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2008-03-20 - 11:49 a.m.

...the sad truth about money...

The sad truth about money is that you never have enough of it. And even when you are perfectly happy, and could make things work, you always look to a future where you could have a just a wee bit more.

K and I went to the bank yesterday to look into financial planning for ourselves (i.e., mortgage) and for little Susi (educational funds). It was rather depressing.

The first depressing point has to do with dealing with conservative and apparently inefficient Canadian banks once again. Our pre-scheduled meeting with the bank representative took TWO hours. She copied and photocopied every single piece of ID that we had - passports, permanent residence cards, SIN cards, birth certificates, driver's licenses... And in the end, we couldn't open the account that we wanted, because we were missing one piece of ID. It was especially ridiculous because we already had opened accounts with this bank, and they had already SEEN all of our ID before. But it was not sufficient, we needed to go through the whole process a second time.

All this, and after two hours, we were only eligible to open a tiny little $50 savings account for Susi. I remember the days in NYC when I went in (gasp, without an appointment) at 4:30pm on a Friday and opened three accounts for myself in one fell swoop. I remember the days when banks actually made it EASY to take my money...

The second point of all of this was the glaring inefficiency of the process. We had to make an appointment a week in advance, so that we could go in and have the bank rep hand us a set of brochures for us to review. So we took the brochures and will bring them home, and review them, and then have to make another appointment to set up any accounts we would like to have. Hello? The age of the internet has been here for quite some time. It would be truly truly much simpler just to upload a .pdf of their brochures to the web. But I guess this would be disclosing their rates, which for some reason they do not wish to do. I am not a DT trust or Socialbank kind of person I guess...K and I have found ourselves MUCH happier with the internet banks out here - better rates, easy service.

The third point that is difficult for us is a decision about tax implications. Canada offers some rather sweet financial packages for education planning, matching 20% of what you put away (up to a certain $amount) each year, AND shielding this money from tax. But the catch is that Susi would need to use the money at a Canadian University by a certain date. Alternatively, if she wished to attend a university in the USA or Europe, we could roll the funds over into our retirement funds, but then WE would still have to be Canadian residents. There is a good enough chance that none of us will still be in Canada in 18 years, in which case there are penalties to be paid, and those penalties are not entirely clear. So, the question becomes, do we bank on her going to a Canadian university, which will provide us with quite a nice little package for her? Or, do we invest our funds elsewhere (such as in the USA) where we may face tax implications and won't receive the generous matching amounts, but the taxes are generally lower than in Canada, and $$ saved can be used in any country? Decisions.

The final depressing point about this meeting was realizing that we cannot afford a house, townhouse, duplex, or even a decent-sized condo. We might be able to afford a tiny condo - but we would need to go through major gymnastics to get the $$ here from two other countries. We would need oogabs of legal paperwork to prove that the $$ is ours. AND, we would be mortgaged up the wazoo in order to afford a place here. Our potential mortgage calculation and anticipated monthly payments were just brutal - and it didn't even take into account the upcoming $1000 per month cost of daycare for Susi. There goes our standard of living, and again, we face of uncertainty regarding how long we want to live here. Again, we don't have to look far to find better mortgage deals through internet banking options.. But even then, I know little enough about the whole process - the process of buying and the process of taking out a loan of >$300k in what could be a market bubble - that I'm just not comfy with this.

So here I sit in an absolutely beautiful apartment with amazing city and mountain views, and three porches - albeit with the pre-described 4-coats-of-paint landlady with laundry schedule, and a space limitation. The sad truth is that I want more.

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