Mortgage life insurance is an awful financial product

Mortgage Life Insurance 7

Mortgage life insurance seems like a good idea


At first glance, mortgage life insurance obtained from your bank sounds like an excellent idea. You’re buying a home for your family and sign up for a loan that will take decades to repay. While you’re signing documents for your mortgage, your bank rep mentions the benefits of getting mortgage life insurance - peace of mind, complete repayment of your mortgage in case you or your spouse pass away, and relative low cost (when compared to your mortgage amount that is). Sounds like a responsible thing to do to protect your family, right?

Mortgage Life Insurance

Mortgage Life Insurance

When we bought our home few years ago, we had this exact conversation with our mortgage specialist. Fortunately, I had enough brain cells to say that I needed more time to research it, and I started digging around. After looking into details of the mortgage life insurance offered by the bank, I found several reasons why it’s an awful product, and should be avoided at all costs - unless your hobbies include wasting money.


Mortgage life insurance is too expensive


Just out of curiosity, I’ve looked up the cost for mortgage life insurance on TD Canada Trust website. For example, you’re buying a small house and taking out a mortgage of $400,000. To obtain life insurance for a mortgage of this amount, you and your spouse (in my example you’re in your 30s) will have to pay $105.00/month (after generous 25% discount). If your mortgage amount is higher or if you and your spouse are older, the monthly expense will be higher.


Mortgage Life Insurance

Mortgage Life Insurance


This is extremely expensive when compared to simple term life insurance that can be obtained through independent brokers. Similar coverage of term life insurance would cost you less than $40/month and offer more to you - as I discuss it late. Even our life insurance policy offers superior coverage and flexibility.

While $105.00/month might not seem like a big deal when compared to your mortgage payment, the value just isn’t there. Also, keep in mind that your coverage will be going down as your mortgage is being paid down - while your premiums will stay the same.


No guarantee of paying out


Typical life insurance policy obtained through insurance broker is actually underwritten when you sign the contract and the risk is assessed prior to this. Once you enter the contract, the payout is guaranteed in case you or your spouse die. Insurance agencies take this step very seriously, and take every step possible to assess your health before the policy is signed. In our case, we had to go through a medical examination performed by a registered nurse to make sure our level of health is reasonable and we are insurable.

Mortgage life insurance is a bit different in a sense that it’s underwritten at the time of the claim. Bank won’t access your health prior to signing the documents; you simply fill out a short questionnaire about your health. If the unthinkable happens, the bank can actually deny the coverage simply because you weren’t insurable. The fact that you didn’t know about your heart condition won’t make any difference.

Check out this episode of CBC Marketplace on mortgage life insurance:




Mortgage life insurance is controlled by the bank


If I had mortgage life insurance for our home, and got hit by a bus, the payout would go straight to the bank holding my mortgage because the bank is the beneficiary for the insurance policy. My wife wouldn’t be able to make a choice on what to do with insurance money - it would simply pay off our mortgage. In case of private insurance, the proceeds would be given to my wife tax free with her choice of actions - pay off the mortgage, invest the money, or build a giant Rocky-styled statue of me.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your mortgage life insurance policy is attached to your mortgage. If you sell the house - the policy gets canceled. If you renew the mortgage - the police needs to be renewed. If you miss a payment - your policy gets compromised. In other words, you have no control over it whatsoever.


Why do banks offer mortgage life insurance?


Mortgage life insurance is an easy sell for bank employees to push to their clients as an added bonus. Any responsible adult would think about protecting their family from unexpected death. But mortgage life insurance offered by most banks is not the right way to do so. In reality, it protects the banks more than it protects you. It is also a great money maker for them given extremely high price and poor value of it to the consumer. No wonder bank employees are told to push this awful product!


What is the right way to go?


Don’t get me wrong, protecting yourself and your family is important and insurance can be a beautiful thing. It is your responsibility to make sure your family won’t suffer financially if you or your spouse suddenly passes away.

But mortgage life insurance offered by the banks is an awful product that offers very little  value. If I were you, I’d consider obtaining term life insurance from an independent insurance company. You will be able to control the coverage amount and what happens if the policy pays out. Your premiums will also be much lower than what the bank will offer you - and who can’t use some extra money these days?

My name is Financial Underdog, and I’m not impressed with mortgage life insurance!

Why I call myself Financial Underdog

Why “Financial Underdog”?


Underdog is defined in sports as somebody (or some team) that are expected to lose. The chances are stacked against them, and history of achievements is not quite there. In fact, it doesn’t even exist.

Financial Underdog

Financial Underdog

For example, the movie Rocky is about an absolute underdog Rocky Balboa going into a fight with a favorite (or top dog) named Apollo Creed. Apollo had everything going on for him - great track record, a whole team of coaches looking after him, great environment for training, and sponsor money to support all of this.

What about Rocky? Rocky (portrayed by Sylvester Stallone) was trained by an obviously crazy coach Mickey in a dirty gym, he jogged through dirty streets of Philadelphia dressed like a homeless person (seriously, have you seen his outfit?), punched dead cows instead of punching bag, and lived in a small dirty apartment. He was a nobody. Not exactly a recipe for championship - and because of that everybody expected Rocky to lose.

But a miracle happened - and Rocky put up one hell of a fight. Technically he did lose, but he was a true winner of the fight by lasting against Apollo this long and not going down. A guy from the streets went against the champion, and became the legend of the streets, a true folk hero.

Financial Underdog

Financial Underdog



What does it have to do with finances?


As somebody who grew up in a poor family in final years of USSR, I lacked common knowledge about money from day one. My parents never had much money (especially when the country was slowly breaking apart) and they couldn’t teach me how to manage it - which translated into very bad money habits for me when we came to Canada. If you can think of one stupid thing to do with money - I did it. For the most part, I simply didn’t know how money works and what to do with it.

My family came to Canada when I was in my early 20s - and I had to start my life from the very beginning with zero knowledge. Heck, I didn’t even speak English when I came here - and even right now I still have a fairly thick accent. Imagine trying to get your first job  when you can barely speak English and have social skills of a newborn - not the greatest start towards financial success, am I right?

No university degree for me - I simply couldn’t afford it. No inheritance from a helping uncle. No high paying jobs for me either as those require skills and education. No slick investments or smart money habits.


But the dream is there


But the dream of becoming financially successful despite all of this is still there. Yes, I want to put up one hell of a fight. I want to achieve financial independence for my family, and leave a legacy. I want to prove that even if odds are stacked against you, there’s still a chance to win with money by working hard, investing wisely, and teaching yourself about money.

An average person by all means can become wealthy in this country. Even if you start at the very bottom, you can get a degree in street smarts through school of hard knocks. You may need to punch some proverbial cows - but it’s just the part of the process. There are mistakes to be made, and successes to be enjoyed.  But even financial underdogs get their chance, and when it comes you have to strike hard and fast.

My name is Financial Underdog, and I’m working towards my degree in Street Smarts majoring in Personal Finance.

Why I don’t want to buy a new car

Our car is a gazillion years old


My car has been with me for quite some time. I remember picking up my wife for our first date in it - about nine years ago. I remember heading to my friend’s graduation and packing 5 people into this little thing. Heck, I even remember my dad teaching me how to check tire pressure on it. Every little life event we’ve experienced, our little Donkey (that’s how we affectionately call it) been there for us. We moved, got married, changed jobs, had bad things happen to us, had good things happen to us - and our Donkey has always been there to drive us around.

Our Donkey is a mid-nineties child with its own character traits and just over 230,000 kms on its odometer. For the most part, it has never given us any troubles - just ongoing maintenance, replacing parts when we need them, and a good cleaning now and then. Inside and outside it looks absolutely fantastic - for a car of this age. Once in a while, I wax it on a sunny day, and it starts sparkling and almost causing traffic accidents by blinding oncoming traffic.


What would a brand new car mean to our finances?


Once in a while my mom asks me how come I’m still driving this old thing. Our friends politely giggle at how out of place our car looks next to theirs when we get together, and wonder what stops us from upgrading.

Let’s say one day we forget everything we’ve learned about personal finance, and buy ourselves a brand new car.  We walk into our local Acura dealership, sign the papers, and drive away a new Acura TL - complete with leather seating, LED lighting, navigation system, and power windows (something I’ve never had in my life, can you imagine?). What would a brand new car do to our finances?


New Car

New Car


Here’s a list of new expenses we would have to fit into our budget:


- Financing (or worse yet - leasing) is on average  $450/month in Canada. Every month an average family sends this much to the bank for the privilege of driving a new car. While our budget could absorb it, it would certainly mean less money being invested as per my New Year’s Resolutions.

- Insurance costs would go up - and once again would take a bite out of our budget. Our Donkey costs us less than $100/month to insure - mainly because it’s a fairly cheap car to replace. If it was a brand new vehicle, this number would undoubtedly go up into the stratosphere.

- Brand new car depreciates in value like a stone. If you buy a $40,000 car today, its value will hover around $20,000 three years later - which is an equivalent of burning a $100 bill every week while you drive your car to work. I’m sorry, but I have a better use for $100 bills which doesn’t involve burning.

- Increased running costs would punch our monthly budget further into unconsciousness. Most luxury vehicles these days require premium gasoline which costs more. Little engine on our Donkey  burns very little gasoline, and doesn’t care about higher quality fuels.

- Maintenance costs would also go up because newer cars are more expensive to fix - considering how complex they are and how much training mechanics need to have. My friend’s BMW needed a new window mechanism, and between labor and new parts, he had to shell out almost $800! I haven’t paid this much for anything done on this car for as long as I owned it - even new radiator.

- Heck, even car washes would be more expensive - because newer car would command premium car wash complete with waxing and deluxe detailing. No need to do this with our old car, I can wash and vacuum it myself once in a while. No need to spend extra money and it gives me something to do with my hands on Saturday.


Moral of the story?


Used Car

Used Car

So, for now we’ll stick to our used car. It might be almost 20 years old, but it’s very reliable and makes sense for us financially at the present times. Sure, it’s not a head-turner. But we’ve gotten used to it and it gets us from point A to point B with a certain classic feel to it. One day it will be time for it to go (some sort of farm where all aged cars go, perhaps?) - and we’re already saving money for our next used car. But for now, I’m perfectly happy with it.

And trust me, I’m not against buying nice cars - or nice things in general. I’m not the kind of person who believes in driving old cars till the day I die and eating nothing but oatmeal just to save money. But I do believe that buying new cars only makes sense when your financial future is secure with enough investments set aside, your income can absorb all increased costs and buying  a new car won’t put a dent in your budget. Unfortunately, we’re not quite there financially, and we’re making a conscious decision to drive with less flare, but more financial stability down the road.


How old is your car?


Goals and Resolutions - 2014

Excuse me for being stereotypical…


Now that the Christmas insanity is over and New Year’s partying ended, I’ve decided to sit down and come up with a few goals and resolutions of my own - seeing that so many financial bloggers are doing it. After all, if everybody else is jumping off the roof, then why shouldn’t … wait, bad example.

They say the difference between goals and wishful thinking is that goals have to measurable, exact, and have a time frame. Unfortunately, not all of my goals qualify fully. Also, far from all of my goals and resolutions are centered on personal finance. While I mostly ramble about money (hence “money ramblings”), I think of other things too, you know!

My plan is to revisit these goals and resolutions one year from now and see if I missed any of them - and how badly.


Goals and Resolutions

Goals and Resolutions


1: Invest 30% of our income


This isn’t exactly new to us - we’ve been diligently transferring a set percentage of our paychecks into a special account reserved for investments for few years by now. It used to be a much lower amount though - if I’m not mistaken we’ve started with 5% just to see how it feels. Once we’ve gotten used to losing 5% of our income, we’ve upped the bar to ten - and so on. We’ve reached thirty percent not too while ago and I don`t think it will change much from here - we’ve already cut our lifestyle quite a bit, and my wife might be right (I hope she doesn’t read me admitting it) in a sense that we shouldn’t be focused on just saving and investing money - we should enjoy it once in a while too. She is one smart cookie, eh?

Also, all of our investment income (dividends, distributions, and growth) gets re-invested - and we don’t spend it on our living expenses - not yet at least. This is simply because we want our assets (little pile of money/retirement account/freedom fund) to grow as fast as possible to the point when it starts growing by itself or even without our regular contributions. Wouldn’t be wonderful to have money working for us as opposed to us working for money?

Short and sweet: Invest 30% of our paychecks + 100% of all proceeds


2: Update my blog on a weekly basis


When I started this blog, I thought I’d update it every month or so. But for some reason I feel the urge to do it more and more often - every comment here or every new Twitter conversation get me fired up like I just made a new friend. I do appreciate people helping me and providing feedback - I just hope this blogging thing doesn’t become an obsession for me. After all, it’s just a place where I sort my thoughts out and voice some opinions (sometimes rather strong ones) without being called a numbers nerd by my friends.

Also, I think my little DIY blog needs a bit of a facelift. But I have no idea what a good looking blog should look like. I know mine isn’t exactly appealing and hard to read - so I think I’ll invest some time (or money if I have to) into redesigning it to bring readability up. If somebody can suggest changes or share some wisdom, I would be absolutely ecstatic.

Short and sweet: Update this blog every week and redesign it to make it user-friendly


3: Lose 50 lbs. of weight by budgeting


No, I’m not talking about cutting our grocery budget to $50/month and starving myself into thinness (because I tried it before and failed miserably). Recently, I had a bit of revelation. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it, but I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to numbers - to me not a lot of things are equally satisfying as balancing our monthly budget or calculating rate of return on some investment (even if this investment is buying pickles in bulk). What if I could use my superpowers (if being a numbers nerd can be classified as a superpower) for good?

What is the key to losing weight? Most experts will say it’s balancing input (food consumed) with output (physical activity). What if I start tracking my consumption on everyday basis and balancing it against the energy I use - either by increasing my exercise or cutting down on consumption? They say just by tracking the numbers, people usually drastically improve their eating/exercise habits.

So, as one of my goals and resolutions, I am going to lose 50 lbs of my weight by the end of the year. Currently sitting at around 240 lbs., my weight can use a bit of an adjustment (to put it lightly), and an entire calendar year is a reasonable target. If you think about it, it’s only 4.16 lbs. /month - or just about a pound a week. I’m pretty sure I can do it!

 Short and sweet: Lose 50 lbs. of weight by the end of 2014

Goals and Resolutions

Goals and Resolutions


4: Read a new book every two weeks


I used to read quite a lot. Unfortunately, lately I’ve noticed that slowly I switched to listening to podcasts and even comedy shows. While entertaining, they bring no new information for the most part.

So, as of one of my goals and resolutions for this year, I will pick a book every two weeks, read it from front to cover, and ponder over the material read. To make my life a bit easier, I will favor audio books as they’re easier to consume for me as I do chores around the house or commute to work - perhaps I’ll even invest some money into Audible membership. To keep myself a bit accountable, I will even post short book reviews if they happen to be on the subject of personal finance or just money in general. I even picked a new book already and started reading it!

Short and sweet: Read a new book every two weeks and post reviews if related to finance


5: Practice a bit of “selective ignorance”


This is a bit of a wishy-washy goal. Another thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I spend too much time paying attention to things that don’t really matter to me. I’ll listen to a radio show about some phenomena in another country, start reading about it on Wikipedia, and pretty soon I will waste some good hours of my time over something I don’t really care about.


Goals and Resolutions

Goals and Resolutions

I’ve heard of low-information diet before, and I think it’s time to explore it. I should start asking myself “- How does this help me and my family reach our goals?” more often. Cause if it’s completely unrelated to me or my family, why do I even bother? And I’m not talking about going full-tilt and starting to live in a informational bubble without knowing what’s happening next door. But cutting down on informational noise can be quite beneficial to me, I think.

Short and sweet: Cut down on unnecessary and unrelated information intake.


Do you have any goals and resolutions for this year?

How Supermarkets Trick You Into Spending More Money

Supermarkets can trick you into spending


While I have nothing against big box stores, every time I walk into a supermarket (Superstore, Safeway, Save-On-Foods, etc.) I have to protect my money. If you are like me - you don’t have a money tree growing in your backyard - the amount of money you can spend on food every month is limited. At the same time, big grocery stores are after your wallet in a sense they want to sell you as much product as possible. Solution? You have to look out for yourself, and stick to your guns - and it means recognizing how supermarkets trick you into spending more money.

Flashy discount stickers


How Supermarkets trick you

How Supermarkets trick you


All big stores use flashy discount price stickers to trick you into thinking you’re getting a good deal. Sometimes these stickers are red, sometimes yellow. But quite often the actual discount given is either non-existent or very minimal. But psychologically we pay more attention to discounted items and grab them just because they have “discount!” sticker attached to them.

One of the good ways to compare one item to another is comparing it on “money per unit” basis. Since different products are packaged differently, “money per unit” measurement will tell you which product ultimately offers you a better deal. Real Canadian Superstore started posting these numbers on their price stickers and it really helps us when we shop.

For example, if one package of peanut butter sells for $4.00 dollars ($1.50/100g.) and another brand is larger and sells for $7 ($0.95/100g.), one quick look at “money per unit” number tells you the second product is a better deal. Of course, at that point the question is - do you really need this much peanut? In our case - definitely!


Large shopping carts


How Supermarkets trick you

How Supermarkets trick you

Shopping carts have been around for a while - first shopping cart was introduced in 1937 at Piggly Wiggly stores in Oklahoma. Now, here’s an interesting thing - shopping carts used to be much smaller. Store owners noticed that if you make shopping carts bigger, people will buy more items without even thinking about it. As a result people buy more items than they need.

My advice to you? If you ever pop into grocery store for a small load, grab a basket. And always have a plan for your grocery run - make a list of what you need and stick to it at all costs.


Placing healthy veggies and fruits at the door


How Supermarkets trick you

How Supermarkets trick you


All big box grocery stores do that - Real Canadian Superstore, Walmart, Safeway, and Save-On. Have you ever wondered why veggies and fruit are always at the door?

Shoppers’ behavior has been tested throughout the years. What researchers found is that if grocery store shoppers buy something relatively good and healthy right away, they’ll be more relaxed after it and more likely to buy something outside of the norm - say, potato chips or pastry.

As a side note, all supermarkets spray their veggies with water to make them appear fresh because most people equate “fresh” with water and shiny appearance. So, the veggies in front of you may appear fresh, while in fact they’ve been sitting there for quite some time.


How supermarkets trick you into being hungry


How Supermarkets trick you

How Supermarkets trick you


Ever noticed how grocery stores always have a pastry stand right next to the entrance? They are there for a reason - to make you hungry. Hungry people buy more food - and grocery stores want to make you hungry while you’re inside so you’d buy more items. Nothing like freshly baked muffins or croissants in front of you to get your stomach going. All of a sudden, you’re buying giant frozen lasagna to take home and eat right away - that’s how supermarkets trick you without you even noticing.

My grandma always told me - never go to the store on empty stomach. Boy, was she right.


Tricky layout and design


There’s nothing random about how supermarkets are laid out. In most cases, you’ll find essential items (bread, milk, meat, veggies, etc.) in opposite locations. This is a tricky way to make you walk more - and in turn walk past all the other products. If all essential products were in one location, you’d out of the door in 10 minutes. But with a tricky layout most grocery stores employ, you end up picking up items you didn’t have in mind and slowly filling up your shopping cart.

On top of it, some of the stores use small tiles in some areas. Why? To make your shopping cart rattle loudly which in turn makes you slow down and spend more time inside the aisles. In turn, you pay more attention to the items in front of you and perhaps pick up one or two.

Have you ever noticed how meat and fish is often sold in areas that are painted white? This also has a reason, and in this case to make these items appear fresher. At the same time, other parts of the store can be painted in warm colors - apparently studies found these colors relax people and put them in a better mood.


They hide cheap products


Have you ever noticed how more expensive brands are always located at the level of your eyes? Since more expensive products have better margins (translation - more profit for grocery stores), they tend to place them just where you’ll see them right away - at your eyes level. These are the products people tend to grab first - if they don’t take their time and look around. Some of the best deals I found at Real Canadian Superstore were always located almost at foot level - where people rarely look. More expensive brands actually pay for prominent location inside the store - because they know a lot of us grab the first thing we see without looking at other items.


Supermarket music?


There’s a reason why most stores play music - and not just grocery stores. Quiet music relaxes you while you’re inside, and your mood improves.  All of a sudden you slow down, and let your guard down. You start walking around and humming music while checking out the products. This almost always results in increased shopping.

This is actually widely used inside shopping malls. Almost all clothing stores play their own music picked specifically for the target audience of this specific store. If the store sells hip clothes and targets young shoppers, they’ll play recent hits. If the store is all about older and more sophisticated audience, they’ll play easy listening or some soft jazz music.


Impulse buying


So, you’re almost done. You’ve loaded up your cart, and you’re heading straight towards the exit. But first you stop at the cashier and wait for him or her to scan all your purchases. Take a look around - around yourself you’ll find inexpensive items (chewing gum, chocolate bars, drinks, magazines etc.). These are the items people like to reward themselves with for a long and painful process of shopping. When you’re spending $100 on groceries, a small chocolate bar doesn’t seem like a lot, and you grab it as a small reward for yourself. And that’s exactly why it’s there!


Morale of the story?


If you don’t have unlimited amount of money (and who does these days?), pay attention to your shopping habits. Mrs. Financial Underdog always writes down a list of items we need before we head out - and this list only drives our shopping as opposed to letting the supermarket drive our purchases. You have to be aware how supermarkets trick you into spending more.

Once again, I have nothing against big stores and supermarkets. But unfortunately, we’re at the opposite sides in this war - they’re fighting to take as much money away from me as possible, and I’m defending my money - my little soldiers - from them.


Did you know about these? Leave me a comment with some of your own thoughts!




Looking for a witty Facebook status about money?

Want to say something witty about money on Facebook/Twitter?




- Visa is everywhere you want to be….except out of our debt.

- Most stress is caused by three things: family, money and family with no money.

- When they offer you “instant credit”, don’t they really mean “instant debt”?

- My credit card company called. They want me to leave home without it.

- I have to take my paycheck to the bank. It’s too little to go by itself

- A budget is just a method of worrying before you spend money, as well as afterward.

- I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who laughs all the way to the bank, instead of one who cries every time he leaves.

- Money doesn’t buy happiness but it’s a damn good down payment!

- You know its time to start saving when your debit card declines a $1.25 purchase.

- One day I want to be “Let’s Just Take My Helicopter” rich.

- Forgotten pocket money is the best!!

- Always hold out your hand when someone is counting money in front of you, just in case.

- “Latte” is Latin for: You paid too much for that coffee.

- I’m so broke this New Year’s I’m gonna party like it’s $19.99.

- Why don’t hoarders ever hoard money?

- My bank lets me send a text message and it’ll text back with my balance. It’s a cool feature but I didn’t think the LOL was necessary.

- Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

- Ever notice that people who spend money on beer, cigarettes, and lottery tickets are always complaining about being broke and not feeling well?

- America is a country where half the money is spent buying food, and the other half is spent trying to lose weight.

- I have all the money I’ll ever need - if I die by 4:00 p.m. today.

- Materialism: buying things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people that don’t matter.

- It is hard to understand how a cemetery raised its burial cost and blamed it on the cost of living.

- Money talks…but all mine ever says is good-bye.

- A bargain is something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist.

- A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don’t need it.


Interesting Banknotes Around the World

Let’s take a look at some of the world’s most interesting banknotes


Last week I looked at Canadian banknotes and how interesting they can be. But other nations’ money can provide some entertainment too!




Israeli lira from 1968 featured a portrait of Albert Einstein. You can still buy it on eBay for roughly $10 if you happen to be a big fan of his. Not many people know it, but Albert Einstein was offered Israeli presidency back in 1952 but turned it down.

Interesting Banknotes

Interesting Banknotes




Serbian dinar also features a man of science - Nicola Tesla himself. The back side features a picture of electro-magnetic induction engine.


Interesting Banknotes

Interesting Banknotes





Turkey went all math instead of physics. Their banknotes have a portrait of Cahit Arf - Turkish mathematician. While I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in math, I couldn’t even being to understand which part of mathematics he’s famous for.


Interesting Banknotes

Interesting Banknotes




Did you know that Canada used to have a 4-dollar banknote? They date back to early 1900, and were withdrawn from circulation shortly after.


Interesting Banknotes

Interesting Banknotes





Zimbabwe went through a brutal cycle of hyperinflation - money was being printed with no regard to state of economy. More money flooded the market, and prices kept rising to no end. The banknotes issued risen in denomination. Below is a banknote for one hundred trillion dollars - probably just enough to fill up your car with gas!


Interesting Banknotes

Interesting Banknotes




Democratic Republic of Congo used to be known as Zaire. Joseph Mobutu ruled the country until he was overthrown in 1997. Instead of producing brand new money, new govt decided to punch holes in old money to get rid of his face - that resulted in producing banknotes with holes in them. I guess he wasn’t very popular, and everybody was sick of his face.


Interesting Banknotes

Interesting Banknotes



Canadian Banknotes are fascinating! - $50

Canadian banknotes can be truly fascinating!


Personally, I think Canadian banknotes are truly unique. Especially the latest series - so-called “polymer series”. Being basically plastic, they’re designed to be extra durable - and thus saving money on printing and replacing (God knows they’re printing enough money already). They also have a myriad of security features paper money didn’t have - holographic elements, transparent windows, raised characters, hidden numbers.

I especially like certain elements of Canadian pride shown on our money. Have you ever wondered who are the people pictured on our money? Even pictures on back sides are connected to Canadian history. Why are they shown there?

I had nothing to do this Sunday, so I’ve looked up some information on Canadian banknotes and imagery on them. So, next time you’re trying to make small talk with a good-looking cashier when grocery shopping, feel free to pass on this information.


Front Side - William Lyon Mackenzie King:


Canadian Banknotes

Canadian Banknotes

William Lyon Mackenzie King was a political figure in Canada from 1920’s and well into 1940’s. He served as a Prime Minster of Canada on multiple occasions, and some of his achievements can still be enjoyed today by everyday Canadians.


Notable achievements and interesting facts:


  • William Lyon Mackenzie King was the longest serving Prime Minister of Canada - he ruled Canada for over 22 years .
  • He wasn’t very popular with voters (despite being elected a number of times) and would probably never get elected if he was alive today, but he was a true diplomat and had a talent for striking alliances.
  • Mackenzie King had five university degrees (his student loans must have been huge!)
  • His government created Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1936
  •  Trans-Canadian Airlines (now knows as Air Canada) was also created under his rule in 1937
  • He transformed Bank of Canada into a crown corporation in 1938 (before that it used to be a private entity)
  • William Lyon Mackenzie King is rated #1 (or the Greatest Prime Minister) by a survey of Canadian historians


Famous quote of William Lyon Mackenzie King (one of many):


“A true man does not only stand up for himself, he stands up for those that do not have the ability to”.


Back Side - CCGS Amundsen:


Canadian Banknotes

Canadian Banknotes


CCGS Amundsen is an Arctic icebreaker and research vessel operated by Canadian Coast Guard. Originally known as CCGS Sir John Franklin, this icebreaker was built in 1979 in North Vancouver. After serving for a number of years, it was decommissioned after it was deemed surplus (fancy term for “useless”  or “not needed”).

In 2003, CCGS Sir John Franklin got a new lease on life after universities around Canada decided to pool the money together, and retrofit the icebreaker to use it as a research vessel. It was to be operated by Canadian Coast Guard half the time - so in reality the icebreaker is shared by scientists and Canadian Coast Guard - kind of like how roommates buy a flat screen TV together so everyone can enjoy it at scheduled times. This was the moment when the name was changed to CCGS Amundsen (in honor of Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen).


Interesting facts and information:


- CCGS stands for “Canadian Coast Guard Ship”.

- Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen (after whom the icebreaker is named) discovered South Pole in 1911 and was the first one to reach North Pole in 1926. He disappeared during a rescue mission in 1928 and his body has never been found.

- CCGS Amundsen is powered by 6 diesel engines - 18,000 horse power combined! That is roughly equal to 130 Honda Civics.

- The ship has enough room for 80 people (40 being the crew) and a small helicopter

- She can crash 1 meter thick ice and travel  up to 15,000 nautical miles


Canadian Banknotes

Canadian Banknotes


Happy Friday! And a little bit of First World Problems

Financial Underdog 3

First World problems


I was sitting at my desk and swearing (quietly) at my iPhone for taking forever to update to iOS 7. My phone isn’t the newest - I bought it used for cheap - so it certainly was taking its sweet time. Clearly, it was a pretty bad case of firstworldproblemitis.


First World Problem, noun


Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.

Example: My 7 dollar starbucks latte came with ONE espresso shot instead of the TWO I asked for!

We all run into small problems that irritate us to no end - but it’s important to put things into perspective. Anyone who lives in North America and is relatively healthy should be dancing in the streets - we live long lives surrounded by wealth and can change our destiny with relative easy by going to school. Most people in the world would be happy to have our everyday problems. Canada is ranked very highly in terms of income mobility. And we have universal health care to boot.

Enjoy your weekend and enjoy life in general!


First World Problems

First World Problems

First World Problems

First World Problems

First World Problems

First World Problems

First World Problems

First World Problems