Good Bye 2008

This has been one of the most interesting years in my life and in the financial world, and I will not lament it’s end, but it is certainly not the worst year of my life (but it isn’t one of the top 10 either). 

This year has seen:

  • My retirement savings drop by 20% in value thanks to the stock market implosion, caused by the shenanigans and tom foolery over low rate mortgages in the states, and the financial apocalypse.
  • My career at Nortel finish at 20 years (I am still looking for gainful employment), but maybe that is a good thing at the end of it all. With this I have taken complete control of my retirement savings, as well.
  • My oldest go off to University and now I am learning how the business of higher education works (and it’s ins and outs). 
  • An election that seems to have resolved nothing and we are more likely than not off to the polls again in 2009, which always makes for fun writing.
  • The birth of the TFSA, but I am not sure how I am going to use it yet.
  • Gas prices going up and down have caused havoc with any kind of budgeting attempts by my family, but the cheaper prices now, has managed to balance mid-year large outlays for fuel.
  • Interest rates remain at historic lows and inflation has calmed down with the drop of fuel prices as well, where will this lead? I have no idea, but I hope interest rates stay down for a while longer, then they can sky rocket (remember interest rates low good for borrowers, bad for bond holders).
  • I await a “bail out” by the government for me, but I guess for the common man, the “bail out” is called buying lottery tickets. Maybe I should change my name to Ford?
  • I have written well over 250 posts this year, which is the most active writing year I have ever had.

I thank you kind reader for your patronage this year and hope you keep coming back to see my view of the Personal Finance world in the coming year.

Bye Bye 2008

Man that was a tiring year

Man that was a tiring year

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Two Days Left

The end of year is fast approaching and here are a couple of points that you might want to think about before you close the books on 2008.

Charitable Donations

Why not top up your charitable donations for the end of the year and take advantage of the holiday season to give to folks who might need your help (and give you a bigger tax credit as well). 

RESP Top Up

Given this is paid quarterly it isn’t as important really, but still a good idea that if you have extra money or were given money for Christmas or Hanukkah, maybe put it in a savings vehicle that will help you save for your child’s education?

TFSA 

Go to your bank and get set up for a TFSA, but make sure there are no hidden fees as I found out when I went and talked to TD about their TFSA. This makes a lot of sense for anyone who is going to save, or just use it as a place to store your Christmas fund every year? 

Christmas Fund

Start a Christmas Fund for next year. See how much you spent this year, divide it into chunks for each pay cheque and set up an automatic savings vehicle to put money aside so that you have money for Christmas next year. I did this with CSB’s for the longest time and it worked very nicely.

RDSP

The Registered Disability Savings Plan comes into effect now (I think), and if you have a child or loved one who can take advantage of this new vehicle, set one up and get it moving as well. I know of many parents who could take advantage of this program for their disabled children, hope they do.

Remember only two days left in 2008!

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TFSA: Set Up, but with a Catch?

Mrs. Caj and I, just before Christmas, stopped by our TD branch to set up a TFSA account. We assumed we would be setting up a joint account, so we made sure that both of us were there (in the past I have set up accounts without Mrs. Caj and adding her later has always been a big issue, so this time we made sure both of us were present).

We dealt with our customary customer representative, andthe first thing we foundout is that the TFSA is actually an account for a single person, OK, good to know that. We also found out that my wife and I can set up accounts so we can actually shelter $10,000 a year instead of just $5,000 which is a good thing.

Our next knowledge point was that the TFSA is actually not going to be set up until January 2nd, which I assumed would be the case, so we were in fact only “pre-registering” for the investment vehicle.

TD offers a bunch of different TFSA vehicles, but I had already decided that a true investment account with TD Waterhouse gives me the most flexibility, so that is the vehicle we used for the TFSA. Half way through signing a bunch of documents another important knowledge point was divulged by our Customer Service agent, evidently with a TD Waterhouse TFSA there is a $50.00 service charge every year.

I was lucky that my wife was present because I am sure I would have said “WTF!”, but I asked for the rep to repeat  what she had said, and she said that since this is a TD Waterhouse account there is a $50 fee every year (on top of all stock purchase fees and such), however, if I E-Register this fee would be waived (I am not clear if it is waived in perpetuity or just this year), so I will be E-registering, but this one point threw me for a bit of a loop.

So from this, gentle reader, I hope you have learned a few of the pit falls and points you should be taking into consideration when you go and set up your TFSA account with your savings institution of choice.

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Boxing Day: Just because it’s on sale…

… doesn’t mean you have to buy it!

This is the mantra you should be repeating to yourself as you walk through the Boxing Day sales.

Just because the “Deluxe Cheese Straightener” is 75% off,  do you really need it? Impulse buying is what Boxing Day sales are all about, if you don’t have a plan on what you want to buy.

Mrs. Caj was pointing an accusatory finger at me when I told her about this posting, because we did manage to find a Wii Fit on December 23rd, by simply walking into a Best Buy at 8:27 PM walking into the aisle where the Wii Fit would be, picking one out of the just opened box and walking away with it. Mrs. Caj and I chuckled the whole way out of the store.

Was this impulse buying? I’ll plead sort of guilty, because we did have some money left over (cash given to us by a relative, thus this was bought with cash) and we were planning on buying the Fit, however, we had also decided that we were going to wait until the next birthday to get it. Is this impulse buying? I’ll plead guilty on this one.

Do I Really Need This?

Remember as you wander through the aisles of RABID shoppers, if you aren’t trying to get something you planned to buy, you are simply impulse buying (or doing some retail therapy), and that is a mistake.

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Merry Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas

I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas on this day. I wish you all joy and happiness.

For your reading pleasure while I enjoy this time for family here is a recap of the Advent Calendar.

Personal Finance Advent Calendar

  • Day 1: Empty Box
  • Day 2: TFSA
  • Day 3: A Safety Deposit Box
  • Day 4: What’s in your Safety Deposit Box?
  • Day 5: Your Will in a box
  • Day 6: A Credit Card Bill
  • Day 7: A Pointing Finger (Points)
  • Day 8: A Lamb
  • Day 9: Your Child’s Diploma
  • Day 10: A Cane
  • Day 11: A Home Inventory List
  • Day 12: A Bank Pasbook
  • Day 13: A Pair of Tiny Shoes (budgeting)
  • Day 14: A Stock Certificate for ACME Buggy Whips
  • Day 15: A Kettle (Charity)
  • Day 16: A Coffin
  • Day 17: A Scroll of Household Fix Ups
  • Day 18: A Wii Fit
  • Day 19: A Library Card
  • Day 20: A House Plan
  • Day 21: A Feather
  • Day 22: DVD of the Shawshank Redemption
  • Day 23: A Tuning Fork
  • Day 24: A Happy Face
  • Day 25: A Box of Chocolate Loonies
  • Enjoy the Holiday.

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