Bill Surfing

This is an interesting concept that we who get paid every two weeks can use, and most certainly must plan around.

So what do I mean by bill surfing?

Here is a list of typical bills for a household:

  • Hydro
  • Mortgage Payment
  • Car Payment
  • Property Taxes
  • Natural Gas or Heating
  • Cable TV
  • Home Phone
  • Cell Phone
  • High Speed DSL Access
  • Water
  • Charitable Donations
  • Life Insurance
  • House Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Bank Service Charges
  • Xmas Savings
  • RRSP and/or RESP Savings

I trust this list, because I took it from my Monetary Statement (we can talk about that later) that I gave my wife to show her where all the money went (and other parts of our financial story). There may be things you can add (like a monthly loan payment) or remove (maybe you only have a cell phone and no home phone bill), but this is a good model to start with.

So what is Bill Surfing? Well you have monthly bills and 2 or three payment periods to pay them out, what do you think it might be?

Tomorrow: Surfing or balancing? Tomatoe or Tomato?


New Trick Credit Card Activation

This one really ticked me off and I felt I needed to vent in a more public forum than simply whining at my wife:

I received new credit cards from PC Financial about a month ago (they are not the villains in this story) and as usual there was a number to call to activate the cards. I called the number from my home phone number, there was an automated system with a couple of questions (that also noted that I was calling from my home phone number (which is no longer a guaranteed secure concept given the new tricks you can do in VoIP but that is for another story)) and PC Financial activated my credit card, no fuss, no problem.

Fast forward to Sunday, I had received new cards for an account that I only use in very special situations (a platinum card with no fees), so I decided to activate the card, and dialed the number on the card. I dutifully typed in my credit card number on my keypad, and then it announces a customer service rep will be on the line to talk to me. Pardon? I must have typed in my card number wrong or something (but my financial spidey sense was already tingling).

A pleasant young lady comes on the line to confirm some information with me, and I start to relax thinking I must have typed in the card wrong. Just as I am about to calm down, she goes orthogonal on me and asks, “I’d like to tell you about our Credit Protection Package”, and then goes into a 3 minute marketing bit about how if I get laid off they will make the minimum payments on my credit card for me?

At this point I almost explode (luckily it was Sunday so I had a little self control), I am activating a card not asking for new services! I let her ramble through her bit, because I wanted my card activated, and at the end she does the standard, “… and to activate this great service all we need to do is confirm some details…”, and I stopped her right there, and the conversation when like this:

  • No I am just not interested in this service, Thank You (always be polite, initially at least)
  • But Sir this is a great service and it protects your family, may I ask why you don’t want this service?
  • I don’t carry balances on my credit card from month to month.
  • Oh that’s very good, but in that case sir, it costs nothing to you.
  • I am just not interested, can we please activate my card? (showing politeness, but a firm, let’s get back to the task at hand).
  • Are you sure I can’t convince you sir?
  • No, you cannot, Thank You.

Finally my cards were activated, but that really annoyed me. If I am calling to activate a card, I do not want to be SOLD something, however, some slick marketing firm says otherwise.

What is next? Them selling my card theft insurance when I call to report a card stolen (of course it would only work after we find your lost card)? Identity theft insurance when I call to ask about some unknown charges on my card?


Cheaper Day Care Alternatives

So after my posting about the cost of raising kids a while back a lot of folks pointed out the costs of daycare and how this is prohibitive for dual income families. To those who were so vociferous in your commentary about how I had missed the point, please watch the following video which I think puts forth a viable alternative to the high costs of daycare.


Report: Many U.S. Parents Outsourcing Child Care Overseas

Many thanks to John Chow for pointing this one out.

Related Links:

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Summers Sundays and Church

If you give to your local church how do you give (monetarily)? My Church for the longest time only had the collection plate and private donations, but 2 years ago they introduced a direct withdrawal program that would deduct an agreed upon amount every month, so you wouldn’t have to remember to bring your “envelope”, or if you missed Church for a week, you could continue giving.

At first I thought the idea was very crass, and I didn’t like it, but now after looking at how far behind I am in my givings for this year, maybe it’s not that bad an idea. My only issue with it now is that they only take the money once a month, and I like “hand massaging” my bills (i.e. figuring out which pay cheque which bill gets paid on), and I like the weekly payments to my church, because it spreads things out nicely. I may sign up for the monthly payments yet, but not just yet.

I have donated my time, which makes me feel good (but again, I am a little behind on that too). Remember if you want to give to your charity, money may not be the only thing that you can give.



lululemon on the NASDAQ (FINALLY!)

lululemon athletics much anticipated IPO arrived this week, and yesterday it’s initial stock price of $18.00 (on the NASDAQ) soared to $28.00 in it’s first day of trading. This seems to echo the positive sentiment heard about the firm, and has allowed them to pay back initial investors and get some new capital into the firm.

Of the 18,200,000 shares being offered, 2,290,909 are being offered by lululemon athletica inc. and 15,909,091 are being offered by selling stockholders.

There is really only 2 million “new” shares, but now the company is being traded publicly, which may be a good thing.

What is confusing to me is that the stock seems to be trading on the NASDAQ exchange, yet it is not being traded on the TSE yet (or is it), very confusing, so I’ll have to research a little more, but call your broker if you want in (or is it too late ?).