Apr 292012
 

For a more complete look at Canadian’s net worth including by age group and family type click the following link.
http://www.freedomthirtyfiveblog.com/resources/median-and-average-net-worth

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I recently read this article on lsminsurance which says Canadians have a higher net worth than Americans. The data shows that the median net worth per adult in Canada is $89,014. That means $89,014 represents the perfect cross section of our economy because half of Canada’s society has more, and the other half has less. In the US however, the median net worth per adult is $52,752. So in other words, most Canadians have more money than most Americans.

Median net worth matters in an economy because it determines the spending, financial security, and lifestyle of the typical middle class person. With a higher net worth we can take on larger amounts of debt without too much risk. A higher personal net worth in the economy also means more purchasing power for the middle class, less poverty and more equal wealth distribution.

However the article also states that the average net worth of Canadians is only $245,455, but that of Americans is $248,395, which is slightly higher than ours. So in this sense, our US friends are actually wealthier than we are. Average doesn’t give us an accurate picture of the common middle class person. However it is still an important statistic because it determines the spending, financial security, and lifestyle of an upper class person.

In the end I think both median and average indicators in these kinds of studies are important. But statistics and facts are only that. They represent information that we have to interpret ourselves to give them meaning. In Canada the common person can spend $60,000 on an expensive vacation and still have more assets then debt, but the policies here make it difficult to become very rich. In the US most people don’t have the luxury to spend $60,000, unless they are comfortable having a negative net worth (o.O), but it’s easier to become wealthy there. 32% of the world’s billionaires live in the US after all. Both economies have their pros and cons. Maybe one day I will move to the US if I ever develop a successful business idea or see an opportunity to make it big. But since I don’t at this point, I’m happy staying in Canada.

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Random Useless Fact: The average cost of a wedding in the United States last year was $27,021 (U.S.)

Apr 242012
 

I recently updated my Dividend Subsidizing Hedge Fund thanks to a reminder from a reader. I’m receiving more subsidies now in all categories. The biggest WIN is that my monthly electricity bill is now 100% subsidized by the utility industry and its partners. This means I don’t have to pay another dime of my hard earned money to pay for my electricity usage ever again (or at least for the foreseeable future.)

I have been slowly buying shares of energy distributors over the last few years, and now I finally have enough of their stocks to receive the dividends needed to fully fund all my electricity needs. It took 3 years and over $8,000 of my personal savings but it’s totally worth it (^o^) My most expensive electricity bill ever was $28, but for most months it’s under $25. To be safe I’m going to assume I spend $30 every month on electricity. However I also get $30 of dividends a month from companies in the business of providing electricity to people’s homes. This $30 dividend is kind of like a rebate, because I’m basically getting a 100% refund from the same group of people whom I just paid. If I became unemployed tomorrow, I don’t have to worry about not having power at home since my electricity bill will technically be paid for, by its own industry.

Here are the companies paying my hydro-electric bill right now.

Just Energy (JE.TO)
They sell electricity to residential and commercial clients. They currently have a dividend yield of a jaw dropping 9.75% and is traded on both the Canadian and US stock markets. Some of their products are sourced from renewable energy like wind, hydro, or biomass. I have $1920 worth of stocks in this company.

Enbridge (ENB.TO)
A pipeline company that mainly distributes gas but is also in the business of alternative energy and power transmission. Its dividend yield at 2.89% may not be as high as other utility companies but most of its growth comes from its appreciating stock price, which is up over 50% since I bought it in 2009. I currently have $1520 worth of Enbridge shares.

SNC Lavalin (SNC.TO)
A world class engineering company that makes dams, bridges, reservoir, power stations, etc. SNC doesn’t provide electricity to people, but they work closely with BC Hydro, and other utility companies. They are an essential part of the energy infrastructure in this country and around the world. And part of the reason our electricity bills keep going up is because companies that make electric generators like SNC are charging more to build and maintain them. There dividend is 2.41%, and I own $5265 worth of shares in this company.

My stock holdings in those 3 companies above provide me with $360 of dividend income per year. As long as everyone else in society is paying their electricity bills on time these companies will continue to make money, and continue to distribute dividends, which means I’ll continue to receive enough funds to cover my own hydroelectric usage.  Unfortunately there is no direct way to invest in the equity of BC Hydro (my actual electricity provider) otherwise I would. This is the bane of government operated services. There’s no competition and no way for investors to benefit if the company performs well. On the other hand, a crown corporation does keep electricity prices predictable, and makes society more stable, so I can’t complain too much.

Apr 202012
 

It’s been a pretty busy week for people here in the Greater Vancouver area. Hockey playoffs, teachers taking job action, elections, and 4/20. I feel like the week went by way too fast. To unwind for the weekend here are some innovative ideas to save either time or money, or otherwise make our hectic lives a little more simple and manageable.

simple life hacks

image source: 9gag.com

 The wooden spoon suggestion works perfectly. I made soup yesterday and tried it out. The bubbles didn’t even build up high enough to touch my spoon. Why did I not know about this before (-_-‘) I’m not sure about the elevator trick though. I’ve only tried it a couple of times in my apartment and it appeared to have worked but I don’t know if that was just coincidence in both cases, lol. Feel free to share any quirky or interesting ideas you may have.

Apr 162012
 

In the beginning of the month I decided to streamline my expenses and set out to spend at least 25 days this April without expending any money from my wallet, bank, credit card, or participate in any other way the exchanging of my money for goods or services. Half way through the challenge now so I just wanted to post a quick update.

This is my first time tracking my no spend days, and so far so good, I’ve spent 12 out of the last 15 days without spending a penny. I don’t drink coffee so I think that makes things easier from the start. I don’t go out much either, so that is another helpful excuse to not spend (stay at home.)

image source: spongebobtumblrpants.tumblr.com

Unfortunately there has been an unexpected surprise. My strata company (or HOA equivalent) decided to paint the exterior of the condo which resulted in a special levy for every unit owner, such as myself. I have until next month but I paid now since I have the money available, and wanted to get it over with. It’s not so bad though considering how expensive levies can become. I bought this condo in 2009 knowing it’s over 30 years old, so something like this was expected to happen sooner or later (-_-‘)

Overall this no spend challenge hasn’t really affected me in any big way. My social life is taking a back seat for the moment but I explained what I’m doing to my friends and they understand it’s only temporary. I filled up my car late March so I shouldn’t have to get gas again until May (that’s one benefit of living close to work.) I also have lots of food left over from last month. The only thing I’ve run out of now is fresh fruit and veggies, but I still have some frozen carrots and potatoes, plus tons of other food in the freezer. The company I work for also has a basket of fruit in the kitchen (^_^) Today I took a kiwi and an orange. I also have uncooked oatmeal, pasta, canned mushrooms, and other goodies with long shelf lives, so I can easily go without grocery shopping for another 2 weeks.

Once April is over I will show a more detailed breakdown of my spending for this month.

[Edit] Here is the final conclusion and review of this challenge [/edit]

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Random Useless Fact: According to Amazon.com‘s web traffic analyzing subsidiary, Alexa Internet, Inc. my freedom 35 blog appears to be very popular among young women in my age group. They also seem to have respectable social economic statuses. Here’s an excerpt below.

“Based on internet averages, freedomthirtyfiveblog.com is visited more frequently by females who are in the age range 18 – 24, have no children, received some college education and browse this site from home… Also, relative to the general internet population, people with income from $60K to $100K a year are greatly over-represented at freedomthirtyfiveblog.com. ”
Source: www.alexa.com