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Buy Nothing Day?

So Nancy Zimmerman called me out on whether I had managed to not spend any money this past Friday,and I had to admit that I did in fact buy something on Black Friday (but it wasn’t anything big, I think it was groceries). I felt ashamed that I (i) didn’t know of the Buy Nothing Day on Black Friday and (ii) I cannot remember the last day I did not spend money, or buy something.

In my younger days at University I spent weeks where I attempted not to spend a dime (that is ten cents for you younger folks who may not know what the term means). Once I had purchased my needed groceries I would not spend for the entire week, if possible, and then reward myself with a breakfast at Smitty’s Pancake House in the Westmount Square Mall (it’s no longer there I am sad to say).

These days, if I can keep my spending below $50 for most days I think I am doing not too badly, but do I really need to spend that much money? That is a good question, let’s think about what I cannot ignore:

  • Mortgage Payments and utilities, I suppose I could ignore these, but then things would get a lot colder in my tent.
  • Groceries and food for my family, they might get a little irate on that one too
  • My major expense is (being a Canadian) Taxes and if you amortize my Income tax payments over each day, I spend well over $5 a day just on that (rough estimate), and I can’t not pay that one.
  • Luckily I don’t have any major medical expenses that must be dealt with.

Pretty much everything else can at least be postponed, if not completely removed from my spending habits, with varying degrees of pain to your lifestyle (of course).

What Can You Do?

Here is an interesting challenge to my readers: Can you go a day (or more) without spending any money at all? If you can leave me a comment outlining how this is possible, I will attempt to sift through them and make another post based on these comments.

Oh and Nancy can be found on Twitter at Money Coach as well.

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Weekend Comment Wrap Up

Where are the Videos?

I ran out of videos that I could post that were of Personal Finance interest so I have decided to try out a review of the comments that I got this week, since I did seem to get a lot of comments about a few of my posts. All of the “How to run a Blog” documentation suggests the success of a Web Site can be reflected in the comments that the site receives, but I just like comments because many times that is where I get my best ideas for posts and such.

For CPI up Thanks to HST

Andy R. commented: “Just saw an Ontario HST charge on a parcel shipped to me in Alberta. Doesn’t seem right, but apparently everyone gets to share the pain and pay Ontario taxes now? CPI increases for all around, yeah!”

If you’d like Dalton McGinty’s mailing address I can supply it to you. I bet you can get that rebated if you filled in 6 forms and mailed each of them individually, but then again you will have spent more than your rebate doing this.

With Trust Only In Fire I was mostly fiddling around with video, and was surprised at the number of comments that I got:


Michael James said “It might be fun to shred and then burn. I’m guessing that shredded paper would burn incredibly quickly.”

AndyR chirped in with “The shredded paper does burn real quick. Shred and burn is better than just burning. If you don’t shred, burn AND stir, you soon find that even loose paper may not burn completely, leaving charred fragments that “THEY” may forensically reconstruct to rip you off. BTW, an open fireplace is so last millennium and quite energy inefficient. Install an air-tight unit, use a stainless steel pipe inside the old brick chimney, then you can slow cook those financial records, and scrub the soot yourself with the brush and pole kit from Canadian Tire. In the winter, we have few recyclables since they all get converted to BTUs.”

I’d like to point out I am nothing, if I am not old School, and as for using this as a methodology for heating my house, I waste more BTUs up my chimney burning this crap than I do getting any kind of heating benefit. Interesting comments though.

My Advice to Future University Students caused a flurry of responses (which just goes to show if you write about Teenage Drinking you can never go wrong). You should go over and read all the comments, but some of the more interesting ones are:

Elizabeth wrote a long tome outlining what you can do in first year to get involved, very useful.

Nancy (aka Money Coach) pointed out “…In retrospect though, I think I would have hung out more with some of the high achievers. It’s a way to start building a network and also pick up good habits and ways of engaging with the world…”,

Garrett commented “There were many mornings in University where I’d wished I’d taken that sage advice from your father!”, see sometimes free advice is worth something!”

Echo of Boomer and Echo Fame, did a thesis on using Gatorade in the equation, lots of useful commentary there.

I don’t condone Teenage drinking, I simply offer this as a service, but the Gatorade comments were an interesting twist on the advice (and at the time, Gatorade was not as prevalent as it is these days).

With RESP Wrinkles I managed to mix up the CESG and EAP and was told about it by a few folks.

Money Smarts Blog pointed out, “This is really interesting information – the government has always required financial institutions to verify enrolment when someone requests a withdrawal, so the fact that TD wasn’t doing that is a serious breach of the RESP promoter rules.”

Michael James added, “Just a few more wrinkles and RESPs will become deposit-only accounts.”

George pointed out my blundering with the wrong terms, but did point out “One thing to note, though – you should be able to make a withdrawal of your contributions to the RESP without ANY documentation regarding enrollment. The contributions are after-tax money and they are always ‘owned’ by the account contributor. You should be able to withdraw some of your contributions to cover the initial payments to the university, and then make an EAP withdrawal later on to pay for subsequent expenses.”

Personal Finance added,“I’m not surprised at all. This seems to work in every field. Just because few “knuckle heads” to quote you, took advantage of the system, now they screw the entire system. I often wonder if RESP is really the best. I have my kids money “in trust” founds. Is less headache and less government involvement and the boys will have a chance to do whatever they choose to.

Do you know how long is going to take until you will receive the money? Do universities charge you for their documentation? “

And Alex C chirped in with,“I’m surprised you never had to prove it before? I always had to get a Verification of Enrollment letter which cost me about $10 each year. (actually it was only $3 the first 2 years which then went up to $10, but that’s a gripe with the university not the RESP system).

Even bigger issues come if you don’t have the cash to cover the tuition prior to the RESP collection, which can often be a while after the tuition deadline. The same thing happens with student loans, in that you dont receive them till well after your tuition is due, causing students who already can’t afford school to incur excess fees and interest while they wait for their loans to arrive.”

All very good points, I think I should be allowed to take out the money I put in directly with no need for documentation, but needing it for the EAP portion (which includes the CESG and growth) makes some sense, but now the Universities are piling on by charging me to get a letter of Enrollment, so I am not too happy about all of that either.

Carnivals this Past Week

I was mentioned in a few Carnivals too:

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QuickTax Software Give-away Time

It is time for the first major give-away on this site (ever).

Intuit was kind enough to contact me and send me 2 copies of  QuickTax Standard, which I will gladly give away (since I already bought a copy for myself before they sent me these (yes, irony is a good friend of mine)).

Legalities: Please note, I do use Quicktax (and Quicken) but the copies I have I paid for with my own money (more fool me), I think these are useful tools, but I am not being directly paid to run this give-away (in fact I am out of pocket because I have to ship it to you).  I do run advertising for Intuit to sell Quicktax, as you have seen over the past few weeks, but this give-away is not connected to those ads.

How can you win one of these free copies? Well, let’s first start out with some of the ground rules:

Free Software

Ground Rules

  1. I assume  you are a regular reader of this blog, so all you need to do is leave a comment on this post with your e-mail address to enter (no mailing address needed yet, just an e-mail).
  2. Given this software is for Canadian Taxes, you should really be a Canadian, or have a use for it (don’t just enter so that you can re-sell it on E-bay that is just scummy).
  3. Your comment needs to have a good reason why you want this software (if you say you are having problems with the CRA and are thinking about going for a short airplane trip, you are disqualified), yes, I want it is a valid reason, but so dull. Also remember I have ANTI-SPAM filters on my comments, so if your comment looks like SPAM it might not get entered (or if you are a SPAMMER!).
  4. If you subscribe to my feed, you will have my undying respect and your Karmic mojo will increase 3 fold (no, you don’t get another entry, but I figured I’d beg).
  5. Feel free to TWEET this (remember I am on twitter as the BigCajunMan (see the button below), and if I see you tweet this, I will add another entry in for you).
  6. I hope shipping this isn’t too expensive (no it is not going to go Fed Ex or overnight, it will go via Canada Post).
  7. If you are associated with Intuit or are married/related to me, you are not eligible to enter.

Follow bigcajunman on Twitter

Contest will close on Tuesday February 23rd at Midnight.

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DeCluttering Never Bad Even Financially

My wife, a while ago, took on the daunting task of creating a space for a gas fitter to come in and work on a new project in our house. Our back room in our basement was very cluttered and there was no way anyone could get anywhere safely. My wife took on the task of attempt to declutter the chaos.

I came home and was very impressed with the work done and the amount that was being thrown out. The area was swept and cleared so that the work could be done .

My wife was not impressed when the workman finally showed up and was able to do all the work needed on the main floor of our house and went nowhere near the basement.

Was this a waste of time? NO! That kind of de-cluttering is a good thing for many reasons:

  • Safety: that mess was going to injure someone. It was a fire hazard, so it needed to be cleaned up.
  • DeClutter: the amount of crap that we were never going to use again is now reduced by 9.75% now. This means we only have 90% of it still to clean up (but still a good start)
  • Security issues: although it might be possible for an Al-Qaeda cell to hide out in that mess, I did not mean that exactly. We found a whole set of banking records for an organization my wife no longer works for, and those records have now been destroyed. That kind of security is very important.

Do you have a lot of old financial records hidden in the clutter of your “secret stash” (be it in your basement or in that closet you just never open)? Maybe it’s time to at least find all the old credit cards, banking cards, pass books, cheque books and bank agreements that you no longer need and destroy them. Leaving that kind of stuff around is just asking for problems later in life.

What To Do ?

If you destroy it now, you know it no longer exists, if you simply “leave it”, do you know if there are records hanging around that can easily be used for identity theft? Maybe it’s time to go clean up a bit? Before you destroy those credit cards, make sure the accounts aren’t still active, as well.

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I am paying how much for phones?

A friend is doing some number crunching trying to figure out which is the cheapest Cell Phone plan that she can get that fits her needs, so her and I have been discussing various pay per use plans (I know something about them because both my daughters have those set ups), I am not sure what her final decision was (I will post it when I know), but this caused me to look at my phone bills and I was flabbergasted to see just how much I pay per month for my phones.

The total this month is $190.00 (approx), for 1 home phone line (with a long distance package) and 2 cell phones all from Bell.

I leave that in a paragraph by itself because I am astounded at that number. That is more than I pay to heat my house and it is about 80% of what I pay in Electric + Natural Gas, this is ridiculous, and I am now banging my head on my desk realizing this is one of my major expenses every month.

I am getting nailed for the long distance plan on my home phone, but I am getting obliterated by long distance charges and text’ing charges on my cell phones. My wife and I save long distance charges by sending text message, however, evidently we send too darn many.

This is my new target for controlling costs, as this is a crazy expense. Anyone care to comment on their cell phone expenses and how they keep this expense down, I am open to suggestions (two tin cans and a piece of wire is one of my ideas right now).

Carnivals This Week

I am sending in posts to carnivals again so you can read some of my previous works at:

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