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Sunday Thought: Lent is almost here folks

Starts Wednesday folks, what are you going to do about it (aside from eating pancakes Tuesday night, or imbibing far too much alcohol)? Lent can be an enriching time both spiritually and financially, so take full advantage of it. Don’t worry if you slip a little here and there, that is all part of the journey, and it’s a journey not an end point folks.

Give up 1 coffee a day, and put that money in your TFSA. That’s darn simple, isn’t it?

Set up an auto-deposit for $25 a week into your TFSA for the length of LENT, and there you are, done and dusted.

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Stream of Consciousness Friday

A while back, I got an e-mail from a reader asking me to name some Canadian Financial writers, and I was ashamed to say all that came to mind was Garth Turner and Brian Costello (not that I am sorry to remember Mr. Costello). I am a huge Elvis Costello fan, so I was not surprised that I remembered Brian Costello either (why I remembered Garth Turner is in the bloody news so much these days). To paraphrase Brian Mulroney, there’s no “political hack” like an old “political hack” (in fact, the exact phrase used by Mr. Mulroney referenced another member of parliament, and it was a little more derogatory). Oh, Brian M., I miss your honesty and commentaries!

Naturally, I was shocked that I could not mention other Canadian Financial writers (other than the fine blogging crew that I already link to from this self-same blog), so I went to the Ottawa Library Web Site and looked up these two writers of books and came across many different writers with the query here. Those names include Gordon Pape, Rob Carrick, Ellen Roseman, Alex Doulis and many more.

As for Mr. Turner, I did mention him in a previous posting about his comments about Nortel in 2001, which has proven a little in error in hindsight. We all make mistakes, so I wouldn’t completely ignore his financial insights, temper them with this knowledge as well.

I guess the moral of this story is to keep sending me e-mails so I can think of things to write about. Also, Fridays are hard to figure out something to blog about, so my apologies if this article seems a little disjoint. Oh, and my favourite Elvis Costello album is “Armed Forces” if you are asking.

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Why are BMO and CIBC reissuing Credit Cards

Credit Card Security

It seems that BMO and CIBC are both sending out new credit cards to their customers, even before they are expired. These are not renewals either, these are NEW credit cards and the customers are being told their cards may have been used or will be used fraudulently (good word).

Pardon?

I haven’t got such an e-mail yet (although I don’t think I ever activated my CIBC card the last time it renewed, so who knows). This really worries the crap out of me.

What can you as a consumer do about this?

  1. Check your account balance regularly either on line or by phone. This is really important, since I have caught a couple of “odd” charges this way, and the bank appreciates you being pro active in this area.
  2. Cancel old credit cards (remember I have said this one before), if you must have a credit card, only have 1, don’t have 7 of them (more chance of fraud there).
  3. Never let your credit card wander away for extended periods of time at Restaurants or places of business, also don’t allow sales folks to “swipe” it many times, that is a dead giveaway that something is not right with things, if you see that.

Not having a credit card is the only way to stop this fraud (much like the only fool proof method of birth control is abstinence (don’t make me tell you my vasectomy story)).

Protect yourself from fraud NOW folks, it’s important.

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Tempus Fugit: Less Time With the Family?

Our amigos at Stats Canada are saying that we are spending more time at work and less time with our families (for those unsure Tempus Fugit is Latin for Time Flies) . Speaking as someone in the High Tech world, all I can say is, “D’Uh!”. Given there is no real regulation of how many hours high tech folks work (any more, used to, but the laws changed), the assumption is now “Longer Hours makes better employees”. I have heard of bosses who would wear it as a Red Badge of Courage if one of their employees went on stress leave, so I am not at all surprised by these findings.

The study showed that time spent with family members declined between 1986 and 2005 Tempus Fugitfor most groups of workers. For example, in 1986 women spent an average of 248 minutes with their family members, while in 2005 they spent 209 minutes, a difference of 39 minutes during a typical working day.

For men, the average time fell by 45 minutes, from 250 minutes in 1986 to 205 in 2005.

Between 1986 and 2005, the average time devoted to paid employment during the typical workday, including lunch and coffee breaks, increased considerably. On average, Canadians worked 536 minutes, or 8.9 hours, during a typical workday in 2005, up from 506, or 8.4 hours, two decades earlier.

Doesn’t sound like much does it? Those of us with children (both small and large) know how much those numbers actually are. Our lives are no longer our own any more thanks to useful devices like Laptop Computers, Portable Phones and PDA’s, etc.,. I sit at basketball games where parents are supposed to be watching their kids and instead they are part of a “sales call” or something.

I lament the loss of control in our lives. Tempus Fugit , we should take care of this valuable resource.

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DRIP: How’s that again?

OK, so my rant yesterday might have been a little confusing, so I figured I’d run through the entire scenario with a dividend stock that I own, but not the actual shares held numbers for me.

Dividend Reinvesment Plans
No not that kind of Drip, Dividend ReInvestment Plans

Let’s take Sun Life Financial (stock ticker symbol SLF on the Toronto Exchange)

It’s current price is $52.41 per share Canadian . The reason I bought it was for dividends, and because I actually deal with them on a few things with my job, and figured they seemed to know how to make money (this is not an endorsement on my part, simply an explanation as to why I own shares in them).

First thing to find out is whether Sun Life offers a Dividend Reinvestment Program, and yes they do, so that is a check on the list.

What was the last dividend they paid? They paid $0.32 per common share, from their latest financial statement.

How many shares do I need to own to get a share in the DRIP program?

$52.41 / 0.32 = 164 Shares that I would have to own to get 1 share in my DRIP.

I trust the arithmetic is straight forward here. So if I own less than 164 shares of SLF they would simply credit my trading account the amount of the dividend (number of shares * 32 cents) and that would be it. If I owned 165 shares however, I would get 1 extra share of SLF in my account and some amount less than a dollar as the amount left over from the dividend.

Remember these dividends are quarterly paid as well, so if I owned the right amount of shares I might get new share certificates in my account 4 times a year. Not too shabby, I think.

This is one way to invest, it is not the only way, and for me it is one of the few ways I understand, so I stick with this for now.

Other Dividend ReInvestment Program Articles

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