Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Why Canada is so Money!!! For your money…
Yesterday was the national holiday here in Canada, commemorating when we liberated ourselves from the tyrannically Icelandic Vikings over 500 years ago. Much blood was shed on the great polar ice caps, but we prevailed. Obviously, that isn’t true. Back in 1867 a bunch of guys sat down, had a beer, and signed a few papers making this great land a country. Over 150 years later we celebrate our country’s birth on July 1st every year and instead of remembering our glorious battles, we reflect on what it is like to be Canadian. Many Canadians will jump right to the differences between us and our amazing neighbors to the south, the United States. While that is easy to do, I am just going to stick to what I think is amazing about Canada and how it pertains to our money and our future. Strap on your hockey helmet and pour a fresh glass of maple syrup. Let’s get started!
We accept everyone
Okay let’s not get a lovey-dovey here, but also let’s be realistic too. Canada as a general policy is very accepting of people from all walks of life. From refugees to millionaires, we will generally take them all. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t messed up regarding that in the past, and it also doesn’t mean that we won’t mess up in the future. This is personal for me however because if it weren’t for Canada, I wouldn’t be here today, well at least not in this form. My family came here in 1964 from the Azores Islands in Portugal. There were no jobs, no health care and no money. My father developed Polio at a young age, and they had no remedy for him. When he was 5, My grandparents took the whole family to Toronto, Canada, where my dad received treatment for the disease. He learned to walk at the age of 8. He wasn’t supposed to live past 13, and even if he did, he would be in a wheelchair for his whole life. If it weren’t for Canada, my father wouldn’t be alive and wouldn’t be celebrating his retirement this year at the age of 60. If it weren’t for that I wouldn’t be alive either and writing personal finance blogs for you all to enjoy while helping hundreds of clients with their finances. PS: Love you all for that… In 2 short generations, we went from dirt farmers to one man planning his retirement and his son helping others plan theirs. What does this have to do with money? Well, we both made a little money along the way, and toiling on the farm would not have been quite as lucrative. To the new crop of immigrants, I wish this type of success for you as well.
We take care of everyone
Again, I will try to not get all lovey-dovey here and I will try to be as truthful as possible. Here in Canada, we try to take care of everyone. That does not mean people aren’t left behind. People do sometimes go hungry and our record with the indigenous peoples can be much better. Overall, we are attempting to reconcile those left behind. There are programs in place to help people from all walks of life. From new Canadians to those living on the street. From single mothers to the aboriginal people whose land we occupy. We don’t deny people education and we don’t deny people healthcare. We don’t deny people the necessities of life. Why is this important to our money? Quite simply, a country is only as strong as it’s “weakest” people. In many countries, the wealthy must live with 24/7 bodyguards and in a gated community behind 10-foot walls. Guards with AK 47’s patrol day and night. I spoke about proper selfishness a few weeks back. I believe that in order to live our best life, including being economically secure, healthy, physically safe, and emotionally stable, we must account for those who do not have these luxuries. The reason is simple. If we do not allow for everyone to have those things, the ones who do not have them will attempt to take them from the ones that do. There is a responsibility that comes from great wealth, and I believe Canada is on the path to securing this responsibility. Again, we have a long way to go, but at least the conversation is had, and had daily.
Healthcare is a big deal
This one hits home for me as well. I already mentioned my father and what he had to go through during his childhood. For me, healthcare has been essential to my livelihood. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 16. This condition causes extreme abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, irregular bowel movements and gives its carrier a heightened chance of colon cancer. Those are just the physical side effects. Mentally it has been a roller coaster of stress, moodiness, depression, and self-consciousness. I went through 10 solid years of consistent hospital visits, frequent weight fluctuation, and overall terrible life. Since I have been diagnosed, I have had a team of family doctor’s and specialist supervising my care. The number of visits I had to the emergency room and doctor’s office would have bankrupted me numerous times, especially given the fact I was on the verge of that anyway. If not for our health care system, I would have not received treatment for my condition. I had no workplace plan. I had no drug coverage. I was finally able to find a medication that works after many, many years and am now in remission. Since then, I have worked my butt off, became debt free, started my own business and oh yeah, paid a lot of taxes. I am now busting my butt, only because I was able to get back on my feet health-wise. When people are healthier, they are more productive. They work more, save more, and contribute more. A healthy society is a wealthy society. The out of pocket costs for healthcare are huge and we are fortunate not to have to shoulder that here in Canada. We still have a long way to go. Prescription drugs, dental, quality of care all can be addressed. We do however have a great system and everyone in this country loves it, even the rich who can afford their own coverage.
The climate is amazing
I will put this right out there. I do not like winter, at all. Despite that, Canada does have an amazing climate. Our winters are at worst about 4 months of the year. I remind you I am in Southern Ontario, sorry Winnipeg. During that time, it is cold but bearable. Our summers are about 3-4 months as well and they are absolutely delightful. I write this post after spending a day at the beach, loving life. We have about 2 months in the fall and 2 in the spring that are pretty messy, with cold and rain dominating. Overall it is a beautiful climate to live in. Why is this important to our money? Well, too much of anything is a bad thing. For instance, if we lived in Scandinavia, we would have to spend a bunch of our money on heating through our long winters. Conversely, living in Southern California would cause the air conditioning bill to be absurd. Our climate is perfect to grow food in half the year, so much so that we export a ton of it. This is an economic driver for our rural communities and allows food costs to be relatively low, although they could be better too. We have amazing tourism that is centered around climate in all 4 seasons. We are very lucky to live in this part of the world. That being said, I still hate winter…
Tax-Advantaged Savings Vehicles
Many countries like ours have several places to park your money that will save you money in the form of tax. I know my amazing American followers I aware of the Roth IRA and 401K accounts. Here in Canada, we have our retirement savings vehicle, the Registered Retirement Savings Plan or RRSP. This amazing plan allows you to put in a percentage of your earnings and allows your money to grow tax-free while you keep the money in. Once withdrawn, you will pay tax, but the goal is that at that point you will be in a lower tax bracket and would have saved a substantial amount in the form of income tax and capital gains. We also have the Tax-Free Savings Account known as the TFSA. This AMAZING account allows a maximum contribution per year and grows tax-free as well. The big kicker is that you don’t pay any tax when you withdraw. Therefore, I think EVERYONE should have a TFSA. Whether you are 18 or 80, it is extremely useful. It is especially useful for those who are younger as they can potentially save enough in that account to retire quite comfortably. For education savings, we have the Registered Education Savings Plan or RESP. This account also grows tax-free and the government may even kick in a good chunk of money if you qualify. Lesser known is the Registered Disability Savings Plan which allows people to save for a person who has a disability. The government will also kick in money for this account too, bringing comfort for those who care for a loved one with a disability. These accounts are truly remarkable ways to get ahead in life and provide for your family and I am thankful that they are offered here in Canada. PS: If you want more information on these accounts, feel free to reach out to me!
Us Canadians under-estimate the cost of education, much like we do with healthcare. I left university with a hefty student loan bill of about 25K. That pales in comparison to the bills of our American counterparts. Why is this so? Is our education just that much cheaper? The answer is no. Why our education costs less is because it is heavily subsidized by the government. Billions of our tax money go towards post-secondary education in this country. This allows virtually anyone to be able to attend college or university. While I will not neglect to mention that student debt is a problem here in Canada, as it definitely was for me, it could be a lot worse. Starting your life with a reasonable amount of student debt is a massive advantage. A better solution might be fully subsidized post-secondary education, but I am thankful we are where we are.
We work as a country
Our beliefs and our standards are fairly uniform in Canada. What this means is that we generally come to conclusions as a country. There are a few outliers, cough cough Alberta and Quebec. Overall, we are stable nationwide. Healthcare is free nationwide. The death penalty is outlawed nationwide. Marijuana is legal nationwide. Why is this important, especially for our money? When you are consistent in your beliefs across the board, things can get done. While I won’t say there is no squabbling, there definitely is, we attack our goals as a nation. This allows us to approach trade, the economy, social issues and education with a steadfast hand. Not to knock American, but a simple thing such as keeping the government open took weeks to decide. In Canada, we are united on trying to make all our lives better and while our political parties are different, they are much more similar than we think. To be honest, not much changes no matter what party is in and I believe that is because of the majority of Canadian’s share the same beliefs. This allows us to pursue our dreams, and financial freedom, without much disruption.
We are very peaceful
Here in Canada, we don’t generally get involved in global conflicts. That would seriously cut into our beer drinking time. We are however known as peacekeepers, helping in humanitarian efforts around the world for decades now. Now we have been a strong part of many missions, including World Wars 1 and 2, The Korean War and even Afghanistan. Despite this, it is our peaceful nature that allows us to focus on other important tasks like education and healthcare. Even when we do get involved in world conflicts it is usually only a handful of troops. I believe it is important not to put the lives of Canadians at risk unless absolutely necessary. I want young Canadian men and women to have a shot at achieving their dreams without having to risk their lives. I am thankful there are many people in our country that have the courage and honor to sign up for the armed forces. I am also thankful that we do not have a society where service is glorified heavily and indoctrinated into us at an early age. I believe our military is very important and should be there when needed, mainly helping everyday Canadians when disaster strikes. It is our peaceful nature that allows us to live the lives we wish, including achieving financial freedom.
We complain about a lot, but we are relaxed
Step into any watering hole here in Canada and you might hear a complaint about “the way things are.” In fact, as Canadians, we are absolutely amazing at complaining. We might be the best in the world at it, to be honest. Why are we so good at complaining? Well, we have to have something to talk about. Why isn’t there much to talk about? Mainly because we have it so damn good here. I will be the first to admit I complain about more than should. I am a sucker for bitching about what I perceive to be unfair or unjust. I usually voice my displeasure then go about my day. Complaining is generally not a bad thing, so long as you are complaining about the right things. Because we have it so good here, not much happens beyond complaining, which is a very good thing. There are very few mass protests, work disruptions, political disturbances or general angriness. We are pretty chill, and this allows us once again to pursue refining our social democracy, pursuing our dreams and working together towards goals, like financial freedom. I believe we should always strive for better, and this includes reflections on current issues. I also believe that if there is a leak in the boat, we don’t light the boat on fire. Patch that baby up and let’s keep sailing.
Everyone likes us
I will speak in general terms, but most of the world loves them some Canada. Even Bono from the rock group U2 said, “The world needs more Canada.” We apologize when you step on our feet. We open doors for able-bodied folks. Heck, I even got out of my car to help an old man cross the street in a busy intersection because he could only make it halfway through due to being super slow. What was amazing is that all 4 ways of traffic stayed still as I took him across, missing their chance at a green light. Am I some sort of hero? Not even close! It just had to be done. When I am that old, I hope someone walks me across the street. Around the world, we are an excellent trade partner. What this does is facilitate us having a thriving trade industry that allows our natural goods, of which there are many, to be sold to every corner of the world. We make friends with everyone and that is a good thing. Now we also stand up to bad actors around the world, so we aren’t pushovers. Overall, we aren’t picking fights and most of the diplomatic missions are spent hugging and cutting ribbons. It is because of this that we are a very wealthy nation and because of that, we can care for those within our borders. We also spend a good amount of money around the world helping others, which only adds to our prestige globally. Now there are bad Canadians, I have met many of them, but we are generally likable. This allows us to grow as a country, conduct business, and achieve goals far easier than if people didn’t like us. For that I am thankful.
I want to wish everyone in Canada a happy Canada Day. This country has been so very good to me and my family and it is my goal to give back any way I can. To the rest of the world, thank you for being so kind to us here in Canada. We love you all and wish the best for you as we wish the best for ourselves.
“We have created a society where individual rights and freedoms, compassion and diversity are core to our citizenship. But underlying that idea of Canada is the promise that we all have a chance to build a better life for ourselves and our children.” – Justin Trudeau
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