What the hell is an NFT?

The next digital revolution — let’s break it down for you.

Chances are you’re feeling the same way your grandparents did when the internet blew up in the ’90s and, rest assured, you’re not alone.

Las year , you saw Mark Zuckerberg host a weird video about a game-like reality. Now, your friends are making thousands of dollars on some alien planet they call the “Metaverse.”

What kind of witchcraft is going on here? Let me break it down for you.


NFTs explained

An NFT, or “non-fungible token” is a digital asset that’s been around for quite a while now. In plain English, that basically means that it’s entirely unique and irreplaceable… kind of like the original Mona Lisa — just digital.

Think of it as a form of virtual art, whether it’s music, a drawing, a Gucci-themed ghost, or a picture of your cat. Wait, I can make money off my cat? We’ll get into that in a second.

So how exactly do NFTs work? It all started with Ethereum, the first blockchain to support these tokens. To oversimplify: a blockchain is a digital ledger that records and distributes all transactions across an entire network of computer systems, making it virtually impossible to be manipulated.

Ethereum’s blockchain, unlike Bitcoin and Dogecoin, is designed to support NFTs by storing additional bits of information. Attaching metadata (details like name, description, image and a link), along with a transaction log, to each token provides investors, artists, and collectors an additional layer of authenticity and value to their assets.

When crypto-mania exploded and gained support from high-profile celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Gen Z masses were quick to hop on the trend. In fact, Chain Analysis, a data platform providing research findings, estimates that the NFT market reached $41 billion (yes, with a “b”) in 2021.

Unsurprisingly, a number of other NFT-supported blockchains have since emerged like Flow and Tezos, each trying to capture their share of the market.


The Metaverse explained

So, you just bought Beeple’s artwork for $69 million and want to show it off. There’s only one problem – it’s not a physical object. Did you really just waste $69 million? No need to panic, the tech gods have got us covered.

Simple, just buy land in Decentraland – one of many virtual land platforms – build a museum, hang up your most prized possessions on the wall and invite others to visit. Problem solved.

Welcome to the Metaverse.

A virtual or augmented reality where you can do everything you do in the real world — okay, maybe more. Your avatar (fancy way of saying your fictional character) can buy clothes, cars, houses and can go to work, just like you do in real life. Here’s the catch: those virtual goods cost real money.

If you’re thinking this might just be a phase, have a look at world-renowned brands who are diving into NFTs like Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, Balenciaga, Gucci, Ray-Ban… the list goes on. They can now sell their products for real money, while avoiding rising costs along with the entire manufacturing and supply-chain process. No wonder big corporations are hopping on the crazy train.


I just want to know how I can make money off my cat

Well, it’s certainly not impossible. A proud pet owner recently sold a picture of their grumpy cat as an NFT for $83,000. Shortly after, a meme of a dog, commonly known as Doge, was auctioned for $4 million. The best part is that the process is pretty straightforward once you got your digital wallet set up: you simply select an NFT marketplace like OpenSea, upload your file along with important details, and let the buyers bid away.

Oh, and it gets better. A CNBC report just announced that real estate sales in the Metaverse hit $500 million in 2021. Let that sink in – digital land and buildings… in an imaginary world… are now worth more than Beyonce’s entire career. Yes, the world has completely lost its mind. Or perhaps not.

It seems the Metaverse, along with NFTs, has given birth to a different form of investment. Similar to stocks, investors are buying tokens with the expectation that their value will appreciate and that they’ll be able to re-sell them for a profit. Of course, this is the lowest level of NFT involvement and requires nothing but a digital wallet and a couple hundred dollars (maybe more than a couple).

So, the big question remains: is this a bubble? Perhaps, but one thing is sure, there is money to be made until it bursts.


Graphics by James Fay

Student Life

Girls Who Like Money: Why we’re workaholics

Answer: we don’t know


Girls Who Like Money is a column written to help you feel less bad about your money habits, plus some advice on how to finance your expensive taste.

What is it about being 22 that makes you realize who you are? Is there some sort of old and wise threshold that you need to pass in order to understand all those parts of you that don’t make sense?

I’ve been a perfectionist for as long as I can remember, and for a long time that was all it was. I have always been artistic, creative, independent, down-to-earth, and a go-getter. However, I am also forgetful, never on time, stubborn, jaded, and chronically depressed and angry.

Everyone’s good traits have a dark side (call it yin and yang). For me, perfectionism manifested into hard-core-BDSM-level workaholism. Some might call it ambition. I call it perfectionism, but often throughout my life it appeared as the exact opposite: carelessness.

I suppose it’s because it’s impossible to be perfect all the time, but my nit-picking has always been selective, and school was last on the list. I took the easy way out with everything that was required, but anything not required had to be executed to perfection.

The other day I started thinking about high school. I don’t remember much from my time spent in class, apart from harsh fluorescent lighting and the constant feeling of wanting to get in and out of it as soon as possible. I was always rushing to school, as two tardies got you detention, and rushing out of school, back to my other life.

My other life, my real life, was work. I’ve always loved learning, but having long-ago realized the arbitrariness of grades, my brain must have logically pushed them to the bottom of my priorities. Schoolwork was just below chores, which were below exercise, which was below friends, which were below family, which, admittedly, was below work.

Work is over everything, and when you’re not working, you’re thinking about more ideas you can execute and whether something needs revision. Somehow, you always create more work.

You hope to surround yourself with other workaholics, so that your priorities don’t get in the way of, but rather support the friendship. So that’s how I’ve always met my best friends — through work. And that’s just one way a workaholic unconsciously creates a life that is centred around their job(s).

But how does a workaholic manage the other aspects of life? A workaholic might respond, “What other aspects?” Family, friends, relationships, and health all take a backseat when there’s work to be done. And there’s always work to be done… even when you’ve finished it all..

A workaholic often stays up late to top things off. Nine-to-five work hours are suggested for other people, but not for us. How does one kick off a budding career with all that time spent sitting around? Answer: one doesn’t. Instead, we use the omnipresent threat of said “budding career” as a reason to push harder.

We often wake up in the middle of the night to write things down, set our alarms for way too early, and end up sleeping in. Our Google Calendar app is where we feel most at home.

Even now as I write this, my partner and I are spending quality time, as we always do, cuddled up next to each other. As usual, he’s sleeping and I’m deep into this semi-necessary extra-curricular task.

We’re both workaholics, and as I explained once to my therapist, “It works out well because we have the same schedule.” She responded, “Yeah, but when do you spend time together?” I painted, for her, a picture of this exact moment: The Office plays in the background, he’s sleeping next to me, and I’m getting through the work I’m still catching up on from the day. That counts, right?

If you’re reading this and you think this may be you, I’m sorry but I haven’t figured out why we’re like this. If this article seems chaotic, that’s because it’s a reflection of me. However, there has been one discovery to come out of this.

As much as I love money, I realize now that money has nothing to do with my workaholism. You know how I know? Because I have three jobs. Two jobs are fun and make me almost nothing. The other job sucks and makes enough to pay rent and then some. Guess which job I do most?

I always thought I loved money so much that all I wanted to do was make more of it. But the truth is, I just want to do stuff. I always want to stay busy, because when I’m not busy, I just have ideas that never come to fruition.

It’s like getting in a metro car that never closes its doors. It just stays still for 20 minutes and you wonder if you should get off. And then another 20 minutes go by and you get off and you have to figure out another way to get to the place you’re going. It’s the same feeling.

People talk about balance, and I wonder how I can do that too. Let me know if you figure it out.


With love,



Girls Who Like Money: How I Beat My Shopping Addiction

My story of hitting rock bottom and making it out on top

Girls Who Like Money is a column written to help you feel less bad about your money habits, plus some advice on how to finance your expensive taste.

Let’s talk about depression. When people think of an extreme case, they automatically think of suicide, but the extremities of your symptoms can manifest in every area of your life. Think finances: Who’s paying the bills when you live alone and sleep for 16 hours a day?

Depression is something every person can be afflicted by. Even if you aren’t diagnosed, it’s not an overreaction to say, “I’m feeling depressed today.” Of course, it affects everyone differently. As a person with chronic depression, it makes me feel like life is hard. In truth, my life is easy. For me, it just takes a little more effort.

The difference between myself today and myself two years ago is that I now make a continued effort to stay out of depression. I closely monitor my actions, my reactions, and my mood. If I feel like I might be getting into a depression, I muster up all my strength to crawl out of it. Not saying it always works. But it’s better than what I did before.

Two years ago, if I felt myself getting depressed, I would relish in it. Actually, I wouldn’t “feel” myself getting depressed at all. I would ignore it. I would skip class, not turn in assignments, and show up late to work. When I lost my job, I had so little confidence that I couldn’t find a new one. I almost got kicked out of school. I could barely pay rent, never remembered to pay bills, ignored calls from collection agencies… That year I paid my tuition six months late.

On the outside, I appeared fine. I would joke and hang out with my friends, go out every night of the week, and consistently treat myself to whatever I wanted. 

It’s called instant gratification. It’s when a person ignores the reason why they feel bad, and just solves it right away with something really cool. This is the root of all addiction. Only problem is, it wears off after about 30 minutes. For me, that was shopping. One thing that’s great about Concordia is that a new pair of shoes is less than a minute’s walk away. Great for me, anyway.

At that time, after class, I would make myself feel better for showing up to the lecture 45 minutes late by treating myself to something nice.

It started out innocently enough. I just needed a new pair of mittens, since they keep my fingers warmer than gloves. $12. No big deal.

Later that week, it got colder. I needed a new coat, as mine was not quite warm or chic enough. And a scarf. And, ooh, this cute hat! $65. It’s okay, only a few dollars more than my wifi bill.

Next week, I decided I didn’t have any pants to wear (meaning I didn’t have enough so that I only had to do laundry every three weeks instead of two). So I bought a few new pairs of pants. While in the store I realized I was simply out of cute shirts, so I bought a few of those as well. $200, gone. Woah, half a month’s rent… But it’s okay, I’ll get a new job soon. (I didn’t.)

After pulling one too many times from my tuition-only savings account, I started not having enough money for rent. I was now spending up to $600 in one shopping trip, about once a month, wondering why I couldn’t pay for anything else. I still had no job, and no awareness that I was depressed. After ignoring yet another late rent payment, I decided my only option was to never enter a store again. Luckily, Canadian Amazon sucks.

I recovered soon enough. The next year, I quit smoking cold turkey. Soon after, I met my boyfriend of two years. If anything, what a relationship does is make you really see yourself. I started talking to a therapist and realized I was depressed.

Therapy taught me that I am the only one able to help myself. I speak to myself much more kindly now. I forgive myself for not doing the dishes for two days straight, and I get up and do them. I force myself to pay rent and to turn in my assignments on time, even when I suddenly have the urge to drop out or move across the country. I have not one job, but three. I signed up for auto-pay. I use a planner. I have money saved for the first time in five years. Everyday depression is there, but now I’m strong enough to fight it.

Feature graphic by Lily Cowper


Why banking sucks here

Why does Quebec make us choose a bank based on which one sucks the least?

Upon meeting a new friend, one might be asked their astrology sign, how many siblings they have, or what they do for a living. It helps us get a sense of who a person is. What might be most telling, for Quebecers, is to ask which bank they use.

The Big Five make up most of the Canadian market share, so chances are, your new friend banks with one of the following: Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal (BMO), or Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

Thanks to extensive mergers over the past few decades, these banks have become about as big as government institutions themselves. An international banking regulator called the Financial Stability Board determines which banks are global systemically important banks (referred to as G-SIBs, and domestically as D-SIBs). As of 2020, TD and RBC are still on that list, which also includes U.S. banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

Lists like these are based on an economic theory that some banks become “too big to fail” (TBTF), when so much of the population relies on them to remain stable. G-SIBs and other banks the government decides, whether explicitly or implicitly, are TBTF, are regulated to “maintain additional capital buffers” and “discourage banks from becoming even more systemically important,” according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). They are also high-profile enough that in an economic recession, or even a forecast of a recession, the government becomes pressured to become their guarantor.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

Logically, it seems like if a big bank has so much money, it would be the safest place to be during a recession. Sometimes that’s true. The fact that our banks are so large and diversified made them some of the most stable banks in the world, as ranked by Global Finance Magazine in their annual stability report. But sometimes it makes it riskier.

Once big banks get TBTF status, they have virtually unlimited protection from the government. Given they are still businesses trying to make as much money as possible, they are prone to make riskier moves, leading to higher likelihood of more government bailouts.

Don’t like the fact that your tax dollars would be bailing out a company that rakes in a couple billion dollars each quarter? Maybe you do. It’s partially what makes our banks so stable.

Others can’t get down with it. Given the fact that our banks are very stable, most Canadians believe they aren’t in need of government assistance. Many journalistic efforts have been published, including pieces by the Financial Post and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Most of these pieces are merely estimations based on public funding, such as pension funds and individual welfare checks. Some have even cited CERB as an implicit government subsidy for people’s pandemic-related bank struggles.

Employee-led research from the Bank of Canada arguing against TBTF cites that along with increased market power, gaining TBTF status was the driving force behind major bank mergers and the formation of the oligopoly we know and love today. While at the G-SIB level, they are subject to global regulations putting caps on profits, they are more likely to receive implicit support when the economy struggles.

Like any good government organization, our big banks have their flaws. You might wait forever, or be helped pretty unhelpfully. You might wonder why your bank doesn’t give a hoot that you’re funding their business with literally all the money you have.

Bank mergers are a major reason why we pay way more for our banking privileges, compared to the United States. Down south, you can almost universally expect to bank for free, and earn a decent interest on your savings account. That’s due to their more fragmented system, which creates more competition between large and small banks, leading to lower rates. Our Big Five are the result of major mergers of medium-sized banks seeking more market power. They now dominate the Canadian market and charge us the fees to match.

Another downside to the oligopoly is that no matter what, money in your bank account is funding a company that can put money in whatever they choose, regardless of their clients’ politics. As CBC reported earlier this year, RBC is among the top five banks worldwide involved in fossil fuel financing, with over $160 billion lended out between 2016 and 2020. Reasons for not pulling out, if any, would be fear of disrupting the Canadian economy, which is heavily reliant on the fossil fuel industry, according to CBC.

As of November 2021, all Big Five will sign onto a new international agreement, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), according to CBC. While the goals of this new agreement include prioritization of “green” investments and lowering emissions of bank clients, signatories of the plan need not to withdraw from ongoing funding projects in the fossil fuel sector. Climate activists have warned the public not to start celebrating until those withdrawals are made.

Finding My Bank Soulmate

Ever tried joining a new bank in Quebec? Maybe you’ve just been with the same one since you were 14, like I had. When I first moved to Canada four years ago, I just went to the one that was closest to me. After three years, I started noticing how much I detested it. Some people do all their banking online, but I’m more high-maintenance than that.

My bank never answered the phone, and when they did they would respond with long scripted responses. At the branch, they looked at me with disgust when I approached their counter, they held my checks for days on end. I didn’t feel wanted.

Since my broke beginnings while growing up in the States, I’ve held an account at a credit union, not a bank. If you’re a true Quebecer, you’ll know it as the “caisse-populaire,” associated with the Desjardins group. Credit union, caisse-populaire, potato, potate. Same thing? You could say so. I’ll share my American experience first.

Close your eyes. Imagine a world just like your own. Maybe a tad warmer. Imagine you call your bank and they pick up right away. Imagine they speak with you like a friend: They ask you about your day, and give you all the platonic intimacy you deserve. Imagine you hang up the phone feeling satisfied and reassured that your request has been diligently honoured.

Imagine your account is free, no matter how much is in it, and when you walk into a branch, at least three individuals await you with a smile, and even if they have filing to be done, you, a member, are their top priority. Open your eyes: that’s what a credit union feels like.

Upon making the decision to leave TD after three years — a bank I highly do not recommend — I looked endlessly for another bank with this level of devotion. Unfortunately, I don’t think it exists in Canada just yet.

When inquiring on what bank is best to turn to, most reddit users recommended Tangerine, one of the only online banks available in Quebec. Formerly known as ING Direct, it has since been acquired by Scotiabank, but still operates as a separate company. Due to the lack of in-person branches, it’s free for everyone, and has some of the best rates for high-interest savings accounts. It seemed like my only option. At the same time, if I did turn to Tangerine, I’d be going from unpleasant, in-person branch visits, to no branch visits at all. Is that what I really wanted?

I quickly realized that what I was looking for was not a bank, but a credit union, just like I had back home. The peak difference between a bank and a credit union is that a bank is for-profit, and a credit union is not-for-profit.

A credit union is like your local co-op grocery store. As a member, you are part owner and participant in the union, in turn taking advantage of low rates and high quality service. A bank is a business set out to make profit and satisfy shareholders —  the reason for usually much higher rates.

Did you ever notice that while a credit union has more of a “you’re one of us” attitude, a bank has more of a “you need us, we don’t need you” attitude? Maybe not. That’s because unlike every other Canadian province, in Quebec, Desjardins is basically just another one of the Big Five. Actually, if you considered it a bank, it would knock CIBC right out of the Big Five club.

Caisses Un-Populaires

Time for the tea you all came for. Let’s talk about credit unions in Quebec: a concept that has a history tied to the very beginning of credit unions in North America.

Desjardins is our one and only caisse-populaire in Quebec, founded in 1901 by a Mr. Alphonse Desjardins as the first credit union in North America. Just seven years later, Desjardins and a group of French-speaking immigrants opened the very first credit union in the United States, which is now home to well over 5,000 of them, as of 2021.

So why is Quebec left with only one? And why does Desjardins play along like they’re just another one of the Big Five?

If you search the term “caisse-populaire” in Wikipedia, you’d be redirected to the Desjardins Group, made up of numerous investment firms, real estate holdings, and brokerages. It’s also the proud owner of many Canadian expansions of U.S. insurance giants such as State Farm (since rebranded to Desjardins Insurance). Does any of that remind you of your friendly neighbourhood gardening collective?

During my search for a new financial soulmate, I actually found exactly what I was looking for. It was a credit union (duh), whom I called and was immediately connected to a friendly customer service woman. The conversation was refreshingly friendly and easy, like talking to an old friend. I felt strongly that this union was the place for me: a perfect match. The representative then explained that membership was not available in Quebec, due to some regulations. She encouraged me to call back in a year, though, to see if the law had changed. A law that possibly hadn’t changed since 1901?

Since I couldn’t find any answer for this online, or an alternative credit union in our province, I nearly gave up. Every article I found was talking about how cool and hip Desjardins was, so I decided to check it out for myself. Maybe I would make this my bank after all.

When I got there, I felt like I was back at TD. The computer was so slow, and after 5 minutes of dial-up style loading speed, I was told I couldn’t get an appointment for another four hours (even though I was the only one there). I knew there was an advisor upstairs holding her breath, because I heard her sneeze right before leaving.

I went back to my trusty sidekick, Google. I suddenly found myself reading words like “…the authority shall establish…” on the Quebec government’s open source website, and discovered nothing further.

It Really is Quebec’s Fault

I spoke with Professor Moshe Lander, a senior lecturer in the Economics Department at Concordia, who has at least 20 years of experience teaching on the subject.

As I quickly discovered, one thing Google can’t explain is the vast, black hole that is the relationship between Quebec’s history and its modern economic regulations. It might be something that goes right over the heads of Quebecers who have never lived anywhere else, and only be a problem for those of us who have migrated from other provinces or countries.

When we ask questions like, “We’re a part of Canada, so why don’t we get what everyone else has?” the answer almost always has something to do with our provincial government.

You see, the Big Five aren’t affected by Quebec laws. Banks are regulated by the federal government. Credit unions, on the other hand, are regulated provincially.

My first assumption was that there was a distinct law mentioning Desjardins as the only credit union allowed to operate in Quebec. In fact, the situation is purely circumstantial.

According to Professor Lander, after 120 years of operation, Desjardins has a monopoly over our province, making it hard for outsider credit unions to gain traction here. “It’s not worth it [for them],” he said.”Tack on all of the language requirements, the different legal system […] getting your foot into Quebec is almost impossible.”

It seems that the province’s unique legal system is what keeps a lot of that cool stuff out. “Just take a look at fast food restaurants,” Lander began. “Swiss Chalet doesn’t exist here. St. Hubert exists here, because the legal system is different. So, in terms of product liability, consumer protection, disclosure requirements… For a privately-held company it’s different.”

Professor Lander said these provincial differences also extend to the banking and financial sector. Credit unions such as Vancity in British Columbia, and motusbank in Ontario, can operate in any other Canadian province, since their legal and regulatory systems are similar, but not in Quebec.

One other reason that this problem might be specific to credit unions is the very fact that they are only as big as their clientbase. Lander said that both the non-Quebec credit unions and Desjardins would not seek to maximize their client-base all across Canada for the same reason. “Because [credit unions] are not a private company that’s looking to maximize shareholder value, [they] are ultimately owned by [their] customers,” he explained.

So, when the operator from the Ontarian credit union I spoke with before said, “if something changes in a year, call us back,” she probably wasn’t talking about a change in Quebec regulations. Most likely, she was talking about a change within their company that would drive them to begin doing business here.

Furthermore, it doesn’t help that Quebec is pretty much a ghost town compared to the United States. Our population is just a fraction of the size. That’s probably why Desjardins doesn’t offer the hottest rates or the hottest service ⏤ with their member numbers being just as low as a mid-size niche credit union in the United States, they can’t afford to offer Quebecers a better rate than any of the Big Five.

As for the lack of choices to overall banking methods in Canada, it’s actually a federal problem. Professor Lander attributes this to both population size and lack of regulations over mergers between banks, unlike the U.S. which regulates inter-state transactions. As for Canada, “Through mergers, [big banks] basically came to swallow up everybody underneath them, and left nothing behind. That sort of concentration hasn’t taken place in the U.S.,” he said.

“Even if you take the biggest banks in the U.S., [such as] Bank of America, they don’t add up to 95 per cent of the deposits or mortgages and loans. It’s a much more fragmented system,” he said. That also explains why Desjardins became a monopoly across the province, which was once home to many small, local credit unions.

As it turns out, you can assume that it’s all loosely attributed to the war between the French and the English that took place 350 years ago. That’s what makes us special. As Professor Lander noted, “It drives a huge amount of product law and business law and these oddities that just don’t exist elsewhere in North America.”

It seems things won’t change until the nicer credit unions take a leap of faith across provincial borders, or our government does a major ego-check. For now, we’ll have to choose between the bank that sucks the least, or keeping the cash under the mattress.



Visuals by Lily Cowper

Student Life

University Finance 101: budgeting tips that don’t involve slandering avocado toast

Financial Advice to help make the jump from Living At Home To University Life a little easier.

With the start of the fall semester and in-person lectures returning to Concordia, this week not only marks the first time that many freshmen and sophomore students will be on a university campus, but also the far more important experience of leaving home for the first time. When the initial excitement of beginning university wears off, being faced with the challenge of having to be financially independent can be quite intimidating for many students.

As a fourth-year student, I remember how difficult the change was from living at home to suddenly having to “fend for myself.” I, like many of my peers, found myself in a sink or swim situation.

Something I wish I’d done sooner was applying for as many bursaries, scholarships, and grants as I could, as early as I could. This is something I wish I did sooner. Scholarships and grants are fantastic ways to mitigate the financial burden of tuition and can also help build up an emergency fund.

As well, it may be worth your time to do some research into specific scholarships and grants that may apply to you. POC and members of the LGBTQ+ community experience financial instability at a higher rate than the national average. Many Non-Government Organizations and bursary funds provide specific scholarships to students that are a part of marginalized communities, such as the Black Canadian Scholarship Fund, the Jeremy Dias Scholarship, and the RBC Royal Bank Scholarship for Aboriginals.

Students who are registered with the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities are also eligible to receive numerous grants and scholarships from both government and private institutions, such as the RBC Capital Markets Canada Pathways Diversity Scholarship Program and the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities.

First-year students should also be mindful of the transaction limit on their debit card. To stay within your transaction limit, use cash for day-to-day purchases and your credit card to finance larger expenses. While credit cards have no transaction limits, they do have a spending limit. Stay well below your maximum allowed and by paying your monthly balance on time no additional interest will accumulate on your credit. As well, the physiological impact of paying with cash causes a significant decrease in spending than paying with a card.

Another simple trick I recommend is uninstalling food delivery and ride apps from your phone. The added step of needing to reinstall these apps helped me to cut back on my spending and reduce my monthly credit card bill by almost 50 percent. Your billing information is saved to your account, so reinstalling these apps before a night out with friends or a date with your significant other is quick and easy.

Concordia itself has a number of great organizations dedicated to helping support students with their day-to-day financial expenses. Organizations like The People’s Potato vegan soup kitchen provide free lunches to all Concordia students every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 12:30 and 2 p.m at the Henry Hall building in room H-700.00.

Whenever you can, buy your textbooks from the Concordia Co-op Bookstore instead of the Concordia Book Stop. The Co-op Bookstore also provides members with a discount on every subsequent purchase for a single upfront charge of ten dollars. For students studying in the humanities or in the fine arts, this upfront charge can typically be earned back in the money saved on required readings for just a single semester.

While money doesn’t buy happiness, financial stability provides freedom and opportunity that will have a profound impact on your wellbeing. It defines the difference between choosing to work versus having to work a part-time job during the school year. It provides the ability to leave a toxic and/or abusive living environment without having to worry about debt.

Financial means can grant access to resources like therapy and medication which, sadly in our capitalist society, become far harder to access without. It’s the ability to have your avocado toast worry-free and eat it too.

Disclaimer: This is not professional financial advice. Please consult your financial advisor to associate the risks involved.

Feature photo by Catherine Reynolds


Should the NBA postpone the 2020–21 season?

From safety to finances, fans wonder about the fate of the NBA’s season

A hotly contested topic among National Basketball Association (NBA) fans is whether or not the season should be postponed due to the large number of players being infected with COVID-19. Pushing through the remainder of the season will result in the league generating more income, allowing its players to continue as normal. However, there are safety concerns, as many players have caught the virus on and off the court.

First, one must consider the health implications this may have on the players. Players have caught COVID-19 from other teams across the league, and eventually one of these cases may lead to a player getting really sick. Also, due to the condensed season schedule, more players are playing back-to-back sets, meaning players are getting injured more frequently.

Some matches have also been completely one-sided since some teams had to play with less players due to quarantine protocols and an increase in injuries. Notably, the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat have recently played games with only eight players instead of the usual 15 that teams can dress on any given night due to a combination of injuries and COVID-19 protocols. The 76ers in particular only had seven players because they activated Mike Scott from the injured reserve a game early in order to have the minimum requirement of eight players in their game.

It is unfair to teams who just so happened to have a player catch the virus, especially if all their players were following the NBA protocols correctly. The league should consider postponing games more often to level the playing field, because being unlucky with COVID-19 cases for a small period could derail a team’s playoff hopes.

Oftentimes, a player tests positive for the virus, and since they have been in contact with the other players on the roster, some of those contacts must also enter a mandatory quarantine.

The Heat, for example, had an even record before losing a large portion of their roster to the pandemic protocols and since have had a record of 2-3, including a devastating 120-100 loss to the last-place Detroit Pistons. Some games were postponed for the team, but they are still missing some of their most important players and have had to go into some games shorthanded.

Financially, however, it makes sense to push through the season. By doing so, the league may be able to recuperate some of the lost income they accrued by not being able to have fans in most arenas.

A significant portion of the league’s revenue is generated through hosting games in arenas around North America, which means the league is now relying on television ratings and NBA League Pass subscriptions for their revenues. Television revenues in all sports have been in decline for various reasons; for example, some leagues chose to have some early kickoff times while the majority of at-home spectators had work. As well, during prime time this year due to the pandemic, there was a period of time when the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL all had games. Usually, only two or three of these leagues are occurring at the same time, therefore people had to pick and choose which sport to watch on a given night.

Also, doing this would allow the league to keep player salaries and the salary cap consistent. If players’ salaries end up being affected by the pandemic, players may go on strike and a lockout situation may be initiated, like we have seen previously in the NHL and other sports leagues.

The NBA has rules in place which should be able to mitigate the spread of the virus amongst its players. However, there have been issues with players obeying the rules. Players such as James Harden and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets have been known to go to bars and clubs, even though league rules specifically state to avoid these locations.

Postponing the NBA season would create more complications in terms of league finances and player salaries, but perhaps postponement is still the best option, as it might save some upcoming problems. There are strong cases on either side of the issue, and it is important to weigh the costs versus the benefits of such a move.

A small shutdown for a couple of weeks may help to get the players who are currently quarantined under the NBA’s health and safety protocols virus-free, but as long as COVID-19 is still impacting North America, the league will likely not be able to get back to normal.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


Simply Scientific: Every spree comes with a fee

Picture this: you’re having a crappy day. You missed your bus, spilled coffee down your front and forgot to print out your assignment that’s due in half an hour. To make matters worse, you skipped out on concealer this morning and now look like an extra in Tim Burton’s ‘Corpse Bride.’ (Side note: this scenario may or may not be a projection of my own experiences).

To make yourself feel better, you pop into Simons to buy yourself a new pair of jeans, a sweater and a couple small accessories. By the time the cashier hands you your receipt, the pit of anxiety in your stomach has melted away. You know this purchase is outside your budget, but hey! you’re treating yourself! You’ve had a bad day, after all.

If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. A 2018 survey published by Finder, an online information service for consumers, found that out of 2,000 Canadians, 63 per cent confessed to shopping impulsively in the last year. In the age of mass marketing, online shopping and hyper-consumerism, it’s easier than ever to fall into the trap of impulsive spending. But these impulses go beyond Boxing Day sales and free shipping. According to science, part of the blame can be placed on our biology.

When your brain anticipates a new purchase, it releases a flood of dopamine – that same neurotransmitter associated with drugs, really good food, and really good sex. One study published in Neuron, a neuroscience journal, found that the brain’s reward centre lit up after subjects were shown a desirable product. So, in short, ‘retail therapy’ can serve as a legitimate pick-me-up after a rough day.

But just like food, sex and drugs, shopping can be highly addictive. A study published by the Society for the Study of Addiction gathered data from around the globe and found that shopping addiction affects roughly five per cent of the population. What’s more, research from Cambridge University has shown that up to 68 per cent of compulsive shoppers suffer from an affective disorder such as depression or anxiety. Experts recommend that those afflicted seek the help of a mental health professional.

For the occasional impulse shoppers out there, the next time you’re tempted, ask yourself: is it me or the dopamine talking?


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Montrealers gather in solidarity with Chilean protests

Protesters in Montreal gathered on Nov. 2 in solidarity with Chilean protests against the government at the Émilie-Gamelin Place.

“People need to believe in making something better and building it together as a society,” said protester Julio Gajardo.
The protesters chanted in Spanish, “a united population will never be defeated!” They performed dances and sang Chilean songs, while others served traditional food, a form of rallying more pacific than the violence occurring in the South-American country.

Turmoil in Chile began amid government decisions to increase subway prices from the equivalent of $1.47 to $1.52, reported the CBC. The same article draws a comparison between military violence and the long-lasting regime of Augusto Pinochet.

“We feel angry, we’re feeling the same way as we did during the dictatorship of 1973,” said Andrea Astral, an organizer of the Montreal protest. “We’re living under the same constitution. But even though we feel a lot of anger, it feels good to see our country fighting for their rights.”

President Sebastián Piñera ordered the police and military forces in Chile to contain the crowds on Oct. 19 after violence erupted among the protesters. The situation has gone viral around the world accusing the Chilean police and military of violating human rights, reported the CBC.

Chile is one of the countries in Latin-America with a major increase in its economy. In fact, its GDP increased by four per cent in the past year, decreasing the rate of poverty. Nevertheless, Chileans are struggling to keep up with the constant increasing prices.

“All pensions are privatized in Chile, except the ones of the military. So if there’s money for the military, why isn’t there for everyone” said Gloria Martinez, a protester in Montreal.

“It feels good, it feels exciting. It’s the least we can do, living here, ” said Gloria Ramirez, another protester. “It’s not enough watching videos, sharing posts on Facebook. The important thing is to participate and be solidary to our people.”

“A feeling of belonging that I haven’t felt in a long time with the Chilean people, seeing that we can join together despite the distance and give support to our families, friends, our grandmothers who are seeing their grandchildren disappear,” Astral said. “We have to be present and do what is possible despite the distance.”


Graphic by @Tiyasha



Keeping up with the chaos of being a student

Why the daunting task of saving up is almost impossible when you’re in school

Does anyone else feel as though the world is rigged against students? I’m referring to the financial pressures to keep up with the trends and behaviours which have been glorified by society. For example, as a student, you have to pay for your tuition, books, public transit, etc. This is just a small list of the necessities. You also have to consider the coffee it takes to survive these long days, the phone plans we all have to pay to stay in touch, and our basic needs such as clothing and so on. Honestly, the daunting list never ends.

Even a student who receives help from their parents will see the bills add up, and fast. Is it just me or is all of this one giant trap set up by the society we live in? How are we supposed to pay for all those basic necessities, while keeping up with the latest travel or fashion trends, let alone save anything? There is so much pressure to be living our lives to the fullest, yet if we do so, we end up broke with an uncertain future.

Another aspect that needs to be mentioned is that we are expected to achieve high levels of education with acceptable grades, but we’re also supposed to work and be productive members of society. On the surface, this is a good thing, since working allows us to gain experience, meet people, become responsible, etc. But the harsh truth is that not all university students have the time to work. Different programs have different schedules that aren’t flexible and make it difficult for some students to work consistently throughout the semester. Yet, the expectations and expenses are the same for all of us. How does that make sense?

The solution could be to make sure students are educated on when and how to spend money, and how to budget. However, if our parents don’t teach us how to save, the difference between bank accounts, and how to set them up, we’re already five steps behind. The banking system is overwhelming and intimidating to say the least, and anyone who isn’t taught how to move within it may be too scared to ask the questions needed to achieve success. Essentially, students who aren’t good with saving money might find themselves torn between wanting to pursue a desirable, luxurious lifestyle that’s promoted in society, versus aiming for a financially stable but ‘boring,’ life.

Where do we go from here? Do we live in the moment, travel and gain memories that last a lifetime? Or do we focus on our future and save for our first car and down payment? The truth is, it’s up to you, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to achieve a little bit of both. It seems the best solution is patience. Hold off for one more summer before going on that trip; skip those unbeatable sales for a few months and accept that this is the choice we all have to make at some point.

The pictures we see on social media of our acquaintances’ amazing travels don’t show how hard they worked or the debt they acquired from that trip. The amazing fashion influencers we try to keep up with don’t advertise the best places to get similar, cheaper alternatives, nor do they acknowledge the fleeting moment of a trend and how quickly it will be replaced.

While a certain lifestyle might seem easily accessible, there is often a lot more hard work involved than advertised. Attention must be given to the negative impacts of these trends.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin



Does hard work actually get you anywhere?

Exploring the science behind luck, success and hard work in North America

There’s no way to achieve your financial goals without working hard. North Americans understand this fairly well—I think our economic system reward the hardest of the hardest-working individuals, which is partly legitimate.

However, luck and privilege are too often left behind when thinking about financial success. This shows when people approve right-wing economic policies such as austerity and major investments in the corporate sector. It seems absurd to me that in an already competitive society full of social inequalities, we want to advantage privileged people even more.

If we truly acknowledged external factors to financial success in Quebec, for instance, the Government of Quebec would not have invested billions of dollars in Bombardier while cutting in education. The year 2012 reminds us that protesting can turn things around. But the silent majority speaks volumes right now.

Although I am opposed to economic inequalities, I will define financial success, for the purpose of this piece, as earning significantly more money than the average Canadian or American person. This is not an easy project for everyone to undertake. The reason I think hard work is not enough is because no one can truly control his or her financial future.

The American Dream, the term coined by James Truslow Adams in 1931, proclaims: “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

In this definition lies the tacit assumption that hard work can get anyone anywhere. However, whether it is in the US or in Canada, attending the right schools and having the right friends, just to name a few, are likely to get someone further than just working hard.

What happens to those who also work hard but don’t have the same opportunities? They suffer from right-wing economic policies. With austerity and investment of tax money in the private sector, they end up living in world in which they cannot even afford basic necessities. Education and health services become market values, which increases already existing inequalities.

Social environment, education and the events that occur during our life—whether they’re positive and negative—shape how we manage our life. Additionally, many people contribute to our personal developmentteachers, parents and friends have an enormous impact on us. Thus it enables some to get where they want, while it disables others.

This is not even considering the fact that what most people want to do with their lives just pays average, if not less. Therefore, shaping our economic policies as if individuals were the sole determiners in their financial success is completely unfair.

It’s like giving all the credit to a chef for an extraordinary meal, never mentioning the farmer’s effort for delivering impeccably fresh produce. I believe we should take this into account when we position ourselves on the political spectrum.

We can afford to provide everyone who works hard with equal chances to be financially successful. Or at least we can make sure the lives of people who haven’t had great opportunities don’t get harder because of right-wing economic policies.

Being a Canadian or American citizen is a privilege in itself. It is unreasonable that one can have succeeded financially without the help of anyone, whether it is speaking about economic situation, social environment, and so forth.

People who struggle in life cannot be the sole responsible of their condition, just as the ones who are financially satisfied. If we acknowledge privilege factors, by opposing right-wing policies that just make rich people richer, then we will enable more hard-workers to reach financial success.

Student Life

Mastering the art of budgeting as a student

Are you an Avoiding Ostrich, a Striding Peacock, a Stashing Crow, or a Wary Owl?

On Aug. 24, Concordia’s Financial Aid & Awards Office presented the first workshop in a series of four similar events dedicated to helping students find the budgeting system right for them.

The first “Budget to Your Values” workshop, which took place in the Guy de Maisonneuve building last Thursday, was hosted by Judy Lashley, a financial advisor working with the Financial Aid & Awards Office at Concordia.  The second workshop took place on Aug. 25, and the last two events of the series will take place on Aug. 30 and 31.

During the workshop, Lashley explained that budgeting is essential for students because it is a tool that helps in long-term saving.  “A budgeting plan is a roadmap that teaches you how to do things in your life so that you are able to plan for your future,” said Lashley to the room full of students.

According to Lashley, one of the main issues students face when making a budget is not knowing what they want to do with their money, or what they see as their long-term financial goals.  To shed light on this issue, Lashley used a variety of handouts and fun games to better translate her expertise on money and budgeting systems.

Lashley created an interactive presentation.  Each student was handed a workshop folder containing budgeting instructions, a personality quiz, a customized envelope, a workshop evaluation form and an information sheet for the Financial Aid department at Concordia.  Her presentation also included a quiz, entitled “How do You Relate to Money?” The quiz analyzed participants’ personality types and aimed to understand the relationship they have with their money.  The results were divided into four bird categories, aimed to represent different budgeting characteristics: The Avoiding Ostrich (avoidance), Striding Peacock (overspending), The Stashing Crow (workaholic), and the Wary Owl (vigilance and fear).

Lashley explained that a budget can be something as simple as a piece of paper where you write down the money that comes in, the money that goes out and the money you want to put aside.  She also said that one of the best ways for students to save money is by using the envelope budgeting system. This way, the whole money-spending and money-saving process is more tangible, and you can physically see your money being placed and being spent.  Using cards all the time can make you underestimate the amount you dish out, said Lashley.

The envelope system works by calculating an estimate of your monthly expenses, dividing your expenses into different categories and assigning an envelope to each category.  With these, you can either put the cash for the month in the envelope up front or, you can put money in the envelopes weekly.  For instance, if you put $50 in your food envelope at the beginning of the week, then $50 is all you are allowed to spend on food until the following week.

Lashley also said it’s important to be aware of emergency expenses that may come up. Emergency expenses can include needing to purchase new ink for a printer or replacing broken electronics.  Lashley explained that the key to budgeting and saving money is to know what your values are, and to make appropriate decisions based on them.  “If you figure out what you value, you can figure out how to save money and create a budget that will help you do the things you want to do,” she said.

For more information, visit the FAAO website.

Graphic by Florence Yee


Students to pay more, receive less

In an effort to reduce the university’s costs, Chief Financial Officer Patrick Kelley told members of Concordia’s Board of Governors that there needs to be fewer courses and sections offered to students. Kelley explained at the June 7 meeting that this is a necessary measure for the university to meet its deficit targets.

Photograph from JasonParis on Flickr.

A significant part of Concordia’s recent financial troubles stem from the 2012-13 provincial government’s funding slash of $13.2 million that caused the university to declare a deficit of $7.5 million.

Concordia’s academic side will take a 2.5 per cent budget cut while all other university sectors will see a 6.6 per cent cut. Decisions on what services, programs and personnel will need to be reduced in order to meet the new budget will be up to individual departments. Although some cuts will be phased in gradually, students arriving for the fall semester will be directly affected by a reduced number of courses, and part-time faculty, as well as an increase in residence fees.

As graduate student representative Erik Chevrier pointed out in session, Concordia residence rates have increased to an amount he claims is unaffordable for the majority of the student population.

“I probably wouldn’t be able to afford to live in dorms, because the rent seems extremely high for single dwellings… some of them have increased as much as four per cent.”

However, it should be noted that included in the cost of the dormitory is telephone and Internet. Small single rooms in the downtown Grey Nuns residence have increased from $690.23 to $700.58 and $733.21 to 744.21. While large single rooms have increased from $763.90 to 775.36. This amounts to an increase of around $10.

It remains to be seen how students will be affected by cuts to other sectors of the university, but it looks as though students will be paying more for less.

As of the 2013/2014 academic year, students will be paying a tuition increase set by the provincial government of 2.6 per cent, which works out to approximately $52 per student. And yet, because of the university’s deficit, students won’t be gaining anything other than lighter wallets.

Professors are likely to be among the things students will lose as budget cuts force departments to let go of some part-time faculty with lower seniority.

It seems student opinion takes a backseat when cost reduction is the issue. Even winner of the award for Excellence in Teaching, Matthew Hays, has not been given courses for the upcoming fall semester.

“It certainly felt ironic or bittersweet when I received my award and then within 48 hours was informed that I wasn’t getting classes in the fall semester,” said Hays.

When asked what Concordia can still offer students, President Alan Shepard had this to say: “We offer them a whole world, a whole environment. We are one of the most urban universities in the country, with that comes incredible energy, commitment, innovation, and a kind of a grittiness to education where we’re right in the middle, right in the thick of things, we have world class programs and they’re still world class. We have a lot of offer.”

For more information on Concordia’s 2013-2014 budget visit



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