Thursday, April 26, 2012

My New Site Is Now Up!

After many migraines, sleepless nights, hours on You Tube and forums, and getting some help from a couple of techies, my site is finally up. I really didn't think it was going to be this much work switching from Blogger to Wordpress. I should have just started with Wordpress, it would have saved me a lot of time.

Anyway, I hope you like the new look. I still have some work to do, but at least it's functional. Please don't forget to subscribe to my new site and follow me on twitter.

Check it out here

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I am Still Working On My New Site!

April 11th finally came and I can launch my website! I have already started working on it, but it's harder than I thought, so please bare with me over the next few days or possibly weeks as I attempt to build my website and transfer all of my posts to the new site. I havn't figured out if I can transfer your comments, or followers. I have no idea how this is done, or if it can be done. I did read on a fellow bloggers site that she was not able to transfer her followers. I'll have to contact either Wordpress or Blue Host to double check. Either way I'll let you know. If I am not able to transfer your comments or you as a follower, don't worry I wouldn't ask you to go back to my previous post and comment again. That would be funny if I did that though! Lol! I will ask you to subscribe again, if it won't be too much trouble.

Wish me luck on my new venture! Oh and my new website will be, it's not up and running yet. I will let you know as soon as it's up.

Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live In!

Where would you like to live? Have you ever thought of moving to a different city? I've thought of this many many times. I've travelled to Atlanta on a few occasions and seeing house prices for $70,000 and looking at house prices here in Toronto for $450,000, definitely makes me think about moving. By the way those prices are for detached single family homes. The price difference is just crazy! What's funny is my friends in Atlanta think $70,000 is expensive.

If you're thinking about relocating, check out the top 10 most expensive cities in the world to live in. The  Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a survey on which cities around the world have the highest cost of living? The study compared the cost of food, clothing, renting a home, transportation, and schooling.

Here's the list from least expensive to most expensive cities in the world:

10. Frankfurt, Germany
9.   Singapore
8.   Melbourne, Australia
7.   Sydney, Australia
6.   Paris, France
5.   Oslo, Norway
4.   Osaka Kobe, Japan
3.   Geneva, Switzerland
Both Osaka Kobe and Geneva were both tied at 3rd place 
2.   Tokyo, Japan
1.   Zurich, Switzerland

Are you surprised that Zurich and Tokyo are the most expensive cities to live in? Well according to the study "Both Japan and Switzerland have seen strong currency movements over the last few years which have made them relatively more expensive. This has become especially true of Switzerland in the last year, where investors looking for a haven currency outside the beleaguered Eurozone have invested heavily in the Swiss Franc, prompting an unprecedented move by the Swiss government to peg the Swiss Franc to the Europe to keep the currency competitive."

Japan is definitely on my list of countries to visit. I don't plan to ever move there, but it should be a fun visit.

Have you thought of living anywhere else in the world? If so, where and what made you choose that city besides cost of living?

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 11th is Almost Here!

April 11th is the day I get to transfer my account from Go Daddy to Bluehost. As much as I would like April 11th to be my launch date, I don't know how realistic that will be. I've been playing around with Wordpress to try to find a theme and I am having a hard time deciding. I've also been learning about plug-ins and just seeing what else I have to learn to launch my website. I am not a techie person and it looks like I may have to do some coding.

I've been thinking maybe I should just pay someone to do this for me, but then again I am not making any money from this blog to dish out money to hire someone. Wordpress doesn't look as easy as Blogger, but then again it will be my own website, so maybe it's suppose to be more difficult. On top of that, I paid someone on Fiverr to do a logo for me on March 25, I was sent three logo's, none which I liked, so I asked for a few changes to be made. I haven't heard back, even though I've sent him two messages. I may have just lost $5. Oh well it could have been worst.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 14 of Insanity!

As much as I love talking about money, I know that a balanced life is necessary to truly be happy. Plus if I plan to stick around to enjoy my riches, I've got to stay healthy.

I am on round 2 of Insanity. I am definitely crazy for putting my body through this madness, but I just love how it makes me feel when I am finished. I hate it when I am doing it, but the energy that I have once I am finished is just great!

I started Insanity for the first time last year and I have to admit it's the hardest work out I've ever done. I actually thought I was in pretty good shape before starting Insanity. I've been working out since I was 18, so I am not new to the gym or working out. But once I tried Insanity, I felt like I was out of shape. They really couldn't have chosen a better name for this work out. It really is insane! Within the first five minutes you're sweating, and I don't mean a mild sweat, I am talking about sweat where you need to wipe it off!

My first time doing Insanity I lost 4 pounds. I started at 133 pounds and went down to 129. I am still at 129 and would like to loose another 4-5 pounds. I like how I look and feel at a 125 pounds, so that's what I am aiming for. Today I completed day 14 and I haven't lost anything yet, but I am much stronger and am able to keep up a bit more with the pros in the video. Imagine doing Insanity non stop? Man, the shape I would be in! I don't know if I have it in me to do this craziness non-stop.

Once I am finished with Round 2 of Insanity, I plan to do Hip Hop Abs. I've never tried it, but I've heard great things about it. Since there's a lot of dancing in it, I am sure it will be more fun than Insanity.

Are any of you doing any work out programs to get back in shape?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Much Plastic Is In Your Wallet?

Yesterday I decided to go through my wallet to see how much plastic I had in there and I was shocked to discover that I had 13 cards. This was a surprise to me considering I only have one credit card. As I went through all of the cards, I realized that I haven't used some of them in a long time. I actually forgot I had some these cards.

Here's what I found:

  1. My driver's license, I knew this was in my wallet. I always keep this in my wallet in case I need ID or get pulled over.
  2. Two debit cards
  3. My one MasterCard that I use for work
  4. Cineplex Scene card. This comes in handy for discounts at the theatre
  5. AMC Movie Watcher discount card
  6. Library Card
  7. Plum Rewards Card. This is my discount card for Chapters, Indigo and Coles bookstore
  8. La Senza discount card. I completely forgot this was in my wallet. I am just thinking of all the times I've been in La Senza and didn't realize I had a discount card. In fact, the activation sticker is still on the card. Maybe I should activate it! Lol!
  9. Suzy Shier discount card
  10. Petro Canada discount card. I love getting my free car washes with this card.
  11. Air Miles. I don't remember the last time I used this card, I forgot it was in my wallet. All those missed air miles.
  12. Health card
I knew that I've always been one to love a good discount, but I really didn't think I had 7 discount cards. They're all worth it because they were free and I really only use them when I remember and if I am already shopping in one of those stores.

How much plastic are you carrying around?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Is College Or University Really Worth It?

Many students are asking themselves if College or University is really worth it, considering the amount of student loans they're graduating with and the fact that some can't find jobs. I do believe that your odds of being successful in life are greater if you have an education. I know we've all heard of Bill Gates and Mark Zukerberg, and time and time again I hear teenagers talk about how successful these two are and they didn't finish University. But let's not forget they both got accepted to Harvard before dropping out to pursue their own businesses. Most people are not going to create the next Microsoft or Facebook. These two individuals are exceptions to the rule. I don't say this to discourage anyone trying to start their own business or pursue their dreams, I just want to point out that they were both pursuing their education prior to the launch of their businesses.

Education sets the foundation for any business and also provides networking opportunities for you to meet other students that could be on the same path as you.

Unfortunately many students have found themselves in more debt than they can handle after they've completed their studies. I took a different approach with my education than the average person and in the long run it worked out better for me. I am not a big fan of debt as I am sure you are aware of if you've read previous posts. I was constantly looking for ways to pay for school without having to go into a lot of debt. I wrote about how I paid for my education in this post.

There are many ways students can pay for their education without racking up thousands of dollars in debt. There are scholarships, grants, tuition reimbursements through companies, and there's the old fashion way of paying for it by working. This really isn't a bad idea! If you are not in a rush to finish, consider taking your degree on a part-time basis. Some Colleges and Universities offer online and evening courses to make it more convenient. You could work full time and pay for the courses you could afford until you're finished. If you take this route, try finding a job in your field of study while you're pursuing your education. Companies love employees who take continuing education courses, it means you are taking the time to remain current in your field. When you graduate who do think will most likely want to promote you. You will also have more experience than the student who graduated with only an education and no experience. Besides think about how many people are applying for the exact same jobs at graduation. Your odds are much smaller when you're competing with thousands of other applicants at the same time. This is what I did and it worked. It took me longer to finish, but I was working alongside people who had a degree when I was still obtaining my degree.

Although I have absolutely no regrets with both College and University, there are some things that I didn't learn in school that are extremely important for success.

Ambition, this is something that I learned growing up, watching my mother hustle to take care of two kids on her own. I don't remember seeing my mother sleep a lot when I was young. She was always on the go and always looking for work.

Passion, this is something that has to come from within. A strong desire that you have to complete something or do something in this world to make your mark.

Persistence, being able to maintain an action regardless of what obstacles come your way is extremely difficult. But to accomplish big things, persistence is needed. I also learned this from my mother and not in school. She always taught me to never give up and to never allow my vision to be clouded by what's in front of me.

Lifelong learning is something I didn't realize I would have to do until I finished University. How naive was I! It wasn't until I finished, did I realize that if I plan to be all God wants me to be in this world, I have to continue to educate myself and be open to learning new things.

Education never really stops, unless you stop it!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Employer's Ask Job Seekers For Facebook Password

If you haven't heard of this yet, it's true. Employer's in the States are actually asking job seekers for their Facebook passwords so they can search through their Facebook site to find out who they are. That's just crazy! We all know that Employer's already view potential employee's Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin sites to try to find information on people, but to ask for their passwords is just ludicrous. It's like asking for someone's email password. What ever happen to privacy?

A job seeker by the name of Robert Collins who lives in Maryland was asked by an employer to provide his Facebook password so a hiring manager could properly evaluate his application to be reinstated as a prison guard. Robert Collins was told his profile would be scoured for evidence of gang connections. Huh! What ever happen to just doing a criminal background check? Oh, I guess obtaining someone's Facebook password would be much cheaper, in fact it's free!

Check out this video below

We are a bit more fortunate here in Canada that laws protect us from this craziness. Labour laws here in Canada protect us from Employer's asking for personal information.

Social media tips
  • Don't ever put anything out there that you may regret in the future.
  • Nothing online is ever really private, remember that!
  • Change your Facebook settings to private (This is a good rule of thumb. However, there are savvy hackers that may be able to get past your privacy settings)
  • I know many people who don't use their real name on social media sites.
  • Remember others can post pictures of you on Facebook. It could have been a picture when you were drunk in high school. Notify any friends or family members if you notice a picture you want taken off. 
Do you have any tips to protect others online?

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012

    My First Mystery Shop Experience!

    So I did my first mystery shop. I heard of mystery shopping a few years ago for the first time, but never really tried it. It just so happened that I've been looking for a mechanic, because my last one tried to rip me off. I was up for an oil change and was planning on going to Oil Changers or Mr. Lube. I put my oil change off because I didn't want to pay $50 for an oil change, when private mechanics charge between $20 - $30. I hate the idea of paying more for something than I have too. I called a few friends to ask if they knew of any good mechanics that they would refer me to, but I had no luck.

    A few days later I received an email to do a mystery shop. I had signed up with a mystery shop company weeks ago and totally forgot about it. They wanted me to do a mystery shop at a mechanic and get an Oil and Filter change. I was all over it! It paid $18 and I got a refund for my oil change. Whoo hoo!

    I also needed to get my breaks done, which I already knew, but I was procrastinating because I couldn't find a mechanic. The same company that I did a mystery shop with, quoted me a price of $429 for front break pads and roters. I negotiated it down to $400 and got it done. I forgot to mention that I called one other company to get a quote and they were more expensive. So I thought I was getting a good deal, until I spoke to another friend the following day and he gave me his mechanics number.

    Can you guess what happened? My friends mechanic quoted me a price of $224. Ouch! Yeah I paid almost double! I hate when that happens. I felt like going back to my mystery shop mechanic and asking him to put my old break pads and roters back on my car, and to give me back my money. I wouldn't do that! That would be wrong on so many levels, but the thought did cross my mind.

    Lesson learned! I will get more quotes the next time.

    Monday, March 26, 2012

    Fraud At Its Finest!

    Will fraud really ever stop? I don't know, but all I could do is my part. If I hear of someone being a victim of fraud or if I experience it, I think it's our duty as members of society to report it and share it with others, to stop these fraudsters and scam artist. It sickens me that there is so much fraud out there. I recently came across a few scams from the Better Business Bureau website that I thought I would share. Please pass this on to your friends and family so we could put a stop to these types of crimes and get these fraudsters off the streets.

    Advance Fee Loans
    This is a scam where you complete an online credit application for a loan. The scammers tell you that you're approved, but the catch is you have to send them a fee before you get the loan. After you send them the fee, you don't receive the loan.
    • If you are completing an online credit application, it should be with a reputable company that you've heard of.
    • Do a check of the company with the Better Business Bureau before filling out an online application.
    • It is illegal for a company to ask for a fee upfront before advancing a loan.

    Door To Door Sales
    I don't know many people in this day and age that actually answer their door to a sales rep or a stranger. I personally don't answer the door unless I am expecting someone. Maybe I watch too much America's Most Wanted. Lol! Anyway, sales people are using high pressure sales tactics to scare people into buying products and services that they don't want or need such as air filters, vacuums, window washing, painting, repair and landscaping services. How dare someone come on your property and pressure you to buy something. What's wrong with people! What's really sad is, this probably often happens to the elderly.
    • Don't answer your door if you don't know who it is. If a friend or family member pops by unannounced, chances are they'll call you if you don't answer your door.
    • If you feel threatened by a sales person on your property, ask them to leave, if they refuse call the police.
    • Don't give in to high pressure sales.

    Fraudulent Locksmiths
    Fraudulent locksmiths are advertising online and using a local address and phone number. When the customer contacts the locksmith, they get someone on the line from another city and the address is fraudulent. Customers who have hired these companies have been overcharged for the products and services and received bad service and poor workmanship. When customers contact the locksmith to complain they have a difficult time getting a hold of someone.
    • Confirm the company address and ask for the legal name of the business.
    • Check the business out with the Better Business Bureau.
    • When the locksmith arrives, ask for identification,a business card and their license.
    • A legitimate locksmith will ask for your identification to confirm you are the homeowner.

    If you hear or know of any fraudulent schemes out there, please report it to your local police and to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC)at 1(888) 495 8501 or

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    How Financially Independant Are You?

    Do you ever wonder what it would be like to control your own destiny. Travel where and whenever you want, work from any where in the world, have as much time with your family as you wish? I am sure the thought has crossed your mind. Maybe that's all it did was cross your mind without much thought to how you could make that happen. I think everyone deserves to live their dreams, but it takes a lot of hared work and sacrifice to get where you want to be.

    Here are 7 tips to becoming financially independent

    1. You must spend less than you make, this is an absolute must if you want to become financially independent. Spending more than you make is not only foolish, but you will always be in the poor house and probably a slave to the lender for many years. If you're not aware of your inflow and outflow, start paying attention and do a budget immediately.

    2. Get and stay out of debt, the more money that goes to the lender is less money in your pocket. Make it one of your top priorities to get out of debt.

    3. Figure out what makes you happy and develop a plan to get there. This can take some time to really discover what YOU want out of life. Without knowing what you want, gives you no direction to aim for, so take the time to get this right.

    4. Determine how much money you really need to stop working. It may not be $10 million. This number depends on the type of lifestyle you want. Some people can live on less, some people want to live on more. Whatever the number is, make those sacrifices now, so you can live the life you want later.

    5. Choose the right partner. If you're a tight wad and your spouse buys everything in sight, there's going to be a huge problem. Study your partners spending habits in the dating stage of your relationship and don't be afraid to talk about money. Dave Ramsey offers a great course called Financial Peace University, take these classes with your significant other. It will open the doors to having some healthy discussions on money.

    6. Keep your investments simple. Only invest in what you know and understand. There's no need to try and get all sophisticated when you have no clue what you're doing. Take time to research different investments, talk to others who are actually making money on their investments. Please don't take advice from your broke friend. It's kind of like going to the doctor for legal advice. Who does that?

    7. Don't follow the crowd because the crowd doesn't always know what to do. Do what's right for you based on your needs, your desire, and your situation.

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Did You Spend Your Tax Refund Yet? 6 tips to help you use it wisely

    Every year around this time, millions of people get a tax refund. Some people spend it before they get it, others have debts and use it to pay down some debt and others just spend it all on themselves.

    Here are 6 things you can do with your tax refund this year.

    1. Pay down/off your credit card debt. Pay the smallest balance first. Having debt and spending money on non-essential items is not wise. And yes buying a dress or a cute pair of shoes are non-essential items.

    2. Make an extra payment on your mortgage. This is often called a pre-payment. You will need to find out from your bank if you can make an extra payment without penalties. An extra payment here and there on your mortgage can really help you pay down your mortgage really fast.

    3. Save it! If you don't have an emergency fund with a minimum of 6 months worth of expenses, put it towards that. You could use a tax free savings account for your emergency fund? Contribute to your RRSP if you already have an emergency fund. For every dollar you save is one less dollar spent. Save it and watch it grow.

    4. Pre-pay a bill for a year and free up your cash flow. Think about paying your car insurance for the year. If you normally pay $1500 per year, that would free up $125 per month that you could use for something else.

    5. Invest in yourself! Are there a few courses you would like to take to upgrade your skills? Rather than go into debt, you could use your refund to pay for your courses. Some Universities and Colleges offer online certificate, diploma and degree programs that you can take in the evening or online.

    6. If you have no debt and a pretty good nest egg, consider giving it away. You could give it to your local church, or donate it to one of your favorite causes.

    If you're getting a tax refund this year, it simply means that you gave the government an interest free loan. I wrote about this in a previous blog, because for years I received a tax refund. Not any more!

    What are you going to do with your tax refund.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Online Banking Or Teller Service

    Why do you currently bank at your bank? Is it because your parents bank there and they opened an account for you when you were young. Or maybe you like to shop around for the best rate and your current bank provided you with that. Maybe customer service is really important to you, so you bank with your bank for that reason.

    My first bank account was at Canada Trust, which is now TD Canada Trust. The only reason why I had an account there is because my mom banked there and opened an account for me. I was about 11 years old and knew nothing about banking to even think about moving to another bank. I thought all banks were pretty much the same. I stayed with TD until I got a job with a major bank. At that point it was required that I open an account with them, which was great because I got free banking. When I left the bank of course I no longer received free banking. I did quite a bit of searching to find a bank that offered free banking. That's when I ended up with President's Choice Financial and ING Direct.

    Both of these banks are virtual banks, which means they don't offer teller service. Their focus is online banking. Virtual banks typically offer free banking and lower interest rates. They're able to offer this because they don't have as much over head costs as brick and mortar banks. There are however, some advantages and disadvantages to virtual banks.

    • 24/7 banking
    • 24/7 customer support over the phone or online
    • Very convenient
    • No transportation costs
    • You must have access to a computer
    • Internet access is required
    • You should be comfortable with online banking
    • No physical bank locations
    • Fees (money orders, drafts, insufficient funds and overdraft charges) are often higher than brick and mortar banks

    If you like that personal touch with your banker, than virtual banking is not for you. You only speak to someone either over the phone or online with virtual banking. What do you prefer?

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    My New Domain Name!

    I finally did it! I purchased the domain name to I am leaving blogger and heading over to my own site. I've decided that I want to give this personal finance blogging a shot and take it a bit more serious. I've been getting quite a bit of support from you guys and I am humbled that you find the information on this site useful.

    I started blogging for several reasons. The first being, I just wanted to help others in the area of personal finance. I am very comfortable in this area because I've been in the industry for 14 years. That doesn't mean I know it all, I still learn from you and other fantastic bloggers everyday, but I think I can add my 3 cents here and there. (I made 3 cents up, since most people say 2 cents) The second reason is I want to make sure I stay on track. Although I have a paid for home, I plan to purchase another home soon and need to make sure I continue to save. Listening to Dave Ramsey most days and having discussions with you and fellow bloggers keeps me on the right track. The third reason why I started blogging was out of boredom. That may sound bad, but it's the truth. I get bored very easily and need to be constantly stimulated to keep my brain from getting bored. This blog has been challenging and fun! I felt like giving up a few times and then I'll see a comment or get an email that just picks me right back up again. So thank you! This is starting to sound like a good bye letter!

    Anyways, back to my new domain name. I originally purchased a domain name from Go Daddy back in February. After doing some research and checking some other hosting sites out there, I decided to go with Blue Host and use WordPress to create my blog. I really like some of the tools that some of my fellow bloggers have used through WordPress, I also like the look of some of their sites.

    When I registered my domain name with Go Daddy, I wasn't aware that I have to stay with them for two months before I can transfer my domain name to another company. I found that out late last night when I was trying to transfer it myself. After an hour of trying to do it myself, I finally picked up the phone to call Go Daddy to ask them what the problem was. (I've got to learn to ask for help sooner than later. I could have saved myself an hour last night) I was told I have to wait until April 11. The good news is, that's only about three in a half weeks away.

    Wish me luck on my new transition!

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Cash Or Plastic

    Are you a cash person or a plastic person? I use to be a plastic person until I realized how much more money I was spending when I used my debit card versus when I used cash. Before I started budgeting I use to use my debit card to purchase everything. It was rare that cash would ever be in my wallet. I found it to be very convenient to use my debit card. This all changed when I discovered  skimming and when I started researching how much more people spend when they use plastic versus cash.

    Dunn and Bradstreet did a study a few years ago where they compared the difference customers spend when using plastic versus cash. Statistically they found that on average you will spend 12-18% more when making a purchase with a credit card as opposed to cash. They also compared McDonald's transaction and discovered that the average McDonald's transaction increased from $4.50 to $7.00. Does that surprise you? Just thinking back when I use to use plastic very often, I found that I would purchase more than I normally would with cash. With plastic you don't actually see the money leaving your hands. You just swipe and go! Spending $100 on your debit card doesn't feel like a lot, but taking a $100 bill or two $50's out of your wallet is surely noticeable.

    A few other reasons why I use cash

    I have never met any one who had their identity stolen because they forgot their cash at a restaurant or bar.

    I have always gotten a better deal when I negotiate with cash versus when I use credit or debit.

    Easier to stay within budget
    With debit or credit cards, it's easier to spend a little here and there. If you use an envelope system to budget, cash helps you to stick with your budget.

    Do you ever wonder why Casino's and cruise lines don't use cash? It sure is no coincidence! Casino's use chips and not cash so gamblers don't actually feel like their spending their own money. Royal Caribbean has a cashless system for their shops, spa's lounges and shore excursions. A SeaPass is given to each passenger at check-in, the pass is activated with a credit card. Think about how brilliant this system is. No cash transactions means passenger's will of course spend more money because they charge everything to the SeaPass. Unless you check your balance often, you can literally spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on the pass and not even realize it. This system also minimizes theft from employees on board.

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Petro Points!

    I just love a free car wash!

    How much do you pay to wash your car? I haven't paid for a car wash in years. I have a Petro Canada gas card. This is not a credit card but a points card that allows me to accumulate points every time I make a purchase. I do a lot of driving, so I am at the gas station at least twice a week. This allows me to accumulate points very fast. I only use my points when I have enough to get a car wash. I think I should save more points and try to get something better than a car wash.

    Check out some ways you can accumulate Petro points:
    •  Just for signing up you get 2500 points if you provide your email address.
    • If you shop at Petro Canada convenience stores, you could receive up to 20 points on eligible items. On some items they offer double, triple, five times or more bonus points to help you to collect those points faster.
    • Purchasing gas can also help you beef up your points. You can collect 10 points per litre on SuperClean 94 Fuel, seven points per litre on PlusClean Fuel and five points per litre on RegularClean Fuel and diesel.
    • If you have a CIBC petro points card, you can receive 10 points for every dollar you spend on your CIBC MasterCard outside of a Petro Canada store. Plus you can earn 50% more points on eligible items at a Petro-Canada store.
    • If you make a purchase with your Sears Card at a Petro Canada store, you can collect both Petro points and Sears Club Points.
    • If you register your CAA membership number to your Petro account, you can collect 20% more Petro Points.
    • If you travel with itavel2000, you can collect 10 points for every dollar you spend on travel.
    • You can also redeem 10,000 Petro points and get $10 off your vacation with itravel2000

    Do you have a Petro Points card? If so, what do you use your points for?

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    A 14 Year Old Bought A House In Florida!

    A 14 year old girl recently purchased a home in Florida with her mother. I am so impressed with this young lady. We hear so many negative things about teenagers in our society that it is refreshing to see a 14 year old taking charge of her life. This story really hits home for me because I too purchased my first home with my mother at the age of 20. This is the main reason why I started blogging. If I could do it at 20, clearly someone could do it at 14, and the generation coming up behind this incredible 14 year old can purchase their first home at the age of 10.

    Something else that is impressive about this young lady is that she plans to buy out her mother once she hits 18. I predict this 14 year old will be a young millionaire in no time. Thank God for smart parents who raise their children in the right way.

    In an economy where people are loosing their homes left, right, and center, this youngster saw an opportunity and capitalized on it. That's what it's all about. Seeing opportunities that everyone doesn't see!

    Imagine the world we would live in if most parents were teaching their kids the power of ownership, introducing them to business concepts at an early age, encouraging them to read very early in life, and focusing on things that would impact their future and the future of others. Rather than buying them the latest video game, which is not contributing to their intelligence at all. Or making sure they have the latest Nike's or name brand outfit to wear to school.

    Who cares what kind of shoes a child has on. Don't parents realize that one of the best gifts they could give their child is education. Once a child is educated, there is no limit to where they can go. Forget about owning one pair of Nike's, they could buy the Nike store.

    This 14 year old's story is just a reminder of where our priorities need to be.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    I Called My Bank To Reverse A 2 Cent Charge!

    You read that correctly! I actually picked up the phone and called my bank for them to reverse a 2 cent charge that I saw on my statement. You may think I am absolutely crazy for taking the time to do this but in my opinion, 2 cents is still my money and if I think the charge was mistakenly charged or if it was a legitimate charge, I have the right to know what I was charged for. I check my accounts daily, so it's not hard for me to notice a charge on my account.

    So I called my bank and the conversation went something like this:

    Customer Service Rep (CSR) - Hi this is John, how can I help you?

    Me - Hi John, how are you?

    CSR - I am fine, how are you?

    Me - I am fine, I noticed there was a 2 cent charge on my account a few days ago. Can you please explain to me what the charge was for?

    CSR - Um, um (silence for 30 seconds) can I put you on hold to look into this?

    Me - Sure

    CSR - I do see where you were charged 2 cents. I do apologize for the charge, your account was debited instead of credited 2 cents. I will correct that right away for you.

    Me - Thank you so much John

    CSR - Was there anything else I could help you with?

    Me - That will be all, thanks

    On the last day of every month, most banks will pay you any interest that you earned through out the month and also withdraw any fees or interest that you owe them. In my case, I should have earned 2 cents instead of the bank withdrawing 2 cents from my account. It was my checking account that this charge came out of. I never expect to make any money from this account, so I wouldn't have called them if they forgot to pay me 2 cents in interest, but the fact that they actually charged me 2 cents was worth the call.

    Did you notice the 30 seconds of silence when I told John the reason for my call. He must have thought to himself, I cannot believe someone would actually call for a 2 cent charge. If John was silent for any longer, I would have just repeated myself thinking he didn't hear me. John ended up putting me on hold for approximately 5 minutes. It could have took him that long to find the charge, or maybe he was telling his buddies in the office about me, or maybe he thought I would hang up. In any case my 2 cents was refunded.

    I am ALWAYS polite any time I am speaking to a CSR. Even if I know they're wrong, I am still polite. I use to do telemarketing jobs and I know from experience what it's like to work in a call center. No one wants to help someone who is rude with a temper. 95% of the time, I get what I want from CSR's just for being polite.

    Let's say my bank made this error with 5 000 000 customers. 5 000 000 x 0.02 (2 cents) = $100,000 for one month. If this happens once a month, that's $1,200,000 in one year. That's a lot of money for one error with 5 000 000 customers. Now I am not saying this error occurred with all those people and I know mistakes happen, but that's a huge mistake.

    Would you call your bank to reverse 2 cents?

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    8 Ways To Kill Your Debt!

    1. First things first, stop using your credit cards. Cut them up, throw them away, flush them down the toilet. Do whatever you have to do to stop using them. You won't be able to pay off your credit card if you keep spending on it.

    2. Use cash to do your shopping. Leave all your credit cards at home so you won't be tempted to use it. You will also spend less when you use cash versus plastic.

    3. Only go shopping when you need something. There is no need to window shop if you're walking around with debt. Always go shopping with a list, this will help you to shop with a purpose and buy only what you need versus what you want.

    4. Stop eating out. This could be a hard one, especially if you don't like to cook, or just don't have time to cook. You can save so much money to tackle your debt from this one thing. Try cooking on weekends if you're too busy during the week. Also share the cooking with your spouse.

    5. Eliminate unnecessary expenses such as those premium cable channels, gym memberships that you're no longer using, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, read them online.

    6. Call all your creditors to try to reduce your interest rates. This is much easier to do with banks versus department store cards. Do a little research to find out what promotions other banks are offering and then call your bank and ask them to match or beat what you've seen. Also find out about any extras that are on your card that may be causing your interest rate to be higher. If you have any annual fees get rid of them.

    7. List all of your debt except your mortgage from the smallest to the largest balance. Make minimum payments on all your debt and put any extra money you can find onto the smallest balance. Once you've paid off the smallest balance, take the minimum payment and the extra money from the first debt, and apply that to the second smallest balance until that's paid off. Now take the money you were putting towards the second smallest balance and apply that to the third smallest balance and so on. Notice that every time you finish paying off one debt, you are applying more money to the next smallest balance because you are taking the previous minimum payments, plus the extra money and applying that plus the minimum payment you were already making to the next smallest balance. This will help you pay off your debt faster than you think. I've done it and it works.

    The reason why I suggest paying off the smallest balance first, rather than the highest interest rate is because when you pay off the smaller balance, you will feel great that you paid off a credit card or a loan in full. This will motivate you to keep on going. It's much easier to pay off a $2000 credit card, than it is to pay off a $10,000 card. Besides you'll get to that $10,000 in no time with this approach.

    8. If you are having a difficult time finding extra money to throw onto your loan and credit cards, try this exercise. Make a list of everything that you spend for one whole month. I mean everything, if you spend five cents write it down. Don't cheat or the exercise won't work. After the month is over review your list. Look for items on the list that you didn't need to buy. You'll probably notice some impulse buying, or if you're like some people that do this exercise, they catch themselves buying things they don't need because they remember they have to write it down, and don't even bother with the purchase. The extra money comes from not buying some of the items you find on the list.

    This article was originally published on February 3, 2012 and has been updated as of March 13, 2012

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Women's Money Week - Money in My 30s

    This post is part of the Women's week series to educate women on personal finance. Today's topic is Money in my 30's.

    I am a natural saver and I love to work! As long as it's something I enjoy doing, I could work 24 hours a day. I started working at the age of 12 delivering newspapers, my mother taught me to save once I started my first job. I became addicted to saving that by the time I was 20, I purchased my first home, at 26 I purchased my second home and at 32 I paid off both properties and became mortgage free. Now that I am 32 years old and I look back at my money habits when I was 20, I realize that nothing has changed.

    I once heard Oprah say that money makes you more of who you already are. It definitely has for me, I am much cheaper now than I was when I was 20. Don't get me wrong, I give more, save more and spend more, but I am much more conscious about where and what I spend my money on.

    I started working in the banking industry as a teenager and have seen many people mismanage their money. I've also seen people manage their money well. This helped me a great deal to learn how to manage my own funds. After all, unless you have some great money teachers in your life, or you read a lot of books on money, or your exposed like I was working at the bank, you probably wouldn't have a clue how to manage your money. Which is the boat many people are in.

    I still to this day don't quite understand why money is not taught in schools. The reasons why people go to school is to graduate, find a good job, and make some money. But yet we're not taught how to manage it.

    The responsibility lies with you to learn all you can to manage what belongs to you. No one is going to do it for you. Even if you hire someone to take care of your money, you still need to mange your own funds. At the end of the day, no one will ever care as much about your money as you do, so learn about different types of investments and only invest in things you understand. If you can't explain it to a 12 year old you probably shouldn't invest in it.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Women's Money Week - Budgeting

    This post is part of the Women's week series to educate women on personal finance. Today's topic is Budgeting.

    I don't know many people that actually like budgeting, except for a few crazies like myself. Budgeting is an essential key to building wealth. You must know how much you're getting paid and how much you're spending. A budget is just telling your money where it's going to go, versus your money telling you where it's going. There are so many distractions out there to take your money away from you. No matter where you look there is a sale going on to inspire you to spend. I will tell you that it's easier to avoid the temptation when you've done a budget.

    Budget recommendations:
    • Don't beat yourself up after the first month, it will take you a few months to get your budget right.
    • Do a budget according to you and your family's situation, not according to what others spend on groceries, travel and gas.
    • Do a budget at least every month. I do a bi-weekly budget, usually a couple days before I get paid. But remember I actually like doing budgets. Monthly is fine.
    • If you're married, do a budget with your spouse.
    • Give a name to every dollar before your pay arrives. E.g. $1200 mortgage payment, $300 grocery, $200 savings, $100 fun money.
    • Write down everything you spend money on for one month, when the month ends, review your list. Look for any purchases that you can eliminate. Your eliminated purchases can be used for debt repayment or savings.
    • Do not rely on bonuses, raises or tax returns because they may not come. Budget for them when you are certain you'll be getting it.
    • Accurately list your income and expenses. Do not round these numbers up. It's important for you to know the exact number for your income and expenses or your budget will not work.
    • Don't forget to budget for expenses that you don't pay monthly, such as life insurance, income and property taxes
    • Keep it simple by customizing an excel worksheet. Start with categories that are common to you, then you can add more categories as you get more comfortable with your budget
    Here is a  sample budget for you to get some ideas on how to customize yours.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Women's Money Week - 5 Tips To Make Saving and Investing Easier

    This post is part of the Women's week series to educate women on personal finance. Today's topic is Saving and Investing. Check out my 5 tips to saving and investing.

    1. Educate yourself
    Don't solely depend on a financial planner to manage your money, be in control of your money and know exactly where it's going. I recently fired my financial planner because I was making more money on my investments that I was managing myself, then I was on my investments that she was managing. Read investment books,(any of Warren Buffet books are great reads) learn about different saving accounts,(premium savings accounts, TFSA's etc.) RRSP's, Mutual Funds and GIC's.

    2. Start small
    You may be thinking you don't have enough money to save, especially if you keep hearing people say they are saving 10, 15 or 20% of their pay. You don't have to start that high. Save what you can because every little bit counts. If you could only afford to save $10 every pay, save $10. This is really about your behavior, not the amount. If you could get into the habit of saving $10, it will be that much easier for you to save $100 or even $1000 per pay paycheck.

    3. Separate your checking and your savings account
    Using your checking account to save is probably not the best idea. Have a separate account that is strictly for savings. This will help to track the amount your saving over time and it will help to keep you more organized with your savings.

    4. Make it automatic
    Set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account to your savings account. You can set up withdrawals weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. I would suggest setting the frequency of your automatic withdrawls to match your pay check. If it automatically comes out, you don't have to remember to transfer money to your savings account, you can just set it up and forget about it.

    5. Take advantage of any stock options or RRSP matching option your company offers
    If your company is giving you free investment options, take advantage of it! Some companies offer stock options where they may match up to 3-6%, or they may have matching RRSP options. Find out what your options are and start investing TODAY!

    Suggested websites for investing

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Women's Money Week - Relationships and Money

    This post is part of the women's week series to educate women on personal finance. Today's topic is Relationships and Money.

    This is such a great topic to discuss considering money is the number one reason for divorce. Talking about money can be such a touchy subject, especially with a loved one. Let's be honest, nobody wants to tell someone they're dating that they've declared bankruptcy twice, their vehicle was just repossessed, they're late on their child support payments and their home is about to be foreclosed on. I'm being a bit extreme here, but these things happen to people daily.

    As embarrassing as it may be to disclose all your baggage to a loved one, it would be much more embarrassing when they find out on their own. I am a firm believer in whatever is in the dark will eventually make its way to the light. So just tell the truth! Besides we all have baggage of some sort. For some it may be financial, for others it may be insecurities, trust issues or family issues. Whatever it is, transparency is the best way to go. I probably wouldn't talk about these issues on the first or second date, but if you're at the point in your relationship where you're discussing marriage, then there shouldn't be any secrets.

    I was listening to a relationship expert some months ago and she said you should exchange credit bureau's with your partner before marriage. I never thought about that before hearing this, but I think it's a wonderful idea. This helps to lay it all on the table. I say both Equifax and Transunion credit bureaus should be exchanged because not all creditors report to both bureaus.

    Here are some money tips that have worked for many married couples:
    • Set short term and long term financial goals
    • Do a monthly budget with your spouse
    • Try to budget some fun money every month, so you both have your own personal money to spend
    • Decide that you won't spend more than a certain amount without discussing it with your spouse first. Some couples use $100 while others use $1000. This is completely up to you
    • Check both credit bureau's at least once a year

    What are some tips that you use?

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Women's Money Week - Entrepreneurship and Making Money

    I am so excited to be a part of women's week. Today is the first day of Women's money week, where we will be educating women on personal finance. Today's topic is entrepreneurship and making money.

    Check out these great statistics on women and money
    • According to Vanguard women save more, trade less, and diversify better than men. Men tend to overestimate their investing abilities 
    • According to the small business advice group, women account for more than 1/3 of all people involved in  entrepreneurial activity
    • According to the  U.S Census Bureau women entrepreneurs in 2007 had a major impact on the U.S economy, employing more than 7.6 million workers
    Most women that I know are constantly looking for ways to make more money.  Whether it's looking for a side hustle, growing their existing business or just looking for a part-time job. It's a part of our make up as women to always try to make more money.

    Here are a few resources if you're just getting started in the world of entrepreneurship.
    • The Government of Canada provides a lot of information for entrepreneurs just getting started, such as business permits and licensing, financing options, growth and innovation ideas, grants, tax information, hiring and managing staff, market research and statistics, marketing and sales and a whole lot of other information
    • The  Canadian Women's Business Network provides resources to assist you in developing your business
    • Women Business Owners of Canada is a not-for-profit association that represents the interests of women entrepreneurs across Canada

    What are you doing to try to make more money? Or are you thinking about starting a business?

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Fraud Prevention!

    March is fraud prevention month! So it's very important that we all recognize it, report it, and ultimately stop it. Did you know that offences related to fraud are approximately $10 - $30 billion per year in Canada? That's right up there with drug related offenses. Fraud is really taking over and more and more people are becoming victims of fraud.

    The top two scams of the week are the Anti-Virus Scam and the Emergency or Grandparent Scam.

    Anti-Virus Scam
    I am sure you've come across this scam. This is where you get a warning that your computer has been infected by a virus and you need to take action NOW! I actually received a phone call last week telling me the same thing. I knew it was fraud when they couldn't even tell me what kind of computer I had. These fraudsters cold call as many people they can and tell them they have a virus on their computer and if they would like the virus to be removed. If you say yes, they will offer to install software to get rid of the virus, or they may ask for remote access to your computer to fix it. They will then ask for your credit card number for payment for the software or for repair service. Once you allow these fraudsters access to your computer, they obtain your user names, bank account information, passwords and other personal information about you. Never give remote access to your computer to anyone, and never give your credit card number to a stranger.

    Here are some additional indicators from the anti-fraud center site that you should be aware of:
    • Unsolicited calls representing a computer repair‐company
    • Urgent solicitation indicating there is a threat to your computer
    • Credit card charges in amounts ranging from $35.00 to $469.00
    • Credit card charges from foreign banks

    Emergency or Grandparent Scam
    I remember hearing about this scam many years ago. Unfortunately it is still happening. A grandparent receives a call from a fraudster pretending to be their grandchild. The fraudster tells the grandparent a sob story indicating that he needs help. They use a variety of different stories, from needing bail money, to being in a car accident and needing taxi money to get home, to being in a foreign country and needing money to get home. Whatever story they tell the grandparent revolves around the grandparent sending the fraudster money immediately. The fraudster always asks the grandparent not to tell any family members because they are embarrassed. The grandparent sends the money, because what grandparent do you know wants to see their grandchild suffer. None! Of course the grandparent doesn't verify the truth until it's too late. They've already been scammed.

    Please pass this information on to your loved ones. Especially your grandparents and your parents that have grandchildren.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Do You Increase Your Expenses When You Get A Raise?

    What do you do with that extra money after a raise or a promotion? It can be so tempting to buy a new car, TV, furniture, or go on a shopping spree. I am not saying you shouldn't treat yourself after a raise or a promotion, but I do think it's more important to delay gratification by using that extra money to pay down debt and increase your savings before going on a shopping spree.

    I remember when I use to work at the bank and I would come across customers who would apply for a mortgage based on the raise that was yet to come. These people were wanting to spend money they didn't even get yet. Why on earth would you want to do that to yourself. I mean seriously, that kind of pressure is just crazy. Why wouldn't they want to put that money into a savings account to have a cushion just in case an emergency happens. What's even more crazy is I would come across customers who would do this kind of thing being the only bread winner. Huh! So you know what would happen if that person's hours at work were to get reduced or if they got laid off. That family would be screwed.

    Getting out of debt and investing is the best thing you could do for yourself and your family when more money comes your way. There are so many unpredictable things that can happen in life. Imagine having $500,000 worth of debt, minimal or no savings and finding out that you're about to have a baby, or that your spouse has an illness causing him to no longer be able to work, or if you or both you and your spouse loose your job. The truth is these things happen to people every single day.

    Now imagine if one of these things happened and you had no debt and $500,000 in savings. Your situation wouldn't look as bad at all, in fact your stress level would be reduced significantly. Dealing with money problems on top of an unexpected pregnancy or a job loss can be devastating. Why even consider putting yourself through that. The more you plan for those emergencies, the less of an emergency it actually is.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    Why I've Shopped At The Same Store Since I Was 16.

    I'll never forget the first time I started working and making my own money. It felt great to not have to ask my mother to buy a pair of shoes. I was making my own money, which meant I could spend it however I wanted to. Well not exactly, my mother still had a say in what I could and could not buy, but you know what I mean!

    One my favorite stores when I was a teenager was a store called Stiches. Stiches is a clothing store for both women and men. They sold exactly what I wanted as a teenager. Winter coats, jeans, sweaters, tank tops, skirts and shorts. All this at a cheap price. It was after my first trip to Stiches that one of my friends started calling me cheap. I didn't really think I was cheap back then. I was just buying what I could afford and Stiches fit the bill! Most of the clothes I owned as a teenager were from Stiches.

    As I got older and started working in Corporate Canada I knew I would have to expand my wardrobe a little by purchasing business attire. Stiches doesn't sell suits, or blouses or else you know I would've wore their suits. Even though I couldn't buy my work clothes at Stiches, I still shopped their for jeans and work out clothes. This is when more friends and my family started calling me cheap. By this time, I was in my twenties and still shopping at Stiches. My friends were constantly asking me why I don't shop at better stores. I would tell them that Stiches was cheap and had what I wanted.

    Now that I am 32 and still shop at Stiches, my friends and family pretty much have accepted me for who I am. They know I am cheap and don't bother wasting their breath calling me cheap. Except for the odd occasion! Luckily for me I still fit into their tank tops, sweat pants and jeans. I have had work out clothes for years that I have purchased at Stiches and I still wear them today. Don't get me wrong I know that stores like Nike and Lululemon sell really nice work out clothes and the quality is great. But I don't go to the gym to show off my latest work out gear, and besides have you seen the price of a Lululemon tank top? Well if you haven't, one tank top is $52 + tax. Let me repeat that, $52 + tax. I get a headache just thinking about paying that much for a tank top. I paid $2.50 for a tank top the other day at a Stiches outlet store. I paid $49.50 less than someone else who actually bought one of those tank tops. There's a lot I could do with $49.50. Like I said earlier, I have tank tops and sweat pants from Stiches that I've had for at least six years, maybe even longer and they still fit and look fine to me.

    Although my income is much higher now than it was when I was sixteen, I just don't see the need to shop at more expensive stores for certain things. I am a firm believer in keeping my expenses as low as possible. I really try not to increase my expenses just because my income increases. That is what helped me to get rid of my mortgage. Any extra money that I would get from bonuses to promotions at work would go towards paying down my mortgage.

    What about you, what stores have you been shopping at since you were a teenager?

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

    I just love this article I found over at Money Sense on stepping outside of your comfort zone. Fear is really something! It can either prevent you from doing something or propell you in the right direction. It really is a choice!

    I love that feeling of fear that comes upon me when I am about to try something I have never tried before. I remember the very frst time I did a presentation in front of a group of people. I was soooooo scared, arm pits sweating and everything. I had an opportunity to back out just before I went on, but I knew that was my moment and I had to walk into my fear. Of course when I was finshed, I said to myself "that wasn't bad at all." That is one of the biggest misconceptions of stepping outside of your comfort zone. It always seems life threatening before you do it, and after you feel so much better for doing it. I have had so many of these experiences that I've learned just to do it scared. I mean really what's the worst that can happen?

    Stepping outside of your comfort zone doesn't have to be anything big. It could be something as simple as taking another route to work. If you've been taking the same route for the past 10 years, why not try another route. There are a ton of stuff you can do that you may have never done before. Bake a cake, take a homeless person to lunch, be a big brother or big sister, start up a conversation with a complete stranger, (I've done this, you could change someone's life by doing this) take a trip alone, book a hotel and just have a night out, go to a movie or a concert by yourself, take a dance class, learn how to play an instrument, learn how to swim, buy a family in need some grocery. Okay that's all I can think of right now. I am sure you get the point.

    I just thought of one more thing I've heard some people do. Create a bucket list. This is a list of the things you wish to do before you leave this earth. Okay that's it!

    Stepping outside of your comfort zone stretches you as an individual. It gives you more confidence to take on greater challenges in life. It also helps you to live a more fulfilled life. I get bored very easily, so I am usually looking for challenges to stimulate my mind. This often forces me to step outside of my comfort zone.

    What have you done to step outside of your comfort zone?

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    The Better Business Bureau Released Its Top Scams For 2011

    I don't know why some people can't just find a job or create a job like the rest of us. Instead, some find joy in ripping people off and stealing their hard earned dollars. It just sickens me that people stoop to such a low to get what doesn't belong to them.

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently released their top scams for 2011. You know I just had to share some of them with you. Knowledge is power when it's implemented so here goes:

    Job Scam
    Online job application scams have been out there for a number of years. You see an add online for a job and you submit your resume. The recruiter then emails you to schedule a phone interview. Maybe a few days or so later you receive a job offer. To start the job, you are asked to provide your banking information for direct deposit of your paycheck. They may even ask for your Social Insurance Number. All this information is just to obtain your personal data, so they can steal your identity.

    Lottery Scam
    I am sure you received a lottery scam call. This is where you're at home enjoying your favorite TV show when your phone rings and the person on the other end of the phone is so excited because you just won  A LOT of money. But the catch is in order to claim the money you have to send them some money first. Really! This has scam written all over it! But it's amazing how many people fall for this.

    Sweepstakes Scam
    I don't know if you remember this one, but there was an email that went around claiming that Mark Zukerberg (Facebook founder) was giving away $1 million. If you got the email, you were the winner, apparently the email was said to be from Mark himself. These types of scams typically will use famous names to make the offer seem more real. Remember if it sounds to good to be true, IT IS!

    Identity Theft Scam
    So you're on vacation in your nice hotel, you decide to call it a night when at 3:00am the phone rings. You answer the phone with your eyes still closed wondering who the heck is waking you up at 3:00am. It's someone claiming to be the front desk clerk. She apologizes profusely for waking you up and then proceeds to explain that the hotel computer has crashed, and they need your credit card number again or to make it sound more believable, they'll tell you the number they have must be wrong because it won't go through. By this time you just want to get off the phone and go back to bed. You give them your credit card number and go back to sleep. By the time you wake up in the morning, the crook has probably charged a trip to Australia on your dime.

    Cheque Cashing Scam
    This one is stooping pretty low, but then again all these scams take a certain type of loser to follow through. You post an ad on Craig's list because you're trying to get rid of your grandmothers old treasure chest. Someone actually sees it and wants to buy it. They send you a bad cheque for more than the chest is worth, and ask you to Western Union them the difference. When you deposit a cheque it takes a few days to clear, unlike wired money which is done right away. So now you've sent a stranger your hard earned money and you're still stuck with your grandmothers chest.

    I hope you have never been a victim of any of these scams. If you haven't please be aware. If you would like more information on other scams, please visit The Better Business Bureau Scam Source

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Furnishing An Entire House for $716.97!

    I found this great article over at Money Talk News on how Angella furnished her entire house for $716.97. Can you believe that? Wow! I had to share this because I know most people spend more than that on a mattress and a box spring! It's amazing what you find when you actually look and are patient.

    Angella wasn't concerned with buying things at garage sales or flea markets. Believe it or not you could get some good deals. I too purchase things at both places. Sometimes they sell the same things you can buy in a retail store.

    I am pretty cheap, so these tips really hit home for me. Asking people for furniture they are no longer using is not a bad idea. I have a friend who buys new furniture every couple of years. She has very expensive taste, so her furniture is quite nice. She often just throws the old furniture in the garbage. You may have a friend or two like mine. Don't be afraid to ask them for their old furniture!

    Check out Angella's story - How I Furnished My Entire House for $716.97

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    How Often Do You Check Your Bank Account?

    Do you check your bank account often? Or do you just wait for your monthly statement in the mail. Most banks, if not all provide online and telephone banking for their customers. This makes life so much easier because you can access your bank account 24/7.

    The reason why I ask this question is because fraud is so rampant in today's world, that it is vital that you check your bank account at least once a week in my opinion. I check my accounts daily. Now I am not saying you have to check your account as often as I do, but it never hurts to check it on a regular basis.

    There is a popular type of debit card fraud called skimming. Skimming is when your pin number and your debit card information is stolen without your knowledge. This happens more often than you may think. Skimming most often happens at gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants and taxi cabs. Check out this video on how scammers can skim your information.

    There was a huge debit card skimming ring that the Toronto Police busted last month. These individuals were responsible for over $250 million worth of debit card skimming. This is money that was stolen from people like you and I. These individuals were a bit more savvy than the average fraudster. There were 280 ATMs that were compromised in this bust, as well as some pay at the pump machines. I am really happy the police caught these crooks, but there are still more out there and we must protect ourselves.

    Here are some tips to protect yourself from debit card skimming:
    • Check your account online or though telephone banking frequently and report any unauthorized transactions
    • Use cash instead of a debit card
    • Cover your pin number and use your body to shield your pin number at ATM machines. There may be cameras watching you
    • If there are several ATM's and one or more are out of service, go somewhere else. This could be an attempt of the scammers to direct you to the ATM that has a skimming device on it.
    • Avoid using ATM's in high tourist areas. They are quite popular for skimmers
    • If your debit card is not returned after you hit cancel at the ATM. Contact your card issuer immediately to cancel your card

    Have you ever been a victim of skimming?

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Free Banking Services

    Do you have a bank account that is charging you a monthly fee? Are you paying $10, or maybe you're paying $20. That's $240 a year! Just on banking fees. I know I could do a lot of things with $240. Why pay banking fees when there are so many other options out there to eliminate these fees. If you work for a bank, you most likely are not paying any fees at all. Usually bank employees get free banking.

    But not everyone is lucky enough to work for a bank. Don't worry, there are other options. I've been banking with President's Choice for a number of years and I find them to be excellent. President's Choice is a virtual bank that offers no fee banking. You can open a chequing and a savings account for no charge at all and get unlimited transactions. Which means you can pay as many bills as you like, charge as many interact transactions as you like and make as many withdrawals as you like. I should also mention that cheques are free.

    Some other cool features that I like are:

    Direct Payroll Deposit
    You can have your pay cheques deposited directly into your PC account from your employer.

    Automatic Bill Payments
    This feature allows you to automatically pay a bill on a scheduled date. This is great, especially if you forget to pay your bills on time.

    Pre-authorized Bill Payments
    This is the opposite of automatic bill payments. This feature allows creditors to automatically debit the amount owing to them directly from your account. I don't recommend this option unless you have a fixed amount that you pay monthly. I've seen situations where companies have cleared out accounts.

    Personal Finance Manager
    If you manage your money by using Quicken or Microsoft Money, PC gives you access to download your account information into it for free.

    Monthly Statements
    You have access to your statement online, which you can print for no charge. Statements can be viewed for the past 13 months. PC does charge for mailed statements.

    Email Money Transfer
    This service allows you to transfer money from your PC account to a friend or a family member through email. There is a charge for this.

    President's Choice is a part of CIBC, so you can use any CIBC bank machine in Canada to do your banking. There are also PC bank machines at PC Pavilions which are located in Loblaws, Superstore, Fortino's, and some No Frills locations. There are some things you should be aware of. PC does not have any teller service. Money orders and drafts have to be ordered online or over the phone. If you need U.S funds, you can make a withdrawal at select CIBC bank machines. Look for the U.S funds symbol.

    Also, be aware of the fees that are charged for insufficient funds, overdraft protection, money orders and drafts. They may cost more with PC than with other banks.

    ING Direct is another virtual bank that offers free banking services. ING offers both chequing and saving accounts. Most people I know with an ING account have a savings account. It's a great account to use for an emergency fund. ING recently introduced their Thrive Chequing account, which is a no fee chequing account. With an ING account, you also have access to free email money transfers and mobile banking with their app. There aren't as many ING bank machines as you may be use to, but they are out there. ING also allows you to set up a bank account with another bank and link it to your ING account for convenient transfers.

    Are you banking for free, or do you pay a monthly fee?

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Tithe Or Become Rich?

    Tithing has been a controversial issue for decades! Why is it so hard for people to part from their money? I know for me it has been extremely hard. I am better now than I was 10 years ago, but I will admit that it's still not easy for me to just give away my money.

    Webster's definition of tithing is to pay or give a tenth part of especially for support of the church. In other words it's giving 10% of your income to your church. I grew up in church and for years I never gave 10%. I would usually give whatever pocket change I had. Although I knew giving was the right thing to do, it was just much easier to save it than give it away. Logically it makes sense to save more to have more.

    It wasn't until I started to read and understand how the wealthy live that started to change my mindset. Most wealthy people give a lot of money away. Some people don't necessarily call it tithing because tithing is a biblical term, but they donate to charity and call it charitable giving.

    What I noticed among wealthy people that give is that they are much happier and fulfilled. Which is ultimately the life we are all searching for. I'll never forget when I read Proverbs 28:22 that says, a stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him. As funny as that scripture sounds, it sure did wake me up. I started tithing right away! After I started tithing, I began to realize that giving is about changing your behavior. It began to change the way I look at money. As I said earlier I haven't perfected this part of my life. I currently give 10%, but I would like to give more in the future.

    I've heard some people ask if you should tithe your gross or net income. This is a decision that is up to you. I've decided to tithe my gross income because I also made a decision to save a portion of my gross income, so I thought it would only be fair to tithe from my gross versus my net.

    What are your thoughts on tithing?

    Sunday, February 19, 2012

    Are You Thinking About Going Back To School?

    Are you thinking about going back to school? Or are you currently in school and have no idea how you are going to pay for it?

    There are many ways to get the money for College or University without going into debt. When I was 18 years old I decided I wanted to go to College. I was working at the Bank of Montreal at the time. They had a tuition refund program that I took advantage of. Whatever percentage you worked, they would pay for your tuition. I worked part-time at the time, which worked out to be 50%. All I had to do was pass the course and they would refund my tuition and books. It was great to have the company I worked for, pay half of my tuition. In my last year in College I decided to work full time and go to College part time. That meant that I would be working 100%, so my full tuition would be paid. Although it took a bit longer to graduate, it was much better to have my full tuition paid versus half of it paid.

    What's great about working for a company that pays your tuition is that you are more likely to get a promotion because you are current with your knowledge. Plus the company is investing in you, so why wouldn't they want to promote you.

    After I graduated from College I got a promotion at BMO. I had less competition because I had three years of job experience at BMO and an education. Most people out of College only have an education and minimal or no job experience at all. I definitely think it's worth getting a job in your field of study prior to starting College or University. For this to happen, you will need some job experience prior to applying for a job in your field of study.

    I began working really early in life. My mom was all about being independent and not depending on anyone to take care of you. So I started working at twelve years old delivering newspapers and selling chocolates with my brother. Selling chocolates helped me develop my social skills. I took that experience and started doing telemarketing jobs at the age of sixteen. My telemarketing experience was what I needed to get into the bank. My first job at BMO was in customer service.

    After College I knew I needed more education, so I decided to go to University to obtain my bachelors degree. I was still working full time at BMO at the time, so they paid 100% of my tuition in University as well. I left BMO while obtaining my degree to pursue an opportunity with the Government. I negotiated with the Government that they would pay my tuition until I completed my bachelors degree. This deal was better than BMO because they paid my tuition upfront versus reimbursing me after I pass the course.

    There are several companies out there that will pay for you to go to school if it's job related, and if you commit to staying with the company for a number of years.

    Scholarships and Grants are also another way to pay for school. There are thousands of scholarships out there that go unclaimed each year. If you are interested in applying for scholarships, I would start by finding out which scholarships and grants are offered at the College or University you would like to attend. You can also check out the scholarship positions website for a variety of different scholarships.

    Applying for scholarships is a lot of work. But it is so worth not going into debt. I have a friend and a cousin who paid for their MBA's all on scholarship money. They applied for hundreds of scholarships each, but they both graduated and don't have any school debt.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Is Debt Controlling Your Life?

    When you see a pair of amazing shoes that would go perfectly with that dress in your closet, do you just have to buy it? I know, I know it's tempting. My first question to you would be, what are you even doing in the mall? Maybe you're window shopping or maybe you went to the mall for another reason and ended up in Nine West. Whatever the reason is, do you really need those shoes? More importantly, is that purchase going on your credit card? If so, are you telling me that you are going to borrow money from the bank to buy a pair of shoes that you may not even need? I can hear you saying, I'll pay it off within the month, so I don't pay any interest. According to Consumer Reports Magazine only 54% of consumers pay their credit card balance in full each month. Which means there is still a large group of consumers who carry balances.

    This is my take on credit card companies.
    Most credit card issuers are banks. Do you ever notice how large and nice the office buildings are of these banks that offer you credit cards. Have you ever thought of how and where they get the money to buy or lease these beautiful 50 storey buildings? I am sure you know where I am going here. They get the money from you. For every debt you have with one of these companies, they're receiving interest from you. That's what they use to run the bank. I haven't even addressed late payments and annual fees that banks charge to take more of your money away from you. According to a survey released by a national consumer credit counseling group, nearly 34 million Americans admitted they have been late making credit card payments, and about 18 million people say they've missed payments entirely. That's a staggering number of consumers that make late payments.

    I would like to challenge you this week to plan your purchases. If you need something in the mall, know exactly what you want to purchase before going to the mall. Go with a list, so you go shopping with a purpose. I wrote a previous blog on the importance of a list and the strategies store owners use to keep you in their stores. Please don't fall into their traps, I have fallen into them many times.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    92 Bank Closures In The U.S In 2011

    Is it me, or is it just crazy that 92 banks in the U.S have shut down in 2011 alone. This number is less than in 2010, where 157 banks were closed. However, that's still a large number of bank closures.

    What's extremely sad is the amount of individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of the closures. No job means mortgage payments aren't being paid, which of course ultimately leads to foreclosures. I never thought I would ever in my life time see such a catastrophe in the U.S economy.

    The bank closure trend seems to be continuing. At the time of this post, 9 banks have already been shut down in 2012. So what does that mean for you as a customer who had a bank account with one of these banks. If your bank was insured by The Federal Insurance Corporation (FDIC), then you are protected for your deposits up to $250,000. FDIC has a tool on their website, where you can find out if the account that you had with a bank that has been closed is fully insured or not. Here is the link.  Look for your bank from the drop down menu and then click go.

    Check out the table below from the FDIC website to see what qualifies for insurance.

    FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage Limits
    by account ownership category

    Single Accounts
    owned by one person
    $ 250,000 per owner
    Joint Accounts
    owned by two or more persons
    $ 250,000 per co-owner
    Certain Retirement Accounts
    includes IRAs
    $ 250,000 per owner
    Revocable Trust Accounts
    $ 250,000 per owner per beneficiary up to 5 beneficiaries (more coverage available with 6 or more beneficiaries subject to specific conditions and requirements)
    Corporation, Partnership and Unincorporated Association Accounts
    $ 250,000 per corporation, partnership or unincorporated association
    Irrevocable Trust Accounts
    $ 250,000 for the non-contingent, ascertainable interest of each beneficiary
    Employee Benefit Plan Accounts
    $ 250,000 for the non-contingent, ascertainable interest of each plan participant
    Government Accounts
    $ 250,000 per official custodian (more coverage available subject to specific conditions)

    You may not have been a victim of one of these failed banks, but might be wondering if your current bank is insured under FDIC. Check out this website to find out if your bank is insured under FDIC, or contact your bank to find out. 

    What is insured and what is not
    • FDIC insures checking accounts, which include money market deposit accounts. They also insure savings accounts and Certificates of Insurance.
    • FDIC does not insure mutual funds, annuities, stocks bonds and treasury securities.

    Were you a victim of a bank closure?