

This week was all work and planning. Planning communication  strategies for my church. Planning out the future of Mansformation. Planning with financial planners to make sure that Sarah and I have a solid financial plan.

That’s a lot of planning, for someone who hates planning. But it’s all necessary in its own way, helping make way for bigger and better things later in the year!

Sometimes, though, it’s the little things that can make all the difference.

Changing our look. Putting a new skin on a phone. Or, in my case, working on checking items from a massive list.

Casey Palmer at Sakshi's birthday party.
There was that one party this past weekend…

To get you a little up to speed…

#5 — Sell all the stuff I’ve meant to sell

This could also be listed a “give away all the stuff I’ve meant to give away”. I’ve had a problem with clutter for ages and ages — having too much crap in my life makes me less effective as a person. It makes me invest more time in finding things when they’re misplaced, or makes me use more energy to figure out how all the bits and pieces I have stashed away in the house can work better together.

So I’m working harder at saying bye-bye to anything that’s unnecessary! Some of the stuff I’ve decided to get rid of and find a better home include:

  • My collapsible, portable easel and paintbrushes which I sold to a friend taking a painting class
  • I’m sending a Flip Video UltraHD to a friend in the States in need of a decent video camera

More to come, since I still have some boxes of other stuff around the house!

#25 — Get a local doctor and #26 — Get a local dentist

After years of self-neglect due simply to the fact that my health care providers were too far for my liking, I finally put the paperwork through to move everything to Toronto from Mississauga! Appointments are scheduled this week and next, and if I’m lucky, I’ll come out of them a changed man!

#39 — Get all the outstanding work off of my plate at the 9-to-5

With me wrapping my current role up on Valentine’s Day (of all days) due to an unexpected turn of events, this one should more or less wrap itself up nicely. A PowerPoint presentation here and an Excel workbook there should help me see the end of it and help me move on to some new challenges!

(Which is always good for me, since I lose steam if I’m working on the same thing for too long!)

#50 — Read all my old yearbook signings and candygrams to get a better understanding of the journey I’ve travelled

The seal has officially been broken on the memory box, and I’ve already started reading through a lot of old stuff.

It’s always so surprising how many memories we can forget!!!

#53 — Eat breakfast more often

Still working on refining my daily routine, but I’m getting a little better at making sure to stuff a pain au chocolat into my system — at the very least — to start my day!

#96 — Take photos at Caribana

Casey Palmer at Caribana 2003 (or so).
2003 was an interesting year, where somehow I found myself in Caribana in all sorts of compromising pictures…

Looks like I’ve made some contacts who’ll make getting a Media Pass or Marshall’s badge far easier, so I’ll follow-up with them and make some magic happen!

#98 — Carry less paper

I write my posts by hand first, and the more I get out, the more paper vanishes from my life and into the recycling bin! The plan? Keep writing and move to Moleskine notebooks and a system that’s a heckuva lot more compact! While I haven’t made it to the “Great Purge” yet, my backpack is definitely starting to get lighter!

So until the next time, remember — your character is truly determined by what you’re doing when people aren’t watching.

So why not do something you’ll be proud of?

The world will follow suit.

–case p.

Gearing Up: The Tanzania Chronicles #2

One thing I didn’t anticipate when planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro is that the gear would cost nearly as much as the trip itself!

Usually, Sarah and I try to be a bit frugal with our decisions, checking whether we need to get top-of-the-line items in all circumstances. (Hint: When it comes to clothing and tech, the answer is almost always yes.) But with this trip, I sense that the difference between getting passable and great gear is a little closer to the difference between life or death, so I told Sarah that I was willing to pay whatever I had to to make sure that I’d be back in one piece.

I just didn’t realize how much that cost would be.

Take a look at this checklist. It’s the guide we’re using to make sure we have everything we need for the climb. At first, it might not look like a lot, until you go into a store — in our case, Mountain Equipment Co-op — and start asking questions.

When moisture-wicking socks cost $23 a pair, I’ll leave it to your imaginations just how much it’d cost to buy anything made up of more fabric than a pair of socks (i.e. most everything else on the list!)

$23.50 for two socks. Something about this just seems so WRONG.

Some people have asked — why didn’t we just rent? But we thought about that too, and because of how moisture-wicking fabric is made, the coating that keeps you from getting soaked in sweat (something you don’t want to happen when you’re exposed to the elements in tents at sub-zero weather) does erode over time, so the only way to be certain of getting good-quality gear is to buy it new.

Alas.

The small comfort I can get from all of this is that it’s a purchase I don’t see us making again anytime soon (if ever). Jackets for every seasons and reason, clothes that’re lightweight yet warm — it’s moments like these where it’s good to live in Canada, where I’m sure I’ll find a use for all of these.

–case p.

An Excuse to Keep Fit: The Tanzania Chronicles #1

If you don’t know, now you know.

Sarah and I have a major event coming up in our lives — a trip to Tanzania! But this isn’t just any old vacation — no, over three weeks, we’ll:

  • Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro;
  • Go on safari in the Serengeti; and
  • Spend some time on the beaches of Zanzibar

I claim no credit for organizing or dreaming of this trip — I’m a city boy through and through; mountain-climbing had never even registered as a possibility in my life — but with our good friends having taken 6 months off of work to explore the world, we figured that joining them for 3 weeks wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

But like I said — this isn’t any old vacation. You can’t just decide to climb a mountain one day and do it the next — the more you condition yourself before you try to do it, the more likely you’ll succeed at reaching the summit. So since we live at sea level and couldn’t prepare ourselves for the altitude, we decided to walk and build our endurance instead.

If I were to give what we’re doing a project name, it’d be Walk Your City — you get such a different perspective of where you live when you travel by foot — I know we wouldn’t have discovered most of the things that we have had we relied simply on driving or public transit! I’ll share some of our discoveries in upcoming posts 🙂

When we first decided to walk, we were gung-ho about it:

  • 1 hour of dodgeball on Mondays
  • 2 hours of walking after work Tuesdays through Thursdays
  • 4-6 hours of walking on Sundays after church

But while the intentions were genuine, we needed to remember that life wasn’t about to stand still while we tried to do this — we would actively need to make it our top priority if we planned to stick to it. And I know that I didn’t always put it at the top of my list, letting other things get in the way, like:

  • volunteering as a photographer for Social Media Week Toronto
  • signing up to jam in the 2012 Toronto Service Design Jam
  • joining a friend’s Ultimate Frisbee team on Thursday nights
  • keeping a challenging day job, filled with demands on time and energy

So now, it’s all about getting back on that horse and seeing this through — this isn’t the kind of opportunity that presents itself every day, and I know I’ll be kicking myself if we don’t succeed because we stopped trying!

Good thing that my calendar for the next month pretty clear!

Watch out, Toronto — my feet are ready to walk!!!

–case p.

The 2K11 24/7 CCXCII: Planning to Fail

success-and-failure-sign.jpeg

Those who fail to plan plan to fail. How true it is. Planning isn't something that comes naturally to me at all. I rather do things flying by the seat of my pants, forever improvising and adjusting my path to achieve success. It's worked pretty well so far — I'm not incapable of thinking ahead, I just don't like to do it. But you sure do learn a lot through the planning that you failed to do.

The 2K11 24/7 has been quite the journey so far — in a little over a week from now, we'll be looking at the 300th post of the year (and what a post it'll be)! But because I decided to do daily posts this year, because I chose to delve deeper into the world of blogging than I ever had in the past, there's a number of lessons I've learned through the entire experience…

The 2K11 24/7 CLXX: Commit Your Plans to Paper!

We all want to accomplish something in this world. Big or small, I’m certain we all have wishlists of things we’d like to do before we die. You can see some of mine in the problems I’d like to see solved as detailed in yesterday’s post. But if you never write it down, you’ll never have a clear idea of WHAT it is that you’re trying to accomplish. They’ll merely be intangible thoughts that could blow away in the wind as soon as your attention is directed elsewhere. So commit your plans to paper!

The 2K11 24/7 CLXI: Achieving Without Assistants – Part 5

Today I present Niya’s final post of her five-day series of achieving
without assistants! I hope you’ve found them just as useful as I have!

–Casey E. Palmer


Inspiring Support

How is this different than marketing? How is this different from step
3, about mobilizing your network? Is this last piece tacked on because
she promised to write five posts for Casey, and only had enough “real”
material for four? All reasonable, possible questions.

This post is just as real as the others. I promised five posts, and
didn’t intend for any of them to be fluffy. Hopefully you haven’t
found them that way. If you have, please say so. I’m more than happy
to clarify and concretize concepts for you. Some of this has been high
level, and a bit abstract. That works for some people, but doesn’t
work for everyone. I get that. If it’s working for you – say so. It’s
never too late to make amendments.

The 2K11 24/7 CLX: Achieving Without Assistants – Part 4

Part 4 of Niya’s highly useful 5-day guest post series! Enjoy!

–Casey E. Palmer


Maintaining the Vision

It sounds preachy/cult-esque and vaguely multi-level marketing
oriented, doesn’t it? This isn’t about divine vision, or drug induced
vision, or biological vision. Those are all things you can maintain on
your own, should you decide you want to. I’m sure there are other
reasonably well written blogs that can help you with those things.

This is about the vision that you had when you made that plan.
Remember the one, way back when, with a project charter, and Gantt
charts? Okay, so many you don’t have a Gantt chart. Regardless, that
vision of the project that you’re working on, the one of what it’ll
look like when it’s complete. That’s the vision I mean.

The 2K11 24/7 CLIX: Achieving Without Assistants – Part 3

Part 3 of Niya’s 5-day guest post series! Enjoy!

–Casey E. Palmer


Networks and the importance of mobilizing them.

This is and isn’t about marketing. Contradictory? Sure. Confusing?
Hopefully not by the end of this post.

You started this exercise with the intention to have the sort of life
where you can make extraordinary change, and that you can manage
gracefully, and easily, without an assistant. You made a plan. You’re
keeping your word to other people (and ideally to yourself). So now
what?

Nothing that makes a serious impact happens in a vacuum (the science
may be wrong, but the metaphor works for the moment). The best way to
make real change, and to make it happen quickly and effectively, is to
tell people about it. I don’t mean in an annoying sales pitch,
marketing sort of way. I mean genuinely sharing opportunities, stories
and information. Talk about what you’re up to, especially those
impossible things you’ve committed to making real.

The best people to tell are the ones you know. I’ve tried it with
strangers and the return on the investment of your time makes talking
to your friends about the stuff you’re up to seem very attractive.
Plus they’re your friends. They like you, and are generally interested
in the things you’re doing…and if they’re really good friends,
they’ll help.

This help is why mobilizing your networks is a crucial part of having
this sort of life, and doing it without an assistant. You’ll get the
help you need, from people who love you. This is extra important,
because sometimes you’ll make promises that you can’t quite keep.
You’ve committed to keeping your word, and you’re aware of the impact
it’ll have when you break it. So use that life line, phone a friend.

There are of course ways to do this gracefully.

Be upfront about the situation. If you don’t give them all the
information, they’ll find out eventually and probably won’t like you
nearly as much for not trusting them.

Ask for help, not for favours. Favours pile up and can lead to a lot
of resentment down the road, especially if your friends are the sort
who keep score. Also, they’re your friends, they aren’t going to judge
you for needing help.

Don’t abuse the help, or the friendship – and know that you have to be
willing to offer them the same in return.

Thank them properly. Appreciation, both immediate and over the long
term means you’re more likely to get the help you need when you need
it in the future.

So put that network to good use. Tell them what you’re up to. Tell
them what you need to make those impossible seeming things happen. If
you don’t ask, you absolutely will not get anything. And if you do
ask, the worst you’ll get is a negative response. You’ve a healthy ego
– you can deal with it. It’s not you they’re turning down – it’s what
you’ve asked for, when you’ve asked for it. So hop to it already! And
come back, because there’s more on this next time!

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The 2K11 24/7 CLVIII: Achieving Without Assistants – Part 2

Day 2 of Niya’s series!

—-
Words with Friends and the importance of keeping them.

This post isn’t about iPhone Scrabble. I’m not about to give you
strategies, tips and tricks to boost your score, have your friends
curse you as you wipe the Scrabble board with them, or generally make
you a better Scrabble player. Frankly, I’m a terrible Scrabble player
because I don’t play strategically, so I’m the last person who should
be giving advice.

No, this is about words in a different sense. It’s about those
promises that you make, those things you commit to, those words that
become your bond. At it’s core, this is about integrity. To clarify, I
don’t mean integrity in any sort of moral sense. If that’s what you
want it to mean, that’s perfectly fine. Integrity in this case,
however is about consistency
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consistency). It’s about deciding what
you you’re going to stand for when it comes to your actions, values,
methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes – and then
actually standing for it. This means not making promises you aren’t
going to keep, both to yourself and others. These are differences from
promises you intend to break. These are the ones that you didn’t
realized you didn’t have the time, resources, skills etc to keep.
Essentially, do what you say you were going to do, when you said you
were going to do it. Stick to that plan. Scary as it sounds, commit.

It’s so much easier to say these things that it is to do them. We
spend so much time talking that words have ceased to hold real meaning
– which is why being your word and maintaining your integrity is so
important. Life gets really interesting when you get a sense of which
promises you keep, and which ones are easier to break than others. I’m
known for serially breaking the promises I make to myself, but very
rarely breaking my committments to other people. It probably says a
lot about me. Think about your pattern when it comes to keeping your
word. What does it say about you?

When you learn to only make promises that you can keep, and about how
far you can push the bounds of the reality you know, in order to keep
the more unreasonable promises you want to make, you’ll find yourself
in a life that’s more feasible. Not overcommitting (i.e. Yes, I’ll
proofread your paper even though I have 5 other priority items that
actually matter), or being guilted into things (i.e. Yes, I’ll spend
the weekend with your parents because I love you even though I’d
rather be doing anything else), or agreeing because social convention
dictates you should (i.e. Of course I’ll volunteer for your
fundraiser, even though I’m working on 6 others, because if I say no,
I’ll look like a terrible human being) means you can stick to the plan
you created.

What does integrity have to with making an impossible seeming life
workable without an assistant? If you only make promises you can keep,
you’ll have a much easier time remembering them. Also, knowing which
promises you can keep means you have to have a pretty good handle on
your time and resources, which means you’re aware enough not to need
an assistant.

So keep your word. It’s vital for the next part of how to achieve
really mind blowing things without an assistant: Networks and the
importance of mobilizing them.

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