Special Guet Columnist - Michael Coren

Fall 2009 CSANews Issue 72  |  Posted date : Sep 22, 2009.Back to list

A freelance journalist with four children and a wife who works part time. In other words, for the longest time, the idea of me having any investments was as absurd as hockey being a truly international sport. It was only after my parents had passed away and my sister and I sold mum and dad's house that I could pay off the VISA bill, put some money in the bank and give $175,000 to a terribly nice man who placed it in something called a portfolio. It's almost funny, really. After being told by every expert and friend in the country how much money I was going to make, I've only ever seen losses and am currently around $37,000 down. But I'm 20 years from retirement, the markets will recover and hey, if they don't, I can always seek refugee status in some inviting place such as Iran or North Korea.

Thing is, it will be okay in the end. Which might not be of much comfort to you if you've been depending on your investments and have seen your hard-earned cash decline by 25% in a year or two. You shouldn't have, of course. The money should have been invested separately and extremely conservatively and a good, reliable advisor should have taken it out of any risk account long ago. It's almost certainly the case, however, that you've lost money, that you're angry and that you feel that bad things only happen to you, and that if only the market had tanked a few years earlier or a few later, none of this would have happened.

Which is true. But it did tank now instead of then and there is nothing you can do about it. It could have been worse and you know very well that whatever is left will eventually do well again and, important this, that you can still manage and that it's what you do with the money rather than the money itself which is of importance. Money is a means to an end and not some idol in itself to be worshipped and obsessed over. It can't buy you love, but it can buy all sorts of things that make up for lack of love. It's there to allow you to enjoy yourself, to have fun, to provide.

The very worst reaction is to worry about that which cannot be changed, that which certainly cannot be altered by worry. No dollar loses any sleep over you, well, losing sleep. Scream for five minutes, blame everybody you've ever disliked from the past 30 years and even kick some inanimate object, but let it go and relish what you have, cherish what is still yours.

That dollar, of course, is not doing badly at all and Canada's economy, banking system and financial prospects are in fact particularly strong. It's a tribute to Liberals and Tories alike that we've been responsible in a way that most western European countries cannot boast. This is of no comfort at all to someone who has lost their job but, emotion aside, very few people actually have lost their jobs. The fundamentals are solid, we still produce wonderful products and foreign investment still looks to Canada as a golden market.

If you're still apoplectic about the economy, thank the Lord that you're not from Iceland or Latvia. Or thank the Lord that you're not going to watch Canadian politicians spend the winter arguing about why we need an election when everybody knows that the last thing we need is yet another election that will give us yet another minority government, leading to two years of arguing about whether we should have another election to give us yet another minority government.

When the pristine sunrise throws a blanket of warm, soothing comfort over you and yours, think about the rest of us putting on snow tires, running from store to store just to restore circulation in our lower body and having innumerable conversations in elevators that begin with, "Cold enough for you yet?" Oh, and if you really become upset by money issues, have fun by telling Americans that the Canadian health-care system requires all patients to ask for help in Russian and that most Canadians are completely blind by the time they turn 21. Good, harmless fun and it takes your mind off of that bloody cash you used to have!