Textbooks are too Expensive

The business of post secondary education, and training programs has taken off in terms of profit margins in specific areas.

When I was a student (many years ago), the profit centers for Universities were:

  • Tuition Fees
  • Government Funding
  • Private Funding
  • Gifts from alumni
  • Services on campus
University Costs for RESP

Those Two Books Cost Almost as Much as 1 Term Tuition when I was at School.

There was also another income center which was shared between the professors and the school and that was the sale of Text Books. When I started at U of Waterloo there were not that many texts on computers, and the ones we used were quite expensive, but now the entire text book market has exploded, and the prices have increased a great deal.

Why, is my question, are text books still so darn expensive? The simple answer is, profits, and a captive audience. If a professor makes the textbook compulsory for a course, he is forcing students to either:

  • Buy the textbook new
  • Buy it from a Used Book Store (which many times, is a previous version and may not be up to date, or worse a different text is to be used (which happens a lot in technology courses)).
  • Rent the book ? Yes there are such services out there as well.
  • Find a “boot leg” PDF, or similar “unofficial” version

These textbook costs are on top of the new Large Service fees from Universities, and also the costs of living away from home (if that is the case). Hope you folks are saving, if you plan on helping your kids out with post-secondary education costs.

How expensive can these books be? In the photo in this post, those two books added up to $350.00.

 

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Premium Artisan Automated Investing Profiles™

This seems to be the only thing that has not been used to try to get folks interested in the alleged new FinTech world.

Artisan Weaving Investments

Beautiful Artisan Investing Looms
Image courtesy of worradmu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What do I mean by FinTech? Well you might ask, let’s go with Wikipedia’s view:

Financial technology, also known as FinTech, is an economic industry composed of companies that use technology to make financial services more efficient. Financial technology companies are generally startups founded with the purpose of disrupting incumbent financial systems and corporations that rely less on software.

Artisan Investing™ would imply: Individual or customized (and naturally highly researched), investing plans and everyone likes to feel like they are not just one of the unwashed masses. Your investing would be taken care of in an Artisan way, using only the best techniques, methodologies and investing concepts. The ETFs used in your profile would only be of the highest quality, and only invest in companies that create the highest quality products.

However, if we view the term Artisan as meaning:

a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.

then the concept of Artisan Investing™ is completely ludicrous (of course), since FinTech implies automated or “… not made by hand”. FinTech implies using technology to do things well, since Artisan implies using “tried and true old school methodologies”.

Artisan does seem to be getting tacked onto all sorts of products and services, why not “new” financial technologies, as well?

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Farewell, EpiPens, Ombudsman Report and #MoneyTalk

Last week we said good-bye to the Olympics, and as well, to the Tragically Hip. I was never a rabid “Hip” fan, but I enjoy a great deal of their music (and if you listen closely to the lyrics, you might just learn something, about Canada). Some might say, “… life goes on…”, but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel sadness about the passing of time. Also, the summer is also almost over.

EpiPen or injector

Ouch!

How much are you willing to pay to save your life? The entire price of EpiPen silliness in the U.S. really does make me wonder if big drug companies assume they are like banks and can charge whatever they want, and there will be no repercussions? As a stock holder in Pfizer (still) I suppose I am a hypocrite for making that comment, but Pfizer’s big money-maker is still Viagra, and if you want to gouge men who want to have a drug which has a possible side effect of “… an erection lasting more than 4 hours…”, then so be it.

I was disturbed to read the Ontario Ombudsman’s report “Nowhere to Turn”, where the Ombudsman called for systemic overhaul to help adults with developmental disabilities in crisis. The quote in the report that concerns me is:

“There is still marked inconsistency in how limited funds are prioritized and distributed” and families struggle with “interminable waitlist delays,” leaving some so desperate that they have abandoned their loved ones.

My Writings for Week Ending August 26th

I started the week writing about inflation, and the arithmetic cogitations that make the numbers appear good, but the calculations that tell a different story, with Electricity Prices Continue to Sizzle in July. Electricity prices continue to go up (especially here in Ontario), while gas prices appear to be dropping which are nullifying the effects of the electricity price jump. Fun with Numbers.

I also had a lovely conversation with one of my favorite folks, Kerry from Squawkfox, and she was doing research for some work she is doing for the Globe and Mail. The topic of RESPs came up, and I remembered that I had started an article RESP Proof of Enrolment and its importance to the cashing out of the RESP funds, so I finished that one off. I typically end up getting inspired when I chat with smart money folks, so thanks Kerry.

An Excellent Question

An interesting question from a follower:

🖱Click here for more great financial articles 🖱

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RESP Proof of Enrolment

I have written before about Money to Get Money, complaining about how extricating your money from your child’s RESP is an overly complex process, but let me step back and explain the importance of the Proof of Enrolment that most financial institutions need to allow you to withdraw money from the RESP account. Different schools have different ways of giving you a proof of enrolment , some charge you for it (about $10) some give you a PDF for free (Acadia U did that).

RESP

How Much Will You Need for her to get to school
Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The problem you have is that most schools will not give you the Proof of Enrolment, until you pay the fees, so you can’t have money from your RESP, until you have already paid for your fees. This means, you most likely, will need a line of credit (or a savings account) with the amount of your fees available to you (seems a little backwards, needing enough money to pay for your fees, so that you can get out enough money from a savings program to pay your fees).

You can also use the Proof of Enrolment in other ways: you can use it for Positive Enrolment for your insurance provider (Manulife likes it). Most insurance providers want you to do a Positive Enrolment action by either going on line, or supplying proof that your child over the age of 18, is at school (and can remain covered by your insurance policy).

Another important aspect of your RESP journey.

 

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Electricity Prices Continue to Sizzle in July

If you glance at the report from Stats Canada you will see the usual fairly good news in terms of the Consumer Price Index for July:

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.3% in the 12 months to July, after increasing 1.5% in June.

This sounds heartening (having grown up in the days of inflation running at 11% or higher), but again, you have to peel the onion to get a better view of what is really happening.

Main contributors to the 12-month change in the CPI:

Main upward contributors:

  1. Purchase of passenger vehicles (+5.4%)
  2. Homeowner’s replacement cost (+3.6%)
  3. Electricity (+5.4%)
  4. Food purchased from restaurants (+2.7%)
  5. Air transportation (+7.1%)

Main downward contributors:

  1. Gasoline (-14.0%)
  2. Natural gas (-10.3%)
  3. Fuel oil (-13.4%)
  4. Mortgage interest cost (-0.7%)
  5. Children’s clothing (-4.1%)

So this data shows that Electricity (the alleged energy of the future) keeps going up in price, and Gasoline prices continue to obfuscate the Inflation data. In Ontario electrical rates are very high and will be going up

The 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the CPI excluding gasoline

The 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the CPI excluding gasoline

As you can see from the graphic, gasoline continues to skew the data badly.

The interesting other things that are lowering the index is Mortgage Interest Costs, which won’t slow down the scorching hot summer Real Estate market in many cities.

Bank of Canada’s core index

The Bank of Canada’s core index increased 2.1% in the 12 months to July, matching the rise in June.

This is still in the zone where the bank may not take Interest Rate action, but note that the Bank’s rate is significantly higher than the Stats Canada rate.

Inflation in Canada by Category

Inflation by Category for July

Reports from the Past While.

If you want to have a walk down memory lane about how prices have gone up, here you go.

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