Budget(s) Week, Bye Bye Penny and Random Thoughts

It has been a week of budgets with a new budget proposed in Ontario and a new budget (which will move forward) for all of Canada. I write this post usually during the day so I won’t have too many pithy comments on the Harper Government budget, but I did have a kick at the McGuinty Government budget (politics really is turning into a cult of personality these days).

The one thing that did catch my eye, aside from a lot of rhetoric, is the final demise of the Penny. I always enjoyed pennies, so I suspect there will be a farewell post written to “the copper” and it’s role in my life. Given it isn’t made of copper any more, I suppose it’s time has finally come.

The OAS age is changing now too, for me I can receive OAS at 66 + 5 mo , which an extra 17 months for me, but for those born in the year after and later it is 67 years (so Mrs. C8j can only get her money at age 67, sorry honey!).

I will comment more on Tuesday, Monday look for a Carnival of Personal Finance post from me (haven’t done one in a while, should be lots of fun).

Weekly Recap

After a busy weekend with basketball, many interesting topics this week from yours truly:

And thanks to those who added me on Twitter I am now over 1050 folks who follow me, holy cow!  If you join my “Twitter Posse”, you might notice I am also re-Tweeting some posts from the French Media as well (hell, if I am learning the language, shouldn’t we all?). I don’t think I am at the level of being officially bilingual in the eyes of the Federal Government, but I am getting close.

Check out my facebook page as well (but no I won’t be buying Facebook stock because of this either).

Links for the Week

With all the budgetary fun and games this week, there were a few other topics that were being discussed in the financial blogosphere as well:

Other Bookkeeping

New Shoes for the Finance Minister 2012

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Budgetary Quotes for 2012

“The majority of the spending review reductions relate to back office operations of government,”

– Jim Flaherty (we shall see Jim, we shall see)

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Ontario’s Budget: Fodder ?

So was the McGuinty 2012 Liberal budget a bit of fodder or does it really have a goal?

After reading over the government’s information, there are some interesting points to watch and see if they follow through:

  • …$4.9 billion in planned savings from removing overlap and duplication, implementing more efficient delivery models and focusing on core business…“, so there is a bunch of duplication of services out there that can be slashed away? I’d be very curious to see the specifics on that one.
  • … $6 billion in government actions to restrain compensation for school boards, payments to physicians and others in the public sector…“, so how the “Education Premier” lines this up with his “Pro Education” stance I am not sure.
  • Pay Freezes for MPPs, Execs at Hospitals, Universities and other places. I think the MPP pay freeze is an important bit of “optics” that they need to try to sell this austerity budget.

I would strongly suggest you read through the Government’s literature, it is worth reading over once to see if you are directly affected by this (and you most likely are).

Why?

That is the question that pops into my head. If this was a majority government, I would say it is the typical McGuinty trick of giving voters all the “bad medicine” at the beginning of their mandate, so you might forget later, but this is still a Minority government (only 1 or 2 votes short of a majority, so an interesting Minority, but still a minority).

So my guesses on this are the following:

  1. The Ontario Liberals think that the voters have “punished” them already, so if they push and get another election soon, they might get a majority this time? The argument would be, “we didn’t want this election, sorry, remember we are the good guys”.
  2. McGuinty has a “turncoat” in the wings ready to come across (ensuring a majority) and thus this is the normal “front loading” of bad news from the Ontario Government. Note they didn’t implement the wholesale cuts recommended by the Drummond Report, so that seems to have been a well placed red herring as well.

Either way, it looks like Ontario politics continues on, whether this budget actually comes to pass will be an interesting story. Any other possibilities I might have missed?

We await the “Harper Government Budget 2012” as well, but in the Federal Government’s case, they can use as big a stick as they want to bash the heck out of the Government Infrastructure (in general) and Civil Servants (in specific).

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In hopes of helping other parents who might be having issues about how to spend their hard-earned pay on their children, sometimes myself and Mrs. C8j offer useful parenting tips, and this week we give you a solution to the following prickly solution:

Your daughter/princess wants to go to the University of OH MY GOD IT COSTS A FORTUNE, and she also wishes to have a Wedding out of a fairy tale (i.e. something well over $50K in costs).

I can already hear some of you answering, “Oh my God BCM, I am having that exact same problem, how can we resolve this issue?“. If you can afford this, then you need not read any further.

In our case we are attempting to create a creative compromise for this problem. We believe that education is very important and we have attempted to save (as best we can) for our children’s post secondary education, and we will try our best to have our children graduate with no debt load (that has to do with their University Education). I know some of my regular readers believe this is a mistake, but in our opinion it is important.

As for the fairy tale wedding, I have pointed out to my children that Mrs. C8j and I are of modest means and that if they ask for any moneys towards their wedding, I have a simple rule in place:

  • If I put any money into a wedding, I as HOST then have the rights to: invite who(m)ever I wish to this event, I can drink as much as I like, and I can say whatever I want (and I have many incriminating pictures available for the “Father of the Bride” speech).
  • If I don’t pay for a wedding, I am then only a guest, and I must abide by the rules put forward by the hosts of the party, and I will (to the best of my abilities), be my regular cordial self, I will (attempt) to not drink to excess and will have a short and not excessively embarrassing “Father of the Bride” speech.
My children are fully cognizant of my abilities to embarrass them without even trying, hopefully they will cringe when they think about what I might do if I was trying (hard) to embarrass them.

I think this is a very simple solution to the problem, but I already know that some of my readers will actually say, “Don’t pay for either”, but I am interested to hear your opinions none the less. Maybe I should ask Gail Vaz-Oxlade what she thinks of this?

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Why Complain? Why NOT Complain?

More than once I have touched on the subject of whether it is better to suffer in silence or to complain about bad service or when you feel you have been treated badly. This past weekend reinforced my belief that the only people who suffer in silence are martyrs-in-waiting, but then again Martyrs typically end up being burned at the stake (OK that was Joan of Arc, but you see my point).

We were staying at a hotel in Toronto, because my daughter was playing in a basketball tournament. The first night there, we learned that the room we were given had a big noise problem (it faced into the atrium area of the hotel, and the sliding glass door did not close properly). My wife (not a shrinking violet) called and complained, thus we ended up with a new room (the next day) and free breakfast. Was this suitable compensation for my son not sleeping enough? Not really, but it was better than nothing.

We then had another incident on the next night with a drunken woman kicking a door on our floor (luckily not our door) at 2:30 AM, I complained to the manager, and from that I seem to have received a discount on our rooms for the weekend.

I would have thought this was the least complaining most people would do, but I have had more than one person comment to me that they would have never complained about these incidents, and all I can think is, really? You would sit there and suffer in silence in a noisy room or when a drunken woman is keeping you awake?

If you complain the worst answer you can get is, “I am sorry, we can’t do anything for you“, rarely will the person you are complaining to threaten your life (note I say rarely, and once that did happen to me), so why not say something?

Remember I have said before with Free Banking if you do not complain or at least question things, you are going to have to live with your situation (and I question whether you are allowed to complain about it either). Am I out of line with this point of view?

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Insurance Deductibles: Where is the Tipping Point?

So thanks to our Church being robbed, the idea of High insurance deductibles is weighing on my mind.

What is the “tipping point” for insurance deductibles? (sorry I love mis-using that term, just like the real media). If you set your deductible high enough, you may as well not even have insurance (which is kind of what I learned from our Church’s experience, after it was robbed), whereas if you set your deductible too low, you end up paying an inordinate amount of money in Insurance Premiums.

The example of my Church:  some “scum bag” stole a laptop computer, which was being set up for a presentation.

The insurance deductible for the Church was set so high, the Church could not make a claim (since the laptop price was much lower than the deductible). I was told that if we had the deductible been set low enough to give some money for the laptop, the premiums would be approximately double what they currently are (paying).  We did make a police report and such, so in fact we may end up with a higher insurance premium (because the Church is being robbed (interesting twist of fate)).

My problem with this whole deductible quandary, is that the insurance becomes effectively useless except in dire circumstances (i.e. your car is stolen, your house burns down, etc.,), if your deductible is set high (to save on insurance rates).  I end up self-insuring for little things like bicycles being stolen from my garage (another “scum bag” moment), or things like that.

My guess is that where to set your insurance deductible is a personal choice at the end of it all.

Anybody got any personal experience where the “sweet spot” for insurance deductibles should be?

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