July 28: Best from the blogosphere

28 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

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This week we highlight a series of posts of particular interest to readers who are retired and those who are contemplating retirement.

The big question everyone has when planning their retirement is “how much can I spend so I won’t run out of money.” Mark at MyOwnAdvisor considers various approaches like the rule of 20 and the rule 0f 25. But he concludes there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to determining your retirement number other than taking the first step and figuring out what you’ll likely spend in retirement.

In a short video, Globe and Mail personal finance columnist Rob Carrick interviews Bruce Sellery, author of The Moolala Guide to Rockin’ Your RRSP. Bruce says if you save 10% a year you will probably have enough to retire. To calculated how much you must save, multiply the annual amount you need by 20. So savings of $1 million will be required to pay yourself $50,000/year.

On Boomer & Echo, Marie Engen writes about how downsizing might not be the way to finance your retirement. Moving to a smaller, cheaper place can free up home equity for living expenses and reduce annual housing costs.  But moving is expensive and often a new place can cost more than the one you sold.

Escaping work may be the dream you are working towards, but if you get bored or your investments take a dive you may want to find full or part-time work. Tom Drake on CanadianFinance blog gives five hints for retirees looking for a job. He advises you not to say you are retired as it will give the impression that your best working days are behind you.

If when to start payment of your CPP pension isn’t confusing enough, the answer is further complicated if you are currently receiving a CPP survivors pension. Jim Yih on RetireHappy presents  an interesting case study on combined CPP benefits where compared to the other two choices age 65 is never the best time to start collecting CPP.

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.

July 21: Best from the blogosphere

21 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

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This week we bring you blogs from some old favourites as well as some new finds.

On the Canadian Personal Finance Blog, Big Cajun Man reminds us of some of the hidden costs of going away to university that you or your child may not have budgeted for. Don’t forget computers and other devices; trips home; and non-refundable activity fees.

The Frugal Trader shares on Million Dollar Journey how he finally hit the million dollar net worth milestone. Starting at about $200,000 in 2006 he reached his goal by spending less than he earned; aggressively paying off debt; and buying long-term appreciating assets.

We follow Tom Drake on the Canadian Finance Blog, but in a recent interview we became aware he also owns and writes for Balance Junkie. In a recent blog on that site he shares the following three ways to change your lifestyle to save money: Less entertainment, more education; exercise more and eat healthy; and get enough sleep.

On July 7, 2014, Blonde on a Budget  started a year-long shopping ban. Her goal is to spend less, save more and learn to enjoy what she already has. Here are the rules of her shopping ban.

Finally, Kevin Mercadante’s blog Out of Your Rut is referenced in this space for the first time. He recently wrote an interesting post about breaking free of the constraints of being middle class.

Kevin says it takes a lot of time, effort and financial resources to maintain the stereo typical middle-class, suburban lifestyle. The resources that you devote to the chase can take away from other directions in your life that might not only be more productive, but might also better suit your personality and preferences.

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.

Big Cajun Man shares RDSP, RESP expertise

17 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

Alan Whitton and his son Rhys

Alan Whitton and his son Rhys

 

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Click here to listen

Hi,

As part of the savewithspp.com continuing series of podcast interviews with personal finance bloggers, today I’m talking to the “Big Cajun Man,” author of the Canadian Personal Finance Blog.

In real life, he is actually, Alan Whitton, a mild-mannered government civil servant and father of four, living in Ottawa. Alan has been blogging about finance and consumerism for about ten years, focusing on real life experiences.

As a result, he has written extensively about Registered Disability Savings Plans and parenting a disabled child.

Welcome, Alan.

My pleasure Sheryl.

Q: First of all Alan, tell our listeners where your alter ego name, “Big Cajun Man,” came from.
A:  Well, I was playing golf with friends and was wearing a straw hat and someone yelled at me, “What do you think you are, some kind of big stinking Cajun man?” and the guys I was playing with have called me that ever since.

Q: Why did you start blogging?
A: Well, I started initially just on BlogSpot as sort of an open letter to my mother because at the time, my wife was pregnant with our fourth child, who was a bit of a surprise. Then I realized I could write about other things and I was always interested in money so I figured I’d just start blogging about it.

Q: How frequently do you post?
A: I try to write four or five posts in a week. The Friday post is usually a ‘best of’ what I’ve seen during the week.

Q: How long are the blogs and how complex are they? Do they vary?
A: Oh, it’s usually somewhere between four and eight paragraphs. What shows up, or what I read about or something that happens in my life is usually the catalyst for the more interesting ones.

Q: Tell me about some of the topics you write about.
A: Well, family and money and how families work with money, a little bit on investing, a lot more on disability and how families can deal financially with kids with disabilities or loved ones with disabilities. And that really, again, arose because when Rhys was diagnosed on the autism spectrum, I had to learn about all this so I figured I’d write about it too.

Q: And, how old is Rhys now?
A: He is 9. I have three beautiful daughters who are 24, 22 and 20, and my son who has just turned 9. It’s a multi-generational family. That’s why I end up writing about things like university costs and parenting a 9-year old.

Q: There are probably over a dozen personal finance bloggers in Canada. What’s different about your blog. Why do you think it’s a must read?
A: I don’t know. I mean, my point of view as a father of a multi-generational family is interesting. I always have had a different perspective on things. I leave a lot of the specific investing ideas to some of the more qualified chaps like Michael James and Rob Carrick. I mostly just talk about John Public’s point of view of things.

Q: How many hits do you typically get for your blogs?
A: Between 8,000 and 12,000 a month. It started off very slowly and I think with the backlog of over 2,500 posts there’s a lot of people who just search and end up finding me accidentally.

Q: What are some of the more popular blogs you’ve posted?
A: Well, anything under my RDSP and RESP menus are popular, like how to apply for your child’s disability tax benefits. And on the RDSP side of things all the fights I’ve had with TD about putting money in and taking money out. Also, surprisingly, I wrote one simple blog that just said “I am a civil servant,” and let me tell you, that one caused no end of excitement.

Q: What is the essence of that particular blog?
A: I was trying to blow up some of the very negative views people have about civil servants. I mean, I worked in the private sector for over 20 years. I‘ve been a civil servant for 4 years.

Q. Tell me some of the key features of Registered Disability Savings Plans and what parents of disabled children need to know about them.
A: Well, just that right now they’re sort of the poor stepson at most financial institutions. I mean they’re not very flexible. Typically, at worst, they’re really just savings accounts. You can buy GICs or the bank’s mutual funds, which usually have very high management fees.

From what I can tell so far, TD Waterhouse is the only trading partner or trading house that has an RDSP where you can actually buy whatever you want like ETFs. But even the TD plan is not very well set up. It’s pretty cumbersome to put money into.

Q: What’s cumbersome about it?
A: Well, I can’t set up a weekly automatic withdrawal. I have to put money aside into another TD trading account. Then I have to phone up every once in awhile and transfer the money from the trading account into the RDSP. And then I have to call back after the money’s cleared to say, “And now I want to buy these ETF’s or index funds.”

Q: Why is that?
A: I don’t know. I’ve asked TD that a whole bunch of times. It’s just the way the system works. I’ve poked at them as best I can. I’ve asked a few other people to poke at them, but I haven’t really received a satisfactory answer.

Q: Are there legislative rules about how you can invest RDSPs?
A: Not, necessarily. It’s just the banks are putting that kind of limit on things because it’s not a big money maker for them. They’re not going to make a fortune on amounts people deposit into RDSPs.  Whereas with RESPs, there are more people with kids going to university.

Q: What are the contribution limits on RDSPs?
A: The overall lifetime limit for a particular beneficiary is $200,000. Contributions are permitted until the end of the year in which the beneficiary turns 59. Up to a certain amount every year, depending on how much money you make, will be matched by the government.

Based on parental income, an RDSP can get a maximum of $3,500 in matching grants in one year, and up to $70,000 over the beneficiary’s lifetime. A grant can be paid into an RDSP on contributions made to the beneficiary’s RDSP until December 31 of the year the beneficiary turns 49.

Q: Do you have a favorite personal finance blogger that you read religiously?
A: I’ve got a couple. I like reading Michael James “On Money”, but he’s a friend of mine. I really like the Canadian Capitalist, but he’s sort of taken a hiatus. “Boomer & Echo” and the “Canadian Couch Potato” are quite good and so is “My Own Advisor.” I’ve met most of these guys at various conferences. I also read Squawkfox and have had extensive correspondence with her on Twitter.

Q: What, if any, money making opportunities or spin-offs have there been as a result of your blogging career?
A: Well, I don’t do this for the money which is obvious given how little I make at it. This is more of a cathartic thing for me.

Q: If you had only one piece of advice to readers or listeners about getting their finances in order, what would it be?
A: Get out of debt. Debt is a bad thing. There’s no such thing as good debt. It’s all bad. Don’t fool yourself into thinking there’s livable debt like a mortgage or maybe paying for your university. Somehow carrying debt has been normalized in the last 30 years or so but it’s still really not ok.

Thank you very much, Alan. It was a pleasure to talk to you.

Thanks for the opportunity Sheryl.

This is an edited transcript you can listen to by clicking on the link above. You can find the Canadian Personal Finance Blog here.

July 14: Best from the blogosphere

14 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

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This week we have a mixed bag of posts for your summer reading from the world of the ever-prolific personal finance bloggers we track.

Brighter Life presents a series of both get your health and get your finances in shape tips from other bloggers. One of my favourites is from Jeremy Biberdorf, author of Modest Money. He says too many people think the path to financial freedom is to focus heavily on either frugality or earning more money. The trick is actually to find a healthy balance of both worlds. The more extra income you earn, the fewer sacrifices you have to make in your daily life.

Many of us are card-carrying members of the sandwich generation with responsibility for both elderly parents and young children. On Moneycrashers Michael Lewis discusses six must-have conversations you need to have when caring for elderly parents. If you have to tell a parent that it is time to stop driving or take over the finances of an aging relative, you will appreciate this information.

How much do you really need to retire? $1 million? $2 million? On Retire Happy Donna McCaw says your expectations may be too high.  Only about half of the Boomers polled by Scotiabank are doing any planning and most of that planning is only financial in nature, No one mentioned planning for their lifestyle, healthy living, building social networks outside of work or any of the other aspects this major transition brings.

Boomer & Echo blogger Robb Engen says  Investors Should Embrace Simple Solutions. He refers to a young investor seeking feedback on his investment portfolio. While he has wisely opted for low fees by investing in ETFs, seven funds are too many as it may require a lot of fine-tuning to keep the asset allocation in line with his original strategy.  

And finally, on the Canadian Finance Blog, Tom Drake exposes 5 Lies About Your Credit Report. Did you know that if you paid off your debt to a collection agency rather than paying the original vendor the information stays on your credit report?

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.

BOOK REVIEW: HOW NOT TO MOVE BACK IN WITH YOUR PARENTS

10 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

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The same day I was planning to review “How not to move back in with your parents: The young person’s guide to financial empowerment,” the author and Globe and Mail personal finance columnist Rob Carrick wrote a column revealing how difficult it is for students to get summer jobs to pay for their education and quantifying the cost of post-secondary study.

He cited the Yconic/Abacus Data Survey of Canadian Millennials, conducted for The Globe and Mail earlier this year of 1,538 young people aged 15 to 33. The study found that just over one-third of young people worked more than 30 hours per week at their last summer job. Another 23 per cent worked less than 30 hours at the same job, while the rest were either working multiple part-time jobs, looking for work or taking summer classes.

According to the survey, earnings from summer jobs and other savings totalled less than $2,500 for 46 per cent of students prior to starting college or university, while another 23 per cent had $2,500 to $5,000. However, a year of undergraduate education away at school including tuition, books and living expenses can easily cost $20,000 or more.

That’s why the information in Carrick’s latest book is so valuable. Every new parent should get a copy when they leave the hospital with their precious bundle of joy and beginning at a young age children should be taught the basic principles of financial literacy outlined in the book.

The first chapter discusses sources of funding for college or university and the basics of Registered Educational Savings Plans (RESPs). It is important that new parents understand that the combination of government grants and compounding mean that by opening an account in their child’s first year, saving for a college education becomes almost painless.

He also zeroes in on avoiding the debt trap and the perennial student dilemma: go to school at home or go away to school? He suggests that if the out-of-town program is going to make the student more successful or give him/her the edge in building a career, the additional cost can more easily be justified.

Successive chapters deal with banking, saving, budgeting and the pros and cons of buying a car. Later in the book he looks to the future and covers off the financial implications of buying a home; weddings and kids; and, insurance and wills.

Every chapter has a useful hot list. Examples are:

  • Tips for saving money in your student years
  • Expert tips on building a solid credit rating
  • Five rookie financial mistakes to avoid
  • Ten things you need to know about your company pension plan
  • Top mortgage tips for first-time buyers
  • Top reasons not to buy mortgage life insurance from your bank

Regardless of how well parents and their offspring plan and save, Carrick recognizes that kids may need to move home for some period of time when they are out of work or looking for a job. In fact he did so himself after he finished university.

In those circumstances, parents will have to make “boomerang decisions” like:

  • Whether they should charge room and board
  • Whether to provide some day-to-day spending cash
  • Whether to push their child to take any job you can get.

But kids also need their part by acting like adults, making non-financial contributions and keeping parents updated on their job search. Recognizing that parents may have useful contacts and advice can also help to avoid friction.

The principles of good money management for students and parents Carrick discusses are not new. However, they are introduced and packaged in a way that makes sense for both cohorts.

It’s well worth the couple of hours it will take you to read the book and a good reference you can dip into from time to time in the future when your family is at an age and stage where specific information will apply.

The book can be purchased for $16.57 online at Chapters.

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July 7: Best from the blogosphere

8 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

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After two weeks of vacation in lovely (except for the mosquitoes) Muskoka, I’m back. And so are all of our favourite personal finance bloggers with lots of interesting material. In particular, we welcome back Kerry K. Taylor (aka Squawkfox) who has been on sick leave.

In her classic comeback post Kerry questions whether Dollarama’s $3 HDTV antenna is worth it.  The bottom line is that she was able to receive as many channels on the $3 antenna as on the $67 model she bought at Future Shop. Her readers also have made interesting comments about what worked and what didn’t in their part of the country when they ditched cable or satellite TV.

Alan Whitton (The Big Cajun Man) gives us three financial rules of thumb to live by: Spend less than you make; don’t confuse spending less with saving money if you are buying an item you don’t really need; and lifestyle creep is dangerous and an excuse to build up debt.

Sean Cooper wrote about how he reached $500,000 in net worth by age 29 in this post on Million Dollar Journey. He worked at multiple jobs, lived with his parents until he had a significant down payment on a house and rented out the top floor of his home while living in the basement apartment.

Mark Seed at My Own Advisor joins the legion of Canadians who are opting for VOIP telephone services instead of Bell or Rogers. For $4.95/month he got to keep his home phone number using Fongo Home Phone and after several months he states categorically that it was the right decision.

And last but not least, a free e:book Understanding Unretirement written by Today’s Economy blogger and Sun Life Financial Assistant Vice-President, Market Insights Kevin Press draws on six years of company research to explore why retirement in today’s economy is different and harder to achieve but could be better than ever before.

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.

Crystal ball gazing: Jobs 2030

26 Jun

By Sheryl Smolkin

26Jun-newjobscrystalball

January 2014 figures reveal that although the national youth unemployment rate was 13.9%, Saskatchewan’s youth unemployment rate of 7% was the lowest in the country.

Nevertheless, young people realize that selecting a course of post-secondary study and a future career are critical decisions that will impact their job satisfaction and family lifestyle for many years to come.

Jobs like web designer, social media specialist and computer game designer did not exist 35 or 40 years ago when new grads were faced with similar decisions. And it is all but impossible to predict what novel opportunities will be available in future and how to train for these new roles.

Nevertheless, the registered educational savings plan company Canadian Scholarship Trust partnered with 40+ leading experts across Canada to collect their insights on the future of their industries and worked with foresight strategists to create hypothetical job descriptions for positions that may be available 15+ years from now.

The Inspired Minds initiative is a “digital job fair” for the year 2030 that imagines a series of jobs you have never heard of but may be available sooner than you think. Here are five of those jobs I find the most interesting, plus the kind of training you may need for these positions.

  1. Nostalgist
    The nostalgist will be an interior designer specializing in recreating memories for retired people. The wealthy elderly of 2030 will have the luxury of living in a space inspired by their favourite decade. Nostalgists will recreate the setting of their preferred time and place for seniors wishing to relive their past, from a small-town 1970s living room to a 1980s university dorm room.A degree in social science would provide a good background for this job, because knowing how people work and the conditions that enable success will be vital. Training in systems thinking and administrative procedures will also be important, so some courses in management sciences will be valuable.
  2. Tele-surgeon
    Using a combination of robotic surgery tools, scanning and sensing technologies and high-speed networks, tele-surgeons will operate on people in faraway locations.Most communities will have a small surgical team in the local medical centre, but in emergency cases drones (pilotless flying devices) will be used to airdrop a tele-surgery unit into villages or seasonal camps, as this can be faster than moving a patient by helicopter.Tele-surgeons will need traditional medical and surgical training, but expand their skills to include robotic surgical assistants. They will have be familiar with robotic technology and comfortable performing surgeries through a variety of different video systems
  3. Rewilder
    The old name for this job was ‘farmer’. However, the role of the rewilder will not be to raise food crops, as this will be done more and more in highly efficient skyscraper-like greenhouses known as vertical farms. The rewilder’s job will be to undo environmental damage to the countryside caused by people, factories, cars, and intensive one crop monoculture farming (which occurs when only crop is planted over a large area of land).All the traditional requirements of farming will be needed for this role, including managing land and crops, but managing wildlife will also be a necessary skill. Rewilders will be paid not for how successful their crops are, but according to the diversity and health of their land. Degrees in wildlife management, agriculture and environmental sciences will all be relevant.
  4. Garbage designer
    Environmental damage and the build-up of landfills (places where garbage is dumped) have made recycling a norm. However, recycling relies on the idea that the things that we make will inevitably create waste. A new form of recycling that will likely become popular in 2030 is ‘upcycling’.Upcycling is the practice of turning waste into better quality products; for example, old toothbrushes into bracelets, or old magazines into woven place mats or pots for plants. Garbage designers will be key to ensuring the success of upcycling.Garbage designers will need a strong background in materials science and engineering. An interest in industrial design will also be ideal. Familiarity with manufacturing practices and trade will help them identify key points where they can make the most impact.
  5. Healthcare navigator
    A health care navigator knows how hospitals work and they are trained to help patients and their families cope. The navigator teaches patients and their loved ones about the ins and outs of a complicated medical system. The navigator also helps people to manage their contact with the medical system with the least amount of stress and delay.Most navigators are former nurses, but a new generation of navigators is on the rise. These navigators will combine their knowledge of the healthcare system with the skills of a social worker. A good navigator will be able to match the patient’s family with the right people at the right time — whether it’s a doctor, pharmacist, home-care worker or a nurse.

For information about the full list of 2030 job descriptions developed as part of the Inspired Minds project, take a look at the CST careers website.

It remains to be seen which of these career options will actually become a reality. However, the aging workforce, climate change, global mobility and digital technology will certainly mean that young people entering the workforce in 2014 will have a host of new opportunities we can only imagine in the decades to come.

Robb Engen takes on new challenges

19 Jun

By Sheryl Smolkin

19Jun-Robb-Engen-620x350

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Click here to listen

Hi,

Today in savewithspp.com’s continuing series of interviews with financial bloggers, we talk with Robb Engen. Robb is “Echo” from the very popular Canadian personal finance blog Boomer & Echo. He also has a bi-weekly column in the Toronto Star where his research focuses on budgeting, banking, credit cards, and debt management.

Robb is a happily married Dad living in Southern Alberta. Over the past five years he has gone from taking an amateur interest in personal finance and investing to working towards becoming a full-fledged money expert by taking the four-course Certified Financial Planner program online.

In addition to writing this blog, he appears regularly in the online podcasts Because Money.  He and his mother Marie have started a “fee only” financial planning business and Robb has a new blog called Earn Save Grow.

Thank you very much for joining me today Robb.

I’m glad to be here Sheryl.

Q:  Robb, you’re one busy guy. Before we start talking about your blogs, tell me a little bit about your day job.
A: Sure. In addition to all that you mentioned, I do have a day job, and I’m the Business Development Manager at the University of Lethbridge. That’s a fancy title saying I fund raise and generate revenue for our sports teams here in Lethbridge.

Q: When did you and Marie start “Boomer and Echo”, and why?
A: We started it back in August 2010, so we’ve been at it almost four years. My mom worked for a big bank for two decades plus, and we always chatted about personal finance and investing.

We just had our first child, so there was a lot going on financially, and I started reading a lot of personal finance blogs. My Mom and I thought we might have a unique spin on financial issues.

We wrote a couple of articles, just to get the feeling for putting that kind of thing together, and I did some research on how to start a blog. Then we just jumped into it, I guess.

Q: How many hits do you typically get when you post a blog?
A: We’ve built up a pretty decent-sized following, and most people follow us by Email. We have about 6,000 email subscribers, and of that, I’d say two to three thousand probably actually click through to the blog to read a new post, and some probably just read it by email.

Q: What have some of your most popular posts been about?
A: I’d say probably the more personal stories. When I talk about my changing careers and what that looks like and dealing with a pension plan versus in the private sector, trying to save on your own. I wrote about the challenges I had as a first-time homebuyer, and that got a lot of hits. My mom’s had the same success talking about personal stories.

Q: How have you been able to monetize your blog? What have some of the spinoffs been?
A: I saw that Google has their AdSense network, and that seemed to be the go-to place for monetizing a blog, so we’ve done okay there. It also seems to be that writing about personal finance and investing tends to find more advertisers than say, if you were to write about cats or maybe photography or something like that.

Q: You also blogged for the Toronto Star’s site “Moneyville” three days a week, and now you’re writing a column for thestar.com so those really are spinoffs from your blog as well.
A: Yeah, and what I noticed were some of the more profitable things that people search for information about are rewards cards and loyalty programs. I didn’t want to inundate my Boomer & Echo blog, with posts about air miles and aeroplan so I started a little offshoot called “Rewards Cards Canada,” and that’s where I talk about that niche area.

Q: How many hours a week do you spend on your own blog and the various other related personal finance activities outside your 9-to-5 job?
A: I’d say, for all the online activities, I probably spend about two hours a night from Sunday to Thursday. 

Q: Tell me how the “Because Money” series on YouTube works and the technology used to link Moderator Jackson Middleton with you and the other interview subjects. 
A: I attended the fantastic Canadian Personal Finance Blogger’s Conference in Toronto, and one of the takeaways I got was maybe, try to explore some different forms of media. Video blogging has really come into the forefront now.

Sandy Martin, a fee-only planner who writes at Spring Personal Finance knew marketing and social media manager Jackson Middleton, and so we all got together and decided to do this video series called “Because Money.”

It’s all done through the social network, Google Plus. Google owns YouTube, and they formed what they call “Hangouts on Air.” It’s like a Skype video call. You can get up to 10 people, video chatting on hangout at the same time, and you can put it live on air or you can just record it and play it later. We do it live every Wednesday night.

Q: What kind of hits are you getting on it?
A: Pretty good. We get a couple hundred views a week, and when we have better know people on, like Rob Carrick and Dan Bortolotti, we get a lot more views.

Q: You’re also taking certified financial planner courses, and along with Marie, you’re now offering a unique fee-only personal finance planning service online. How does the service work, and how’s it going?
A: What we found was, we built up quite a following over the years, and that people would Email us and ask about their own situation. Without knowing their complete background and history and their goals moving forward, it’s pretty much impossible to give that tailored, specific advice.

So we talked about this and came up with a fee-only model where we’d work with a client for a year. We develop a financial plan together. Clients get unlimited access to us by phone, email, Google Plus, Skype, whatever, and they can talk about their own financial issues without any pressure to buy anything. We are not licensed to sell products.

Q: You recently launched a new blog called “Earn, Save, Grow.” What do you hope to accomplish with this blog, and how is it different from subjects covered with “Boomer and Echo?”
A: I started a new blog because Boomer & Echo focuses a lot on frugality and money-saving tips and a bit of investing. But I don’t know that the audience is quite there for discussions about earning extra money. There’s always the debate whether you should try to earn more money versus spending less.

Obviously, I’m going to cross promote it a little bit with Boomer and Echo, but time will tell what kind of audience moves over there and is interested in how to make more money or do something on the side with their time. I don’t intend to monetize this site, so I won’t have any ads up there, at least for now.

Q: If you had one piece of advice for Canadians struggling to make ends meet and save for retirement, what would it be?
A: We talked about this in “Because Money” with Rob Carrick recently. The real estate market has gone up so much, and people just feel this need to be a homeowner, and without necessarily understanding the full financial costs.

You can’t spend 40% to 50% of your income on a place to live and still expect to save for retirement, have kids, save up for their education and still have some money left over to go out for a beer or go for a nice dinner. I think we have to rethink the idea of renting for a little while so that if you buy a home you can really afford it.

That’s great. Thank you very much for talking to me today, I’m sure the “savewithspp.com” readers will really be interested in what you had to say.

Thanks for having me, Sheryl. It was a pleasure.


This is an edited transcript of the podcast you can listen to by clicking on the graphic under the picture above. If you don’t already follow Boomer & Echo, you can find it here and subscribe to receive blog posts by email as soon as they’re available.

June 16: Best from the blogosphere

16 Jun

By Sheryl Smolkin

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This week we have a potpourri of blogs dealing with a variety of money-related topics topics you can read on these long late spring evenings.

On Brighter Life, Dave Dineen brings us up to date on his travels in Slow money: A richer way to travel in retirement. He says renting from a local, not a corporation and adopting a local lifestyle means he and his wife can afford weeks instead of days on a beautiful Italian island.

Retire Happy’s Jim Yih reminds couples getting married this summer that they need to talk about money. You or someone you know can certainly benefit from his list of things to talk about to help build the foundation for a better relationship.

We usually post Robb Engen’s blogs from Boomer & Echo but he also writes about lots of interesting issues on his blog Earn Save Grow. For example, he recently shared How an annoying pop up saved his business. By adding a “pop up” form allowing readers to sign up to receive updates from Boomer & Echo, he increased the number of subscribers from 250 to 1,600 in under six months.

Avoiding and paying off debt is a recurrent theme in all personal finance blogs. In Payday Loans: Think Twice Before Entering This Cycle of Debt Tom Drake reminds us that these high interest, short term loans can turn into serious long-term term debt, because the interest payable is astronomical. For example, the fees for payday loans are between $51 to $72 on a $300 loan, which works out to annual percentage rate of 443% to 626%!

And last but not least, Tim Stobbs finally bit the bullet and accepted a work cell phone because he is more offsite more frequently and he needs it to communicate with the office. However, he has devised A Leash for the Beast and turns it off outside of business hours. He also uses an app that separates his work and personal email.

I’m off to cottage until after Canada Day, so the next Best from the Blogosphere will appear on July 7th. Until then, throw another steak on the barbecue, pour yourself a tall cold one and don’t forget the sun screen and mosquito repellant.

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.

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