MLM, Balanced Budgets, and #Moneytalk

Balanced Budget

While not all MLM are necessarily Pyramid schemes, they can be.

So the Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) has been bouncing around on the Web, and allow me to add my views on the subject. If it looks like a pyramid, and you are encouraged to recruit friends and family so you can make more money, it is a Pyramid Scheme. In my younger days, more than once, I was invited to a “party”. The hosts of the “party” were always vague about why the party was happening but inevitably it ended up being a Pyramid Soap Party. I learned to be much more inquisitive about parties after my first Pyramid Soap Party. Sort of like, if you can’t figure out who the sucker is in the party, be careful, it is most likely you.

Some folks will make lots of money from MLM, but will it be you? This is the question you should ask first, and whether you have a group of friends you won’t mind if they never talk to you again. The snubbing will happen after you succeed or fail at convincing them to join your “… sure fire money making system…”. John Oliver did sum it up best in his video description of things.

Ontario will have a balanced budget by 2018, is the claim put forward by the Liberal Government. This will be done without new taxes on the “middle class” (a term I really no longer view as a valid measurement, everyone has their own interpretation of that term). There will be plenty of higher service charges, so you will pay more, just not in taxes (if you are part of the mythical middle class).

There is an election coming, we shall see whether this sways Ontario Voters or not.

Please do not confuse a balanced budget with paying down the Ontario Debt. The current Ontario Debt is about $312 B (Cdn). Can that amount be repaid? That remains to be seen, but the balanced budget simply means that the Ontario Debt should no longer be growing (however it isn’t decreasing either).

Someone sent me an invite to a meeting in 11 months, and was concerned I only replied with a Maybe response. It vexed them to the point that they came over and asked why? I explained, a lot of things can happen in 11 months. I might win the lottery, or suddenly become a wealthy author, or maybe the horses will sing. She didn’t get that last reference.

My Writings For the Week of April 28th

I actually finished off 3 different pieces this week, which might signal a renewed dedication on my part, or it might be an anomaly. First I wrote about Quicken 2017 Review – The Year of the Comeback? It is a better version of Quicken that doesn’t crash as much, but still has issues. The subscription aspect of it has me worried as well.

As I have written before I work for the Government and the big news in Ottawa has been the Phoenix Pay system, and the problems it is having. With Phoenix Pay System Side Swipe I point out that not only Civil Servants are feeling the pain of the problems with this new system. Phoenix is even being blamed for bad attendance at Ottawa Sens games this year.

Finally I wrote over at my Tech and Security site something new, For God’s Sake Don’t Click That ! I write about the perils of click-bait and phishing sites out there, looking to make your technological life miserable.

A Money Thought

I am enjoying the radicalization of Kerry over at Squawkfox. I await her tweet that states, “I came here to take names and kick asses, and my list is full!”

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Overheated Housing Market, Rent Controls and #MoneyTalk

It seems the GTA overheated housing market (i.e. bubble) is about to have a sharp knitting needle poked into it. All levels of government are talking of  taxes to stop speculation in this “… just plain stupid ..” real estate market. As a Libertarian, I am not fond of governments sticking their oar into a free market, but this market is being gamed by outside forces. The entire real-estate industry has always been near the Pay Day Loan world in my view, but in the GTA right now, this is getting stupid. The Ontario Government did announce a bunch of measures, which may help?

overheated housing market

Now THAT is a Housing Bubble!
Photo: Paul VanDerWerf/Flickr

I keep hearing arguments that there are ethical real-estate folks out there, and I have no doubt that there are some, but when this much money is being thrown around, the unscrupulous come running. Making 2% (or higher) on a million dollar sale, is motivation enough for some.

I note that no solution being suggested has any regulations being put on the real-estate industry? Rules and regulations in this area might be more useful, as well as an ethics watch dog in the area might help too.

Rent controls sound like a good idea, but increasing government control of the rental market worries me as well. Government regulation isn’t going to fix things, if anything it will create a more cumbersome system. Landlords will simply hire consultants to find ways to get around regulations.

The bubble has even come to Ottawa, with nutty folks speculating in the Ottawa market. I get calls daily from real-estate folks wanting to help sell the Big Cajun Hacienda (I didn’t know I wanted to sell it). Sure I might make good money selling my house, but where would I live? The only fun stories I have seen are of folks moving from YYZ to YOW, and being able to buy their new house for cash, except that might be what is causing Ottawa’s market to heat up?

As I have said, money is not the root of all evil, but it is the cause of a lot of stupid decisions.

Maybe Marijuana legalization is coming just in time, so we can all mellow out about this whole thing?

I missed a chance to be at a Financial Smart Guy Brunch (formerly known as the N.C.F.B.A), sounds like it was a rip-snorting event. I am glad my absence was noted, although the commentary about cloud chasing (while true) was not necessary (see the tweet further on). Some great new investment ideas were discussed including:

  • The Blue Chip Winery Fund
  • Giant Cash Bonfire Fund
  • The Ultra Super Cool Ponzi Group
  • Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences ETF
  • Thor High Growth with Ultra Stability Fund

Guess which ones are real. I would also think that Bernoulli would win in a Thunderdome Cage Match with Kahneman (but I think they may have been pulling my leg on that one).

A Money Thought

I guess there is such a thing as bad press ? I suppose it is good they remembered me.

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Ladies on Panels, Good Friday, Friendly Skies, Loose Money and #MoneyTalk

I mentioned last week that Kerry at Squawkfox was showing more moxy and chutzpah, but she is taking it to another level, which I am enjoying. The Globe Investor is having a panel which is less than diverse. The attempt at diversity was including our friend Preet B., but there were no women on the panel. Kerry has adopted the Binders full of Women statement as her own. This binder has a list of Fantastic Female Financial Folk (sorry it is playoff time, and I start writing like Danny Gallivan), that would be perfect for any financial symposium. I offer my absolute support to this endeavor.

The Lamb a Symbol of Easter and Renewal

I am publishing my Best Of on Thursday this week, in deference to Good Friday. Good Friday is a pivotal day in Christianity, but it is a confusing day for many folks. Why is it called Good Friday? A man is whipped, crucified and you call it Good Friday? As usual there are different interpretations of why it is “Good”, but the interpretation that Good means ” … a day on which religious observance is held …” seems to fit. In romance languages it is actually Holy Friday (which does fit a bit better in the narrative).

Good Friday, if you wish to ignore the religious aspect, could be an excellent financial thematic premise. Good Friday can be the end of your bad financial world, and Easter Sunday can be the start of a better financial environment. Easter is a time of renewal and new beginnings (not just chocolate and new clothes).

I believe United Airlines use to have the phrase “Fly the Friendly Skies” as their motto. It does seem a rather ironic phrase, given the abysmal customer treatment this week. I have been bumped from flights on occasion, but haven’t been pulled off by the police (yet). As a lover of social stupidity, I just wonder whoever decided to send the police into the plane was thinking at the time. That is Customer Service with a capital K.

Why do airlines overbook? Every empty seat on an airplane is lost revenue, so overbooking has been going on for a very long time. People having multiple bookings, or not showing up for their reservation is the public reason quoted by airlines, but it all comes down to money. If everyone showed up on time to all flights, overbooking would stop tomorrow, but that is not likely to happen. Am I saying, “money is the root of all evil”? No, but I am saying, money is the cause of a lot of really lousy decisions.

Loose money might be the fuse of a big economic bomb, but the Bank of Canada is keeping interest rates low for now. The media release has the following statement about why money is still loose:

CPI inflation is now at the 2 per cent target, largely because of the transitory effects of higher oil prices and carbon pricing measures in two provinces, as well as other temporary factors. The Bank’s three measures of core inflation, on the other hand, have been drifting down in recent quarters and wage growth remains subdued, consistent with material excess capacity in the economy. CPI inflation is expected to dip in the months ahead, as the temporary factors unwind, and then return to 2 per cent later in the projection horizon as the output gap closes.

People keep buying million dollar homes assuming low-interest rates isn’t a ticking time bomb? I might be wrong, but I do hear ticking.

My Writings for Week Ending April 14th

I didn’t write anything this week, again. Life gets busy sometimes, and given I have a backlog of 272 titles  that need to be finished, I should be putting out more content, yet I am not. I do put the pro in procrastination sometimes. I guess spring financial cleaning might be extended to financial writing as well?

A Money Thought

A lovely bit of cynicism from me this week, and if you can find a Trojan, drop me a line.

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Tax Time, Housing Bubbles, Financial Easter and #MoneyTalk

There are folks out there who do not realize it is Tax Time? Yes, it is that time of the year again, so just get it done. I already have my refund, why don’t you have yours?

Where the Hogs End Up

Are you assuming that you can claim all of your dependants? Not if your dependant is called Fluffy or Rover. Get all the tax credits you are due, but make sure you are not gilding the lily on things either.

The bubble is starting in Ottawa, where housing prices are starting to pick up. There is talk of bidding wars and very quick sales, which is interesting to most, but I am not going anywhere. The biggest issue for me is where would I end up living if I sold the Big Cajun Hacienda? I suppose I could live down by the river in a van, but that is starting to get crowded too. There continues to be stories of Toronto Landlords raising rents, but they may end up killing the goose that lays the gold eggs. Doubling rents are only inviting the Provincial and Local Governments to bring in tighter rent controls.

Remember the important financial credo to live by:

Pigs get fat, Hogs get slaughtered

Kind of a special Easter message, for those landlords trying to make it big.

Easter is coming folks, next week the week leading up to the big weekend. Another good time to start rethinking any financial plans you might have.

My Writings for Week Ending April 7th

I didn’t write anything this week, but I continue to clean up a lot of my older writing, and republishing them on social media. You should really be following me on Twitter, I am told I am a delight to read. I also tweet under my own name if you are curious as well (much more raw and rude commentary on life, technology, sports and my own odd humor). What kind of tweets might you see?

A Money Thought

Kerry is getting a little more out spoken in her tweets, but I am liking this side of her. She is showing a lot more moxy and some chutzpah too.

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April Fools, High on Life and #MoneyTalk

Tomorrow is April Fools Day, where there is usually hilarious fake news stories posted to amuse folks. Unfortunately 2017 seems to be a Fools Year, so I won’t be indulging too much in April Fools this year. Maybe they should just rename April 1st fake news first?

The True Canadian Chip

I suppose I could make some joke about the exploding house bubble causing folks to buy old shacks for over a million dollars, but who would believe that ?

Given the ho hum budget last week, the government seemed to want to end the first quarter of 2017 on a high note. Evidently they will be pushing forward with their marijuana legalization program. They are very high on this program, and hope it stops them from being stoned in the polls. Maybe this spring the grass will be greener on the other side of the bong? Let’s hope for some high times in the Canadian economy. Suddenly I want to eat a bag of all dressed chips.

You now have a month until your tax return is due, might be time to start thinking about doing something about it? The CRA is making it as easy as possible with their auto-fill capabilities too. Get the government to give it back.

My Writings for Week Ending March 31st

I went back and had a closer look at a specific part of the budget, and hoped I could encourage more folks to do their DTC (Disability Tax Credit) application themselves. I point out in DTC Change For The Better, that allowing Nurse Practitioners fill in the T2201 forms from the CRA is a step in the right direction, maybe now the government could try to make the process a little easier for folks?

A Money Thought

Mostly a money thought, since I tend to say that most of my great money decisions had a degree of blind luck involved in them (or having a horseshoe up my bum), but read Kerry’s opinion of those statements.

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