Tag Archives: Netflix

Jul 25: Best from the Blogosphere

25 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

There’s lots of good reading in the blogosphere this week if you get tired of skimming romance novels on the beach or binging on your favourite Netflix series after dark. We’ve just started on the series Sherlock  and Spotlight and Trumbo are two great movies we saw from the comfort of our couch.

In other news, financial maven, television personality and blogger par excellence Gayle Vaz-Oxlade has retired at 57. While we will miss her valuable voice and sense of humour, it is encouraging to see has followed her own personal finance advice and can look forward to time for grandchildren and gardening.

Cheques started arriving in mailboxes across the country and Rob Carrick at the Globe and Mail says high-income families have reason not to like the new Canada Child Benefit, but it’s a win for most everyone else. Here’s how much the benefit will give you.

An interesting post on Canadian Budget binder explains How To Become Financially Secure So You Forget It’s Payday. While there is no magic formula, the checklist includes: start using a budget (no surprise); know where your money is going; understand your bills and how interest works; pay your bills on time and earn extra money if you can.

Cait Flanders sums up what she learned as a result of her two-year shopping ban in Two Years Without Shopping: What I Bought, Donated and Learned to Be True. She explains the rules for each year and details the few necessities she did buy. “For two years, I avoided all mindless and impulse spending decisions. But in a two-year period of time, I also learned you are bound to need some stuff – and that’s ok,” she says. “What I learned from tracking all my purchases this year is that there is a huge difference between talking yourself into thinking you need to buy something and actually needing to buy it.”

On the Financial Independence Hub, Kollin Lore says Millennials can learn from Boomers’ reinvention of retirement. Referring to Jonathan Chevreau’s new book Victory Lap, he says many millennials grew up during the recession and were set back earlier in their careers by student debt, so working past age 65 will be as much a necessity for them as for any other generation. Boomers can teach millennials how to stay motivated and take care of themselves in their senior years

And finally, on Retire Happy, Jim Yih asks: What are your family financial values? He and his wife are very open about money with their children but he suggests that because it’s easier to talk constructively about money from a unified front, a family financial value system might be useful. He shares a helpful series of questions that can help you create one under the headings: spending, debt, saving, income and money management.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

2016 Financial New Year’s Resolutions

31 Dec

By Sheryl Smolkin

As the old year draws to a close, many people resolve to reduce stress by getting more sleep, working out more often and eating a healthy diet. But for others, the financial pressure of taking from Peter to pay Paul is what keeps them awake at night.

If they could only find ways to get their finances under control and be sure that their family is properly protected, their anxiety level would plummet. If you fall into that category, here are some resolutions you can make to improve your finances, free up cash to save for longer term goals like retirement and give your family more financial security.

  1. Write it down: At the end of a month, do you have any idea where your money went? If you tap your credit or debit card each time you buy a cup of coffee, fork over $20 for every baby shower at the office and bring home take-out three days a week because you are too tired to cook, it’s not surprising that your bank account is running on empty half way through the month. Make a note in your phone or on a spreadsheet of every dollar you spend for a month and you will be able to identify money wasted that could be saved instead.
  2. Use cash: It may sound old-fashioned, but if you withdraw a set amount of cash each week to cover transit, lunches, coffee, dry cleaning and other miscellaneous expenses, you will spend much less than if you use your debit card or your credit card to pay for every small expenditure.
  3. Avoid credit card debt: Credit cards are a wonderful convenience if you pay them off every month and don’t have to pay interest charges. However, if you do accumulate credit card debt you could be paying as high as 20% or more on your outstanding balance which compounds every month. Furthermore, if you do not make minimum payments on the due date, you may lose your “grace period” and interest will begin to mount from the date of purchase of each item.
  4. Pay off high interest debt: If you owe money, resolve to pay off high interest debt as soon as possible. In some cases you may be able to borrow money on a lower interest line of credit to pay down higher interest credit card bills. You may also be able negotiate with creditors to accept a fixed amount each month. If you are stressed because of your debts, struggling to make your minimum payments, and need a plan to get your finances back on track, the Saskatchewan Credit Counselling Society provides free, confidential debt solution services.
  5. Pay yourself first: Waiting until the end of the month to direct money into savings is not a productive strategy as by then, the cupboard is typically bare. Decide on the amount you want to add to SPP, your RRSP, TFSA or unregistered savings every month and have the funds automatically transferred. After a few months you won’t even notice the difference.
  6. Re-think your needs: Do you still have one or more landlines although every member of your family has a cell phone? Do you really need cable TV when all you have been watching is Netflix? Are two cars a necessity or a luxury if you are on a convenient public transit line? Will the party be more fun if you buy a new dress you may never wear again? There are loads of ways to cut corners without significantly compromising your quality of life.
  7. Review your insurance: Is your family protected in the event of the death of you or your spouse or both? Your workplace benefits may include some life, disability and health insurance, but is it enough? Understand your employee benefits and augment them where required. Critical illness insurance can provide peace of mind if you succumb to a listed condition and suddenly have unexpected bills.
  8. Talk to your partner: If you have a partner or a spouse, talk regularly about your finances. Make sure you both have access to each other’s computer passwords and any bank or investment accounts that are not joint. If you think managing your finances now is a problem, imagine if only one of you is left behind to provide for the family with no understanding of family finances and where important documents are kept.
  9. Teach your kids: None of us were born understanding the value of a dollar or knowing how to manage money. Children learn from their parents. Give them an allowance or pay them for doing chores above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities. Establish what they are responsible for paying for out of their own money. Don’t be afraid to say, “It’s too expensive,” or “We can’t afford that.” As your children get older and get part-time jobs, require that they save a portion of everything they earn towards their post-secondary education. Encourage them to donate time and money to the charity of their choice.
  10. Make a will: Having an up-to-date will is essential to ensuring your estate is distributed as you intend it, and that your death doesn’t create a legal and administrative burden to your family. If you die without a will, a court will appoint someone to administer your estate and distribute the assets according to a formula set out in provincial estate and family laws.

Also see: Financial New Year’s resolutions

Aug 4: Best from the blogosphere

4 Aug

By Sheryl Smolkin

Every week in this space we offer examples of some of the blogs and personal finance articles we believe represent the Best from the Blogosphere. That’s why we were interested in a list recently published by LSM Insurance of the Top 50 Canadian Personal Finance Websites using various online metrics described in the accompanying article.

Here are several blogs (as opposed to mainstream media outlets) that made the list, and the “most shared content” that helped them get there.

Tom Drake at the Canadian Finance Blog was #10 on the list. How to Calculate Your Credit Score For Free has been a perennial favourite. Drake says that it’s actually fairly easy to see where you stand when it comes to your credit score. All you need to do is visit this credit score estimator and fill in the fields. Once you have done so, the calculator will tell you what range your score falls into.

Young and Thrifty was ranked #13. Sean Cooper helped to put this blog over the top with his guest post How to Achieve Findependence at Age 31. His three step approach is to achieve mortgage freedom by renting the top floor of his house and living in the basement apartment; have multiple income streams – by day he is a pension analyst, and by night he is a financial journalist and landlord; and, frugal living. You can see his own blog here.

The 24th spot went to Mo Money Mo Houses where How Can She Afford That? She Can’t, That’s How generated considerable interest. Jessica Moorhouse says people may appear to be more affluent than you are because they have big houses or fancy cars, but if they are in debt up to their eyeballs, it’s all an illusion. In order to maintain a lifestyle in the black, her parents had to live frugally. They only bought what they needed and lived fairly simply. To this day, that’s how she still lives her life and that’s why she is also not in debt.

At #30, Nelson Smith on Sustainable Personal Finance got the blogosphere buzzing when he wrote about Living in a Shipping Container – really! After their life is over making trips across the ocean, shipping containers are often auctioned off to the highest bidder. Sometimes these high bidders are businesses looking for cheap storage options. Or, if you want to get really crazy, you can build a house with them. Before you poo-poo the idea, Smith says that you can check out some pictures of houses built from storage containers in his blog post.

And rounding out the list at #50, Nancy at Money on Trees questions whether Netflix is really all you need. As a first time home buyer with little discretionary income, she says she simply cannot afford to spend $80 a month on satellite or cable. What she really misses are sports but even these are becoming more accessible as major events like the 2014 Sochi Olympics and CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada are streamed online. We have also been watching many Pan Am events online this summer and displaying then on our “smart” television which has a bigger screen.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.