Archive for April, 2010

Bestselling Canadian Authors The ABC Guys call for National Tour

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Toronto, Apr. 19, 2010: Appearing before the Task Force on Financial Literacy, International bestselling authors The ABC Guys called on the Task Force to work with them in mounting a national tour to promote financial literacy. Citing the “overwhelming need” for financial education across the country and trumpeting their success in raising financial literacy scores in pilot projects in Canada and the U.S. The ABC Guys offered a simple, 3 point plan:

1- Take a strategically chosen team of existing stakeholders such as – Investors Education Fund; Credit Canada, C.B.A., S.E.D.I., J.A. ¬- to a group of communities – and aboriginal reservations – across the country and do presentations for teens at high schools, and community centers for parents. Presentations would be localized with area success stories for maximum impact, and financed by private/public money.

2- Attendees would be propelled into action by linking them with these existing national organizations & local service groups such as banks and credit unions to start savings/investment accounts; write business plans etc. & do the follow up.

3- While in each community The ABC Guys would do train-the trainer sessions with local professionals, and provide them with materials, both as a knowledge transfer and to build capacity, so they can then give workshops in their own communities.

The ABC Guys have sold close to one million copies of their books “The ABCs of Making Money” and “The ABCs of Making Money for Teens” in the U.S., and have designed and delivered workshops for teens, parents and families in the U.S. and Canada. In one recent pilot project, financial literacy rates were raised from an average of 22% to 89% in one day. And, of those attendees who did not already have a savings/investment plan, fully 95% pledged to set one up as a result of the workshop. They achieved similar results with a teen audience at the First Nations community in Hobbema, Alberta.

“We know our approach works, even in the most difficult circumstances. Our success in Hobbema proves that” says co-author Alan Lysaght. “If it works there, it will work anywhere in the country.” Dr. Denis Cauvier says “Our challenge now is to find the right partners to bring this knowledge to high school students and their parents across the whole country, including the Aboriginal communities.”

Fact: 80% of kids look to their parents for information about money.
Fact: 74% of parents feel unequipped to speak to their children about financial issues.

For more information contact The ABC Guys at: www.abcguys.com
Toronto phone: 416-484-4483
U.S. Publicity: www.spizmanagency.com

How to: Plan a summer vacation

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

By Karen Caffarini
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 19, 2010 @ 03:11 PM
Summer vacations don’t have to break your bank, provided you plan and budget ahead of time, spend wisely and don’t get caught in tourist traps, travel advisers say.

Set a goal for the amount of money you want to save, and set a date to reach the goal. Calculate how much you will need to spend on the trip, then how much to put away each week or month to fund the trip.

And don’t forget little cuts in expense that won’t spoil your vacation.

Hotel

This is one case where planning early may not pay off. Last-minute deals can be had either through online sites or the hotel itself if it’s anxious to fill vacant rooms, said Denis Cauvier, financial psychologist and co-author of “The ABCs of Making Money.”

Planning a trip out of season, using hotel rewards programs and looking for free-night deals can also save big bucks, said Ian Ford, president and co-founder of discount travel site Undercover Tourist. Swapping homes with someone eliminates this cost altogether, Cauvier said.

Transportation

Cauvier and Ford agree that driving is a less expensive alternative to flying, and can be a more enjoyable experience. You won’t need to go through a security checkpoint or rent a car at your destination. There are no luggage or other fees.

If you must fly, bring your own snacks on board, sign up for frequent flyer miles ahead of time, skip the movie, book in advance and be flexible with flight times, they said.

Budget for the unexpected

Even the best-laid plans can have a hiccup. The car could get a flat tire, your toddler could develop a bad cold from the change of weather or certain items might end up costing more than you budgeted for.

For starters, make sure your car is in good mechanical shape and you have your health insurance cards with you, just in case.

Cauvier said it is better to use cash, as you tend to spend less this way, but you should bring a credit card in case of emergencies.

“Don’t spend up to the credit limit before you leave, so you have plenty as a built-in buffer,” he said. Always have a couple hundred dollars in cash stashed away for emergencies only, he added.

Ford said Disney and other theme parks have wonderful emergency services, including first-aid stations and defibrillators, in the event someone gets sick while there. He said one of the most common emergencies families face is a lost ticket, which at a theme park can be costly. He suggests making a photocopy of all the tickets, which have bar codes and dates on them. While some theme parks reserve the right to refuse a photocopied ticket, most will accept them if the ticket looks legitimate.

Souvenirs

Set expectations and boundaries on how much you will spend, Ford suggested. Rather than buying a plush animal at a theme park or other vacation spot, buy one at a big-box store before your trip and give it to your child at the park, he said.

Cauvier suggested avoiding the usual tourist souvenirs and buying something unique to the region instead, such as a bottle of wine from Tuscany.

Food & Drinks

Cauvier and Ford say booking a hotel that offers free breakfast or has a refrigerator that you can fill with food and drinks can save you a couple hundred dollars a week.

If you drive to your destination, pack lower-cost healthy meals for the ride and avoid greasy fast food. Pack your own snacks and water bottles when heading to a theme park, and opt for all-inclusive hotels where all food and drink are included, Ford said.

Did you know? Most long-distance holiday travel, about 91 percent, is by personal vehicle, such as by car. —Bureau of Transportation Statistics

For more information on saving money, investing tips or starting a business check out www.abcguys.com

An unhappy workplace!! 55% of the current work force is unsatisfied with their jobs according to a recent survey.

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

I think one of the biggest problems contributing to the angst in the workplace has been a result of the recent financial downturn. What has happened is that companies feeling the economic pressures have fallen into the all so common reactionary trap of making “knee jerk” reactionary decisions of cuts to staff, customer service and training. Unfortunately it’s these three critical areas that most often provide companies with their strategic advantages in the marketplace. I have always been in favour of efficiencies in the workplace regardless of economic cycles, but to arbitrarily cut the lean and attempt to justify it as trimming the fat creates a situation where people are overworked and underappreciated. In fact it can get even worse when the “fear mongering” messaging from senior management is “you can be on the chopping block next”. These poorly thought out decisions don’t build any sense of loyalty or confidence within the workforce. During the short term these toxic decisions may not immediately affect staff turnover because people may be residence to leave during economic uncertainty. Eventually the economy always bounces back, the labour market once again gets tighter, and the staff that where mistreated and have seen their colleagues let go will quickly seek other opportunities.

The good news is that it is not an expensive proposition to improve the overall morale of the workplace; in fact it is often the little things that make the difference. In my most recent book Hired 2.0 – Recruiting Exceptional Talent at the Speed of Light, I share the 10 most important employee experiences, and that employers who consistently provide positive employee experiences not only enjoy highly productive, happy and engaged teams but have a build in mechanism that provides a strategic advantage to not only survive but to thrive during economic downturns.

A smart place to start is to have an on-boarding process to welcome each new staff member. There is a tremendous amount of research that supports how we treat our new staff on the first five days on the job has a profound impact on how they feel about the job, their coworkers, manager and employer. These critical first few days on the job greatly impact the new hires productivity.

Other lower cost ways to increase job satisfaction and reduce future staff turnover is recognition and informal rewards. By taking the time to publicly praise people and acknowledge someone’s efforts in a positive sincere fashion, goes along way in any work environment. A simple, yet effective way to make people feel part of the team and appreciated is a Tim Horton’s type gift certificates. Keeping your people in the loop through open communications enhances the level of trust and respect within the team. On going investments in training, development, mentoring and succession planning not only help the individual become more productive but also communicate a very powerful message that the organization values the individual and expects them to be part of the team in the future.