Video: Temple Grandin

The Ted folks have got a fresh set of very interesting videos, and one jumped out at me, which is a talk by Temple Grandin about how the world needs all kinds of minds to thrive.

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

A very interesting talk, well worth watching (yes it has very little to do with Personal Finance, but remember if your child is diagnosed as having a different mind, you may be able to get a Disability tax exemption for them).


Olympic and RRSP Random Thoughts

Olympic and RRSP Random Thoughts

Given most Canadians are caught up in the excitement of the Vancouver Olympics, they hopefully will not forget that it is almost the end of RRSP season and you have until midnight March 1st to make that contribution to count on your current Income Tax submission. Given the lack of activity in most banks, I think most Canadians are more worried about Canada beating Slovakia in Hockey, or whether our Curling teams can bring home Gold (but we can forgive folks, after all there is nothing more Canadian than Hockey and Curling).

After all the excitement of hosting yet another Carnival and having my first ever give-away, let’s see what other Personal Finance Bloggers might have had to say this week:

  • Michael James keeps with the Olympics feelings, telling investors to “…not grip your stick too tight…” in Investing Lessons from Hockey, oh and I think he also says, Always keep your stick on the ice.
  • For all those Hockey Moms and Dads, the Canadian Capitalist points out that Tim Hortons Brews and Expensive DRIP and SPP, strange that they wouldn’t know how to DRiP? They couldn’t be using Instant Coffee could they?
  • Million Dollar Journey takes a more financial angle with 5 ways to Reduce Financial Clutter which has some good ideas for those Financial Hoarders out there.
  • The Task Force on Financial Literacy published a report this week entitled Leveraging Excellence writes Larry MacDonald, but is the task force made up of the right folks? I don’t know, no one asked me for my input.
  • Preet at WheredoesAllMyMoneygo.com’s career as a Financial Talking Head took a minor setback this week when his Lang and O’Leary exchange interview was cancelled. Hopefully you will see Preet’s smiling face on your TV somewhere else soon (he is well worth listening too).
  • Gail Vaz-Oxlade asks, Who are you trying to Impress? and my answer is, no one really. I gave up trying to impress folks once my age passed my waste size.


Harder Faster

Reminiscing Harder Faster

This was written as Interest Rates were being slashed due to the dire economic conditions. Harder Faster, was the way they went down, but for now they are not going back up the same way. In fact it seems unlikely that they will go up any time soon.

That is actually one of my favorite April Wine albums, but unfortunately it is also the message the C.D. Howe Institute is pushing for Interest Rate increases this year in their report How Soon? How Fast? Interest Rates and Other Monetary Policy Decisions in 2010.

Harder Faster
Harder Faster from April Wine

The report itself is a very interesting read on how and why things have happened in terms of credit and interest rates, however, there is a nasty little recommendation that is in it:

When the overnight rate does begin to rise, the changes must be as aggressive as the rate cuts of 2008 and 2009 with increases of 50 basis points at every announcement date until mid-2011 not seeming unrealistic.

Remember how quick and dramatic the rate cuts were last year? There may be an equal and opposite reaction in terms of speed and rate increase this summer and into 2011, which will cause a tightening of credit and tumult in the bond markets too.

Were you planning on renewing your mortgage, or getting a new one? Might be time to lock into whatever rate you can find now, if you need to, since it seems we are in for a bumpier ride in the interest rate world.


RRSP Spectacular!

RRSP Spectacular!

The deadline is looming, and Canadians still ponder whether they should put more money into their RRSP?

When is the Deadline? According to the TD Waterhouse website, the deadline is Midnight on March 2nd (2020). You get an extra banking day for contributions to count on last year’s income tax. So you still have plenty of time to ponder this.

A valuable tool for this exercise is Quicktax’s RRSP scenario tester.

If you want to “last minute” it, you can do it online. Still, I won’t be doing anything like that since my income was lower last year, I am in a lower tax bracket (for the first time in 20 years), so I will save any RRSP room for next year’s taxes (and instead take advantage of my TFSA to put any extra money in).

Haven’t you opened an RRSP yet? Maybe it’s time to think about doing that, but this might not be the best time to do it, given the crush of folks trying to make last-minute payments (but then again, I went to my bank yesterday, and it didn’t look too crazy (yet)). I would suggest a self-directed account is the best place to put things, but remember that those accounts typically have a hefty yearly charge if you don’t carry a minimum amount in them (I forget that sometimes, given my accounts are above those levels).

What should you invest in? That’s not my call. I can only say that if you aren’t sure if you have a self-directed RRSP, you can “park” money in there (deposit it) and then figure out what to invest in later. Hasty decisions now could mean unwanted consequences later, so keep that in mind.

Where is my T4?

Your employer should have sent you your T-4 by now as well. They have until March 1st to get it to you, so don’t forget that you need that to fill in your tax forms correctly. I received 1 of the 2 I should receive. However, my former employer’s info is still not received. This will hopefully show up this weekend, and then I can submit my returns and be done with this.

T2202A Receipts

I checked with my daughter about the receipts I should receive from her University for tuition payment, and I was not happy to see that they leave this all up to the student to collect. It used to be they mailed those to your home address; however, now, the burden is on my child to go to the correct website, print out a copy of the receipts and send them to me, so I can get my taxes done.

This does save the University a great deal of time and money not having to mail these out, but getting my daughter to collect this data for me will be no easy feat for me.


Religious Views on Credit Cards

Fatwa Against Credit Cards

In Ottawa, a while ago,  Imam Khaled Abdul-Hamid Syed (local Muslim Community Leader) has declared a fatwa against Credit Cards, and I say to that, Good on you!.

“I conclude that it contains usury … which is forbidden in Islam, so it should not be used…”

Imam Khaled Abdul-Hamid Syed

I wonder if he reads this blog? The Imam is correct (in my opinion) in his view that Credit Cards are the modern equivalent of usury. I applaud him for speaking out about this topic. I’d be curious to hear his opinions on Pay Day Loans.

The Imam has said that this Fatwa is not binding, and some folks are concerned about whether this means you should never use a credit card, even if you pay them off monthly (or only use them in emergencies)? I think any statement by any Community Leader that causes folks to talk seriously about this subject is an excellent thing. Discussion causes folks to think about how they are doing something and may cause some to change bad habits.

Will I soon be changing to Islam as my religious following? As most of my readers know, I am a devout Anglican, but I wouldn’t mind hearing what the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Anglican Church of Canada has to say about this exciting subject well.

Usury = Credit Cards?

As for the Credit Card companies and the banks, I wonder if they are worried about this or not? I doubt they care, but if a groundswell of folks stop using their cards, what might happen?


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