Money and Twitter Mixing

Another installment of the best financial tweets of the week. I continue to try to figure out whether I need to cut down the number of folks I follow or find a smarter way to get to the important tweets of the week.

Given this was a week with the Bank of Canada cutting interest rates, oil price shenanigans and King Abdullah’s passing the twitter verse did have a lot of interesting stuff.

The Media Maven of Money (Preet B.) started flexing his financial chops with a very interesting set of simulations to try to answer the time-honored question, is it better to buy your house, or rent and invest your money?

Is King Abdullah’s passing a sign of changes in the Middle East? That remains to be seen

This is why you should have the Bank of Canada on your Twitter Feed. You should read their policy stuff yourself, it’s not long and usually the “talking heads” leave major portions out.

Given gas is so darn cheap are you putting more money in your savings? One point of view of what is happening down south

I thought #InflateGate was a silly name for the whole NE Pats deflating balls, I liked #BallsGate more, but that is just me

Wasn’t 1-2-3-4-5 the password on Spaceballs? Yeh, some amazingly interesting passwords out there

Did you give over the holidays? Maybe it’s time to start thinking about that?

A bit of shameless self-promotion to end things off, I am on another list of bloggers you should read (along with some other interesting folk).

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Looser Money, Plummeting Loons and #BestThisWeek

The Bank of Canada threw us all a knuckleball this week when they announced a quarter point drop of their key overnight rate (on Wednesday). The rate is now at 3/4% dropping a 1/4, and it seems the Bank assumes the economy needs even more stimulus.

The telling statement from their announcement is the final paragraph of their statement:

The oil price shock increases both downside risks to the inflation profile and financial stability risks. The Bank’s policy action is intended to provide insurance against these risks, support the sectoral adjustment needed to strengthen investment and growth, and bring the Canadian economy back to full capacity and inflation to target within the projection horizon.

Money RESP

Shrinking Money (never machine wash money)

This suggests that the very commodity reliant, Canadian economy is going to take a hoof in the “lower abdomen” thanks to plummeting oil prices. Lower inflation, but higher unemployment seems to be on the event horizon.

The Canadian dollar continues to plummet, thanks to very low oil prices, which may slow down the cross border shopping insanity that has been going on for the past little while. Maybe we shall see more of our American family dropping by in Canada this summer? Is this lower interest rate simply going to accelerate the drop of the Dollar’s value? Some experts feel this is going to cause a Canadian dollar back around the 70 cent level (compared to the US dollar), we shall see whether that comes to pass.

My Writings for Week Ending January 23rd

The cold of Ottawa in January constantly begs the question, why do we live here? :

  • I had another run at some of the Best Financial Tweets of the week. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to find many, but the real problem is, there are too many, and my Twitter feed is too large (I miss far too much).
  • I did finally get my money out of the TD RESP account for my daughter, but it took longer than I wanted and I highlight the issues I created by trying to use lower MER Mutual funds with TD E-series RESP Bear Trap.
  • How do you eat an elephant ? Here is an idea, don’t order the frigging elephant!!
  • RESPs are too hard for Mommies? My regular readers could spot the Swerve title, but I am just not too sure why I have seen so much mainstream media (TV) pushing this Giraffe & Friends RESP thing, and yes, Mrs. C8j was really quite insulted by the pitch.

Scotia Bank Value Visa

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RESPs are too Hard for Mommies

This is what I keep seeing and reading, and it makes me (as a Father of 3 smart sophisticated young ladies, and a wife who is much smarter than me) absolutely irate. The dumbing down of most things (OK everything) is annoying enough, but the portrayal that Mothers and Parents (in general) can’t understand a simple financial idea like an RESP is insulting.

The case in point I am displeased with is Giraffe and Friends RESP, which is an insurance company that is offering a Guaranteed Growth RESP (and also insurance for children). This company has been getting a lot of Mainstream Media play and many financial bloggers seem to think that it is a godsend for families.

Giraffe

What’s an RESP?
Photo Courtesy kraifreedom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Let me be clear, “Giraffe Feces“.

They are simply selling an RESP Bond Fund, with insurance thrown in, which most families can easily set up themselves.

When did RESPs get complicated? You get a Social Insurance Number for your child, and you set up the RESP with your favorite financial institution, you do a little research, beforehand and there you have it. Evidently it is much more complicated than that, as the Giraffe and Friends site explains:

We use direct, simple language. We take the worry out of big decisions by giving you all the information like our frequently asked questions you need to make the right choice for your family. We want you to understand how your savings work so you can feel confident, not confused. giraffe & friends is online, and our mission is to be so easy that you can set up your child’s RESP during a single naptime.

Is it just me, or is this someone being condescending  to the consumer? When I read simple language, I get the feeling someone is calling me Simple (but then again, I am also known for being a hot-head).

Another question that arose after seeing this was when did RESPs become risky? The site makes the statement:

A giraffe & friends RESP is for parents who don’t want to take chances with their children’s education savings. There’s enough uncertainty in the world.

  • Your personal savings are 100% guaranteed to grow, no matter what happens out there in the stock market jungle.
  • We go a step further by offering insurance for YOU, the parents. So if the unthinkable happens like a death or permanent disability, and you can’t make your RESP contributions, giraffe & friends will still meet your RESP goal.

What kind of growth are we talking about here? I couldn’t really find a lot of information about what growth meant, but the guarantee seems to be a 2% growth per annum, but given the government kicks in 20% every year in CESG, for your first $2500 deposited each year (more possible depending on your income), is this on top of the kick in? (I hope so).

To those folks out there clutching their stuffed animals reading this, you do realize you can buy GICs, or set up a savings account type RESP that will never lose money as well, right? The FAQ on the site says they invest your money in Bonds mostly, ” We back your RESP with dependable Canadian government and corporate bonds as well as a small percentage of equities.“, you know you can buy Canada Savings Bonds in an RESP too?

The really telling part of the web site is in the Terms and Conditions page, which states:

Except for on-line applications, the Website is provided for informational purposes only, and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete, or timely. You should obtain appropriate, qualified professional advice before acting or omitting to act based upon any information provided on or though the Website.

It is also important to read the Exclusion of Liability section very carefully as well (as you should with all similar products).

Am I missing something here, is the concept of an RESP something that is causing parents to stay up late at night worrying that they don’t know what to do? I must also give Mrs. C8j her “props” on this, as this article was her idea, and, yes, she does feel insulted by the tone of the service.

Maybe I need to start the Friendly Big Cajun Man RESP fund, and I could get Jerome the Giraffe and Rusty the Rooster to help explain things to folks?

Look up… waaaay up… and now let’s talk about RESPs….

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TD E-Series RESP Beartrap

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly find anything more to write about with my kids’ RESP account, TD puts a beartrap in the process and I end up with yet another article to write.

I can already hear my regular readers muttering, that I am not going to rehash another visit to my local TD Branch, am I? Yes, and no (after a fashion).

Let us rewind to about 4 months ago, when I changed all of my TD Mutual Fund savings vehicles, into accounts that allow for the purchase of the TD E-series Index Funds. Remember I did outline in Quicken and transferring E-series Index Funds, how to change from the I-series funds to the E-series versions (which have lower MER fees), little did I know that with that change, I set the beartrap, that I stepped on Friday evening.

E-series bear trap

It snapped shut tight

I went to my local branch of TD Friday because my youngest daughter’s tuition fees were due, so I made my appointment at my local branch last week, to extract the money I need to pay for this term, because, as we know, you must go in to a local branch to prove your child is in a reputable program (for an RESP), before you can have the RESP funds. I had my letter, I knew what part of the portfolio I wanted to liquidate, so what could go wrong?

I arrived at the branch, and I was dealing with a polite young man, that I had dealt with previously, I explained quickly what I wanted, and he logged in and started clicking and typing. Time passed, screens seem to fly by and then return and I started to wonder, “What is wrong?”.

After about 10 minutes the gentleman turned to me and said, “We have a problem here”. At that moment, the bear trap snapped shut on my ankle.

The “Advisor” then explained that the in-branch Financial Advisor/Mutual Fund persons are not allowed to touch E-series funds. I believe my response was a confused but polite, “I beg your pardon?”. The young man went on to explain that he could only trade the I series funds, but that the E-series funds were out of his “jurisdiction”.

At that moment I almost asked, “So I have a Save only account?” (i.e. I am allowed to put money in, but not allowed to take any money out). Luckily that is not quite the case, however, there is yet another convoluted methodology that I must follow to extricate funds from my daughter’s RESP. Let’s just wander through the steps:

  1. Get a proof of enrollment letter from the post secondary school she is attending. Luckily I already had that from September
  2. Make an appointment with the local branch to do an RESP withdrawal. This is so someone trusted at TD can attest to the letter that you got in the first place (hint for TD, maybe I could have the letter sent to YOU or faxed?).
  3. NEW: Go on-line to my TD Mutual Fund account, and move the funds I want, into a TD Money Market account. This is a fund that the Mutual Fund expert or Financial Advisor can do something with. Do this at least 2 days before you go to the branch (to allow the transaction to go through).
  4. Go into the branch and spend 1/2 an hour answering questions, and possibly having to review your investing profile, but eventually put through the transactions to cash in the funds you want.
  5. Wait for the funds to arrive on-line

I would have thought (if you have wandered through my RESP page) there was no other way for this to become a more complicated methodology, unfortunately, I was wrong.

As an epilogue to Friday, I also asked what would happen if my RESP was with TD Waterhouse (in hindsight what I should have done in the first place)? It becomes more complicated, and at the end of your visit to the local branch, you must then wait for TD Waterhouse to release the funds to you (so you need to wait longer for it).

I must now return this Wednesday to attempt the same thing I attempted back on Friday.

 

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Best Financial on Twitter This Week

My Twitter feed is actually quite bloated, and it is getting harder to find good financial tweets these days, so I end up doing “twitter research” for this piece and find tweets I didn’t even see go by. I am not sure if that is a condemnation of following too many twitter folk, or my not reading it enough.

Financial Tweets

I love reading about perfect storms, it is becoming such an overused descriptive, yes, one day someone will use it correctly, but will it this time? Larry MacDonald pointed me at this interesting one.

An outside of Canada view of the Target Canada debacle

I borrowed this one from Million Dollar Journey‘s twitter feed (yes you should add that feed to your Twitter too)

An interesting piece from the New York times about parents’ expectations about their children, professional sports and the cost (in money and emotions) spent on this “dream”. I remember John Amechi playing in the NBA, I am getting old


It’s always important to read (apparently) differing ideas about retirement and our friends at Forbes has an interesting title, but does the title reflect the story?

Not really financial but an interesting video of SpaceX trying to land their booster, the caption says it all

I’ll leave you with this one with no comment either

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