Free Association Friday

Yes we have reached the end of the week, and my brain is filled with Basketball thanks to a tournament that my wife and I are convening this weekend, so this is going to be a very free association post.

Our friends at Stats Canada say that if you were a Real Estate agent or the like your industry grew by over 30% in the past 3 years. No real surprise in that one, given the sky rocketing price of homes in some cities in Canada, that is for sure. Remember that Real Estate agents can be bargained with, as can most folks in the service industry, even banks too! As I said here, don’t stand for high user fees or service fees.

More and more accounting irregularities at big companies (Dell and Imax for two). I remember the folks that took Accounting at my University, they didn’t seem like a bad bunch, but holy cow, I wouldn’t want to be an accountant right now. They may start moving into the realm of Lawyers for loathing soon.

Remember your taxes and that as a Canadian you will need to be filing soon. I haven’t heard back yet, but I was hoping that the NDP would send me $10 just out of charity because I e-filed.

The Buzz about a possible BCE takeover bid, drove up the shares about $1 yesterday which isn’t a bad thing, however, what will it mean for Canada’s main telecommunications services company? We’ll have to see in that area.

One of my hobbies since I was a kid was playing Sports Strategy games, specifically from the Strat-O-Matic game company. I was surprised to see that the founder is now looking to sell off part or all of the company. I know that if I had won the lottery that would be a company that I might consider buying, just to keep it all going. It’s funny I tried to get a friend’s son interested, by buying him a game one year, and he wasn’t very interested. I had so much fun playing those games with my friends, maybe I’ll try to get my son interested.

Enjoy the weekend folks, and think of your friends locked in dingy gyms, being yelled at by irate parents.

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If this was actually a plan, it’s quite complicated, but at the end of it all, it really doesn’t seem to go anywhere, does it? Yes, a very cheezy attempt at Zen and Canadian Financial Planning but still an interesting metaphor. This track is one of the many set ups that my daughters create for my son. They spend a great deal of time creating the intricate loops and sidings, attempting to use as much track as possible, and to make it fit on the two tables we have to set up the trains.

Financial PlanningAnd then my son comes along, plays with it for a while, gets bored and tears the whole thing apart, throwing track everywhere. That is what 2 year old boys do.

AHA! Now that is an excellent metaphor for canadian financial planning! You spend hours, days and months putting together your plans, adding your hopes and dreams, and then LIFE appears and acts like a 2 year old, and plays with it for a while, and then tears it all apart, forcing you to redo it, after you have got over your frustrations.

Zen Thomas the Tank Engine and the Art of Financial Planning you heard it here first.

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I have added a Babel Fish translator facility to the web site, if folks stumble across this site and English is not their mother tongue. I am also curious to see how some of my phraseology translates to the languages I can understand as well (I already read quite interestingly in French).

I took a very good piece of advice from our friends over at the Canadian Capitalist to make up a Powerpoint Presentation for my wife of the current state of our finances and other important factors, that maybe we don’t talk about. I haven’t shown my wife the final product yet, because she and I are both very busy trying to get a basketball tournament off the ground, but she will eventually get to see it.

I did one slide on our current monthly expenses (the bills that show up whether I am alive or dead), and was flabbergasted to see just how much we pay to live. I remember when I first graduated from University and the amount I am spending now a month is more than I made GROSS (before taxes) back then. Now there are a few anomalies there still, like the car loan, which is about to be paid off, but still it is one whack-load of money.

It’s important to do this kind of painful exercise if not to put a real value on the “boy we are spending a lot of money” sensation you get every month. It also allows you to figure out if there is anywhere you can try to save a little money, or at least cut down on spending. Give it a try it is an interesting exercise.

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File Taxes Electronically Get a Break!

Says the NDP?!??!? Wow, I had to go back and read over this, but yes, Jack Layton is saying that anybody who E-filed this year should get a $10 rebate and next year, they should get FREE tax software to help modernize the whole tax system.

By encouraging Canadians to file their taxes electronically we can shrink the ecological footprint of the annual tax package by reducing printing, transportation and physical storage requirements,” Layton said. “Helping Canadians move away from paper tax forms is where government leadership is needed.”

OK, I get the gist of the argument, that cutting down the great paper storm that Tax season creates would be a good thing, but the NDP said this? Interesting indeed. I’ll give them a point on my scorecard for that one. Wonder when the Liberals will hop on board of this one?

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ADQ? Combiens? Zut Alors! and Remember your Points!

Yup, glad to see that Quebec politics continues to be the most entertaining Theatersport in Canada. I am impressed that mes freres et soeurs Quebecois have caused the rest of Canada to go, “Why did they do that?”, again. Never try to understand Quebec politics, unless you want to end up in a rubber room, in a jacket that allows easy access to your kidneys! Bravo mes amis!

On the personal finance side of things, here is a good case study for you. For many years I have been a member of Aeroplan, Air Canada’s points per mile frequent flyer system (I am not endorsing this product, per say, I simply am giving you information). I have been doing a lot of driving lately, and figured I was going to have to rent a car to get to my daughter’s provincial championships (so I could leave my wife our van, since she has to drive my other kids around). I was lamenting how much it was going to cost, when a smart friend asked, “Don’t you have points somewhere?”. I thought and didn’t really take in what I was told, and kind of blew this friend off.

I went home that night and checked on the Aeroplan web site, and sure enough, yes I can use my miles to rent a car for the weekend. Now at the end of it, it costs me about the price of a round trip ticket from Ottawa to Toronto to do it (in points), however, given Aeroplan’s new “use them or lose them policy” of aging points (they last 2 years now?), using these points is a good thing, and all I have to pay for now is the gasoline for the weekend (and I am renting a Yaris, so that shouldn’t be as much as if I’d used my van).

Using points systems is a good thing, but remember that it is only an asset when you USE the points. -C8j

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