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?

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 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 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
Photo Credit: MotifInvesting.com

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 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 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
Photo Credit: Grocerygateway.com

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 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 Apr 29, 2009.

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Home Prices Affordability Are On The Decline

June 5th, 2014 Posted in Canadian & Global Economy | No Comments »

Canadian Housing Getting Less Affordable

Canadian Housing Getting Less Affordable

Lower mortgage rates are no help making real estate market affordable to Canadians, a recent RBC report points out. Big Canadian cities such as Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto are where home affordability is slipping the most.

However, not all regions are created equally when it comes to affordability. Some regions showed improved affordability in Canada. Affordability improved in Ottawa, parts of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Atlantic Canada.

The affordability index shows what percentage of pre-tax income is needed to buy a home. The index reached to a 24-year high at 43.2 percent for detached bungalows and 49.0 percent for two-story home nationwide. Higher numbers represent less affordability.

Let’s look at these cities:

Vancouver 82.4 percent

Toronto 56.1 percent

Ottawa 36.4 percent

Calgary 34.5 percent

Edmonton 32.9 percent

According to RBC, the deterioration of affordability does not pose an immediate threat. Prices are expected to rise in key markets for the short term, but should not impact affordability significantly. However, once Bank of Canada startstarts increasing interest rates, which I expected to be in late 2015 or early 2016, the whole situation may possibly change.

To view the full report, go to RBC Housing Market Forecast and Reports.

Scotiabank Lowers Its Mortgage Rate

Scotiabank has a promotion until June 7 offering a five-year mortgage rate at 2.97 percent. Currently, this is the lowest five-year fixed rate among big banks.

In March, BMO offered a five-year fixed rate at 2.99 percent and weeks ago Investors Group offered a three-year variable rate of 1.99 percent.

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Great Fears Expressed In One Day Global Warming Summit

May 31st, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

China has The Most Impressive Carbon Emissions Reduction

China has The Most Impressive Carbon Emissions Reduction

It may appear that finally leaders of the world’s strongest nations are waking up to the reality that something needs to be done if we are to save the planet that we all call home. The days of lone ranger tactics are now gone and we must pull together as the human family of destroy the planet through our bad practices. The 1997 Kyoto protocol has come back to haunt us and there efforts to strengthen it or may be replace it with a better alternative. At a recent summit it emerged that countries such as US and China are gearing up towards drawing some ambitious programs that may be forerunners of what to expect in the climate summit to take place in Copenhagen in December 2009

The American president, who was also in attendance, took note that his country is leaving no stone unturned as it looks for an internal solution through the congress, which is battling to pass a new energy and climate bill which will go a long way in working out measures that could see a drastic reduction of the emission of green house gases. It may appear that finally the chickens have come home to roost and everyone is determined to play their honest role in this great undertaking.

During the one day conference it emerged that the greatest contributors to the problem are actually fast developing countries with the highest economic rate, chief of which are the two Asian giants of China and India, who jointly need to pull up their socks and encourage some green development because they seem to be catching up fast with the developed nations in contributing to the problem of global warming. The good news is that the Chinese president himself assured the participants of his county’s determination to work out their own domestic solution to the global problem, especially in trying to reduce the carbon intensity produced by his country’s economic activity.

China has emerged to be one of the countries with the most impressive records in reduction of carbon emissions in the last five years, having reduced her intensity by a whole 20% and things look like they are going to be much better. This is according to the vice president for climate and energy at the UN foundation in Washington, Reid Detchon. The US president now wants focus to be directed towards least developed nations who suffer the greatest consequences of global warming and yet are least prepared to face the challenges that obviously facing them. He believes a lot more financial help is in order so that these nations at least get equipped.

As nations prepare to go to Copenhagen at the end of the year it is the desire of the UN secretary general to see fresh ideas brought into the up coming summit because this summit taking place in Paris in June this year did not go as far as it would have been possible. One would hope that all the other forums that will be taking place in preparation for the Copenhagen meet will do substantial groundwork so that every country does its share in order to save our planet.

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 Dec 6, 2009.

Canada Starts New Prepaid Credit Card Rules

May 24th, 2014 Posted in Credit Cards & Debt Management | No Comments »

New Prepaid Credit Card Rules

New Prepaid Credit Card Rules

As prepaid credit cards’ popularity jumped, so did the various fees associated with them. Once credit card companies saw these credit cards were in high demand, they did not waste a moment coming up with innovative ideas to attach various bizarre fees that can be charged when you buy and use prepaid credit cards. Such fees include maintenance fees, activation fees, ATM fees, and possibly more.

As consumer complaints start piling up, the federal government had no option but to start restricting some of these fees. These new rules have come into effect starting in May. Let’s look at some of these rules.

- A ban on maintenance fees for at least one year once you start using it.

- No more expiration date.

- All the required info related to the fees and using cards will have to be clearly visible and simple enough so consumers can see, read, and understand them before buying.

- The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) will monitor and enforce these rules.

- All federally regulated institutions will fall under these rules.

Prepaid cards are similar to credit cards, except that you will have to pre-load funds before you start transactions like credit cards such as making purchases and buying online. Although prepaid cards are a relatively new concept, their popularity recently skyrocketed. According to an estimate, the prepaid card industry is worth $850 million.

These new rules imposed by the federal government are definitely steps in the right direction to protect consumers. However, these could have been done some time ago and there was no need to wait for consumer complaints to start piling up.

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Copenhagen Summit – The Blame Game

May 24th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

Copenhagen Summit Roundup - Part 4

Copenhagen Summit Roundup – Part 4

Early into the United Nations Copenhagen Summit, fears were in place that the conference would not be able to come up with a unified agreement as originally hoped.  All around the world, leading climatologists (and even some politicians chimed in) led the discussion that this particular climate summit was our ‘last chance’ to turn things around; that is, our final opportunity for the world community to form real agreements that would reverse, and ultimately eliminate the public health and environmental threat caused by harmful carbon emissions.

Some blame China for what is seen as the failure of the summit.  Despite the fact that an accord was adopted, China is seen as a villain for causing so much distress because of their refusal (until, some say, forced by the hand of the United States, and more specifically President Barack Obama) to submit to a transparent process for monitoring progress toward emissions reductions.  Some blamed the United States for, as usual as these critics charge, pushing smaller, less affluent countries around.  Still others blame ‘smaller’ players like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nicaragua for threatening to veto the accord, in part out of protest for the forced hand of big, rich players like the United States.  However, a new, more nefarious ‘enemy’ to the accords has recently been identified, and it might surprise some to know that that ‘villain’ is Denmark, herself. 

Did the host country ruin the Copenhagen Summit?  Critics charge that the host government, who convened a unilateral meeting of 26 hand-picked (by Denmark’s Prime Minister,  Lars Lokke Rasmussen) that would threaten the strength of a document drafted multilaterally by all of the attending nations.  In fact, other world leaders ‘warned’ Rasmussen to not convene such a unilaterally motivated meeting of the minds, as it would undermine any document or accord that would be presented as a result of pain inducing discussions involving more than 190 countries throughout the two week summit, and, actually for the last four years of climate change discussions between the participating countries. 

Despite the warnings and admonishments from other participating government, the Danish government did indeed produce and present a document that seemed to explicitly conflict, at times, with the multilateral and democratically negotiated accord where 193 countries had collectively been involved in coming to an agreement on the many-faceted climate deal. 

Especially since these unsanctioned meeting occurred during the last days of the Copenhagen Summit, the move by Denmark is seen as a way for the host country to bring attention to itself as a solution finder, and more for public image and relations than trying to contribute to a true and lasting accord.

What the long-term effects of Denmark’s move will be are up in the air.  As the host country, their move has been seen as some as a showcasing of the host country’s government.  Still others fear that this move will cause irreparable harm to the ongoing discussions that will continue for the next few years, as the world (it is hoped) community comes to some sort of agreement on how to reduce harmful carbon emissions.

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 Jan 1, 2010.

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