Category Archives: Clients

Only Child’s financial woes continue – thanks to outside sources

Only child stews about financial woes

Only child stews about financial woes

Despite inheriting some of my mother’s ability to live frugally and have a financial budget, I am still having too many instances of running out of money the last week of the month. What really ticks me off for this month is that all the financial woes are caused by other individuals or government departments or banks screwing up.

Take yesterday as a big example of what can go wrong:

I was (and still am as of today) waiting for Service Canada, the GST people, Ontario Government and the like to sort out three payments I’m supposed to receive from forms filled in on my tax returns for 2015. So far I have not received the once a year Seniors grant all seniors get if we apply for it annually  (which I did). And for us low income seniors there is the property tax and energy credit – this one goes into your bank account once a month for 12 months and the GST rebate, put in your account quarterly. All should have been put in this month of July and they usually are. You have to have your assessment from the CRA first – well I got that over a month ago and had filed my 2015 income tax returns same time as every year – last week in April. But the money hasn’t been put in my bank account for any of those three.

To add insult to injury, I couldn’t access my bank account online yesterday to see if anything had been deposited. Neither could any other Scotiabank customer. Scotiabank was having computer server difficulties from an upgrade done over the weekend. I didn’t check my account on the weekend so don’t know for sure if the inaccessibility was all weekend or all Monday. What I do knowis  that when I checked – mid- morning Monday and several more times during the day to about 4.45 p.m., I still couldn’t sign into my account.

I wasn’t going to waste my time with a trip to my bank branch with nothing to deposit and no idea if there would be enough there to withdraw anything. (more on that first part shortly). Okay, so I decided to do the telephone banking. Wouldn’t hurt for once. But I couldn’t get very far there. When you get the recorded voice it tells you to press 1 for text and press 2 for screen. No option for land line phones. Excuse me – we don’t all have smart phones. So I pressed nothing and got a repeat of the recorded message. I hung up and had to call customer service. At least I got a good service representative who knew her stuff and not only gave me my bank balances (Nope! No government deposits then or today either when I was able to access my accounts online), she also agreed to pass along my complaints to her supervisor and from there it would go to a manager. I requested that manager call me back about it. Besides the complaint about the telephone service missing the third option, I also complained about the misleading pop up on the bank website when you tried to sign in to your account. The pop up had Scotiabank’s apology for the inaccessibility online but suggested bank customers could use their mobile apps as that function  was still working.

Is all this access setup (excluding the outage) discrimination for those who don’t have all the latest technology?

And being a former journalist, I dug further. At the Canadian Outages website  I found out more information including a lot of other disgruntled Scotiabank customers. And some of them like me have computers and land lines. No smart phones with mobile apps, not that everybody with a mobile could connect to their Scotiabank with the mobile app – it wasn’t working all the time either. Check out the Canadian outages website – there are more comments on the bad Scotiabank service. Even though I am not for all of this excess technology, the basic online account and being able to access it I find is necessary. If you think I’m lazy, think about people with mobility issues who can’t exactly dash off to their bank branch.

And I am still waiting for one of my major business clients to pay me for a writing course I taught for them (and their patrons) in June. I’m still waiting for my cheques despite submitting signed contract copies twice (one as far back as the end of April)  – the second submission (all by email) was because the client’s administration department had lost one of the first submissions. The person I was dealing with in person for the course did his part re getting the process going for my cheques and has been diligent in following up on all my inquiries. It’s the administration and financial departments there that messed everything up.

So that is why I am sitting (and fuming) with less than $75. to buy necessary health supplements and food.

Now if I was a lazy bum and not a senior, maybe I could blame myself.

But it’s not my fault and I’m doing all I can to get things fixed and moving.

No wonder I’m cranky a lot.

At least I did receive notice from Service Canada (via regular mail) that my GIS is being continued for 2016 to 2017 and it and my OAS (both for seniors) have been increased. They gave me the amount. Supposed to start with this month’s payment – tomorrow – in my bank account.

Now, let’s hope it gets deposited July 27, 2016 and I can see it online.

Seeing is believing – that’s my motto for living. “Hope” is a four-letter word.

Cheers (I think).

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Bank service complaints, Banking, Clients, finances, Life demands, Mother, Old Age pensions, Poverty

Only Child prepares for Christmas

Only Child's vision of the Christmas tree

Only Child’s vision of the Christmas tree

Ho Ho Ho or is it a little of Bah Humbug as I go round and round on the Christmas merry-go-round. Gee, it was so much simpler when I was a kid (back in the grey ages, of course). Probably because Mom and Dad had all the responsibility and I just had to enjoy it all while providing a little help. I posted the below excerpt from my memoir last year about the Christmas tree, but I think it is worth posting again – because it brings back the awe of Christmas, which we often forget in the mad Christmas rush.

When Dad drags the Christmas tree into the house, I inhale the pine fragrance. It fills me with anticipation made longer and harder to hold inside as Dad attempts to fit the tree trunk into the stand.

I can’t watch the agony, so after Mom and I haul up the boxes of lights and ornaments from the basement, I sit in the kitchen and listen to the wall clock tick away time. I hear “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,” but it is only the green radio. I poke my head inside the living room.

“Is it ready yet?”

“Patience,” Mom says, handing Dad a screwdriver.

“It’s coming along.” He twists the red tree stand. “Okay, Julia, let’s push it up.”

And my parents heave the tree up to its majestic six feet, spreading dark green bristles in the corner by the archway and just brushing the mantle. Finally. I crouch down and dig into the box of ornaments.

“Wait a minute,” Mom says. “The lights come first.”

And she and Dad twine the lights throughout the tree and I hold my breath one-two-three until I think I’ll pop, as Dad plugs in the lights and . . .

Nothing. One light has burned out and the only way to find the culprit is to remove each light, one at a time, and try a light that you hope might work. It is worse than waiting for Santa Claus. But when the miracle occurs, when the lights shine red, blue, white, yellow and green, throughout the tree, Christmas leaps days closer. Mom and I tackle the ornaments. I’m like a dog given the “yes,” for a walk, prancing around, reaching my paws down and up, and placing big coloured balls, small bells, and white plastic icicles on the sharp branches. Mom and I wrap tinsel – thin wavy light and big gold, which almost hides the lights, but they sparkle through. Then, I suck in my breath and look way up while Mom stands on the stepladder and places the angel in the top spot. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford).

Today, I have a tiny (under two feet) fake tree that sits on an end table. It has LED red lights which I leave in their sockets year round when I pack it away plus a few miniature decorations. Putting up these and other Christmas decorations isn’t the big stressor.  Running all the errands, trying to get client work done, doing PR for my debut mystery short story collection  Beyond the Tripping Point, and rewriting my prequel mystery novel, sometimes make me feel like I’m on a runaway train. Of course there are all those Christmas parties and other socials (which I like) and wrapping Christmas presents and signing, addressing, etc  the few Christmas cards I still do (both of which I don’t like doing  – when my son was growing up he wrapped all the Christmas presents except for his. Not child labour. Martin just wrapped presents much better than my messy job of it). I prefer to buy the presents to fit the receiver and then opening my own presents.

Then there are all those unplanned added “happenings” to mess up your days – such as computer problems, transit delays, sometimes weather, and annoying sales people on the phone or at the door. A few minutes ago I just rudely sent one on her unmerry way – she deserved it after trying to get into my house to check my water heater…and she isn’t even from the utility company I rent my water heater from.

So, I gave the clients notice last week that I’m taking a three-week break from client work to do some rewriting of my novel, spend time with family and friends, and yes, to do some book PR. It’s either that or find my own rabbit hole or bum a lift on Santa’s sleigh back to the North Pole. Probably not the latter – I hate winter weather.

How do you deal with the Christmas rush?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas holidays, Christmas spirit, Christmas stress, Christmas tree, Clients, Memoir content, Mom and Dad, Only child, Santa Claus, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child takes a crack at fine-tuning work time

Only Child is becoming a bear on time management

My late father may have been on the right track with his time obsession. I don’t recall how good he was at time management, but I’m presuming very good at  his job, because he worked for many years as a timekeeper for the Canadian National Railways. Dad was fixated on constantly checking the time and making sure his watch always worked. Much to my mother’s chagrin, he’d compare his watch to the kitchen wall clock during dinner. I do some of that (not necessarily at dinner), but it’s my time management area that needs an overhaul.

I have to take another crack at fine-tuning my time…with a mini sledgehammer. Some of my signs of spiralling in overwhelm are showing up. I forget where I put things; I almost forgot to pay the water bill on time; I have three evenings in a row where I have business meetings/courses, and I’m more grumpy than usual. The only sign not here (yet) is heading out the door with last month’s public transit pass in my purse instead of the current pass. And that’s only because it is the middle of the month.

The main focus of the cuts and nays this go-round is in my business. For the first time in months I did a monthly work schedule, including deadlines and times/dates to work on the projects. The list is too long, especially as I need time for personal writing (which may be going somewhere and I’m not going to jeopardize that). So I’ve been working the list, finishing client projects and crossing the jobs off the list. Of course, some of it takes longer than expected. Some of these clients I’ll be glad to do more work for down the road; others, no. I’m taking a hard look at who I work for or with and what I will and won’t do. Gone will be the manipulative clients, clients who don’t use email or even the computers they have (the extra work-around, meetings, etc. are draining my body and soul) and clients who well, just don’t listen – despite what is in the contract we sign. A few wel-used “no’s” may be the operative words here…even if I have to put a big NO sign up in my office.

I have to do this; I’m not getting any younger. But as I’ve pulled up my bootstraps (and maybe a few others’ boostraps too) with my finances, I think some cut-back is in order. The fallout is I’ve been neglecting some of my friends whom I don’t want to neglect…and I’m tired of the arguments about that running around inside my head. On a purely business level, with less and better clients I can focus more on doing a good job for them instead of rushing through it and on to the next client’s work. And (here it comes) gardening season is now here. God, or someone, help anyone who steals my garden time. I wield a mean weeder, but I prefer to use it to dig up weeds.

For those of you with time management problems in your work, read some of Paul Lima’s blogs on the subject. Here’s a link to one: http://paullima.com/blog/category/marketing-your-writing-and-other-services/time-management-marketing-your-writing-and-other-services/ Paul is a writing colleague of many years and I’ve learned a lot from him. He got me started on doing an annual business plan. (I just get carried away on what I can accomplish in a year) and has some sound advice. He is the Six-Figure Freelancer and the main link to his blog is http://paullima.com/blog/. And if you think he is all business, think again. Like me, he also writes short stories. And that is something I am not willing to give up. Ditto for my memoir writing and teaching in both those categories.

Meantime, I think I’ll dig out my Dad’s old pocket watch and also read some more of Paul Lima’s blogging gems.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Clients, Life demands, Mom and Dad, No, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Paul Lima, Prioritizing, Railways, Sharon Crawford, Short story writing