Tag Archives: Barry Choi

July 17: Best from the blogosphere

Many prolific personal finance bloggers don’t hesitate to share a surprising amount of information about their family finances and the milestones on their journey to financial freedom.

In his Net Worth Update: 2017 Mid-Year Review, Boomer & Echo’s Robb Engen reports that he is well on his way to meet his, “big hairy audacious goal of Freedom 45.” To do so, his savings rate will need to remain high and he’ll have to avoid the evil temptation of lifestyle inflation. Currently his net worth is $574,296.

Tim Stobbs is an engineer in his thirties with two kids living in Regina, Saskatchewan who decided working until 65 sounds like a bad idea. At first he thought Freedom 45 might work, but he is now aiming to retire on his 40th birthday. Since he is mortgage free, and his May 2017 Net Worth is $972,000, early retirement could be right around the corner.

Krystal Yee has been sharing her financial goals and challenges for 10 years on Give me back my five bucks. Her recent blogs The real cost of moving in Vancouver, How I’m saving for travel this year and May 2017 Goals: Recap will give you some perspective on how this busy professional freelance writer is managing her finances and what she hope is her final household move until retirement!

Are you expecting an addition to the family? Personal finance and travel writer Barry Choi (Money We Have) and his wife have been Getting the baby room ready and buying all the necessary bits and pieces from furniture to car seats to strollers. He figures they have spent about $1040 so far. And these expenses are in addition to the costs of IVF which he estimated at $25,000. Although he says, “I’m on the hook for 20 years and I could do a running tally but the costs may terrify me,” he is thrilled at the prospect.

Bridget Eastgaard (Money After Graduation) is also contributing to the personal finance blogger baby boom. She notes that many millennials want to become parents, but their finances are holding them back. The combined burden of student loan debt and sky-high housing prices make having a family seem like an unaffordable dream, but it doesn’t have to be.

How to save for Baby? “You have an Emergency Fund, you have a Retirement Fund, and now you need a Baby Fund — a dedicated savings account to afford all pregnancy, birth, and child-related expenses.” Eastgaard advises. “Ideally, you would start this before you even begin trying to become pregnant, but even if you find yourself with an unplanned baby like yours truly, a Baby Fund is a crucial first step to ensuring your family starts off on the right financial foot.”


Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Mar 13: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

Well another RRSP season is in the bag, but that doesn’t mean you should put saving for retirement on the back burner for another year. If you haven’t done so already, it’s a great time to review your finances and arrange to have both registered and unregistered savings deducted at source so your nest egg continues to grow even when you are busy doing things that are a lot more fun than financial planning.

This week we feature more money-saving tips from some of our favourite bloggers.

Guest blogging on Retire Happy, Tom Drake reports on 10 financial success stories from 2016 to inspire your new year. One of my favourites is how Jason Heath who blogs at  Objective Financial Partners is raising his children so they place more emphasis on experiences rather than stuff. And Brenda Hiscock from Objective Financial Partners has been energized since she took a month off to complete Yoga teacher training at an ashram in Nassau.

Robb Engen from Boomer & Echo gives his take on the “the latte factor” and how it impacts the savings habits of millennials. He says, “At the risk of offending an entire generation, here’s what’s really going on: If you’re buying coffee every day, or ordering $22 [avocado and feta cheese] toast several times a week, maybe you’re just too lazy to brew your own coffee at home and cook for yourself.”

As you pull together the documentation to file your 2016 income tax return, you may be looking forward to a big tax return. Mark Seed, author of My Own Advisor says, “When it comes to tax planning my advice is: Don’t assume a big fat tax refund every year is good. If you’re always looking forward to the juicy refund it simply means the government kept some of your money and you could have had it working for you instead throughout the year.”

Big Cajun Man Alan Whitton admits to being a bit of a pack rat which creates clutter and can can lead to hoarding. So in this Lent season he is trying something new. For each day of Lent he is going to fill a bag (of any size) with things he no longer uses and donate the contents to charity. Other ideas for Lent are pay with cash for all 40 days or go for at least a one mile walk every day.

And finally, Barry Choi who blogs at Money We Have shares 6 things he bought used (and you should too). They include a three year old Subaru Impreza Hatchback ($18,000 instead of $30,000 new), a re-sale condo (stable maintenance fees and more space) and used video games online for about 25% less.


Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Jan 9: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

Fireworks on Parliament Hill and across the country ushered in Canada’s sesquicentennial or 150th birthday. I’ll never forget babysitting on New Year’s Eve in 1967 and hearing Gordon Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy for the first time. It’s still one of my favourites!

As our contribution to Canada’s big birthday, in this space we will continue to direct you to the best from Canadian personal finance bloggers from coast to coast with an occasional foray south of the border. We hope you will let us know what you like and what we may have missed.

Recently Ed Rempel addressed the perennial question, Should I Delay CPP & OAS Until Age 70? and included some real life examples. While he illustrates that many Canadians can benefit from waiting until age 70 to start their government benefits, he agrees that if you are retired at 65 and have little income other than these two government pensions, you may have no option.

Barry Choi on “Money We Have Have” explores 5 differences between cheap and frugal people. He thinks calling a frugal person cheap is pretty insulting. “Frugal people understand the value of money and are willing to pay when it counts,” Choi says. “On the other hand, cheap people are only looking for ways to save money regardless of how it’s done.”

With credit card bills that reflect holiday excesses hitting mailboxes this month, many of us are looking for ways to save money. Canadian Finance Blog’s Tom Drake breaks down ways to save money both monthly and annually.

Think about your energy use and your water use to figure out ways to save money on your electricity billgas bill and water bill. Two other services that have many opportunities to cut back include the cable bill and cell phone bill.

“Reducing these five bills could easily save you over $100 a month, or more than $1,000 in a year. That’s not too shabby at all,” he notes.

For Alyssa Davies at “Mixed Up Money” an emergency fund (which she calls money to protect your other money) of three months pay is not enough. She has another account called her “comfy couch” for the months she overspends or under-saves.

When Davies wrote the blog she only had $583 in her comfy couch account but that small amount was all it took to make her feel comfortable. She says, “Whenever I need to use some of that money, I simply take it out, and replace the amount the next time I have available funds to do so. If you’re anything like me, you will want to find a magic number that allows you to breath without feeling like a giant horse is sitting on your chest.”

And finally, Retireby40 says he had a terrific 2016 and achieved 9 out of 11 goals. His approach for setting New Years goals is to set achievable objectives; make the goals specific and measurable; and, write them down so he can track his progress. Several of his goals for 2017 include increasing blog income to $36k, redesigning the blog and save $50,000 in tax-advantaged accounts.


Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Aug 22: Best from the Blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

This week we have a pot pourri of stories from some of our favourite bloggers who have continued to write compelling copy through the now waning, long hot days of summer.

Are you a techno-phobe or an early adopter? Alan Whitton aka Bigcajunman writes about how old financial technology habits die hard on the Canadian Personal Finance Blog. Despite some lingering security paranoia, he now deposits cheques by photographing them with his cell phone.

One of the primary changes personal finance advisors suggest that clients make to save money is to put away their credit cards and start spending cash. On Money We Have, Barry Choi explores what happens if you decide to use cash and debit more. He says that depending on your personal situation, this may affect your credit score, you will forgo travel reward points and you also can lose out on other standard benefits like travel insurance and auto insurance covering car rentals.

Mark Seed on My Own Advisor answers a reader’s question, How would you manage a $1 million portfolio? His bias is to own stocks indirectly via passively managed Exchange Traded Funds for the foreseeable future to get exposure to U.S. and international equity markets.  However, he says his selection of investments will likely differ after age 65 and in future he might hire a fee-only financial advisor or use a robo-advisor to manage his portfolio.

I recently helped my son find an apartment in Toronto so I thought Kendra Mangione’s article From a house to a bedroom: What $1,000 a month can rent across Canada was particularly interesting. She says you will pay $950 for a single bedroom with an ensuite bathroom in a Vancouver suburb but $950 will get you a two-bedroom, 864 sq. ft. townhouse close to downtown Regina and the university.

And whether you have children who are new graduates or you are only beginning to help pay for your kids’ post-secondary education, check out Parents Deserve a College Graduation Present, Too in the New York Times. This piece explores a Korean-American tradition for former students to give parents sometimes lavish gifts, once they have their diplomas in hand.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Jul 11: Best from the Blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

The world was shocked to learn that the UK voted to exit the European Community. Nobody really knows what will mean for investors yet but Robin Levinson King at the Toronto Star suggests four ways Brexit could affect Canadans. They are fewer exports, lower returns, a stronger U.S. dollar and a continuing white hot real estate market if interest rates stay low in this country.

Do you have a special skill set or do you own something that someone else wants? Trade it for something you need writes Marie Engen on Boomer and Echo. Bartering for goods and services instead of paying cash is a concept that is alive and well today. It can also save you a bundle.

For many people, paying off debt is one of life’s biggest challenges. Jessica Moorhouse blogs about four women who will inspire you to crush your debt. For example, Amanda D. from Ottawa paid off $64,000 in seven years. She consolidated all her debt with one bank, negotiated a lower interest rate and accelerated her pay down by doubling monthly payments and making periodic bulk payments.

How to purchase life insurance and what kind you need is a potential minefield for many people. On Money after Graduation, Bridget Eastgaard says buy term life insurance and avoid cash-value life insurance at any cost. That’s because cash value life insurance is much more expensive. Also, even one missed payment can void the policy which means you will lose both your insurance coverage and your premiums paid to date.

And since some of you still may not have planned a vacation for the summer or the balance of this year, take a look at Barry Choi’s blog The cost of travel: How to pick a vacation destination. He says daydream a little bit and pick your destination but be realistic if you can’t afford it or it really doesn’t make sense to go to Thailand in typhoon season. The easiest and most cost effective destinations may be locations where you have friends or family.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Oct 26: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

As I write this, perhaps the most newsworthy item of the last week has been the election of the new Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But it will be weeks and months before we know what impact the change in government will actually have on our day to day lives and the Canadian economy.

So today, we go back to basics and draw on the writings of many of our favourite personal finance bloggers and mainstream media pundits who day in and day out, produce articles that help us better manage our money.

The thought of being unemployed is terrifying, but the odds are it will happen to you or a close family member at least once in your lifetime. On Money We Have, Barry Choi writes about How to Prepare for Unemployment. He suggests that you have an emergency fund; a side hustle and that you improve your skills.

Gail Vaz-Oxlade tackles Parenting on a Budget. She says the trick to not letting kids’ expenses get way out of hand is to allocate a specific amount to each child’s activities and needs, and stick with the plan. Start by listing all the things your children do for which you must lay out some of your hard-earned bucks.

Krystal Yee has been vegetarian for almost two years now. She shares on Give me back my five bucks her one month experiment moving from vegetarian to vegan. She anticipates higher than normal grocery bills and that it will be tough to change her habits, but she is hoping that one month will turn to two months and the result will be a new lifestyle.

If you wonder where your money goes, you’ll enjoy The crunch years: Where the money goes by Matt McCleern on MoneySense. McCleern tracked every cent he spent digitally, over the last 12 years. He says transportation and daycare were real budget busters, but the best financial decision he ever made was to aggressively pay down his mortgage.

And in the Huffington Post, Pramod Udiaver discusses five major trends that will affect how you retire. They are increasing longevity; the lower return environment; fewer defined benefit pension plans; and growing health care costs.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Jul 20: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

This week we focus on travel and interesting articles by writers named in Canada.com’s list of 11 Canadian travel bloggers sure to inspire. Included below are excerpts from Canada.com’s profiles of several of these bloggers.

From kicking it with grandchildren to strolling solo in some of the more sought-after destinations in the world, travelling granny Evelyn Hannon shares her tips and tricks for women’s excursions on her web site, Journey Woman. In Test Your Travel Insurance IQ she presents a useful quiz for readers who may not fully understand the reasons for and potential pitfalls of travel insurance.

Founder of I Backpack Canada Corbin Fraser writes about destinations, activities and adventures from the perspective of an independent backpacker travelling throughout the country. Insider travel tips, inspiring videos and more can be found on his Canada-specific travel blog. 4 Valuable Tips for Moving Across Canada is a useful resource if you are trying to figure out how to get you and your stuff from one part of the country to another as cheaply as possible.

Canadian couple Dalene and Peter Heck chronicle their full–time travel experiences which began in 2009 on Hecktic Travels. After selling everything they owned, they hit the road. Being together 24-7 for several years straight is a great litmus test for any relationship. But it’s one they’ve clearly survived, because their adventures continue. They answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how to travel long term and speak to the biggest rewards in this travel lifestyle.

If you’ve ever wanted to just pack a bag and go on a trip by yourself, then read Janice Waugh’s work on Solo Traveler Blog to get inspired. If you are tired of flying economy and being kicked in the back by the child behind you for the whole trip, you will be interested in her blog Best Seat on the Plane According to Your Needs and Budget. She says some planes are definitely more comfortable than others, so choose a booking engine that gives you details on the aircraft scheduled for the flight.

And finally, using the most efficient ways to convert to local currency when you travel outside the country can save you big bucks, says Barry Choi in his guest post The 5 Best Currency Exchange Options For Travellers on the Financial Independence Hub. According to Choi, using ATMs is the generally the best currency exchange option to get cash at the lowest rate. ATMs are everywhere and the best part is they only charge the spot rate of the day plus 2.5%.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Mar 16: Best from the blogosphere

 

By Sheryl Smolkin

After two weeks away in the sun at a resort with flakey WIFI, I have lots of catching up to do! However, I managed to download the replica edition of several newspapers every day, so I wasn’t completely out of touch.

I was particularly interested in a series of editorials in the Globe and Mail articulating the newspaper’s vision as to how the retirement savings system should be reformed. The editorial team views higher TFSA contributions as an unwarranted future drain on the economy and advocates increasing RRSP contribution limits instead.

They also support ramping up CPP and eliminating RRIF withdrawal rules. You can read the whole series by clicking on the links below.

Reforming Retirement (1): How the TFSA turned into Godzilla
Reforming Retirement (2): Getting Ottawa’s mitts off your RRIF
Reforming Retirement (3): More RRSP, not more TFSA, please
Reforming Retirement (4): Canada needs to ramp up CPP, ASAP

Cait Flanders who writes Blonde on a Budget is in the 8th month of a year-long shopping ban. She says she has never been happier and shares 3 truths she discovered about her minimalist lifestyle plus information about her next minimalist challenge for 2015.

On Money We Have, Barry Choi writes about 10 Signs You’re Living Beyond Your Means. Several of my favourites are: when you have zero savings; low monthly payments are your only option; and, you buy only name brands.

Banking on Your Mobile Phone by Tom Drake on Balance Junkie reminds us that there are smart phone apps for business finance, budgeting, bank accounts and mobile payments. Paypal and Google Wallet are probably the most popular mobile payment apps. Most banks also allow to you pay by mobile with their own apps as well.

And finally, on Canadian Dream: Free at 45 Tim Stobbs writes about how a job in customer service that he was overqualified for in 2002 was a valuable experience because he had great co-workers, the company promoted from within and it had a defined benefit pension plan.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Feb 2: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

It was the dead of winter in my neck of the woods last week, but that didn’t stop bloggers and personal finance writers across the country from writing and tweeting to stay warm. In particular, the blogosphere was buzzing about the “first world problems” of Vancouver couple  Eric and Ilsa (a doctor and a dentist) with five kids and earning potential of $450,000/year who can’t make the numbers work to build a house in pricey Vancouver.

In a disconcerting column in the Globe and Mail, Gail Johnson wrote about every homeowner’s worst nightmare. Fred Weekley, the mayor of the district of Katepwa Beach in Saskatchewan managed to intercept a fraudulent transfer of the title of his family home, but others seniors with paid up homes have not been so lucky.

On MoneyWise, Sean Cooper wrote Turning an RSP Into Income: My Mom’s Story. Like many baby boomers, Maureen found herself ‘house rich, cash poor’. After working so hard to pay down her mortgage she wasn’t too keen on a reverse mortgage, so she sold her house for top dollar and moved to a low maintenance, less costly condo.

Many bloggers make a career out of passing on their tips for living frugally, Barry Choi on Money We Have talks about Money Well Spent for a change. I agree that travel and eating out (if you can afford it) are two of life’s great pleasures. We also have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, but I have never felt the need for a Vitamix.

If you are wondering what the drop in the Bank of Canada’s lending rate to .75% this week could mean for your finances, take a look at Tim Shufelt’s piece in the Globe and Mail The winners and losers following the Bank of Canada’s surprise rate cut.

And for all of you who have been day-dreaming about a new car but realistically need to stick with your current vehicle for a few more years, Stephen Weyman on HowToSaveMoney.ca gives helpful hints on How to make your new car last forever. A good rust-proofing job, finding the right mechanic, knowing how much car repairs should cost and buying your own parts for up to 90% off will help.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Jan 26: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

This week we picked up a series of interesting blogs from both bloggers who have previously appeared in this space and several who are new to us .

I was particularly interested in Four reasons you should still take CPP early from Jim Yih at Retire Happy. In his example comparing twins, one who takes CPP early and one who waits until age 65, he calculates the “break even age” as 74.4. Keeping in mind that the earlier years of retirement are when retirees spend the most, he thinks that money in hand now is better than money received later in life.

Eric Ravenscraft’s blog on Lifehacker suggests that you treat savings like a tax so you do it. In other words, have your savings taken off at source by your financial institution so you don’t get a chance to spend the money on something else first.

The Froogal Student’s guest blog Setting goals like the wealthy on the Canadian Budget Binder recommends that you set goals, plan ahead, have career goals and anticipate failure in an interview. While life is far too complex to predict, he says adversity hits everyone. The difference between success and failure lies in preparation.

What I Learned About Money from My Wife by Barry Choi on Money We Have is intended to make it easier for people in relationships to talk about money. For example, Barry likes to put every expense on a credit card to get the points. However he respects his wife’s decision to spend cash wherever possible because she says this approach helps her to control her spending.

Finally, on Our Big Fat Wallet, Dan discusses the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements. While anticipating a possible future divorce may take the shine off your sparkling new ring, the fact is the divorce rate in Canada is about 40%, so it doesn’t hurt to think about how you would deal with your financial affairs in advance if the marriage doesn’t last forever after.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.