Using videos to teach young people about money

April 20 2014 by Ellen Roseman

Many people will never read a book about personal finances. The Wealthy Barber did well because it was about friends hanging out together, talking about things like baseball and cutting hair, as well as money.

For those who find books a slog, watching a video may appeal in a way the printed word does not. The whole world is on YouTube. Now I am too.

On April 15, I was the master of ceremonies at a news conference to launch a series of free online videos, based on the Financial Basics workshop I helped develop with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and the Investor Education Fund.

Since 2010, I’ve hosted the four-hour Financial Basics workshop at the Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University, reaching about 100 people at a time. (The next one is Tuesday, May 13, 5.30 p.m.)

Ryerson is committed to financial literacy. It insists on keeping these workshops free to the public. Anyone can attend. No solicitations allowed.

Former Chang School dean Gervan Fearon decided to produce videos to reach a wider audience. The FCAC agreed to subsidize the costs. I appear in the English version. Stephane Veron, a Ryerson professor, appears in the French version.

We knew there had to be something to lighten the mood. Money lessons can be tedious.

Since there was no budget to hire actors, the producers decided to tell stories using Twitter and text chats among friends.

Hope you like the results. There’s a two-minute preview at the top of the page, letting you know about the objectives for the video project.

Searching for a reliable roofer

April 2 2014 by Ellen Roseman

Our home insurance company called to cancel our coverage for leaks coming through the roof. The reason? We hadn’t replaced the roof since 1986.

If we sprung for a new roof, we were told, the insurance company would consider reinstating our coverage.

Of course, this would save money for the insurer, since it would lower the risk of roof leaks and costly claims.

The idea of getting roof repairs scares me. I often hear stories from readers about defective shingles and worthless warranties. CBC Marketplace did a story on this in 2010.

Nevertheless, I’m looking for quotes from companies I find online. Not an easy job with a proliferation of firms.

First, I went to Homestars,which is well known for customer reviews of contractors. With hundreds of Toronto roofers listed, I looked for those with ratings of 9.5 to 10 (out of 10) and the owner’s name clearly visible.

I also went to Trusted Pros, which lets you search for contractors and find what their customers think of them. But there weren’t many reviews of Toronto roofers. Most were not yet rated.

What I did like was the site’s helpful articles, such as, “How to avoid a libel lawsuit when critiquing your contractor.”

Then, I ran across something called Smart Reno, which acts as a matchmaker for customers and contractors. I described the job and left my email address and phone number. Now I’m getting contractors calling me to see if they can inspect the roof and give quotes.

The final stop was the Better Business Bureau, which lists helps you screen out contractors to avoid (those with ratings of D or F). I checked out City Wide Roofing, which called me after I went to Smart Reno. They had an A+ rating.

Now I know why I waited so long to replace the roof. It’s an expensive job and requires an informed decision. Any advice is welcome. Wish me luck.