Originally posted on Oasis Addiction Recovery Society: March is Women’s History Month and today March 8th, is International Woman’s Day. O ur next few blogs are going to focus on the obstacle unique to women in regards to addiction and the stressors which trigger relapses. The everyday pressures of a career, work, relationships, family, extended…
On a sunny morning way back on May 24th of this year I woke up to the news that Gord Downie the front man for the iconic Canadian rock band the Tragically Hip had terminal brain cancer. I was dumbstruck, don’t get me wrong I am not a die hard Hip fan – or at […]
By Anastasia and Michael Tsouroupakis
This morning while we going through our routine of getting everything and everyone ready for the day, I watched a report on one of the morning news programs about the growing trend of people choosing to renovate their homes rather than sell. This was no news to us, we have noticed this trend in the last few years, since we are a city storage facility a lot of our customers are using our facility to store their belongings during their renovations. We hear from our customers that it is the most affordable way to stay in the city. Are you on the fence about selling or renovating? We put together some of the advantages and disadvantages we think can help you pick a side of the fence—so to speak.
- A chance for a NEW BEGINNING: Selling your home will offer you the opportunity to start fresh, new home, new community, and new schools (for those with kids). If you feel this way you have clearly outgrown your present home.
- Financial Advantage: Selling your home will leave you with a profit, in addition to the fact that securing finance on a new home will be easier for you than a first time buyer.
- Purge: If you are choosing to downsize this will force you to rid yourself of unnecessary clutter simply by virtue of the fact it will not fit in your new home. If you are moving to a larger home, this is also the time to decide on those thing you want to accompany you to your new home.
- High Cost of Buying: In the GTA the cost of homes is absurdly high. In fact, if you live in the GTA it is estimated that up to 40% of your income is spent on your mortgage. If you do realize a profit from the sale of your home , the high cost of buying coupled with any renovations the home may need (and believe me it will), will put you way over your budget.
- Stress of Moving: Packing up and moving your home is the second biggest stressor next to the death of a loved one.
- Costs much less: Meet with your financial consultant and find out if you can tap into the equity of your home for the reno, rather than going through the expense of lawyers, realtors, moving, and then reno’s in your new home.
- Have It Your Way: This is the opportunity to customize your home to your needs, and those of your family.
- Most updating and renovations add re-sale value in your home.
- Not an option if you don’t like where you live, or your home in general.
- Some renovations do not necessarily add value to your home. If you choose to spend $50 000.00 on a wine cellar in your basement, chances are you will not realize this investment when the time comes to sell your house.
- Easy to go over budget.
By Anastasia and Michael Tsouroupakis
Hurricane Joachim has left devastation in its path, the states of North and South Carolina have experienced record breaking rain and flooding; property has been damaged, homes have been lost, people are missing and worse have died. While we cannot control the weather, what we can do is make ourselves less vulnerable to the elements. One way to do this is to safeguard all your important documents, irreplaceable family photos, and things like spare keys cards etc. Having access to this vital information after a flooding, or even a fire will help you get your life back to normal that much quicker. While we understand this is a daunting task we have broken it down to ten easy steps.
Ready? Here we go:
Step 1: You must decide where you are going to store your documents, in your home, in a safety deposit box at your bank, or in an offsite storage facility. We suggest your home or an offsite facility, particularly if you are already renting a storage unit. The problem with a safety deposit box is you are at the mercy of a banks limited hours however, tragedy hardly EVER strikes during banking hours, and you may require immediate access to particular documents such as extra keys, credit cards, debit cards etc.
Step 2: Once you determine the where, you need to begin locating and collecting your important documents and valuables. Your collections should include things like, birth, marriage and death certificates, passports, SIN cards, deeds, life insurance policies, immunizations records, wills, testaments spare keys, credit cards, debit cards, banking information. In addition, you may want to add sentimental family items such genealogies, photographs, letters etc.
Step 3: Make copies! Either scan or photocopy documents, photos, and letters as a backup.
Step 4: Separate the vitals into two piles, the first pile should consist of documents and items that often used and referred to e.g., spare keys, debit and credit card banking information. The second pile will comprise of those things that will be rarely needed wills, birth certificates, photos etc.
Step 5: Store the often used items in an accordion file and create a master list for easier retrieval.
Step 6: Make a trip to your local hardware store or office supply place and purchase a fireproof safe. There is no point in going through steps 1 through 5 if you are going to store everything a cardboard or plastic storage box that can be destroyed by fire or carried off by a home intruder. We suggest you opt for one of the larger models if not the largest one; more often than not we always underestimate the amount of storage space we need. We also suggest you purchase a series waterproof sleeves and boxes to store your important documents and valuables within the safe.
Step 7: If you are storing your fireproof safe at home ensure the safe is in a spot that is hidden, dry and bolted in place.
Step 8: If you choose a storage facility make sure you know exactly where within the unit the safe is and that it can be easily accessed. Don’t place heavy boxes and pieces of furniture around it, this will make opening the safe impossible without rearranging boxes and furniture.
Step 9: Tell someone. Don’t keep the existence and the location of your safe a secret from everyone; tell one trustworthy person the location and the combination of your safe. If you use a storage facility for this, tell management that this individual is authorized enter your unit on your behalf. If you and your family find yourself out of town this person can retrieve a set of spare car keys, credit card etc. without any hassle.
Step 10: Don’t delay, get started TODAY.
By Anastasia Tsouroupakis
Way back in February I had read an article in the Huffington Post Canada which reported Canadians had the second highest debt increase in the world; according to Mckinsey Global Institute, Canada had the “second highest increase in household debt, relative to income, among developed countries since the Great Recession”. I found this stat alarming! My first question was why? I remember growing up the rule in our household was if you couldn’t pay for it in cash you couldn’t afford it. I am sure that most of my contemporaries grew up with the same philosophy and yet, as a nation we are still in trouble. How do we raise our kids to be fiscally responsible? We did what any other parent would do; Googled it! There are a wide variety of articles that touch on this subject, and after going through most of them I decided upon three that made the most sense to us and which my kids could get on board with. I would like to say that up until this point we didn’t think that we had done such a bad job, our kids (ages 9,13 and 16) do work around the house and the office and we give them an allowance which they spend however they chose. We had set some ground rules early on, for instance any kind of leisure device gaming stations etc., along with any games, controllers etc., toys, etc, they buy with their own monies. This of course is not an unusual strategy in fact most of our friends do this, however this is not enough we have to teach them to be more fiscally savvy; their economic survival depends upon it.
- TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT HIDDEN COSTS: The first article we found spoke about teaching your kids about hidden costs. In Canada this lesson is be easily taught using our GST; the Goods and Service Tax of 13%. Up until this point we would pitch in the tax, but we quickly realized this wasn’t doing them any favors. When one of our kids (particularly my second son) comes to us and says he has saved $60 and wants to buy a video game that costs $59.99 we tell him that’s great, too bad he doesn’t have enough to buy it. The first time I said this he was dumbfounded, I told him that on top of the $59.99 he and everyone else must pay 13% so the video game now costs $67.99, an additional $7.80. After ranting and raving about how unfair taxes are, the fact still remained that he didn’t have enough to buy the video game. This was his first lesson in looking for hidden costs.
- Borrowing Money: Financial experts insist we teach our children at a young age about borrowing and repaying loans with interest. This is a very important lesson because there will come a time in their lives when they will have to borrow money (buying a car, home etc.), and we must teach them that they should only incur debt insomuch as it adds to their assets. The other day my daughter asked me to buy her an app for $3, I told her I would lend her the money but when she got her allowance she would pay me back $3 plus .50 in interest. This prompted her to rethink her purchase, the app was no longer worth it. I also borrow money (I pretend to) from my kids and pay it back with interest, they love this part of the game. The only problem is that they keep trying to lend me money.
- Pay Them In Large Denominations: I myself am far less inclined to break a twenty for something than I am a five dollar bill. I know that once I break a twenty it will be gone in no time. The same holds true for kids, if you pay them in large bills they will hold onto them longer, because they recognize the larger bill holds more value. I used to pay for chores immediately with the change I had in my purse, quarters, loonies, twonies, whatever, they would take their change and spend it at the local corner store buying whatever they could afford. When I started keeping a tally of the chores each of them had done for the week and I paid them in larger denominations (i.e. paper money) they held onto it a lot longer.
- Delaying Gratification: This is a huge life skill which will be used in every facet of their lives. I make my kids wait 24 hours before they purchase anything if they still want it at the end of that time, then they may proceed. More often than not they have forgotten about it and have moved onto something else. This ritual if you will, prevents them from falling prey to their impulses, and let’s face it, the reason so many of us has so much consumer debt is a result of impulse buying. By waiting they saved their money which can then be put towards something of greater value.
- Let Them Keep The Change: On occasion I give my oldest son money to buy lunch, if I gave him $10 and asked him bring back the change he would usually bring back next to nothing. Once I told him to keep the change he didn’t ask me for lunch money for the rest of the week. The theory behind this thinking is simple, when it’s mom and dad’s money its endless, when its theirs it’s not ; thus they become less inclined to overspend.
Best of Luck
Carnforth Self Storage
By Anastasia and Michael Tsouroupakis
Canadians are getting ready to elect a Prime Minister, will we re-elect PM Stephen Harper, or will we choose a new path for our country by electing Justin Trudeau or Tom Mulcair. Let the games begin!!! During any kind of election, provincial, regional or municipal, the topic of the inefficiency of government always occurs and at least one candidate (usually a business owner or former CEO) proclaims that governments should be run as a business. To a person who owns their own business this idea in theory is very attractive. The world’s richest business man Bill Gates proclaims, according to him governments are “terribly inefficient” and he regularly criticizes the US government for being dysfunctional because it’s not run like a business. Gates further explains, it is has no need to function efficiently because there is no competition for the services it provides: for instance there is no need to hire more employees at Services Ontario, because there is nowhere else to go in Canada to renew your licence, health card etc. There is no other option BUT to wait in line to get what you need. A privately owned business on the other hand, cannot afford to have disgruntled customers as they will lose business to their completion. This in theory is fantastic except for one problem—Government is not a business and its primary function is NOT to turn a profit –the function of a government is to provide social services and to a lesser degree goods to its citizens and this does not translate into profit. Libraries, parks, rec centers all provide a valuable social services but are far from profitable and yet they need to exist as they serve a greater good. If the government operated services strictly on a profit criteria is ALL business do, these services would cease to exist. John T. Harvey contributor to Forbes in his article makes an excellent point when he says that many business exists despite their social value, Ashely Madison the dating site for married couples for instance is functional in the business sense because it is profitable, yet its social value is highly questionable.
Recently I found myself at a friend’s house for a BBQ, there were a few of us who were business owners and we began discussing the merits of running the government as a Fortune 500 Business, and while in theory it sounded viable (at this point we had decided to sell off various government assets to improve our bottom line) a friend of ours who is a social worker joined our conversation and made the following point; not everyone is a small business owner, the government MUST represent and MUST benefit all of society not simply the business sector. This point put a halt to all of our musings for a more efficient government. She made a good point, libraries and parks do not really turn any kind of profit, so in the business run as a government paradigm they would be the first on the chopping block. Can you imagine growing up or your kids growing up without these community staples? I know I could not, libraries cultivated my love of reading, and parks are places were the community came to together, children played safely, and parents connected. Libraries and parks help shape and cement the communities they are situated in, and one of the many roles of government is serve these communities. The question then is not really “Should government be run as a business?” but rather “Can government be run as an entity which is both moderately cost effective and responsive to its people?”
By Anastasia and Michael Tsouroupakis
Entrepreneurs are a unique breed, who in general shares various similar characteristics; among them are great amounts of self-confidence, highly innovative and analytical abilities, as a general rule they are very social and can network very well, and pose heightened levels of self-motivation. In addition to these general characteristics, those who have become highly successful also possess the ability to identify opportunities and have the ware withal to make decisions and to take calculated risks. It can be argued that on some level many people possess these characteristics and they are not entrepreneurs and do not possess the desire to become one. What is it in addition to these basic character traits that make a successful entrepreneur? They just think differently.
Hard Work AND Smart Work!
While it is indisputable most of our parents engrained in us the adage, that ONLY hard work will result in success, such is no longer the case. Today’s successful entrepreneur owes most of their success to among other things, working SMART as well as working HARD. A hard worker by definition is someone with a good work ethic, and anyone who believes that the amount of work they put into a task will be rewarded with success. This is a fantastic attribute for anyone who works for you, but it cannot be the sole driving force behind an entrepreneur. If your business has undertaken a project that is just not right, no amount of hard work will make it successful. The smart worker will cut the project free and refusing to waste any more of their time and their team’s time on this particular endeavour. A smart worker is able to plan their time with efficiency and can prioritize and delegate necessary tasks, resulting in maximizing their results with minimal energy input.
Fear and Failure
To the average person these two words incite a panic in their brain; we look to minimize these to outcomes at all costs. The entrepreneur has no aversion of these two things, they embrace them. Henry Ford was very fond of saying “One who fears failure, limits his activities. Failure is the only opportunity to more intelligently begin again”. Entrepreneurs never take failure personally, in other words they don’t interpret their failed venture as a reflection of their own abilities or self-worth, and rather it becomes a lesson of how NOT to do something. In short they embody Thomas Edison’s adage, “I have not failed I have just found out 10 000 ways that won’t work”
And finally Inspiration
All of the above points we have made mean nothing if what you are doing does not inspire you. If the business venture you are entering into does not speak to your passions, and does not help you in define the world in which you live then you will never find success. Richard Branson sums this point up rather nicely “Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.”
We whole heatedly agree.