Friday, 4 September 2009

"Some people think I'm crazy, but I'm not."

Warning: Rant Ahead.

I am so frustrated I don't even know where to start. Frustrated with myself and the world in general, suprise suprise. Well, how about starting here: two years ago I wrote a post about how I was afraid to look weird, carrying my Green Party reusable grocery bag into the grocery store. I've come a long way from that, and now my Green Party bag is a regular part of my trips to the grocery store, farmer's market and anywhere else a reusable bag is handy.

Fast forward to this year: I am trying to be responsible with my savings and RRSPs and such, while taking into account all the financial mayhem and general unethical crap that goes on in our 'free market' system. Sometimes I think the whole thing is one huge Ponzi scheme. For years since I graduated from grad school and got a 'real job' I've been contributing diligently to RRSPs on a monthly basis, taking advantage of 'dollar cost averaging' and all that stuff, putting it into what seemed like fairly safe 'investments.' But more and more I think the whole thing is a gamble, not an investment - a glorified poker table or slot machine, distinctly favoring 'the house.' So I've been doing things differently over the past year or so, much to the chagrin of the people at my banking/investing institutions. So far I've just shrugged it off, but this week I've been making some inquiries about changing things again - getting all radical with a GIC instead of equities - and the response I got made me really doubt myself. Then it made me mad. Then it made me doubt myself some more. And I thought, here I go again, afraid to look weird. Well forget that noise.

This is my money, that I've worked for and set aside, for years. This is not the bank's money, it's not the investment company's money. It is my money (Gord's and mine, but you get my point). It is up to ME what I do with it. And I resent being told that I am being 'unreasonable' to want to put it in a conservative fund like a GIC, and I really resent the implication that I am acting rashly and irresponsibly to give up my 'opportunity' to get big returns on my 'investments.' What's wrong with just wanting a decent return on my money, without all the anxiety of wondering if today is the day that the sucker rally ends?

And I resent the patronizing implication that all of this is just beyond me and I should leave it to the 'experts' to manage on my behalf. No, I don't have any training in finance, banking or investments, but I do read both mainstream and non-mainstream publications about it so I'm not just operating on auto-pilot when I go into the bank or the investment office. Sometimes I wonder if these things are made super-complicated on purpose, for obfuscation purposes. Really, how complicated should it be? And why should I just hand over my money without question anyway? Especially to someone who has a vested interest in me handing over my money without question.

So on the way home from work I had my car stereo cranked up loud, playing this Oysterband song, which made me cry, just like it did at this year's Folk Festival. Bring on the flood. Bring it. I am so tired of the way things are.

factories in the phillipines,
cutting holes in brand new jeans,
for cutting edge consumers,
rich kids in the west you see,
they have no sense of irony,
and i'm losing my sense of humour,
all across the moonlit sky,
vapour trails multiply, trade winds are getting stronger,
while he says she has to chill,
they bring us apples from brazil,
new diseases from the congo,

i havent prayed since god knows when,
my teeth are un-american,
socialism's orphan child,
unimpressed, unreconciled
some people think im crazy.... but i'm not
here comes the flood

a million tv dishes crown the skyline of shanty town,
everywhere our apsiration,
the word from CNN arives,
we watched the headlines of our lives,
each movement in isolation,
the cool blue line of isolation...


democracy for planet earth,
they roll it out like astroturf,
easy men they're all in a hurry,
so you can wear a stupid grin,
watch 'em roll the bankers in,
only the bad guys amongst us need to worry


here comes the flood x3


Eco Yogini said...

you are so right! you SHOULD have complete control and be totally informed when it comes to your finances, and they should respect your questions and concerns.
Eff that noise is right.

perhaps there's another bank that would respect you more? I would voice my concerns to the manager of the bank on how you felt you were treated and that you were considering taking your business elswhere. Banking is a business, and their bank is not the last one on the planet. :)

(this makes me angry too- i fully support you!)

B said...

I can so relate to your frustration. It seems there's a whole industry built around getting regular folks to fall for the line that we're being unreasonable if we don't care to gamble.

I go to a deposit broker who just does GICs and therefore doesn't question my decision. Also, the service there is fantastic, as they get the best rates and keep track of renewals and CDIC limits for you.

I had never heard of deposit brokers until a year ago or so, but it's worth checking out if you want GICs.

rww said...

Your getting bad financial advice. The first thing your adviser should do is determine what type of investments YOU are comfortable with. Ours used direct questioning along with a detailed questionnaire to determine that.

In consultation with our adviser WE then decided what percentage of our investments to put in a GIC tree and what percentage to put in equity based mutual funds.

Your financial adviser should provide you with advice but not try to steer you into investing in what he or she feels most comfortable with.

In fact that seems unethical to me.

kale for sale said...

You're not weird, just awake I would ponder. Frustrating as it is, keep up the good work. Keep questioning.

Maggie said...

I wrote the post "nourishing our minds" last Thursday on the Hills and Plains Seedsavers blog. I had just watched a program about the clothing sweat shops in India and was feeling down about a lot of things.
Greetings to you from Aussie land.

E said...

i lost my faith in "investing" when our adviser tried to sell us a product even he could not explain.

Theresa said...

Thanks everyone - your words and support have really helped, and I have a better idea now how to frame my reply to the investement advisor.

EcoY - I am considering taking my business elsewhere - I will at least be looking!

B- I had no idea about deposit brokers - thanks!

RWW - thanks, you're so right. It seems the more conservative of investments we pick, the more uncomfortable HE is,which is not how it should be.

Thanks Kale - It is hard to keep my eyes open, since I do really get anxious when I 'stir the pot' - I'm getting more tolerance for it, but it's not easy.

Greetings to you as well Maggie - I will head over to your blog and check that out.

E - they certainly use the word "product" loosely alright. Sometimes its like so much smoke and mirrors, and I'm tired of it.

Thanks again everyone - you have no idea how much it helped to hear from all of you :) I'm going to draft my response right now and send it off.

Beany said...

It is your money and you should invest in vehicles that feel safe to you.

When I was 22 at my first real job I signed up for the company sponsored retirement (401k) plan. I got the brochure and didn't like most options so I decided to divert all my money to extremely conservative safe vehicles. Boy did our investment advisor get hopping mad. He really intimidated me by telling me how I ought to be aggressive and that I'd come out ahead, blah, blah, blah. But the thing is that stuff makes zero sense to me. And you know what? I've lost no money in this recession. I'd like to speak to Mr. Investment Advisor now to ask if he still advocates shoving my hard earned money into stuff that makes no sense any more.

It's your money. Do what you want with it. If these idiots get really obnoxious, ask for their networth statement. That'll shut 'em up.

G. Harrison said...

there's nothing wrong with the word 'guaranteed,' Theresa. (this from a retired teacher with minimum pension concerns, relatively speaking)

thanks for visiting It Strikes recently, and peeking at my most recent birdhouses. I may get to Alta. via motorcycle one day (it's on my list), and if so, will pack an extra birdhouse.


Theresa said...

Thanks Beany - that's the thing that really struck me as odd: the vehemence with which I was told that I was being unreasonable. It almost smelled of fear, and anger towards me for daring to challenge the status quo. My pension fund is something else altogether - I have no say in where that goes at all, which is very maddening. Especially since starting this month an extra 4.5% will be added to what I have to pay into it each month, because of how much it has declined in value due to their risky investments. Arg!

Amber said...

Hi Theresa! Sounds like you're getting some good advice and support from the folks here. I have no financial knowledge to speak of but I just wanted to chime in to say I feel your frustration and that it's crazy people like you that keep me sane! ;)

Theresa said...

Thanks for your support and kind comments Amber!

G. Harrison said...

Hi Theresa,

re recent comment back at It Strikes -

A friend of mine, Federal MP in London, feels pretty sure there will be a Nov. election. However, anything can happen.

I sometimes think that economic crises create or do more for change than parliament, but i try to remain hopeful.


Theresa said...

Hi Gord - the prospect of a Harper majority really frightens me, so I really hope that whenever we have the election, it doesn't turn out that way. If Harper can whip up a frenzy with his supporters like the neocons are doing in the US against Obama, I have a feeling Hatper could win a majority this time. And he will pull out all the stops, since his leadership of the party is at stake this time, more than ever.

Simply Authentic said...

It's your money--so you should be able to do anything you want with it. Don't let investment advisors tell you what you want to do. I remember my grandfather was so afraid of investing that he apparently buried his savings in a coffee can in a local park somewhere---although he could no longer remember where that was. So don't follow him in that regard--but your money is definitely your own to do with it what you'd like!

And those lyrics are fabulous---very well put my the songwriter!

Theresa said...

Thanks SA - we've got an appt to talk with the finance guy this week, so that will be interesting. I'm not backing down on my GIC plan.

Those are interesting lyrics, hey? I'm not sure what he means by "my teeth are un-american though" - I've never heard such a thing before.

Simply Authentic said...

Theresa, I think he was referring to America's obsession with perfectly straight and white teeth. It's something that I've heard a lot about the societal pressure to have had braces, etc etc. I'm sure he was just pointing out another social pressure/societal conformity that is present here......

Theresa said...

Aha! Yes, that must be it, because Oysterband is from England, where one of the stereotypes is of crooked teeth. Me and my un-braced teeth will enjoy the song even more now, thanks :)

Anonymous said...

my husband and I are educating ourselves on these matters.. and learned that you can buy Canada Savings Bonds in RSP form. I had no idea. Seems like a great idea to have some of one's resources in guaranteed investments.. maybe 30%? that's how much most people I know lost in the crash..

The attitude you encountered is the world's dream that many don't question.. profits based on no work (your money works for you!) with no understanding of the effects of said capital on the victims of globalization. It ain't pretty.

How can we do it differently? I don't know. I hope a model emerges that allows me to invest in my own community and not in corporate bottom lines.

SoapBoxTech said...

`They` just don`t want us to save anymore. We`re all supposed to "invest" in something or other, but you`re right, its ALL a gamble and the kind of gamble you find in Vegas...fixed in favor of the house. All through this recession the central banks have been lowering interest rates to almost nothing in order to make saving impossible. Etc etc etc.

You`re right, its all a screw job and you`re certainly not crazy for being awake enough to recognize it. What bothers me most is that it is likely to get a LOT worse before it gets better...and no one close to me will listen. So any preparations I make, I have to make pretty much on my own.

I`m with you in being angry but folks like us HAVE to direct this rage carefully, and together, or our energy is wasted.

Peace to you and yours and all who are looking for the right way.