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Should Your Kids Buy Stocks?

December 11, 2016

We all know that investing in our Children’s future is something that we all have to do. The usual way to do that is through an RESP which is an investment vehicle used to save for a child’s post secondary education. The Government actually contributes 20% of the amount that you put in up to a maximum of $500 per year. This method is really a no brainer and every parent should do this for their children to take advantage of the free money from the government. How often does the government give you anything for free?

stock-marketOnce you have the RESP account setup through a financial institution and you have made your contributions, you need to decide which investments are best for long term gains. Much like an RRSP, you can choose any investment product you like. You can use cash, mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETFs), bonds, and individual stocks. In my opinion mutual funds are a lost cause and should never be purchased because of their poor returns and high fees. Sure the person that sold you the mutual fund at the bank, and person managing the fund will make some nice money off of you, but once they take your cut, there won’t be much left for you. Even if they invest your money wisely, you will be lucky to get a 2 or 3 % return once they take their cut. That is why almost everyone has a story of holding on to mutual funds for ten years without gaining much. Obviously cash will not do much for you, and bonds do not perform well in a low interest rate environment. ETFs can be very good, but in my opinion nothing beats individual stocks.

However, you need to really do your homework before plunging into this type of investing. To be safe, only invest in blue chip stocks that have been profitable for many years. I am taking about the banks, insurance companies, utilities, telecom companies, oil companies, and pharmaceutical companies. It is also very important to buy stocks that pay a dividend. That way you get paid a certain percentage every quarter and you can reinvest that money by using it to buy more of that particular stock. Make sure you do not invest too much of your money in any of these companies. You need to be diversified so that if one of these stocks crashes, you won’t lose too much money. This is what happened to people that worked at Nortel back around 2001. These employees had all their retirement savings invested in Nortel stock, and when Nortel begin to decline, they eventually lost everything because the company went bankrupt and the stock value went to zero.

I can’t stress this enough – do your homework and learn about the companies you are considering. Kevin O’Leary has some good tips in this video about buying stocks.

How To Save For Your Child’s College Education

August 12, 2016

Probably every parent out there would like their child to have a better life than their own. This is especially true when the parents never had the opportunity to go to college or university. Although most baby boomers got by just fine in the post war period when the economy was booming and there were lots of jobs, they still thought a college education was a good thing. The next generation was the generation X and they were not so lucky and had to survive through several recessions when jobs were very hard to come by. The generation X  saw a college education as being very important to rise above the competition in a tough job market. Finally we have the millennials who are in the ages from 18 to 34 right now and they also really value a college education, and are also having difficulty getting good jobs.

Child studying economicsThere are some people that say that a college education is overrated and in some cases they are correct. If a young person can land a high paying union job right out of high school, they will probably be better off over the course of their life than if they had declined that job and went to college. If that union job lasts for their entire working career, then they will get a pension and retire early with a good income. However, that scenario is increasingly rare since very few people are able to get a job like that out of high school. The more likely scenario would be that they drift from one low paying job to another and end up making a below average income for their whole life.

The best way to ensure that you make a nice income throughout your life is to get a college or university education. However, that is a very expensive process that can cost ten to twenty thousand dollars a year for tuition, room and board, and living expenses. This can leave many graduates with a hefty student loan when they are finished school, that they will be obligated to pay off for many years into their working careers. That is why it is so important to start saving for your child’s education as soon as possible. Some people even start before the child is even born, but that is only possible if you are making enough money to live on in the first place. When you are young and just starting out, it can be difficult to find any extra money at all, especially if you are also saving for your first house. Most people start saving for their child’s education once they enter kindergarten or elementary school, and that should give them enough time to have a sizable nest egg once the child graduates from high school.

Here is a good video that explains many ways to save money for your kids university or college education.


Smart Buying Habits For Your Child

April 22, 2016

Since it is never too early to instill smart buying habits into your child, I thought I would share this video with our readers. It tells a story in cartoon form that might just grab the attention of younger children and keep them glued to the screen. Even teenagers and people in their early twenties seem to be captivated by cartoons and especially Japanese Anime. Maybe it is the fact that cartoons can do pretty much anything that they want, that grabs their attention and keeps it.

financial education for childrenIn this story, a wealthy young girl goes to the mall and buys the most expensive soccer equipment she can find and pays for it with her father’s credit card. When she shows the bright pink shoes and shin pads to her friends and coach, she is disappointed to learn that she cannot use them because they do not match with the team’s colors. She pleads her case with the coach saying that these are the best shoes and shin pads that money can buy, but he stands his ground saying that rules are rules.

Here father later disciplines her for spending too much money makes her take the equipment back to the store. Then one of the girl’s friends organizes a trip to the mall to see which store has the cheapest price for the equipment that meets their needs. The group finds out from one of the salespeople at one of the stores that they will be having a sale in the next week. The group decides to take that time to save some more money and go to the mall when the sale is on.

It is a pretty good lesson that your children might understand while they watch a decent cartoon, although it is kind of hard to hear what they are saying because they have music playing over the sound track. This video is one of several from the same people that each has a different lesson about money and finances for children.

Teach Your Teen About Sticking To A Budget

March 15, 2016

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of teaching our children about money right from an early age, but that also extends to their teen years. In fact, we should all try to educate ourselves about money throughout our lives.

When it comes to clothing, most teenagers are heavily influenced by their peers or the celebrities they happen to like at a particular time. If their best friend happens to come from a wealthy family and is in the habit of buying $100 T shirts, they may decide they also want to buy a $100 T shirt. This is where you can apply a budgeting lesson. If you normally give them $100 a month for clothing, you can set them free at the mall and see what they buy. If they blow the entire budget on one T shirt, do not give them any more money. They need to learn that they could have bought 5 very nice shirts for the price of that one designer T shirt that probably advertises the brand to the world. Not only did they pay an obscene amount for a T shirt, they are also giving free advertising to a company that has brainwashed people into thinking that their products are worth that much.

The same kind of idea applies to food. Teenagers love to hang out, and most of the time they will be found at mall food courts or fast food restaurants. This can get expensive if they are doing this every day on their lunch break from school. Again, a set amount of money for food is critical for them to understand budgeting. All of us get tired of bringing sandwiches to school or work for lunch everyday, and it is a treat to go out for lunch once in a while. Teenagers need to understand that if they buy their lunch every day, they will never get ahead. They can still hang out with their friends that do this every day, by buying something that is much cheaper from the value menu and eating the lunch they brought to school when they get back.

Regardless, we can’t keep handing money over to our kids every time they ask for it. That will set a dangerous precedent for when they are older and have jobs. If they are still living at home, but earning a full time income, they must be required to pay some rent. Otherwise, having access to a lot of money could allow them to get into trouble with too much partying or worse.

Here is a great video that has some great advise


What is an RESP?

February 9, 2016

It is debatable how much benefit your child will get from a post secondary education. It used to be common knowledge that going to university or a trade school would give you a good start on a career, but things may have changed a bit in 2016 depending on where you live in Canada.

I think everyone has heard a story or two about someone’s son or daughter that graduated from university and can’t find a job in their chosen field. Maybe it was just a bad choice on their part when they decided to take some sort of arts degree that has very little demand in the real world, but I know of one young man that graduated with a bachelors in science with a major in environmental and even he can’t find a job. One would think with all we hear in the media about how important the environment and climate change are, that there would be lots of environmental jobs. That is not so.

Even some people that went to a trade school are having problems and it is not just in Alberta where the oil price collapse has caused mass layoffs in the oilsands. There are unemployed welders, plumbers, carpenters, and electricians in all parts of Canada. However, I would argue that your chances of finding employment are better in the trades than in some of the more general university degrees.

Having said all that, everything is cyclical and if you have young children right now you would be wise to start saving for their education. By the time they are ready to go to a technical institute or university, there may be a real demand for their chosen profession. This is around a 15 to 18 year process so you should start right away when the child is born.

There are some great government of Canada programs to help you save and you could get up to $7200 in free money. That’s right you can get free money from the government through an RESP to help pay for your child’s education. That makes saving for their education a bit of a no brainer. Of course you have to make a contributions as well, so you have to have some money in the game as well. The government will not just give you the $7200 without you contributing any money. However, if you can be disciplined and contribute a certain amount every month, you will get matching contributions from the government of Canada.

So, don’t delay and start the process right now. Here is a very informative video that explains the entire process and how to get started.

The best home to raise your kids

January 26, 2016

When we think of the best place to raise our kids, we have to think about what kind of surroundings contribute to a healthy well adjusted child. I grew up on a grain and cattle farm in southern Saskatchewan and I think that was an awesome experience. We had acres and acres of land to run around on and the freedom to do a lot of things you can’t do in the city. We spent most of our free time riding our bikes in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter. We also had horses, motorcycles, a trampoline, and fresh country air. Sometimes the fun stuff got combined with farm work, like when we had to ride our horses to herd cattle. The school we attended was very small, and most of the students were farm children, so there was a certain innocence about the place. It wasn’t all great though, as it could get pretty boring sometimes because we were so isolated from civilization.

Now contrast this with growing up in a large city and you will see quite a few differences. For starters, when you live in an apartment, townhouse or even a single family home, you do notKids playing in the back yard get a lot of room to roam. Most houses don’t have very large yards, but that is infinitely better than trying to raise a child in a condo, especially an apartment style condo. Kids need to be able to wear off energy, so they need some space. I can’t imagine telling the kids to go run around on an apartment balcony 30 stories up. But even the single family home may be out of reach for a lot of families because of ever rising prices. Add to that the fact that most big cities in Canada are encouraging and sometimes legislating that new communities in the suburbs be denser and denser. That means that the size of the yards is getting smaller and smaller and the homes are being built much closer together. To see this all you have to do is drive through any new community in your city and you will see what I mean. So, young families will be forced to live in apartments and townhouses because that is all they can afford. I would argue that is not very good for our children. If they don’t have any privacy or room to play at home, they might not get enough exercise and this could cause problems at school.

I think if money were not an issue the best place to raise a child would be on an acreage just outside of a decent sized city. That way you would get the advantages of rural county life while just being a stones throw away from all the services, excitement and amenities of the city. Once your kids grew up they could attend university in the city while commuting in and out of the city to your acreage every day. They would save a ton of money, and you would get to have them at home a lot longer , unless of course you don’t want that.

Otherwise if you can’t afford an acreage, I think a single family home in the city is the best option. If money is tight, this will require a disciplined approach where you save enough for a 5% down payment and only buy a house that meets your needs and nothing more. If you can’t afford luxury, don’t buy more than you can afford. Make sure you get the very best mortgage rate possible, by talking to a mortgage broker and your bank. You have to negotiate and play hardball. Your bank will not give you a great rate out of the goodness of their heart – they don’t even have a heart. They are a large faceless corporation.

We did some research and here is a list of realtors and builders that come highly recommended in each city:

Carmen Paradis RE/MAX Calgary

How To Teach Your Child About Money

January 14, 2016

It is a depressing fact that many adults in North America know very little about money, debt, and how the economy works. There are an awful amount of people that struggle to get by from paycheck to paycheck while racking up credit card debt. Many of these people grew up in households where their parents did exactly the same thing. That is where they learned their bad financial habits and they will probably pass that bad information on to their kids which keeps the cycle of financial illiteracy going.

The school system needs to take some of the blame, since they spend a lot of time teaching kids about stuff that they find to be useless and will purge from their minds immediately after they take the final test. They think “yeah I don’t have to worry about a 16th century king anymore” and hit the erase button in their minds. Why not take some of the time dedicated to learning about stuff that doesn’t directly impact their lives and use it to teach them about the day to day finances that are involved in running a household? This is something that needs to be repeated every year of school so that they do not forget things like debt is bad and interest on your credit card can kill you.

There should be a mandatory class called “Personal Finance” that must be taken by every child from grade one to twelve. Yes it would get a bit repetitive but that would be the point. If you heard about saving, and investing every year you might actually start living with those ideas in mind. You might actually understand that if you pay only the minimum payments on your credit cards each month, it will take years to pay off the balance. Things like that would be ingrained into your brain and you would be conscious of debt and financing and use that information in all your decision making.

Here is a video that talks about ways you can start educating your children on how to start saving and investing.


Information about RESP’s

December 7, 2015

Here is a great video that goes into detail about Registered Education Savings Plans that can be used to save for your child’s education. It is a little dry but worth the 5 minutes of your life so you can know what they are all about.

In my opinion RESP’s are the second best choice for paying for your child’s post secondary education. The best option by far, is to have your child go to college or university in your city of residence. That way they can live at home while going to school and save a ton of money in the process. If they work a decent summer job from May until September, they should be able to save enough for their tuition and books. They be able to hold down a part time job to give them some spending money for entertainment when they need to unwind and get away from studying.

Of course this won’t work if it is not possible to get their education in their home town. In that case their RESP will be there for them.

If you want more information check out Padgett Business Services. They are based in Calgary but can help you anywhere in Canada, and they do have someone that speaks French. Here is their address:  2808 41 Street SW Calgary, AB T3E 3K8 (403) 220-1570

If you are in Edmonton their office is Padgett Accounting Edmonton at 3-10020 29a Avenue Northwest Edmonton, AB T6N 1A8 (780) 468-4435

15 Tips for a Frugal Christmas Party

November 30, 2015

If you are on a strict budget this holiday season, there are ways to save a lot of money and still throw a great party for your kids, their friends and if you want, for their parents too. We all know that it can get really expensive at this time of year, first with Thanksgiving, then with Christmas and finally with New Years.

Of course you want to use most of your budgeted funds on getting your kids some great Christmas presents because lets face it, they are the ones that get the most excited about the holidays. We all remember when we were kids and how we would spend hours wondering what we should as for from Santa. It is so important to keep that magic alive for your kids, because we all know, when they hit their teenage years, they may become a grouchy person that doesn’t seem to get excited about anything.

Anyway , here are some ideas for keeping the costs down for the big party.

1. Get Menu-Specific 

Food is usually the most expensive part of planning a holiday party so nip this expense in the bud by tailoring your party to a specific type of food. Only serve hors d’oeuvres and drinks for a few hours or make the party menu dedicated only to desserts. You can also warm up a cold afternoon party with several types of soups and breads.

2. Stick with Finger Foods and Carbs 

If you plan to do a more extensive menu or plan on having a larger group of people, consider having only finger foods that promise to be filling laid out buffet style. Finger foods you can make in bulk can be laid out with smaller-sized plates or make large quantities of cheaper meals like spaghetti.

3. Do the Work

When you are shopping for your party foods, don’t cave to convenience. Buy produce for the veggie tray that is not pre-cut and therefore more expensive. Use ingredients you already have at home to make homemade desserts rather than spending a fortune for already-made items in the bakery aisle.

4. Skip the Invites

When inviting your friends and family, get on the phone to do the inviting or use social media. Paper invitations are expensive as are the stamps you need to mail them. Call your guests by phone or send an email when necessary to save more money.

5. Ask for RSVPs

Make sure to stress to your guests the importance of RSVPs. In order to effectively plan for the party, especially where food is concerned, you’ll need to know how many people are planning to come. Follow up as necessary to get a proper headcount and buy food accordingly. If someone volunteers to bring a dish, accept it graciously.

6. Make It BYOB

If you plan to serve alcohol, you can provide a few bottles of wine or a specialized drink to serve guests. If you do not want to provide alcohol at all –perhaps you don’t drink – you can always request your guest bring their own alcohol. Have plenty of cups and ice and be sure to make some room in the fridge to accommodate beer and other drinks.

7. Make Less Expensive Non-Alcohol Signature Drinks

Don’t blow your budget on cases of soda and other high-priced drinks for the non-drinkers and kids. Make large bowls of punch and offer water. Not only will this cut down on the cost of drinks, it will reduce the likelihood that drinks will be wasted.

8. Invite on a Pot Luck Basis

If your party guest list consists of your closest family and friends, coordinate a potluck-style dinner menu. Supply the main dish and let everyone else fill in the blanks.

9. Party While You Cook

For smaller gatherings, invite your loved ones over for an afternoon of cooking before a nice sit down dinner. Instead of guest bringing the finished dishes to your house, offer up your kitchen and supplies to create a meal for everyone. Have guest bring ingredients. This is a great way to sip wine, learn new cooking skills, and enjoy quality time with your friends and family. Before the party ends, everyone gets to sit down to a nice meal.

10. Shop for Pennies

Don’t underestimate the power of a discount or dollar store. Merchandise is getting better as more people rely on these stores for their weekly needs. You can find candy, decorations, plates, cups, serving bowls, napkins, and so much more to help you pull off a party on the cheap. No one will need to be the wiser and you can keep everything for next year’s gathering.

11. Decorate Lightly

While you want to provide a nice space for your gathering, you don’t have to go overboard on festive decorations. Decorate as you normally would or shop for additional accent items at the local thrift store. Oftentimes when people pass away, their estate donates items to the local thrift and charity shops. You might be able to find the garland, tree trimmings, and table décor for way less than you’d pay for them in brand-new condition. Since holiday décor is only used once a year, secondhand items are often in great condition.

12. Keep Tabs on Store Circulars

When you know the date of your party, start clipping coupons based on your party menu. You should also make a point to track store circulars so you know where the deals are and when. Even a few weeks before the party you can start stockpiling non-perishable items as they go on sale.

13. Be the DJ

Technology today allows us to entertain ourselves quite easily and affordably. You can download your favorite holiday and party tunes to your iPad or live-stream apps like Spotify where you can make a playlist for the evening.

14. Hit the Streets (Think Outside the Box)

If you want to have a fun get together but don’t have the means to have a full holiday house party, gather your friends for a different kind of party. For instance, take your party to the street by inviting friends and family caroling. Provide the song sheets for everyone and consider setting up a hot chocolate bar at your home for afterwards. Make crockpots full of hot chocolate and provide toppings like chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and marshmallows to warm up guests.

15. Throw Down After the Holidays

If you really want to go all out for the holidays, just wait. Plan your holiday party after the actually holidays. Most everything will be on clearance and much more affordable than before the holidays. You can likely stretch a dollar much further when New Years has passed. Plus an after-the-holidays party may be more convenient for your family and friends after the madness of the holidays is over. It will give people something to look forward to and a chance to relax together in your company.

The post 17 Ways to Have a Cheap Holiday Party appeared first on And Then We Saved.


Why Are There So Many Young People Living in Their Parents Basement?

November 13, 2015
Here is an article that explains that there are more and more young women living with their parents, grandparents, or a relative. This is because of a number of reasons, but I think it highlights the need for our children to get a great financial education starting when they first go to school. I don’t know how many of those girls that are living at home are doing so because the didn’t have the financial tools to plan their life, but I would be willing to bet there are quite a few.
That is why we have dedicated this website to educating both kids and their parents about banking, interest rates, financial planning, and mortgages.
This article is by editor Linda Vergon at get rich slowly

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, the number of young women living with relatives is rising – to levels not seen since the 1940s. Fully 36.4 percent of young women between the ages of 18 to 34 are not financially capable of striking out on their own these days – even though five times more of them are college-educated today.

The gender gap

 It’s no different for young men. In fact, more men than women in this age group (42.8 percent compared to 36.4 percent) live with family members today.

But a recent survey on the gender pay gap indicates that men will earn far more than women by the time they reach their 50s, in part because of the types of jobs men and women typically take.

The most common job held by women was office manager and administrative support, which is likely to pay $45,100 annually according to the report.

The most common job held by men was computer software engineers, paying on the order of $88,700. But another factor to consider is that the Payscale study showed that men’s pay levels off at $75,000 per year at 50 to 55 years old; whereas, women’s pay levels off at $49,000 at 34 to 40 years old.

 What is the answer?

Ironically, the Pew results come at a time of reported lower unemployment, underscoring how difficult it is to get ahead. We’ve been developing articles designed to help young people avoid student loan debt in the first place and to help them repay it faster. So what else can they do to gain the financial wherewithal to start their lives? Add your thoughts in the comments. Here are some suggestions to get the ball rolling…

  • Get better at budgeting
  • Get better at negotiating
  • Get better at investing

What do you say? How can young people amass the funds necessary to strike out on their own and thrive today?