Tag Archives: Best of

Dec 23: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

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As the year draws to a close, I am pleased to join brighterlife.ca in celebrating some of the best Canadian retirement writers in 2013. I thank them for including me on the list.

Week after week we link to these and other fine bloggers who freely share their time and considerable insight with us. To get to know some of these people a little better in 2014 savewithspp.com will present a series of podcast interviews with prominent personal finance bloggers.

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Retire Happy. Follow financial expert, author and speaker Jim Yih on Twitter: @jimyih

MoneySense. Follow MoneySense Magazine editor Jonathan Chevreau: @JonChevreau

Boomer and Echo. Follow mother-and-son financial writers Marie and Robb Engen: @BoomerandEcho

Sheryl Smolkin. Follow this lawyer and financial journalist: @SherylSmolkin

Unretired Life. Follow coach, consultant, speaker and author Eileen Chadnick: @unretiredlife

I’m a sonic boomer… not a senior. Royce Shook writes about issues important to Boomers, grandparents and others, who are changing what retirement looks like.

Canadian Dream Free at 45. Follow engineer and financial writer Tim Stobbs on his journey to early retirement: @canadiandream

Everything Zoomer. Follow executive editor and travel writer Vivian Vassos (@vivianvassos) and associate editor and arts and culture writer Mike Crisolago (@MikeCrisolago)

Grey Routes and Tips. Follow travel-for-grownups writer Jane Canapini: @janecanapini

Best from the Blogosphere will be taking a three week break, but I look forward to bringing you more great retirement and money saving ideas beginning again in mid-January.

Have a happy, healthy holiday season with friends and family.

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Sept 16: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

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This week we share links to blogs about RESPs, insurance and applying for a first job.

If you are still paying off student loans and you don’t want your kids to be burdened with debt, you may be thinking about starting Registered Educational Savings Plans for them. On Retire Happy, Jim Yih discusses the RESP contribution and withdrawal rules.

As a result of flooding over the past several years Robb Engen says his home insurance bill is up by 30%.  In the end he decided to renew the policy as is and start budgeting more for house insurance premiums (and the deductible for possible claims) now and in the future.

In an archived blog, Gail Vaz-Oxlade explains why you shouldn’t buy mortgage insurance, flight accident insurance or accidental death insurance. Don’t forget to read the comments which are almost as interesting as the content.

Recruitment season can be very stressful for students in their final year. On BrighterLife.ca Christine Kang says applying for a first job is like going on a first date and give hints on how you can make a good first impression.

And when that long-awaited job offer comes, Andrew on $he Thinks I’m Cheap says it’s time to negotiate the best possible salary. That’s because a small increase can mean big money when you consider the benefits of compounding, pension contributions, bonuses and other benefits.

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.

Sept 9: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

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Most of us are aware that saving for retirement is a must even if our savings currently fall short of what we will need. But many people have not thought much about estate planning and don’t even have a will. So this week we focus on blogs and websites that will help you and your family with end-of-life planning.

Secrets to writing a will is an article in Canadian Living that draws on the expertise of Janet Sim, past chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Wills, Estates and Trusts Section.

The Investor Education Fund’s blog GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca has a section on death and dying with links to blogs about a variety of related topics such as wills, reducing your estate costs and what happens to your life insurance when you die.

Acting as an executor can be very challenging. On retirehappy.ca Jim Yih provides a helpful checklist for executors.

Estate Law Canada is a valuable collection of blogs by Newfoundland lawyer and author Lynne Butler. Her most recent blog discusses what happens to the share of someone who dies before receiving her inheritance.

Widowed.ca is a free online resource for widows, widowers and their families, providing an easy way to locate a wide variety of information and services needed after the loss of a loved one. Check out the Q and As and Janet Baccarani and Jennifer Black’s book Managing Alone.

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.

Aug 26: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

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In this week’s roundup we feature series of blogs about the pros and cons of home ownership plus blogs from some of our other favourites that are great reads. 

In How To Figure Out If A Home Is A Good Investment, She Thinks I’m Cheap teaches you how to do the math to find out whether you can afford a home. He also explores whether or not it makes sense to buy the largest home your bank or mortgage broker says you can afford.

Since the end of July, Gail Vaz-Oxlade has published excerpts from Chapter 4 of her book Money Rules. This very readable five part narrative tell the story of Jason (divorced with two children) and the issues he encounters when purchasing a home.

Chapter 4: A Home of My Own (Part 1)

Chapter 4: A Home of My Own (Part 2)

Chapter 4: A Home of My Own (Part 3)

Chapter 4: A Home of My Own (Part 4)

Chapter 4: A Home of My Own (Part 5)

Whether you are saving for a new home or saving for retirement, you may think you have cut out all of the fat and you can’t allocate another dollar a month from your budget to savings. That’s when Canadian Dream: Free at 45 blogger Tim Stobbs  Avoids Saving Boredom by taking risks and trying out new money-saving ideas even if many don’t work.

A continuing theme in all of the blogs we write or refer you to is that saving money is not rocket science. You just have to spend less than you make. On Retire Happy blogger Jim Yih reiterates the basic principles of saving while readily acknowledging that Building Wealth is Simple, Not Easy

And finally, Kerry K. Taylor aka Squawkfox learns that The crazy cost of daycare in Toronto is about 1/3 more than she paid in B.C. and calculates how much she has to earn in order to afford it.

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.

Aug 19: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

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Whether you are going back to work or back to school this fall, this week we highlight blogs that will help you pay down current debt and avoid going into debt in future.

10 Steps to a Debt Free Life starts with the cardinal rule: Spend less money than you earn. And Big Cajun Man says once you no longer have any debt, save the money instead of going on a spending binge.

While living frugally may seem to be an impossible challenge, Gail Vaz-Oxlade once again reminds us that Frugality = Deprivation. Not!

One way many youg people are keeping expenses down these days is by cutting the cord to either cable or satellite television services. On howtosavemoney.ca SavingMentor explains why regardless of what you may have read to the contrary, Netflix Canada can be a pretty good deal.

If you are a college or university student, taking out student loans may seem like an inevitable necessity. But before you do, read about What to consider when taking student loans on myuniversitymoney.com.

And finally, if you are not sure what career options to pursue, don’t forget to consider a lucrative trade. On milliondollarjourney.com you can find out about how apprenticeships work and and how you can earn while you learn.

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.

Aug 12: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

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By mid-August we’ve turned the corner on summer and many of us are considering the best ways to save both money and time as we prepare for the busy fall season ahead.

There is nothing like a simple economical home-cooked meal with friends and family to make you happier, according to a study cited on the Chatelaine website.

On Squawkfox blogger extraordinaire Kerry K. Taylor explains SCOP (the  Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code) and how it can help you get groceries up to $10 free if the scanned price of a non-ticketed item is higher than the shelf price or any other displayed price.

If you haven’t started a Registered Educational Savings Plan for your kids yet, check out Jim Yih’s blog on retirehappy.ca. He gives four great reasons why RESPs are a more attractive option than ever for saving towards your children’s education.

If you regularly contribute to RESPs but are contemplating a change to your investment strategy, take a look at Robb Engen’s RESP portfolio on boomer & echo.

And finally, if you just got a new job or a promotion and you are negotiating your salary, don’t miss Salary Negotiation – How a Small Increase Becomes Big Money on shethinksimcheap.com.

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.

Aug 5: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

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The weather is about as good as it gets across Canada in early August, but it won’t be long before the leaves start to fall and temperatures plummet. That’s when some of us start wondering if we can afford retire somewhere warm.

If you are starting to do the research, take a look at the two part series The Pros, Cons, and Considerations of an International Retirement and 10 Best International Places to Retire on TopRetirements.com.

The pros and cons of Ecuador as a retirement destination is on the Wall Street Journal blog called MarketWatch so it is primarily geared to Americans, but there is also lots of useful information for other expats.

Another interesting U.S. post from the N.Y. Times considers how you can go abroad to places like Vietnam and Australia but keep working during at least the early part of your retirement.

But when it comes right down to it, even a tropical climate can’t replace close friends and family. That’s why you may decide to stay put and retire where everyone knows your name.

Regardless of where you decide to hang your hat for the next chapter, see seven habits of happily retired people shared by Brighter Life blogger Dave Dineen. He advocates trying new things, looking after yourself, caring for others and staying engaged.

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 29: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

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Whether you live in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba or Ontario you have either been the victim of extreme weather or know someone who has. We have experienced recent power outages in both Toronto and Muskoka.

In case you  ever lose of power for a prolonged period, keep the link to this blog by Hollie Pollard, the Common Sense Mom. She explains what to throw out after a power outage and when.

Blogger Victoria Gazely writes in Modern Homesteading about Disaster Prep and Emergency Preparedness in 7 Simple Steps. There are some great ideas that range from putting together a 72-hour kit to making sure you are equipped for medical emergencies.

Robert on Canadian Dream Free at 45 recently came back from helping with cleanup in High River, Alberta. Although at first blush so many people have lost everything, he says education/skills, work ethic and optimism are things they can take anywhere to help them build a new life.

Due to recent hail damage, Rob Engen’s car has a roadmap of new dents and dings. He explains on boomer & echo why it makes good financial sense to take a cash settlement for the damages instead of paying the deductible and getting the vehicle fixed.

And finally, the big news this week is that Kerry K. Taylor aka Squawkfox has moved from her charming rural farm to the big, bad city of Toronto. It seems there are better business opportunities for her and Carl (a computer science grad.) Kerry is looking forward to all the city stuff she wants to do with her daughter and we can look forward to a whole new series of witty blogs about frugal urban living.

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 22: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

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In this week’s Best from the Blogosphere, we highlight blogs and blog posts that can help you plan frugal vacations.

On Boomer & Echo, read money saving tips from a budget savvy traveler. For example, take a look at Skyscanner.ca when searching for cheap flights between cities.  They list all carriers including budget airlines which normally don’t show up on sites such as Expedia and Kayak.

In an archived blog on Frugal Wanderer, Krystal Yee reviews AirBnB, a peer-to-peer website for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodation around the world at any price point. From a spare room in someone’s house to a oceanside villa, she says there is something for everyone and there are listings in more than 19,000 cities and 192 different countries.

Perhaps you have been contemplating buying a summer cottage. Retire happy blogger Jim Yee says buying vacation property is something that should be well thought out because of the financial impact it can have on your retirement planning. Do the math and consider how much time you will actually spend there.

Spending money you don’t have on even a frugal vacation can blow your annual budget. That’s why Gail Vaz Oxlade says if you’re worried about how much your summer trip is going to cost, you probably shouldn’t take it. Instead, consider a staycation.

Finally, if you think following your travel dreams is impossible, then Myscha Theriault  says you haven’t checked out these eleven Canadian bloggers. They’ve travelled the country, and the world. What’s more, they’ve chronicled all of it for your inspiration.

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 on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Jul 15: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

blogospheregraphic

This week’s “Best from the Blogosphere” has financial tips of interest to both young and older readers.

On Boomer and Echo, Robb Engen does some financial dreaming about how to be financially free by age 40. He acknowledges it’s a stretch and life may get in the way, but says doing the calculations has given him the inspiration to try and attain this goal.

Retire Happy blogger Jim Yih explores the withholding tax you can expect to pay when you withdraw money from your RRSPs and RRIFs. He says it may not always be in your best interest to withdraw small amounts instead of a larger lump sum to minimize withholding tax. That’s because you must pay income tax on your full earnings so you may have to pay more when you file your income tax return.

Actuary Promod Sharma questions on Riscario Insider how Mike Holmes would fix the financial sector. He says Mike’s prescription for home renovation which is get educated; get an independent inspection; and get things fixed can apply equally to your retirement savings portfolio.

Meanwhile, if paying for an expensive college education is in you or your child’s future, you may be intrigued by Oregon’s “Pay it Forward, Pay it Back” pilot tuition plan. Students will be allowed to go to a public university or community college tuition-free, in exchange for a binding contract that they will pay a small, fixed percentage of their annual gross income for 20 years after they graduate.

But on Give me back my five bucks, blogger Krystal Yee says the proposal is just another student loan plan which may cost way more than the degree would cost if you finance it over a shorter period.

And finally, if you are still looking for a summer job or a recent graduate looking for a career position, take a look at a classic blog from the Squawkfox archives. Kerry K. Taylor says on the road to making it as a heavenly musician, artist, writer, or whatever, sometimes you have to stop being so fussy and take that horrible job to pay the bills.

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 on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.