Jun 072013

Expensive Night Out  – Read an article in the paper version of the Globe and Mail where a 16 year old Japanese adolescent went on quite the joy ride after spending $56,000 on his dad’s American Express credit card on a one night club binge. The teenager and a friend visited multiple hostess clubs, where he paid to sit and drink with women working there. At one of the venues, he spent a couple of thousand dollars on a single bottle of wine. The teenager’s dad pleaded with the local court to reduce the tab.


Hostess clubs in Japan can’t allow minors to enter in the first place (must be 18+), so the clubs were partly responsible. The judge ruled that credit card companies should also flag questionable activities like racking up a large bill in a relatively short amount of time so American Express was also partly responsible. In the end the dad’s bill was reduced down to 800,000 yen ($8,200.) I wonder just how rich this family is (>_<) And I’m surprised credit card limits can even go up that high 🙂

Job Boom  – According to Statistics Canada, our economy had its best month for job creation in more than a decade last month in May, adding 95,000 new jobs thanks in large part to the construction industry 😀 It’s the equivalent to the U.S. adding over one million new jobs in a single month. Canada’s unemployment rate fell, but still remains stubbornly above 7%.

Blog roundup – Personal finance and other interesting articles from around the web
Pauline from Reach Financial Independence writes about the importance of customer service
Mashed Thoughts reviews a local Oyster Bar in Vancouver

Random Useless Fact: A zedonk is a crossbreed between a zebra and a donkey 😀


Apr 112013

13_04_bestemployermugAn annual online study for the top companies to work for in Canada was released yesterday. The study ranks companies on various factor such as voluntary turnover, ethnic breakdowns, tenure, benefits and perks and number of holidays, to determine the best places to work.

13_04_bestworkplaceGoogle Canada is on the top of the list followed by Intuit, and then Microsoft Canada Inc which rounds out the top 3. Tech companies are generally over represented in these kinds of studies. The complete list of all 50 companies can be found here.

I don’t work for any of those companies 🙁 but I AM a shareholder in 5 of them (or at least their US parent companies) including McDonald’s, Google, and Starbucks which I just bought earlier this year 🙂 Without investors like myself companies would not have the money to expand and hire new employees so it feels good to contribute to something bigger than myself  🙂

So how can we use this survey to our advantage? One way is to invest in these businesses. Any company on this list should attract the attention of top talent in their respective industries. These companies can filter through the applicants and pick the best of the best. The result is they’ll have a highly skilled and motivated workforce which should in theory outperform their competitors over time by generating higher productivity and bigger profits 🙂

But investing is risky. Is there a another way we can make money without risking our savings? Yes :0) We can work for these businesses directly. I certainly don’t have the educational background to land a position at Google, Microsoft, or any other tech giants, but I did find a company that only requires you to have a positive attitude 😉 Can you guess which one? Well earlier today I applied for a job at McDonald’s and guess what? They gave me an interview! They asked typical questions and overall I think I did well despite not being properly dressed for the occasion. The interviewer said her manager will contact me in the upcoming days. Imagine the bragging rights I’d have if I worked for one of the top companies in all of Canada, muahaha (^▽^) Can’t wait to hear back from them ^_^

Random Useless Fact: Men get hiccups more often than women.

Mar 082013
Happy International Women’s Day

13_03_friendsbenefits, celebrate women's dayToday is March 8th so let’s celebrate women’s economic and social achievements. I watched an 11min interview featuring a couple of representatives from TD Bank. Ms. Caranci is an economist and Ms. Caskey is a portfolio manager. They mentioned that studies from Credit Suisse and other notable institutions show that corporations with more female board members outperform those that have less. For example looking at the S&P/TSX Composite index over the last year companies with at least one woman on the board have seen a 7.2% return on average, while the overall index returned just 4% 😀 Makes sense to me. Women represent half the consumer market place. So if I was running a company I would certainly want to have a woman’s perspective when it comes to making strategic business decisions. It’s too bad that only 11% of board members of companies on the TSX Composite are female. In the interview, Ms. Caranci says this is partly because of the composition of our industries. For example, half the stock market index is made up of resource companies and they “only have 6 to 7 percent representation of women, so they’re really pulling down those numbers.” So what can corporate Canada do to get more women represented on company boards? There are a few ideas floating around. For instance some European countries have strict quotas for their companies. In Norway publicly traded companies must have at least 40% female representation on the board, or else the company faces penalties or sanctions, such as being de-listed from the stock exchange 🙁 I don’t think Canada should necessarily adopt those kinds of laws because some argue mandatory quotas does more harm than good for women in the workplace, but I’m sure we can figure something out.

So how can the average investor use this information? Well since the research has suggested that a board of directions with a diverse background of both men and women tend to outperform the benchmark, we should consider this information when researching which stocks to buy. Thankfully, Ms. Caskey gave us a list of some notable companies that have a relatively high female representation on the board or executive team. I’ve listed a few below. Stock symbols are in (brackets) 😉

Potash Corp (POT) – 23% female board
EnCana (ECA) – 30% female board
Lululemon (LLL) – 45% female board

I currently have POT and ECA in my long term buy and hold portfolio. LLL is a very interesting company that started in Vancouver and has expanded very successfully into other countries. The brand was even featured on Oprah, lol. I’m a little concerned about the stock’s valuation because I don’t know how long it’ll continue to grow at its current rate. So this athletic apparel company is only on my watch list for now (^_^) Side note: LLL is not included in the TSX Composite index.

13_03_lululemonbrand, women's day

February Employment

How about some good news to end the work week 😀 Canada created 51,000 new jobs last month, and most of them are full-time work. The overall unemployment rate remains unchanged at 7.0 from the month prior, however this means more people are in the workforce which is a good thing. ON and BC made up most of the gains, with 35,000 and nearly 20,000 new jobs respectively. In the United States about 236,000 new jobs were created in February and unemployment edged down to 7.7% which gave investors the confidence to push the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by almost half a percent today to end the week at $14,397, yet another record high 😀

Blog roundup – Personal finance and other interesting articles from around the web
Passive Income Earner explains the difference between Bonds and Preferred Shares
Mrs. Pop from Planting our Pennies shares their up to date balance sheet (net worth) They have a ton of assets
Mr. CBB from Canadian Budget Binder has some pretty impressive numbers for his family as well.
Laurie from Frugal Farmer encourages anyone who might be struggling with their finances to take back control
Money After Graduation on the value of a concert ticket
Pauline from Reach Financial Independence on realizing not everyone has to have the same goals because we all have different values
Jordann from My Alternate Life on what it takes to become an entrepreneur
Frugal Rules has several tips on doing your income taxes
Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses tells us a little bit about the writer behind the blog, herself


Nov 252011

Happy Black Friday. And hello to friends from Victoria. I’ve only visited once but had a great time. Butchart Gardens was my favorite part.

Image source from www.canada.com

New payroll and employment numbers just came out. On average Canadians make $873 per week, up 1.1% from last year. While that’s better than no growth at all, the inflation rate has been about 3% so in real terms, we are actually losing purchasing power, despite having a bigger paycheck. Trying to beat inflation with wage hikes is not easy, that’s why we need a hedging strategy, which will match the inflation rate, if not surpass it. But not all jobs are created equal. There will always be opportunity out there for those who know where to look.

Growing industries with demand for new workers and increasing wages:
Forestry, logging and support. – Pay = 22% above national average, 10% yearly wage growth
(the world wants our lumber)
Construction  – Pay = 28% above average, 5.2% wage growth
(more buildings for our growing population)
Professional and technical services – Pay =29% above average, 4.6% growth
(lawyers, engineers, accountants, modern society cannot function without these people)

Weaker industries (at least for now):
Manufacturing – Pay = 12% above average, 0.1% yearly wage growth
(many of these jobs are going off shore to cheaper labor)
Finance and insurance – Pay = 12% above average, -5.2% yearly wage contraction
(low interest rates + clients switching from high fee mutual funds to etfs = less revenue)
Educational services – Pay = 5% above average, -2.7% wage contraction
(tighter gov’t budgets)

Wages are based on what companies can afford to pay their employees, so it’s mostly about supply and demand. And when you think about why some industries are strong and others are weak, it should all make sense. You don’t need to study or work harder to get ahead. Just work smarter. Enter a field with less competition. Learn to market yourself. Invest your savings, and you’ll do great.