CPFC16, Black Friday, Mortgage Hikes and MoneyTalk

Where might you find me this weekend? Surprisingly, I will be at #CPFC16 with a bunch of other Financial Writers, Bloggers, and Industry Folk talking MoneyTalk (and Mortgage Hikes). It is always interesting to put faces to writings (as I am sure it is for a lot of folks when they meet me). Hoping to touch base with many friends (note I didn’t say old) and make a few new ones as well.

Black Friday

It’s Really Black November these Days

Black Friday is coming next week, with American Thanksgiving on the 24th. What does this mean? For Canadians, not as much as it used to mean, if you can find any deals, you will be lucky. I wandered around Best Buy and they are ready for an influx on Black Friday, but the deals don’t make me want to squander my money just yet.

I note the sun has been rising these days, so the world has not quite ended with Mr. Trump’s election, but it is a much more interesting world (and that is an understatement). One interesting theory I keep hearing is that Mr. Trump is purposely trying to get impeached or thrown out, we shall see if that is a valid theory.

Sounds like Amazon may be extending their Video Streaming capabilities to Canada soon (if you believe tweets by Jeremy Clarkson). Another competitor for Netflix? Not likely, but you never know.

Yes, the Banks are upping their Mortgage rates, as I predicted (6 years ago)! Now might be a good time to lock in for a while, given it might give you a bit more peace of mind? The Bank of Canada hasn’t changed anything yet, but this might be a harbinger of some kind? Bank of Canada will remain quiet until December 7th on the topic of Interest Rates.

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My Writings for Week Ending November 18th

After having a lunch with some prominent financial folk (aka the N.C.F.B.A.) I was inspired and wrote two articles this week. It was sad to read about the death of Leonard Cohen, but I also remembered his financial issues, so I joined the two with Leonard Cohen a Cautionary Retirement Story. Are you sure your retirement savings is safe? I would go check just in case.

The American elections now has reached the blame game and with that, folks are suddenly realizing how simple it is to manipulate Social Media (I know how to, I simply, choose not to), however I outline some things in Fake Money News and other Manipulations. What I forgot to mention was the authors of these less than truthful stories also make money from you coming to their unscrupulous sites too! To quote Yakov Smirnoff, America, what a country!

A Money Thought

I actually stole this one from Crazy Ideas on Reddit, and it seems to have been well received. I would watch those documentaries as well. How do you submit ideas to Netflix ?

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Fake Money News and other Manipulations

Fake Money News and other Manipulations

The headlines are full of how both Facebook and Google were bamboozled into delivering fake news during the past U.S. Election (2016), but for anyone who knows much about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), this is no big surprise. SEO is the pseudo-science (some say snake oil) that causes your searches to make certain articles to come out on the front page of your search pages. Fake Money news is also out there.

Gossip or Fake Money news

Money Gossip ?
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Manipulating Facebook, Twitter and Search Engines to bring up “less than scrupulous” news on any topic is not as hard as you might think.

Learn more about Internet Sliminess 

Most folks don’t really understand how search engines work, and how Google, Facebook and many other sites decide what you should look at (and to be clear, they decide what you look at, you have very little choice in the matter). Large companies are out there to market websites so that they get high rankings on the Internet Major Sites (as you can tell, I do not use those firms). There are estimates on how much is spent on SEO, and it is now in the Billions of Dollars worldwide (I am also including folks who pay for advertising on Google, Facebook, Twitter and other sites). Who has that kind of money to get Fake Money News in front of you? You would be surprised to see who spends money on it.

An interesting book about the SEO world

Go to your favourite search engine and type in

I need money

Look at what sites come up first. Many short-term loan and Pay Day loan companies, because they pay good money to get on that first page. They want to find you, and they want you to find them first! Are these the right sites for you to look at?

Absolutely not!

People seem to think the Internet is a great and all knowing oracle, but don’t be fooled. It is a business, and how does Google, Facebook, or Twitter make money? Selling search results to the highest bidder. Why do companies pay so much to them? Those Internet Leaders promise that they will deliver customers to the buyers doorstep.

Does this sound like Mad Men to you? That is pretty close, it is yet another spin on the world of Advertising (without the 4 Scotch lunches, and Don Draper-isms).

Yes, you can find a few of my articles around, but you have to look hard. I have tried hard to be on the first page for Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP), but I am nowhere to be seen. Which sites are on the first page on Google? The CRA (which is good), the Banks and then a litany of firms that will help you get your RDSP set up.

If I wanted to manipulate a specific stock putting out fake news to drive the stock down or up could be simply done (and has been done to Apple and other stocks in the past). Having the next sure fire investing method is simple to push, because everyone is looking to get an edge.

What is my point?

You are being manipulated, every time you click on a search result on Google, or an ad on Facebook or Twitter. Someone paid good money (or did some dirty tricks (SEO has Black and White Hats)) for you to see that search (usually), but if you realize that, you are already better off.

A great alternate search engine is Duck Duck Go

Be skeptical about things you read on the web (yes, here too). Get different opinions, different views, use different search engines. You are being sold something every time you look at the Internet, be it news, money advice, travel advice, or so many other topics.

Ted has another angle on this subject:

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Leonard Cohen a Cautionary Retirement Story

I was saddened to hear that Leonard Cohen, yet another famous Montrealer has passed on, but his  music will leave a legacy that will live long past all of us.

Leonard Cohen

A Poet and a Canadian Treasure
Link to Amazon

Mr. Cohen, unfortunately, was also a victim of losing his retirement nest-egg. In 2005, the news of how Mr. Cohen’s retirement funds had disappeared, allegedly due to impropriety from a former manager came to the public eye. Mr. Cohen, lost over $5 million dollars, and was forced to go back to work. Luckily, Mr. Cohen’s talents allowed him to try to recover from this set back, however, it meant his retirement evaporated.

We are continually barraged with stories of athletes and celebrities who have lost their money, due to financial impropriety (or even worse, simple overspending), but don’t get too smug.

It is easy for us to say, this won’t happen to me, but as a former Nortel employee, many folks I worked with (and retirees that I know) have had to dramatically change their retirement plans due to the Nortel Pension (and Stock) collapse.

Are you confident that your retirement plans are safe, and that when you retire, you can stay retired? Will you be healthy enough when you retire? Some good questions that need answering.


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To quote that noted newscaster Kent Brockman, “…without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?” . I have read and heard stories of the impending apocalypse and such, thanks to President-elect Trump’s  policies, but I am more worried about the fact that the “Angry Old White Man” Party (aka the Republicans) can now “run the table”. I would not be surprised that if at the end of all of this, Mr. Trump ends up being the voice of reason (yes, I threw up a bit in my mouth typing that), in the Grating America.

Kent Brockman

Dire News From Washington and Kent Brockman

For those who did not wake up a cold morning in 1975 to find the PQ in power in Quebec or a dark October morning in 1990 when Bob Rae became Premier of Ontario, the only advice I can give is, “Chill out for now, and watch closely at what happens”. No one can say for sure what will happen, and if they say they know, they are probably trying to sell you something. I do like the #CalExit folks, given that California is the 6th largest economy in the world.

Meanwhile in Canada Canadians’ debt load increases (according to TransUnion). To quote our friends at Transunion:

“Canadian consumers saw average non-mortgage debt balances rise by 2.3% between Q3 2015 ($21,195) and Q3 2016 ($21,686).”

Note that this is non-mortgage debt as well, so yes, maybe Mr. Brockman was asking the right question?

So one of my new tricks these days, is to combat the deluge of really great deals that arrive in my mailbox (Canada Post), I have taken to saving the really great deals (and coupons), for a special task. Any time I get a great deal (like the new CPP upgrade program, that looks like a Government program, but comes in a blank envelope) with a paid postage return envelope, to say thank you, I put some great coupons and deals in this envelope and mail it back to those helpful folks.

Yes, it is Juvenile, but that is who I am.

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My Writings for Week Ending November 11th

Another more quiet week from me, but I did write one thing to help parents out Helping Kids With University Costs, Idea #214, for those of you thinking your kids will be able to leave home to go to University. Day to day living expenses for your kids, if they are not at home, really do add up.

Toblerone the Christmas Grinch

Really Toblerone? Really? I may be boycotting my favorite Christmas candy. #BoycottToblerone #BoycottTheValley

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Helping Kids With University Costs, Idea #214

If you are planning on trying to help your kids out with their University costs (or other post-secondary ideas), an RESP is a must (just for the free money), however, that is not the only way to ensure you can easily help out your kids reach their educational dreams (or your dreams for their eduction).

I have learned after 8 years of paying for children’s expenses for school, that the most debilitating university costs are not tuition, it is the cost of accommodation. At one point in the 8 years I was

  • Paying the mortgage on my house
  • Paying rent of 3 separate apartments across Canada

When did I become so rich that I could afford this (you might ask)? (sarcasm alert) I most assuredly did not, the RESP money helped somewhat, but these kind of costs can almost double your family living expenses. Living expenses for your kids at school really do add up.

There are remedies for this kind of expense (luckily):

  1. Do not allow your child to move away from home while they are going to University. Whether you really want to inflict this on yourself, is a question you must ask, but that will eliminate many of the living expenses. I know at least one set of parents that said, “I will pay for your tuition, and give you a car to use, if you stay at home. If not, it is all on you.”
  2. Pay off your house before your kids get to University, that way you are rich enough to be able to pay for the rent on “N” different apartments (or residence rooms) (where N is greater than 1).
  3. Make your kids pay for their living costs.
  4. Make your kids pay the whole shot. They want an eduction, time to learn about money at the same time.

Option (2) on the list is a very good target to try to hit, but kind of hard if you are maxing out your RESP, TFSA, and RRSP savings targets as well, but still something to keep in mind!

Options (3) & (4) sound heartless, but I know plenty of folks who paid for their entire University career, because their parents couldn’t help out, and they seem to have survived.

Keep in mind, University costs are not just tuition costs.

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