Sep 272012
 

Buying second hand items may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the frugal minded it is a great way to save money and still get what you want. But what’s even better than getting used items at a discount, is getting them for free, and there are sites which will let you find freebies online.

I understand there are some things you probably don’t want second hand even if it is free, for example used toilet paper, or used underwear. But I think in general people like free stuff right?  Both Kijiji and Craigslist have a “free” section on their sites where anyone can put up ads to give away their things for free. I’ve seen old computers, book shelves, various carpentry tools, comics, TVs, working appliances, kitchenware, games, movies, and even animals.  Here are some listings I found on Craigslist recently.

And these ads are all from the same day, Sept 27th 2012. If you have the patience to browse through this free section regularly who knows what kind of gems you could find for free :)  Hmm, I believe I just found a way to do all my Christmas shopping this year without spending a cent!

Haha, just kidding :P  So why would anyone want to give away their stuff? Maybe the seller is moving and don’t want to take all their stuff with them.  Maybe someone gave them a new coffee machine and they don’t see the point of keeping the old one anymore, even though there’s nothing wrong with it. Maybe the children moved out and they want to de-clutter their home. Of course there’s also the charitable side of it as well. So there are actually many reasons.

For people in college perusing through classified websites can save them a lot of money. Why buy a desk, a tv, a mini fridge, a microwave, and a shelf for your dormitory, when you can probably find most or all of them for free :D

Sep 242012
 

A recent study about individual debt has made me reflect on the question of whether people are too smug about their debt situations. The poll seem to suggest that even though our debt levels are at an all time high, most Canadians are quite comfortable with using debt as a financial strategy. 9 out of 10 respondents would consider borrowing money to cover an unexpected cost. In an awkward way, I am really glad to read that because my personal strategy has always been to use my line of credit for emergencies and unexpected expenses. It appears now that other Canadians are also replacing saving for a rainy day with accessing debt to deal with financial problems. Glad to see I’m not the only one.

The average person in Canada has about $1.50 of debt for every $1 of income they make per year. Despite this, 62% of those surveyed said they are comfortable with their financial situation. Are you comfortable with your financial situation? I sure am! But this kind of debt to income ratio is around where the US economy was right before the housing crisis and then the rest of the recession. So there is certainly the possibility that we are underestimating how much risk we’re really putting ourselves into.

It’s frightening to see that Canadians have become totally blasé about debt – it’s becoming their new ‘normal’ and they’re numb to this dangerous trend,
~Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc.

I wonder if people will be as “blasé” about debt if interest rates were 3-5% higher like normal economic times? :D

The survey interviewed 1,010 Canadians between Aug. 15 and 23. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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Random Useless Fact:  Over 86,000 Americans each year have to visit the emergency room because they trip over their own pet. (source: nytimes.com)

Sep 212012
 

Forbes recently published their list once again of the richest people in the US. On top of the list this year is Gates with $66B, followed by Buffett with 46B. This is very inspirational to me. I like reading about their stories and how they got to where they are. I don’t expect to be on the list, but it motivates me to at least do my best with what I’m given. The combined wealth of these people totals $1.7 trillion, up from $1.5 trillion last year. It makes me wonder how they can continue to get richer yet at the same time still give away billions of dollar every year to charities.  But it’s not always good news for the rich. Mark Zuckerberg, the young founder and CEO of the Facebook saw his wealth slashed in half after the Facebook IPO. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if half of my hard earned money were to just disappear, ouch! With a net worth of only around $9 billion dollars now, his ranking in the Forbes list dropped from 14th place to 36th. How will he ever get by now? :P

 

Interesting PF posts and other interesting articles from around the web

 

Fellow Vancouvorite Modest Money explains the important of connecting with your readership

CF from the Outlier Model explains how it is never too late to start something new in life and follow your interests.

Young and Thrifty reviews a local restaurant.

The Passive Income Earner shares his latest dividends progress. One day I wish to catch up to him with my own dividend income.

Sep 172012
 

Southwestern Resources Corp (formerly SWG on the TSX) was once a successful mining company based out of Vancouver, Canada. They were sitting on a gold mine, literally, in China. Test samples and lab reports from this mine was periodically gathered by CEO, John Paterson. John would then present the findings to the company’s board of directors and create press releases so investors and analysts can see how well the company is doing, which was great for the most part.

Then one day share holders asked for a pre-feasibility study, they wanted to know how viable future projects might be. But John was reluctant to do so and stalled the preliminary assessment for as long as he could, until eventually he resigned from the company ಠ_ರೃ

As it turns out, for many years John has fudged the numbers from the mines and inflated the values on the reports without anyone knowing. But once the truth was revealed, the stock plummeted from more than $30 per share to less than 30 cents! It was eventually bought out by another company. All that happened over 5 years ago. Today I read in the news that John has pleaded guilty and is facing up to 10 years in jail. But investors who lost $260 million are pretty much S.O.L. Canada’s legal system isn’t known for prosecuting white collar crime, but we’ll see what happens. Below is just one possible outcome.

 

And if you have been an investor long enough (which I haven’t, lol) you might remember a similar incident with the Bre-X gold salting scandal in the 1990s, when a $6 billion gold company went to zero after their gold results were determined to be false ( ゚д゚)

The point is it doesn’t take much to lose all your investment. You have to be careful when putting your hard earned money in individual companies. Just one bad apple can potentially ruin it for everyone else including the shareholders, and possibly even its bond holders. Financial fraud can happen to any business, not just mining firms. Which is why my rule is to never put more than 10% of my investible assets into any one company. And if you sense something is wrong, consider getting out before it might be too late.

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Random Useless Fact:  Humans are the only mammal that can’t swallow and breathe at the same time. Every other mammal can breathe while they eat. In fact, human infants are also able to do so, which lets them breathe while they nurse. We lose this ability around the age of 9 months, when our voice box drops as part of our development.  (source)