Price Protection Not Covered by Travel Insurance

August 21st, 2016 Posted in Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

My Grand Bahia Principe Runaway Bay Jamaica Trip and Do You Need Price Protection Guarantee?

Today, I am presenting a video of my recent Grand Bahia Principe Runaway Bay trip to Jamaica. I will not talk about the details of my trip, because you will have a good idea of the full trip after watching the video. However, I will talk about a price protection guarantee customers can buy in all-inclusive vacation packages – which might come in handy if vacation prices drop.

All-inclusive vacation packages are popular among North American vacationers going to Caribbean countries. Flight, hotel, unlimited food, drink – basically everything is included in this type of package. Travellers who are looking to relax without worrying about anything else usually choose this type of all-inclusive package.

Price protection guarantee is a separate add-on that you can purchase for all-inclusive vacations. It can run from $50 to $100 or even more. Price drop protection is actually not covered by premium credit card insurances that cover all sorts of travel insurances such trip cancellation, trip interruption, medical emergency, flight delay, and so on.

When I bought my vacation package in November from a 3rd party travel agent, the original vacation provider was offering a price protection guarantee as a promotion free of charge, so I did not mind accepting it – just in case. At the same time, I setup a price drop alert on the travel website that would alert me when the price drops below what I paid previously.

In April, I received an email alert stating my vacation price has dropped roughly $200. I contacted the claim call centre to find out the procedure. I was told that I could claim only once, so if the price even drops further I won’t be able to claim if I decide to claim it right then. My options were to claim at that time or wait for a further drop to claim later, so I decided to claim right away.

The process was simple. You just need to give the agent all your related info and mention you would like to claim. I received the difference on what I paid versus what it had dropped to within three business days in my bank account.

All-inclusive vacation packages tend to drop significantly before two months or just before the departure date, as vacation providers try to empty their unsold inventories. So it may make sense to have this feature added if you would like to minimize your risks. However, you need to decide on whether you would like to pay extra to buy this protection. There is also the possibility that the price won’t drop at all. Based on your risk tolerance and lifestyle, make an educated decision before paying for anything extra and always do your research.

Mutual Fund Fees Can Cost As Much As A Small House

August 17th, 2016 Posted in ETFs|Mutual Funds | No Comments »

Mutual Fund Fees

Avoid Mutual Fund Fees

It is an open secret that mutual fund fees can cost you quite a fortune in one lifetime, especially in Canada where fees are even higher than other industrialized countries. Given the fact that there are other low-cost options available like ETFs, investors often forget or ignore what they are paying in the long run.

Toronto-based digital wealth management firm Nest Wealth released some cold, hard figures to put the fees you will be paying holding mutual funds into perspective. For example, if you take a 25 year-old investor starting with a $10,000 investment and adding $5,800 for the next 39 years, at a rate of 6.5 percent return and 2.35 percent mutual fund fees, the investor would have a balance of $229,000, but the fees paid would be $323,654.50.

With those kinds of fees, it is possible to buy a small house in many Canadian cities. It always pays to pay attention to what you are paying for fees and what you can do about it. A study released by Environics Analytics found out that the average Canadian household’s liquid assets amount to $229,000. If you are paying annual 2.35% fees on investments, it will definitely take out a good chunk out of your retirement, considering many ETFs fees are below 0.50 percent.

Nest Wealth offers some neat calculators and portfolio-building tools on its website. You will be able to visualize how different fees or mutual fund MERs affect your investments in dollar terms and what kind of customized portfolios are suitable for you based on your scenarios.

Regardless, you are building your portfolios online or face to face with a qualified financial professional, always do your own research and make best-educated decisions that suit your needs and lifestyle.

How To Buy A Castle

August 13th, 2016 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

How To Buy A Castle

Buying A Castle

We all heard of this – if you are a celebrity or a rich person and money is no matter to you, you probably have to have an island or a castle to vacation a few days every year. Castles may be the epitome of luxury, but the matter of the truth is, you don’t need to be rich beyond belief to actually buy a castle.

Sure, the more money you have in the bank the wider the choice. If you are a millionaire then that makes things a lot more straightforward. However, it is still possible to grab a castle for as little as $50,000 in some countries in Europe. And also, there are castles that could cost range from 1 million dollars to 50 million dollars. It all depends on what type of castle you would like to buy and how fat your wallet is.

Most castles that are in demand in the international real estate market are located throughout Europe. Some of the countries where the castle concentration is high are:

– Scotland
– France
– Italy
– Germany
– Czech Republic
Some of the countries listed below may offer castles at bargains:
– Croatia
– Bulgaria
– Hungary
– Poland
– Romania

There are many other things to take into account when buying a castle. If you buy at the bottom price, you may need to make arrangements for necessities such as water supply, electricity, and other accommodation essentials. If you pay more, you should expect something with better facilities and readiness for human habitation.

There are numerous global real estate agents that are specialized in buying and selling castles. Keep in mind the phrase caveat emptor – buyer beware.  Always make sure what type of castle you want, how large it should be, what you intend to do with it, and what your budget is before you contact a real estate agency. And never make any decisions before seeing a few castles at first.

NB – If you would like to find global real estate agents that deal with buying castles, search on Google for “buy castle”, “buying castle”, “buy cheap castles”, etc.

What Are Some of the Best Cash-Back Credit Cards?

August 7th, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

Top Cash-Back Credit Cards

If you are familiar with A Dawn Journal, you already know my take on cash-back credit cards. I prefer travel rewards credit cards over cash-back cards, as travel cards provide the maximum returns for your dollars. However, for ease and simplicity some of you may want to go with cash-back rewards credit cards.

Today, I will go through briefly some cash-back rewards credit cards that you can consider, so you can pick the one that suits your needs.

MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard – Although marketed as a travel rewards credit card, this card provides 2 percent cash back across the board with no strings, no limits, no caps, no tiers, no problems. Annual fee = $89.

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite – With 4 percent cash back on groceries and gas, 2 percent on recurring bills, and 1 percent on everything else, a perfect card for those who want maximum return on selected categories. Annual fee = $99.

BMO World Elite Cash Back MasterCard – A flat 1.75 percent cash back across the board without any limits. Provides the best insurance benefits among all cash back cards.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card – Options to choose up to 3 categories where you can earn 2 percent unlimited cash back. Annual fee = free.

The SimplyCash Card from American Express – A flat 1.25 percent cash back on everything without limits. Annual fee = free.

In the future, I will review some of these cards on A Dawn Journal and on my YouTube channel. There are many other cash-back cards available on the market. However, I believe these I mentioned above offer most value for your dollars spent. Do your thorough research before picking any cards and stay with the one that most suits your needs.

China Is Not the Sole Economy Engine and India Bright Spot

August 3rd, 2016 Posted in Canada|Global Economy | No Comments »

China Should Not Be The Sole Global Economy Engine

China Should Not Be The Sole Global Economy Engine

In a recent roundtable talk with six global finance leaders, Chinese Premier mentioned that China should not be the only growth engine to carry the global economy. China is still a developing country and should not be responsible for the major world responsibilities.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently trimmed global economic growth to 3.1 percent for 2016 and 3.4 percent for 2017 and China’s GDP growth for 2016 to 6.6 percent. All these numbers were reduced by 0.1 percent to reflect recent global conditions.

India Is A Bright Spot

On the other hand, IMF reports that India is a bright spot, as it has the fastest growth rate at 7.5 percent in the global economy. This growth pace should be steady for at least the next three years.

A stable and peaceful political environment is an advantage India enjoys when compared to other countries such as Brazil, China, Russia, and Turkey. Also, foreign investments in India are higher than any other country’s, including China.

Global Economy Consuming Less Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the consumption of energy such as coal, oil, gas, and even renewable energy is gradually decreasing. This is a good example of how the world is getting better at handling climate change.

Also, carbon emission is decreasing as global economies switch towards renewable energy at a faster pace.

Urgent Call for Global Economies

IMF recently issued an urgent call to implement more growth-boosting policies to put global economies on the right track. IMF suggested the world’s 20 largest economies should maintain relaxed money policies and stay ready to implement contingency plans should things turn worse.

However, the U.S. Treasury believes such a crisis response is not necessary because conditions seem to be improving.

Avoid These Common Credit Card Mistakes

July 31st, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

4 Common Credit Card Mistakes







Avoid These Common Credit Card Mistakes

Credit cards are a part of our daily living and they are good things, if you know how to manage them. Today, I will talk about how some common and simple mistakes can ruin your credit score. These small mistakes are so negligible that we often forget they can have a big impact on our finances. Learn these mistakes, avoid them, and make them a thing of the past.

Making Late Payments – This is the most common mistake we all make. A late payment can incur late payment charges and bump up your interest rate higher. It can also hurt your credit score, depending on how late it is. Use online tools like Google Calendar or anything that works for you to remind you 3 days ahead of the actual due date so you don’t get caught up making late payments.

Paying Only The Minimum – In Canada, by law, credit card companies now have to show how many years it will take to pay your full balance if you only make the minimum. Add some extra dollars with your minimum, whether it’s $20 or $50 a month, and you can shave off years and save lots interest costs on your credit card balance.  

Using a Credit Card for Cash Advances – Withdrawing cash using a credit card hurt you 2 ways. The first is you pay a high cash advance fee. This fee could run from $20 to $50, depending on your bank. The other bad thing is you start paying high interest the moment you take out cash advances. Never use credit card for cash advances. It’s the worst way to borrow money.

Paying Annual Fees – Many credit cards will try to hook you up offering reward points or cash back in exchange for annual fees. Just to cover these fees, you have to spend more than $20,000 or $30,000 annually. Read the fine print and figure out if it’s really worth it to spend that much money for reward points or cash back after covering annual fees. Use a no annual fee reward or cash back credit card instead; there are lots of them available in the market.

Quietly These New Mutual Fund Rules Take Effect in Canada

July 23rd, 2016 Posted in ETFs|Mutual Funds | No Comments »

Canada New Mutual Fund Rules

Canada’s New Mutual Fund Rules

Starting May 30, new mutual fund rules came into place that most mutual fund investors were not aware of. Any investment advisers and institutions selling mutual funds are required to give their clients a document known as Fund Facts before the sale or transaction happens.

This paper or document called Fund Facts should clearly show information about the mutual funds in a simple way such as funds’ investment objectives, managers, historical performance, and most importantly all the fees associated with the funds.

In the past, this information was available online at the fund companies’ websites and it was made available to the investors after the sale had gone through. However, the information was not presented in a clear manner easily understood.

However, under the new rules, investors will have precise and related information at their disposal and this will help them make better decisions.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn

The Fund Fact document is a two-page, double-sided document that does not take long to read. If you want, you can have this document long before meeting your advisers by going online or calling the fund company to mail it or fax it to you. This is all free.

Mutual funds in Canada have been known to have one of the highest fees compared to other countries and trends continue to switch from mutual funds to ETFs, which have much lower fees and transparent features that are easy to understand and easier to transact.

World’s Tallest Building

July 14th, 2016 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

World's Tallest Skyscraper Will Be in Saudi Arabia

World’s Tallest Skyscraper Will Be in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia recently announced to build the world’s tallest skyscraper. The multi-purpose Kingdom Tower near Red Sea in Jeddah will stand 1000 meters tall (3,280 feet) and will be located in the centre of the $20 billion dollar Kingdom City Development project. This tower will have office space, a Four Seasons hotel, condominiums, the world’s highest observatory deck, encompassing about 5.4 million square feet of space.

Kingdom Tower will be designed by Chicago-based architectural firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill. The Saudis have awarded this $1 billion plus project to the Saudi construction giant The Binladen Group. The construction of the world’s tallest tower is expected to take about five years.

Once completed, Kingdom Tower would break the record of the world’s current tallest skyscraper Burj Khalifa in Dubai. 828 meters Burj Khalifa is not only tallest building in the world but also the world’s tallest free-standing structure. Canada’s 553 meters CN Tower (completed in 1976) held records for being the world’s tallest free-standing structure and the world’s tallest tower for 34 years until the completion of Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Canton Tower in China.

Saudi Arabia, an oil dependent country, recently trying to emerge from an oil-based economy to a diversified economy. Currently Saudi Arabia is working on various projects to build numbers of economic cities, complexes, and skyscrapers to become an economic hub in that region.

Finally Free Credit Score Comes to Canada

July 9th, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | 2 Comments »

How to Check Your Credit Score for Free

Canadians have always had access to free credit reports, but not free credit scores. All that has changed recently – now you are able to know your credit score for free and there is no need to pay $24 each time.

Two online loan providers are giving free access to your credit score when you open an account with them. There is no catch, really. Your free account will show your credit score and better yet, you will have an updated credit score every three months for free as well.

These two providers are: and I opened an account with Borrowell to try it out and I was surprised at the ease and simplicity of the whole process. Within 5 minutes I was able to view my score on-screen. To make things better, there are free online credit courses and free articles on how to improve your credit score also.

Keep in mind that the credit score you are provided for free is an Equinox credit score, which is a proprietary model of Equinox. This is different than FICO®, which is a proprietary model created by Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO).

It is a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score and since this is free it makes even more sense. One more thing, don’t worry about your score dropping when you check

20 Questions to Ask Before Buying A Condo

July 5th, 2016 Posted in Economy|Mortgage 101 | No Comments »

Condo Buyer's ChecklistPoints to Consider When Buying A Condo

Condo Buyer’s Checklist/Points to Consider When Buying A Condo

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Canadapersonalfinancewebsite.comwebsite (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 Nov 5, 2011

Condo living can be rewarding with minimal headaches. However, it is not for everyone. Today, I am going to present some questions that should be answered and looked at to help you before making any condo buying decisions.

1. Know why you want a condo and if condo living is for you.
2. When you live in a condo, there are rules and regulations you have to live by. Ask yourself if
   you will be fine with these rules and regulations and giving up some freedom when compared to
   living in a house.
3. Condo living is associated with paying ongoing fees (maintenance fees). Make sure you
   understand how these fees work and if you will be paying these every month.
4. Is the location right for you? Is it close to those amenities that are important for you?
5. What types of facilities or amenities is the condo giving you? Is it too much or too little?   
   Beware of condos that offer too much. For example, there are some condos in Toronto with
   their own bus services to the station. However, I won’t live there because maintenance fees
   will be too high for the obvious reasons.
6. Does it come with a parking space and a locker or you need to pay for them additionally?
7. Are there any restrictions on occupants? Will you be able to rent out your unit?
8. How many pets are allowed?
9. Is the condominium price reasonable?
10. Are the monthly condo fees (maintenance fees) reasonable?
11. What the condo fees cover and what the fees don’t cover.
12. How old is the building?
13. Who is the builder and is this builder a reputable company or have they had bad records or  
     problems in the past?
14. Is the building in good shape and durable? Does it look attractive?
15. Does the building and surrounding area look clean, neat, and well maintained?
16. Is the condo corporation in good order and are there no legal claims or judgements?
17. How are the condo finances? It is well managed or is the condo board is wasting money?
18. What is the owner-occupied and renter-occupied units proportion?
19. Is the building energy efficient and is a functional fire protection system in place?
20. Will this purchase make you happy living in your unit so you don’t need to look for another condo after 6 months? How many years you are looking to stay in this building?

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