Easter is Here and a Saturday #BestOf for the Weekend

Easter is here, the most important festival in the Christian religion (sorry Christmas, without Easter you kind of don’t have Christianity). I haven’t written too much about it this year, but to me this is a time of renewal and restarting things, which I am going to try to do (both health wise and financial wise).

On this Holy Weekend What is the True Faith of Investing?

On this Holy Weekend What is the True Faith of Investing?

It is the Stanley Cup and NBA Playoff season, which is heaven for a “Sporto” like me. Heck I find myself even watching Premiership Soccer on Saturday mornings, and of course Formula 1 (and it’s odd sounding cars) is also in full swing. I have even started watching baseball again (having grown up within walking distance of Jarry Park (the original home of the Expos in Montreal)). Yes, my wife is not happy, but she deals with it by having her own things to do while I am watching the games.

Even with the delay caused by the Heartbleed bug, you still should be finalizing your taxes, get to it, you have a long weekend to get it done!

If you followed my Twitter feed you saw a very saucy discussion with Squawkfox that ended with an interesting photo with citrus and lingerie involved, see what you miss when you don’t follow me?

My Writings for Week Ending April 19th

We have seen all seasons this week in Ottawa, with snow, and 24C temperatures, Spring is never dull around here that is for sure.

Spring Financial Cleaning

Quicken is a very useful tool, but you must be diligent keeping your accounts up to date, or you will end up with a lost weekend the way I did, last weekend.

Are We Running Out of SIN ?

Not sure if we are or not, but I did learn a great deal more about how Canada’s Social Insurance Numbers are coded, but it will be interesting to see how long only 9 digits last.

Tax Confusion and Delays

Thanks to the Heartbleed bug we have a little longer to pay our taxes (if we owe money), and I found a nifty picture on the CRA site showing their electronic archives for all of our returns (OK only a geek like me would think it was cool).

DIY Balanced Funds for Investing

Can you actually justify being charged a 2.55% Management Fee? Why not make your own Balanced Fund?

Good Friday

You got a preview of my FAVES page with this post as well.

TigerDirect (CA)

Cornucopia Section

Evidently Preet is spending his long weekend designing a web site, Michael James is chuckling somewhere:

TigerDirect (CA)

Peeps Ahoy

Chris Pirillo gives us how to destroy Peeps, an Easter tradition:

British Pathe on Youtube

Amazing to think that we used to only get our news from newsreels, and British Pathe was the Google of their time for media, so here are a few very interesting Pathe shorts for your enjoyment: Did you realize that a bomber once flew into the Empire State Building? This is 56 years before 9/11.

TeamBuy: Your Golf Destination!

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. Twitter feed 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 reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest and other Social Media sites (look for the BigCajunMan userid) as well. If you have social media accounts, don’t forget to vote for 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. This site is also in the Kindle Blog list, if youare interested.

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Good Friday

The Easter season begins today with Good Friday, with that in mind I am going to enjoy this weekend with my family, and will be back on Monday.

Good Friday

Good Friday

I have spoken about Good Friday before so I leave you a short excerpt from my Faves page:

Personal Financial and Planning

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Banks Some useful advice I gave a friend that still is very true!
  2. Free Banking One of my favorite topics on how to get your bank to give you FREE banking for a while at least.
  3. Quarterly Personal Finance Status Report A way for couples to keep each other up to date on their financial status.
  4. Debt is Like Fat Another way to look at trying to get out of debt.
  5. Debt Makes Me Sick A frank article on my feelings about debt.
  6. I Should Divorce My Wife? An interesting point of view from the tax side of things.

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DIY Balanced Funds for Investing

I always find it interesting that most of the times I have spoken to an “investment person” I have been told What you need is a Balanced Fund, which on face value is a good piece of advice. Rarely have I walked in and made the following statements:

  • I love High Tech, what I want to do is buy a single stock that has very high risk and very high potential pay back.
  • I feel comfortable investing in hedge funds, and want to explore that further
  • Bangladesh and Russia look like interesting investment opportunities, lets put all my money there.
  • I don’t trust the stock market, so all I want are Canada Savings Bonds

Most of the questionnaires I have filled in would not show that, however, I do find it interesting that a lot of the wording in these questionnaires are very “Balanced Fund Sympathetic” (but most questionnaires tend to herd the subjects towards the middle of the pack).

While I realize everybody needs to earn a buck, the Balanced Fund gig pays pretty well with the CIBC Balanced Funds having Fund Expenses of 2.55% , someone is living the high life on those fees. I do like the extra 0.10% in “Trading Expenses”, who gets that money? Oh their traders? Mostly I would guess.

So if you read the CIBC (or TD or whoever) Quarterly Portfolio Disclosure you can see that the top few investments in the fund are:

Balanced in What Way?

Balanced Doesn’t Have to Mean Expensive

  • Cash & Cash Equivalents 4.87
  • Government of Canada, 1.50%, 2023/06/01 4.46
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank (The) 2.83
  • Royal Bank of Canada 2.71
  • Government of Canada, 4.00%, 2041/06/01 2.05
  • Bank of Nova Scotia 2.04
  • Canada Housing Trust No. 1, 2.35%, 2018/12/15 1.97
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce 1.78
  • Korea KOSPI 200 Index Future, December 2013 1.77
  • Suncor Energy Inc. 1.75
  • Bank of Montreal 1.47
  • Japan TOPIX Index Future, December 2013 1.36
  • etc., etc.,

If you were really a wild investor you could simply mimic this list, but I suspect you’d end up paying a lot in trading fees. The other option is to group the list into and see if you can mimic it using simple Index Funds. Yes this might take you about an hour or two, but then you have about the same mutual fund, but with Index Fund (or ETF) Management Fees.

Want to really have fun? You know when I ask that, it’s going to be fun, but the next time your “Investment Person” proposes a similar Balanced Fund (my apologies to CIBC all the banks have expensive Balanced Mutual Funds, not just them) ask them if they could create an investment plan using Index Funds for a lower MER. Wonder what the response to that query might be?

Do you really want to pay a 2.55% fee (every year) ?

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Tax Confusion and Delays

Thanks to the Heartbleed situation the CRA has stepped back and has put in place an extension for tax filings. The new deadline is May 5th according to this CRA web site.

This is good news if you owe money, because you can hold onto it until May 5th, but if you are owed money, why the heck haven’t you already filed your return? I already have my refunds, you could too if you just got it done now.

The CRA tax return backup matrix

There is my tax return, 3rd from the left!

I always feel good when I can quote from Thomas the Tank Engine.

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Are We Running Out of SIN ?

No, not sin, Social Insurance Numbers, that SIN.

If the Social Insurance Number is simply a number given out each time a Canadian asks for one, the Maximum number of encodings is simply 999,999,999 codes. That seems like a very large number and why would anyone worry about running out of numbers in this program? The Social Insurance Number has become the de facto standard for identification in Canada (especially financially), and a number to be guarded closely, so each number is very important.

Some points to think about this number:

Social Insurance Number Example

A very Fake Social Insurance Number

  • I don’t think anyone has the Social Insurance Number 000 000 001  or anything like that encoding, so there aren’t as many numbers as we think. Is the exact number of available SINs published anywhere? I don’t think it is, but maybe I missed out on that.
  • From 1973 to 1994 the three digit prefix (the first three numbers) increased by about 265 (if I compare my SIN to my children’s SIN), so not an insignificant increase. From 1994 to 2005 the prefix digits increased by 035. This assumes that the numbers are allocated in an increasing order.
  • There are no more plastic SIN Cards being made, you simply get a letter with your SIN and that is it!
  • Given 900 SIN were lost with the Heartbleed bug, how many more digits are lost due to identity theft and such?
  • Is there a recovery program for digits after someone dies? I don’t think so.
  • Temporary SINs have 9 as the first digit, and depending on where you apply your leading digit will reflect that (see Wikipedia for this)
  • There is a checksum to easily figure out if a SIN is real or bogus.

Am I just fear mongering now? It’s possible, but I just wonder if we are going to hear in about 20 years that the Social Insurance Number will go from being a 9 digit number to either:

  1. A 9 digit hexadecimal number (base 16) (e.g.  DEA DBE EF9 )
  2. A 12 digit regular number

Those would be simple fixes I suppose, except then every and any program that used the SIN for identification would need to be recoded (can you say Y2K ?) .

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