New Ontario Autism Funding

So far the new Ontario Autism funding program has been quite confusing for my family. Let me preface this by saying, that even though my son is on the Autism Spectrum, and the psychologist describes his autism symptoms as severe, we have received no real funding from the Ontario Government. For various reasons we have never been on any list for funding, being screened out for any therapy and never put on a waiting list for any future programs.

When the new funding model was proposed a while ago, a great furor erupted in the Autism community. It was very vague on how funding was going to work, and many folks were hearing they were going to lose funding as the budgeted pot of money would be shared with more families, in an effort to reduce the wait list.

For my family, we shrugged our shoulders, as we didn’t get any funding, we could only watch with envy finding out families were receiving upwards of 50K per year. After encouragement from our psychologist, we decided to play along with this new system. My wife is the one doing all this work, I am simply documenting it.

We called about the new program in April, and were told forms would be coming to us in the next two weeks to fill in. The forms finally showed up in June (after a lot of follow up e-mails and phone calls). My wife dutifully filled in the forms (the day they arrived) collected all supporting documentation and we scanned and emailed them back (that same day).

Near the end of August, we received a registration number (an exciting number) and a letter assuring us we are in the system. The wait list for getting a budget will be another 18 months, so again, we wait.

Autism Funding : Better? Worse?

If I see any moneys, I will be astounded. I realize there are folks who really need the money, and I hope they are getting it.

Currently I pay a great deal of my income for my son’s education and other needs he has. I get a little help with tax credits (after a lot of arguing with the CRA), but all the money that I am out of pocket is crippling my financial plans. I cannot retire, even though I can get a government pension. Still we cannot afford all the help my son needs (occupational therapy, social interaction help, and other areas).

With all of that, we are lucky. My son may end up living independently, but I have to spend money now to make that possible.

{ 1 comment }

These days the media seems to be very confused. They use the term Deficit and Debt interchangeably, and they are not the same thing (in terms of government spending).

In terms of Governments, a Deficit, usually describes how much more was spent than collected in taxes. It is usually measured over a yearly budget. If the deficit is zero, that means the government is taking in funds sufficient to pay for all the spending they have done for the year (this may include payments to service existing debts).

The 2019 federal debt is: $ 683,290,000,000.00 (according to Stats Canada)

Debt, on the other hand for a government is the amount the government owes, in terms of moneys borrowed over a long period of time. Deficit financing (or the accumulation of debt) for Canada started in the late 1960’s.

The federal deficit in 2017 was: $ 7.8 Billion (according to Stats Canada)

I was confused when the CBC had the headline, B.C. posts $1.5B operating debt, they have since revised the title, realizing their mistake. Their tweet remains mistaken:

Your Deficit and Debt

A personal deficit (or surplus), would be something you measure monthly. Did you spend more this month than you made? If you have more or a surplus, then you can put more money on your debt (overall debt), or save the surplus.

Your Debt is the sum total of all the money you owe. Your debt will slow your ability to enjoy your life. You cannot save for:

While you can have occasional monthly deficits, the goal is to have a yearly surplus. The other goal is to pay down debt as soon as possible, and that should be the main goal of your surpluses.

Seems straight forward, doesn’t it? Also seems that this isn’t really a topic for the current election.

{ 1 comment }

Marriage Preparation

These are actual questions from a very good marriage preparation course my daughter is taking (offered by the United Church of Canada). There is a section on Finances, which I applaud, since that subject can cause more relationships to fail than many other topics.

My daughter sent me the topics, and I have taken the liberty of commenting on the topics in this section of the course. Overall I think there are some good questions, however, there needs to be more frankness between the couple about money.

Here are some of the questions and topics discussed in the money section of the marriage prep course.

How was money managed in your family? How was it discussed, or was it?

I like that question, since most folks learn about money management from what they saw their parents do. If neither partner has any understanding of what their parents did with money, this is an incredible disadvantage. Learning about money on the fly is a scary way to learn about finances.

What is the biggest surprise you’ve learned about each other when it comes to spending and saving?

A really good one. This means you have actually talked about this, you’d be amazed how many married couples didn’t discuss this one before the ceremony.

You cannot enter into this kind of commitment if you know nothing about your partners financial situation.

Think of a picture or symbol that helps you say something about what you value in your marriage.

If the symbol is a big house, that is important. How will this house come about? With no plan going into the marriage, how will this symbol come into being?

Will you have one joint account to cover all expenses, with both spouses putting all their earnings into it or will you have three accounts (one each, with a common one for household expenses). List some reasons for choosing one model over another.

I think either model can work, and I have seen successes doing it either way. The best thing to do is decide this important financial strategy before the rings go on the fingers.

When you are married, you assume each other’s assets as well as debts. Do you know how much your partner owes?

Bingo! This can be an entire day of discussions, and so much needs to be brought forward by both members of the couple.

A healthy marriage is sustained by generosity toward others. How much will you give to charities, the community or other organizations. You may not have much money to begin with, but setting aside an amount for this purpose enriches you both.

Finding out your partner’s ideas on charity and giving is important. If they have a huge family and they like buying presents for everyone, that can really add up. If they like buying dinner for friends, is the other partner OK with that (and can you afford to do that in the first place)?

I have heard more than one young couple complain they are going in debt having to attend friends weddings, does that make sense? Best talk about that one quickly.

How indebted are you as a couple? If you find, after doing your budget, that your level of indebtedness worries you, many provinces and states have governmental organizations that can help protect you from creditors through a financial proposal process that allows you to repay your debts in an orderly fashion. Do an internet search to find these numbers.

WOW! I read this and was very pleased to see it. This is what this section is all about. If you do not have the number that is how much you owe (after the wedding and associated expenses are paid), or are above water, you are ensuring future failure.

Not to cast a shadow on things, but remember also, that should you get divorced and you are indebted as a couple, the debt is split between the two of you. This includes debts that either partner brought into the marriage (unless excluded by a legal statement of some sort).

Name a financial milestone that you have reached together. How did you celebrate?

Did you blow a big wad of money to celebrate? Do you celebrate these types of things, or simply smile and move onto the next challenge?

Other Financial Marriage Preparation Topics

I think this section of the course was good, however it is missing important details. I would love to see some kind of discussion on the following financial topics.

  1. Where are you going to live? Rent? Live with parents? Buy a house? All are all huge financial topics. A course on how to buy a house, how to pay for a house and how to pay for the upkeep on a house would be really important for new couples.
  2. Investing and how this might work. If the couple is lucky enough to have money to invest, teaching them about how to invest is very important. Simply calling your bank and talking to them, will simply lock them into high MER, badly paying Mutual Funds. Maybe their family has a “person”, but is that the right person for them?
  3. Spending habits, do you know how your partner spends money? Are they savers, or do they like to spoil themselves? Does one of you like eating out a lot, and wants to have the latest in stylish clothing? Will you want to have two cars, or only one? Can you afford the planned lifestyle? Lifestyle creep is a dangerous part of a relationship.
  4. Are you going to have one partner stay home if there are children and how will that work? Are you planning on having kids? Not only a financial question, but a big financial decision.
  5. Will one of the partners be in charge of the money? Will this be a shared burden between the two? This had better be decided before you move in together, or this will be a source of many arguments.
  6. How are the finances and investments going to be tracked? Are you going to use Quicken, Mint, Excel, or Pen and Paper? All are quite good, but you need to track it somehow, so that both partners can know where things stand.
  7. How will financial disagreements be resolved? I realize this is a hard one, but discuss this beforehand.
  8. Are either of you planning on going back to school ? Taking a sabbatical from work? These kind of large life changes maybe should be discussed early on in a relationship.
  9. Have you gone grocery shopping together? That is a surprising “adulting” exercise to go through together. Is one of you a list person and the other an impulse buyer? This will teach you both a lot.
  10. Do either of you (or both) have pensions? How is that going to work in terms of your retirement planning? Yes, retirement planning better be an early discussion for a couple, or it will be a big sore point later on.
  11. Emergencies, yes they will happen. Once you have your financial plan, will it work with only 1 of your incomes? What if there is a single income planned, what happens if that disappears? Kind of important things to talk about, because if you haven’t and something goes wrong, you don’t want to start a plan at that moment.
  12. A mention of the available resources to learn about your finances would be good too, like: Financial Basics with Ellen Roseman (very good)..

Any other topics I have missed that folks think should be included in terms of Finances for a Marriage Preparation course?

{ 2 comments }

Tuition Fees Down

Stats Canada put out their yearly report Tuition fees (in Canada) for degree programs, 2019/2020 a while ago. It has some interesting data including the fact that Tuition Fee costs for undergrad students dropped for this year (with a caveat).

Ontario led the way with a 9.9% Tuition drop. In fact in the rest of Canada Tuition went UP? Isn’t it great how large data sets can skew things?

Table 37-10-0045-01 UndergraduateGraduate
 annual % changeannual % change
Canada-5.3-4.5
Newfoundland and Labrador2.30.0
Prince Edward Island2.02.0
Nova Scotia3.52.9
New Brunswick7.33.5
Quebec3.73.8
Ontario-9.9-9.1
Manitoba5.33.6
Saskatchewan3.34.1
Alberta0.03.3
British Columbia2.01.3
Yukon8.5..

Remember we are only speaking of Tuition Fees and the Business of University Fees encompasses far more than just tuition. Evidently those fees have dropped slightly as well, but I am skeptical.

The other factor in Ontario is the revamping of the OSAP pay outs, so students get a large amount less than they have in previous years.

International Students face a tuition hike, which is where a lot of Universities are making their money.

Most Expensive Degrees

A very good graphic explains that.

Tuition Fees
If your Child wants to be a Doctor or Dentist, better have an RESP

The above graphic should emphasize the importance of an RESP for parents who think their kids might go to a post-secondary program. Don’t expect Tuition Fees to drop again any time soon.

{ 0 comments }

5 Mistakes Rich Folks Make

I read with great amusement an article in Business Insider Rich people make the same 5 mistakes over and over. I found it amusing, because it attempts to fool you into thinking that if you act like rich folk, you’ll become one. Unfortunately, Lies travel faster than truth.

Maybe the article is attempting to convince you that Rich Folk and you are similar, since you make the same mistakes? This is hardly the case.

Rich People Can Make Financial Mistakes

That is what you should take from this story. Rich folk have the luxury of being able to make financial mistakes, they can recover from them. Most of us don’t have the wiggle room to escape financial blunders.

Rich folks can become like the rest of us, if they make mistakes, that is true. The story the great Investment Monolith wants you to believe is that the reverse is possible too. I think it is possible but the former is much more likely than the latter.

Mistakes are easily made, we all do them, every day. To succeed financially takes dedication, discipline and damn hard work. The mistakes mentioned in this article are bad:

  1. Assuming they can out-earn bad spending habits. That is not a mistake reserved to the rich, in fact this is how we all dig the big hole called debt.
  2. Not automating their savings. Another spin on pay yourself first, which is something you can do as long as you are not spending more than you make.
  3. Not speaking with a professional for tax-planning or estate-planning purposes. This seems like sound advice, if you take it as, making sure you do your taxes well, and you have your Will and Power of Attorney up to date.
  4. Assuming they don’t need a financial adviser because they’re successful. This is the heart of the article, as it seems to have been written by a financial professional. I have a great mistrust of the financial industry in general and in advisors in specific, but if you use this type of service, you had better trust them (and you had better watch them closely). In the end, it is your money.
  5. Not having any idea how much they spend, again not a mistake reserved to the rich. I had no idea I was that far in debt ? We’ve talked about that before.

What Should You Do ?

Don’t make financial mistakes? Easier said than done, but you must be careful with your money. Don’t make rich folk financial mistakes? Absolutely, because you don’t have the luxury of making them.

{ 0 comments }

%d bloggers like this: