SRA Readers for Financial Literacy and Money Concepts ?

Remember as a kid, when you were in class, and the teacher would bring the old SRA Readers box out? Maybe this is a 70’s thing, but I remember that, and it helped me not loathe reading as much as I did. Can we borrow this idea for Financial Literacy?

SRA Reading System for Financial Literacy

SRA Reading System

The system helped kids progress through reading stories that became more complex, as you moved through each level or Colour. You would get questions on the story to make sure you really understood the whole story.

I enjoyed the competition that it introduced, as each kid in the class would proudly say what colour they had achieved, and when I remembered this I wondered wouldn’t this be a wonderful way to teach Financial Literacy and other Money topics?

Start with simple money concepts, then move onto saving and how money can grow, move on to banks and how they work, and once those topics are well understood then bring in the concept of leverage and credit, and finally how Mortgage, and complex investing concepts work. Each section could be easily broken down, and at the end of it you could be confident that the kids have learned about the topic.

Anybody up for putting this together?

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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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We Invest the Way We Vote

I am not sure if this is an expression said by someone, but this seems to be the case. I am not calling out my friends to the South either, Canadians (and everyone really) are just as guilty when it comes to “going to vote“.

Electorate Training

Some Things to Think About

What do I mean? In both cases, we make a hurried, uninformed decision after being unduly influenced by people who have their own agenda on why they want you to do it. Typically the decision may even be made at the last-minute, using your “gut” to decide.

In both instances, this is insane! If you are voting, and it is solely you going into a box, with a pencil and making a mark for someone, that someone else told you to vote for, that is not how the democratic system is supposed to work. Similarly if you go to a financial planner, who throws together a bunch of financial or investing ideas that you either don’t understand (or worse don’t want to understand) and you blindly agree to it, that is not how financial planning works!

Get educated about both topics, and make an informed choice, don’t just “do it because I need to do it”, because you will rarely make the right decision (and if you do it will have more to do with luck). Financial Literacy we are starting to talk about, Political Literacy needs to be pushed as well. Oh and the argument, there is too much information to decide, I don’t buy it.

November may be Financial Literacy month, but that does not mean you should wait until then to start educating yourself.

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What is My Tax Bracket ?

Do You Know Your Tax Bracket?

Saw that question (What is my tax bracket?) in Money Magazine as a frequently asked question, so let me help you out (for those in Canada), with a few helpful links and a few more helpful tables and such helping you figure out What is Your Tax Bracket. As a precursor to these hints, you should always check with the CRA or a licensed Tax Accountant if you have questions about your Tax Brackets and such.

Where do you find out about the current Federal Income Tax Brackets (for you as an Individual, not you as a corporation) ? Go to this page for individuals. That page will tell you the following (for 2015):

Federal tax rates for 2015

  • 15% on the first $44,701 of taxable income, +
  • 22% on the next $44,700 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $44,701 up to $89,401),+
  • 26% on the next $49,185 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $89,401 up to $138,586), +
  • 29% of taxable income over $138,586.
Tax Bracket

The Infamous Bad Pun

Remember that is Taxable Income, so this is what is left after you have taken your deductions, and credits and such. Remember also that if you earn less than the Basic Personal Amount (line 300) you don’t have to pay taxes (for kids with summer jobs and such).

However, that is not all, remember that you have Provincial Income Tax as well, and here are the 2015 numbers to keep in mind too:

Provincial/territorial tax rates (combined chart)
Provinces/territories Rate(s)
Newfoundland and Labrador 7.7% on the first $35,008 of taxable income, +
12.5% on the next $35,007, +
13.3% on the amount over $70,015
Prince Edward Island 9.8% on the first $31,984 of taxable income, +
13.8% on the next $31,985, +
16.7% on the amount over $63,969
Nova Scotia 8.79% on the first $29,590 of taxable income, +
14.95% on the next $29,590, +
16.67% on the next $33,820, +
17.5% on the next $57,000, +
21% on the amount over $150,000
New Brunswick 9.68% on the first $39,973 of taxable income, +
14.82% on the next $39,973, +
16.52% on the next $50,029, +
17.84% on the amount over $129,975
Quebec Go to Income tax rates (Revenu Québec Web site).
Ontario 5.05% on the first $40,922 of taxable income, +
9.15% on the next $40,925, +
11.16% on the next $68,153, +
12.16% on the next $70,000, +
13.16 % on the amount over $220,000
Manitoba 10.8% on the first $31,000 of taxable income, +
12.75% on the next $36,000, +
17.4% on the amount over $67,000
Saskatchewan 11% on the first $44,028 of taxable income, +
13% on the next $81,767, +
15% on the amount over $125,795
Alberta 10% of taxable income
British Columbia 5.06% on the first $37,869 of taxable income, +
7.7% on the next $37,871, +
10.5% on the next $11,218, +
12.29% on the next $18,634, +
14.7% on the next $45,458, +
16.8% on the amount over $151,050
Yukon 7.04% on the first $44,701 of taxable income, +
9.68% on the next $44,700, +
11.44% on the next $49,185, +
12.76% on the amount over $138,586
Northwest Territories 5.9% on the first $40,484 of taxable income, +
8.6% on the next $40,487, +
12.2% on the next $50,670, +
14.05% on the amount over $131,641
Nunavut 4% on the first $42,622 of taxable income, +
7% on the next $42,621, +
9% on the next $53,343, +
11.5% on the amount over $138,586

Addendum

A commenter has pointed out another excellent resource in this area TaxTips.ca , check them out too!

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What is Financial Literacy (2014 Edition)

A few years back I wrote about financial literacy, and you may not know, that November is Financial Literacy month in Canada, although, financial literacy should be an all year round kind of thing. Just like Movember (which I am actively participating in after removing the Big Cajun Beard) it’s nice for folks to think about a topic, but like any health issue you should not only be worrying about money and Financial Literacy in November, you should be worrying all year round about your finances (well maybe not worrying, certainly thinking about it).

Anger is an Energy

Mr. Lydon’s new Book available at Amazon

Why do you need financial literacy, or an understanding of your financial situation? To paraphrase John LydonEver get the feeling you’ve been cheated ?“, that is why you need financially literacy. You worked hard for that money, but you need to understand the rules of  the money game, or you might just lose it.

Some practical examples that I have overheard or been part of, that if the individual involved had known up front “the rules of the game” (by reading agreements, or better still researching things first), they might not have ended up getting “cheated” out of their money (in this instance you feel cheated, but in fact, you just didn’t know the rules):

  • Don’t pay for a year,scams for high end electronics and their warranties are a perfect example of needing to know the rules. Seems easy enough, you need to pay off the debt before a year transpires and you will not be charged any interest on the Electronic Thingy you purchased. What other rules or hidden things you are unaware of?
    • Many plans now are not “don’t pay for a year” they are in fact “make equal payments for a year and no interest”. Be sure you understand this, or if you under pay a single payment you may owe a whack of cash at the end of the term.
    • The “no interest” sounds like a great deal, but that is already built into the price you are paying. Any interest you might end up paying is pure profit for the vendor.
    • What does your warranty really get you? Replacement? Repair? If you answer, “The guy told me it was replacement”, did you read that in the agreement? “The guy” makes a very nice commission on that warranty (in fact I think he pockets most of it), be sure what he said is what is written.
  • Seems easy isn’t it? How many folks do you know that end up paying the interest on these “don’t pay for a year” deals? You don’t know of any? Maybe it is because no one will admit they got caught by this, so learn the rules.
  • Investing rules? Good lord there have been libraries written about all the “rules of investing” but folks are still buying Mutual Funds that claim they “Beat the Market”, or have “Guaranteed Growth”, but can they say that without it being true?Depends onthecontexttheymade the statement, isn’t it?
    • If I create a mutual fund and for the first 4 years, it “beats the S&P 500 for growth”, I can make that claim in any advertisement I want, and it is truthful, can’t I? Research of this fund would uncover this truth, so always check these types of claims. What if I created 500 funds 5 years ago, but only allowed “internal trading” of it, and only made the 1 that did beat the S&P 500 for 5 years available to the public? I can make the claim still, I don’t need to mention the 499 failures.
    • If I say that in 5 years your money will Growth by 3% a year guaranteed, you might want that, but if you didn’t look closely to see, that if you tried to take your money out before 5 years, you’d have extensive penalties, would that change your point of view? You have your guaranteed growth, however, you also have a locked in investment.

There are so many more of these kinds of truthful statements, that still are not really what you think the truth is.

Learn the rules of the financial game, that is what financial literacy means to me. What does it mean to you?

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