Cheap Oil, Cheap Dollar, Dead Folk, and #MoneyStories

Could we see oil back below $20 a barrel this year? That is the claim of a few of the experts, which could make for some very interesting economic impacts. One of the major impacts is the Canadian dollar now being below 70 cents US in value (remember 2 years ago when the dollar was worth more than the US Dollar?).

Oil Rig in the sun

Sun is setting on the Oil Business ?

Alan Rickman and David Bowie passed away this week, so not a very good week for celebrities. David Bowie’s music was the anthem of my teenage years, whereas Mr. Rickman’s acting made me wonder whether it would be worse to be tortured with a spoon? Rest in Peace, should be an interesting band wherever they are with Lemme Kilmister too.

In other news I have reached another magical milestone, in that I have turned 55, so I can get a 20% discount at Shoppers Drug Mart (on Thursdays). I will be exploring what other great advantages becoming a somewhat senior citizen might buy me. For those that follow me on Facebook, sorry for the flim-flammery, but Facebook’s dates are purposely wrong. You should really never publish your exact birth date for many reasons, but security is a really good reason too (I am also 66 years old on Facebook too, remember you can’t believe everything you read on-line).

A good bit of humor from my carpool mate,
“What do you call folks moving east from Alberta to find jobs ?” — Newfoundlanders

My Writings for Week Ending January 15th

Winter is here, and it is time to pay for Christmas:

The job picture is no better but no worse to end the year, but it is actually better for old farts like me, and not so good for my children.

Steady Job News to End 2015

Mrs. C8j is trying out the new on line order and then go pick up yourself systems being offered by a few of the grocery stores, she seems quite happy with it so far, but is it also a good budgetary tool ?

On-Line Grocery Systems as a Budgetary Tool

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On-Line Grocery Systems as a Budgetary Tool

So Mrs. C8j is looking for some ways to “switch things up” with our grocery bill (which is fairly hefty), so this past weekend she tried out the “Click and Collect” Loblaws on-line ordering and pick-up grocery (and other thing) shopping system to see how it works, and she now has a theory that these kind of on-line ordering systems might be a useful budgetary tool for families (other stores offer the same kind of services (Wal-Mart also offers it in our area).

Auto Shopping

Robo Groceries

The whole experience went fine (although for some odd reason they did not have lactose free milk in stock on a Saturday at noon (when Mrs. C8j picked up the order)), so I suspect we will be using it again, but can it control impulse spending?

The ability to choose specific brand, was quite good, however, the weekly flyer sale items were not obvious on the site (but she has since figured out how to find them). There is an ability to search by many different criteria (food type, brand, specific food (e.g. banana)).

How would this be a useful budgeting tool? Mrs. C8j had a few good points

  • There is a running total that shows when you start putting things in your basket, so you will know how much you are spending (a minimum order of $30 at Loblaws).
  • You are shopping from home so you are less likely to buy things you already have (OK, we didn’t quite get that right this time, we seem to have overloaded on yogurt, but next time we won’t).
  • If you think of it there is a chance to do less “impulse buying” (e.g. buying magazines at the check out, etc.,), however, given most things are available, you can still buy crap you don’t need, easily.
  • You do save “time” which some have said is worth something.

A few downsides:

  • The $5 service charge means you really shouldn’t be using this for small orders, maybe just for your “large weekly orders”.
  • The following is from the FAQ for the Loblaws service, “When your order is prepared, the selected payment method will be authorized for up to 125% of the order total to accommodate updates to your order. If you choose another method of payment when you pick up your order, the authorization will remain on your card until it is expired by your bank (typically 3 – 7 days).“. That really sucks, so don’t change payment methods

Has anybody else tried this out? What are your opinions?


Steady Job News to End 2015

Friday our friends from Stats Canada published the year-end Labour Force Survey, and it was fine, nothing too exciting, but no big changes either, Employment up a little and Unemployment staying about the same. Specifically employment was up 23,000 raising the overall rate by 0.1%, although unemployment stayed the same as last month (7.1%).

For the whole year a relatively good employment story with the following statement:

In the 12 months to December, employment gains totalled 158,000 or 0.9%, slightly above the growth rate of 0.7% in both 2013 and 2014.

So a better story than in the previous two years.

Employment For Past 5 Year

Employment for Past 5 years

An increasing curve looks nice, but the unemployment graph paints a clearer picture (if the data is still a little peculiar).

Unemployment For Past 5 Years in Canada

Unemployment For Past 5 Years (in Canada)

The following three lines are the telling sentences from the report.

In December, employment rose by 29,000 among people aged 55 and older, and their unemployment rate edged down to 5.8%.

Despite little employment change among people aged 25 to 54, their unemployment rate increased 0.2 percentage points to 6.3% as more of them searched for work.

Employment was also little changed among youths aged 15 to 24 and their unemployment rate was 13.0% in December.

So (as usual) life is good for old guys (like me), but it still kind of sucks for the young folks? I believe Le Dauphin (Mr. Trudeau) will need to do something about his “target audience” employment levels.

One more telling statement in the report is:

The number of public sector employees increased by 41,000 (+1.1%), driven by gains in health care and social assistance and, to a lesser extent, in public administration. At the same time, the number of private sector employees was little changed.

Creating more public sector jobs is not growing the economy, it is growing the government.

Labour News for 2015

Here are some of the posts about jobs from this past year:


Merry New Year! The year 2016 has started with a really crappy stock market, the Canadian Dollar and oil prices plummeting and North Korea might have a Hydrogen Bomb, so sounds like it could be a lot of fun! Of course I am an Indexer so I really don’t care about most of that, except for that Hydrogen Bomb thingy. Happy New Year to us All??

Lottery Losses

The way a lot of investors feel right now
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The New Year brings many opportunities to try to change or make things better. I have resolved to lose that extra weight I have packed on due to laziness on my part (sloth, gluttony and greed, can’t go wrong when you are working with the 7 deadly sins). As I have said, Debt Makes Me Sick but it is very easy to fall into bad habits as I have learned, and just because you may have achieved your goals, doesn’t mean you can abandon the methodologies that got you there.

The reason why the TFSA is not being used effectively? The name scares people, seriously, that is what the media is now spouting as great financial advice. If it was called Anal Probe it would still be an effective savings vehicle, get over it Canadians. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet.

For football fans like myself or Robb from Boomer & Echo, it will be a great weekend with 4 games this weekend and 4 games next weekend. No doubt there will be a football flavoured article coming out of this weekend as well (Go Vikings!).

My Writings for Week Ending January 8th

It is past Epiphany so you should have your decorations down by now, but remember Valentine’s Day is coming soon too:

Keep some of these great ideas and maybe re-read this on December 27th, 2016, Financial Things to do on Last Day of year.

Finance Things To Do On The Last Day of the Year

Maybe a new way to work for 2016, Financial Rules of 3

Financial Rules of 3 For 2016

TD may start asking for royalties, given how many posts I write about them, but if they stopped Rejecting My Mutual Fund Transactions, I might have less to write about.

Mutual Fund Order Rejected (again)

Yes, more writing about TD on this one as well, more fees, more fun

TFSA Transfer Fees

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TFSA Transfer Fees

So at the end of last year, I wrote about things to do at the end of the year, and I “poo poo’ed” someone who mentioned (in a comment) that you could skirt the TFSA transfer fees  if you took the money out at the end of December, and then deposited it in your new TFSA at the start of January. I thought, “How expensive could that transfer fee be?”, and luckily my friends at TD sent me a helpful update on my accounts that helped clarify it.


TFSA Year to Year Swap to Change Providers

“… TD Investment Services Inc. is introducing a new Transfer Fee of $75.00 plus taxes per transfer, effective March 1, 2016. This fee applies to each transfer of a TD Mutual Funds TFSA to another financial institution. This fee does not apply to a transfer to another TFSA within TD Bank Group. This fee will be collected from the bank account associated with your TD Mutual Funds TFSA that is currently used for purchases, pre-authorized purchase plans and redemptions. If you do not wish to accept this fee you may close your TFSA or transfer it to another financial institution without cost or penalty.
You can do so by informing us no later than 30 days after the date the fee comes into effect. Please note that, by using your TFSA or keeping it open after March 31, 2016, it means that you have accepted this fee. If you are considering a TFSA transfer, or require additional information, please visit your TD Canada Trust branch or call us at 1-866-222-3456 to speak to a Mutual Funds Representative today….”

Seventy Five Dollars? $75? Holy cow, talk about, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out customer service. Notice that you can avoid this fee, if you choose to close or transfer your account from your TD Mutual Funds TFSA vehicle. As I have mentioned I have had many interesting issues with my TD Mutual Funds RESP account, so my opinion would be to open an account elsewhere in the next month or so, and transfer your account there.

Also, my sincerest apology to any commentator who mentioned the idea of the transfer TFSA at end of year gambit as well, I guess there are situations where this might make perfect sense.



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