Feb 232017
 

Several years ago I read a book called Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam. The book explains 9 rules that allow someone on a teacher’s salary to become a millionaire by saving and investing. After purchasing the book I was pumped to find out how he did it. Afterall, if the author managed to pull it off then so could I. 🙂 So here are the 9 rules he outlined in the book.

  1. Don’t spend like you want to appear or feel rich. Instead, spend like you want to grow rich.
  2. Start investing right away to take advantage of time. Compounding interest is the 8th wonder of the world, says Einstein.
  3. Keep your investment fees low. A mutual fund with 1.5% annual fee will eat up a quarter of your investment returns every year given an 6% expected rate of return. That 1/4 return you could have made will stack up to huge missed opportunities in the future.
  4. Learn to control your emotions. Most people get worried and think about selling when the market goes down. But that’s often when stocks go on sale and valuations become more favourable so if anything, that’s the best time to buy. Don’t be emotional. Be rational.
  5. Balance stocks and bonds using the age rule. This basically means keep your age in bonds, and the rest in stocks. So for a 25 year old, his asset allocation would be 75% stocks and 25% bonds.
  6. Many investors have a home country bias. But it’s important to diversify globally.
  7. Many financial advisors and brokers have a strong incentive for you to stay in actively managed funds or other financial products. Understand that they are sales people, and don’t fall for their tactics.
  8. Don’t be seduced by the next hot stock or tempting investment opportunities that seem too good to be true. Stick to index funds.
  9. If you really must pick and choose individual stocks, limit your exposure to 10% of your total portfolio.

The author is one of the most frugal person I’ve know of. He house-sits for vacationers so he could live in their homes for free. He never turns on the heat in the winter and walks around the house wearing layers of clothing. He even catches his own food sometimes.

I generally agree with all 9 of his rules. I don’t follow rule #5 very closely as my asset allocation changes based on economic indicators and not just age. But for the most part I’ve been using Andrew’s advice for many years now, and my finances are in pretty good shape so I guess it’s working. 🙂 I would say the book is a great read for personal finance beginners. It explains lots of fundamental principles about money management. But I don’t think someone with an intermediate level of financial knowledge will learn anything new and substantial from the book.

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Random Useless Fact:

The US Postal Service moves mail using planes, trains, trucks, cars, boats, ferries, helicopters, subways, float planes, hovercraft, mules, bicycles and feet.

Jan 092017
 

Chaos theory can make the world very unpredictable. Who knows what the markets will do over the next 12 months? Maybe there are some individuals who are really good at predicting the future.

But I’m not one of them. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to make some predictions just for fun. 😀 Below, not in any particular order, is a list of things that I think might happen this year. It’s all pure speculation of course. 😉

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average will rise to 20,000 points for the first time in history. It will probably happen this week.
  • The S&P 500 will only return 5% due to continuously low earnings yield.
  • The Nasdaq will see a 11% gain thanks to strong earnings from technology companies like Alphabet and eBay.
  • The S&P/TSX Composite index in Canada will gain by 8% for the year thanks to higher commodity prices.
  • The FTSE TMX Canada Universe Bond Index will return 3%. The popular iShares ETF, XBB, tracks this bond index.
  • Canada GDP grows by 0.9%
  • United States GDP grows by 2.0% helped by tax cuts and fiscal stimulus from a Trump administration.
  • The United Kingdom’s GDP grows 1.2%.
  • Germany’s GDP will crawl along at 0.3%.
  • Canada’s population will grow to 36.7 million people by the end of 2017, largely thanks to new immigrants.
  • Bank of Canada leaves the benchmark lending rate at 0.50%
  • The U.S. Federal Reserve will increase its interest rate only once by 0.25% in the last quarter of the year.
  • The Canadian dollar will weaken against the U.S. dollar to end 2017 at $0.74.
  • Conservative candidate Francois Fillon will win the 2017 presidential election in France.
  • Gold will be worth more at US $1260 by the end of the year.
  • CPI inflation in Canada will be 1.3%.
  • Inflation in the U.S. will be 1.8%.
  • Amazon Go will partner with a grocery chain like Whole Foods so customers can skip the checkout.
  • Apple will announce a new hardware product.
  • The first self-driving car model to be sold publicly will be announced, along with the year it will be available.
  • Canadian real estate prices will be 5% higher compared to 2016 thanks to continuously cheap mortgage rates.
  • Someone will try to shoot Donald Trump
  • Bitcoin will drop 15% in value this year, against the $USD.
  • A new form of cryptocurrency will try to replace bitcoin.
  • Higher interest rates in the U.S. will cause its average real estate price to fall 3%.
  • The 3 largest Canadian banks will return at least 10% to their shareholders.
  • Canadian unemployment rate will fall by 0.2% to 6.7% as Vancouver and Toronto lead the country in job creation.
  • U.S. unemployment rate will tick up from 4.7% in December 2016 to 5.2% by the end of this year.
  • Oil will end the year higher at US $56 per barrel.
  • The Netherlands will hold a referendum to leave the European Union similar to Great Britain last year.
  • A large European bank will need a bailout.

Do you have any predictions for this year? It could be anything you want. Whatever flips your pancake! 🙂 Let’s revisit these at the end of 2017.

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Random Useless Fact:

 

Oct 052016
 

The following was written by staff writer, Peter.

Paying attention to your spending does not mean you should not to indulge. You fancy a 10 day trip to Italy, but your budget does not permit? We have some alternatives for you; some fresh ideas for a great vacation at home.

A holiday is meant to blow off steam. But why do we tend to go out as soon as we have a free day? Is it really necessary to go outdoors to relax? Who said you had to leave home and town to find something to relax? In fact, it is perfectly possible to find rest without having to pack.

Staycation

The staycation (holiday home) is not a recent trend. In British culture, this term is simply part of the vocabulary. The English distinguish between holiday travel and holiday home: staycation (a contraction of the words ‘stay and vacation’ holidays).

Plan your staycation

You have a week’s holiday? Try to enjoy it. The goal is not to stay at home, sitting on a bench watching the hours pass.

Plan activities! How many times during the past months, did you say that you did not have time to do something? Well, now you have it! Try to remember all of these outstanding projects and get started: visit museums, play sports, see friends, enjoy a meal in a particular place. There are thousands of cool things to do and it allows you to relax and escape from your routine. Plan your trips as a vacation.

Managing your budget

Once you have defined your plans for your holidays at home, put in financial planning. In town, free activities are numerous. Look for information about holidays in the neighborhood or the surrounding villages including exhibitions, street theater, fire sale, etc. In summer, there is something for everyone!

 

In addition, you can relax at home and enjoy your family without blowing money off. Take for example making bracelets with your children, cooking something special… Find an activity that everyone enjoys.

Fun excursions

Who says holiday at home does not necessarily mean staying at home without moving! There is a cute town not far from home you’ve always wanted to visit? A place you want to find? It is not always necessary to pack for a vacation.

Near you, there are many amazing, fun and educational places to discover. And the advantage is that in return for this beautiful day, you can sleep in your bed. Ideal and affordable holiday right?

Enjoy a Holiday Despite the heat

What if it is very hot? America does not lack public pools, rivers, lakes and beaches. When the heat rises, look cool and spend a day with family at the water’s edge. No need to always go to the same pool, you can vary the pleasures.

Summer plans in the city

In summer, we adopt a different rhythm, we eat lighter and we enjoy activities impossible to practice in winter. This is the time for barbecues, outdoor cinemas, and picnics in the park… You can even organize a garden party or a special picnic vacation! Ask guests to bring something and present all the dishes on your beautiful garden table.

Memories of your staycation

Take pictures and videos of your staycation, it will be a beautiful memory! You can make an album, to enjoy much longer in history! And you, what are your tips for successful holidays at home?

Apr 282016
 

Anyone who is looking to potentially buy a house already knows how important the journey to home ownership can be. There is certainly a lot to do in the process, but when it comes to buying your own home there are also some very good points that you will want to remember before you sign the papers or even make an initial offer. When it comes to getting the home of your dreams, remember that some things are easily replaced while others you really don’t have the opportunity to change at all. The old adage is location, location, location for a reason, and if you don’t remember these key points about your potential location you could be stuck with a place that doesn’t quite meet your needs.

Know the Neighborhood

The thing about a neighborhood is that you know it is important, but you just don’t know how important it actually is until it is time to truly deal with it. A neighborhood can include multiple items ranging from crime statistics to school districts, and then there are a lot of other things which can range from political and public services to amenities and even more. The simple answer on neighborhoods is that you want to be sure you have enough to satisfy your needs, and then you also want to be sure you can get everything your future self will want as well. You may not care about schools for example, but if you think children are in your future then you had better keep an eye on school systems.

Another thing to consider is the neighborhood demographics from a financial point of view. A nice house might seem like a good thing to jump into because of the price tag. However, where will the neighborhood be down the line? If the neighborhood is young and up and coming, then you could easily invest in a home that will grow in value over the next few years. That is clearly an intelligent financial decision and you will be swimming in equity. At the same time, if your buy a house with DDProperty decision is because it’s a great location now, but due to things like unemployment rates rising, people moving away, or other factors, you could buy a house that will actually be worth less than the mortgage you paid on it in a few years if you aren’t careful.

Having a Yard

Speaking of having a yard, the fact of the matter remains that some people just want to be able to go outside. If you have pets, children, or even a hankering to do some barbequing and sunbathing then you already know how important a deck, patio, or some green grass beneath your toes can be. That being said there are more than enough individuals who will go shopping and searching for a new place and then before they know it they end up settling on something where the yard is community owned because they are in an apartment (or something like an apartment).

This might not seem like a big deal, but when you try to go out with your children and you wind up stepping in a neighbor’s dog’s feces you can become upset. You can also wind up becoming quickly irritated if you notice things like cigarette butts, trash and other remains from neighbors, or even have to deal with the other general annoyances that accompany having to share community space. As simple as these things might seem, they can certainly become awfully annoying when you are trying to get some rest and relaxation after a long days’ worth of work. This is all before you consider the value of a yard.

Have Access to What Is Important

If you happen to work at a job, then great; make sure your home is near where you work. If you and your family like to go to a specific type of area (parks, movies, shopping outlets, or etc.), then you also have to be sure your home is by those things as well. Location is important not just because of the value that a given location brings and what others see it to be from a market value point of view, but location matters because if you are going to buy a house then it might as well be close to where you spend most of your time.

People in general don’t seem to realize the true costs of being stuck behind the wheel of a vehicle. Aside from the fact that they need to waste more time in general commuting that they won’t get back, they also are at increased risk for health reasons and they face increased costs for using their vehicles as well. It might be easy to fall in love with a home that is a few miles farther than you would like it to be, but when you add up all of the costs of both time and money that a daily commute will cost you, you can see how simple it is to just say no and find a house that is closer.

Looking for a given home isn’t a chore, but you do need to be meticulous. Rather than just accepting the first thing that pops into your head as somewhat decent, make sure you take all of your options into consideration. And, while most people think solely about the home and structure itself, you also have to consider all of the outside factors of purchasing a property. Make sure you consider everything when making the transition into your first home.

Mar 262016
 

The following post was written by staff writer, Peter. 

How to Raise Your Rent without Losing a Tenant

Good tenants aren’t always easy to come by, and few things are as important in a rental property business as securing a great renter. For landlords, it can be a delicate balance when necessity or desire inspires you to increase the rent, as losing a tenant can mean a costly vacancy. If you’re looking for ways to increase your profits, these tips and guidelines will help you raise the rent and improve your chances of retaining a great tenant.

The Lease Stipulation

Before we get started, you need to ensure you have the right lease stipulations that will allow you to raise the rent before landing yourself in a hairy legal situation. Usually these stipulations allow you to increase the rental at lease renewal, so if you don’t have this included, you might be up the creek without a paddle. Most states have strict rules regarding rental increases, so if you’re concerned, it’s always a good idea to check with a local property management company that can give you the lowdown on all the most recent updates.

The Rising Costs

If you’re debating whether or not you should raise your rent, consider the rising costs of upkeep that will steadily increase with each passing year. Everything from insurance premiums to utilities appreciate, and you’ll have to cover those costs on your own if you don’t increase the price of your rent to reflect that.

Prepare an Explanation

Don’t expect your tenants to smile and nod when you tell them you’re increasing the price on their living situation. Before going in, consider exactly how you’ll explain the rate hike, and it can’t be “I want more money”—even if that’s the main reason. There are a variety of valid explanations for an increase: the cost of living has risen, taxes have increased, or inflation. Beyond this, property value might have skyrocketed, or you could need more money to perform improvements and repairs. You might have another reason for your rent; regardless, as long as it’s a reason that can be backed with evidence, you’re less likely to encounter pushback from your tenants.

Give Plenty of Time

You’ll need to give your renters advanced notice of your plans to increase rent prices. Not only will this give them time to decide whether or not they want to continue renting from you, but it will also provide you ample time to secure your next tenants should they choose to leave. This is also a step you must take to follow state and local regulations, so do yourself a favor and inform your tenants of your plans at least 45 days in advance.

Experiment with Advertisements

If you want to test the waters and determine whether your price increases are valid, post a listing for your property with the new price. If you receive interest, you’ll know your price is fair and you’ll have that argument on your side when it’s time to present your proposal to your current tenants. It might be likely that they already realize they’re getting a deal, so the discussion may be something they’ve expected. It will also serve as a great backup; even if your current tenants aren’t willing to pay more, you’ll have prospective tenants that will be more than willing to take their spot. You can also take a look at comparable properties, and find out what their going rate is for new tenants to give yourself a ballpark figure.

Amenities

If you’re going to increase prices by a significant margin, you’ll need to ensure your property is up to par. Soften the blow of an increase in rent by offering your current tenants the option between some amenity upgrades. It could be new appliances, or maybe some landscaping in the front yard, or even updating a shower head and other hardware for an added bonus. It might not completely sell them on the idea, but upgrades will definitely serve you well as bargaining chips.

If You Lose Them

If your tenants decide to leave, there’s not much you can do. Don’t leave it to chance to find a good replacement. Instead of relying simply on a credit report, get all the details you can to make an informed decision. Sites like MySmartMove.com will provide you a credit report, alongside a criminal history notice and let you know if the potential renter has ever been evicted before.

Whether being a landlord is your full-time job or something you do for supplementary income, a variety of facets can factor into your decision to increase rent, even if you have wonderful tenants. Regardless of your relationship with your tenants, your rental property is a business; as such, it’s your prerogative to make it a profitable venture. Armed with these tips, approach your tenants in a smart, sensitive way to ensure you retain their tenancy while also increasing your bottom line.

 Posted by at 4:03 pm