How An Actor and Composer Convinced Me to Join Instagram and Now I’m Hooked

May 2nd, 2016 Posted in Internet |Technology | No Comments »

Adawnjournal Instagram

Adawnjournal Instagram Is Ready

I used to be one of those who never tried or understood Instagram, as I never bothered trying it. While I was in Myrtle Beach last week, I was sending some pictures to my nephew Shayan Mannan, who is an actor and a music director as well. His link:

He insisted I should open up an Instagram account to let the world see these pictures. He kept asking me to sign up and I eventually told him I might try it some other time just as a way to avoid signing up for it. I had no intention of opening up a new account only to share pics, as I have been more concentrating on YouTube posts about credit cards and rewards points these days.

However, on April 20th all of my reluctance changed. When I was enjoying the Atlantic, sitting on the balcony in my Oceanfront suite in Myrtle Beach, I don’t know how or why, but something made me sign up for Instagram on my smartphone. After posting my very first picture, I got hooked on Instagram and since then I’ve been posting new pics almost everyday, even after coming back to Toronto.

The ease of using this app and sharing pics with the world is hard to ignore. According to my nephew, “It’s better than Facebook or Twitter. Endless array of pictures from around the world.”

Here is the link to follow me on Instagram:

I recommend you follow me, as I will be sharing pics from various walks of life and because I am a global traveler you will get to travel around the globe with me when I am traveling.

The Most Expensive Real Estate In The World

April 26th, 2016 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

The Most Expensive Real Estate In The World










World’s Expensive Real Estate

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 Dec 7, 2010.

When you are looking for a place to live, you may want to look around the world, but when you have a lot of money, you may want to look in these locations, which are considered to be some of the most expensive cities and neighborhoods in the entire world.

San Diego, California

San Diego has beautiful weather, the Pacific Ocean and plenty of places to go and see in this world-class city. One of the most expensive areas in this city is La Jolla, where the average home price runs about $1.7 million per house. In this area you get a clear view of the Pacific Ocean and wonderful weather all year long.

Tokyo, Japan

One of the largest cities in the world, Tokyo has everything for person who wants to live in the island nation of Japan. Plenty of huge stores, high technology and amazing history, Tokyo is a great place to live. One of the best places to live within the city is the Shibuya Neighbourhood, where homes cost roughly $1.8 million.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Sitting along the coast, complete with beautiful beaches, a thriving nightlife, a deep history and very favourable taxes for the rich, this is one of the most expensive countries in the world to live in. Monte Carlo often ranks as the highest priced city to live in with homes costing on average $4,420 per square foot.

Hong Kong, China

For a century, Hong Kong grew as part of the British Empire and in 1999 it transferred over to China. Since then, the city has continued to grow and prosper, bringing up some of the most expensive real estate in the world with it. Currently, the average home in the high class neighbourhood of Victoria Peak costs about $3.5 million.

Moscow, Russia

The economy of Russia is beginning to grow again thanks to high oil prices, and that has pushed the real estate prices in this city skyward. Moscow may seem cold and uninviting but it is actually a very beautiful city that has much to offer, even at $1,937 per square foot for real estate.

Jupiter Island, Florida

Probably the most expensive place to live in all of the United States, you are only a short drive away from Palm Beach, Jupiter Island has many golf courses, yacht clubs and places to spend oodles of money. Former president George H.W. Bush used to live here, where homes cost on average $5.6 million.

London, England

One of the most expensive cities in the world to live, London is a city of history, culture and more. It has everything you could possibly want out of a city but that comes at a very high price. In the area of Kensington Palace Gardens, where the average home price is a whopping $85 million, the richest Londoners live, including Middle Eastern royalty and business tycoons.

So, if you got the money then these are the cities you may want to move
to, where you can enjoy the good life that money buys.

What Is Rent To Own?

April 22nd, 2016 Posted in Economy|Mortgage 101 | No Comments »

The Rules of Rent To Own In Canada






The Rules of Rent To Own In Canada

When you want to rent-to-own within Canada, there are some things you need to be aware of before venturing down that road. First, a bit of an explanation of what rent-to-own actually is. Rent-to-own is an agreement where a rental lease and purchase agreement between a tenant and owner is put in place to purchase the property at a fixed price at a specified point of time. With rent-to-own, you agree that five years down the road, you will purchase the house for the price that it is valued at when you reach that point. When you pay rent on the house, the rent goes towards the value of the house, hence the term rent-to-own. So, you pay each month towards the payment of the house, then you buy the house for what it is worth at the point when the term ends.

As the renter, there are many reasons that a rent-to-own property would be a good idea for you. Obviously, the biggest benefit is if you have bad credit and want to buy a home but need to improve your credit first. As well, if you don’t have much money at this moment, or you don’t have a large down payment, then rent-to-own is a very good idea.

In regards to your down payment, the owner of the property is required to accept the down payment that you have. There is no minimum amount, within reason, and that is a big benefit of the rent-to-own system. The down payment typically will be two month’s rent on the home. So, if you are paying $1,000 per month, then you will pay $2,000 as a down payment. Obviously, the more of a down payment you have, the less you will pay for the house over the course of the terms.

The rent you pay is going to pay off the home. Each month that you put money into the bank for rent, you are paying off your home. Typically, you will have a term that is going to be five to ten years. Each month that you pay rent, you pay off the home towards the end of that term. Once the term is over, you then buy the home with a mortgage. Here is an example to help you. So, you agree with the seller that you will rent-to-own for five years at $1,000 per month. Over that five years, you pay off $60,000. That leaves $240,000 on the mortgage, minus your $2,000 down payment. At this point, you need to get a mortgage for $238,000.

Lastly, you need to agree on a price with the seller. The price you pay will depend on the market. When the market is up, you pay more. When the market is down, you pay less, it is as simple as that. Once you agree upon a price with the seller, the seller is committed to that price no matter if the value of the house changes. This can be good if the value goes up but bad if the value goes down.

Before getting into any rent-to-own program, always do your research and make sure this is the best option to be a home owner based on your situation.

How Not to Get Dinged by Air Canada on Aeroplan Rewards Flights

April 10th, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

Avoid Aeroplan Carrier Surcharges

A lot of us avoid collecting and utilizing Aeroplan miles because of the many horror stories that lead us to believe that it’s not worth going through all the hassle to pay hefty carrier charges (also known as fuel surcharges or taxes, fees and surcharges) to enjoy what are supposed to be free rewards flights.

However, this fear (paying hefty charges) should not stop you from enjoying free flights, especially on business class. With a few tips and careful planning you can fight back against Air Canada and other airlines that charge you fees on Aeroplan rewards flights.

There are some airlines that charge nothing to enjoy your rewards flights, some that charge skyrocketing surcharges, and some that charge little surcharges. Before you book your next reward flights, keep this list handy and avoid those airlines that charge you.

Avoid – Skyrocketing Surcharges

Air Canada, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Lufthansa, Thai Airways

Little Surcharges

Air New Zealand, LOT, TAP

No Surcharges

Aegean, Air China, Air India, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Eva Air, SAS, Shenzhen, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TACA, Turkish Airlines, United

Here is an example to illustrate. I searched today, April 3, 2016, for a business class one-way flight from Toronto to Singapore on November 1, 2016. This journey is covered by Air Canada and Thai Airways, requiring 77,500 Aeroplan miles. Because both of these airlines charge surcharges, this free flight is going to cost you a staggering $943.06 to pay surcharges.

Now, if you have taken the same trip on Turkish Airlines, which does not charge surcharges, your cost will be only $61.56.

If you have taken the same trip covered by Air Canada and Singapore Airlines, your cost will be $583.86 because Singapore does not charge anything for its portion, but Air Canada is charging its fees.

So there is no reason to avoid the Aeroplan rewards program. All you need to do is know how this program works and use careful planning to get the most out of it.

Real Estate in Portugal

April 5th, 2016 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Real Estate in Portugal

Buying Property in Portugal

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 Nov 13, 2010.

When you want to move away from the snow and the cold, there are many places you can go. You can go to the Southern United States, but it is crowded down there and many are choosing to go to countries that area a bit more exotic. You can go to tropical countries, but these are often unstable and not the best place to live. This leaves Europe, and if you are going to live anywhere in Europe, you should really give Portugal some consideration.

Portugal is a country on the Iberian Peninsula and it is the westernmost country in all of Europe, bordered on the one side by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other side by Spain.

Portugal is considered to be a developed country and one of the best in the world to live in. It is has the 19th highest quality of life according to the The Economist Intelligence Unit, it is the 13th most peaceful country in the world and the eighth most globalized. It is a member of the European Union, as well as the Latin Union, the OECD, NATO and the United Nations.

Portugal is very popular among those in northern Europe for the main fact that it has a very warm climate. The climate of Portugal is a Mediterranean climate, and it is one of the warmest countries in all of Europe. The average temperature of Portugal is 13 degrees in the north, and 18 degrees Celsius in the south.

When you are thinking of moving to Portugal, there are several areas where you can choose to live based on the diverse landscape of the country. Portugal is split in half by The Tagus, which is the main river of the country. The northern part of the country has many mountains and plateaus with river valleys, while the south is made up of mostly rolling hills, rivers and plains. The south is warmer, but drier, than the north.

You can live on the coast as well, with great vistas of the Atlantic Ocean that will delight you as you relax on your deck and stare out at the ocean.

Of course, you may not want to live out in the countryside, or in the mountains, you may want to be where the action is, right in the cities. The three largest cities in Portugal are:

1. Lisbon: This is the capital city of Portugal and the largest city in the country with a population of about 564,000. It is the 12th largest city in the European Union and nearly three million live in the area around the city. The city features many great museums, restaurants, parks and historical attractions.

2. Porto: This is the second largest city in Portugal with about 220,000 people in the city and 1.1 million people around it. It sits on the coast and is well-known for the wine that comes from the region around it. Again, there are many great attractions in this city that will make any visitor feel at home.

3. Vila Nova de Gaia is the third largest city in the country with a population of 178,255 in the city and 288,749 around the city. It also sits along the ocean and is well-known for the caves around the region where wine is stored and aged.

When you are buying property within the country of Portugal, the first thing you need to do is begin the real estate purchase process by executing the initial contract, which is called the Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda. The contract will be drawn up by the notary at the time the contract is signed, executed and you will be called upon to put down a deposit on the home that you are planning on buying. Typically in Portugal this will amount to roughly 10 to 12 percent of the total purchase price. If for whatever reason the person selling the home decides not to go through with the sale, then you will get your deposit back if the contract has not been signed. If you decide to walk away, you will typically lose the deposit that you paid, and if the contract is signed, you will lose the value you paid between 10 to 15 percent. If the seller walks away after the contract is signed, they need to pay back twice the deposit.

If you are going to buy property within Portugal, you also need to get a Fiscal Number from the Tax Office, which is required for foreigners who want to buy property. All you have to do is complete a simple form and submit it, and it will typically be processed immediately.

From the point that the initial contract is signed, to when the final contract and deed is signed, the time it takes is usually only about three to four weeks.

The last thing you have to do when you are purchasing a home in Portugal, after the final contract has been signed, is to pay the Imposto Municipal Sobre, which is a tax imposed on real estate transactions. You also have to register the deed at the Land Registry Office.

One of the great things about Portugal is the fact that as a foreigner, there are no added restrictions in place to you buying property. The rules and regulations you have to follower are typically the same rules and regulations that everyone within Portugal has to follow.

Portugal is an amazing country that is safe, warm and full of history. If you want to live anywhere in Europe, then this is the country you should think about thanks to its amazing landscape, friendly people and unique culture that will make you feel at home almost immediately. All you have to do is find the home that you want for the price you can afford and make the sale a happen.

Credit Card Hacks: The Hidden Gem

April 3rd, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

How Credit Cards Can Help You Travel

As I have been working on “Credit Card Hacks: What Credit Card Companies Don’t Want You to Know”, today I will talk about one of the many secrets this book reveals. One of the most overlooked credit card features is free or partially-free travel.

Most consumers shy away from taking full benefit of their credit cards due to a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge in terms of what credit cards can do for us. However, one of the most lucrative benefits credit cards offer is that they can make it possible to travel for free or partially free.

As I write this article today, I am getting ready for my next trip to Myrtle Beach in three weeks. If I had to pay for this trip fully, my estimate is that it would cost approx. $1,800. But because I am flying and staying in expensive resorts partially on points, the cost will be about a couple hundred dollars at most.

No, this is not a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I made it possible by accumulating points year after year. I travel each year paying very little because of the points my credit cards offer and this is what I will discuss in one full chapter in Credit Card Hacks.

To explain in brief, travelling for free or partially free is possible because of the sign-up bonus various travel credit cards offer and there are many other ways rewards points can accumulate faster. The only drawback to travelling for free or partially free is that you have to master various hotel and flight rewards programs.

I have discussed in great detail how to use various travel credit cards to accumulate points and make your dreams to travel and see the world come true in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. Stay tuned for Credit Card Hacks, which is expected to be out this year.

What Is Employment Insurance (EI)?

March 31st, 2016 Posted in Investing|Personal Finance | No Comments »

What Is Employment Insurance (EI)







Employment Insurance

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 Sep 15, 2010

When something bad happens, employment-wise speaking, there is often the worry of how you are going to pay your bills. Thankfully, in Canada, there is something called Employment Insurance, which is there to help you when you need help after losing your jobs.

Employment Insurance has not always been the name of the program. Until 1996, it was called Unemployment Insurance. However, it was changed to Employment Insurance because of the negative connotations associated with the word unemployment. Canadians who work within the country pay 1.73 percent of their earnings in return for benefits if they lose their job. There used to be a government contribution to the program but that was stopped in 1990.

Depending on how long you were at your previous job, the amount you receive for employment insurance and how long you get employment insurance will vary. Your employer will contribute 1.4 times the value of the premium you pay.

The amount of employment insurance paid out around Canada varies by the region. Roughly half of all employment insurance premiums are paid out to individuals in Ontario and the Western Provinces. However, employment insurance is very important in the Atlantic Provinces where there are many season workers who work in fishing, tourism and forestry. During the winter there is no work, so those who work in seasonal industries need something to help pay the bills until their work season begins again. To help with this, employment insurance has special rules for those who fish for a living.

Employment insurance will also pay for things like parental leave, maternity leave, and compassionate care leave and illness coverage.

Employment insurance first came about during the Great Depression in 1935. The odd thing was that the Supreme Court of Canada ended it because it was deemed unconstitutional. The constitution was amended so that employment insurance could fall under federal, and not provincial, leadership. The first system then came into being in 1940 and Canada was the last major western country to implement a system of employment insurance.

Changes to the system came about in 1971 under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau when he made it easier to get. Under the new system, only needed to work for 10 weeks to get benefits for 42 weeks. At this time, the program was also opened up for sickness and maternity leave, which would run for 15 weeks.

However, from 1971 to 1990, the government slowly reduced its contributions until it was no longer contributing. The employment insurance system was then cut back on in 1990, 1993, 1994 and 1996 by the ruling governments, increasing the time someone had to work in a seasonal job until they could earn money. In 2001, the federal government increased parental leave from 10 to 35 weeks and gave workers employment insurance for compassionate care leave.

Currently, the system costs the country $22.7 billion per year.

No matter the cost, it is an important thing for individuals who need help after they have lost their job, suffered a death in the family, or are welcoming a new member to the family.

What Is A Hybrid Travel Rewards Credit Card?

March 27th, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

Proprietary and Hybrid Travel Credit Cards

Travel rewards credit cards can help you travel faster and possibly also earn you free or partially free trips due to the generous returns they offer on daily spending. In general there are usually two ways these credit cards accumulate travel rewards points. These are proprietary rewards points and hotel or airline rewards points. However, there is another type of credit card that offers the best of both by providing more options called a hybrid travel credit card. Today I will talk about this new breed of increasingly popular credit cards called hybrid cards.

Proprietary rewards credit cards are tied to credit card companies’ own rewards points. For each dollar you spend, you usually collect one or two rewards points that offer usually a 1-cent value per point. For example, if you spend $100, you will get 100 points (if one point is being offered for each dollar) or $1 (100 cents). These accumulated points can be used against your credit card travel purchases and that’s how these proprietary points work. So what you see is what you get when it comes to proprietary points. For example, your return on your credit card purchases will be based on how many points the cards offer and you cannot exceed that rate of return. If you get 1 point per dollar, your return is 1 percent. If you get 4 points per dollar, your return will be 4 percent (if 1 point is valued at 1 cent).

The Airline or Hotel credit cards offer hotel or airline points, instead of proprietary points. The beauty of these points is that since there is no fixed amount attached, the rate of return can be an astounding 5-7 percent, if you are knowledgeable about the hotel or airline rewards programs and know how to redeem to maximize return.

Now, what if you want neither proprietary points nor airline/hotel points, but want it all? That’s where the hybrid credit cards come in. Hybrid travel credit cards give you the option and flexibility to redeem points as proprietary points or you can transfer them to other hotel or airline rewards points. So hybrid cards work for both consumers who want straightforward proprietary points with fixed return or for those who are knowledgeable about the ins and outs of hotel/airline rewards programs and want to maximize returns by converting points to hotel/airline rewards programs.

Two popular hybrid cards in Canada are American Express Gold Rewards Card and RBC Visa Infinite Avion Card. As consumers are looking for more options, expect more entrances of hybrid travel credit cards on the market in the future.

Real Estate In Cyprus

March 25th, 2016 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Real Estate In Cyprus

Buying Property In Cyprus

Have you ever thought of living in Europe? Well, chances are you may have thought about it, but have you though about living in Cyprus? While many have not thought about moving to Cyprus, you really should. It is a beautiful and warm country where you can get homes for a very cheap price. So, what do you need to know about Cyprus?

Cyprus is an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, which is located south of Turkey and west of Lebanon. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and it is a very popular place for tourists. It has a high-income and advanced economy and it routinely ranks very high in the Human Development Index. It is also a member of the European Union, as of May 2004.

The Republic of Cyprus covers the entire island and parts of the water but the republic is actually split into two parts. Roughly 59 per cent of the island is under the Republic of Cyprus, while the rest is called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but this is only recognized by Turkey.

Cyprus has a very warm climate with mild winters and hot summers. Snow can fall in the mountains, but generally Cyprus has the warmest climate in the Mediterranean of all countries in the European Union. Many may feel that Cyprus is a country that is not developed but this is not the case as it is highly developed and highly safe. It is a very safe country with very little crime and houses and cars are often unlocked.

Thanks to the warm climate, there is a steady stream of people coming into the country who are seeking to live and work on the island, especially since the country became part of the European Union.

The tourism industry is very strong and that means there is a huge demand for seasonal workers in the area and many of those seasonal workers choose to live in the country all year round.

So, if you are thinking of living and maybe working in Cyprus, what do you need to know?

When you are thinking of moving to Cyprus, you can rest easy in that it is very easy to buy property within the country because it is a member of the European Union. The first thing you need to do is to find a real estate agent in the country who can help you find the property you are looking for. Once you have the property you are looking for, you need to finance the purchase. If a lender is required to do the purchase, you will typically have to come up with a 20 per cent deposit, while the bank will pay the rest of the loan for you. However, you can only get this if you have lived in Cyprus for at least the last five years. If you are a non-permanent resident, then you will have to have a 40 per cent deposit and the bank will cover the remaining 60 per cent for you. For investment and commercial properties, it is a 50/50 split.

Depending on the requirements of the lender, the time to pay back the loan is going to vary. The term can be as low as 10 years, and as high as 30 years.

If you are wondering about the places to live within Cyprus, here is a brief rundown of the regions to buy real estate in Cyprus:

  1. Famagusta District: This district contains the most important port in the country, also named Famagusta. There is a population of 37,738 people in the district and the district is currently under control of Turkey with the Cyprus government acting in exile. It is a very beautiful area with a coastal nature park and high points along the sea that individuals can go hiking to.
  2. Kryenia District: This is the smallest of the districts and the only one completely controlled by Turkey. The main town is Kyrenia.
  3. Larnaca District: This district is partly occupied by Turkey and its main city is Larnaca. The district has the most important airport in the country and it has a mosque that is very important to Muslims.
  4. Limassol District: The main town of this district is also named Limassol and part of the district is under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
  5. Nicosia District: The main town in this district is the capital city of Nicosia. Turkey occupies the northern part of the city and the district features some amazing scenery and nearly everything you need from a major urban centre.
  6. Paphos District: This district is in the western part of the country, occupied completely by Cyprus with four main cities being Paphos, Yeroskipou, Peyia and Polis Chrysochous. The district occupies 15 per cent of the island and has a population of 76,100. There are many beaches, tiny isles, capes, coves and hilly areas that are extremely beautiful.

Cyprus is a very beautiful island and country that is stable, safe, with a strong economy and beautiful scenery. It is warm, it has plenty to do and see and you are close to Europe if you want to go over for a visit. Since it is a member of the European Union, it is very easy to travel to and from the island to Europe. Many are now thinking of buying property within the country because it is such a beautiful place to be and the property is so cheap. As a foreigner, you do have to have more of a down payment when buying property within Cyprus, but you need to remember that if you decide to live in Cyprus for a long period of time, then in only a few years you can have a home with less of a down payment. Living in this country will ensure you will enjoy the winters and the summers, and feel you have made the right choice to live there.

WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard New Companion Benefits May Not Be Beneficial

March 20th, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

WestJet RBC World Elite Card New Benefits

The review I wrote about the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard last year is one of the most popular credit card reviews on A Dawn Journal. So once I saw that WestJet updated this card with more benefits, I thought it would be perfect to write another piece on this.

In the past, the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard annual companion bonus voucher was good for an annual companion flight for $99 (plus applicable taxes, fees and charges) to fly anywhere in Canada or the United States, excluding Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

However, WestJet announced on March 1, 2016 that the companion voucher would have full access to anywhere WestJet flies, including Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii and Europe. The price breakdown for the companion voucher is now:

– Canada and the Continental US for $99 (+ taxes, fees and charges)

– Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean for $299 (+ taxes, fees and charges)

– Europe for $399 (+ taxes, fees and charges)

Whether the companion fare will save you money or not (after paying the $99 annual fee) depends on where you go and how much other airline fares are going for at the moment. Here are 3 samples I compiled on economy class based on possible lowest fares (including sale) that I checked today (March 13, 2016) travelling on April 17 to April 22:

Toronto to Las Vegas for two using companion voucher: $774

Toronto to Las Vegas for two on another airline using : $1000

Toronto to Honolulu, Hawaii for two using companion voucher: $1417

Toronto to Honolulu, Hawaii for two on another airline using : $1288

Toronto to Mexico City for two using companion voucher: $1800

Toronto to Mexico City for two on another airline using : $927

As you can see, based on the above three samples and several other samples I tried, including travelling to Europe, you may find that travelling on other airlines costs less than WestJet, even using a discounted companion voucher. However, because the companion voucher works on any fare class on WestJet, you may find it useful if you are buying the more expensive Flex or Plus Fare class.

Whether you should continue keeping WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard or not depends on whether the companion voucher saves you money or not. Another friendly reminder (I also mentioned this in my first review) is that this card provides neither Trip Cancellation Insurance nor concierge service.

Copyright © 2011 [A Dawn Dot Net Corp.] All rights reserved   |   Privacy & Cookies