What is Your Price, BLACK FRIDAY, Phoenix and #MoneyTalk #FLM2017

A very odd Twitter exchange erupted this week between Robert Browne, Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Kerry K. and a few other folks about what is your price? What amount of money will cause you to walk away from your blogging morals and do it just for the money? It is interesting because that exact question was asked over dinner between myself, Mr. Browne, Mrs. Browne and Michael James, and the number seems to be $1 Million (to begin with).

What would we do for it? Someone stated:

“For a mil, I’d walk up and down Yonge Street wearing a sandwich sign for a payday loan place. Naked. In February.”

I stated I’d have to be paid $1.25M to watch this exhibition.

What is Your Price ?

To quote one of my favorite heel wrestlers from the 90’s, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase:

“Everybody’s got a price…”
Whoever says they would never, just hasn’t thought about how much money it would take.

It is Black Friday today, where mayhem and deals run rampant. I am not really sold on the concept of all these great deals, but I am sure there will be mayhem. I have nothing on my list to purchase, but I may do some on-line window shopping. Look at Anti-Virus software and maybe Quicken, both worth having.

The Phoenix Pay system was in the news again. The Auditor General’s report confirmed what anyone in the Civil Service knew, the system is a mess, and will take a lot of money and time to repair it (at least 2 years and another $540M). That is a pretty high price for taxpayers and there is no guarantees it will be fixed by then. It has not lived up to the promised money savings,  but the blame can be shared across the board.

My Recent Writings

A couple of articles by me over the past few weeks, still not back to more than 1 a week, but things may change in the new year.

I went to the financial confessional with Why Waiting 6 Months to Update Your Financial World is a Bad Thing (and it is). I felt sorry for myself and let things go, and paid a price for my self-pity.

My instincts are to work hard to save small amounts of money, for some reason, and Banking and Saving Fees outlines another important way I am saving $3 an ATM withdrawal. Maybe I should spend more time worrying about Macro Finance issues?

Micro Blogging on Finance

It seems the folks at Telus and Rogers are having problems complying with the December 1st deadline for selling and unlocking cell phones for free, and are now asking for an extension on this and the other parts of the CRTC’s policies? Let us hope the CRTC says, No!.

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Banking and Saving Fees

Back in the good old days, my office at Nortel had a banking machine on site. This was before banks started playing silly games with non-subscribers, charging them White ATM fee charges. Even then, I did open an account with CIBC, and back then they had a Zero Fee Account. That stopped working when the CIBC ATM changed to a Credit Union machine.

Stupid Bank Tricks

More Stupid Bank Tricks

My current employer has an RBC machine in the lobby, however, RBC doesn’t really have a zero fee banking account (unless I move all my banking there). No chance to resurrect my earlier brilliant idea there.

I did finally notice that across the street there is a Scotiabank branch, from my current office. After 2 years the light finally went on, I have a Tangerine Bank Account. As I have pointed out, Tangerine is owned by Scotiabank, and I can use their ATM machine with no fees.

This now means, I can use the Tangerine account which has zero fees (for now), and do transfers to it (for no fees) and withdraw money without fees, which seems to be ideal. You could also do this with Simplii and CIBC machines I assume.

Another stupid bank trick to add to my list of stupid bank tricks? Maybe, but if you have enough of them, you will have more money left in your bank account. Another way to live, is to simply take enough cash out every pay cheque that you need.

If you want to join Tangerine, use my code and I make some money too ( 47979477S1 ).

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Why Waiting 6 Months to Update Your Financial World is a Bad Thing

Thanks to an illness, I let my financial world slide a little (not just this web site).  This all started around November (right after I went to a financial blogging conference). The whole episode has caused a lot of agitation in my life, but I am hoping things are back on track.

I continually harp on the need for a Plan B, and Emergency Plans, yet I really didn’t have one. Luckily, I didn’t have to take too much time off work, but illnesses mess up more than just your job. My home life has suffered but my wife has been very patient with me.

emergency plan

The one thing I really let slide was the day-to-day financial aspects in my life. I hadn’t updated Quicken or any other aspects of my financial tracking system since November, which was a very bad thing. Trying to catch up on 6 months of financial tracking is very frustrating, and painful.

I ran into a few specific issues:

  1. Although I managed to pay most of my bills on time, I did find two credit cards where I had missed a payment and I was paying interest on the balances. I fixed that problem first.
  2. Going back six months to find your financial statements on-line can be a royal pain in the rear. Most on-line sites are OK for this, but you have to dig around to find them.
  3. Trying to catch up using Quicken (Canadian version, not the new version) is an even bigger pain in the arse.

Let me pass on a few conclusions that I have come up with in terms of illnesses and having Plan B’s and emergency plans.

  1. Having an emergency plan for your employment is important.
    • If you have a short-term disability plan at work, are you a member? When does it kick in? Can you top it up, and how much does it pay (rarely does it pay 100% of your salary). This is really important.
    • How about long-term disability? I was lucky my issue was only a short-term problem, but it could have put me out for longer. Long term disability is usually expensive, and will not pay your full salary, but is still a necessary evil.
    • How does your work deal with sick leave? You need to understand this before you need to use the system. Will there be gaps where you don’t get paid if you have a serious illness where you are absent for an extended period of time?
  2. Having an emergency account (most likely in your TFSA) is a very good idea. Do not assume you will have credit available in the situations. You will not be able to live on your credit cards or short-term credit for long, and the mess this may create could be lethal to your finances (in the short and long-term).
  3. Does your spouse or significant other know enough to be able to take over the financial world you have created? At my Church there are countless cases where the spouse was unaware of how the money worked because they just were never told. Ignorance is not a good thing when it comes to your financial life. How will your finances work when you are ill, or worse?
  4. Do you have a Will, and power of attorneys set up? If not, why not? Yes it is a morbid topic, but if you don’t do this, you are giving the government a gold opportunity to make a money grab from your estate. In my case I have a disabled son, so I really need to have specific instructions in place for financial stuff.
    • If we are going to be morbid, does your family or spouse know what you want done should you die? I have been clear that it is up the chimney with me (cremation) after all bits someone could use are gone. As I age I suspect my bits are a lot less useful for other folks. Next, have a lot of drinks afterwards, tell plenty of stories about what an idiot that I was, and then spread my ashes somewhere nice. I have sworn that if any money is wasted on a lavish funeral, I will come back and haunt anybody involved (possibly writing a ghostly blog from the hereafter).
    • What about all of those logins for all those financial sites? Does your spouse know what they are? I am talking about a list in a very safe place, that is kept up to date.
    • What about your on-line persona? How will the Big Cajun Man live on after my death? What about the passwords to the 70 different accounts I use on-line? Interesting thing to think about too. What will happen to this hallowed site?

I am only scratching the surface folks, and remember this is an ongoing process. Keep all of this up to date. Yes, I can be a little obtuse, but this is a short list in terms of things to think about if you get ill.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Sometimes Monty Python sums it up best:

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We Shall Remember, Paradise Papers, Tax Cheats and #MoneyTalk #FLM2017

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada (and it is Veteran’s Day in the USA), and we should all remember the sacrifice others have made for our freedoms. The day may fall on Saturday this year, but take some time to think about those who have paid the ultimate price.

The War Memorial in Ottawa

The government has been making getting a Disability Tax Ceritificate much harder. Currently they are arguing that folks with diabetes are not actually disabled, because they have a workaround with insulin. I don’t’ agree with this statement, but I doubt that will change the CRAs minds.

Many folks with children that are on the autism spectrum are having issues getting their DTCs, as well. I have said all along this is not an easy process, and the CRA has been scrutinizing applications even more. They have been taking a very close look at applications “helped out” by certain firms, that offer their services to apply for the DTC. There are many stories of specific Doctors having all their DTC applications rejected due to their voluminous work in that area.

Why is the government doing this? More income seems to be the reason.

We now see that with the leaking of the Paradise Papers, a huge litany of Canadians who have used off shore tax havens to hide their riches. Will the CRA scrutinize these nefarious tax­ evaders? I hope they show as much vigor in following up with these folks as they have with the disabled “tax cheats” out there.

My Recent Writings

A busier week for me, where I had two different articles.ODSP and RDSP Services that Clash, came out of a presentation I attended about RDSPs. I ended up asking my PMP about how it works, and the response is fairly clear. Given how the ODSP works, I suspect I may be writing more about this topic.

Investment Risk Profiles are a real pain in my rear. I continue to wrestle with these questionnaires, and they really do just seem to be something the lawyers concocted.

Micro Blogging on Finance

Do you complain on-line using social media? I rant a lot, and end up with folks from companies confronting me, but I haven’t used social media much, yet.

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Investment Risk Profile

As part of the opening of an investment account, usually, you must answer a set of questions finding out how risk-averse you are, called the investment risk profile. Different investment firms have different questionnaires, and this is standard for Mutual Fund based investment firm. The assumption seems to be if you are opening a stock market trading account where you can buy stocks or anything else, you love risk.

Investment Risk Profile

The irony of these questionnaires is that if you answer honestly most folks end up in a balanced environment, because rarely will people answer yes to questions like:

  • Do you enjoy running in the hallways  with  knives?
  • Does bungee jumping from  a hang glider  sound cool to you?
  • Have you ever held more than 30 lit sparklers at once?

Most of these questionnaires are biased towards pushing investors into the Balanced (and usually higher management fees) funds.

The irony for me is that when I did these questionnaires with TD Mutual Funds, I ended up with a “Balanced risk-averse profile”. This makes sense as I have been burned many times with Nortel and other investments that I have made. The irony is that if I then say, “But I want to invest in the E-series funds“, I am told those are very risky. My opinion is risk has little to do with it, the investment councillor does not  make as much selling the E-series funds is the  only risk I can see.

Usually I have to argue for a while with the investment councillor, who will eventually say, “OK if you want to buy these funds I will have to change your profile”. Suddenly I love risk, and I am allowed to buy the E-series funds. To celebrate I start using a straight razor to shave myself in the mornings.

Sometimes TD has blocked purchases, in fact, more than once,under the guise of saying, “Your profile says you shouldn’t buy these funds”. The other angle is that you need to redo the questionnaire every few years, in case you become an out of control risk-lover.

What is the Point of These Profiles

Why do these questionnaires exist? I have already stated the bias aspect (i.e. drive customers into higher MER funds), but my guess is that lawyers have mandated them. If I now return to TD and say, “Why did you let me invest in this crap?” they will simply pull out my investing profile and say, “You love Risk, so we let you cut your nose off to spite your face”.

As usual this is another: follow the money, and remember the lawyer’s, situation in financial planning.

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