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Happy Victoria Day

Yes it is a holiday finally, and I get to enjoy the first long weekend since Easter (which seems a long way away). No stores are open around me, but Ottawa has some benefits that other Ontario cities don’t have because we have the Rideau Center, which is deemed a “Tourist Area” so all of its stores will be open and we are across the river from Gatineau/Hull and there all stores are open today. Will I go shopping? I might run to Tim Horton’s to have a Pro-Monarchist Coffee and Donut, but that is about it.

Happy Victoria Day

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria, no doubt wondering where Prince Albert is (in the can would be my guess)

Why do we celebrate this holiday still? We need a holiday in May as simple a reason as that. In Quebec they call it Journée nationale des patriotes , and not much is closed (so maybe I can get my beer over there?).

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Tim Horton’s Saving Plan (revisited)

One of my first posts was about the Tim Horton’s Savings Plan (which was a blatant rip off of the Latte Savings Plan, however, I don’t remember anyone copyrighting that idea), and I’d like to revisit this post.

It is hard to do a straight comparison given that Timmy’s has changed their sizes to match their major competitors sizes (although I applaud that they do actually have a small size, which is called small and not medium or tall), but I will attempt to see if the concept still holds water. We could call it the latte savings plan again, though, since Tim’s now sells lattes too.

First, let’s make some assumptions:

  • A Medium Coffee is $1.60 now (which is the same size as a large was 5 years ago)
  • No donuts, breakfast sandwich or even Timbits (talk about free advertising for Tim Horton’s).
  • Three (3) coffees a day from Tim’s (a little excessive, but not out of the ordinary either) are drunk.
  • You only buy coffee on weekdays (which again is unreasonable, since if you buy coffee at Tim’s you do it pretty much every day of the year).

So the Calculation is simple:

δ = $1.60 * 3 Times/day * 5 days * 50 weeks/year 

Which means δ is about $1020 $1200 in a year of paying for coffee and such (adds up doesn’t it?). This is up from the $945 when I first kicked this idea around, but that only is about $1.50 more a week.

Here is the Latte Savings Plan Arithmetic

If we are going to look at this for 10 years with a very slow growth of 2% or so as well you end up with a simple equation for growth every year:

δnew = $1020 $1200 + ( δold *  (1.02) )

With this in mind the year by year progression:

YearFunds
1$ 1,200.00
2$ 2424.00
3$ 3672.48
4$ 4,945.93
5$ 6,244.85
6$ 7,569.75
7$ 8,921.14
8$ 10,299.56
9$ 11,705.55
10$ 13,139.67
Some older numbers but you get the drift

Thanks to me going with a much more conservative growth of 2% (previously I assumed 5%), but still a worthwhile exercise to see where you are spending your money.

If you smoked (and quit) just think about how much bigger those numbers might be?

And thanks to my reader who pointed out my ARITHMETIC incompetencies, as well!

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Let’s Roll Up The Rim(TM)


Yes, it is Roll Up the Rim to Win (TM) time again at Tim Horton’s, a time as hallowed as Spring in Canada, causing normal folks to drink copious amounts of coffee to ensure they have a chance to win. What are these over-caffenated folks chances you ask? Just click here to have a look at the rules (that every Tim Horton’s is supposed to have around as well) and chances of winning.

If you read this document closely, you will learn:

  • If you enjoy your Double, Double in Ontario, you have a chance of winning 50% of all the Rav4’s being given away.
  • If you quaff your Regular in BC you only have a 6 in 17,364,000 chance of winning $10,000 (they will give away 6 prizes in BC and they figure to sell that many cups in BC).
  • If you win a Rav-4 don’t hand your rim around, and when you try to claim your prize send it by Registered Mail (Timmy’s recommends that strongly)

It is always important to read the rules in these types of giveaways. It used to be they broke down the number of winners by cup size, but for some reason that data is no longer in the contest rules (it used to be Xtra Large cups had a better chance of winning).

Become a Tangerine client today

I always thought that if a Condom maker wanted to make more better sales in Canada, they should license the Roll Up the Rim(TM) from Timmy’s and change it to Roll Down the Rim to Win (but don’t tear). Guess I think too far out of the box for most marketing companies. I suppose a Mohel could also use my idea, but I don’t think they advertise much. Remember, “The rabbi gets the salary, and the mohel gets the tips.”

My other idea, is that Tim Horton’s should sprinkle a few cups in there that say, “Haven’t you had enough Coffee?”, or “Ineligible to Win again this year!” amongst the cups for fun. They’d have to give out a small prize with them, but that would be funny.

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Dollar Parity means 18% more expensive?

BMO analyst did a survey and even with the Canadian dollar hovering around parity with it’s American cousin, prices of things in Canada are still 18% more expensive than they are in the U.S. . Is this surprising, not to me, price gouging has been going on for Canadians for a good long time, and I don’t expect parity in pricing in the next year if the Canadian Dollar stays at parity. When a CD costs $12.99 in Canada and $9.99 in the US (the same one) you can see that the Canadian market is not that important to the manufacturers. Do I sound bitter? You bet.

Tim Horton’s Savings Plan

Now with companies like Kia and Rogers using the “If you didn’t buy coffee you could buy this” in their advertising (please note I mentioned this first in the Tim Horton’s Savings Plan many years ago), maybe Tim Horton’s should start their own bank, like PC Financial. Offer points for frequent users and then they can introduce the save a nickel with every coffee, which would be their customer lock. Each time a customer buys with their Pre-paid card, 5 cents is deposited in a savings account for them (or their RRSP), Scotiabank already offers something like this as do other financial institutions.

Look for the “Bank of the Big Cajun Man” coming soon! 🙂

New Housing Price Increases Still Up

As with last month, this month’s year over year increase was lower at 5.2% and the month over month increase was Zero, which is quite interesting too. Have a look in the attached table for where you live and the new house price increase.

New housing prices increased at their slowest pace in more than two and a half years in April, despite strong markets in Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

New Housing Price Indexes
April 2008 April 2007 to April 2008 March to April 2008
(1997=100) % change
Canada total 158.4 5.2 0.0
House only 168.1 4.9 -0.1
Land only 139.5 6.2 0.2
St. John’s 154.1 16.3 3.6
Halifax 148.2 11.3 0.0
Charlottetown 119.4 2.0 0.1
Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton 115.8 2.6 0.0
Québec 154.0 5.0 1.0
Montréal 159.2 4.3 -0.1
Ottawa–Gatineau 166.4 3.2 0.1
Toronto and Oshawa 145.8 4.6 0.1
Hamilton 152.9 3.2 -0.1
St. Catharines–Niagara 157.0 4.9 0.5
Kitchener 142.2 3.0 0.2
London 141.7 4.6 0.6
Windsor 103.8 -0.2 0.4
Greater Sudbury and Thunder Bay 110.8 5.4 0.0
Winnipeg 174.5 14.8 0.1
Regina 238.3 34.0 7.1
Saskatoon 241.6 43.7 0.4
Calgary 251.0 2.5 -0.8
Edmonton 241.5 8.1 -0.6
Vancouver 124.7 5.4 0.1
Victoria 119.0 1.9 -0.3
Note: View the census subdivisions that comprise the metropolitan areas online.

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When do you walk away from an old car?

This past weekend, I got to enjoy an out of town tournament with my daughter and we had a great time as usual, however, there was one incident that marred the weekend a little, and made me wonder when do you walk away from an old car ?

The parents typically get lost easily (I include myself in that group), so we typically convoy to gymnasiums from hotels so we don’t all get lost. I had a small convoy behind me, and just as we came off a parkway in Hamilton, we came to a set of lights. We stopped, the light turned green, I turned left chatted with my passenger, looked in my rear view mirror and my convoy was gone!

That was very strange, but we went on to the gym, and I called the members of the convoy to find out whether they had turned left to go to a Tim Horton’s or the like. No, the car behind me “dropped” it’s transmission as it’s driver put their foot down on the accelerator. My heart sunk when I heard that because that is one of my pet paranoia’s (car breaking down in strange city).

This Dad luckily had roadside assistance, so he got it towed to the dealership, who declared the transmission “Dead on Arrival”, and gave him three options:

  1. Replace with brand new transmission
  2. Replace with rebuilt transmission
  3. Walk away from the van

This Dad wasn’t sure what to do, so he rightly decided to take a rental and figure out what to do and deal with it on Monday. Now over the next 24 hours, the Dad made a plan and decided to go with option (3) and not put good money after bad in this situation. He will find another car, and deal with it, instead of attempting to nurse this old clunker any more.

How the Heck do you Decide?

When do you pull the plug in this situation. This Dad did the right thing, he deliberated, called his wife, discussed it with her, they made a plan and are executing it, but I am always amazed when people can make that decision.

I can look back on decisions I have made and figure out whether they are right or wrong, but only in hindsight, making a BIG decision like, “let’s push the car off the cliff” causes me to go into decision brain freeze. I sit there make lists argue all sides of the decision and then usually don’t decide, or procrastinate. Luckily my mechanic is very honest and makes the decision for me (i.e., “Alan this thing is a death trap and I am not fixing it any more, go get another car”).

How do you decide when it is time to get rid of a car? When is “enough” money spent on a car?

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