A Fine Friday on Vacation

I have been enjoying a vacation this week, where I actually didn’t really relax, I took care of a great deal of things, but I also took a planned week off writing for this site, just to see how I felt about not writing. Every once in a while I feel a little run down, and feel I am putting out even lower quality drivel than I normally do, but I am happy to say, I did miss writing, so I should be back to a more regular writing routine in the next couple of weeks. The site will be changing a little bit as well, as I am getting bored with its current lay out, and I don’t feel like I am maximizing my ability to get my messages out (or getting very good exposure to the over 2600 articles I have already written).

Big Cajun Man Photo

The Big Cajun Vacation Look

If there are any suggestions that you have for the site, please feel free to drop me a line at ‘bigcajunman @ canajunfinances.com’ (I may not reply right away, that account is actually inundated with get rick quick and boner pill e-mails). You can also send me tweets at @bigcajunman as well, I am all over the Social Media thingy.

I did read some of my favorite writers this week, but I won’t point directly to their writing, I’ll be a little more direct with my statements about each site, and why I find the writings interesting to me. I actually read a veritable cornucopia of sites during my day, as I am a little scatter brained (i.e. I can’t really concentrate on a single subject at a time).

Who am I reading now? It’s easy enough if you look in the right column, you’ll see most of these names, but I’ll elaborate on things a bit more.

  • Michael James is a good friend who I talk with regularly and has given me great advice along the way. If you are not reading his site, and at least using his writings as a baseline to work from, you need to do that, now.
  • Preet Banerjee is also a good guy, who I view as a friend, who has forgotten more about investing than I will ever figure out, listen closely to what he is saying on TV and on Radio.
  • Ram at the Canadian Capitalist is another excellent resource, who seems to have retired for now on writing, but go through his site, most (if not all) of his advice is still very much topical and very good. His example portfolios are exactly what start-up investors should use as a template.
  • Larry MacDonald is writing here and there these days, but he may start his own site some time very soon, and if he does, you should read that as well. Larry is an economist and a writer, who is on the ball.
  • Mark Seed from My Own Advisor is a relative newcomer, but from what I can tell a great deal of you have figured out that he is worth reading (and I am green with envy for his readership). Mark brings the Dividend Investing world to light for me, so I find his writings helpful for me to understand an area which I don’t talk about much.
  • Mark Goodfield from the Blunt Bean Counter is another good guy, he has given me personal advice which has helped me out with my dealings with the CRA (about medical expenses and such for my son who is on the Autism Spectrum). I don’t usually have much good to say about accountants, but Mark is the exception to that rule.
  • I have only spoken with Gail Vaz-Oxlade over the phone, but she did make a great impression on me, and if you aren’t reading her site, you need to add her to your list of sites to read. Her blunt approach to advice is exactly what the world needs now.
  • Robb Engen and his Mum (Marie) write a  very good set of articles over at Boomer and Echo, which I don’t always mention, but again, you should be reading these articles, and they are now in the business of Financial Advice as well.
  • Barry Choi over at Money We Have is still a newbie in the Financial Writing world, but his interesting article about his Financial Advisor here certainly still gets a lot of interesting comments.
  • Kerry at Squawkfox is another one who is not writing as much, but that is mostly because she is on many other main stream medias, and she is a busy mom too. Her writings are very eclectic, but still mostly on the money side of things.
XKCD

Oh and you should add XKCD.com to your reader too!

These are only a few of the places I wander, whilst cruising the Information Superhigway, other less money related sites also include:

  • Popular Science is always interesting for odd scientific information that I wouldn’t realize, had I not checked out their fine site (with no comments).
  • I like Lifehacker mostly because it usually has an article a week on something that I go, “I NEED TO KNOW THAT!!”, or a Eureka article, as I call them.
  • I have been reading Postsecret for a while, it is an entertaining, interesting, sometimes troubling but never dull set of Secrets published on line.

Reading all of this can be time consuming, but can be helpful, and maybe save you some money, so have a look at them and maybe subscribe to their mailing lists, RSS feed or one of the other social media presences that most of these folks publish.

 

TigerDirect (CA)
Remember my RSS feed is available too, and I have added an RSS Comment Feed as well. Have a look at my micro-blog on Twitter, where you can see a whole plethora of good articles and pithy comments by me as well.

My Twitter feed is where I re-tweet many great articles by some of my featured writers (and make the occasional odd or off colour commentary on life (in 140 characters or less)). I am also on redditTumblrPinterest and other Social Media sites (look for theBigCajunMan userid) as well. If you have social media accounts, don’t forget to votefor my posts (see the nifty dashboard on the bottom of each article, where you can cast your votes).As they say in Quebec, vote early and vote often!

This site is iPhone Friendly (and Android iPod Touch and iPad Friendly), enjoy it on the go, in a readable format for the device. If you are reading with an iPhone or Android device, drop me a comment and tell me if this needs any improvements.

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Back to School Week

In some parts of Canada school is already “back in” but in Ottawa, we have another week until school is back in session, and I am enjoying some time off, but for those who may not be up to date with my encyclopedic library of posts, here are a few good ones for your back to school planning this week.

It just all adds up don't it?

It just all adds up don’t it?

When my kids were going to High School I was never very happy with all the hidden costs, little did I know how that was nothing compared to higher eduction:

 I Thought Public School was Free?

I was running low on ideas and asked my wife for a topic for today’s blog and she came up with the cost of our “free” education system. She had been out shopping for back to school supplies (a HUGE industry in itself) and was telling me about all the “bargains” she was going to have to find to pay for all the unwritten educational expenses.

(click here for the many hidden costs in your Public Education)

September is actually a financial mayhem month for those with kids going to school. I am sure one year September will not be like this, and I may even miss it, but not this year.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Not just a very good song by Green Day, but also an anthem in my personal financial life. September seems to create a “perfect storm” of debt load that appears every year and I think I can give you the list of the things that are the causes:

(to see the list of mayhem click here to read the whole article)

For University Students going back to school:

Advice is Best Served with Water

It is the magical Back to School season so many of my compatriots in the Personal Finance Blog world have taken it upon themselves to pass on sage advice to the future leaders of our world.  The advice given is very good and I wish someone had told me some of this advice before I started off at University, but then again, I most likely wouldn’t have listened (after all I was much smarter back then).

(click here for the rest of this piece of advice all University Students could use)

For more interesting ideas about back to school and RESPs, remember to read my entire RESP Page, which outlines the fun and games I have had setting up, putting money into and then attempting to extricate money from an RESP.

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An eventful week at the C8j household, with young Master C8j breaking his humerus, whilst playing on the Monkey Bars at camp. It was a long process to get him fixed up, Mrs. C8j carried the brunt of the load, but now Master C8j has 4 Kirschner Wires in his elbow and a while until he gets to climb on the Monkey Bars again. This is what 9 year olds do, is what I am told by the surgeon (he says there are many of these same procedures done on kids at CHEO every year). Yesterday all I could think of was Bill Cosby’s old standup routine about the Playground (I have included it at the end of this in the Video Section), but it’s true you never see any grownups on the monkey bars!

Here is a useful like to Donate to CHEO as well.

It is in you to give

Yup, that is my arm

During stressful situations, you meet the most interesting folks, and during Master C8j’s repairs, one of the Doctors we met at CHEO, actually is a leading EBOLA doctor (why he was working in the Emergency Room of CHEO, just shows Doctors do lots of interesting things). He made one very interesting comment about the current problems in Africa, it is not as much a medical issue, as it is a Policing of Patients issue. People want to visit their family in hospital, and don’t know why they can’t, worse still the patients don’t want to be in Hospital so they keep trying to leave! Fascinating very short chat we had.

Congrats to the Canadian Women’s Rugby 15′s team for winning the Silver Medal at the World Cup of Rugby for Women. Canadian Women are tough broads (I should know, I have 3 daughters (one that plays Rugby)).

Under the “That’s Incredible” section of things, Mrs. C8j has been married to me for 27 years today, I believe that is the “You Realize, You Are Still Wrong!” anniversary, or something like that. Mrs. C8j is a patient loving woman, who has very poor taste in choosing mates, of which I took full advantage.

I gave blood this week as well, and now have been selected to be a Blood Platelets donor as well.
Give Blood This Year

My Writings for Week Ending August 22nd

Given all the excitement down at the Big C8j Hacienda, didn’t get a lot written this week (and I am on vacation next week too), but I did get a couple of good ones in, for your reading pleasure, Good Reader.

Scotia Bank Value Visa
[click to continue…]

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Financial Advice in the Oddest Places

I was reading the latest Cosmopolitan Magazine (August 2014) and found a very good to the point set of advice by their  financial columnist Alexa von Tobel .

Let me preface this discussion with a short explanation about why I might be reading Cosmo: First, I am the Father of 3 lovely young ladies and married to a wonderful wife who enjoy reading the magazine, and I have found it an interesting read usually; Second, I was reading it at the Library so it was free, well not really, I was reading it using the Ottawa Public Library’s Zinio App ; Finally, I read many different magazines, not just the Economist, Bloomberg, or the like for ideas to write about.

Bloated Wallet

That is my actual BLOATED Wallet

Ms. von Tobel’s 1 page teaser titled, “Are Your Finances a Total Me$$?”, brings some very useful points forward that I have talked about before (but they can never be repeated enough) (see Page 130 August 2014 Cosmopolitan for the complete article):

  1. “Clean out your Wallet”, I have talked about my GeorgeConstanza-like wallet, so I really do need to do something about that.
    • “Keep gift cards at home“, now that is one I hadn’t really thought about in terms of impulse buying.
    • “Carry your driver’s license”, what is it with folks not carrying ID with them? I always have my license, but I seem to be the exception.
    • She doesn’t mention the importance of not having a big fat wallet and how it might throw your back out if you carry it in your back pocket and sit on it, but that really wasn’t the point of her writing either. A big fat waller is a Chiropractor’s best friend, as you will throw your back out with it eventually.
  2. “Control your paperwork”, has lots of standard things, that are good to remember. Maybe what you need to do is start scanning things, or only keeping E-copies of things, but I am not completely clear on the CRA’s point of view on only have scanned copies of original documents.
  3. “Never Miss a Payment”, has a few things that made me nod my head and mutter, “Good idea”
    • “Keep money e-mails separate”, which is not a bad idea. Make sure the account you use is something you look at often (however) or you’ll end up having an out of sight, out of mind problem.
    • “Set Calendar Alerts” is really important too. I tend to do that using my Google Calendar, which I share with my phone and my wife, so I don’t have the “I forgot about that bill” excuse.

All in all a fun article, and it just shows you can find really interesting Personal Finance tips everywhere (well maybe not in Playboy or Hustler (not that I read those ) but you get my drift).

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“I’m an indexer. I don’t care what the indexes did today!” 
- Preet Banerjee (2014)

These words were spoken by a well known financial Media Maven Preet Banerjee , and in that quip he captured the essence of the Index’ing (and Couch Potato) investing method.

Balanced in What Way?

All Index Investors Do is Balance

As an investor aren’t you supposed to watch the markets every single day, to make sure your investments are doing OK? I know people that do that, and I know people who get upset by the “moods of the markets”, my question is: why?

If you are that worried about your investments, and you feel you must be that “on top” of things, maybe you should not be investing in stocks ? If you are a day trader then yes, you should be on top of things (and NO you should not be a day trader, if you are asking me), but if you feel your investments are that “tenuous” then  you really need to review your Savings plan, and maybe get out of securities?

The whole idea of Couch Potato investing (in my opinion) is you can check your portfolio once a quarter (every 3 months) or even once every 1/2 year and see if your portfolio is balanced, and if not, take corrective measures. I guess your only problem after that is figuring out what you can do with all that spare time? There are enough things in life to worry about, watching your investments daily simply makes you more tense.

How you rebalance your portfolio is up to you, you can add more funds and use that to get back to your goal distribution of funds, or you can “buy and sell” to rebalance the existing funds. No matter how you rebalance, that is about all you are doing with your investments.

What if the markets crash? Not much to do about it, better to not look then especially! Market corrections happen, as with most investing strategies, attempting to dodge a market correction is a tricky dance, and most “market timing” strategies will fail in the long run (in my opinion, of course). I am sure there are folks who will sell you a great “market timing” strategy, and they are rich (selling the strategy, not the market timing). Still investigating the Fibonacci method for market timing, anything that has Fibonacci in it is fun to read (but NO I will not use it, I just like reading about strategies and attempt to debunk them).

Scotia Bank Value Visa

For full disclosure, most of the folks who claim to be Index Fund Investors (or Couch Potatoes), typically are not solely invested in Index Funds (or ETFs), they will hold securities in single companies as well, or they might use Dividend Investing ideas as well. I will confess that even though I am mostly invested in Index Funds and Index Based ETFs I do hold a few stocks in a few of my portfolios. Why am I still holding these stocks? Mostly they keep performing well, and pay nice dividends, I have expunged a few Single stocks from my RRSPs (Power Corp, to name one), but I hold onto my other Single Stock darlings mostly because I can’t seem to convince myself to sell them (and simply buy more Index Funds). Am I a hypocrite? If hypocrite is “Do as I say, not as I do”, then yes, I am an Index Fund Hypocrite, or maybe a Couch Yam?

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