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Updated by Sandi Martin on Oct 27, 2015
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Sandi Martin Sandi Martin
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Spring (the blog) Archive

Every Spring (the blog) post is listed here, searchable by topic or date.

The Because Money Podcast | Episode 11: Home Buyer's Plan

The Because Money Podcast, Episode 11: Home Buyer's Plan

A Little Discouragement To Start You On Your Way. You're Welcome.

The feeling of not worrying about your next credit card statement, or the sense that things really, truly are going to be fine and it’s not just blind hope or dumb luck that will make it so? It’s fantastic, and it’s worth the work. Trust me. But the work itself is tedious - painful, even. Sometimes it’s downright embarrassing. Pretending that’s not just makes it harder.

Christmas, Stuff, and Money

What you’re trying to do for your kids, for your house, your planet, your sanity, and even for the wallets of the gift givers is admirable, but if your example and (possibly) polite request aren’t enough to change the behaviour of the people who love you and/or love your kids, and you continue to make it an ongoing issue, you’re the problem.

Violating the Foundational Tenets of Personal Finance for Fun and Profit

There’s no Grand Unified Theory of Finance. There’s no formula you can plug your paycheque and net worth into that will spit out whether you should increase the deductible on your car insurance or switch banks. There’s only you, your behaviour, and the systems you set up to optimize your strengths and bypass your weaknesses.

Dear Big, Enormous Bank With Little Competition, Please Blow My Mind

Imagine how happy your clients would be, if they came to the branch to find out what happened to a payment they made on a competitor’s credit card and weren’t asked why that credit card even existed in the first place, and if they were met with employees whose only job was to make sure that their concern was addressed, their transaction was completed correctly, and their needs were met in the most cost-effective, efficient, and appropriate way possible.

How Much Do Mutual Funds Cost, and Relative to What? Part Two

When you buy mutual funds, you're buying something with both an up-front cost and an ongoing cost. It's like buying chicken that you not only pay for up front, but keep paying for as long as you have it in your fridge (now there's a way to combat food waste).

Not A Litre Of Milk: Evaluating The Utility Of Management Expense Ratios, Part One

Management expenses: just because it's not a litre of milk, or a sheet of stickers, or a car, you're not excused from the responsibility to evaluate the utility of your spending when you buy mutual funds.

Cynicism, The Canadian Pension Plan, And You

scoff if you like, but we have a public pension system in Canada that will likely make up a good portion of your retirement income, and its existence should be factored into your plans.

The Screaming Ninjas Are Coming

Learning to live within your means is discipline you have to practice. Financial catastrophe always strikes, and having the necessary skills already mastered will mean the difference between dealing with it and moving on or being overwhelmed and giving up.

How (Not) to Consolidate Debt

If you don't take a long, hard look at how you got into debt in the first place, and - from minute one of your newly consolidated life - take measured, calculated steps to not do it again, those credit card balances are going to creep back up again. You'll find yourself in the same office, maybe even in front of the same banker, signing a new set of loan papers for a new consolidation loan three years down the road.

Your Financial Plan is Not a Slap-Chop

The financial plan you're getting for free from the personal banker and the investment advisor isn't really a financial plan tailored to you at all, and it's free because the full priced products - through up front and annual trailing commissions - are huge profit engines for the people and companies who sell them.

The Biggest Mistake New Entrepreneurs (Almost Always) Make

New entrepreneurs almost always make this mistake, but you don't have to. Have a plan for the money you earn within your business, and be ruthless about it. Otherwise, you'll only succeed through sheer luck.

The Best Discount Brokerage for Small Index Investors, and How Much it's Going to Cost You

If you're starting out as an index investor, and are going to be regularly contributing in a self-directed brokerage account, the best discount brokerage for you is TD Direct Investing, but not for any of the reasons most reviewers list.

Dear Young People, Mutual Funds Are Boring. Please Go Buy Some.

Mutual funds are profoundly boring, although their ETF cousins have been known to be a little saucy. But if you're looking for excitement in your investment strategy, you're looking in the wrong place.

HST and Small Business: Onus is a Dirty Word

Trusting the government to tell you what you need to give them and when is like asking your three-year-old to make supper: remarkably inefficient. This post ends with an appeal to write your MP begging for a change in the way small businesses are notified of their HST responsibilities, so be warned: it's impassioned.

An Admittedly Biased Argument in Favour of Banning Embedded Commissions and Instituting a Fiduciary Standard

I stand to benefit if embedded commissions in mutual funds are banned, and if a fiduciary standard for advisors is enacted. I don't think it invalidates my argument, but - unlike some of the voices clamouring against the increased safety for investors - at least you know why I'm arguing for it.

Effective Retirement Planning is About Spending, Not Saving

Planning for your retirement isn't just about your investments, although you can be forgiven for thinking it is. It involves exactly the same activities as planning for tomorrow, next week, and next month: active budgeting, debt elimination, robust savings, and - above all - flexibility.

Fun With Retirement Calculators

Retirement calculators are only as good as the information you put in them and the underlying assumptions of the calculator itself, and are useful only to model the future, not predict it.

The Coming Housing Crash, And What You Can Do About It

There are two things you can do if there's going to be a housing market crash, and worrying isn't one of them.

Incoming: Avoiding The Useless Retirement Plan, Part Three

How to calculate your CPP, OAS, and private pension entitlements.

Frugality Isn't A Virtue

Being frugal just for the sake of being frugal isn't being virtuous. It's being cheap.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers: Avoiding the Useless Retirement Plan, Step Two

You can't plan where you're going until you know where you want to go and where you're starting from.

Avoiding the Useless Retirement Plan, Step One

A realistic retirement plan doesn't start with a number and work backwards; it starts with the question "why?"

RRSPs: Hunting Season

Buying an RRSP sometime between January and March doesn't mean you have a retirement plan

Business Model, Schmizness Model

Financial advisors who are compensated based on how much money you have invested with them have less time for the equally complex needs of less affluent clients.