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    A Dawn Journal

    Canada Personal Finance Website Is Merging into A Dawn Journal

    As you may have noticed, I am discontinuing some sites and merging content to sites that will be continued in order to streamline and minimize blog maintenance. The Canada Personal Finance Website (CPFW) is one of the sites that will be discontinued.

    As A Dawn Journal content is very similar to the Canada Personal Finance Website, I will be slowly moving all articles from CPFW to A Dawn Journal. This will take probably months or years; CPFW will be still live as long as I am not done moving the last article. However, there will be no more updates on CPFW during this transition period.

    If you are subscribed to CPFW RSS Feed, please update your feed to A Dawn Journal’s RSS Feed. Here is the address:

    http://adawnjournal.com/?feed=rss2

    Alternately, you can go to A Dawn Journal and subscribe from the site. I appreciate your support for subscribing to CPFW and I hope you will continue your support by changing to A Dawn Journal. A Dawn Journal offers more diverse and in-depth articles, as articles are not limited to only Canada or financial matters. Hope to see you on A Dawn Journal!


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    What to Do With Your Tax Refund?

    Four Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund Money

    Four Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund Money

    As tax return money starts pouring in either via Canada Post or directly into your bank account electronically, it is the time of the year to take a moment to decide on what to do with your tax refund money. Today, let’s look at some simple options to help you decide on how to spend this money.

    Invest – The decision is up to you whether to put in into an RRSP, TFSA, or simply a regular non-registered savings account. Each account type has its pros and cons and you need make an educated decision in terms of what type of account you use. Regardless of your account type, investing money is something that will benefit in the long run to achieve your financial goals.

    Donate – Giving away something, whether money or time, for charitable causes is priceless and this is a must for lots of us. Also, the feeling you get doing something good for others stays there forever. If donating all is not an option, there are always other possibilities such as donating some part or a fraction of your refund money.

    Pay-Off – Whether paying off mortgage, credit card balances, or other loans, this is another simple way to utilize your refund money for the long run. The recurring interest costs you will be saving for the life of the loan by paying it off today will really add up to a lot of savings.

    Spend – Whether going on a vacation to Cuba, buying latest oversized TV, or catching up with the latest smartphone, we all have our reasons to spend. The immediate drawback of spending your refund in this category is that financially it offers no future value and, once spent, the money is gone for good. If you really need to spend, instead of spending the full refund, do a 50/50 or other split in between spending and anything else mentioned above.

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    Quick 10-Minute New Year Finances Checkups

    New Year Financial Resolutions

    New Year Financial Resolutions

    A recent Bank of Montreal study reports that personal finance is the 2nd most important New Year resolution for Canadians after health and fitness for 2014. Today, I will talk about 3 financial checkups you can go through to evaluate your financial situation right now for your future. You should not spend more than 10 to 20 minutes on this.

    1. Your Savings – If you have not started already, start putting 5 to 20 percent of your gross income aside every month regularly.

    2. Your Investing – Start investing your savings in a low cost mutual funds or ETFs. If you are not comfortable investing on your own, I recommend fee-based financial advisors. I offer these free websites for my Canadian and global readers covering a wide array of financial knowledge.

    www.adawnjournal.com

    www.adawn.net

    The above two sites are a good start to enhance your financial knowledge.

    3. Your Evaluation – If you have already been doing #1 and #2, take a moment to take a look at your total portfolio value by the end of 2012 and 2013. The yearend value of 2013 should be higher than 2012. If it’s lower, look for reasons and stop those that are draining your portfolio. If you need to rebalance, switch, buy new products, and get rid of some products from your portfolio; do so to have a better performing portfolio for 2014. If you need help, seek professional advice or ask someone who is more knowledgeable for help.

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    Canada Hot Housing Market 2014

    Exceptionally Health Housing Market in 2014 ReMax
    Photo Credit: Re/Max

    Exceptionally Health Housing Market in 2014: Re/Max

    A recent report published by real estate company Re/Max looks at Canadian housing market in 2014. Here are some highlights from that report.

    – An exceptionally healthy housing market is expected in 2014 due to overall improved economy.

    – An average Canadian home value is expected to rise three percent to $390,000.00 in 2014.

    – Home sales are expected to rise two percent to 475,000 units in 2014.

    – Housing markets in Canada are on solid ground and expected to remain balanced throughout 2014.

    – Sales and home values across Canada approaching are approaching five year highs

    – Toronto will finish 2013 in strong sales and prices will rise in 2014

    – The upward trend will continue in 2014 across Canada in 92 percent of markets.

    – Greater Toronto area is expected to rise 6 percent in 2014.

    To view the full report, visit Housing Market Outlook 2014

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    Canadian Homes Are Unaffordable

     

    Higher Prices and Mortgages Making Housing Unaffordable

    Higher Prices and Mortgages Making Housing Unaffordable

    RBC’s latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report looks at various aspects of the Canadian housing market. Here are some highlights from this report:

    – Home affordability declined over the summer for a second consecutive quarter.

    – The deterioration differs on regions and types of homes.

    – Average bungalows and two-storey homes became most unaffordable.

    – Condos somewhat stays affordable.

    Vancouver and Toronto are the most unaffordable cities in Canada.

    – The average home price is $391,820 in October – 8.5 percent higher than a year ago.

    – A sharp rise in interest rates will be the biggest risk to maintain mortgage.

    – The report does not see any Bank of Canada rate hikes until sometime in 2015.

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    What Affects Your Credit Score

    3 Moves That Affect Credit Score

    3 Moves That Affect Credit Score

    Here is a video clip showing 3 moves that affect your credit score. These moves are:

    1. Making late payments or missing payments

    2. Borrowing too much

    3. Closing too old credit card accounts

    If you would like to know more, visit this article:

    What Lowers Your Credit Score

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    CPP Hike Is Possible


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    Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Hike Is Possible

    CPP hike possible

    Payroll Earnings Go Up

    Canada’s provincial and territorial finance ministers recently agreed to enhance Canada Pension Plan or CPP. Although there were some minor issues, the end result was an agreement to enhance CPP benefits in a meeting held in Toronto.

    Prince Edward Island proposed to hike maximum CPP contributions to $4,681.20 (currently $2,356.20) and maximum benefit to $23,400.00 (currently $12,150) annually starting 2016.

    The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is asking ministers to reject mandatory CPP increases, as it will slow down new hiring due to increased payroll taxes (according to CFIB).

    CARP, a non-profit organization for seniors, welcomes the CPP enhancements initiative and urges the federal government to act on this without delay.

    You can find out how much your CPP benefits will be by visiting this government of Canada retirement calculator.

    On a separate note, Stats Canada reports that weekly payroll earnings went up in August to $918, a 0.4 percent increase from July and 1.3 percent on a year-over-year basis. Administrative and support services, construction, health care and social assistance were the largest sectors with increases. Wholesale trade and accommodation and food services were 2 sectors that showed negative earnings.

    From August 2012 to August 2013, looking at year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings by province, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan were the 3 provinces with the most increases. Manitoba and New Brunswick were the 2 provinces with negative increase or remained flat.

    Also, real gross domestic product went up 0.3% in August. The sectors leading to the increase were oil and gas extraction, and the agriculture and forestry sector. However, the manufacturing and utilities sector declined and the construction sector remained unchanged.

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    Canada Savings Bonds Deadline Is Approaching

    Canada Savings BondsCanada Savings Bonds

    November 1, 2013 is the deadline to buy Canada Savings Bonds. There are mainly 2 types Canada Savings Bonds Program offers.

    The Canada Premium Bond (CPB) is the product that you can buy through financial institutions. This is a safe investment and backed by the Government of Canada. CPB can be redeemed at any time, but you will redeem it before the anniversary date, you will forfeit some interest. The Canada Premium Bond (CPB) has a 3 year maturity term.

    Canada Savings Bonds (CSBs) are available only through the payroll savings program. You can redeem these at any time, but no interest is paid if you redeem in the first 90 days.

    Starting October 2013, you will require a SIN or social insurance number to purchase a Canada Premium Bond (CPB). Minors can purchase CPB without a SIN, but a date of birth is required.

    For more information, visit Canada Savings Bonds.

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    Canada Is One of The World’s Best Countries to Grow Old In

    Toronto HTO Park

    Canada Stays in Top 5 Countries to Grow Old In

    A recent study co-sponsored by the UN created Global AgeWatch Index by looking at 91 countries covering 89% of the world’s older citizens. The Index ranks older population in terms of social and economic well-being and is the first of its kind. Canada ranks high on this index, staying on 5th place. Sweden is on top of the list and Afghanistan on the bottom. Let’s look at the top ten countries:

     

    1. Sweden
    2. Norway
    3. Germany
    4. Netherlands
    5. Canada
    6. Switzerland
    7. New Zealand
    8. United States
    9. Iceland
    10. Japan

    Here are some other facts from the report:

    – The world’s envy, Canada’s universal health care system, generous old age benefits, and long life expectancy helped to achieve its 5th position.

    – Countries like Sri Lanka, Bolivia, and Mauritius stay relatively high on the list, while countries like India, Pakistan, Russia stay on the lower side.

    – Population ageing is happening faster in the poor developing countries. Two-thirds of the older population live in poor countries.

    – South Korea, one of the richest and technologically advanced countries in Asia, surprisingly stays low on the index at 67.

    – Bangladesh, a model for one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, is not on the list due to lack of old age data.

    – By 2050, older population (older than 60) will outnumber younger population (younger than 15).

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    TD First Class VISA Infinite Offers $200 in Travel

    Should You Get TD VISA Infinite

    Should You Get TD VISA Infinite?

    TD Bank is running a promotion offering a $200 bonus if you apply by September 27th. From time to time, I have seen TD running the same promotion. Is TD VISA Infinite credit card worth its $120 annual fee?

    As a premium credit card, TD VISA Infinite comes with many features. Some of them are:

    – VISA Infinite concierge services (+many other VISA Infinite benefits)
    – Lost and delayed baggage coverage

    Photo Credit: www.tdcanadatrust.com

    – Trip interruption and cancellation coverage

    – Purchase protection and extended warranty

    If you consider dollar for dollar, to break even on the $120 annual fee you need to spend $24,000 annually, considering you are only using it for everyday purchases and each dollar earns 3 TD points (comes out to be .005 cent for each point). But if you spend on travel-related purchases through Expedia For TD, each dollar earns 9 points, and your breakeven amount would be a lot less than $24,000.

    However, some of the services TD VISA Infinite card provides could be worth more than its annual fee, if you use them. For example, if you make one trip each year, you will recover some or most of its annual fee by not having to buy separate travel insurance. Or if you consider time more valuable than anything else, TD VISA Infinite will save you a lot of it as its concierge services are like having your own assistants available 24/7 at your disposal and they can do most of the things with a phone call or an email such as booking reservations at restaurant, requesting info on something you need, and much more.

    If you have a premium credit card, it makes sense to use all the perks that comes with it to get your money’s worth. Otherwise, it’s better to have a credit card with no annual fee and that still offers some points for using it for free.

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