financial friday


29.05.17 // 17:38
3/6 exams down, and now I’m working on summarising notes for the 5th (Financial Analysis) on Friday. I started trying to fake calligraphy in an effort to keep my notes interesting - what do you think??

Government formally apologizes to Omar Khadr, as Andrew Scheer condemns 'disgusting' payout

The federal government has formally apologized to former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr, confirming Friday a financial settlement has been reached to end ongoing legal action.

“On behalf of the government of Canada, we wish to apologize to Mr. Khadr for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to his ordeal abroad and any resulting harm,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a joint statement released to reporters Friday.

“We hope that this expression, and the negotiated settlement reached with the government, will assist him in his efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in his life with his fellow Canadians,” the statement said.

- NEW: Khadr says government apology ‘restores a little bit my reputation’

The government has already issued a $10.5-million cheque to the man who has been branded a terrorist by some, and a child soldier subjected to torture by others. Khadr received the money Wednesday, sources told CBC News.

Canadian-born Khadr, 30, had sued the federal government for $20 million for breaching his civil rights.

Goodale, speaking to reporters in Ottawa Friday along with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, acknowledged Canadians hold “deeply divided” views about Khadr and his “complex saga,” but said the settlement is necessary because of clear violations of Khadr’s Charter rights by Canadian officials.

“It is not about previous behaviour on the battlefield in Afghanistan; it is about the acts and other decisions the Canadian government took against Mr. Khadr after he was captured and detained. Those facts are not in dispute and there is no doubt about how the Supreme Court views them. The government of Canada offended the most basic standards,” Goodale said.

'A proper conclusion’

“There is no doubt wrongs were done, and there’s no doubt that we are bringing this process to a proper conclusion.”

Goodale said Khadr's court proceedings have already cost the government some $5 million in legal fees, and a settlement now was financially prudent given the Supreme Court’s rulings in two previous decisions. Goodale would not confirm or discuss the dollar figure paid to Khadr.

The Saskatchewan MP said the former Harper government stubbornly refused to repatriate Khadr for years; the government could have resolved this longstanding issue but instead decided to pursue a protracted legal battle “with virtually no chance of success.”

The Justice Minister said the Supreme Court rulings demanded the government provide some kind of remedy.

“I hope Canadians take away two things today: Our rights are not subject to the whims of the government of the day, and there are serious costs when the government violates the rights of its citizens,” Wilson-Raybould added.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said it was “disgusting” for the government to concoct a “secret deal” and hand over millions to a convicted terrorist. “This payout is a slap in the face to men and women in uniform who face incredible danger every day to keep us safe.”

Scheer said he believes the Harper government’s decision to repatriate Khadr in 2012 was a sufficient response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that Khadr’s rights were violated. "The fact that [Khadr] is in Canada today is the remedy, that is the compensation,“ he said. "I would have refused to agree to this settlement.”

Scheer said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to shirk responsibility for the actions of previous Liberal governments by placing the blame on Harper.

“Let’s be clear, this whole ordeal started under Liberal governments,” he said, noting Canadian officials at Foreign Affairs and CSIS questioned Khadr at Guantanamo Bay in 2003 and 2004, when former prime minister Paul Martin was in power.

The information gathered was then used by U.S. officials as part of their efforts to extract a guilty plea from Khadr.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper also weighed in on the decision saying the Liberal government’s decision to strike a deal with Khadr "is theirs, and theirs alone, and it is simply wrong.

“Canadians deserve better than this,” Harper said on his Facebook page. "Today my thoughts are with Tabitha Speer and the families of all Canadian and allied soldiers who paid the ultimate price fighting to protect us.“

'Restores a little bit my reputation’

In an interview with CBC News’ Rosemary Barton, Khadr said he hopes the settlement will help restore his reputation.

"I think it restores a little bit my reputation here in Canada, and I think that’s the biggest thing for me,” he said, adding that he is sorry the apology or monetary settlement could cause pain for the family of the soldier he is accused of killing.

The settlement is similar to what was paid to Maher Arar in 2007 for Canada’s role in a U.S. decision to deport him to Syria, where he was jailed and tortured.

The quiet money transfer came before a Toronto-based lawyer could file an injunction in an Ontario court to try to stop payment pending the settlement of a lawsuit launched by the family of the U.S. soldier Khadr is alleged to have killed in Afghanistan.

Tabitha Speer, the wife of the late U.S. special forces soldier Chris Speer, and Layne Morris, who was partially blinded in the firefight, won a $134-million US default judgment against Khadr in a Utah court two years ago.

Speer and Morris have sought to recoup some of the money owing from Khadr’s settlement with the Canadian government. Those efforts are now in doubt.

Scheer, speaking to reporters in Calgary ahead of the Stampede, said secretly wiring the money before Speer could make her claim was “not just wrong, but disgusting … contempt for the widow of a war hero. This shows such a mean-spirited attitude towards the true victims of his whole ordeal,” he said, adding Khadr should hand over his settlement to the families of the U.S. servicemembers.

Speer had hoped to tie up the money in court, and make her claim to the funds before Khadr received his cheque from the government.

PMO clarifies position 

Late Friday, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that what the Speer family has gone through is a “tragedy.” The statement also said that the PMO expects the Speer family to seek redress through the courts and that the legal process in that regard should take its course. 

“For anyone to suggest that a payment was rushed to avoid the Speers’ legal claim is wrong and offensive,” the statement said. "The payment was made in accordance with the court-assisted mediation scheduled months ago. A settlement was reached, and settlement funds were paid.“

Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. troops following the confrontation at a suspected al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.

Khadr, who was suspected of throwing the grenade that killed Speer, was taken to Guantanamo and ultimately charged with war crimes by a military commission.

He pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that included murder and was sentenced to eight years plus the time he had already spent in custody. He returned to Canada two years later to serve the remainder of his sentence and was released in May 2015 pending an appeal of his guilty plea, which he said was made under duress.

Financial Fridays: Don’t Pay Your Credit Card Debt!

My dad got off the phone and started crying. My mom yelled at him, “He didn’t give it to you!”

My dad had lent $2000 to S. and S. couldn’t pay him back “yet”. This call happened at least once a week.

S. was his best friend for 20 years. My mom would scream at my dad, “I told you not to give him money! What are we going to do now?” And she would start crying.

I was a kid. But we were going broke. My dad needed the money. I was a little kid but I felt scared and didn’t know why.

S. went to jail. Not for the $2000 of course (who cares?) but he was convicted of bribing a company that made him millions of dollars.

All of this is to say: your character creates your future.

My dad was too trusting and too sad and died from the cocktail of both.

My mother’s pessimism gets contorted into anger.

And S. didn’t have integrity and ultimately went to jail.

Your character today is your fate tomorrow.

What does this have to do with credit cart debt?


First, always pay your friends back. This is what integrity is about.

This is what friendship is about. This is what handshakes are for. This is how you build character.

Credit card debt is NOT the same as friendship debt.

A bank is not your friend. A bank is usually a trillion dollar institution that charges you fees, interest payments, has lots of fine print, and makes you sign lots of contracts.

You have a contract with a bank.

The bank says, “we will lend you up to $X, and you will pay us back all the money plus interest, plus penalties. Or else we will seize your assets.”

So it’s give. And it’s take. Like every contract in the world.

It’s “I will do X, and if I don’t satisfy my responsibility, you can do Y”.

There’s usually other terms in the fine print, by the way.

A) If you default on even one of your credit cards, the interest rates on other cards you own might go up.

One card, with First Premier Bank, even had interest rates go as high as 80%. You had to read the fine print to see that. They ended that card in 2011.

B) You usually get low rates for the first six months, and then much higher rates, and if you miss a payment, your interest rates might be as high as 20% or more.

So the banks are not your friend.

Where does the bank get the money?

No problem: they borrow money from the US government, and the government will seize customer savings accounts if the bank defaults.

What interest do banks borrow at? Basically, 0% give or take. And this is how banks make money: the difference between that 20% (give or take) and 0%.

That’s a lot of money. There’s about a trillion dollars in credit card debt out there. I’m being very rough here, but that’s $200 billion in potential profits.

This post is in response to a question I got a few weeks ago. The question was this (verbatim):

“Hi James, Please please help me. I lost my job. I’m having trouble paying my mortgage. I’m really depressed and I think my wife is going to leave me and I have to put food on the table for three kids.

"But every month I owe a ton of money to the credit cards. Should I file for bankruptcy? I can’t sleep at night. I feel like killing myself. What should I do?”

Answer: DON’T PAY YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT if it is hurting the rest of your life.

Whatever you do: DO NOT file for bankruptcy. Then the courts just give the credit card companies your money. You have no say. Who do you think will win that battle?

It’s not an ethical issue. It’s a contract issue. You signed a contract.

Now the banks have to do their end of the contract. They have the full right to seize your assets. (but I’ll get to that in a second…)

By the way, the banks don’t even care. They have 100 PhDs who have already modeled out how many people will default.

They simply sell off your bad debt to hedge funds.

Why would a hedge fund buy your debt once you start to default? Easy: they pay 3 to 6 cents for every dollar you borrowed.

If you borrowed $1000 on your credit card, the bank will sell it to a hedge fund for $30.

The hedge fund now has to collect from you.

I can tell you: these hedge funds do very well.

How do I know this?

Because I was invested in them. They buy your debt for three cents on the dollar and they might, on average, collect eight cents on the dollar.

They outsource to either collection agencies or law firms in your local area to collect from you.

Maybe they give the collection agencies, on average, two cents. So now the hedge funds have made 100% on their investment. Not a bad business to be in. These hedge funds still do very well to this day.

By the way, hedge funds analyze these collections of bad credit card debt like they would any other investment.

They look at the ages of the borrowers (younger age means they will pay less money), they look at the age of the debt (older means they will pay less money for the debt), and yes they look at race and gender and what state you live in.

North Carolina and West Virginia, for whatever reason, are the worst states if you are a buyer of batches of bad credit card debt. Nobody could tell me why. But they might only pay 2 cents on the dollar for those.

This is all happening between three and 12 months after you stopped paying on your debt.

Now collection agencies start calling you day and night. You can change your number.

Or if you answer the phone, record the conversation. Every state has different laws on how collection agencies are allowed to talk to you. You can google the laws in your state.

It’s very easy to catch them breaking the law. Then you owe nothing. So record the conversations and try to get them angry.

They will try to scare you. They use fake names like “Dick Brockman” and they say things like “In five days we have to go to court and seize all of your assets”. Again, in some states this is illegal to say. In some states it might not be.

One thing you always have the right to do: Say, “Show me the proof I owe this money”.

Since the collection agencies got your name from a hedge fund that might have bought only part of your debt from another hedge fund, who knows where that original proof is? It’s gone! They are required to show you proof if you ask.

How do I know this? Not because I was invested in the hedge funds. But because “Dick Brockman” called me in 1994.

I once owed on library fines from 1988. In 1994, collection agencies would call me and I would get scared. I eventually paid. What an idiot I was! Six years later! Library fines!

Local lawyers are a bit tougher. They can actually threaten you with court action and they might not be bluffing.

No problem. If they have proof (unlikely), then settle.

If you owed $1000, offer them $100. 10 cents for every dollar. They might take it. It’s above average. Oh, and offer a payment plan. Maybe a little bit each month for two years.

They’ll take it because it’s like free money for them.

It’s a negotiation at this point. They are pretty happy to collect on anything so they will probably say yes.

Again, I know this because I know the hedge funds that are the ultimate beneficiaries (not the banks, or the credit card companies).

The investors in the hedge fund make money but mostly the hedge fund manager gets enormous fees off off the money they collect.

That’s where all the mansions come from while you were struggling to pay your mortgage.

I’m not saying they don’t deserve their mansions. They take risks buying all that defaulted debt.

But you don’t deserve to struggle with your mortgage either. Or worry about killing yourself or feeding your kids.

You deserve a good life without stress. You weren’t trying to be bad, but (as the banks already modeled) sometimes bad things happen to good people.

You signed a contract where everyone knew the risks. Even if you didn’t read all the fine print (who does?) and even if the banks are gleefully hoping you pay penalties, etc, the flip side is they know there is a reasonable chance you can default.

It’s not like friendship debt where you need to pay back.

Default in the credit card industry is, by itself, an entire industry that many people benefit from.

What would happen if everyone followed this advice?

The system would totally break. The economy would collapse.

But here’s the good news: not everyone will follow this advice.

And if you owe $10 and have $100 in the bank, you might as well pay your credit card debt. Don’t get any more credit cards after that. They are a scam once you read the fine print.

But if you are struggling and your kids need food and your marriage is at stake and you lost your job, then simply stop paying your credit card debt and follow the process I describe above. It’s a 1-6 year process.

I would say mortgage debt also but that’s another post. Student loan debt is yet another post.

Ok, you might say, but what about my credit score? Won’t my credit go bad?

I’m going to be totally transparent. I’ve never in my entire life had a credit card. But still…

I separated from my ex-wife in 2007. In the confusion of houses and misery and despair and kids were scared and “nothing will ever be the same”, we were a few days late on two mortgage payments in a row. I was also late on a state tax return (but not federal).

I paid everything but it was too late.

Just those two things and because I have no credit cards (so no opportunities to show regular payments) my credit score fell from 780 to 580.

It’s horrible.

That was 2007. It’s still 580.

Guess what? I can make it 780 again anytime I want. I’ve done it before.

I can pay an agency that does it for me. It cost me $2000 last time (in 1999 - those library fines were haunting my rating). They call up the credit agencies and “fix” things.

But I won’t pay an agency. Since 2007 I’ve rented four other apartments, had background checks run on me, and even leased two cars (I don’t drive but Claudia Azula Altucher does).

Did anyone bring up my credit score? Of course they did! Did it effect the final price on anything or cause me to be rejected from anything. No! And sight unseen. People didn’t even know what I looked like.

People want to make money. They want to sell you things regardless of credit score. Credit scores are a scam industry also.

In one case I had to promise to pay an extra months rent as security. But we ended up not renting that apartment anyway.

I felt really had about my dad and my mom and even S.

When I was a little kid, S. owned a small publishing company.

I was an expert at solving Rubik’s Cube when it first came out and was popular. I had my own tricks to do it fast.

S. told me he would publish a book with my formulas if I wrote them down. I felt great. I bragged in school I was going to be a published author.

One teacher told me not to say it anymore. She said, “You can’t say it again until it happens”.

I ended up not finishing it. And now S. is in jail. I often have ideas I don’t finish. Even to this day.

Character defines your future.

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When I was dead broke and zero I had a $1.8mm mortgage I had to pay back and I couldn’t sell my house. It was 2001 and I lived four blocks from the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center.

“I try to be very open with them about everything, because I want them to feel that they can be open with me about everything. I work as a nanny, and work is steady right now, but sometimes it’s slow. And when it’s slow, I explain that we need to cut back financially. On Friday we have family night, where we watch a movie and the kids get to choose what food we eat. But they know that when Mom isn’t working, we can’t have family night.”

We’ve Met Before: Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten: Meetings and Discoveries 

Previous Chapter

Elena arrived at Leliana’s office just as Josephine was stepping out. She nodded to the diplomat as she breezed past her, hoping to avoid small talk. As she entered, Leliana looked up from her desk, the briefest flicker of surprise passing over her face before it smoothed back into her usual calm smile. Elena leaned forward, resting her hands on the surface before her.

“I’m being followed. Is it your people?” She spoke as soon as she heard the door closing behind her, her voice kept low to avoid any eavesdroppers. 

Leliana allowed herself another look of surprise at Elena’s words. “Are you sure?”

Elena nodded, “Yes. Someone in a black car—similar enough to the taxi models that it wasn’t immediately noticeable. It’s been trailing me for at least a month. Is it your people?”

Leliana frowned, “Sit down, Elena. No, it is not my people. Trust me, even you wouldn’t have noticed my people.”

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Happy Friday! Re: Financial advice - apparently NPR is psychic or your OP anon has REALLY excellent timing! This was one of their topics today (web article titled "Can The Best Financial Tips Fit On An Index Card?", All Things Considered, Jan 8, 2016). It's a plug for a book but an image of the index card with tips is included in the article and may also be useful. Also, yes to seeing a functional financial tracking spreadsheet ... mine looks like a police show crazy wall x100. - Indileth

Happy Sunday, Anon! The article, for reference.

I have to admit right off the bat I disagree with at least two of the items on that index card; a lot of that shit is still aimed at an increasingly-vanishing segment of society that actually makes enough money to pay their credit card balances every month and still save 20% of their income. Twenty percent of my income going into savings every month would leave me without enough money to buy food. I only use my credit card for major purchases I can’t afford out of my paycheck (plane tickets home) so I do usually pay that off every month, but sometimes it takes two to three months. I can’t max out my 401K; I need that money now, to feed myself with, not in some government-mandated casino where I’m expected to bet against the house and win and my retirement is riding on the outcome.

So this kind of information is good to have but also good to take with a HUGE grain of salt on the “savings” side. :D