Not too proud


The amount of negative press my latest book has been receiving is an interesting thing. As I said earlier, I fully expected this. Denial stalks the land. Newspapers that are dying on the vine as real estate and car ads vaporize have a vested interest in downplaying the reality of our economic times.

Sadly, the media is not adequately preparing people for what is coming. Or, as the note below shows, what is already here.

Overnight, the comment below came to this blog. It’s a single voice among many. Over 74,000 Canadians lost a full-time job last month, and another 70,000 the month before that. On a per capita basis, we are tossing people aside far faster than the US, where an economic crisis is in full flower. If we were more honest with ourselves, we’d see the same harvest here.

I have this Toronto father’s email. If you might help him, let me know. – Garth

I am 38 years old, I have no debt but a Mortgage 155K and car loan 15K. I am a long time blog reader Garth first time poster and appreciate your honesty, thank you.

My mortgage is somewhat low compared to some friends that bought in the last year or 2, due to the fact that I have been paying it weekly for the last 8 years as well as adding an additional $75.00 per week and what ever savings I had at the end of the year. I have now under 11 years left to pay!

Today I was told with about 300 or more other peers to start looking for work as I will be out of a job in the next 2 weeks. I work in the EPC world (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) specifically Oil & Gas industry.

We are a single income family with 2 very young children both under 3 years of age.

I was always taught to pay down debt, pay down that mortgage and I have. Sad thing is I have no savings! UI will not be sufficient and needless to say I have never been on UI either. I will look for work immediately, but friends and colleagues that have already lost their jobs are telling me there’s no work .

I kept a brave face through out the work day and even laughed. When I got home the mood somewhat changed? As I tried to sit down and have dinner with my family, I couldn’t. I felt “let the little ones have my share, I’m fine, I’m not hungry”.

Then I left the dinner table, sat down in our family-room put my hands in my face and cried. Only to hear my daughter say “mommy, daddy have booboo”.

I am not too proud to ask for work, if any of you have suggestions or leads for employment please post here. I have 16+ years experience in my field of Procurement.

Garth I apologize for using your blog as a means to find work, if you decide to delete this post I will understand and will wish you no ill will.

Thank you all in advance,



#1 JC on 01.15.09 at 10:29 am

If your experience is in oil &gas then there are lots of jobs. Maybe not specifically in your line of expertise but we are talking about feeding the family and paying the mortgage are we not?

Look in any newspaper and there are lots of jobs for oilfield workers. You might have to get your fingers dirty but what the hey, it will only be for a year or two til things turn around globally. Then you’ll be right back at it.

BTW, our company has been trying to hire southern Ontario tradesmen and move them to Ab. Still a dearth in the trades here. At a recent job fair we had made offers to 32 people before we got commitments from 2. Things can’t be all that bad on the peninsula.

#2 Expat in NC on 01.15.09 at 10:31 am

How sad. What’s even sadder is there are hundreds like this, and hundreds more to come. Seriously, what do families like this do? Unfortunately I am in no position to help this person.

Paying down debt is one thing, but you have to balance that out with having money set aside for a “rainy day” (although in these times “rainy” isn’t the right metaphor).

I’m about to say something that may not sound kosher, but I sometimes need stories like this to make me realize and appreciate what I have and put things in perspective.

If you have a job, regardless of how bad it is or how long the commute may be, you are luckier than millions of others.

I wish this person all the best.

#3 Mike (authentic) on 01.15.09 at 10:48 am

Sadly, I fear this will just be the start of situations like this. I give him credit for having no debt (and paying it down fast) and just a mortgage at a low rate.

Well, I can see 3 options (I’m sure there are others):

– Sell home quick and get out of debt completely, rent till things blow over. At least your home is worth more than the mortgage and you can use the extra to live on. Be happy that you have equity to tap, image if you were in this position with no house to sell.

– (if this is an option) Reduce mortgage payments to as small as possible and lenghten the mortgage term. Cut back on everything possible, no cable TV, no mobile phone, no star bucks, no going out to eat, buy no-name everything and buy only needs not wants. Start growing your own food in Spring.

3. (I’ve been here before), get 2 jobs in anything. Michael’s and moonlighting at a Liquor store is where I worked for a year. You’ll do what you can till something else comes along.

Calgary O&G is a try if you want to relocate, but from what I hear in the field, everyone is nervous out here for their jobs and there are hiring freezes going on too.

Best of luck, god bless.


#4 Makeorbreak on 01.15.09 at 11:00 am

HM: sorry to hear about your particular financial situation. These are hard times for a lot of people. You may want to consult the federal government recruiting website many times a day:

Even if it involves relocating, you’d be better off accepting even a lower paying job with the feds. Sacrifices and difficult choices will have to be made. Put your house up for sale immediately. You can rent your house if you are unable to sell. A federal job (even a crappy one) with a pension plan and job security these days maybe the only thing that will keep you sleeping at night. Good luck.

#5 Sail1 on 01.15.09 at 11:19 am

Non deserving but it seems like the casualties are starting to mount.

Hey Garth, Xurbia is beginning to look just a bit better.

Air-X Land Wind Turbine, can I get it at wholesale?

Sure. Would you like to move in with me, too? — Garth

#6 JB-ott on 01.15.09 at 11:35 am

+1 to the above poster re: federal government. They are dying for good procurement people here…

#7 JC on 01.15.09 at 11:37 am

Whenever oil prices fall whether due to global markets or the NEP, the first to go in cut backs are the white collar workers. The field still needs to function and the equipment needs to be maintained.

If you happen to lose your office job the best solution is to change your shirt.

#8 Whacked_ Out_Winnipeg on 01.15.09 at 11:39 am


It is great that you have been paying down your debt these last years, because now your have equity in your home you can use in this emergency. I think you still may be able to manage but you will need to cut back on spending.

My advise would be to go to the bank with your current paystubs and do not mention that you are going to be out of work shortly. You can obtain an equity line of credit on your home. With an home equity line of credit you will be allowed to make interest only payments. Rates at the bank are currently prime + 1. The nice thing about the line of credit is that you can still make your mortgage payments, you don’t need to worry about not having savings at the moment.

Now to pay off your line of credit interest, you can just take money out of your line of credit a few days before your payment is due and put it into your chequing account. Have the payment for your equity line automatically taken out of your chequing account.

This will help you make sure that your debt doesn’t go into default and you can keep a clean credit bureau. This isn’t a long term solution to your problem of being out of work but it will buy your some time until you can find another job.

Best of luck, hope my advise can help.

#9 Herb on 01.15.09 at 11:43 am

Well, Garth, that is what politics should be all about. How does government help the HMs, or is that a task left to the HMs themselves and whatever other individuals may be able to do for them?

#10 Just a Girl on 01.15.09 at 11:44 am

You can look for a job “in your field or specialty” or you can open yourself to new possibilities, and look for a job in other areas/sectors/roles. One approach may yield limited positions; the other may provide unlimited possibilities. Take an inventory of your skills, abilities, accomplishments, employable assets. They are transferable to many fields.

In other words, don’t just look for “the job you just had.” It might be hard to find, or not even exist at all. Look for something that will help you meet your responsibilities, allow you to learn new skills (or apply them in a different way), and navigate the storm. That would be my humble advice … look all around you for opportunity, not just at the jobs you’ve already mastered.

#11 D Griffiths on 01.15.09 at 11:58 am

I wish I could offer something concrete (in terms of employment) to this individual but I can’t. As a paramedic, I often meet a lot of different people, so if I come across anything, I will contact you via this blog (or Garth). Kudos to you Garth for allowing the post. I fear many more people will soon find themselves in this horrible position. My only unsolicited advice would be to find any work you can get your hands on, even if it is poor pay in an unrelated industry or field, and consider listing your house (aggressively priced) ASAP. Try to beat the coming spring surplus of listings, and get out from under your mortgage as fast as you can my friend! Even if you take a loss on the property, at least you can support your family on less pay in rental accomodation. It’s painful, but maybe you can ride this out yet! Best of luck to you.

#12 Robert on 01.15.09 at 12:05 pm

No one cares about anyone
governments dont give a dam about anyone

like the matrix we are not batteries but we are working slaves
thats all the world is to government HUMAN RESOURCES

when the people start standing up for liberty and freedom the police will start using tazers

good luck with ever having a country back
there will be blood in the streets within a year
when all the people that are used to having everything
start killing each other when there kids cant have the lastest toys
and their wives cant get another boob job and botox injection

there is NO TIME LEFT

#13 shelley on 01.15.09 at 12:08 pm

HM – This is a good blogsite and Gail has suggestions for what to do when you lose your job.


#14 eddy on 01.15.09 at 12:12 pm

a very sad start to the new year.

on another note -flaherty’s floating the idea of a tax credit for home renos,
what’s next? cross your fingers he doesn’t go after the principal res exemption. watch your wallets

#15 dd on 01.15.09 at 12:19 pm

#1 JC,

You must not live in Alberta. It is estimated that there will be approximately 20% unemployment in the oil and gas engineer fields. 20% of white collar unemployment. And I am not talking about the guys on the rig floor.

$38.00 oil is not good for Alberta. Period.

“It will only take a year or two to turn around” … and in the meantime what should people do? Eat their house to survive?

#16 dd on 01.15.09 at 12:22 pm

#4 Makeorbreak

“You can rent your house if you are unable to sell.”

There are a lot of workers here from around the world. When they are unemployed they will return home. In Calgary you might not even be able to rent out your home because this town might be awash in rentals.

#17 dd on 01.15.09 at 12:25 pm

#3 Mike (authentic)

“Calgary O&G is a try if you want to relocate, but from what I hear in the field, everyone is nervous out here for their jobs and there are hiring freezes going on too.”

So true. At my company the CEO has to approve any hiring. Yes the CEO. A company that is large and has about 2500 employees.

#18 LexLimo on 01.15.09 at 12:30 pm

Thanks for sharing this Garth, I don’t usually read the comments. I’m a renter with a pretty safe job even so it’s easy for me to get giddy at the thought of the Real Estate market finally giving the flippers their comeuppance. But it’s easy to forget the human casualties of all this. I hope that man finds what he needs, change is so scary but maybe it’s all for the best.

#19 kitchener1 on 01.15.09 at 12:36 pm

Sad to hear that story, life is a whole lot harder when you are the single bread winner. UI will only net him a max of approx $1500 a month. At least this guy in Toronto has options:

1. Sell the house and rent, the proceeds from the sale will last a while.

2. Get a part time job anywhere–I think that there is a limit to how much you can make working part time while collecting UI, something like $200/week? If he collects UI and makes another $800 (600 after tax) that should put him at $1500 + $600 – $2100 a month plus what ever part time income his wife can make.

3. Draw down on LOC or credit cards as a last resort

4. Get familiar with the food banks in Toronto

This is a great example of the working poor, guy has a mortgage a nice house, a nice car but is living pay cheque to pay cheque. There are thousands of people like this just holding on.

#20 No Fool.... on 01.15.09 at 12:39 pm

How can you have a mortgage and a car loan and have no debt?

I’m still trying to bend my mind around this one.

If you’re looking for work in O&G, it’s going to be a rough go. Think Infrastructure, pal.

#21 George on 01.15.09 at 12:44 pm

You are about to give your children one of the greatest gifts of all – an opportunity to firsthand witness daddy’s grit, fortitude and resourcefulness. IMO once we have children that is job number one. I built a bathroom for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Laguna Beach right one the ocean 28K bucks for the 28 days. It was stuffed with 15 to 18 year olds. Those parents had means for sure but what kind of kids were they launching into society. Kids are cool. Impress em dad you can do it. Dig down deep and pull it up. It’s all there and good luck but really you don’t need the luck you’ll be fine. I think we are at the precipice of a golden opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with what’s really important. Here in malibu guys go to the day spa to have their testicles tweezed for a couple hundred bucks can’t you see that we’re coming to the end of an era. You’ll be fine.

Hey Garth,
got to hear your voice on Howe street. I was expecting a rough worn out voice to go with the beard. You sounded great.

#22 Neville on 01.15.09 at 12:51 pm

“Over 74,000 Canadians lost a full-time job last month, and another 70,000 the month before than. On a per capital basis, we are tossing people aside far faster than the US, where an economic crisis is in full flower.”

Garth I think you need to be careful about the statistics you use. For example:

The net job loss in Canada was only 34,400 while the net job loss in the US was 524,000. On a per capita basis the net job losses in the US are much greater than here in Canada.

This is not to suggest the same rate jobs losses will not reach Canada sometime soon, maybe NOT just soon as you have suggested.

Wrong. We lost 74,400 full-time jobs in the latest period. While part-time jobs and some full-time were created, 74,400 families still lost a full-time position. That is proportionately greater than the US by a wide margin. I wonder if you would use the word “only” to describe job loss numbers if you were one of them. — Garth

#23 JC on 01.15.09 at 12:54 pm

We have been in an oil boom for a decade now. As recently as 4 years ago oil was trading at the rate it is today. Oil companies were doing fine with those prices. But with the continual climb north of $140 bbl simply made their profits balloon and they ran business according to their revenues.

Now the price has come back to reality. When only 4 years ago oil companies were recording record profits at the current price are they now going to close up shop? Are the tar sands with billions already invested and projects half complete going to pull the plug now?

There maybe cut backs but there won’t be the same industry annihilation that took place during the Trudeau NEP.

And ya, dd, I do live in Ab and our company is doing just fine thank-you very much.

#24 jess on 01.15.09 at 12:58 pm

Heloc -home equity loans or using home as an atm is not a good idea if you have been following the usa story.

Calder reports, “The 1930’s were prosperous years for consumer credit agencies. They prospered not by lending to the unemployed and destitute, but by expanding services to people who were fortunate enough to hold on to their jobs.”

consumer credit 1920-1930’s see Lendol Calder, Fiancing the American Dream (Princeton,NJ:Princeton University Press,1999)156-208-290.

#25 LY on 01.15.09 at 1:07 pm

So sad to hear stories like this. One thing that was taught to us when we were still kids by our grandparents in SE Asia is always to live within your means, save and avoid debt. I learn my lessons the hard way when I borrowed heavily using margins for equity investments then Asian crisis bust came. I got wiped out. The only way to get out is to cut spending, sell useless stuff, look for any jobs available even if it is not related to one’s profession and never to give up. I recovered all my losses some years later.

We migrated to Canada in 2005. Despite pressures (and ridicule) from relatives and speculator friends to purchase a house in outrageously overpriced Vancouver houses, we continue to rent and remains debt free. I will wait and buy my first house in Canada when price drop to reasonable level and in cash even if mortgage rate drop to zero.

#26 Nathan in Edmonton on 01.15.09 at 1:10 pm

HM, best of luck to you.
My debt load is similar except my wife and I both are working. If one of us lost our jobs we would still be able to pay the mortgage and bills. How employable is your wife? If she can find work easier maybe you should stay home with the kids. I wouldn’t tap into home equity for very long; your years of budgeting wisely will quickly vanish.

#27 squidly77 on 01.15.09 at 1:20 pm

the one thing that we learn from history
is that we do not learn from history

#28 Chris L on 01.15.09 at 1:21 pm

Rent out your basement.

#29 Wanderer on 01.15.09 at 1:26 pm

sorry to hear about your situation…there could be jobs available but not at locations or industries of your choice. but job is just for paying bills in times like this. I’d suggest the following for your job hunt:
1. Get a Linkedin account and do networking.
2. Search for jobs from a job search engine such as You’ll find jobs from atypical sources and have a greater chance of getting a good break.
3. Be open to doing ‘survival jobs’ if that’s what will keep you going.

#30 squidly77 on 01.15.09 at 1:28 pm

alberta tar sands collapse

#31 superduder on 01.15.09 at 1:35 pm

Now this is a bleak outlook. I have no idea if it is a proper source of news. But in the end what is a real source of “news”

HOUSING MARKET: IRELAND WILL see more demolition than construction of houses over the next decade, as the economy struggles to recover from the collapse of the housing market and the emergence of “zombie” banks, UCD economist Morgan Kelly told the conference.

In a presentation that drew several collective intakes of breath, Mr Kelly predicted that house prices would fall by 80 per cent from peak to trough in real terms.

“Construction, but not demolition, of residential and commercial property will fall to zero for the foreseeable future,” he said.

#32 Bulls eye on 01.15.09 at 1:48 pm

Garth – There are many “closet” readers to your site who are fighting denial that will capitulate. In the end they will be addicted to the this site. Expect the notions of an emotional trail left behind in your blogs. Thank you for the autographed book.
bulls eye

#33 Makeorbreak on 01.15.09 at 1:50 pm

dd: The guy is in Toronto, not in Alberta, so with a $155,000 mortage, I suspect he can cover his expenses with the price of rent. His first choice however should be to sell ASAP and get whatever he can for it. He will probably be left with a profit. It is not a question of months now, but a question of weeks, if not days, until the market is flooded with houses for sale.

He will then be free to relocate if he finds a job elsewhere.

HM: forget about getting a line of credit, as a poster above suggest. You do not want any more debts and take any risks. You were not able to eat last night; imagine with a line of credit, you won’t be able to sleep either.

#34 Niergen on 01.15.09 at 2:02 pm

very sad to hear the story of a Toronto father but as also work in a EPC, it will come to me sooner or later here in Calgary. Had some call from friends telling sad story of theirs.

#35 Me on 01.15.09 at 2:08 pm

There is always hope, sure, we don’t have solution. But, God always does. I don’t know how to help you, but again, I will pray for you. I believe that God will provide your family’s needs. He is the ones who created you, your wife and your kids, He will not ever let you down. You will pass this.

#36 HM on 01.15.09 at 2:10 pm

Kind Folks and Garth,

Thank you for all your recommendations, I will try to rent out my basement ASAP! I did mention selling our home 2-3 months ago to my wife and rent for a bit but didn’t get too far.

As for my wife going back to work not possible at the moment. Daughter number one is 26 months old, and daughter number two is 7 weeks old (and does not take the bottle, we’ve tried).

Currently speechless and emotionally exhausted, sorry nothing more to add.

Thank you all.

#37 squidly77 on 01.15.09 at 2:12 pm

400 calgary layoffs
and so it begins

#38 Bill-Muskoka (Not Anymore) on 01.15.09 at 2:23 pm

Flaherty has a new plan. Personally, depending on the details I like this idea (not the entire budget because, as usual, we have no clue what it contains.) if, yes the BIG IF, I can take advantage of it personally for renos to my own home. Will it be a Refundable Tax Credit? it should be I think.

Now recalling the screwing I got on buying a new fuel efficient vehicle and how they reniged on that promise, like they say at NORAD ‘Confidence is not high!’

This would help the construction industry, but the question, as always, is will it help ALL the construction industry or just the damn developers?

Plan offers tax credit for home renovations

This amidst other news (biased I am sure because that is the MSM’s primary function to be a mouthpiece for the Movers and Shakers, unless they are outsiders who standup for truth) of 2008 home sales hit lowest annual level in six years

As to the subject person’s position I recommend getting to real fundamentals like

1. A place to live

2. Food to eat

3. Ability to travel to work

If you have those you can survive. The rest is pretty much extra wants. Been there and done that.

#39 Judy on 01.15.09 at 2:24 pm

Perhaps your wife could offer day care services to the neighbourhood. This would allow her (if she wants) to stay at home with your 2 young children while earning much needed extra dollars.

Immediately prepare a power point resume.(you can get lots of help with this on-line)…one page of pertinent experience, not your life story, that you can hand out to prospective employers.

Depending on your neighbourhood ….go door to door asking for work from established businesses in your area.
Be pro-active…do not wait for a help wanted ads. Approach the owner/manager yourself and show how eager and willing you are to work.

And no matter what hold your family close and remember how lucky you are to have them and they are to have you.

Best of luck,

#40 john on 01.15.09 at 2:28 pm

HM— Im sad to read about your problems,i also am worried about the future. In my opinion “for what its worth” i would not sell your house–you obviously have some equity built up in it and i seriously doubt if you could rent cheaper than your mortgage payments (have you considered remortgaging for a longer term to bring your payments down?) .I would consider getting rid of those car payments (perhaps a cheaper car till times get better and sell the one you have?).On the positive side you are eligible for UI,you are obviously a good worker,you have your own home,you will survive—never give up, stay positive ,be thankfull for what you have and do what you must i wish you all the best. Contacting Garth is a positive step and im sure any advice he gives to you will be a step in a positive direction.

#41 Whacked_ Out_Winnipeg on 01.15.09 at 2:40 pm


I don’t think it would be a good time to sell your house right now at a reduced price, you are always going to need a place to live. Even if you sell your home your going to need a place to stay and that costs money.

If you sell now your going to have to pay moving expenses plus realtor commision.

The best thing you can do now is ride out the storm and wait until the economy shows improvement. The downturn in the economy will not last forever, ressisions don’t usually last more than 12 months. Don’t let short term thinking, blind you from looking at the big picture.

#42 smwhite on 01.15.09 at 2:44 pm

The only thing these useless service sector jobs serving coffee and working kiosks that are being created do is skew the employment figures.

What they should report is the average salary of each outgoing position lost to the average salary of each incoming position.

Bet you dollars to doughnuts there is a huge discrepancy and that the incoming jobs pay half of what the outgoing are.

The USA doesn’t consider anyone that has maxed out their time on employment insurance as unemployed or even a statistic, it makes you really wonder just what is the real unemployment rate in the USA and how useless and convenient statistics like GDP, Unemployment and CPI really are.

HM, all the best, because of your diligence on paying down your mortgage, you at least have some equity to tap if things start fading fast. I don’t see selling as an option(unless you land employment in another city) as you have two little ones and it would be tough to probably find rent anywhere as cheap as your mortgage.

#43 Sail1 on 01.15.09 at 2:46 pm

And the RE saga continues.

At least Garth is giving us a sneak peak at the conclusion, which is worth its weight in gold or silver.

#44 dd on 01.15.09 at 2:51 pm

#22 Neville

“We lost 74,400 full-time jobs in the latest period.”

Lets just use approximations: The US is 10x Canada in Population and Output.

If the US lost the same amount of jobs the number would be 740,000 unemployed for the month.

No matter how you slice it or count it or approximate it … that is one hell of a lot of jobs to lose in one month.

#45 Senior Citizen on 01.15.09 at 2:52 pm

Garth, I am long time reader of your blogs and books etc. I am also another one who recently lost their job in Toronto in January due to “economic downturn”, Happy New Year! Had been with the company and associated companies for almost 14 years. I am at the age of retirement but due to various historical reasons I am not finacially able to do so. I still have a mortgage and a car payment, doesn’t everybody? CPP and OAS and some savings will certainly help, but I still need to be working to survive. So it’s not just the younger people who are being hit, it’s all ages.

#46 dd on 01.15.09 at 2:53 pm

#23 JC

“There maybe cut backs but there won’t be the same industry annihilation that took place during the Trudeau NEP.”

How about if we enter a depression? Are all debts off then?

#47 East 905 on 01.15.09 at 2:57 pm

Hi HM,
You don’t say what steps you have taken yet, but here are some ideas to save money and move forward (that I haven’t seen posted yet):

1) Cancel your cable service. Cable is an expensive frill.
2) Downgrade your internet service, so you still have internet, just slower and cheaper. Or, cancel it altogether and use the free service at the local library.
3) Do you really need the car? Maybe a monthly TTC/GO pass will suffice until you are back on your feet.
4) You have been paying your mortgage aggressively. Talk to the bank about reducing your regular payment. This will stretch your amortization, but put some cash in your account for the immediate need.
5) Look at the employable skills both you and your wife have, update your CVs, and get out there. Keep an open mind and don’t say ‘no’ to possibilities even if they’re not in your field.
6) Consider service jobs at drug stores and grocery stores. They may be humble, but staff discounts on daily needs are great.
7) I read a book several years ago called “Stop Working and Start Living,” by Dianne Nahirny. This author detailed how she saved money to retire really early. She HATES spending money. Look for the book at the library, as you may get some ideas from it on how to save more.
8) With your new income situation, take a good look at government benefits (eg, GST tax credit, etc) that you may now be eligible to receive, then apply for them.

Best wishes.

#48 Times are tough on 01.15.09 at 2:57 pm

This economy has created many unfortunate circumstances. HM is in a tough situation but there are creative things you can do….why don’t you host exchange students in your home? Since it is your Home that is your largest debt why don’t you make it work for you….rental suite, exchange student or rent a room to a university student. This is what we do and we apply the revenue directly to our mortgage.

These times are tough and some people’s circumstances are worse than others….you will overcome. My in-laws have take my wife and I to court because they claim that they own an equity interest in the home we bought from them 8 years ago. These are crazy times and we will all overcome (court cost later).
It is just a house and you still have your family and hopefully your health.

Take care

#49 crs on 01.15.09 at 3:20 pm

Hi Garth,

I just received your new book yesterday. In my opinion, the negative press is wrong, it’s a great book. For the past six months, I have been thinking more and more about what people did in the Great Depression. ‘What if’ preparedness type questions kept on popping up in my mind, with few answers to be found online. This is a subject not written about enough these days. Your book is shaping up to answer a lot of these questions. I knew going in that it was going to be a preparedness book rather than a “the sky is falling” type of book. However, you do, at least, have to show how possible it is by describing how bad things are, and maybe even connecting the dots a little. Perhaps a journalist that hasn’t read Greater Fool might take that too seriously. I may find that I don’t agree with some of your findings. I’m not looking for reassurance, I’m looking for ideas.


#50 maria on 01.15.09 at 3:24 pm

Thank you Mr. Garth Turner for posting Mr. HM message!
Mr. HM :
Save money on everything as advised before in this blog, start your garden inside and eat what you grow, and if you can not sell your house as soon as possible, rent out the basement or bedrooms, your wife could take care of more children too.

#51 Mike (authentic) on 01.15.09 at 3:28 pm

#17 dd

“So true. At my company the CEO has to approve any hiring. Yes the CEO. A company that is large and has about 2500 employees.”

I can’t name the company, but it’s one of the big O&G’s in Calgary and they are cutting back travel to “essential travel only” to save $ as well. Also a lot of geologist positions are gone too.

JC : “Now the price has come back to reality. When only 4 years ago oil companies were recording record profits at the current price are they now going to close up shop? Are the tar sands with billions already invested and projects half complete going to pull the plug now?”

4 years ago the cost to explore, drill, and pump/mine out the sands was $20 a bbl to break even. Now it’s $65-80 due to rising labour costs, rig costs, etc. Over $417 billion dollars are now on hold in the sands. Labour rates are down by 50% over last year as well.

Also don’t forget that O&G companies need to always replace what they are taking out by finding new O&G resources.


#52 Makeorbreak on 01.15.09 at 3:37 pm

It enrages me to see the city of Ottawa still paralyzed by a greedy bunch of bus drivers.

Who do these people think they are? When you make $65,000 a year + benefits without having to have any education, in dire economic times, it takes guts.

I am for an amendment of the law to allow mass firings, and then re-hire those who were against the strike. I am sure a former Nortel employee or anybody else with a driving permit that lost his job recenty would be happy to switch careers…

#53 PTDBD on 01.15.09 at 3:43 pm

Obama’s plan
American Recovery and Reinvestment

– 275 Billion in tax relief
– 550 Billion in investments

:- ) going forward :- )

#54 squidly77 on 01.15.09 at 3:50 pm

Calgary’s MLS average price drop leads nation, volume decline trails only Vancouver
another killer blow delivered to calgarys real estate market

you can call it a housing crash now

#55 Bermygoon on 01.15.09 at 4:12 pm

38 years old – I would try all the above to get your financial house in order but if they all don’t work I would say take a look at improving your education level. You can probably get EI to help with the cost.

Use the recession to retool yourself and get some initials after your name, when things pick up again you will be ready to be a big player.

If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger, I always say!

#56 Darryl on 01.15.09 at 4:13 pm

What is wrong with a tax credit for renos? Could be used to upgrade insulation or other energy saving projects. Also gives work to construction and skilled trades which in turn goes to retail , wholesale , entertainment, accounting , beerstores :) . Some may build the basement and rent it out .The construction industry is a great money flow machine. Problem is who wants to take out a loan or empty the bank in these times?

#57 Gold Bug on 01.15.09 at 4:14 pm


Brainstorming more than anything…
Trying to imagine myself in your position, even though we are all in different situations…

1) Daycare (at home) as a source of income
2) If you don’t already have it, consider Term life insurance – who knows what can happen;
3) Book: How to survive without a salary : learning how to live the conserver lifestyle / by Charles Long.
by Long, Charles. (My wife who can find a flaw with almost anything, read and liked this book)
Toronto, Ont. : Warwick Pub. : Distributed in Canada by Canadian Book Network, c2003.
ISBN: 1894622375 (pbk.)
Description: 248 p. ; 23 cm.
4) Spend more time with optimistic friends, pessimism kills; there is a lot of pessimism around, but this site offers ideas/solutions as well
5) Snow removal/lawn cutting/house painting as a source of income
6) Make a budget – what is absolutely necessary to purchase
7) Go through last 1 or 2 years of credit card bills, utilities, etc statements – where does the money go? E.g., electricity may be cheaper on weekends…
8) Become religious – believe in yourself, your family, your friends, and help them out
9) Keep in mind – There are people who are worse off
10) You being let go has nothing to do with your abilities – I appreciated that comment when I got it in a letter from Nortel in 2001 tech bust
11) weatherproofing the house – as in every cost-cutting exercise, evaluate cost vs benefits
12) get Garth’s latest book
13) keep a diary, your children will appreciate it when they grow up; you can read it to your grandchildren when this is all a distant memory
14) Getting income is great, people in general can’t save as much as they can earn/make – may be debatable in these circumstances
15) Have some veggies growing, balcony or backyard: it makes me smile when I see my plants grow; don’t uproot lettuce when harvesting, leave a few leaves, you will have more later
16) I will wish you all the best, and the luck will follow your courage

#58 vtj on 01.15.09 at 4:16 pm


Lots of excellent suggestions so far.

I too am a believer in never giving up and I truly believe that everything always works out for the better. I can’t think of anything else to add but I can perhaps offer a reading suggestion which might help to boost your morale. One of my favorite books is “Think & Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Somewhat archaic writing style since it was written several decades ago and some ideas may come off as a bit over the edge but it might at least serve to encourage you through these difficult times. I’m sure you’ll find a copy in your local library.

Best of luck to you

#59 The Tallyman on 01.15.09 at 4:26 pm

Received your book today and just finished the first 2 chapters.
Written in your down to earth style, no fluff and to the point.

Going to be a good read!

#60 The Tallyman on 01.15.09 at 4:59 pm

Man I’m pissed,

After reading HM’s email to Garth it made me wish we lived in a society where we followed at the minimum
“a do no harm” motto.

Is it to much to ask that our politicians and media tell the truth, instead of sucking people in deeper & deeper.
These cretins are purposely fudging reality and screwing up lives to keep the sale going.

I’m sure 99.9 of us would give a heads up to anyone about to be hit by truck or fall into a mineshaft.
This is what decent people do, we look out for each other.
Not so with the greedy clowns running the circus,
just keep em coming … fill the tent, the show must go on.

Who passed the rule where it takes 2 or more incomes to have a roof over your head?
or the imprisonment of our kids in daycare to meet the expectations of home builders.

How many more limbs do we willingly allow to be hacked off in this carrot chase.

Hold your head up & walk proud buddy it’s not you,
Sadly a bunch more of us are going to facing your hardship very soon.

WE don’t need Conservatives, Liberals, or Democrats.
We need humans.

#61 Bottoms_Up on 01.15.09 at 5:10 pm

He never mentioned how much equity there is in his home. With 8 years of weekly mortgage payments, plus price appreciation, I would hazard to guess that there’s a sweet $150,000 to be made if he sells.

Sell your house, and rent. You can live off of the proceeds for at least 3 years. In this time you should be able to find a job that you want. ps. it took me 17 months to get in with the feds. Start applying now.

On another note: I saw a man at Costco today in Kanata that bought 100 litres of milk. Preparing for the worst or a convenience store owner? He looked surprisingly like Garth.

#62 Bottoms_Up on 01.15.09 at 5:12 pm

ps. my great aunt, a high-powered marketing professional in the Toronto area with a ‘stable’ job, was laid off a few weeks ago.

#63 Kash is King on 01.15.09 at 5:38 pm

#52 Makeorbreak:=====> “I am for an amendment of the law to allow mass firings, and then re-hire those who were against the strike. I am sure a former Nortel employee or anybody else with a driving permit that lost his job recenty would be happy to switch careers…”


This is exactly what Ronald Reagan did when he came to power, with the air traffic controlers.

#64 Bill-Muskoka (Not Anymore) on 01.15.09 at 5:40 pm

#60 The Tallyman on 01.15.09 at 4:59 pm

WE don’t need Conservatives, Liberals, or Democrats.
We need humans.

Amen to that! Problem is, too many ‘human beings’ refuse to use their brain, and mindlessly become Sheeple instead.

Their world is a little, well secured reality of something from a make believe past, but they refuse to see others as equal based on religion, wealth, age, appearance, and gender.

#65 Bill-Muskoka (Not Anymore) on 01.15.09 at 5:47 pm

#51 Mike (authentic) on 01.15.09 at 3:28 pm

‘Can’t name the company’? Let me take a guess…ENBRIDGE?

I had a job interview with them when I lived in Edmonton. It had to be the worst job interview of my long life. the guy, a complete Power Pervert had to be the rudest asshole I have ever met in a professional situation. I was happy to NOT get hired. I would have quit very quickly to be free of such a total ass.

Managers like that are not managers, just manglers, and they should be the ones getting the Pink Slips.

#66 Makeorbreak on 01.15.09 at 5:49 pm

If I may add something, children can be extremely expensive, so save some money on diapers and formulas. You may have to revert to good ol’fashioned cloth diapers, but the amount of money you will save will be worth it. As well, formulas for babies can be bought in powder or concentrated. You will save there too.

If you decide to stay in your house, make the most of it and maximize the space. Advertise storage space, put the children into 1 bedroom, and use any spare bedroom, basement and/or attick for a sideline storage business. As the economy worsens, a lot of people are going to lose their houses and won’t necessarily want to part with their belongings.

If you can live without it, sell your car. If you have errands to do, group them and use a car-sharing service. If doable, rent your driveway. There are always people looking for parking spots.

Do not buy anything but the strict minimum. Repair your clothes. Grow a garden next summer and learn how to can food. Do a lot of networking. You may get odd jobs here and there.

Most of all, stay positive. If you believe you will get out of this, you will.

#67 Bill-Muskoka (Not Anymore) on 01.15.09 at 5:51 pm

Oh, for those LOVING the past eight years of Bush in the States. Don’t miss his Farewell address to the nation tonight. Please tune in because I, and most Americans will not be watching. Don’t waste those precious energy resources and electrons. Make his last 30 minutes the ONE Green Thing Bush has done during his entire pissant excuse of a life.

One good thing is the signal will go into space, and any intelligent species receving it will know to Stay Away From Earth! LOL

#68 Bottoms_Up on 01.15.09 at 5:55 pm

pps. Golf Town Deflation: any golfers out there? I was just perusing the store and hundreds of dollars can be saved on new drivers, irons etc.

#69 eddy on 01.15.09 at 6:00 pm

Darryl on 01.15.09 at 4:13 pm

What is wrong with a tax credit for renos? Could be used to upgrade insulation or other energy saving projects. Also gives work to construction and skilled trades which in turn goes to retail , wholesale , entertainment, accounting , beerstores :) . Some may build the basement and rent it out .The construction industry is a great money flow machine. Problem is who wants to take out a loan or empty the bank in these times?

Darryl, on the surface, there is nothing wrong with a reno credit. however, if you reno your principal residence, you would end up with two benefits- the reno credit and the principal residence exemption If you sell. i think flaherty would eliminate one. this looks like a first step to the elimination of the principal residence exemption, which has no monetary limit. it looks like an attempt to kill the black market

#70 dd on 01.15.09 at 6:10 pm

#54 squidly77

“Calgary’s MLS average price drop leads nation, volume decline trails only Vancouver.”

Funny how this is front page now.

#71 Lana on 01.15.09 at 6:24 pm

#55 Bermygoon on 01.15.09 at 4:12 pm

HM, since you live in Ontario you may benefit from some of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities programs–Second Career and Rapid Re-employment.

There is a lot of good advice on this particular post, for people that are in the same position. I’m going to get my husband to read this blog, since he has been looking for work for nine months with no luck.

Good luck, HM.

#72 Sudcouver on 01.15.09 at 6:31 pm

Here are the first MAJOR price drops!

#73 Bertie on 01.15.09 at 6:40 pm

#23 JC,
And JC I lived through that, and it wasn’t Trudeau’s fault for attempting to do the right thing. The blame went squarely on the shoulders of the weasel oil co’s who had the OPTION of staying, but chose to leave. Even then, it was unnecessary, (and they slithered back in anyway and Trudeau did the right thing.
But then the political blame game turned toward forgetting that it was truly the fault of the world wide recession, events of the 70’s and prices, not to mention the ridiculous move by the Federal Reserve increasing rates to 21% which saw people walk away from their houses. In the aftermath, oil co’s and Alberta Cons played us like suckers, left us out to hang, and turned the blame game on Ottawa. Why? Because Cons always blame the other guy.
I can tell you, Lougheed did that little game because he was going to ANYWAY. I was there. Nowadays the ol’ Misinformation Shill re: NEP is out of style.
E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e knows ’81 was a worldwide recession, further ramped by The Federal Reserve’s stupidity, oil co’s greed, and provincial politician’s game-playing. We were their pawns.
Many of us are sick to death of the lies by the Alberta Politicos, having falsely sustained their party by conning their constituents with rhetoric.
Big Old Oil + politician cronies in the west screwed us over, tried to fully blame PET.. Alberta politicians kept lying about it. But anyone who Cries Wolf about it now, just looks foolish.
It’s just one more of the western leaders & cronies’ con game to fool their ‘voters’. That dog don’t hunt no mo’. I will never believe a Conservative ever, ever again. They are just insincere, Reform Alliance Neocons in disguise.

#74 putw on 01.15.09 at 6:49 pm

Unraveling the “new deal”.

The last century belonged to the bolsheviks (enough though we won the cold war, we lost to union terrorists in our so called public service).

This century will belong to PUTWs – private unorganized taxpaying workers. From the 1984 book by Milton Friedman titled, “the tyranny of status quo”, taxation in the US was 3% in 1890 and people enjoyed more freedoms than they do today when the tax rate is upto 75% for some people.

If anyone gives a sh.. about rights and freedoms, read this article.
Remembering the Great Depression

And, make a vow to fight tyranny – be it in the form of Dalton McGuinty banning pitbulls/lightbulbs, or stephen harper spending your children’s money to bail out the CAW.

We have a historic opportunity, since mankind has lived under tyranny for a better part of its existence to bring down and drown big government.

The last depression (30s) brought about big government (FDR’s new deal). I hope this time, we crush big government. I’d love to see a day when bureaucrats will be dragged out of their offices and union terrorists shot at, when the collective realizes that the well-meaning sponsors were long bought out by those with expense accounts and nepotistic plumb appointments.

There’s no reason why, when there are 10,000 unemployed secondary school teachers, the OSSTF demands a 19$/hr minimum wage.

There’s no reason to pay a bus driver 27$/hr when a hard working pakistani cabbie and his family lives in a basement.

There ain’t no reason to pay postal workers anything more than what paper boys make.
And sure as hell, you’ll find there’s no nursing shortage if we choose not to negotiate with the nurses’ union militia and accredit foreign trained professionals.

#75 Bertie on 01.15.09 at 6:52 pm

#67 Bill-Muskoka (NAM)
Did you see Jon Stewart the 13th, his opening featured Bush’s farewell farce. Funniest ever!

#76 Marc on 01.15.09 at 7:03 pm

#68, Being a lefty I always get great deals on clubs, gloves and such. I picked up a Mizuno driver for $50 at Golf Town in the summer. It is a nice club, but I only average about 15 yards longer with a name brand, then when I used my $50 dollar Wally wacker. If you don’t know that is the Cadie gear driver from Walmart. I could have sold dozens on the course outdriving my playing partners with them using their $350+ Taylor mades and such. They were so surprised when I told them how much and where I got it. Should have had some in my bag and sold them for $150. Avg drive for me is 260 btw with the Wally wacker.

#77 john on 01.15.09 at 7:03 pm

First off i must say the money i have saved since reading Garth’s blogs has been incredible,you have prepared me for what i suspected was coming,your honesty has changed my life!–Some things id like to share that i have learned–#1–buy a freezer (a big one)– watch for sales from the grocery stores especially on meat (the flyers usually come out on thurs. and are accessable on the net),learn the bargains and buy the things you like,never shop because you need it–shop because the price is right and you will need it!(remember these sales are to get you in the store–don’t get sucked in by buying the regular priced items),buy your favourites at sale prices and keep a supply,buy fresh vegetables in season-many will keep for months in a cool location e.g.carrots, cabbage,potatoes,squash,onions,garlic etc.(a trip to farm country in harvest season will supply you for the winter at bargain prices).Never buy prepared food of any kind its full of chemicals and you can make it yourself for fractions of the price. The internet has a wealth of information on how to prepare on your own all kinds of foods,recipes galore( im making homemade biscuts now,cakes,bread,soups etc,etc (whats left over when im tired of it i freeze it for a quick meal).My freezer is full im eating better,im learning new things and im having fun saving money–hope this helps someone?–my food expenses are 1/4 what they were and im eating what i want.

#78 Finanzkrise on 01.15.09 at 7:11 pm

Fire sale on Vancouver condos, up to 40% off:

What are the drivers of this sudden reduction? Promotional stunt in a slow market? Unprecedented supply glut? The developer knows that things are only going to get worse? The wolf (financers) are at the door demanding cash flow? All of the above?

#79 Da Hk Kid on 01.15.09 at 7:16 pm

Unfortunately in this world you really needed two middle incomes to keep up and wind down with the jones’s.

Generally having one years after tax income on the sidelines was another savings tool mom & dad taught but nobody signed up for.

You must now put the positive equity in your home to work as you need cash. Rates are quite a bit lower and banks would like to keep you in your house instead of foreclosing at some point.

ALT #1
Look into this immediately by renegotiating on rates, duration and apply for an LOC against it before you loose your job. You are still working on paper for the next two weeks correct?

Whether you have been good at repaying your loan, the banks will give you no bonus points for it and loan you any more money if you cannot support the repayment ie. having a job. GO NOW!!!!!

After you have the LOC, and reduced your mortgage monthly by moving your term out to 25-30 year term you can then be positive about your next phase of looking for work.

ALT #2
Given you have already done the above, in parallel, try and get a current market selling price on your home and do the math as you may have to sell if A/the above doesn’t come through and/or B/you need to move for your job.

To be honest, if you didn’t sell your home by last fall, then it will be tougher to sell week by week as both buyers are waiting for a bottom, sellers are forced to stay in their homes paying off potentially under water mortgages. It will get much worse so if you want to stay in cash and mobile for job flexibility, SELL NOW!

The other things you can do cut you spending is self-explanatory and if it does come down to part time jobs x2 or x3 then both you and your wife need to work together to make this happen.

My best advice after the technical quantitative above is to take it on as a challenge to get through this period, head up, smile and know that when all is said and done you and your family will be stronger for it, and hopefully happier in the new world. New World ETA 2012!

#80 Makeorbreak on 01.15.09 at 7:17 pm!-Phase-IV-de-la-crise-systemique-Debut-de-la-sequence-d-insolvabilite-globale_a2680.html?PHPSESSID=c05bacd134bcd1bef96fd76a74e3ddb4

I guess the English translation will be available shortly.

#81 Waiting for a Deal on 01.15.09 at 7:41 pm


Watch the DVD “The Secret”.

Use it.

I did.

Now money comes to me … I know it sounds, corny … but it just works.

Oh, yeah … rent your basement, start a business your wife can run from your house, collect EI and work part time for cash.

Good Luck.

#82 Bottoms_Up on 01.15.09 at 7:42 pm

The Ottawa Issue:

I’m not sure how this issue is being portrayed across Canada, but the transit strike is horrible. People are getting to work 2 hours late, or not even going in at all. Given that there are a quarter of a million federal employees here, not only is the transit union holding the local public hostage, they are screwing CANADA too, and all the CANADIAN taxpayers!!

#83 JC on 01.15.09 at 7:52 pm

“How about if we enter a depression? Are all debts off then?”

No but if we are hit by an asteroid the size of Texas they are.

#84 another potential source of income on 01.15.09 at 8:25 pm

You have my sympathies, HM.

There have been some great suggestions here for cutting costs and finding supplemental income to tide one over during rough times.

Another suggestion is foreign exchange homestay students, particularly if you have some spare room but not a full basement suite ready to rent out. You have to provide dinner for them, but with 2 kids, you’re cooking anyway, and there are lots of inexpensive but healthy meals one can make with little money (think legumes and other vegetarian stews and casseroles). They are usually short term, so you’re not stuck indefinitely if you end up hating it. They are seldom at home because they’re at school all day and hanging out with new friends at night. I know someone who is earning $1200 a month with 2 exchange students sharing her spare bedroom.

#85 Robert on 01.15.09 at 8:34 pm

HM, Sorry to hear, walked that road myself in the early 80’s, young family etc. It’s going to get bumpy. Don’t panic, but learn to live by the new rules.

1) cut your monthly outlay to the bone where you can.
2) cancel cable (borrow videos from library), cell phone plan (pay as you go only), get dial up internet if you need it.
3) Learn to cook depression style 1 large whole chicken can go 3 meals easily: (roast chicken Monday, hot chicken sandwiches Tue (with the left over meat), chicken stew Wed.(having made stock of the bones and giblets) Stews and soups are cheap to make and very nutritious. Mom can bake bread, Freeze and can. Spuds are nutritious and filling. The Irish lived on them.
4) Second hand- clothes, car parts, furniture.
5) Fix it yourself
6) Have several irons in the fire: any part-time, consulting, short-term jobs to tide you over and keep busy.
7) Use your network, family, friends and any other contacts.
8) stay positive (join a church group and join a community)
9) Things will get better eventually, it’s just a matter of when. In the meantime, just stay busy.

Good luck, you’ll be fine.

#86 Jonathan on 01.15.09 at 8:40 pm


Become familiar with the Canada Build Program, Government of Ontario jobs website and Government of Canada job sites.

Tomorrow morning, wake up at 6:30am, dress up in a shirt and tie, and tell your family to leave you alone because your about to work. Get a phone and a computer and a silent room in your house. Start calling up your city and find out where the procurement jobs will arise due to all this construction. Call Call Call. You need to move fast. The longer you wait the more competition you will face.

#87 Daystar on 01.15.09 at 8:41 pm

Interesting definition.

Try the site below, make some calls and best of luck to you. (Hint. Use keyword “pipe” as a starter)

If you strike out there with private juniors (which you shouldn’t unless you are down east and won’t relocate or don’t have references), try the markets and search every publicly traded stock in the TSX & Venture and track down their numbers the hard way. The larger the cap, the likelier the possibility of getting a job if its your calling. Most of the big players (Encana, Enbridge etc.) are all there. There’s a few that you would have to search phone numbers for online through yellow pages directories or online such as Morgan Kindle which is private, but the rest of the large to mid cap corps are there.

One last tip. Make sure to ask what is being constructed presently or in the near future from pipelines, oil batteries, natural gas compressors, plants, upgraders, the works with every call. That pretty much goes for everyone else looking for work in the oil patch and experience & refs are big ins with the industry.

And good luck! :-)

#88 Tevan on 01.15.09 at 8:54 pm

Dear HM, I feel for ya. Been there, and with two kids, too. (Mind you, without the spouse for the most part)

First, take an inventory of positives:

-have an education (paid off, I assume) and the capacity to continue learning.
-healthy, physically / mentally
-family is healthy physically / mentally

Worst case scenario: You might have to double up with family for awhile. Been there, too. My grown sons are very close with Grandparents!

HM, in my opinion, un-employment insurance should be accessible – whatever an invidividual pays should be able to be withdrawn at any time – in a lump sum or whatever.

Best wishes to you and your fam, HM

PS. For anyone who is interested, The Nation had an interesting article the other day entitled “The Growing Clout of the Nouveau Poor.”

Here’s the link:

Of course, the Nation is a US commentary; however, contrary to what “exceptionalists” believe, the article applies to Canadians, too.

#89 cmp on 01.15.09 at 9:17 pm


I was in exactly same situation in 2005-6.Bought house in summer -2005 and by december, the company i worked for left Canada for Mexico.So this is what did:

1) You will get about 420 dollars per week for your EI.You are also allowed to work for 100 dollars per week(may be 75 dollars,I am not sure).Any placement agency will give you work for a few hours a week,however dont keep your engineering degree in mind while accepting this kind of jobs.It will be very painful.thus, You can have a net income of roughly 1800 dollars(net) per month.
You must be getting atleast 300 dollars per month as child care.So it makes 2100 dollars.

2) If you mtge is more than average rental rates, sell your home and get a rental condo or apartment(950 dollars for 2 beds).If your mtge is less than average rental rate, than keep your house and try to give accomodation to foreign students or whomever you find suitable for money.

3)Downgrade your cable/internet/mobile services.
4)Avoid driving without a reason.
5)If your wife can work…ask her to work for atleast 20 hours per week.That will bring another 500 dollars per month.This will make ur monthly net income to 2600 dollars.
6)Meanwhile , keep looking for a job.Dont move to West unless you have a firm offer from an employer.Situation here is worsening by day.
7)Keep faith in yourself and your family and friends.
6)Last but not the least, watch two episodes of SEINFELD everyday to keep you in good humour mood.

I am sure this letter is your first impulse after loosing the job.In a few days you will accept the reality and become a more stable person.

best luck.

#90 Cendrine on 01.15.09 at 9:39 pm

I got your book today, Garth – thanks a bunch for your prompt mailing! Still discussing options with DH but he is much more optimistic than I am about recovery in 2010. Our discussion with our RE agent yesterday revealed that property hasn’t been moving at all in our price range (250K-299K) and there actually was a small uptick in sales in homes under 200K between Nov 08 to Jan 13/09 compared to the same interval last year. This is in rural SW Ontario. Fortunately, we are not in a must sell position at this time but I am not holding my breath about selling any time soon. It is disappointing to see the “value” of our home diminish but it seems to be happening all over. Our lives are in a “holding pattern” waiting to see what will happen with the budget, with government stimulus plans, pensions, layoffs, the auto industry (we were hoping to move to Windsor to be closer to family). Will there be healthcare jobs? Will I be able to restart my healthcare based business. The answers are difficult to see just now. It’s really difficult to predict just how bad (recession bad vs economic collapse bad) it’s going to get in particular regions.

I wish all the best to HM and his family – as tough as this situation is, at least you have the blessing of small children (how sweet, your toddler noticed you had a “boo-boo”!) so hold them close and hang tight with your DW. Things will get better as they did for us. BTW shopping at thrift stores esp for children’s clothes and furniture helped us a great deal during the late 80s and early 90s and I baked/preserved/cooked from scratch a lot more to make things stretch. I did not use anything disposable (save for kleenex), made do or did without (and there were lots of withouts) and accepted a lot of hand-me-downs. Mothers groups were good networking places for bargains, clothing swaps, information. I hope DW is plugged in to such a group (Early Years, La Leche League for example). Holding you all in my thought and prayers…..

#91 Eduardo on 01.15.09 at 9:48 pm

Hey Mike,

Stop misinforming people if you don’t know about the oil sands. IT did cost about 20$ OPEX to produce oil sands about 4 years ago and now the op costs are probably 30-35 considering gas prices where they are. The higher number (65-80) that you quoted is the supply cost used in economics to produce and build a new oil sands complex. It includes opex, capex and a 10% return… also your number isn’t even right… and you don’t have rigs in the oil sans… you are clearly misinformed so don’t publish your info on here please.

#92 Herb on 01.15.09 at 9:49 pm

For what little it’s worth, our hopes and wishes are with you, HM.

Having been faced with the impact on one casualty, all of us had better pay attention to what our politicians have in mind when they get back to work later this month. Unfortunately, we will not have The Hon. Garth Turner, MP explaining the issues and asking for comment.

#93 TheFirstRick on 01.15.09 at 10:05 pm

#52 Makeorbreak on 01.15.09 at 3:37 pm It enrages me to see the city of Ottawa still paralyzed by a greedy bunch of bus drivers.

Who do these people think they are? When you make $65,000 a year + benefits without having to have any education, in dire economic times, it takes guts.

I am for an amendment of the law to allow mass firings, and then re-hire those who were against the strike. I am sure a former Nortel employee or anybody else with a driving permit that lost his job recenty would be happy to switch careers…
Excellent idea right about now; target the working middle class and blame them for all that ails us.


#94 Jeannie on 01.15.09 at 10:06 pm

HM, when we were first married, we rented a small apartment in the upstair part of a house owned by German emigrants.
These people lived on the main floor with their two kids,and also rented two rooms in the basement to single men with out-of-town jobs.
This was modest house which they had renovated by themselves.
Last I heard, their boys had graduated with honors from University, and Mom and Dad own two prosperous business’s that cater to emigrants.
Maybe the secret is to keep it simple, and make a living doing something that you know best.
I hope you can keep your house, it will be the one constant in this sea of change that is engulfing us.
To tie your home up with fancy financing could be more complicated than sacrificing your privacy for a few short years.
Good luck.

#95 Thomas Stirr on 01.15.09 at 10:15 pm

HM…I would like to understand more about your particular situation. Please email me at [email protected].

#96 TheFirstRick on 01.15.09 at 10:23 pm

#60 The Tallyman on 01.15.09 at 4:59 pm …….
Who passed the rule where it takes 2 or more incomes to have a roof over your head?
or the imprisonment of our kids in daycare to meet the expectations of home builders………
Feminists. But, man this is WAY off topic.

#97 Bill-Muskoka (Not Anymore) on 01.15.09 at 10:23 pm

#83 JC on 01.15.09 at 7:52 pm

It was due to an ass-turd-rhoid from Texass that we are in this mess. Never forget, and NEVER AGAIN!

#98 Bill-Muskoka (Not Anymore) on 01.15.09 at 10:29 pm

#75 Bertie on 01.15.09 at 6:52 pm

You betcha. It was the sequel to ‘Dumb & Dumber’ called ‘DUMBEST MORON ON EARTH!’

They will have to re-write the psych diagnostic manual to include a whole new category. That is Bush’s legacy! LOL

#99 TheFirstRick on 01.15.09 at 10:33 pm

#85 Robert on 01.15.09 at 8:34 pm
Good advice to HM. The only “list” so far that didn’t involve spending money.

#100 Bill-Muskoka (Not Anymore) on 01.15.09 at 10:33 pm

Speaking of the beloved Oil Companies. Anyone watch ‘The Nature of Things’ tonight on the Exxon Valdez fiasco?

#101 entropy on 01.15.09 at 10:38 pm

Re OP: “We are a single income family with 2 very young children both under 3 years of age.”

The children are your most important investment. Your kids can become exceptional if you spend time teaching them now, and for the next ten years. Since your wife is staying at home, she can teach them how to read well and how to do a significant amount of mathematics before they reach school age. Don’t depend on the school system–if you do, your kids will most likely end up being average. You should teach them at levels a few years ahead of what is considered appropriate for their ages. If you do this they will find school incredibly easy and they will they will be the highest achievers in their classes. If you teach your children well, they will climb to the top. They will earn scholarships, making their tertiary schooling free. Eventually they will become big earners capable of taking care of you in old age.

Of course your immediate needs are short-term. If the excellent suggestions of the preceding posts turn out to be of only of limited help, it may be worthwhile checking out your neighbourhood for casual work opportunities that may hold you over until something better comes along. Older folks often need help with home maintenance chores.

Hope things work out well.

#102 cowgirl kiss on 01.15.09 at 11:04 pm

Dear East 905,

I love Diane Nahirny’s book. I read it 4 years ago and thought it was a wonderful alternative to the treadmill we find ourselves on. She got it right then and it will work again now. I just read it again and highly recommend it: “Stop Working and Start Living”.

#103 Bertie on 01.15.09 at 11:06 pm

#74 putw

It sounds like you really hate the middle class.

Why don’t these middle class wage earners deserve every penny they get? Corrupt international firms cheat every dollar they can out of their workers so that their CEO’s can roll in billions. For some reason you have a reversed view of who deserves to make a wholesome wage. Until the past few weeks, I probably would have sided more closely with you about unions, but now I’m seeing things a little more clearly. If union leaders go way too far, that’s one thing, but unions really helped the middle class along if anything. [However, I still won’t vote NDP.]

And “Big” government certainly does NOT equivocate to corrupt government. Nor does is equivocate to pork. In fact what you are stating is the neocon party line that was intended to fool citizens. The neocon agenda is to confuse the two.

It’s a simple and clear fact that more and more, we need increasing government to encompass an ever-increasing, ever-changing population, and corruption. We simply cannot trust folks. Your “smaller” government would give corruption a free reign on us.

The thing you’re confusing is that we need to get rid of a lying government, much like the one we have now. When government lies to the people to help facilitate corporations, that’s a problem for the very survival of the middle class.

With an ever increasing population we need our regulators and industry watch dogs to be beefed up. Yet incredibly, here we have a government muzzling and firing watchdogs. Be very afraid of the advantage this slippery government is trying to take of us. These cons would never run this government cleanly, even if they had hindsight!

#74 putw

And as for your pit bull comment, my neighbour’s pit bull knocked me aside, ran through my door and caused me a $200 vet bill when it attacked my pet. Face the fact they are NOT by any means a normal, nor natural animal, they are instead Franken-pups.

#104 Bertie on 01.15.09 at 11:16 pm

You will find something, even if modest.
Since you can’t keep up with the Jones’ -that will be fine, as long as you keep realizing you don’t need to.
Being able to handle just eking out survival, hand to mouth, is all in the mind. In 11 years you will be very proud and even wiser than you are now, because of it.
You’ll be fine. Thank you for sharing your story. My only worry would be if you worried yourself sick. Don’t, it’s not necessary. The secret is that the Jones’ weren’t worth keeping up with anyway.

#105 HM on 01.16.09 at 12:25 am

All thank you very much, never thought this could happen to me. Hopefully in the coming weeks / months I will find work and I will post on this blog.

Maria thank you for the advice and words of encouragement sent privately through Garth via email.

Garth, don’t know what to say. Thank you for listening.

Again thank you,

#106 nonplused on 01.16.09 at 1:45 am

Hey I’ll take the Land-X wind turbine at wholesale and move in with Garth deal too! That way I can shuck the rent thing. Hope you got a big garage cause I got a lot of toys. And so do my kids! I’ve been somewhat irresponsible with my proceeds from selling the house and everything was on sale.

The good news is that we can go motorcycle cruising. Garth on his $40,000 Harley and me on my $13,000 V-Star, which is actually a better bike in every way but the name and accessorizeation. Normally this would have been an $18,000 touch, but like I said, sales. Plus fuel injection, liquid cooling, more horsepower, similar torque, better workmanship, better mileage, etc.

This is part of the problem. North American markets have been so starved of real capital for so long that we can no longer produce even an inferior product at a competitive price. The governments are borrowing all of the money out of the system! The Canadian Federal and Alberta governments key exceptions recently, but no more!

With regard to the post, my experience (consultant) is that the labor market is indeed drying up quickly. But there are still jobs available. The poster should not despair so much until 2 months of hard searching has produced no job.

The bad news is the new government stimulus programs are going to strip what little capital remains from the free markets and redirect it to government borrowing, so he better get a government job.

#107 Lana on 01.16.09 at 9:38 am

#77 john on 01.15.09 at 7:03 pm

Lots of good advice in your post, John. I’ve been doing some of the same things, but you’ve given me some new ideas too.

Making your own cleaning products and laundry soap can save a lot of money too. My daughter gave us the recipe, and we just bought the ingredients for it. I don’t have it handy but if anyone is interested I’ll post it.

Someone mentioned renting a spare bedroom to exchange students. Do you have more information? Who do you get in touch with?

#108 TS on 01.16.09 at 10:38 am

#74 putw on 01.15.09 at 6:49 pm

putw…your posting seems to have a common theme throughout it…no matter what someone makes they are overpaid and should be paid less. For the sake of consistency let’s find out what you do to earn a living and let the bloggers here determine how much less you should be paid. Then, let’s see how well your philosophical shoe fits your own foot.

#109 AJ on 01.16.09 at 11:28 am


Check out – they are awesome. Local, organic foods that are really healthy for your family and very affordable ($22 for small box, lasts 2 weeks).

Also, maybe you should consider selling you car? If that is possible. If you need one- buy an older one (I got a Honda Accord and it is brilliant!) and never carry a car payment again. You will save yourself a tonne of money.

You can do this- its a challenge and you are being very resourceful.

Good luck.

#110 Mitchell Cardno on 01.16.09 at 12:42 pm


Sometimes if you’re extremely cash strapped, you need to consider all of your options, and one option that hasn’t been mentioned is withdrawing your RRSP’s early. Now before everyone jumps on me to tell me how that’s a horrible idea, be aware of the large tax restrictions on it (after all, you did get your tax credits back – if you’re in the top tax bracket, 29% from federal and around 16% from provincial = ~46% refund).

If you’re going to withdraw from your RRSP’s, check out:

I would only recommend withdrawing 5k (with a 10% penalty) would yield $4.5k per year, this would give you some much needed cash for food if required. You’ll still be taxed on this 4.5k, but now that you’re at a much lower tax bracket with only collecting unemployment insurance, it’s not as bad as you would think. You may even be able to get your wife to withdraw the 5k with only the 10% penalty as well if you’re extremely desperate.

Anyways, just another option to consider

#111 Darryl on 01.16.09 at 1:51 pm

#69 Eddy
Gotcha. I see your point. If they did that then they would have to make your mortgage payments tax dedutable as well. Or at least I would hope.That’s how it is done in the US.To just take it away would lead to a revolt .

#112 TrueGritCalgary on 01.16.09 at 2:57 pm

Mitchell Cardno, I totally agree with your post, but only as a last resort as you said. HM is still nearly 30 years away from retirement, so if he has to raid his RRSP he still has lots of time to save for a future that might not exist if he does not take advantage of all the resources he presently has at his disposal. Life is filled with many forks in the road.

#113 if you don't like it on 01.16.09 at 3:10 pm

Maybe this is just an oppertunity to cut out all the over paid under worked guys sitting in their offices

#114 kw on 01.16.09 at 4:07 pm

#107 Lana on 01.16.09 at 9:38 am

we would certainly appreciate your recipe for your cleaning supplies.

#115 Dithers on 01.16.09 at 4:55 pm

You all loved it when times were good.
You didnt give a DAMN about anything but your ugly new cars and your cable TV and your shiny ugly clothes.
Now the miserable THIEVES you voted in to power have shafted you.

And you are WHINING like the weaklings you are.

You dont like whats going on?

WELL DO SOMETHING. Try civil action.
Try crime.
Try taking from the rich.

Try seeing that this country does NOT belong to a few rich thieves.

Tolstoy said behind every great fortune is a great crime.

Those ‘leaders’, those ‘CEOs” are all THIEVES and CROOKS.

Still dont get it? Well I guess you watched just too much bad TV.

Try disappearing. — Garth

#116 Robert on 01.16.09 at 7:54 pm

boo hoo everyone is crying

raised four children alone in poverty for fourteen years

no one gives a shit
I dont even have a vehicle cant afford one

IF i didnt grow my own food and chicken and eggs
we wouldnt eat

boo hoo the country is falling apart
LIfe is hard
NO its always been falling apart
and life has always been hard
Just not for the rich

ten years and 15 million unemployed
and the rich will just own all the land and houses
and start the whole dam thing over again

anyone know of a woman that wants to
have a man
get laid
grow chickens
have a garden
ignore the world for the next five years?

#117 Lana on 01.17.09 at 6:27 am

#114 kw on 01.16.09 at 4:07 pm

Recipe for laundry soap–my daughter got it off the website below, and uses Sunlight bar soap, borax and washing soda. The difference is 3 cents a load as compared to 30 cents a load using regular laundry detergent such as Tide. It does a better job too.

Here’s another good website for making your own cleaning products.

#118 BBC on 01.17.09 at 6:25 pm


-You need to work on your ‘Personals Ad’. You just seem like a ignorant, whinning, disgruntal, pitiful, sad man. Time to suck it up and quit complaining or no one will want you.

-Don’t you ‘raise’ chickens not ‘grow’ chickens? Just thought I’d ask.

#119 Al on 01.21.09 at 7:32 pm

Hello All,

This, unfortunately, is becoming a sad reality for many individuals in various fields. A good resource for jobs in the Engineering and Construction industry is These guys focus on Project Management, Estimating and Site Supervision as well as various disciplines of Engineering across Canada.
Check them out, it does not cost to speak with them.

Hope this helps.