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.


What is My 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


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


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?


A Fine Friday on Vacation

I have been enjoying a vacation this week, where I actually didn’t really relax, I took care of a great deal of things, but I also took a planned week off writing for this site, just to see how I felt about not writing. Every once in a while I feel a little run down, and feel I am putting out even lower quality drivel than I normally do, but I am happy to say, I did miss writing, so I should be back to a more regular writing routine in the next couple of weeks. The site will be changing a little bit as well, as I am getting bored with its current lay out, and I don’t feel like I am maximizing my ability to get my messages out (or getting very good exposure to the over 2600 articles I have already written).

Big Cajun Man Photo

The Big Cajun Vacation Look

If there are any suggestions that you have for the site, please feel free to drop me a line at ‘bigcajunman @ canajunfinances.com’ (I may not reply right away, that account is actually inundated with get rick quick and boner pill e-mails). You can also send me tweets at @bigcajunman as well, I am all over the Social Media thingy.

I did read some of my favorite writers this week, but I won’t point directly to their writing, I’ll be a little more direct with my statements about each site, and why I find the writings interesting to me. I actually read a veritable cornucopia of sites during my day, as I am a little scatter brained (i.e. I can’t really concentrate on a single subject at a time).

Who am I reading now? It’s easy enough if you look in the right column, you’ll see most of these names, but I’ll elaborate on things a bit more.

  • Michael James is a good friend who I talk with regularly and has given me great advice along the way. If you are not reading his site, and at least using his writings as a baseline to work from, you need to do that, now.
  • Preet Banerjee is also a good guy, who I view as a friend, who has forgotten more about investing than I will ever figure out, listen closely to what he is saying on TV and on Radio.
  • Ram at the Canadian Capitalist is another excellent resource, who seems to have retired for now on writing, but go through his site, most (if not all) of his advice is still very much topical and very good. His example portfolios are exactly what start-up investors should use as a template.
  • Larry MacDonald is writing here and there these days, but he may start his own site some time very soon, and if he does, you should read that as well. Larry is an economist and a writer, who is on the ball.
  • Mark Seed from My Own Advisor is a relative newcomer, but from what I can tell a great deal of you have figured out that he is worth reading (and I am green with envy for his readership). Mark brings the Dividend Investing world to light for me, so I find his writings helpful for me to understand an area which I don’t talk about much.
  • Mark Goodfield from the Blunt Bean Counter is another good guy, he has given me personal advice which has helped me out with my dealings with the CRA (about medical expenses and such for my son who is on the Autism Spectrum). I don’t usually have much good to say about accountants, but Mark is the exception to that rule.
  • I have only spoken with Gail Vaz-Oxlade over the phone, but she did make a great impression on me, and if you aren’t reading her site, you need to add her to your list of sites to read. Her blunt approach to advice is exactly what the world needs now.
  • Robb Engen and his Mum (Marie) write a  very good set of articles over at Boomer and Echo, which I don’t always mention, but again, you should be reading these articles, and they are now in the business of Financial Advice as well.
  • Barry Choi over at Money We Have is still a newbie in the Financial Writing world, but his interesting article about his Financial Advisor here certainly still gets a lot of interesting comments.
  • Kerry at Squawkfox is another one who is not writing as much, but that is mostly because she is on many other main stream medias, and she is a busy mom too. Her writings are very eclectic, but still mostly on the money side of things.

Oh and you should add XKCD.com to your reader too!

These are only a few of the places I wander, whilst cruising the Information Superhigway, other less money related sites also include:

  • Popular Science is always interesting for odd scientific information that I wouldn’t realize, had I not checked out their fine site (with no comments).
  • I like Lifehacker mostly because it usually has an article a week on something that I go, “I NEED TO KNOW THAT!!”, or a Eureka article, as I call them.
  • I have been reading Postsecret for a while, it is an entertaining, interesting, sometimes troubling but never dull set of Secrets published on line.

Reading all of this can be time consuming, but can be helpful, and maybe save you some money, so have a look at them and maybe subscribe to their mailing lists, RSS feed or one of the other social media presences that most of these folks publish.


Remember my RSS feed is available too, and I have added an RSS Comment Feed as well. Have a look at my micro-blog on Twitter, where you can see a whole plethora of good articles and pithy comments by me as well.

My Twitter feed is where I re-tweet many great articles by some of my featured writers (and make the occasional odd or off colour commentary on life (in 140 characters or less)). I am also on redditTumblrPinterest and other Social Media sites (look for theBigCajunMan userid) as well. If you have social media accounts, don’t forget to votefor my posts (see the nifty dashboard on the bottom of each article, where you can cast your votes).As they say in Quebec, vote early and vote often!

This site is iPhone Friendly (and Android iPod Touch and iPad Friendly), enjoy it on the go, in a readable format for the device. If you are reading with an iPhone or Android device, drop me a comment and tell me if this needs any improvements.


Time: The Most Important Financial Variable

For those of you who haven’t had as many financial plans and projects fail as I have, I’d like to share with you the most important variable in all of your plans, and that is Time (no not the magazine, the passing of moments).

Time will fix many things, but assuming you can do things quickly is usually the problem that trips up most plans and projects.

Typically a repayment plan will be quite simple:

Payment per Period = Debt / # of periods

However, there are two things wrong with this plan, first is you aren’t taking into consideration that your debt will grow with an interest rate, look up Future Value of Money on line or look up the PMT() function in Excel to figure out what the debt is going to grow. The other major variable here is the # of periods, and that is where most plans fall over.

People are always optimistic when they start debt pay back schemes (this is my opinion, but based on observation of many friends) and think it will be easy to pay things off quickly, without taking into consideration that Life, Karma, or Sh*t, happens (depending on your religious point of view). If you are overly optimistic with any plan (speaking as a Project Manager now), you will fail, or you will spend all of your time attempting to catch up.

$1 Commemorative from 1967

$1 Commemorative from 1967 which is very much in the past!

If you are much more conservative in your planning, time can be your friend. This is not to say that you should amortize your car over 10 years, or your house over 50 (if you could), however, don’t get too aggressive in your plans.

A good rule of thumb is to make up a plan initially, and then walk away from it for a day. The day later look at it and ask yourself

  • Can I live with this payment plan? Is this going to hurt a little or be agonizingly painful and will make me miserable?
  • What other sh*t is going to happen? (the realistic answer is “I don’t know”) Plan for bad things, give yourself a little slack (I didn’t say let it fall on the ground, but a little slack)
  • Have I tried this before and succeeded? The answer is most likely Yes and No, since you are doing it again (if you are really good at building up debt and then just as good at paying it off, good on you, but why are you living on a roller coaster?).

Time, it passes very quickly plan accordingly.

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