My Favorite Things 2010

No, I am not shilling Oprah Winfrey stuff, nor am I espousing you go out and sing songs out of the Sounds of Music (although I would take that one over the Oprah thing), no I am being extra lazy this holiday week and creating my own list of favorite posts that I made in 2010. I can hear you groaning, “How lazy can  you get?”, never ask a blogger that question, you would be astounded at the depths we would stoop to not have to work hard to produce a post.

This year, was a year where I learned a lot about many parts of the world of personal finance, some unfortunately through my own blunders, some by others mistakes, and some just by asking some smart folks (you should read my Friday Posts to see the Financial Bloggers that I read, very smart folk they are too).

So without further ado here are my favorite posts of the year (I will attempt not to duplicate on the previous lists I have done this week, but I make no promises). Remember also that on Monday I will have a Special Top Financial Rants for 2010 list from some of my Financial Blogging compatriots (I will attempt to not include myself in there, since most of my posts are Rant-like).

Some of My Favorite Things

Favorite Posts for the Year 2010

Ask and You Might Receive

That is the sentiment of my post You Need Only Ask, where I simply asked for a discount on my Internet Access with Rogers and they gave me one. It’s much like basketball, you miss every shot that you don’t take, and if you don’t ask for something, how do you know whether you might get it? I repeat this message as well In Banking It is All Negotiable, so keep that in mind as well.

At the Next TFSA Turn Left

Do you have a Financial GPS, outlines my love for my GPS but also a wish that I somehow had a version that had a financial capability.  I used my GPS to somehow skirt Boxing Day traffic in Toronto, how I wish I had one that might have reminded me that Premium Canada Savings Bonds can only be redeemed in November (or the month they are purchased).

I Believe this RESP is Corked

With my post The Good Wine: A Personal Finance Parable I outlined that eventually you do have to spend the money you are saving, unless you plan on keeping it only for your next of kin (which I am not). Keeping something until it is past it’s prime is a bad thing, and you would have thought I would have learned my lesson from Nortel, wouldn’t you? Take your profits!

I Saved Money by Spending Money?

That is the concept behind the Semantics of Money, where I ask the question, how am I saving money by spending  money? This is the type of stuff retailers try to trick you with as well, you are not saving money by spending money, you are just spending less, although some of the commenters on this post disagreed with me. Please feel free to comment more, I keep comments open on all my posts.

A Fatwa on Mastercard?

No the Imam in Ottawa that I spoke of in the Religious Views on Credit Cards, did not make that declaration, but he did say that Credit Cards are usury which is a sin in Islam, and I tend to agree with him. If you carry a balance on  your credit card, this is usury, if you pay it off every month, not so much, but there is always the danger of forgetting to make a payment as well.

Fear and Loathing in HST-Land

Why I Loath the HST you might ask? I went to Montreal during the holidays and gasoline there is cheaper than in Ottawa, for the first time in 10 years (if not longer). The gas companies are blaming the HST, I blame all of them and loath them all for it. Yes this is a ranting post, but I missed it on my list this week, and I do love a good rant. Hunter S. Thompson, we still miss you too!

A Penny Found is a Penny Spent

No that is not the message I put across in the Found Money Trap, where I outline that all found money should be going to debt first and foremost, until you are out of debt.  I make a similar point in We Did It! Let’s Splurge, where simply reaching financial goals is not a good reason to get back into debt. Getting out of debt is goal number 1, and all others fall by the wayside.

RDSP is not an RESP

Yesterday I outlined my problems with RESPs, but I did succeed eventually, as I did with a Registered Disability Savings Plan in RDSP: The Completion of Initial Work. It outlines my efforts towards setting up an RDSP for my son with TD Waterhouse. I think this program is a good idea, for those with disabled loved ones, who are young, and who may need financial help in the future. I would strongly suggest to anyone in this situation to read up about this program and get going on it, right away!

My New Year’s Wish to My Readers

That this new year brings you Joy and Happiness, and less stress with your money. Keep reading, and keep commenting and we can all learn about Personal Finance together.

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A Happy and Safe New Year to Us All!

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Registered Education Savings Plans The Saga

Over 2010 I have learned a great deal more about RESPs and how they work (and how they work specifically with my Bank TD/Canada Trust), and there were many posts about this topic, which I feel it is worthwhile bringing together into one place and show how the whole process worked this year. As I have mentioned, I am not saying that RESPs are bad, in fact I think if you have kids it is a good way to save for their University education, I am mostly complaining that the system could really use a little bit of an overhaul.

Just Take Some Money Out, Easy Right?

No, not this year, at least. Last year I was able to withdraw money on-line, no problems, however, this year, I found out in RESP Wrinkles that this was not going to be the case (after attempting to do it on line the way I did last year) and in RESPs and Rules that all the rules for TD Mutual Funds had changed, due to the CRA being unhappy with TD’s bookkeeping on the usage of the CESG portion of the money (this is the story I got from TD).

To get money out of an RESP now I needed a letter from the University stating my child is actually at the school and with RESP Money to Get Money I then found out how complicated it  is to get a proof of enrollment and that one of the schools in Ontario charges you $10 for this letter (because the receipt of payment is not enough). I did learn that my other daughter’s school did not charge for this letter of enrollment in RESP The Old Switcheroo, so at least I didn’t have to pay for two letters.

My hope with all these letters, I would simply drop them off at the local branch and then be able to do all of my transactions on line the way I do most of my banking, however in RESP Withdrawals Redux, I learned this was not going to happen, I was going to have to make an appointment to get my money (to be precise to get access to the Government portion of the money, however, I can’t get at my money either).

After many phone calls confirming that the only possible way to get money out of the RESP, I was going to have to go into the branch and talk to a Mutual Funds Expert and so I made the appointment and readied for the meeting with RESP This Round Finally Ends (Prologue).

Cashing in couldn’t be that bad could it? Well it wasn’t that bad, but in  RESP The Cashing In I saw that it created a glut of paper and it took well over an hour, for a simple set of transactions, so I was not too happy about that either. I did finally get access to the money, and what Tax forms were generated by this process I am not sure, but I guess it all must be done.

As I mentioned in the first place, I think the RESP program is well worth while, however in RESP Lessons Learned I discuss where the TD system in specific and the RESP program in general might need a few tweaks to make sure it works a little better.

Unfortunately I am still depositing money into my other children’s RESPs and found out that the Investor Profiles for each of these accounts are stand alone documents, and I am now being harassed to update those documents as well (I thought I had done that when I took money out, but evidently not).

Did I mention the Winter Term starts January 4th and I need more money? Oh dear, this is going to make for more fun in 2011.

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The Airing of Grievances

According to Wikipedia we were supposed to have the Airing of Grievances, after our Festivus Dinner, but seeing as we didn’t really celebrate Festivus, let’s have a look at some of the more rant-like posts of mine this year (remember next week, I’ll have some of the best rants about Finance from other Financial bloggers).

“…I got a lot of problems with you people! And now, you’re gonna hear about it…” -Frank Costanza

OK My Man

I had a young man who felt like he knew me, whilst attempting to shill Rogers Cable to me, and thus I wrote an excellent rant OK My Man (Rudeness in My Opinion), which simply points out that you should really know who you are talking to, and whether they appreciate you talk to you in such a familiar fashion (in this case, the simple answer is NO!). He was lucky we didn’t have the feats of strength that day.

Chutzpah Pure and Simple

How could Chutzpah have anything to do with purchasing a Washer and Dryer? Well you might ask and in More Tales of Chutzpah this connection is explained in gross detail. To sell me something, make me pay for it, and then say you don’t have it in stock, is the definition of Chutzpah.

Money Earned – Money Spent Less Than Zero? Bad!

I was having a particularly bad day when I lashed out at those who chronically over spend with A Real Service for Chronic Over Spenders. At first it started out quite light, and was almost humorous, but I took a fairly dark turn in the middle of it, and it really is more of a rant at the end of it all. If anyone does actually create one of these services, please send me a royalty cheque.

I Don’t Hate Pets

I must preface my post Pet Insurance?!? with this statement, I have two cats, and enjoy having pets, however the entire Pet Care industry has got out of control, and it deserved some of my ire this year. The idea that getting my cat healthy is now so expensive that I must get insurance to deal with these huge costs, is astounding. There are people in North America without Health Insurance, yet a Pomeranian can get insured? Something is not right here.

Why Sunday?

TD/Canada Trust announced that they would be opening some branches on Sundays in 2011, which caused me to ask Banking on a Sunday? I still don’t understand the need for this service, but evidently some of my readers disagreed with my opinion. I still think (as a TD shareholder) that this is a waste of time and money, but I am curious to see whether it is acclaimed as a great idea by the public.

These are but a few of my rants this year, but these are the ones that I enjoyed writing. Tomorrow a recap of my infamous RESP saga.

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Humor and Personal Finance

To start this week off, let’s have a look at the humorous posts I made this year, since humor does have a lot to do with my viewpoint on things, I think this is only fair.

My Best Humorous Posts 2010

These are in my opinion my best humorous posts for the year. You may be surprised to see the post you thought I was being serious about on this list, hopefully it will help you understand my sense of humor a bit more.

Dumber Than Snake Mittens

I borrowed that statement from Dilbert,  but That Idea Is Dumber Than Snake Mittens, led me to compile a quick list of that kind of Personal Finance Actions (i.e. Dumber than Snake Mittens).

How You Deliver the Message is Important

With my post Humor: Up On The Roof, I blatantly go for the cheap laugh by telling one of my favorite humorous stories. The expression, “… my investments are up on the roof…” makes  much more sense after you read this story.

Where Do You Draw The Line

Given the kick I have gone on to save money my post about Half Price Products, was more a question about what might you not buy if it was on sale because it was close to it’s expiry date?

Top 10 List?

With More Top 10 Lists, I took aim at the blogging technique espoused by many How To Blog advice sites which is put out lots of Top 10 lists for people, they just love it, so I put out my own list. I like the list, but it did seem to catch a few readers off guard.

April Fools, but that really happened

April Fools Finances, attempted to show that on April Fool’s days many folks put joke headlines up to catch your eye, but I found a bunch of real headlines that you might have thought were April Fool’s jokes (at the time).

Best By Far

With Gifts You Shouldn’t Get Your Kids (ever), I had a lot of fun and it was very easy to write, because I relied on previous experience and stories told by friends. The post got a fair amount of play, and if you look in the comments you’ll notice that a lot of folks really didn’t see the humor in a lot of the gift suggestions, which goes to show how hard it is to predict how folks will react to anything you write.

There will be more lists like this for the rest of this week, as I enjoy the holidays with my family.

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Happy Pseudo Boxing Day

Did you have a good Christmas? Are you out there fighting your way through sales crowds trying to return the Deluxe Left-Handed Cheese straightener that you got for Christmas? I might well be doing that myself, and if I am doing that then I can’t be writing great copy for this blog now can I? All of this is to say, here are a few of my all time favorite posts from my blog (in fact if you checked the Faves Tab at the top of this page you might find a lot of these posts).

Enjoy this retrospective across the 5 years of blogging I have been doing, and tomorrow I’ll start looking at what I have written this year in particular. Have a look at a few of these and enjoy!

Personal Financial and Planning

  1. Free Banking
    One of my favorite topics on how to get your bank to give you FREE banking for a while at least.
  2. Quarterly Personal Finance Status Report
    A way for couples to keep each other up to date on their financial status.
  3. Debt is Like Fat
    Another way to look at trying to get out of debt.
  4. Debt Makes Me Sick
    A frank article on my feelings about debt.
  5. I Should Divorce My Wife?
    An interesting point of view from the tax side of things.

Children

As most of you know I have kids and I write about their effects (affects?) on my financial life.

  1. Real World Example: Kids Allowances
    Where I outline a system to ensure kids get their allowances on time. My kids were pretty mad at me until I implemented this system, and as a bonus, I am still watching them (financially).
  2. Kippers
    Not just a salted fish eaten for breakfast in the U.K.
  3. Hidden School Costs
    Not just for universities are there hidden costs in education, public schools rake a lot of money off parents too.
  4. Advice to Future University Students
    No, not money related, but still very useful.

Investment

  1. Einstein: The Rule of 72
    Understanding what a doubling period is, and how the rule of 72 can help you with this concept is important to the start of your investment plan.
  2. RRSP or Mortgage?
    Should you invest or pay down debt, always a good question to ask.
  3. Top 5 Investing Mistakes of my Life
    This one hurts to read EVERY time, seeing how much money I lost.

Parables

In personal finances sometimes a lot can be learned in parable format.

  1. Parable: Money and the McDonald’s Play Structure
    How can my son getting stuck in a McDonald’s play structure have anything to do with money? Read and you will be amused to see where I went with this story.
  2. Best Financial Advice Ever Given
    Outlines a parable my Dad told me when I borrowed a large amount of money from him. I have used this parable many times myself.
  3. Don’t Pass it to the Other Team
    How does the Carleton basketball coach have anything to do with finances? Read and you’ll see a long stretch.
  4. The Dangers of Advice
    How I inadvertently gave very bad financial advice to a dear friend.

Humor

I enjoy a good laugh, mostly at my own expense and here are some of my favorite personal finance posts with a humorous angle.

  1. Always Have A Target
    OK, yes, my humor normally drops to toilet humor, but this one is funny too!
  2. God and a Stock Broker?
    This is funny, except last week.
  3. Why Banks are always funny
    Going into banks, talking to banks, interacting with banks, etc., you had better have a sense of humor, because if you don’t you’ll go crazy.
  4. Get Off the Throne
    A perspective on the Throne Speech, that Stephen Harper might not have appreciated.

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