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Happy Mother’s Day

In honour of Mother’s Day here is a short from the NFB about a mother hen

Mothers are usually the center of any family, and this video depicts Mrs. Hen as that, and more, and I think most parents can relate to this interesting short from the National Film Board. The boot on the TV antenna I can REALLY relate too…

At Home with Mrs. Hen, , provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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Best of: Real World Example: Kids’ Allowances

It’s been a busy week so I decided to go into the archives and bring up an old chestnut about Kids’ Allowances that I wrote my first year of blogging, I still use this methodology, so it must be good.

Real World Example: Kids’ Allowances

OK, so back to what this blog is about, real world financial ranting.

For the longest time my wife and I tried to get the kids on an allowance, so that they could learn what money is, how it works and some responsibility, but inevitably, we’d forget for a couple of weeks, try to catch up and eventually just gave up (much to the kids chagrin). Interesting, we were trying to teach the kids responsibility and all it did was show how irresponsible their parents were (now THAT is ironic).

About 6 years ago I was in the TD on one of my yearly visits, getting my bank fees waived for a year, and get them to fix something they had screwed up (I think it was my mortgage that year), when I asked about kids’ bank accounts. My brother sends the girls money every year, and we had got to the point where we didn’t want to just buy them toys with it. The poor woman who’s life I was ruining for the day, said the accounts could be opened then (since the kids had SIN numbers), and the accounts would show up “under” my account on my on line banking.

A day or two later, a light went on in my head. I called the bank on the phone lady (who I now call once a year, because I do most of my banking on line, but couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted). I asked her to set up weekly transfers from my account to my kids accounts, thus assuring that the money was paid every week (whether I remembered or not).

Well, it has worked, the kids get their weekly allowances AND they actually do things like:

    • Buy clothes that they really want
    • Have somewhere to put their uncle’s money and can then buy what they want
    • Buy presents for their friends birthdays (that one shocked me the first time it happened).

So it seems this experiment has worked, chalk one up for me

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Tax Time Soon

Obsolete Tax Advice

What is interesting, is when you write for long enough, tax laws change. Here is a perfect example, both of these tax credits are now gone. It may be tax time but you can’t claim them, however I leave them here for historical purposes. Maybe they will come back one day?

Child Tax Fitness Credit

Here is one to remember for those of us who either live in Hockey Arenas or Gymnasiums (or soccer fields) most of our days. The Child Fitness Tax Credit allows you to claim up to $500 per year for each child under 16 who is in an accredited fitness program (read the rules and regulations carefully here, evidently there already have been folks claiming that have been told their claim is incorrect).

One important point for me this year is the statement (taken from the web site):

The children’s fitness tax credit lets parents claim up to $500 per year for eligible fitness expenses paid for each child who is under 16 years of age at the beginning of the year in which the expenses are paid.

Since one of my daughters did turn 16 last year but AFTER January 1st, I can still claim her fitness credit for one more year (and that is nothing to ignore). I thought I had lost this for my daughter, but after careful checking of the web site, I am still good for one more year.

For most of us gifted with kids who are on teams, $500 is really only the start of expenses for a lot of sports, but it is not to be ignored either. 

Carrying Charges (aka Safety Deposit Box)

This is one I always almost forget, for those of you who like Paper and Pen methods, this is for line 221 of your return Carrying Charges and Interest Expenses .  The web page says:

Fees to manage or take care of your investments (other than administration fees you paid for your registered retirement savings plan or registered retirement income fund),including safety deposit box charges,

There it is in black and white, so make sure you claim it. What if you have a home safe? I have no idea where that might fit in this, but I do know that Safety Deposit boxes are covered. Anyone care to comment on whether they have claimed a home safe for this same deduction?

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Now is the Time to Shuffle The Deck ?

You Guys are Bookies!

Given the upheavals in the financial world, now is the time to shuffle the deck, trade stock, buy new mutual funds, sell old ones and do lots more stuff that will incur you plenty of financial service charges, or at least that is what the financial services industry wants you to do. 

In the immortal words of Ray Valentine in one of my favorite Financial Movies, Trading Places, “… you guys are like bookies…”, when the evil Duke brothers explained how their commodities trading business works. The Financial services industry is just like bookies, they don’t make money if you make money, they make money if you use their services and incur their fees.

Lent is Coming

Remember Lent is coming folks and maybe it’s time to start thinking what you are going to do spiritually in this area, but also, you can use it for a Financial Period of Penance, Enlightenment, Learning or Cost Cutting. Keep this in mind Ash Wednesday is coming on February 25th, so keep that in mind. 

Some Ideas:

  • You could cut out using Credit Cards, and see how your spending changes
  • Use cash only, like Gail Vaz-Oxlade does on her program and see what happens
  • You could take a course on the Stock Market or read to learn more about why you are investing where you are.
  • Give up buying lunch and coffee at work, and save the money (or donate it to a worthy cause)

Just some ideas.

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University Costs After 1st Term

In 2009 I had 1 child in University. The costs became crazier when later I had 3 kids in different Universities, and 1 at home. The costs here are now low, keep that in mind.

My daughter has successfully completed her first term at University and has now started her second term so this might be a good time to update how the University Costs personal finance theme is going.

The grand total for this second 4 months, is about $7300 which would include:

  • Tuition fees
  • Residence fees
  • Meal Plan
  • Books
  • Many extra charges included in the tuition fees statement

This means the approximate cost of a 4 year degree looks to be almost $60,000 depending on costs and such (and hoping that costs do not rise significantly over the four years). I’d like to point out that the program my daughter is part of is a general Arts program, so please keep this in mind if you are planning for your child’s future (if your child looks at an Engineering, Architecture or medical program expect much higher charges). 

How much for that book?

This term’s book costs were not too bad except for 1 book which was completely out of whack from the other book prices. We attempted to find the book on the “used book” market, but this book was 25% of the cost of all the other books needed combined, but it needed to be bought so there was not much to be done about it (we paid full price).

When I went to Waterloo the Used Book Store was a booming concern, but the issue you have if you are in a technology program, a lot of times text books get revised a lot (at the time one of my courses changed from being taught in Fortran to Pascal, thus all old versions of the book were useless). Used books is a great way to save money, and selling books at the end of a term to the used book store is another cost saving idea for students too.

Meal Plan?

This is another new idea for me. When I lived in residence you had a single charge for residence and food was included in this charge, but now the cost of food has been separated so that folks can save money on the food portion of the residence charges.

Many students don’t spend weekends in residence (they live close enough to commute home) so they would end up paying for meals they didn’t eat, so the Universities separated food services charges from room charges. With this new concept came an added bonus that most eating establishments on campus became part of the “meal plan” (not just the cafeteria), so you can choose where and what you want to eat (in fact some restaurants in greater Kitchener seem to be part of the program).

Food variety when I was at school consisted of whether you put hot dogs in your Kraft Dinner (that was 4 boxes for $1 at the time) or whether you left it plain. Yes, I am that old.

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