October 31, 2007, 7:00 am

RRSP Season Is Starting November 1st, Be Ready!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: RRSP

When I was a teenager, I used to work in a dollar store. I remember that Halloween was a big thing and that the 31st of October was definitely a big day in term of business. However, as early as November 1st, while we were taking off the Halloween stuffs, old ladies were asking: “Sorry young men, could you tell me where I can find your Christmas goods?”. Xmas, is that really what you have on mind in early November? I now work in the banking industry, and people are never asking for RRSP’s in early November.
Every year is the same, I am always surprised to realize that people wait until February 28th to contribute to their RRSP plan. It seems that they are trying to avoid this moment as they would do it for a dentist appointment. Well I can tell you, there is no bad point of having a solid retirement plan! As the RRSP season approaches, I will write several articles on this subject. You will be able to follow my posts throughout my RRSP Category on the left side of this blog.

A great time to analyse your overall situation

Beyond the RRSP contribution, this is also a great time of the year to meet with your banker or your financial consultant. The year is almost is November is just the right time to look at your finance before you hear about your end of year bonus or you get in the Christmas Royal Rumble. If you wait until January, chances are that your credit cards will be maxed out and you could not find enough free money to contribution into your retirement plan. You should fix goals from year to year and analyse your overall financial situation at this time of the year. Let fix your little spending habit before Xmas starts so you can get going with your investment program. Do not forget, pay yourself first!

Know what you invest in

I know that several people just say that “they invest into a RRSP“. However, you must be aware what your financial consultant did with your money over the past years. Investing into your RRSP grants you a tax benefit. You must know that most investment products are eligible for a RRSP contribution. Therefore, your are not buying a RRSP, you are buying investment products within a RRSP portfolio. It is really important that you are aware of what lies in this portfolio. Discuss different products and strategies with your consultant. If he is not able to explain his actions throughout the year or if he offer the same solution years after years, you must take your money and run!

Establish your strategy

Depending on your age, your tolerance to risk and your ability to understand complex financial product, you should establish a good investment strategy that will go along with your situation. Saving money on taxes is one thing, but investing this money correctly is another. You should never decide to invest into a RRSP only in regards to the tax benefit. RRSP’s should be used as a part of a whole financial strategy. Do not leave this strategy in the hand of your financial consultant without questioning. It is primordial that you understand what he is doing with your money. For those who are building their own portfolio, the RRSP season is a great moment to balance your portfolio and adjust your investment strategy. You can always refer yourself to an advisor for specific questions or to a consultant for tax advices.

So tomorrow it is November 1st. Make sure to call your banker if you need a RRSP loan and to establish how much you should put into this RRSP this year. You will be happy to take care of this earlier than later once you will retire!!

Speaking of a scary thing, I just created the Primerica Series Category in my blog. You can read my four post on this “Primerica Business Opportunity” right here.

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October 30, 2007, 7:00 am

My Public Declaration

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Career,Miscellaneous,Personal Finance

speaker A great blog, Brip Blap, tagged me in order to get me to commit to something in public. The idea is pretty simple; Brip Blap is asking that I reveal a personal goal and that I commit on my blog what I will actually do in order to achieve my goal. As I just came from my business trip, I thought it would be a good idea to start writing on my blog (all post from last week were time stamped to be shown along the week) with some positive thinking.
Do having a baby and going on a business trip have something in common? At first glance, you might say that I am still lagging from my last flight. However, I was able to find something that binds both events; in both situation, I was could not find the time (and the will!) to work out. In addition to that, I ate a lot of bad stuff during both periods. Having a baby is dragging down your energy (and sleep!) level. Therefore, you are more inclined to eat out or order a pizza!

In regards to my routine during my business trip; it was pretty simple : Wake up with coffees full of sugar to make sure I am primed for my presentation. Do not eat much during the day because you want to get as much as exposure as possible. Then, you finish with a big fat meal (sometimes they are fancy on top of that!) with a lot of wine and beers to relax. I must confess that having alcohol after a hard day of PR is more than relaxing; it is opening the door to heaven!

So without anymore futile details, I will commit myself to work-out at least three times a week and reduce my monthly budget for eating out. Whoa, that sounds like too much already! Honestly, before we had Amy, I was working-out two to three times a week. However, I have never committed to reduce the junk food in my eating habits. I think that both resolutions will help me out to be fit and also to keep my budget fit.

By reducing my monthly budget for eating out by $25, I am cutting off a least one outside lunch per month. That means less French fries in my body and more money in my wallet! It should help me to get to my $1,500 project. In order to achieve this part of my commitment, I will also cut down on my morning coffee and take it at home instead of giving my money away to Starbucks! Even thought I hate to cut down on my life style to save more money, I believe that my body health is more important than my financial health. Dropping off burgers, pizza and our World Famous Poutine (you have to live in Quebec to know what a poutine is but oh God! it is damn good!) will certainly do some good for my belly.

Believe it or not, I strongly think that keeping my morning appointment with my treadmill will help me to improve my energy and my level of concentration while working. The more energy you spend lifting weight, the more it gives you back during your day. I know it does not make much sense but this is the way it works! I hope that I stick to my commitment and I will surely post updates on those commitments (even if I fail) in a few months. I would also like to tag a few bloggers to make such commitments :

Million Dollar Journey

The Digerati Life

Lazyman and Money

Stock Trading To Go

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October 29, 2007, 7:00 am

My Business Trip

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Career

As many of you know, I was away last week on a business trip. So I left last Sunday leaving my kids and my wife behind to meet a whole bunch of people that I never seen before. I had to do five cities in five days and take nine planes during this process. I can tell you, it was quite an experience! Business Trip
You are far away from home

One thing I learned quickly back there, is that you are not home. Things are being done differently on the West Coast than back in Montreal. As the old saying says : “when you are in Rome, you have to do as Romans”. I then decided to do more listening and less talking. When you know who you are talking to, it is much easier to get along with them. I also manage to get my clothes and other stuff in the right order. It is important to be well organized as you are never staying at the same place more than twenty four hours. At the first hotel, I almost forgot all my suits in the closet! Make sure you always double/triple check you room before you leave!

Make several contacts with your bosses

Every day, I was calling my manager to make sure everything was under control at the office and to know what was coming upfront. As you are completely disconnected from reality, it is important to make a connection with your colleagues. Than, you have to call your second boss… your wife 😉 Seriously, I really missed my wife and children and I found very important to call them on a daily basis. It was also easier for my son as he could talk to me before going to bed.

Manage your conversations

One thing you have to do in your business trip is to guide conversations where you want them to go. When you are expecting concerns or issues by the clients you are meeting with, address them upfront. Let them know that you are aware of their concerns and what you did or planning on doing in order to solve them. Once you open the subject, they will remain surprised and will appreciate your honesty. If you are in a big meeting and somebody brings a specific case that you are not aware of, don’t be afraid to offer your client an individual meeting after the presentation. This way, you will contain their animosity and you will be able to continue with your presentation.

Manage your expenses

I must admit that this is quite a challenge. People are taking you out in great restaurants but they may leave you the bills on the corner of the table. Be careful about the places you go and make clear who will pay upfront. You can always ask the waiter for separate bills at the beginning of the meal. It will clear up for any ambiguity. If you have to pay for everybody, go for breakfast or lunch. Suppers are the most expensive, especially if you include wine in the equation! Your company will appreciate that you do not blow up your expenses account!

Have fun

If you ever have the chance of going on a business trip, you will find it exhausting but you will also have a great opportunity to have fun. If you enjoy your trip, you will more likely make better contacts with your clients. Business relationships are all about feelings. If your clients remember the great night they had, they will become more inclined to deal with your company.

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October 27, 2007, 7:00 am

Financial Ramblings

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Financial Rambling

Well this was an interesting week. We started it with the banks debate initiated by Customers Revenge and I must say that I was quite satisfied with my series on The Primerica Paradox last week. I think I was able to bring up a complete picture of what this company really offers. On another note, next week is Halloween and I just can’t wait to trick or treat with my son! He turned two years this summer so this will be a lot of fun! He will either be a constructor guy or a vampire and I will be a pirate (I just love screaming ARRRHH!). pirate
Are Airmiles points worth it?

I do have an Airmiles card and it is also linked to my main credit cards. Over the years, I have accumulated so many points I could go to Shanghai three times! So I thought I would use some of them to visit my aunts in western Canada. I already bought stuff through their website and it was pretty easy. However, I had never request a flight with my points. First deception, we have to call to exchange our point (where is technology when we need it?). Second deception, they received so many calls that day that I could not even remain on hold. I had to either call back or go on their website for FAQ (I want a plane ticket, what’s wrong with you?). I called about two hours after and then was welcome… to remain on hold. After then digital options, and literally ten minutes on hold, I finally can speak with somebody (once I paused my nhl game on my Playstation that I started while I was waiting!). The guy tells me it’s only two ways flight (I only needed a one way) and that they only have one flight available (even if I was able to find eight flights on my computer). The main reason being is that they have limited places for Airmiles clients. While I still think Airmiles worth it, I learned my lesson; book your flight more than two weeks in advance!Good newsI had two good news recently. The first one is kind of odd. HR called and asked me if I recall what I did with my first pay cheque sent by mail back in 2003. It appears that my first pay cheque was not deposited into my bank account and that HR sent a real cheque that was never cashed in. They told me that they have to pull out some more researches but they will surely send me another cheque to compensate their mistake. Wohoo! Free money! The second good news was related to the Bank of Canada decision to leave the rates as is. As my HELOC is linked to prime rate, I was quite happy to see it stick at 6.25%. This is a good thing for my Smith Manoeuvre too!

The importance of your family

I recently had to leave my two kids and wife for a business trip. I had to spend nine days away from the main reason that keeps me alive; my family. We sometimes take for granted the most beautiful things in life. This is what I realized once more when I was in those stupid hotel rooms all by myself. I really learn a bunch of stuff from this trip but I will share my experience later on on this blog.

Carnival Picks

Boy, boy boy… one thing I can tell you is that having a business trip and doing a MBA at the same time is not the smartest idea of all. In result, I had to prioritize and contribute only to my favorite carnival knowing it was hosted by The Dough Roller, a blog that I really enjoy reading. Therefore, my top 3 remains withing those submissions. Enjoy!

#3 Use Halloween to teach kids money by Grad Money Matters. While I can’t use this trick on William as he is only 2, I will definitely keep in mind this post in a couple of years

#2 My “Success” Story by Canadian Dream. It is pretty long to read, so just copy and paste it into word, print it and read it while you are heading back home (if you don’t drive of course). I really enjoy great success stories!

#1 The myth of the parent that NEEDS to work by Brip Blap. What can I say? another great article by Brip Blap where I absolutely understand his wife’s decision to stay at home. I aim the same goal for next year throughout my $1500 project.

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October 26, 2007, 7:00 am

Should We Trust The Government?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Personal Finance

Depending on where you are living, government help through different program might become a very important part of your personal finance. However, we are always under the threat of seeing a law abolished. So here’s my question: “Should we include tax break and other financed program into our financial planning?”. As it is the case for many topic in personal finance, the answer is “it depends”. However, I prefer to count on them and I’ll explain why in this post. trust
We are talking about your moneyToo often, we tend to forget that the government represents (or try!) the population. In other words, we are the government. Believe it or not, laws are being voted in the best interest of the pollution… I mean the population! Okay… maybe I am a bit naive here. Let’s put it that way: if the government elects a program that you can benefit from, well take the money and run! Tax rebates and allocations should never be the main reason why you are modifying your personal finance. However, if you are about to clean up your financial mess, you are better off using some Mr. Tax Break to clean up your stuff. Since you should never take any decision based on government programs, it is normal that you budget it. In the end, you have very high chance to get your money back. This should count as “cool money” where you can use it for anything.

You should review your finance once a year

It is not rare to find blogs that are reviewing their personal net worth every month. I would suggest to perform this exercise at least once a year. If you do so, you will notice that most laws or programs do not change in a span of year. Remember that the government is a huge mammoth (yeah, like banks, but even bigger!). Before they change a program or a law, you will hear about it and have enough time to rearrange your finance for the next year. All it requires is to watch the news once in a while or to follow good finance blogs ;-). The help received from the government could help you out creating a safety net or accomplish bigger projects such as renovation faster than you think. You need to budget carefully and plan this money in advance.

Some laws are very stable

You have to go with the major tendencies. For example, governments need you to invest money in the market. They need to keep a certain liquidity so the economy can grow at a good pace. Therefore, they will generally propose laws that encourage investment such as tax refund on interest paid for leverage strategies. Another major tendency is related to our future. The Government runs on our taxes. If the population is too small, he will not be able to accomplish what he wants and support the elderly generation. Hence, he will create program that helps family such as child allocations, tax break or extra contribution to RESP (in Canada). Those sources of money might be alternated over the year but they are there to stay; they are part of our economy mechanic.

This is why I think we should count government’s help in our budget. Depending on where you live, there is always a way to get benefits from the programs in place. The real key is not to know if you should count on them or not but really how you can count on them.

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