The World’s Top Strongest Banks

August 12th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

4 out of 5 North American Strongest Banks are Canadian

4 out of 5 North American Strongest Banks are Canadian

Business and financial news website Bloomberg recently published a report featuring the world’s strongest bank. In order to find the strongest banks, Bloomberg looked at banks with at least $100 billion in assets and five categories such as Tier 1 capital compared with risk-weighted assets, efficiency, nonperforming assets against total assets, and more.

Private banks are also included for consideration. The results? Canadian banks scored well and 3 banks are included in the list, such as Desjardins Group (3rd), CIBC (15th), and RBC (18th).

Let’s look at the top 10 banks from the report:

  1. Hang Seng Bank (Hong Kong)
  2. Desjardins Group (Canada)
  3. Norinchukin Bank (Japan)
  4. Oversea-Chinese Banking (Singapore)
  5. Qatar National Bank (Qatar)
  6. Bayerische Landesbank (Germany)
  7. DBS Group Holdings (Singapore)
  8. Pohjola Bank (Finland)
  9. Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (Sweden)
  10. Boc Hong kong Holdings (Hong Kong)

Source: Bloomberg

An important twist is that only one American bank (U.S. Bancorp) made it to the list, at the 19th position. If you look at the tops North American banks, 4 out of 5 are Canadian banks. To view the full report, visit here.

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Green Cleaning Tips

How To Go Green with Cleaning

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

Green Home Cleaning Tips

Green Home Cleaning Tips

Did you know that homes today have more chemicals in them than chemical labs did 100 years ago? Did you know that homes have 70 times the chemical levels inside than are found outside? These are alarming statistics. Another alarming statistic is that housewives/husbands have a 55 percent greater risk of contracting cancer than others, and this is most likely due to the high levels of chemicals in our home. Another scary statistic is that our homes usually contain 150 chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Where do these chemicals come from? They come from the cleaning products we use to keep our homes clean. Well, you do not need to have any harmful cleaning products in your home because of the big three of green cleaning; vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.


Vinegar is one of the best cleaning products you can have. Some of the things that you can use vinegar for include:

  • Vinegar can be used as paint thinner.
  • Vinegar can be used to clean your oven without using harmful oven cleaners.
  • Vinegar can be used to clean off counters.
  • If you take half vinegar and half water and put it into a spray bottle, you create a great all purpose spray.
  • You can boil vinegar and then pour it down a drain to remove any clogs. Make sure you don’t breathe in the fumes, they are not harmful but they will smell pretty bad.

Baking Soda

One of the best cleaning products available for you is baking soda. Baking soda can clean nearly anything. Some ideas include:

  • Baking soda can be used to clean soap scum and mildew.
  • You can clean most stains off the counters and bathtubs with just a bit of baking soda.
  • If you combine baking soda and vinegar in a drain, the combination will clear out your drain without harmful chemicals.
  • You can use baking soda to deodorize your entire home.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is very popular because it smells good and it’s acidic, which is very important in cleaning.

  • Put some lemon juice in a bowl and leave it in a room. This will deodorize the room completely.
  • Mix lemon juice and water together to create a good all-purpose spray that also smells good.
  • You can put lemon juice on your counters and other places to help sanitize the areas to remove germs.

Cleaning your home is important but many people have gone way overboard with cleaning. We need germs in our home to help keep our immune systems strong, but we surround ourselves with products that remove all germs. Then, these products cause us to become sick because of the harsh chemicals in them. This is why it is important to remove these harsh chemicals from your home. You can easily clean your home in an excellent way by using just vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. These are the big three of green cleaning.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the 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 Feb 21, 2010.

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Tim Hortons’ Double Double Visa Credit Card Has Double Buttons

July 29th, 2014 Posted in Credit Cards & Debt Management, Reviews & Interviews | 1 Comment »

e CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card
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The CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card

Canadian Coffee chain Tim Hortons launched a new credit card in partnership with CIBC to lure customers into buying more coffee through accumulating loyalty points for everyday purchases. This card comes with two physical buttons or switches on it to press to pay using credit card or loyalty points.

This is the first of this type of credit card in Canada. Upon pressing, the buttons will illuminate to let customers know that it’s working.

With this no-fee Visa card, each purchase earns a cent on every dollar through reward points that can be used as cash at Tim Hortons. A $20 welcome bonus is also offered when you use the card to spend $200 for the first time.

The CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card comes with Purchase Security & Extended Protection Insurance, but you will have to pay extra if you want to add travel insurance.

Link: Tim Hortons

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How to Cut Down On Your Gas

July 24th, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

How-to-Go-Green-With-Your-Vehicle-Gas.jpgHow to Go Green With Your Vehicle Gas 

Everyone knows that gas emissions are carbon dioxide emissions and the more emissions we have in the atmosphere, the worse global warming will be. While buying a hybrid is a great option, it is not an option for everyone. Some people have to juggle their own finances and are looking for ways to cut down on the gas that their conventional vehicle uses. Not only does cutting down on gas help the environment, it also helps all of us save money. Try these tips to make your wallet breathe a sigh of relief, and to help the environment  as well.

  1. Most vehicles these days can handle ethanol-gas mixtures, usually at a rate of about 20/80, where the gas is made up of 20 percent ethanol and 80 percent gas. Using an ethanol mixture cuts back on your CO2 emissions, but it does not help your wallet.
  2. Instead of doing errands on several days of the week, try and consolidate your errands into just one day, if possible. By doing this, you save yourself trips into town, which keeps you from spending too much money. Many drivers will make short trips into town each day to run their errands when a weekly trip will do just as fine.
  3. When you are in town running errands, park in a central area and walk to all your errands. That way you are not starting and stopping your vehicle over and over, nor are you driving it everywhere. You also get some great exercise when you walk where you need to go, rather than drive there.
  4. Idling your vehicle is bad news for the environment and it is just wasted money. When it is cold, you can let your vehicle run for a minute or so when you start it up, but that is all it needs. As well, you do not need to leave your vehicle running while you are in the store. Instead of going through the drive-thru, you can easily just go inside and get your food. It is usually less busy in there anyways.
  5. Instead of driving, just walk to the store. If it is a beautiful day out, why not walk to the store and get some great exercise and fresh air? You can get most places pretty quick depending on where you live and you do not have to waste any gas.
  6. Public transit is a great alternative because it allows you to catch a ride on a bus or subway for a fraction of what you would pay for fuel. In addition, you no longer have to worry about a commute or driving; you can just sit back and read.
  7. Car pooling is another popular option that many people choose. When you car pool, you share a vehicle with others and you drive only ¼th of the time to work. This is a good option that saves you money and lets you get to know your co-workers.

It is easy to save money, gas and the environment when you use these tips to going green with your vehicle’s gas

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Canadian Real Estate Market Will Continue to Rise

July 21st, 2014 Posted in Canadian & Global Economy | No Comments »

Housing Market Stays Hot

Housing Market Stays Hot

A recent report published by TD Economics mentions that the Canadian housing market will continue rising for the rest of 2014. In an upgraded forecast, the banks predicts that by the end of 2014 home prices will rise an average of 5 to 6 percent.

Low interest rates and increased demand are causing the upward trend in the real estate sector. However, in February, the bank mentioned the market was 10 percent overvalued and expected home sales to flatten out. Neither of these happened.

However, beyond short-term gain, over the next year and a half once interest rates start rising, softer demand and rising listings will likely turn the real estate sector into a buyer’s market – with more choice, there will be more burgening power and lower price pressure – the report mentions.

According to the report, condo prices are expected to fall 2 percent next year. As there will be more units available, vacancy rates will be lower, making investors reluctant to buy condos for investment purposes.

Expensive cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria will soon start showing weakness in the real estate market. However, cities like Edmonton and Calgary are expected to show growth due to population and employment gains.

To view the full report, visit TD Economics Quarterly Regional Housing Report.

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What Is A Green Car?

July 17th, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

The Green Car

The Green Car

What is a green car and why it is gaining so much popularity is a question that lot of users are asking and reading about in different blogs or articles. People have become more conscious of the hazards that are presently polluting our environment and there is a lot of awareness that has been given to us by the media and the technology to become environment friendly. The green car is exactly serving the same purpose by introducing the alternate fuel and battery technology. The car manufacturers are now experimenting and investigating hydrogen powered vehicles and also that are powered by ethanol. Another technology that is being introduced by the green car manufactures is the new battery technology. The battery technology has more efficiency and there is no pollution as well.

A promising and a popular technology that has come into the lime light of future of car industry is hybrid technology. This is unique when fuel efficiency is boosted by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. There are a variety of greener alternatives that have made their room in the markets of United States and Europe as well. In the year 2020, more than a billion green cars will be a part of the traffic as estimated by the experts. It is more like a dream coming true to save our environment and our planet from pollution and this dream had been watched over by millions of people over the years. The car manufacturers are also being pressurized by the governments to increase the manufacture of green cars because they are friendlier to the O zone layer as well. Another reason for it’s popularity is that the green car fuel technology will also finish the global agony of rising fuel prices and now brought forward is this latest concept of more efficient and clean cars so petrol powered vehicles will no longer be marketed or manufactured. Many big names in the field of car manufacturing have introduced their green series like Toyota “Prius,” Honda “Insight,” Nissan “Altima Hybrid” and also Hyundai’s “i10″ which was launched by a famous Indian celebrity.

At present there are a limited number of green cars available on the market for purchase. But this new technology is ever expanding and it can be easily speculated that the green technology will hit the markets of the world like a storm. There are also trial runs conducted to examine the road worthiness for the concept cars. These concepts cars have exciting sleek designs and features that may never be introduced to the most of the other ordinary car models. One of the hydrogen powered vehicle that is a talk of the town is going to have features beyond the space age. There’s another revelation about one of the future concept car which at first glance would look like it can fly. This will also run on ethanol and its material will be very light which will contribute to its fuel efficiency. The production dates are not yet revealed but there is a possibility that the green car will be introduced and manufactured for the mass market as well. The preview of the concept car is only a way to imagine what the expectations will be for the future and these green cars will be a real help to our environment and it will go green again.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the 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 Feb 13, 2010.

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Can You Build Your Own ETF?

July 14th, 2014 Posted in ETFs & Mutual Funds | No Comments »

Motif Investing - A New Way to Built ETF
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Motif Investing – A New Way to Built ETF

Building your own ETFs based on your own ideas and needs may sound bizarre for individual investors, in the USA investors just can do that – thanks to Motif Investing, an online broker launched by Hardeep Walia in 2012.

With a minimum $250 investment, you can create your own ETFs, each holding a basket of up to 30 stocks from various sectors. The commission to create or own a motif created by someone else is $9.95. However, if you buy or add more stocks to a motif you already own, the commission is only $4.95 per stock.

The reason you can buy or start a basket of 20/30 stock in a motif is that investors are to buy fractional shares to build their motif. Would it have been to buy full shares to create a motif, definitely the minimum $250 investment would be unimaginable.

There are already more than 50,000 motifs available created by individual investors that can be bought by other motif investors. If other investors invest in what you created, you can earn $1 royalty – this is unthinkable in any other types of ETF of mutual fund investments.

The reason a motif can work for both novice and pro investors is because novice investors can buy motifs already created by motif investing and knowledgeable investors can build their own motifs. Better yet, you can pick someone else’s motifs and add your own stocks to it.

Will motifs be the future of investing? If motif type investing gains huge popularity in the US and investment brokers in other countries follow suit, there is definitely a good chance that one day it will skyrocket.

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How To Save Water At Home

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

Conserving Water in the Home

Conserving Water in the Home

Water is one of the most precious resources on our planet. While our planet is 70 percent water, only three percent of that water is fresh water. Of that three percent, only one percent of the fresh water is available to us, the rest is locked in ice. Around the world, water supplies are beginning to dry up and that means water conservation is extremely important. In our homes, we can work to make our homes water-smart by following some very simple green tips:

  1. When your shower is warming up, you are wasting a lot of water. You can fix this by putting a shower water container under the tap while your shower warms up. Once your shower is warmed up, take the container out. Then you can use that container to water plants and for your pets because it is plain water from the tap, with no soap in it.
  2. Only water your lawn once per week. Your lawn only needs one inch of water per week and many people over-water. Keep an eye on the weather because if you are expecting rain that week, you will not need to water. Also, only water in the evening and mornings, otherwise the sun will just evaporate the water away.
  3. Collect water with rain barrels outside. You can collect a lot of water when it rains and you can use that water inside on your plants, for your pets and even to water your garden later.
  4. The more adventurous of water conservers will try a navy shower. A navy shower, which comes from people on submarines, consists of:
    1. Get into shower and turn it on.
    2. Once you have been soaked, turn the shower off.
    3. Soap yourself up.
    4. Turn shower on and rinse off.
    5. Turn shower off and get out.
  5. You can practice the rule in your home of “If it is brown, flush it down. If it is yellow, let it mellow”. You waste a lot of water with each flush, roughly 1.6 gallons per flush with lo-flow toilets. That is more water than people in Africa get all day. Saving water this way is easy and it saves you money as well.
  6. When you are brushing your teeth, turn off the water. If you brush your teeth twice a day and leave the water running while you do so, you waste seven gallons of water per day. Turn the water off while you brush, and only turn it on when you rinse. This way, you save a lot of water every single day.

It is very easy to save water in your home. Each day, people waste gallons of water through their activities. In North America, a typical person uses twice the amount of water that people do in Europe. Even better, you can save money by conserving water because you will not be letting money essentially go down the drain anymore. There is a finite amount of fresh water available to us, a lot of that is wasted and polluted, so we need to conserve as much as we can.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the 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 Feb 7, 2010.

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Can Grocery Gateway Save You Money?

July 2nd, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

What Is Grocery Gateway
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What Is Grocery Gateway?

Grocery Gateway is a an online grocery grocery store servicing the Toronto area. It is a part of premium grocery chain Longo’s. The idea of Grocery Gateway is fairly straight forward. Instead of going to the grocery store, the grocery store comes to you at a time of your choice. And yes, depending on some factors you may be able to save money with Grocery Gateway.

What’s The Minimum Purchase Required?

The minimum amount of purchase required is $45 at Grocery Gateway. During the checkout, you can pick several delivery windows from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM for the next few days. The delivery fee is $9.95, regardless of order size, as long as the $45 minimum is met.

When Grocery Gateway Can Save You Money

If you do not own a car, like many other people who live in big cities, Grocery Gateway is a convenient option to save money and time. For example, if you are getting weekly or monthly groceries, it may not be possible to use public transit and you will end up taking a cab. A taxi ride from my nearest grocery store to my place comes close to about $15 + tips. For some of us, a taxi ride from the nearest grocery would cost a lot more. In situations like these, $9.95 delivery fee is definitely a bargain. Plus you are avoiding the hassle of carrying bulky items by yourself.

When Grocery Gateway Will Not Save You Money

For those of you who have cars, Grocery Gateway may not make sense, as it is easier to just drive and pick up your groceries.

What I Do

I take a mixed approach depending on what I need and when I need it. I have to pass by 3 grocery stores on my way from work to home. For most of my daily necessities, I pick up an item or two as I need them. However, when it comes to bulky or heavy items for which I would have had to take a taxi, I use Grocery Gateway instead and save money. This usually happens once every 2 months or so.

Last Word

Not all big cities have services like Grocery Gateway. If your city has similar online grocery stores like Grocery Gateway, you can save money and time depending on how you utilize it.

Link: Grocery Gateway

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How To Have A Green Summer

June 19th, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

How To Have An Eco-Friendly  Green Summer

How To Have An Eco-Friendly  Green Summer

It may seem premature in the second half of April, but making early plans for how you are going to enjoy the summer can really get you in the mood for the evenings getting longer, the days getting warmer and the decrease in rainy days. Taking green issues into account is something that can happen naturally – after all, if you are going to be spending a lot of time outside, then you are less likely to need to use a lot of energy indoors. Heating will be less of an issue, you won’t need to put lights on as early, and in the kitchen the chances are that salads will take the place of soups, so the hob won’t have to be on so much for a start.

But beyond the saving you will make on energy and the dent you can make in your environmental impact, there are other ways that you can prepare for a green summer. These take many forms. Things that you can do to keep the household green, to make your daily lifestyle more environmentally friendly, and ways that you can change the annual summer routine – some of them very subtle – to make things more green-friendly. You’d be surprised where you can make a difference!

There are few people, for example, who do not enjoy a good barbecue in the summer months. It allows you to enjoy simple, grilled food while not having to be cooped up in the kitchen. So often, people serve up dinner and run into the lounge to watch television while they eat. But eating outdoors allows you to make the best of the natural resources that for so much of the year are either absent or ignored. A barbecue can bring with it environmental difficulties, though – the air can get polluted pretty quickly, so you need to look for a green barbecue. One that uses less gas or coal would be ideal.

At that barbecue, you will of course have some guests who would love a cold beverage – as often as not it will be a beer. You can help the environment while enjoying a beer, which is news that will encourage some of the more skeptical enviroskeptics to give some thought to helping out. You can do this by buying organic beer. It does the same job as your typical beer, and goes just as well with grilled food, but producing it impacts the environment a great deal less.

While outside in the sunshine there is of course the danger of succumbing to the lobster factor. Some of us tan beautifully at just the right speed. Others are not so lucky, and can burn up after less than an hour outdoors. For this reason, it is ideal to have a brand of sunscreen which is non-toxic. Additionally the chances are that with all that food and drink around, you will be visited by bugs. Just as with your sunscreen, a more natural brand can be the winner here. It is better for the environment and better for you.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the 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 29, 2009.

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