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Special Drawing Right

Special Drawing Right.

An artificial currency unit based upon several national currencies. The Special Drawing Right serves as the official monetary unit of several international organizations including the International Monetary Fund, and acts as a supplemental reserve for national banking systems. For members of the IMF, the Special Drawing Rights can be used to settle trade balances between countries and to repay the IMF.

An IMF member country has to supply its own currency to another member country in exchange for SDRs, unless that country already holds a certain specified amount of SDRs.



The ontario government is posting some hst tax information in order to provide more facts on the hst in ontario. Be sure to take a look in order to learn more about the hst.
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Money saving travel ideas

When you hit the road for your summer vacation this year then keep a few items in mind:

Reward points credit cards - perhaps now is the time to redeem for free groceries, free gas or even free airline tickets
Banking overdraft - don't forget about timezones and your scheduled payments. Banking overdraft can keep you from paying penalty fees
Cruise control - save on gas mileage

What tips do you have?
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Ecotax in ontario

Maybe these are some of the hard facts that influenced dalton mcguinty and the liberals to pass the ecotax. The waste and consumption record does not look good.

Do a search to find the actual energy spent worlwide each time google performs a search. The footprint is huge. You'll be amazed.

Waste Facts∙         Canadians purchase over 150 million batteries every year. Over 90% of these batteries are single-use batteries. (Environmental Choice Program, 1996)∙         More than 140,000 tonnes of computer equipment, phones, televisions, stereos, and small home appliances accumulate in Canadian landfills each year. That's equivalent to the weight of about 28,000 adult African elephants or enough uncrushed electronic waste to fill up the Toronto Skydome every 15 years. (Environment Canada, 2003)∙         An estimated 4,750 tonnes of lead is contained in the personal computers and televisions disposed of each year in Canada. (Environment Canada, 2003)∙         Y early disposal figures for personal computers alone will contain an estimated 4.5 tonnes of cadmium and 1.1 tonnes of mercury. (Environment Canada, 2003)∙         Electronics contain valuable resources such as ferrous metals, aluminium, and copper, however most electronics are currently sent to landfill. In 1999, it was estimated that disposed personal computers alone contained 4,400 tonnes of ferrous metal, 3,050 tonnes of aluminium and 1,500 tonnes of copper. (Environment Canada, 2003)∙         An estimated eight million tonnes of hazardous waste are generated in Canada every year. (Greening Government, 2003)∙         Canadians produce more garbage per person than just about any other country in the world. The average person in Ontario generates a whole ton of trash a year. (Greening Government, 2003)∙         Each Canadian throws away about half a kilogram of packaging per day. (Greening Government, 2003)∙         Energy and material consumption in Canada is typically four to five times the world average. (SDInfo, 2002)∙         By the age of only six months, each Canadian has consumed as much resources as the average person in the developing world consumes in his or her lifetime. (RCO, 2000)∙         For each full garbage bag we take to the curb, the primary resource industry creates the equivalent of 71 full bags of waste. (RCO, 2000)∙         It is estimated that 13 billion pieces of direct mail are delivered in Canada each year - between 1,000 and 2,000 pieces per home. In 1989, approximately 270,000 tonnes of paper were consumed for direct mail purposes. This represents 4.5 million trees. (RCO, 2000) 
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Mortgage refinance deal mistakes

When applying for a mortgage refinance there are several areas that could ruin your refinancing mortgage deal. Don't let emotion dictate your mortgage refinance package.

Some of the things to avoid when refinancing a mortgage are:

* don't over estimate the value of your property. You may think that your property is a palace but to others it is a 3 bdrm home in need of some rona repairs.
* don't forget about any penalty fees that will occur if breaking your current mortgage. Legal fees, transfer, and ird need to be calculated into your refinance equation
* don't let a fixed rate be your only option
* a 1 year mortgage rate has been the historical winner
* if you do decide on a variable then remember that you should increase your monthly mortgage payment in order pay more on your mortgage principal

Those are the major mortgage refinancing tips that I encountered while looking for canada's best mortgage last month.

What tips do you have?
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7 tips for staying out of debt when unemployed

7 tips for staying out of debt when unemployed

While nothing will remove the sting of unemployment, there are still things you can do to weather job loss in a down economy. According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate hit 8.7 percent in August 2009. Although this is only a slight increase from July 2009, it is still a concern, especially since it's during tough economic times that unemployed people become consumed by debt.

Financial experts such as retired financial consultant and personal accountant Bill Christie suggest that people prepare for unexpected events such as unemployment well before they occur. "Folks should have at least three months of expenses saved up just in case. That way they are prepared for the initial blows of unexpected hard times, and won't turn to credit to pay regular bills."

But what can most of us, who don't prepare ahead of time, do? The following seven tips can help you cope in hard economic times, and help you stay out of debt while you're out of work.

1. Make a budget and stick to it. Figure out how much money you'll have to work with, and how much money you'll need for your bills. You aren't going to be able to maintain whatever lifestyle you had before you lost work, but you can still get by. And remember, you'll need to factor in such things as transportation, stamps and other things that you use while you're looking for work.

2. Create a food plan. To stay within your budget, create weekly menus where you can use items as leftovers, or even freeze food for future meals. Watch for grocery sales in your local newspaper, and be sure to buy nutritious foods that have a longer shelf life and fill you up (e.g., pastas, canned/frozen fruits and veggies, beans), rather than food that spoils easily, or is cheap but not healthy. See if you qualify for any sort of food assistance through community assistance programs or your E.I. office. Food is a basic necessity we all need to survive. Just because you are enduring tough times shouldn't mean you have to starve.

3. Take those odd jobs nobody thinks of. Remember those neighborhood jobs the teenagers did? Look for some of those jobs. Mow people's lawns, house/dog/babysit, do handy work or fix cars, if you have a talent for such things. You can also start a small business based on the talents you had at your last job, or try making a bit of pocket cash from that hobby you enjoy.

4. Don't be too proud to take a part-time job. Places like McDonald's, Subway, Wal-Mart and others are always hiring. It may not be the career job you're looking for, but it's an income to help pay the bills until you get another job in your field. Don't turn down jobs that aren't "up where you worked." It will feel better to be able to pay your bills than to let them pile up.

5. Don't use credit. Cut up those cards, take that line of credit off your bank card, and avoid using any other form of credit during unemployment. It's way too easy to put your mortgage or rent payment on your credit card. Sure, it'll be paid, but what about next month? Accumulating rent on your credit cards or line of credit will only create more stress. And when you do get a job, you'll be spending most of your earnings paying off what you stuck on credit instead of getting yourself back on your feet. Another tip Christie offers: "Call any of your creditors and ask them to put your account on hold or cancel it completely if you have a card with an annual fee. You may not use the cards at all, but you'll still be charged that fee and -- guess what -- that will accumulate interest, too. You don't want your credit reports messed up for a small charge."

6. Accept outside help. If people reach out to you offering food, meals or child care while you go to interviews, accept it. People who offer help do so because they genuinely want to help you in some way. We all need help during tough times, so don't turn any open hands away.

7. Seek counseling if you need it. A lot of us experience depression when we're out of work for a long time. Do what you can to stay positive, including seeking some sort of counseling. Most E.I. offices offer such services, and there are places in the community that will listen, too, including churches, drop-in centers or similar locations.

One of the most stressful things in our lives is to lose our livelihood. It can be scary to wonder where the money will come from to pull us through, but never turn to credit for solutions, as that will only create more problems. Stay positive, watch your spending, and seek whatever counseling you need to get by.
Published: September 9, 2009

Breaking down the various types of credit cards

Breaking down the various types of credit cards

In the early days of credit cards, things were simple and standard: Each issuer produced one card with one set of features. Today, credit cards come in multiple levels with ranging interest rates, fees and reward programs, so before you fill out an application, it's important to know which will best suit your financial situation and lifestyle.

The following is a brief description of the most common types of credit cards available.

Types of credit cards

Standard credit cards
Balance transfer credit cards
Low interest credit cards

Credit cards with rewards programs
Cash back credit cards
General reward points credit cards
Hotel/travel points credit cards
Retail reward credit cards
Gasoline points / rebates credit cards
Automobile manufacturer reward credit cards
Home improvement rewards credit cards

Airline miles / frequent flier credit cards
Airline-specific credit cards
Generic airline miles cards

Credit cards for bad credit
Secured credit cards
Prepaid debit cards

Specialty credit cards
Business credit cards
Student credit cards

Standard credit cards
These credit cards are the most common and are readily available from most banks and financial groups. They are unsecured, which means you do not have to put down a security deposit to prove the money can be repaid. The way the annual percentage rate is offered or calculated for these cards can vary. Here are two examples:

* Balance transfer credit cards
Balance transfer credit cards allow consumers to transfer a high interest credit card balance onto a credit card with a low interest rate. Typical in the market today are balance transfer credit cards with an introductory annual percentage rate (APR) of 0 percent, with that introductory or "teaser" rate lasting several months up to a year. The terms of balance transfer credit cards varies between offers, so be sure to thoroughly read the terms and conditions for each card.
* Low interest credit cards
Low interest credit cards offer either a low introductory APR that jumps to a higher rate after a certain period, or a single low fixed-rate APR. Low interest cards can be very useful when consumers need make a large purchase because it allows several months to a year to pay it off with very low or no interest. Before using a low interest card, read all the terms and conditions of the introductory rate so you will not be surprised by fees or accumulated interest.

Credit cards with rewards programs
Reward credit cards allow users to earn incentives for making purchases with their credit card. Points accumulate for each dollar charged on the card, and cardholders can redeem these points for various rewards. Reward cards usually require better-than-average credit for approval. There are seven major types (not including airline miles / frequent flier cards, which we'll discuss a bit later).

* Cash back credit cards
This type of credit card allows you to earn cash rewards for making purchases. The more the card is used, the more cash rewards you receive. Most cash back cards earn users around 1 percent of total purchases, excluding interest and finance charges. Some cards offer a higher cash back percentage with increased usage; others offer a higher cash back percentage at select merchants or for particular types of purchases. Since cash back programs are costly to credit card companies, some of these cards have an annual fee that can vary from $50 to $100. This type of card is best for people who are faithful about paying off their balances each month. If used appropriately, a cash back credit card can earn the cardholder a significant amount of money over time.
* General reward points credit cards
Reward credit cards are similar to cash back cards in that cardholders can accumulate points toward a reward structure, which is based on how much the card is used over time. General reward cards offer cardholders a variety of items to cash points in for: gift cards, electronics, hotel stays, plane tickets, jewelry, pet supplies and more. Some rewards can be attained for 1,500 points; others cost 200,000 points. Reward programs and promotional offers often change; thoroughly review a card's terms and conditions before applying. Some general reward credit cards come with an annual fee ranging from $50 to $100, although most have no annual fee. Reward cards are best for people who regularly pay off their balances each month. By minimizing their finance charges, individuals will reap greater benefits from the associated rewards credit card.
* Hotel or travel points credit cards
This is a genre of credit cards specific to hotels and travel. Some cards are co-branded with hotels. These credit cards allow you to earn points for all purchases, in addition to bonus points for dollars spent on stays at the respective hotel chain. You can redeem your points for free nights and upgrades at the hotel chain your card is co-branded with.Then there are broader hotel and travel cards, with which points can be redeemed for travel, theme park admission, stays at major hotel chains and more. Because these reward programs can be costly for credit card companies, many of these cards come with an annual fee. If you are not a frequent traveller, the annual fee may negate the benefit of the rewards earned. .
* Retail rewards credit cards
These credit cards are co-branded with a major retailer, such as Hudson's Bay Company or Sears Canada. Points are accumulated by making everyday purchases, though cardholders are awarded with double or triple points for making purchases from the co-branded retailer. Reward points must be redeemed for products or services from that specific retailer.
* Gas cards with points or rebates
Gas cards come in two species: general and brand-specific. General cards treat all gas companies equally, while brand-specific cards favor one gas company. If you tend to be loyal to a certain gas company, a brand-specific card may benefit you, but if you tend to just stop at whichever station is closest, you may be best with a general gas rebate card. Additionally, it's important to remember that a gas company may be very popular in one state, but uncommon or nonexistent in other states, making brand-specific credit cards less than ideal for long road trips.
* Automobile manufacturer rewards cards
Auto rewards cards allow consumers to earn points that can be redeemed toward the purchase of a new or used car, auto-related expenses or merchandise. This card is most beneficial to those looking to purchase a vehicle in the near future.
* Home improvement rewards credit cards
These credit cards allow consumers to earn reward points for all purchases, while earning extra points for home-related expenditures.

Airline mile / frequent flier credit cards
While certain general reward credit cards allow points to be redeemed for plane tickets among other things, there is a subset of reward cards specifically for air travel. This type of card allows consumers to earn airline mile credits whenever they make purchases. Some cards are co-branded with a specific airline, while some are generic and can be redeemed for tickets with a variety of airlines. Points can be redeemed for airline travel, much like frequent flier miles.

* Airline-specific credit cards
These cards are associated with one airline. Typically, the cardholder accumulates points from both making purchases with the card and by flying on the specified airline. These cards come with other perks -- for example, some allow you to earn double points when you use the card to purchase plane tickets with that airline.
* Generic airline miles cards
Credit cards like these allow you to redeem your reward points for air travel through any airline, travel agent or online travel site. This is a great option for people who aren't involved in a frequent flier program and aren't loyal to any particular airline. It allows you the flexibility of redeeming your miles for whichever airline best suits the needs of your trip. With a generic airline card, you gain points for every dollar spent on the card, but because it is not associated with a particular airline, you can't gain additional points by flying.

Each airline credit card is a bit different, so be sure to read the card's terms and conditions to find out how many miles you gain for every dollar spent. Other things to look for are how many miles you need before you qualify for a free plane ticket, if there is a cap on points that can be earned annually and whether or not unused airline miles expire. Some expire in five years while others do not expire at all. Airline mile reward programs can be costly for credit card companies, so many of these cards come with an annual fee. This type of reward program is beneficial for frequent travellers or those who want to use their card to plan vacations, but the associated fee might make them impractical for other cardholders.

Bad credit and/or credit repair cards
Credit can easily go from good to bad due to poor budgeting or simply by an overlap between jobs. If your credit score is less than satisfactory, it does not mean you cannot qualify for a credit card. There are several options available to those who have had bad credit in the past and for those who are currently trying to repair their credit.

Depending on your specific situation, debt consolidation or use of introductory APRs on balance transfers may be wise choices. If you still need credit or want to start repairing your credit by proof of action, there are several credit cards designed to help rebuild poor credit histories.

* Secured credit cards
Secured credit cards require collateral for approval. A security deposit of a predetermined amount is needed in order to secure the credit card, and the security deposit generally needs to be of equal or greater value than the credit amount. Collateral can come in the form of a car, boat, jewelry, stocks or anything else of monetary value. Secured credit cards are for people with either no credit or poor credit who are trying to build or rebuild their credit history.
Cards that help rebuild credit often come with low credit lines (such as $250) and additional fees, such as an application fee, may apply. Be sure to read over any terms and conditions for these add-on services before applying. If you use the card responsibly and pay all your bills on time, you can ask for a credit line increase down the road. The extra fees and low credit lines will be worth it if a secured credit card helps you get your overall credit back on track.
* Prepaid credit cards
Prepaid cards are not credit cards at all, but are used and accepted just like them. The advantages of prepaid cards is that there are no finance charges and they help you avoid debt since all purchases are paid for beforehand. With these cards you determine the credit line by transferring however much money you'd like to have available to spend to the card. This eliminates the risk of running up credit card debt and makes the budgeting process much easier.
Although most prepaid cards do not charge finance fees, other fees may apply, including monthly fees, startup or application fees, over-limit fees, ATM fees, reload fees and more. Be sure to thoroughly look over the terms and conditions for each specific card before applying.

Specialty credit cards
These types of cards are for consumers with unique needs for their credit use, such as business professionals and students. These credit card programs are designed specifically to meet the needs of those individuals.

* Business credit cards
These cards are available for business owners and executives and have many of the same features as traditional credit cards: low introductory rates, cash back programs and airline rewards. The difference is these cards come with many additional benefits and perks exclusively for those in the business world.
Some of these bonuses include: Business expenses kept separate from personal expenses; special business rewards and savings; expense management reports; additional cards for employees; and higher credit limits.
Every credit card is a bit different and promotional offers often change, so be sure to thoroughly look over the terms and conditions for each specific card before applying.
* Student credit cards
Many college students need a credit card, but they generally have little or no credit history, which makes it difficult to get approved for a traditional card. Student credit cards are specifically designed for those enrolled in accredited four-year colleges and universities to help them build a credit history from the ground up.
Compared to consumer credit cards, student credit cards are often scaled back somewhat in terms of rewards, features and other benefits, but they can still be a valuable commodity. If used wisely, a student can take the first step towards building a solid credit history with this type of credit card. Once they've proven financial responsibility, it will be much easier to qualify for reward cards and higher credit lines.

Updated: April 14, 2009

How travellers maximise rewards card deals

How travellers maximise rewards card deals

Canadians can repack their beach bags for a soggy spring tour of London, if a great deal is on the table. Travellers aren't as concerned about where they are going, what time of year it is or how they are getting there if it means saving money.

According to a recent TD Canada Trust Poll, 99 per cent of Canadians look for a deal when they are booking their vacation.

Travellers love to stretch their dollars with not only travel deals, but also by cashing in points for travel packages. Special rewards credit cards can be used for everyday purchases to collect points faster, which in turn can be cashed in for a flight, hotel or a travel package.

Sixty-seven per cent of travelling cardholders consciously collect extra travel rewards in advance of booking a trip. This means using the same card for collecting travel rewards for each and every purchase to reach a points goal.

Forty per cent of collectors have used or redeemed their rewards points for travel over the past year. Twenty-three per cent have felt that their travel rewards helped them to afford their trip. One in five (19 per cent) say the reason they took advantage of the travel points was because of the lagging economy.

According to the poll:

* 23 percent of Canadians said they would not travel if they were not able to get the deal they wanted. They would prefer to stay at home rather than paying full price.
* 60 per cent of travellers would consider changing the dates of their vacation if they could save on travel.
* 42 per cent would even consider changing their vacation destination to get a better deal.
* 62 per cent of Canadians are willing to plan far enough in advance to save money on early booking discounts.
* 55 per cent of travellers will avoid peak travel seasons when prices are overinflated due to demand.
* 54 per cent of Canadians will search for the best package deal before booking a trip, and 35 per cent of them will wait until the last minute to get vacation sell-off deals.

Season, mode of transportation and travel destination can all be switched as quickly as it takes to repack the swimsuit for a brolly in order for Canadians to maximize their spending power.

Written by Melanie Dixon.

More airlines moving from cash to plastic

More airlines moving from cash to plastic

The next time you wish to purchase a cocktail, earphones, a pillow or a blanket on an Air Canada flight, be prepared to pull out your plastic. As of May 1, Canada's largest carrier no longer accepts cash for on-board purchases. Following in the heels of American Airlines, which went cashless in February, duty-free items, food and alcoholic drinks now require a credit card.

Air Canada's plastic-only policy is intended to create greater convenience for passengers, particularly non-North Americans, many of whom don't wish to carry Canadian or U.S. currency for the sake of purchasing an in-flight pillow. What's more, by charging items to a credit card, Air Canada maintains that flight attendants won't have to struggle to make change, resulting in faster service. Not to mention a clearer pathway to the lavatory.

But jetsetters, beware. According to Chad Viminitz, a financial behaviour coach with RTR Advisory in Edmonton and author, no longer accepting cash for purchases "is usually not a benefit to the consumer. You've eliminated a very solid financial decision for the consumer to pay cash. You've taken that away from them."

The problem, continues Viminitz, is that "credit card companies know that you'll spend on average about 23 percent more than you will with cash. So at the end of the day, credit cards aren't necessarily more convenient when you're spending more than you expected."

But that's not the only risk of creating a cashless society in the sky. Identity theft strikes countless travelers year after year. "It's not people getting robbed for a couple hundred dollars while you're walking through the airport," says Viminitz. "It's about someone from another country stealing your information and now your credit card information is disseminated around the world." For this reason, Viminitz recommends notifying your credit card company of any travel plans so that atypical purchasing patterns can be flagged for further investigation. As for in-flight purchases, Air Canada stresses that all credit card payments are recorded using secure encrypted handheld devices.

Currently, the maximum credit card purchase allowed onboard Air Canada is $500. Only Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Japanese Credit Bureau cards will be accepted for duty-free purchases. If you don't have a credit card or your child age 12 to 17 is flying as an unaccompanied minor, you can pre-purchase onboard amenities online up to an hour before your flight. A code proving the purchase will appear on your boarding pass.
Published: May 19, 2010

Total Debt Service Ratio Formula

Total Debt Service Ratio Formula:
PITH1+ Other Debt / Borrower’s Gross Annual Income2

1PITH means principal, interest, property taxes and heat costs plus 50% of the condominium fees. For
chattel or leasehold loans, include 100% of site or ground rents.
250% of subject property gross rental income can be included. T+H for the property generating rental
income can be excluded. Visit www.cmhc.ca and search key words “TDS formula” for more information.
Flexibility provided for borrowers who have a strong history of managing credit. Total Debt
Service Ratio 42.01- 44%: Recommended minimum score of 680.

Taxes in july

Last night I helped someone do their taxes by using intuit's quicktax online tax package.

The online tax tool was able to provide his net return within only 15 minutes. It was a basic T4 and some deductions but it was still quite painless.

If you missed the filing deadline then don't be afraid of cra or even the irs and get your tax return filed today!
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Prime rate hike, eco tax cut by liberals, and drips

The bank of canada has announced another increase to the prime rate today. They raised the overnight rate target to 3/4 per cent.

The ontario liberals are now looking to cut the eco tax. Public outrage has won.

Dividend Reinvestment Plan. An investment plan offered by some corporations enabling shareholders to automatically reinvest cash dividends and capital gains distributions, thereby accumulating more stock without paying brokerage commissions. Many DRIPs also allow the investment of additional cash from the shareholder, known as an optional cash purchase. Unlike with a Direct Stock Purchase Plan, with a DRIP the investor must purchase the first share in the company through a brokerage. After that, the company will take whatever dividends it would normally send as a check and instead it will reinvest them to purchase more shares in the company for you, all without charging a commission. The only drawback is that the investor has no control over when his/her money from the dividends is used to purchase new stock in the company, which means he/she might be buying new shares at sub-optimal times. also called Dividend Reinvestment Program.
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National Post Story: What to expect from Bank of Canada

The speculation over Canada's prime rate can occur tonight. Tomorrow we'll find out if the rate will increase and if it has an impact on mortgage rates. Will this drive more people toward a fixed rate?

National Post

What to expect from Bank of Canada

Paul Vieira, Financial Post
Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney returns to the spotlight this week as he unveils the central banks latest interest-rate decision and economic outlook

Read more »

You received this email because your friend Jorge Paseda thought you would be interested in the article linked above.

© 2010 The National Post Company. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.


Home renovation planning

TV was once flooded with shows about finding an inexpensive property and turning it into a dream home or "flipping" it for a profit with just a little work here and there.

For those who are hoping to find such an opportunity with the growing number of foreclosures, experts say it is important in this market to know your handyman limitations.

"Rehabbing a house is nothing to take lightly," says Frank Montro, a Realtor with Oak Realty, Chicago.

"Often people get in over their head and walk away," he says.

Changing a faucet or changing a light switch can typically be handled, but that isn't the same as dealing with plumbing issues and rewiring a home.

If it is just cosmetic most people can handle the repairs, but when permits and regulations are involved it is best to leave the work to someone who knows the ins and outs of the system, Montro says, and contract a professional.

Preparing for the price tag

Sometimes you can be pennywise and pound foolish. Whether hiring a contractor or doing the work yourself, the price tags on rehabbing a property add up quickly. But keep in mind that it doesn't cost anything to get bids and it is acceptable to bring contractors into a property before you make an offer.

Paul Carney, owner of five affiliated Phoenix Rising companies and Fresh Horizon Realty of Chicago, says people really need to look at the work that needs to be done and get several bids. He says the bid amounts should be within 7 percent of one another.

A home inspection by a licensed professional can also provide a prospective buyer with a scope of work that needs to be done, but only for what is visible in the home.

On any major project tack on a significant amount of money not just for what you see, but what you don't see, Carney says.

Carney suggests walking the property with someone who really knows all the areas of construction before placing an offer and to be sure to walk the property again before closing because a lot of damage can be done between the offer and the closing dates.

Figuring out financing

Some people are able and willing to take their time on rehabbing a property, putting in sweat equity on the weekends and doing the work as funds are available. But, Carney says, you must keep in mind that special funding programs do not apply to someone looking to fix up a home themselves.

"They don't give money if your brother-in-law is going to be swinging the hammer," he says.

Charlie Eck, president of Lincoln Mortgage and Funding Corp. in Westmont, says the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a 203(k) program specific to acquisitions of property and repair funds for single-family properties. For more information, visit www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/203k/203kabou.cfm

"The good news is the process has sped up quite a bit, but it's still not without additional time," he says.

Eck says it is also possible to go to your local community bank for conventional loans or rehab loans.

A good lender, Eck says, will ask all the questions they hope the interested buyer has already asked himself about the home and the work necessary. This is to see if the potential buyer seeking the loan is prepared mentally to handle a rehab job, Eck says.

Finding a contractor

For those interested in buying a foreclosed home and having professionals do the fixing, Montro suggests checking with bankers for referrals to find a quality contractor.

He says it is important to hire a reputable contractor because too often he has heard of people getting burned with contractors walking away and leaving homeowners dangling.

Carney says it is important in the foreclosure market for people to do their homework and surround themselves with people they trust.

"Many professionals will tell you what you want to hear not what you have to hear," he says adding you need someone who will say 'this won't work' or 'this won't be worth it.'

If the idea is to buy a $140,000 condominium, but it requires another $40,000 of work and other units in the building are still selling for $140,000 it isn't a good investment, Carney says.

"I can't stress enough … you really need to be careful," Carney says.

Finding a reputable contractor who is available may also be a challenge, Carney says. The really talented and reputable contractors are busier now than they were at the height of the real estate boom, he says.

Eck says there are a lot of things to watch for when purchasing a foreclosure to fix up and suggests working with an experienced Realtor and real estate attorney to avoid pitfalls.

He says a reputable lender will also be looking for all the bases to be covered making sure the home meets pre-sale requirements.

"When you buy a foreclosure property it is not always the panacea people think it will be," Eck says.

This article was first published in the Chicago Tribune on June 18, 2010.


Mortgage Refinance Closing Costs

Looking for a new mortgage is only half of the battle when doing your personal finances.  Once you purchase the home you have to be ready for the closing costs.  There are general rule of thumb estimates that cover realtor fees, land transfer tax, lawyer fees, moving expenses, etc...  Here is a handy calculator from ING to help you predict your closing costs when refinancing a mortgage.

When buying a new home, there are expenses outside of your mortgage that you will need to include in your budget. To help you, we have created this closing cost checklist that you can use to keep track of your expenses.

Closing costs calculator

How is my credit report used

Credit information is gathered by credit reporting agencies, sometimes called credit bureaus. There are two major credit reporting agencies in Canada: Equifax Canada Inc., and TransUnion of Canada. Governed by provincial and federal laws, credit reporting agencies store and maintain credit information about individual Canadian consumers for use by members of the credit reporting agency. Members include banks, finance companies, auto leasing companies, credit card companies and retailers.

Credit grantors update individual credit reports regularly by providing information to credit reporting agencies about their customers' credit and payment activities. This ensures that credit reports remain up-to-date and as complete as possible. Other sources of the information contained in your credit report can include public records from courthouses across the country and collection agencies.


Credit card payment calculator added!


Use this calculator to determine how you can pay off your credit card debt.

Preventing credit card fraud

You can avoid credit card fraud if you know how to detect it. There are several different types of credit card fraud to avoid:

    * Card not present fraud: fraudsters can obtain your credit card details from such things as discarded receipts. They can then use this information to purchase high value or desirable goods online, by phone or mail order. For transactions online or by phone the retailer does not need to see the card (or require the PIN), hence the name "card not present fraud".
    * Identity theft/account takeover fraud: fraudsters can obtain your personal details from various sources including: discarded mail, intercepted post, phishing, vishing, smishing, spoofing, hoax calls, social networking websites, public records, hacking genuine websites and listening in on telephone calls. Once they have your personal details they can use this to access your account, order cards, change your address, complete a balance transfer and assume the identity of a genuine customer in order to purchase goods or obtain funds fraudulently.
    * Application fraud: this is another form of identity theft. In this case, the fraudster uses your personal details to apply for a brand new credit card or bank account rather than taking over an existing account. This often happens when the genuine customer has moved from their previous address.
    * Counterfeit fraud: this is the manufacture of a fake credit card using genuine card details. The card details are copied from the magnetic strip of the genuine card using a device called a skimmer. This information is then transferred to the magnetic strip on a fake credit card that can be used to purchase goods online or in countries where Chip & PIN has not yet been introduced.
    * Malware fraud: short for "malicious software", malware refers to software programs that are distributed in the form of innocent-looking popups, emails or spam but are designed to damage, capture information or do other unwanted actions to your computer. Common examples include viruses, worms, trojan horses, adware and spyware.

Be sure that you're protected.  I always lift and move the PIN machine when entering the PIN number for my credit card and debit cards.  You never know if there is a spy cam above!


Bp holdfast gulf of mexico

So bp has managed to stop the oil spill tonight by applying a relief valve that will act as a stop measure. Will the bp stock price take a sharp or modest incline tomorrow? If the pressure is too much and the sediment and remaining pipe can't take the additional pressure then I don't even want to think about the impact.
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Canada's best mortgage

What is your strategy to implement the best cash savings mortgage? Are you a prime rate watcher anticipating the prime rate hike on july 20 or are you a passive investor that wants a fixed rate?

One of the primary decisions to make when choosing a mortgage product is your cash flow. Does the mortgage provide cash back which helps you to correct your beacon score and reduce personal debt? Did you have a major bill for a dui lawyer in toronto or a divorce lawyer in montreal?

The analysys should note that a variable rate mortgage can be setup to pay the minimum monthly amount and your strategy can be to pay a 10 percent lump sum each year. Some products allow for a 20 percent lump sum payment. Whatever your mortgage buying strategy the prime rate decision on july 20 is key.
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Personal Household Finance Calculator


Use this calculator to evaluate your personal household finances.  Are you spending too much on your Mastercad, is your BMW too much of a car lease, or are you ordering too much sushi?

The calculator is a simple tool to get you back on your personal finance track.

CMHC Income Property Facts 2010

David can you let your readers take a look at this document? It has helped me to understand the restrictions with rental properties in Toronto.

A friend has sent you this CMHC link.

Your friend at this address: ali@dakar.com has sent you a link to a page on the CMHC Web site. To view the page, click the link below or copy and paste it into the address bar in your browser.
David, here is a great article on CMHC findings on mortgages. Don't forget to review your analysis on http://bicentre.blogspot.com.

Hst tax and taxis

A taxi driver had a sign showing that he was a pet taxi. I must say that I hadn't really thought of that service. I wonder if he had a direct route to petsmart or even the goldfish section of walmart.

The taxi fares in ottawa are being raised to counter the new hst fees that are charged with each ride. If the fees increase then I would be curious to know if the percentage of tips will be reduced.

Maybe mcguinty and the liberals will add the eco tax since it's an environmental related to carpooling in a dirty old buick sedan.

Would you be inclined to reduce your tip amount if the taxi service fee was to increase?
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An article from Businessweek.com

Businessweek Logo
David Dukes sent you a Businessweek.com article and the following message:
Will the variable mortgage rate go to 2.75% by July 20th?
Loonie Climbs First Week in Three on Stock Gains, Jobs Growth

Ndp and hst

So how will the ndp and andrea horwath eliminate the hst tax in ontario? You can't make that blank statement without a plan or at least a date to provide a plan.

How can the balance of the tax move from small businesses to large corporations? That requires a detailed plan and who will lose the current funds from the hst?

Do the ndp support moving the underground economy back to a level playing field? Time for lunch!
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Green eco tax in ontario

Were you aware of this new levy tax added to the ontario coffers? I found out about it only having hearing about mike fisher's wedding in tennesse.

Does it make sense to apply the eco tax if ontarions already have the recyclable blue bins?

Is it a double dip on ontario citizens after having the july 1st hst forced upon them?

How do you feel about the new eco tax? Pro or con?
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Car loans

Car loans for people with bad credit do exist on the market today, and if you are unfortunately in that situation where you've gone through a divorce or lost your job, or suffered any sort of economic downturn it is still good to know that you have the opportunity to get the new vehicle because there are currently some segments of the financial industry that still offer these type of loans which were generally considered high risk until now. So are you in the market currently for a new car? Have you gone through an adverse financial situation? If so, let's see if we can get you a new car.

When applying for a loan for a new car or a used car and you have lower than average credit the first thing that the financial institution is going to look for is your ability to repay that loan. If you currently have a job and are able to provide pay stubs that show a history of at least a few months then you'll more than likely be able to get a new car loan but be prepared to pay a little higher interest rate because of your low credit rating. Remember this is not only an opportunity to get a new vehicle but it is an opportunity to improve your credit rating by making all your payments on time and increasing your credit score.

So regardless of your financial situation today, once you obtain your new car loan and make a consistent effort to pay off on time you'll have achieved two goals. The first is that new car, and the second is improving your credit score.

Of course, all of this would be unnecessary if you took public tranist or car pooled!


A tween-ager's guide to surving St-Sauveur, Quebec


What is bridge financing?

I have been researching Bridge Financing and the various lenders seem to have the same conditions as below.  Be warned that if you don't stay with a current lender then you may have to incur additional fees.

A bridge loan is a temporary loan that facilitates closings when the purchase of a customer's new home closes before the sale of their current home. Bridge financing allows customers to borrow funds based on the net equity in their current home in situations where that equity is tied up until the closing date of their current home.
  • Calculation of net proceeds is the sale price less existing mortgage(s) balances less 7% of sale price for closing costs.
  • Maximum term is 45 days. Exceptions are permitted up to a maximum of 120 days, subject to a collateral second mortgage being registered on the property being sold.
  • The maximum bridge loan amount is the lesser of the downpayment required or the net equity in the property being sold to a maximum of 0,000. Bridge loans that exceed 0,000 must be secured by a collateral second mortgage on the property being sold.
  • Minimum bridge loan is ,000.
  • A fee of 0 is charged for all bridge loans, whether or not a collateral second mortgage is registered. No discharge fee is applicable in these cases.
  • Bridge loans are not permitted to facilitate on time closings as a result of land registry system delays in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In these cases, MCAP will permit closing to occur using GAP Insurance protection.
  • The completion date of the purchase must be prior to the completion date of the sale.
  • Copies of the Agreement of Purchase/Sale for both the existing property and the subject property being purchased must be obtained and the following confirmed:
    • That both Agreements of Purchase/Sale are binding contracts;
    • That all conditions have been removed; and
    • That the deposit on the existing residence/property has been received and is a minimum of 5% of the purchase price.
  • The following documents must be received before the new mortgage is advanced:
    • The Declaration and Direction;
    • The Promissory Note; and
    • The Assignment of Funds and Direction to Pay

Reading the mortgage fine print

Check out this Globe and Mail article "Reading the mortgage fine print" at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/reading-the-mortgage-fine-print/article1616538/?service=email.

Credit score

Many of us have heard the terms credit report and credit score being thrown around, but before one can really understand what a credit score represents, it is important to first understand what it is based on. Credit, by definition, is borrowed money used for purchases at a present time and to be paid back, with interest, at an established future time. The most common forms of credit include credit cards, personal loans, student loans, lines of credit and mortgages. It is very important to pay this back at the assigned date as your promptness in payment plays a big role in shaping your reliability in the eyes of potential creditors.
When creditors judge your reliability, what they are really doing is assessing the likelihood of you paying back your loan without delay or conflict. This is where your credit score comes in. It is one of the criteria used by creditors to determine if you are a suitable recipient of credit. However the credit score itself is not usually calculated by creditors, rather by the three national credit reporting agencies. Equifax, TransUnion and Northern Credit Bureaus are the three credit reporting agencies responsible for determining an individual?s credit score. It is best to obtain your credit score from each of the three credit reporting agencies as it may vary slightly between them due to different criteria.
The importance of your credit score is underlined by the fact that those individuals whose scores are seen as insufficient are labeled as high risk loan candidates. Such individuals are likely to be offered extremely high interest rates or in many cases they will be refused credit or mortgages all together. A credit refusal could be a crushing blow to a couple or family looking to purchase their first home, and it really underlines the importance of maintaining a prompt repaying practice. If bad decisions early in life have damaged your credit score, do not despair. Time and appropriate repaying practice can restore your credit score to acceptable levels.
"Many Canadians don't realize how important their credit reports and credit scores really are. Your credit score can determine whether you are eligible for everything from a credit card to a mortgage," says Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) spokesperson, Marie-France Lettre. "A low credit score can also have a big effect on your day-to-day life by increasing the overall cost of a loan or making it more difficult for you to rent an apartment or purchase a cell phone. The good news is, you can improve your credit score by paying your credit balance as quickly as possible - reimbursing a small amount on your balance, several times a month, not only helps to reduce the total amount of interest you pay, but it also shows that you are conscientious about paying back the money you have borrowed.?
Furthermore, if you reduce the number of credit cards you have or the number of credit card applications you make and keep your balance well below your credit limit, in time, you will be able to improve your credit score, adds Lettre.
Lettre offers the following suggestions for improving your credit score:
  • Always pay your bills on time.
  • Pay your bills in full by the due date. If you are unable to do this, pay the minimum required amount shown on your credit card statement
  • Pay your debts as quickly as possible
  • Do not go over the credit limit on your card and keep your balance below the limit
  • Reduce the number of credit applications you make. If too many potential lenders ask about your credit in a short time, it may lower your credit score
  • Make sure you have a credit history. You may have a low score because you do not have a record of owing money and paying it back. You can build a credit history by using a credit card


So I've been in a rush the last few days and haven't had the time to visit metro or loblaws for groceries. So this sadly means visiting 'jared' at subway. I've also had to use my debit card instead of credit because believe it or not but not all places accept visa credit cards. So here's some info on interac the business since those guys have been making money off of me this week.

Interac 2008 Research FactsIn a recent survey conducted by Toronto-based organization "The Strategic Counsel" on behalf of Interac Association, the majority of cardholders polled agreed with the following statement: "Interac gives you access to your money whenever you need it."Our 2008 Annual Benchmark Tracking Study reviewed Canadians' payment preferences and attitudes towards Interac services, including two key Interac services: Interac Direct Payment (IDP) and Interac Shared Cash Dispensing. Here are some highlights from the study based on 1,500 interviews conducted nation-wideInterac is for Everyone• 9 in 10 Canadian adults have a banking card and therefore have access to Interac products and services Interac Direct Payment is accepted at more places than ever• More than 406,000 merchants offer Interac Direct Payment, representing over 591,000 payment terminals Did you know?• In 2000, Interac Direct Payment surpassed cash as Canadians' preferred method of payment, and the service has continued to grow to 3.5 billion transactions in 2008• 15.9 million transactions were processed on December 23, 2008 - the busiest shopping day of the year - which is up ~ 2% from 15.6 million transactions on the peak day in December 2007• 1 in 2 Canadians say Interac Direct Payment is their favourite way to pay Easy access to your moneyInterac Shared Cash Dispensing was the first service offered by Interac Association and allows Canadians to withdraw cash from any Automated Banking Machine (ABM) in the country that displays the trusted Interac logo. Canadians have secure and reliable access to their cash 24 hours a day, seven days a week.Canadians have indicated their desire for convenient access to their cash - Automated Banking Machines can now be commonly found in non-traditional locations, everywhere from convenience stores, to gas stations to hockey rinks.• 95% of cardholders have used Automated Banking Machines, with 33% completing an Automated Banking Machine transaction more than once a week• 2 out of 3 cardholders used Interac Shared Cash Dispensing in 2008• There are over 55,000 Automated Banking Machines available across Canada
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Vacation money savings tip

When on the great canandian this summer for your family vacation it can be a good strategy to find the cheaper gas stations. For instance I was vacationing in st-sauveur but ikm goiing to the esso gas station about 45 minutes from st-sauveur in order to save about 5 cents per litre. Also, pack some snacks for the road to avoid the continual drice thru nightmare that is tim hortons.
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Investment condo hotel

The best part of having an investment property as a condo hotel is when you actually go yourself. Mont tremblant has its rustic charm but st-sauveur in quebec is only 45 minutes from monteal quebec and has some more of the comforts of home for those that can't leave their gucci bags at home.

We're hoping to go to the parc aquatique and enjoy their fun filled waterslides today. Tonight we'll return to the fully furnished condo hotel and cook up our own pasta and sauce. The units have a full stove and dishes so we don't have to worry about packing any cookware.

A leisure investment property can be on the speculative side but its a viable financial investment if you are comfortable with its volatility. Just be sure to fully analyze your cashflow and anticipated income.

This is where a juniour investor should seek professional advice.
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Fun in the sun

So what are your plans to beat the heat on this beautiful weekend? Did you have any money savings tips to treat your family to a low cost weekend?

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ATM fees

Fees are paid for using ATM services. These are collected by two sectors: the owner of the ATM and the network provider of the financial institution. Those fees collected by the owners of the ATMs are usually termed surcharge fees that can go as high as $3.00 per transaction.

In addition, some other banks impose more charges known as transaction fee. This is often interpreted as a penalty paid by the clients who have not used the ATM services.

As one continues to use the ATM, the minimal fees one pay accumulates into substantial amount, but there are ways to reduce such expense.

For one, you might want to join a bank that does not charge fees when you use ATMs of other banks. This will certainly cut the fees by at least fifty percent.  I personally, use President's Choice and CIBC to increase my opportunity to avoid ATM fees.  They allow you to use both services interchangeably and I've avoided numerous ATM fees that way.

Second, you might want to look for a bank that reimburses surcharge fees paid. This occurs when clients utilize the services of the ATMs found in distant places often in isolated places.

Third, why don't you start using credit cards that is accepted by most establishments today as payment? With credit cards, one does not need to carry cash to pay for the purchase one makes. If you don't use cash, you don't have to carry cash that often.  Once again, I use my CIBC Aerogold Visa for all of my purchases in order to collect and redeem Aeroplan points.  It's worked well for me...the only stickler could be the annual fee in relation to the cost of Air Canada flights.  I still think that I'm ahead.

Reduce the use of cash by using more of the credit card services. However, make sure you have adequate funds to pay off the purchases. Otherwise, you'll end up broke.

Finally, you should estimate your cash needs within a window of time so that you can lower the number of times you withdraw and reducing the transaction fees. Therefore, it is very important to consider the sum of cash you need for the time and how much you can afford to withdraw more so that you will not keep going back to the ATM.


Mr. Gold member buys Gold bullions

Why do people buy gold coins anyway? These gold coins are not used in circulations. So why bother? There must be some good reasons why these people bother investing substantial amounts of cash into these coins.
When asked why they purchase these coins. Some said that if you take a good look on the value of gold through the years, the value has remained stable unlike any other metal commodity. Gold prices even appreciated even faster than inflation providing safety to the investment to depreciation effects of inflation. This meant that the value of the investment is sure to grow in the future.

Others said that they were purchasing a collector's item that may be sold more than its gold value in public auctions all of over the world.  I personlly used to love collecting coins as a hobby.  I had a consistent series of the McPuffin dollars and I had some coins from Newfoundland dating back pre-Confederation days.

Once one is decided in buying, one is advised to be prudent on where one buys gold coins to avoid purchasing counterfeit gold coins from unscrupulous individuals selling fake coins.

This is why it is important to approach accredited individuals and/or institutions dealing with gold coins. They may come from the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation or the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

Once one has identified and selected a dealer, the next question would be how much gold one can afford to buy. This is a very important question because unlike other investments, selling gold coins take some time to sell, even more so when auctioned. Thus, it is important to know how much to buy before one goes to the dealing table.

Certainly, there is also the risk of paying more than what the gold is worth today. This is the reason why choosing the right dealer is important. Good dealers will only add minimal mark up to the true market value of the commodity so that they can easily sell the commodity immediately and maintain a good long term relationship with the buyer or seller.

These dealers make a living out of the transactions. This is the reason why they have to maintain a reasonable mark up and relationship with the client.

It always pays to do some work on the research side of the dealers.

Questrade's new tax free trading account

Why Questrade's tax free trading account is making investment noise.

Questrade took the government's tax-free savings account (TFSA). Amped it up a few decibels by adding our unique trading tools and services. And you get their no-fee tax-free TRADING account – an ideal opportunity to do more with your money.

With tax free savings accounts in their second year, you get an additional $5000 to invest and you can carry over any unused contribution room from the previous year. Open a Questrade tax-free TRADING account and see how much your TFSA can really grow.

Start with Questrade's unique trading services for a tax-free TRADING account:
  • No fees: no annual fee, no fee to open, no inactivity fees.
  • Only $1000 to open an account.
  • The lowest commissions: stock trades at 1¢ per share, $4.95 minimum / $9.95 maximum.
  • Gold bullion trading: real gold bought and sold on the U.S. spot market.
  • Hold and trade both U.S. and Canadian dollars in any registered account and pay no forced currency conversion fees.
And add all the benefits of a TFSA:
  • Invest up to $5,000 each year and every year.
  • Accumulate faster by never paying tax on your investment income, interest, dividends and capital gains.
  • Withdraw funds any time and for any purpose without paying any taxes.

Questrade Democratic Pricing - 1 cent per share, $4.95 min / $9.95 max

Bp on track?

So bp is saying that they may get the relief well in place by late august. Let's watch the stock price today to see if that positive press spikes the price on the stock exchange today.

I would be curious to see a chart showing the days until the relief is in place and the anticipated oil spill volume in the gulf. I'm sure it exists somewhere. Can someone forward it to me?
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Solar heating article

I tracked down a posting from Daniel D. Chiras that promoted their success with going green.  I like to think that I could live 'off the grid' however I don't in my daily life.  The province of Ontario has some good rebates on energy savings and during times of a heat wave you tend to think more of your environmental impact -- at least I do.

Here is a snippet of the article.

"We are lucky enough to own an earth-sheltered home with good winter passive solar heat gain.

We actually have heating and cooling we don’t have to buy from a public utility.

It’s actually free!

Free is good.

Our house was built in 1976. The long side of our house faces southwest and one short end faces southeast. One corner between the 2 sides points about magnetic due south.

The 2 northern sides, both northeast and northwest are sheltered some by earth in the form of a ground floor daylight basement and also by a windbreak of trees and bushes planted on a hill that rises higher than our house in the back yard.

Most of our trees are hardwoods. In the fall the leaves fall and we get lots of sun during the winter. We only have to heat the house a little on cloudy or snowy days.

But in summer the leaves come back and shade us from the summer sun and keep us cool without air conditioning.

We never pay to cool our house in summer. Free is GOOD! The only electricity we buy runs our appliances. We unplug anything with a built in timer at night.

Any house can be constructed like ours is. And more earth sheltering would keep you cool even in hot climates.

All of the characteristics our house has are easy to build in to any home and would not cost any more than any other house to build.

But it can get better, too.

Better insulation and systems are often part of building codes that did not exist when our house was built.

And keeping heat and cold out is part of what can make any house more energy efficient. Keeping the heat inside in winter and outside in summer means your house will always be cheaper to run over the lifetime of your house.

Windows also play a part in warming and cooling a home. We have double pane Andersen windows that are really good even though they are pretty old. We also have metal blinds that we use to help control both summer heat gain and winter heat loss.

Our garage is also a daylight basement space. In 14 cold winters with lows sometimes below zero we have never had a bottle of water or anything else freeze in either our garage or our house. The garage is unheated but never gets below freezing with the insulated steel door closed.

So earth sheltering and passive solar and passive cooling are saving us big money and keeping us comfortable, too."

Henson Trusts

Canada's pope of Henson trusts

by Christopher Guly
Google "Henson trust" and Ottawa trusts and estates lawyer Ken Pope's website is listed in the top five hits.
The 54-year-old sole practitioner has become an expert on the absolute discretionary trusts that emerged from the 1989 Ontario Court of Appeal decision in The Director of Income Maintenance Branch of the Ministry of Com mu nity and Social Services v. Henson.
The court upheld a 1987 Ontario Divisional Court decision that turned down the Ontario government's attempt to deny social assistance to Audrey Henson despite a provision her father, Leonard, made in his will to transfer his estate to three trustees to be held on his severely disabled daughter's behalf.
Ontario 's appellate court agreed that estate assets placed in a specific way in the care and control of a trustee to be administered on behalf of a beneficiary are not the beneficiary's assets and should not affect provincial benefits.

In these absolute discretionary or Henson trusts, trustees have the power to distribute - and withhold - the trust's income and capital as they see fit. Trusts can either be test amentary, and be taxed at graduated rates, or take the form of an inter vivos trust, and be taxed at top income tax rates at every dollar of income.
(A preferred beneficiary election, available when the beneficiary is severely disabled, allows for a joint election by the trust and preferred beneficiary to benefit from lower personal tax rates.)
Pope says while his clients seem to know about Henson trusts, many of his colleagues do not.
"One time in three, a client with a disabled dependent will go to a lawyer and get a Henson trust established as part of a will," he explains.

"But the other two times, it's either flawed or is just a trust for a child with a disability, which is even worse because such a trust normally states that the trustee is required to feed and house that child."
Pope says that people are going to lawyers who don't spend enough time focusing on estate planning and just "crank out simple wills because they think their clients want cheap, simple wills."
"That misses a lot of estate-planning opportunities that are very substantial and also misses the serious issue of children with disabilities who lose their benefits because lawyers didn't ask their clients if they have children with special needs who should have a Henson trust."
Pope says part of the problem is that a lawyer's secretary, and not the lawyer, often prepares wills in a standard format.

"Generally, the clientele has been led to believe by lawyers that lawyers know everything and clients figure if this is what the lawyer has given them, that's what they should have."
"But when you have senior lawyers my age telling their clients that they've done it correctly and it's clearly wrong - or they argue it's just a technicality - they clearly don't understand Henson trusts."
He says that not a week goes by when he's not dealing with someone who has received bad advice about Henson trusts from another lawyer.
"In one case, a son who's the executor of his mother's estate came to me saying his mother was assured by her lawyer that she had a Henson trust in her will and it turned out it wasn't included. And in another case, a client was told that there was no Henson trust in the will, but that it could be set up after the client died."
So, in those situations, Pope steps in and does a "fix" to correct the absence of or problem with a Henson trust in a will.

For instance, with one case in Brantford , a judge in Hamilton agreed to vary a will to include a Henson trust.
"There was no trust in the original will prepared by a since-retired lawyer in Simcoe, whose partners are still practising and were on the hook for it," explains Pope.
"The executors for the deceased woman said she thought she had a Henson trust when in fact there wasn't one."

"It was another case where people go to a lawyer and sign a will without even reading it or having it explained to them."

In another case late last year, a third-year law student dropped by Pope's office after visiting his recently deceased mother's lawyer and receiving conflicting information as to whether or not her will contained a Henson trust.

"The lawyer said yes but his paralegal assistant said the wording wasn't there," explains Pope.
"So the son's stomach started to tighten because his brother suffers from a mood disorder and would be affected by the absence of a Henson trust."

According to Pope, part of the problem is that lawyers who attended law school prior to the early 1990s would not have been taught anything about Henson trusts.

And he says that while the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services rewrote the policies and procedures of the Ontario Disability Support Program in 1993 to incorporate the Henson court decision, ODSP staff rarely informs their clientele about this provision.

Indeed, Pope, himself, may not have become an expert in Henson trusts had he not stumbled onto them while preparing for a lecture to the Ottawa chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada.
"I looked into the statistics and discovered that in most cities in Ontario, more than one family in 10 has either a child or sibling with a disability receiving ODSP and these people had no way of finding someone with expertise to assist them with estate planning," he explains.

So, Pope specialized his legal practice to help families with a disabled member establish a Henson trust to ensure children with a disability are not penalized for their inheritance. Often they are, as he points out.
Anyone receiving ODSP benefits - at a maximum rate of $979 to cover shelter, food and clothing - cannot own more than $5,000 in liquid assets.

Says Pope: "A person with a disability must be deemed to be living in poverty to qualify for support."
However, an absolute discretionary trust, or Henson trust, is worded in such a way that a child with a disability is not considered to have personally received an inheritance since the trust specifically states that the funds are not in the name of the child.

"Unlike in a normal trust, the child has no control over and no ownership of the assets," Pope explains.
As a result, the ODSP benefits continue and the designated trustee can pay out the trust assets for the benefit of the child at the trustee's "absolute and unfettered" discretion.

Yet, unless a lawyer recommends a Henson trust, Pope says he often sees clients who opt for a disability expenses trust, which in Ontario only allows a child to inherit up to $100,000 without penalty - and - stipulates that the funds can only be used for expenses directly related to the child's disability, such as specialized medical care or a wheelchair.

Or, parents choose to designate multiple beneficiaries and then appoint a trustee who will dispense all of the money to the child with disabilities.

But that type of trust is subject to an annual review and the bulk amount of the trust will result in the disabled child being disqualified to receive ODSP benefits, says Pope.

And if Ontario lawyers are still uncertain about Henson trusts, they can always refer to British common law that dates back more than eight centuries.

"In medieval England , trusts were common to avoid giving back Crown land to the Crown when the person granted the land died or was off participating in the Crusades. So people would establish trusts to grant land to their children," says Pope.

"If someone's child decided to go into the holy orders and there was a vow of poverty, they couldn't give money to that child. It had to go to the order."

"However, they would set up a trust and the trustee would have absolute and unfettered discretion to administer the funds and the assets would not vest in the child."

"Just like Henson trusts. They are vows-of-poverty trusts. You have to have a disability and live in poverty."

How to Raise a Family of Six with One Income

I was at CostCo the other day and was talking about Multiple Egg Baskets blog and how I was trying to blog about personal finance items that mattered to Canadians and I was offered a few tips from the women at the frozen food aisle. I hope that you enjoy:

Today it is very hard to raise a family off of two incomes, much less one. This is intended for those people who need a little help in ways to make ends meet. Below is a list of things you can do to help you make the most of your situation, whether you are a single parent, a two parent family with one staying home with the children, or you are in a situation where one of the parents just got laid off. This list will make an incredible difference in the amount of money you spend and the amount of money you get to keep for your family. Let’s begin.

1. The first thing you need to do is to not put yourself any further in debt than you already are. Debt can be a wonderful thing if you are in need of a house for your family, but if you already have a house then don’t borrow anything else. Not even for a new car. New cars are not necessary. They depreciate in value as soon as you drive them off the lot. A good used car will fit your family’s needs just as well. Take all your credit cards and cut them into shreds. Lots of credit cards today carry an interest rate of 21% or more, depending on whether you have made any late payments or not. Start paying all your credit card debt down and never pick up another one again. It’s very easy to sign your name to a debt and it takes a lifetime to erase it from that same debt.

2. When you go to the doctor and need a prescription filled then always ask if they have a generic for the prescription. Generic drugs can cost half the price of name brands. This will save your family big time.

3. When you go grocery shopping, always by the store brand products instead of the name brands. Lots of store brands are made by the name brand makers and just have a store label on them. This will allow you to buy your family more of the foods they love.

4. Never go grocery shopping if you or any of your family members are hungry. This will cause you to buy more groceries than normal.

5. Always make a grocery list before leaving for the store. Never buy anything that isn’t on your list. Calculate what your groceries are going to cost you before you go and buy them. If your cost runs over the amount you can afford, then delete some of the unnecessary items on your list.

6. When it comes to your children’s clothing, hand-me-downs are a good thing. This will save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. If one of your children grows out of something and your smaller child will be able to wear it in the future, then put it in a plastic trash bag and label it with your smaller child’s name and the date. Place it in your building, storage facility, or closet. Later you can go back and see if those same clothes fit your child.

7. Go to yard sales. You can find slightly used and sometimes new clothing at yard sales. Lots of times they only cost a dollar or two. This can save you all kinds of money.

8. If your children need health or dental insurance, it is provided by the state if your income doesn’t exceed the income limit. Your local social service department provides the forms available to apply for this insurance. It pays all doctor and dental bills for your children. This can be very helpful, especially if you have a very sickly child in your family.

9. Your local health department will give your children all their vaccinations for free. All you have to do is make an appointment and take their immunization records along. The health department also has a department that helps you provide formula, baby cereal, and juice to your baby or milk, cereal, grits, eggs, cheese, juice, dry beans, and peanut butter to your other children.

10. If you are pregnant, you may qualify for free health insurance for you and your baby also at your local social service department. All you have to do is take a paper to prove your pregnant with the due date of your child wrote on it from your doctor to the social service department. There they will go over your total income to see if you and your child qualify. If you don’t have a doctor yet, you can get a pregnancy test done at the health department for around ten or fifteen dollars. There they will determine your due date and give you the proof slips you need to apply.

11. Cooking big meals in a big crock pot will also help in making sure there is plenty of good hot food to eat and will save you time and money on your power bill.

12. Limit your luxuries. Cable vision and satellite TV are not necessary to run a household. They usually are showing the same movies over and over again anyway. You can go out and rent new and old movies from your local library for free or you can go to your local video store and rent only the movies you want to watch. This is better than paying for movies you don’t want to see or have seen already.

13. If you have addictions like smoking, drinking, or doing drugs then kick that habit to the curb. You could give your family a whole lot more and be around longer for them if you were not spending so much on trying to kill yourself slowly. Love them enough to love yourself, quit!

14. Don’t eat out every night of the week. It costs less to cook meals at home than it does to eat out and you know you are getting good wholesome food that is prepared safely if you do it yourself.

15. Use florescent light bulbs. They use less power and have to be replaced less often than regular ones.

16. If you have lamps then use them instead of your regular lighting. Some ceiling fans have four bulbs and that uses more power which makes your power bill go up.

17. On days when it is cool outside raise all your windows instead of running your air conditioner. You can even put a fan in the window to circulate the air if you want to, this will still use less power than running that air conditioner.

18. If your children are young, you can save money on your water bill by giving them all a bath in the same water. Older children seem to object to this because they feel it is nasty to wash after each other.

19. You can visit dollar stores and purchase items that you normally use a whole lot cheaper than other stores.

20. Watching TV together not only promotes family time but also saves power.

21. You can have your own yard sale to make a little extra money and get rid of the items around the house you never use anyway.

22. Buy things that are on sale if you use them regularly, if you don’t then don’t buy them just because they are on sale unless they cost the same as a similar item you normally buy.

23. When shopping for your meats buy family packs of meat then separate them into meals when you get home and put them into the freezer. This will save you money because family packs are cheaper.

24. Drink more tea and less soda. Tea is cheaper to make, lasts longer, and is better for you than sugary sodas.

25. Limit your family’s snacks to one or two a week. This is better for their health and their teeth, not to mention it will save on your grocery bill.

26. Grow your own vegetables. If your family likes vegetables you can grow them yourself and freeze or can them for later.

27. Let your children ride the bus to school. This will save you time and money. Gas isn’t getting any cheaper these days.

28. Always turn off all lights and electrical appliances when you leave a room. Teach your children to do the same.

29. If you must have Internet service, subscribe to dial-up. It’s a lot cheaper. If you don’t want to for fear of your phone line being busy, then PeoplePC offers an Internet Call Waiting service for free for 30 days then after that it will cost you $6.95 a month if you chose to keep it. With this service you can answer your phone while on the Internet by just the click of a button so you’ll never miss a call again. If you don’t choose to keep it they give you Caller Id. on your computer for free. So, the next time someone calls you and you are on the Internet you will know that they have called and you can call them right back after you get off.

30. If you have to go into town then do everything you need to do for that week in one trip. It saves time and gas.

31. If you must have a cell phone then get a pay as you go phone. This will eliminate that monthly bill and you only pay for the minutes you use.

32. If you can do something yourself, don’t pay someone else to do it for you. Example: If your husband knows how to work on your car, don’t pay the local garage to do it instead. It saves money when you do things yourself.

33. After each meal, always wrap up the leftovers and put them in the refrigerator. Wasting food is wasting money. You would dare throw your money in the trash.

34. Do not ever pay a babysitter to keep your children if you or your partner is at home, or you have a relative who is willing to watch them for you. In most family situations the grandparents are very eager to keep their grandchildren.

35. While at the grocery store, always use any coupons you have on hand for the merchandise you are purchasing. But, never buy an item just because you have a coupon for it. Only buy it if you regularly use that item. You can find lots of coupons in your local Sunday newspaper.

36. You can save hundreds of dollars by hanging your wet laundry out on a clothesline.

37. You can make a little extra money by keeping other parents’ children while they work, especially if you or your partner stays home with your own children.

38. You or your children can offer to cut the neighbors’ yards for some extra money.

39. Wash all your dirty laundry in cold water.

40. Carpool to work or church if you are able to do so.

41. If you have pets, then give them their vaccines yourself. You can order them through the mail and do it yourself a lot cheaper than you can go to the vet and pay them to do it for you.

42. Some phone companies have an extended calling plan, where you can call anyone within an extended area for one flat rate. This is usually cheaper than paying for all your long distance calls. Call your local phone company and ask them about theirs.

43. Always turn your heat down before you leave your home. There’s no use to keep it warm and cozy if you’re not there to enjoy it.

44. If your local waste facility is close to your house, then take your trash off yourself. It is cheaper than paying someone to come out and empty your cans for you.

45. Never try to keep up with the neighbors. So what if they cut their grass after every rain. You are saving money by cutting it when it needs to be cut.

46. Pay all your bills on time to avoid any late fees or interest. They can really add up in no time at all.

47. Always wear out the clothes you have before going out and buying new ones. Your old clothes will just sit in your closet taking up space if you have new ones to wear instead. Everyone would rather wear new clothes.

48. When you have a dinner with other family members, ask everyone to bring a dish with them. This will save you money and put lots of variety on the table.

49. If you take your family on a picnic, make your own food to take with you instead of buying it on the way. A cooler of drinks goes further than a single drink in ice for everyone.

50. Limit your family outings to once or twice a month, but make them count.

I hope you find these pointers to be very helpful in helping you and your family meet all your needs. They have been very helpful to me and my family. Lots of people ask us how we do it. Here are the answers.

Rebecca Anne

Steve Jobs Apple

Four essential lessons from Steve Jobs1.      Lesson One: Say noJobs makes it his business to obsessively hit on a small number of things that are important to him.Apple limits itself to three product lines – the Macintosh computer, the iPod, and the iPhone, with the recently announced iPad making it four.With just three main product lines, Apple has a market capitalization of more than $150 billion. Jobs has resisted the call to offer lower-end products and milk the company's great brand. His philosophy is that "it's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important."Implications:There is no shortage of opportunities in this business. What there is a shortage of is conviction. The easy thing to do is to go to a meeting, hear a few good ideas, and then go out and try them. When that does not work, you go to another meeting or hear another speaker and make a half-committed effort with new ideas, getting similar unacceptable results.Ultimately, you find yourself trying things but never really finishing them. Most advisors have to-do lists. What fewer have but would benefit from are not-to-do lists. With not to do lists, advisors only take on initiatives that will have a dramatic impact on their business, small scale projects that only make a difference at the margin will drain energy and focus and ultimately leave you bogged down without really advancing your business.2.      Lesson 2: Practice the rule of 100%Jobs built Pixar Studios into a company that he sold to Walt Disney for $7.4 billion. At Pixar, there is no 80/20 rule. It's simply the Rule of 100% – every effort gets 100% support.Jobs is a notorious stickler for minutiae and one of the most obsessive detail oriented people you're likely ever to run into.Accordingly, Pixar delivered an average of only one movie every 18 months, many fewer than most major movie studios. However, the result was outstanding. Pixar has generated more than $3.5 billion in worldwide box-office receipts since 1995. And it has had no bombs.Implications:Many successful advisors have 500 or more clients. These advisors had successful businesses that generated substantial revenue and comfortable profits.Yet who got short changed in that deal? The clients! None of those advisors would ever go on the record as saying they did a great job of taking care of all of their clients. Typically, 20% received great care and the other 80%, well, they were mainly an entry in a database.So the key question for advisors is how to restructure their business to deliver 100% quality to 100% of clients?3.      Lesson three: Focus on your peopleJobs devotes a considerable amount of his time to talking with prospective employees that he thinks can be A-list players on his team. At the end of the day, there are no weak links in his executive suite. He's as obsessive about the quality of his people as he is about his products.Implications:Quality work starts with quality employees. For many advisors, finding and retaining quality staff members is a perennial issue. Advisors are tempted to hire the first person who marginally fits the bill.Unfortunately, that's a recipe for long-term pain. It's better to bite the bullet now and continue pursuing the right person, rather than settle for an average candidate who is destined to deliver mediocre results.If you currently have no support staff, then go out and hire your first person. Without staff, you'll have a job, but you'll never have a business. If you have existing staff, continue to support and nurture your A players – make sure they feel appreciated and know that they're an important part of your team.For your weaker links, work with them to try to get them to A status. If they can't make the jump after you've given them every opportunity to do so, it's time to let them go.4.      Lesson four: Refuse to settleThe last lesson is not to settle. Jobs says, "We're just trying to make great products. We do things where we feel we can make a significant contribution." To him, it's about staying focused. It's about doing great work. It's about loving what you do and doing it with all your energy. Don't settle for anything less.Implications:Settling is a common trap for many advisors. They rise to a level of production that makes them comfortable and then they coast. They have the house, the cars, the vacations, the club membership, and the kids' college education funded. No need to push yourself any further by asking for a referral or making more calls, right?When you get to a point in your life where you are comfortable, coasting is the worst thing you can do. You'll get stale disenchanted, and start cynical. The key is this: When growing your business is no longer satisfying, it's time to start growing your self. 
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