October 29, 2021

That's why it's so tough to save money!

Budgeting is tough, particularly when you're trying to actually set some money aside for the future.

Like losing weight or battling any addiction, saving money resides in the realm of behaviour that sometimes seems immune to rational solutions, says one ex-banker turned blogger. But it's often tough to get out of the gate without some help.

"My guess is that the best person to help you figure out how to save money is somebody who has suffered from living beyond their means in the past, and who has developed effective strategies for overcoming this problem," he says. 

But if that person isn't readily available to you, you still need to figure out what's holding you back. That means tricking that rational mind and helping it get with the program, he suggests, including developing a better sense of just what's going on upstairs. 

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September 30, 2021

Homeless survive using bitcoins

Bitcoins are becoming an acceptable form of digital currency around the world, so much so that the homeless are turning towards it to survive.

A homeless man in Florida is paid in bitcoins to drive traffic to videos. While Jesse Angle relies on food stamps, the extra money makes sure he has enough for meals every day, according to Wired magazine. It sounds surprising, but Angle has access to a laptop (other homeless friends he knows have access to smartphones), free Wi-fi and it helps that the digital currency keeps him safer from being robbed.

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Are joint credit cards ever a good idea?

Linking your credit with another person's credit always has the potential for risks and rewards.

Joint credit card accounts were once quite popular, since they allow couples to share cards, giving  stay-at-home partners with little or no income access to credit since the account is in the names of both people.

But one income families are the exception these days, with the result that some issuers are turning away from joint accounts, arguing that they no longer fit the times.

What's more, since credit issuers in the U.S. are no longer allowed to use income as a factor in rejecting a credit card application, most vendors have simply lost interest.

Shared cards might work where both parties have conservative spending habits, compatible financial goals and are truly committed to each other. But that doesn't always happen. It might be obvious to you which expenses should be put on the card and which shouldn't but one person's "obvious" may be another's "I don't see the problem!"

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September 09, 2021

Germans resort to avoiding taxes by hiding cash in diapers

With the world banging on Switzerland's door to open up about its bank secrecy, Germans who stashed their cash in the tax haven are turning to creative ways to hide their unreported money.

“You regularly have instances of people wearing a secret money belt or concealing it in their underwear,” a customs spokesperson told Bloomberg.

It must have been a tight fit for a 72-year-old man to wear a women's corset packed with 150,000 euros. While another man hid 140,000 euros in adult diapers, officials have also found cash hidden in a shoe, a car battery and in a gingerbread house.

Last year, customs between the German-Swiss border discovered 20 million euros of undeclared cash (and that doesn't mean they found it all either). With German residents accounting for 5.2 million overnight stays in 2011, the largest nationality of foreign visitors the Switzerland, they have easy access to Swiss accounts.

Anyone bringing over more than $10,000 euros ($13,200 USD) and not declaring the amount is breaking the law. 

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Freshman entering college lack basic money skills: report

Most parents wish their kids could avoid making the same stupid money mistakes that they did as they head off to college.

The best way to go about that? Get them on the way in, suggests a new study from EverFi, a Washington D.C.-based education technology company.

Researchers surveyed 40,000 college students, most of them freshmen, from across the U.S. about their money habits. They found that nearly 80 per cent of students said that they “frequently” worry about debt and are experiencing debt-related stress in their daily lives.

And, despite the fact that school costs considerably less on this side of the border, Canadian students aren't doing any better.

“A freshman in college may benefit most from education around school loans, budgeting while in school, and credit card behavior, whereas seniors in college may benefit more from education around budgeting for life on their own, retirement planning, and mortgages,” the study says.

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August 02, 2021

The pros and cons of being a stay-at-home parent

According to the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC), child care fees are typically the second highest cost to families next to housing.

Not only that, over 70 per cent of mothers are in the work force and yet there are only enough child care spaces for about 20 per cent of the families who need them.

Consider a single parent working at a job with minimum wage. The cost of child care far outweighs the income earned.

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August 01, 2021

Stealing a PIN code is as easy as 1234

You work hard for your money.

So why put your finances at risk with a personal identification number (PIN) that's as easy as 1234?

A study by DataGenetics revealed that people are opening themselves up to identity theft and financial fraud by selecting four-digit PINs that are easy to crack.

When thinking of a four-digit password, many people opt for something that is simple and easy to remember such as a child's birth date, an anniversary or the year they were born.

However, there are over 10,000 possible combinations the digits 0 to 9 can be arranged to create a four-digit PIN code, according to the research.

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July 24, 2021

More Canadians carrying debt

Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes...and now debt.

According to a new report from BMO Bank of Montreal, more Canadians are carrying a household debt load (83 per cent) compared to 74 per cent in 2012.

The survey found that mortgage debt was the main source of debt for many Canadians followed by car loans and funding education.

The study also found that the average monthly debt payment has declined, dropping from $1,138 to $986.

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July 09, 2021

Teach kids about money this summer

Forget summer camps.

Teach your kids about saving money this summer and ignite their entrepreneurial spirit.

Starting a first job or a new job can be an exciting experience for your children.

Earning their own money and learning how to start a savings account or save-up for something they really want all adds up to growing up and being responsible with finances.

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Gordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...