Welcome To Real Estate Expedition

November 19th, 2014 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »
Let The Real Estate Expedition Begin
Let The Real Estate Expedition Begin

Entering the world of real estate is something that comes with its own risks, unquestionably. There is no point in sugar-coating the obvious – in the midst of a global recession not everything will be as straightforward as it once was. But that is certainly not to say that there will not be rewards for the person who judiciously and intelligently goes about the business of investing in property. For some it is absolutely the time to invest, with prices lower than they have been for some time. Fortune favours the brave, as the old saying goes. The tricky part is judging what constitutes bravery and what is naivete.

This website is devoted to real estate, and everything that you have come to understand by that term – and more besides. For anyone looking to invest in real estate there are so many possibilities, with the risks and the rewards that come with opportunity. It is a sector that holds an almost mythical aspect in the minds of many people, with everybody knowing that there is money to be made, but that fortunes are sometimes lost in property – not to mention that it can be tricky to get started in the first place. Real estate is not a business that you can get up and running in without serious investment.

The title of this website, you will have noticed, is Real Estate Expedition. The word “expedition” tells you something about what the world of real estate is like. There is something of a voyage of discovery involved in making a foray into the business. Even if you make plans beforehand – and there is no question that it is advisable to plan fully and comprehensively – there will still be a steep learning curve, and that is something that we will hope to help you with. Tips, case studies and opinion pieces will all be a part of that.

The idea of an expedition also pays respect to the fact that you will meet with a wide and varied range of opportunities and questions. Real estate can be as insular as you like – if you are looking to buy a house in a different part of town there will be no less a process to follow. It can also be something that involves a very broad search and a big step into the unknown. It is becoming more and more common for people to buy properties in another country for holidays or even for the purpose of emigrating. We will cover those topics too.

Venturing into the real estate business can be extremely rewarding, as long as you take full account of the very real challenges it will present you with. Challenge is not something of which to be afraid, because it is in taking the challenges on and overcoming them that you really earn your money and your invaluable experience, something that will serve you well if you intend to make a career or even a lucrative sideline in the property business. Let us be your guides on a journey that could be the most interesting you ever make.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the realestateexpedition.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Apr 27, 2009.

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RBC Launches 5 New ETFs

November 16th, 2014 Posted in ETFs|Mutual Funds | No Comments »


New Dividend ETFs From RBC

RBC Global Asset Management launched 5 new dividend ETFs targeting various sectors in the international markets. These ETFs offer monthly income, along with broad international diversification and reduced foreign currency risk.

Let’s look at these 5 ETFs in brief:

RBC Quant Emerging Markets Dividend Leaders ETF (TSX: RXD, MER: 0.64%) – Holds dividend-paying companies in the emerging markets that have growth potential based on modified cap weighting methodology. The ticker symbol for the US$ version is RXD.u.

RBC Quant European Dividend Leaders ETF (TSX: RPD, MER: 0.49%) – Holds dividend-paying companies in the European markets that have growth potential based on modified cap weighting methodology. RPD is the first European dividend trading on the Canadian stock exchange that is not hedged. The ticker symbol for the US$ version is RPD.u.

The three other ETFs are currency-hedged. These are:

RBC Quant U.S. Dividend Leaders (CAD Hedged) ETF (TSX: RHU)

RBC Quant European Dividend Leaders (CAD Hedged) ETF (TSX: RHP)

RBC Quant EAFE Dividend Leaders (CAD Hedged) ETF (TSX: RHI)

Altogether, there are 8 RBC Quant Dividend Leaders ETFs and 17 total ETFs offered by the RBC Global Asset Management.

How do the fees for these MERs compare? Let’s look at RBC Quant Emerging Markets Dividend Leaders ETF and some other emerging market dividend ETFS. The SPDR® S&P Emerging Markets Dividend ETF charges 0.59% MER, iShares Emerging Markets Dividend ETF charges 0.68%, and HAJ Horizons Active Emerging Markets Dividend ETF charges 0.80 percent. As you can see, RBC’s MER is fairly similar with other ETFs for the same emerging market dividend ETFs.

Always do your research before buying any investment products and seek professional advice if you are not comfortable picking your own.

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What Is Your Mutual Fund Actually Costing You

November 13th, 2014 Posted in ETFs|Mutual Funds | No Comments »

Mutual Fund Fees You Pay

Mutual Fund Fees You Pay

These days you will hardly find an investor without having at least one mutual fund. Most of us never pay any attention to mutual fund fees, which can be very confusing and hard to grasp. Many of us do not realize how much of our returns can be evaporated by these fees. I consider one of the best features of mutual funds is that fund companies camouflage fees as a percentage of assets.

There are 3 basic categories of mutual fund fees – management fees which is known as MER, sales fees and special fees. I will discuss only MER because regardless what type or class fund you buy, MER is a built-in feature and it will be always there.

MER stands for Management Expense Ratio and expressed as a percentage of fund total value. MER is made of sales, administration, marketing, legal, accounting, reporting and portfolio management costs and charged directly to the fund, thus reducing the value of your investment. You will never see any statement or transaction or invoice or you will never write a check to pay MER as fund companies deduct this cost from funds per unit value everyday, making it invisible and hard to track. MERs can run from ?% to over 3% or even more. Let’s say a fund charges an MER of 2.5% which may sound harmless but when you look at in terms of real numbers, it looks scary and hard to believe. Suppose you have $100,000 in a mutual fund which charges 2.5% MER. Assuming you are 30 and will have this $100,000 invested till you reach 70. How much is your cost? The answer is a whopping cost of $100,000 ($100,000 * 2.5% per year for 40 years) I used very simplified calculations and omitted many other factors. Remember, there are other costs and taxes to pay as well. Be a smart investor by educating yourself and avoiding fees and expenses. There are variety of options these days and always do your homework before investing and seek help from someone whom you find knowledgeable and trustworthy.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Canadapersonalfinancewebsite.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Dec 5, 2008.

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Why You Should or Should Not Buy OnePlus One

November 11th, 2014 Posted in Internet |Technology, Reviews|Interviews | No Comments »

OnePlus One Review

OnePlus One Review After Three Weeks

After using my new OnePlus One for almost three weeks, it’s time for a brief review. Instead of going through its specs or comparing with other phones like Google Galaxy 6 or so on, I will simply state why you should or should not buy this phone. There is a video review of the same (follow the link in this post). And yes, this video is a 4K DCI; the OnePlus One smart phone is the world’s first to record in DCK 4K (4096×2160).

Why You Should Buy OnePlus One

1. PriceThe reason OnePlus phones became so popular is no mystery. You are paying a mere $300 – $350 for a phone which would have cost $700 – $800 had it been from any other manufacturers.

2. LooksBeing so cheap does not make OnePlus One phones ugly or out of line compared to other phones. OnePlus One phones look high-end and durable, just like other high-end phones. Actually, it looks even better than most other high-end phones.

3. SpecsI am not going to go through all the specs for the OnePlus One. However, I must mention that in terms of specs you will not be disappointed and it even offers better specs than most other flagship phones. Better yet, OnePlus One offers some features that aren’t available in any other phones. For example, waking up the phone by double tapping on its screen, DCI 4K Cinematic Widescreen video(4096X2160) 24 FPS recording, various unique setting options under Android Cyanogen operating system, and much more.

Why You Should Not Buy OnePlus One

1. Not Easy to Buy – Unlike other phones, you can’t just buy a OnePlus One phone if you want to. You need to have an invite to buy from OnePlus or you have to catch one of the one-hour timeslots OnePlus offers occasionally to buy on their website.

2. Faulty Devices – Because OnePlus is a new company, lots of their phones have software and hardware problems. If you get unlucky and end up with a faulty phone, the nightmare will just begin. Their customer service is nil to non-existent and after sending a support ticket to fix your problems, it could take weeks to get a reply or get it resolved.

3. Long Fixing Time – If you were lucky enough to get through OnePlus support and they asked you to send back your phone for a fix and replacement, then the second part of your nightmare will begin. It takes weeks or months to get back your replacement or repaired phone from OnePlus. For most of us, this is not an option to wait that long to have phone back.

Before buying a OnePlus One phone, think about the pluses and minuses. I faced a couple of minor problems with my phone that I was able to fix by myself by reading and following various online forums and articles. However, it may be not be an easy fix for everyone. Also, some of the users will be lucky enough not face any problems and will be able to enjoy this great phone without any pain and hassle.

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New Uses for Old Things

How To Find New Uses For Old Things

November 8th, 2014 Posted in Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

Finding Uses For Things In Your House

Finding Uses For Things In Your House

One of the most important things you can do when you are going green is to reuse what you already have, even before you recycle it. The concept is to reuse, then recycle and by doing this you lower your overall footprint on the environment greatly. It is quite easy to do, and it can save you an immense amount of money in the process. So, how can you reuse, then recycle, items in your home?

First, look at milk containers. The big plastic ones can be used in a number of different ways. First of all, you can use them as flower pots once you have cleaned them out. By doing this, you will have no need to buy flowerpots and you can even decorate these pots any way you wish. Another great use for milk containers is as water cans. Take a plastic milk container, poke several holes in the top of it and fill it with water. Just like that, you have a great water container that will work just as well as one that you buy at the store.

Now, yogurt containers can give you many different things around your home. Whether you have large yogurt containers or small ones, they can be used in a variety of methods.

  • You can use yogurt containers as seed starters because they are very easy to grow things in. This will give you a head start on your spring and summer growing. It also helps make the inside of your home nice and green as the snow melts outside.
  • If you cut out the bottom of the yogurt container, you can then use it to protect the base of your plants outside from insects.
  • If you like to make crafts, you can use yogurt containers to make a variety of things that you can use around the house, or for the children to play with. You can make it something you do with the children when you make cool creatures out of yogurt containers.
  • If you have leftovers, why not store them in yogurt containers rather than buy Tupperware?
  • Got toothbrushes laying around your bathroom? Stick then into a spare yogurt container and help organize things a bit.

Another great thing you can reuse around the house is plastic bags. These are awful things but you can use them to make bags by knitting plastic bags together. You can also use them to keep food fresh, or to serve as water liners in potted plants.

The things in your house can be used for a variety of things and you just have to decide what you want to use them for. Remember, when you reuse something, you are keeping yourself from buying new. That is very important because it helps the environment and when you help the environment, you help everyone. So, just reuse then recycle and you will be doing the world a very big favour.

How To Reduce Fossil Fuel Consumption

November 6th, 2014 Posted in Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

Energy deficit - Sun to our rescue

Energy deficit – Sun to our rescue

What is it that is so abundantly available on our planet, something that is filled with heat and energy? The answer is solar power or the rays of the sun touching our planet which only seems to be growing in intensity and heating up our planet further. When one speaks about using solar energy the first thing that pops to the mind is huge investment required in putting up solar panels.

The truth is not all utilization of solar power requires investment. There are many methods in which solar energy can be used without spending any money. Some of them in fact are quite primitive but have been lost in this fast paced lifestyle.

When building your home, position your windows such that you make maximum use of sun’s rays entering your home. This will be especially useful in winter season and by doing this you can drastically reduce your electricity expense required for heating rooms. To avoid the entry of heat in summer time, you can either grow a big tree (most trees will shed leaves in winter and thus not obstruct the winter sun) or put up an awning. The great news is over 10000 American homes are powered entirely by solar energy and over 200,000 American homes utilize photovoltaic solar energy in some way or the other. Some of the developments during construction level include installing solar roof shingles, opaque glass PV facades etc.

Sun dry your clothes as much as possible. This is not only healthy but also saves on your electricity bill. With minimal investment you can install solar systems in your home that will help you heat water or power your lights and fans. While the initial investment may seem a little on the higher side the amount you save annually on your energy bills will more than make up for the initial investment. Not to mention the pride you get for having contributed your bit to saving planet earth

These are of course primitive ways of using solar energy. In the modern day solar energy is converted to storable energy through photovoltaic cells and this energy is used to light up the home at night. There is also the solar pool heating systems that helps eliminate heating expense in swimming pools and also extends the season of swimming benefiting the pool owners in many ways.

Apart from producing energy to meet their own needs Americans can also benefit from the “net metering”. When you install solar system in your residence and have excess energy produced that you do not find any use for, you can sell it back to the utility company and actually earn money.

We all need to contribute our might to save fossil fuel and instead of passing the buck, if every individual could take up the onus of doing their bit, a lot could be save not just in hard currency but in many other green ways.

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How to Green Office

How To Green Your Office

November 5th, 2014 Posted in Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

Greening Up Your Office

Greening Up Your Office

When you want to go green, you often look at how you can go green within your own home. However, we spend eight hours a day at the office, so it is important that you also look at greening your own office. There are many ways that you can do this, but here are the easiest that will not only save the environment, but save your office money as well.

  1. When computers, copiers, printers and other equipment are not being used, make sure they are turned off. Over the weekend, be sure to unplug things that are not being used because that will save you even more money. At the very least, ensure your electronic devices go to standby so they use much less power.
  2. Whenever you use paper, recycle it. This is one of the easiest things for a company to do and all it involves is putting out a recycle bin near where people will use it. It is very easy to do it and it will save the environment a lot of wasted paper.
  3. You should buy 100 per cent recycled paper, refillable ink cartridges, non-toxic highlighters and more in your office. Environmentally friendly office products are cost-effective and very good for the environment.
  4. Look at the possibility of telecommuting. Many companies are now allowing their workers to telecommute because it can save them money. This generally means that you work from home so that you do not have to drive to work. This increases the amount of time a worker is available, and it also cuts down on car pollution.
  5. In the office, encourage car-pooling, public transit use, as well as walking and biking to work. It is a good way to help your employees get to know each other, get exercise and help the environment at the same time.
  6. Don’t print off your e-mails unless you absolutely need to. Often, we have copies of e-mails printed off and on the computer and there is no reason for this. Just keep e-mails backed up on the computer and ask others that they don’t print off the e-mails you send them.
  7. When you have coffee and food in the office, promote buying local and organic food. You can do the same with coffee by buying organic and fair-trade coffee within the office. You should also ask that employees bring their own mugs so that disposable coffee containers are not being used within the office.

There are many things that you can do in the office if you want to save money and the environment. The ones mentioned here are just the easier ones and the ones that you can do right now without a lot of cost. Other things you can do include putting in skylights that you can use to bring in more natural sunlight, changing the heating system within the building and more. The office is a great place to go green when you know how to go about it

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on June 25, 2010.

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How To Green Back-To-School

November 3rd, 2014 Posted in Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

Greening Up Your Back To School

Greening Up Your Back To School

When kids start going back to school, it can mean a lot of extra costs for the parents. Parents have to think about the cost of school supplies. School supplies can run up the pocketbook, but another concern is their environmental impact on the world. Every year, billions of pens and crayons are bought; millions of binders and hundreds of billions of sheets of paper are purchased. That is a lot to take away from the Earth, so it is important that parents look at green alternatives for school. What are some things that they can consider?

First of all, forget about buying new pens and pencils. There are plenty of recycled options out there. You can also look at getting refillable pens and pencils that can be used over and over, for many years to come. In addition, another alternative is to have biodegradable pens made from corn. These pens are cheap, and will degrade away when they are thrown out.

Second, instead of buying new paper, you should get recycled paper. Recycled paper is very affordable now and it looks almost like regular new paper. The great thing is that it does not take away from any forests to make, so you can never impact the planet by just buying recycled paper over and over again.

Third, binders made from recycled products are very popular these days. They carry a green message and many are made from diverse products including old plastic bags and plastic bottles. Since fashion is important for kids in school, these binders are made to look good so your child will be happy to use them.

Fourth, instead of buying new ink cartridges, you should look at just refilling ink cartridges. When you buy new ink cartridges, you are wasting the plastic and ink that was used to create those cartridges. There are many businesses all over the country these days that will provide you with a refill. You can use your old ink cartridge and you will spend a fraction of the price as a result.

Fifth, look at getting calculators that are made from recycled products and other calculators. Many manufacturers are reusing parts to save money and to help you save the environment as well.

Lastly, consider buying backpacks that do not contain any PVC. PVC-free backpacks and lunchboxes are important because when they are thrown away, the PVC leaches out into the environment and there are some studies that show PVC backpacks may be causing some chronic diseases in children. Speaking of lunchboxes, instead of buying new plastic bags every day to hold sandwiches, you can use a reusable sandwich container instead. That way, you prevent plastic bags from making their way out into the environment where they can do immense harm to animals that mistake them for food.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help the environment, help your children and help save some money, especially when you don’t have to keep buying new products over and over again.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on June 25, 2010.

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Do You Know What You Can Compost?

October 29th, 2014 Posted in Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

What To Compost

What To Compost

Composting is something that is incredibly good for your garden and for the environment. When you compost, you keep waste from being thrown away and you give your garden and plants the vital nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy. Composting is very easy to do. Essentially, all you do is take organic waste, mix it up with dirt, throw in some mulching worms and keep rotating the compost every few weeks and you will have great compost for your garden. As for what you can compost, there are plenty of different things you can compost.

One thing you can compost is your hair and nails. These items are organic and will disappear over time but if you put them in your compost you can give your garden a big shot of nitrogen and calcium, which is very important for your garden. So, when you have a haircut, or cut your nails throw the waste into the compost and help your garden out.

You can compost your jeans and cotton shirts. This is because denim and cotton are organic and will break away over time. All you have to do is cut up the pieces of the clothes and throw them into the compost. They will disappear over time and give your garden lots of great nutrients and minerals. All that will be left eventually are the buttons and zippers, and you should probably just remove those when you throw the clothes in the garden in the first place.

Vegetable waste, fruit waste and any other type of food can be thrown into your compost. This gives your compost many vitamins, nutrients and minerals that will help your garden grow very strong. Now, it is important to note that you cannot put meat or egg shells into your compost. Egg shells do not break down so you have to mash them into a powder so that it can biodegrade. Meat runs the risk of getting maggots into your compost, which will cause your compost to be ruined.

If you rake the leaves on your lawn, then you will be able to compost the yard waste. Many homeowners now leave leaves on their lawn through the winter because it helps to provide the lawn with nutrients and you can use that same concept in your garden. Just take the yard waste and mix it into your compost and the following year you will have a very healthy garden.

Animal waste, specifically manure from horses and cows is extremely high in nitrogen and a good way to help your garden out. You should only use the manure of horses and cows, unless you have a special composter that can handle human or dog waste. Done right, you will help the garden with minerals and nutrients that come from the food the animals eat.

Compost is something that can help your garden greatly and it is essential if you are going to be doing any sort of organic gardening.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on June 25, 2010.

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Sorry, Google Nexus 6, I Will Stay With My OnePlus

October 25th, 2014 Posted in Internet |Technology, Reviews|Interviews | No Comments »

OnePlus One

OnePlus Smart Phone Gives Better Value For Your Money

After much anticipation and excitement, Google finally released its flagship 2014 long-awaited smartphone Nexus 6. All the rumoured features and specs of this gigantic phablet appear to be somewhat true, except its gigantic price.

Google’s Nexus branding has been known for its reasonable price, which is much less than other brands in general. For example, the Nexus 5 was priced at $350 and $400 – a $200 to $300 cheaper than other comparable models.

The same reduced price tag was expected for the Nexus 6. However, it broke everyone’s heart when it was released on Oct 15, 2014. CBC reports that Nexus 6 pricing for Canadians will be a hefty $749, much higher than the roughly $500 I was expecting it to be.

On the other hand, a new phone company called OnePlus was founded in China in December 2013, taking the smartphone market by storm. OnePlus makes elegantly high-end and high-performance smartphones at ridiculously low prices that were never heard of before. For example, their 64 GB 2014 Flagship Killer is only $349, which can be easily sold for more than $700 by other manufacturers.

However, OnePlus has its own drawback; you can’t just buy it if you want. Due to high demand, the manufacturer is unable to keep up with supply, and as a result it’s only available via invite. If you have an invite from OnePlus or someone who already bought one sends you an invite, you will be able to buy it.

As I have been contemplating buying a new Nexus 6 and eagerly waiting for an invite from OnePlus, I was leaning more towards Nexus 6, if the price tag stays within my expected range. Surprisingly enough, all of a sudden I got an invite from OnePlus just before the Nexus 6 release date. I did not hesitate to buy OnePlus, as the invite stays valid only for 24 hours. After purchasing OnePlus on Oct 14, the Nexus 6 price shock came the next day on October 15.

The choice became obvious once I found out the price of the Nexus 6. It is no longer an affordable brand like its predecessor models. As I am waiting to receive my OnePlus, at the same time I am feeling good about not buying Nexus 6 and saving about $400 – $500. Thanks, Google Nexus 6, but no thanks.

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