September 30, 2010, 7:14 am

Future Shop Rant

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business,Credit Rating & Credit Bureau

 

It has been a while since I wrote my last rant. But this morning, I have a good one that I wanted to share with you. I find it very unfortunate because I usually like going to Future Shop. In fact, going to Future Shop feels like I was 10 and going to Toy ‘R’ Us (now I have to hide my joy when I enter with my kids ;-0 ). So here’s my Future Shop Rant Story:

It all started yesterday morning while I was comfortably installed in front of my computer for my blogging day. My wife comes to see me and says that the washing machine just died. Sad story, it was part of my life for a good 10 years. However, what is really sad is that I have to buy another one. This wasn’t the greatest news of all.

So after dinner, I go to Future Shop to buy another one. They had a great promotion on the Samsung (paying taxes, delivery, taking my old scrap for free, $200 gift card and they are offering to pay in 36 payments without interest… I’m in heaven).

So I first have to hear a 5 minutes babbling about how great the extended warranty is a scam…I mean valuable (did you know that it takes 9 to 10 hours at $50/hour to change de rubber on your frontal washing machine?… RIGHT!).

So I tell her “no thx”, she tells me “are you sure?” and I stand up and say “no” and replies with her eyes wide open “REALLY??”, and I answer “REALLY” and she end-ups with “so you are going to walk away with your  brand new washing machine without extended warranty?” and I reply a dry “yup”. End of the lengthy and useless conversation. So I was already a bit annoyed but I was happy to have a new set to be delivered quickly. Then, we moved to the customer service center since I didn’t have a Future Shop credit card (for the 36 payments option).

I had to spend a good 25 minutes in front of a lovely lady hanging on a phone to know if my card was approved or not. I was asking for a *huge* amount of $2,000, just enough to cover my expense. Well guess what? I got declined at Future Shop!

I was quite upset because:

#1 I had to waste 5 minutes arguing that I didn’t want the extended warranty.

#2 I had to wait 25 minutes watching a stupid movie preview in loop on the tv waiting for my credit card approval.

#3 I got declined at Future Shop for a stupid and small credit card; this is very insulting.

#4 When I returned to pay my washing machine (with my own Mastercard Platinum!), the girl made a mistake on the bill and was charging me $80 more.

I asked her to credit my card right away but she had to see her boss first… another 10 minutes waiting to get the approval from the sales director…

I had been annoyed by Future Shop the last time I’ve ordered a iPod Touch for one of our contest (over at The Dividend Guy Blog) because they made me call twice to confirm my order (and each time you have to wait a good 10 minutes on the line). But now, I have not only wasted almost an hour of my time, but I got declined for a stupid commercial credit card. It was a very insulting feeling (especially since I make more than enough to pay those stupid appliances). The worst part is that I couldn’t even know why I got declined. I supposed it’s because I wasn’t sure about my Social Insurance Number but getting my credit bureau nonetheless should have been more than sufficient to get an approval.

Anyway, I hope I’ll get my washing machine and dryer in a good order… if not, I’ll start to stink in the upcoming days!

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September 29, 2010, 7:55 am

What is Cool About Living in Quebec

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Personal Finance

One of our TFB readers, Ottawa Guy, asked me a few weeks ago what is the difference between living in Quebec and the rest of Canada. His main question was how can he cope with the high level of taxes in Quebec?

For those who don’t know, we are probably the most taxed province/state in North America. Therefore, most sane folks will think twice before moving to The Belle Province to start a new life here. Why would you bother with the ridiculous level of taxes when you can live in Ontario or Alberta? First, you can’t be a Leafs fan so we will forget about Toronto ;-). Now, let’s go with the reason why it is nice to live in Quebec:

$7 Daycare

We have an amazing program where kids aged between 6 months and 5 years old can go to Government controlled and sponsored daycare. They offer high quality daycares at only $7 per day. Plus, if you can’t find a place right away, private daycare costs are partially reimbursed by the government.

Parental leaves

The Quebec government sponsors parental leaves up to 1 year for the mother and 5 weeks for the father. How cool is that to be more than one month with your spouse to take care of the kids? I have benefitted from this program and I can tell how much smoother things go when your newborn arrives.

Cheap power

Depending on where you live, this could be of great interest to you. In Quebec, we have nationalized our hydro electricity power company. The whole province is powered with hydro electricity and it is really cheap. For example, I have a 3,600 square foot house and I pay about $200 per month for my power bill (including heat during winter).

Cheap properties

While the cost of living is similar, property costs is by far cheaper than any other province (compared to other big cities). You can have a very nice cottage with a garage for $300k in the Montreal suburbs. In my case, I preferred to move further from Montreal (80km away) in order to have a much bigger house and a lot more land. However, even living in Montreal is affordable when compared to Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary. Since salaries are about the same (slightly lower), you can easily afford a property in Quebec!

Montreal Canadiens!

All right, this is far from being a financial argument. But cheering the Habs at the Bell Center is an amazing feeling ;-).

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September 28, 2010, 5:00 am

Where Do You Find Creativity?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Alternative Income,Make Money Online

After 3 years of blogging each business day, I would have thought to be on the verge of selling my site and shifting to something else.  What else can I say after writing more than 1,000 posts on The Financial Blogger alone? In fact, I have probably written more than that since I author for other financial blogs as well… Where do I find my creativity?…. right here:

Reading is a must

When you read, you have plenty of time to think about something else. You can start from what you have read about and then explore a ton of other possibilities. I read other blogs, newspapers, readers’ comments; they are all a great source of inspiration. The key is to read what is written and to  understand what is not. Reading between the lines takes you to a whole different level of new possibilities when you are looking for more creativity.

Driving

I now drive 1 hour in the morning and another at the end of the day to get back home. My car is one of the places where I find several topics to write about. How come? Because I drive on the highway and leaves my brain to wander and wonder about whatever it wants. I follow the river of my thoughts until I feel it has gotten somewhere. This is where my ideas come from.

My job

Working in the financial industry brings me tons of topics. While I never talk specifically about my clients, they give me tons of ideas. I usually start with their questions and then, answer them in my articles. Questions from John Doe are the best as I have realized that most people wonder the same but never ask anybody ;-).

The best trick; always take notes

The problem with ideas is that they come and go. They show up for a split second in your mind before disappearing in the mist of your brain. You need to be smart and fast to catch all of them. Most people will start developing their idea once they have one. I simply take a note of it on my Blackberry (you should see the amount of email I send to myself!) and start on something else. An idea can be expressed in a few words even though you can create a whole series of post on it. The key is to seize it, not to develop it right away. I have a word document (that was on my lost USB key!) where I store all my ideas. When I am looking for something to write, I open it and pick a topic. I can then develop my initial ideas properly in a productive environment at an appropriate time.

Don’t be difficult

Another thing I have observed over time is that most people start analyzing and criticizing their own or others’ ideas. I think that we should all be in a constant brainstorming mode. No censures allowed. Just pure expression. This is how creativity is born and will reward you for your “laisser-faire”. I actually delete several ideas when I go back to my word document to find a topic. There are always ideas that sound good at first but I have nothing to say about it. On the other hand, there are ideas that didn’t motivate me when I wrote them down and I have created a series of 5 articles out of them. Never underestimate the power of an idea ;-).

Finally, creativity comes with a rested brain

My final piece of advice if you can’t find the solution to a problem or a topic to write about; have a good rest. You don’t have to go to sleep, but do something that requires minimal effort by your brain (gardening, watching tv, playing video games, playing a sport, golf is my favorite battery charger!, play with your kids, etc.). Your brain is like any other machine, it needs to be cooled down once in a while 😉

Image credit

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September 27, 2010, 9:54 am

The First Time Is Always The Worst

by: MD    Category: Miscellaneous

They all say that your first time is usually the worst time. This was no different for me at all. I have nothing to boast about from my first time. A few minutes and it was over. I was barely even involved– yes my first time investing was that lame!

Summer work in high school

I’ve always been a greedy child. The summer after grade 9 I decided to pick up a few jobs (cutting grass, soccer ref, and part-time at a grocery store) so that I could save up lots of money. I wasn’t sure why I wanted the money but I just did. So I started working long hours and saving my money.

A great idea…

My Dad has always been a day trader. He sits by the computer with the television on the business network in all of his spare time. After working hard for two months, I managed to save $1,500 (damn minimum wage!). I didn’t like to see this money just sitting in my regular banking account. So I asked my Dad if he could invest my money for me through his discount brokerage account. After watching a random investment program, I told him what stock I wanted to purchase, based on the recommendation of one of the “experts.” I did exactly zero research on the matter. I gave my Dad the money and he purchased the stock through his account. I never really followed up until I found out that the stock had doubled in price.

The money isn’t yours!

When the stock doubled I thought that I now had double my money. Well technically I could have if I decided to sell the stock. Essentially I had an asset that I could have sold for double my money. The trick here is that you must sell the stock at the double the price if you want to make double your money. You can’t simply hold onto the stock. I was too greedy to sell the stock. Even going against everyone that advised me to sell. After a few weeks the stock ended up going down and dipping below the original price that I paid.

Lessons learned

Of course with every failure comes a handful of lessons. This time was no different. I learned a few important lessons on stock investing:

  1. You must research the company. Whenever you decide to invest your hard earned money, you need to perform extensive research on the company that you plan on investing in. You can’t just listen to rumors or to what others tell you.
  2. Don’t be greedy. I learned the hard way that I shouldn’t be greedy. If your investment appreciates greatly and you’re happy with the return, just sell! You’ll lose your mind if you start thinking about how much more you could earn.

What happened with my money at the end of the day? The stock fell below the price I paid for it. When I hit grade 12 my Dad sold the stock for me and the money that was left was used to pay for my high school graduation trip. I’ve since gone on to make some decent returns on stocks while minimizing my losses. Can’t win them all. How was your first time investing? What lessons did you learn?

Other Money Maven’s first time:

Canadian Finance Blog says “I should have bought ETF’s

Monevator’s first time.

Img src: Jay d

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September 24, 2010, 6:57 am

Financial Ramblings 9/23

by: MD    Category: Financial Rambling

I have lived a true tragedy this morning; I went to the gym without my iPod! I guess that if this is the worst thing of my day, my life should be pretty cool 😉

I am all excited this morning since I just bought a new driver last night FT-9 from Callaway. I don’t know if they boost their simulator but I just can’t wait to see what this baby can bring in real action… golfing this Sunday!!!

I am also pretty happy since I have found a new VA… didn’t hire him from Odesk, I went through my contacts… he’s not cheap but pretty darn effective! I rather pay more and have something in return 😉

One last point before I go with the links; check out my newsletter as I will be giving a iPad pretty soon…. I am not telling you more today, but I am preparing a huge contest (including a iPad)… To get your first entry to this contest, you need to sign up for my newsletter :

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Ramblings are here:

1. 6 reasons for not reinvesting dividends @ Money Smarts Blog.

2. Break Out of Your Personal Finance Slump @ Debt Free Adventure.

3. 3 Simple Ways to Invest $500 Online @ Money Smart Life.

4. Is The Recession Really Over @ The Digerati Life.

5. Build America Bonds Bounce @ Good Financial Cents.

6. The Different Faces of The Variable Interest Rate @ PT Money.

7. 5 Easy Credit Score Tips @ DINKs Finance.

8. Negatives of Property Management Firms @ Passive Income Now.

9. What Happens When You Fall In Love With a Dividend Stock? @ TDGB.

10. Should You Start a Side Business In College? @ Green Panda Treehouse.

11. Rollover to 401K @ Wealth Pilgrim.

12. The Ins and Outs of RESPs @ Canadian Finance Blog.

13. Do You Fall For An Example Not Related To You? @ Thicken My Wallet.

14. Inflation Strategies For Biflation @ Balance Junkie.

15. Sell Your Crap– Turn Clutter Into Cash @ Man Vs Debt.

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