How To Save Money By Downsizing

July 28th, 2015 Posted in Investing|Personal Finance | No Comments »

how to save money by downsizinf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downsizing -Not Always Bad

Recession or no recession, it suits any of us to find a way of saving a few dollars here and there. It’s not a bad thing, and none of us should be at all concerned about how it will be viewed. The truth of the matter is that anywhere a saving can be made, there is potential to re-direct funds that may be needed elsewhere or highly beneficial. Looking into your regular expenditure and thinking about what changes you can make, you can come to the conclusion that there is a lot of gain to be made from making a cut – although in some cases it may make for an emotionally challenging decision. However, if you steel yourself for the process and give it your honest appraisal, you may find that it was the best decision you ever made.

One decision that will never be totally comfortable is the sale o f the family home. After all, so many things happened there that made it the center of a life you would not swap for anything. Nonetheless, if the time has come that the kids have moved out – not just to college but to a place of their own, possibly even a marital home – then you are left with a house where at least one room is going empty.

Sure, your kids will visit pretty regularly and may well stay over when they do, and you may well run into a moral quandary when the issue of selling the house they grew up in happens to arise. However, you can take sentiment too far. If selling the house and relocating to a smaller property will make your retirement and the years preceding it any more comfortable, then your kids ought to understand. Moving from a big house to a smaller one can result in a very large lump sum to deposit in the bank.

Downsizing is not solely about making a change from one thing to another, physically smaller thing, of course. Neither is it something that needs to happen when your children have left home and any big home-life change is going to be a lot rawer. Often, the main point of downsizing is to cut on wastage. Most of us have been guilty of spending money that did not need to be spent.

It is worth looking at purchases which hold their value well – for example, a car is not a good choice for downsizing from the “profit” point of view. However much you paid for that when it was new, it is probably worth a fraction now. Even if you have spent hours lovingly maintaining it, it started losing value the moment you drove it off the forecourt. Conversely, items like laptop computers hold their value exceptionally well. If you find that you are using the laptop less frequently, then you can make a few hundred bucks and save on the electricity that a charge-demanding laptop swallows up every day. If you can make do with a desktop computer, it offers more memory and efficiency – and could help you make a saving, too.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Canadapersonalfinancewebsite.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on July 5, 2009.

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Canada Cottage Country Real Estate – Part Four

July 25th, 2015 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Canada Cottage Country Real Estate - Part Four

Collingwood Cottage Country RealEstate Is The Place To Be For Peace that Surpasses Understanding

Collingwood, located on the southern shores of the Muskokan Georgian Bay, is a recreational heaven just outside of the largest population in Canada.  It is known for its natural beauty and untouched wilderness and has real estate offerings at prices that are providing great opportunities for real estate investors.

This region is known for its’ skiing activities and is in fact titled the capital of Ontario skiing.  Set in a mountainous region the area boasts both beaches and mountains offering an endless list of possibilities when it comes to things to do.  From snowmobiles to beaches, this area has you covered if you are an outdoor enthusiast.  There is something fun to do here for the entire family.

The farmers market, which was originally started in the Old Town Hall building back in the 1890’s, features farmers, butchers, bakers, feed and wood sellers among others.  If you enjoy getting natural rations of fresh fruits, meats, vegetables and the like then you are in for a treat.

The Blue Mountain Resort is a world renowned ski resort hosted in Collingwood.  Condos and cottages are available here for rent or purchase and you will have access to some of the most prestigious lands in all of Canada.  It features spa baths with entirely outdoor bath areas with a mix of hot and cold both available.  Dry saunas and eucalyptus steam rooms are an incredible way to rejuvenate your energy.  The cafes are surrounded by amazing landscaping weaving visual pleasures with great aromas to fulfill your senses.

Real estate here is available for every style taste and all budgets.  Single family homes, condos, real estate rentals, Blue mountain chalets, farms, acreage, vacant lots to build a dream home, and waterfront properties are among the choices you have in Collingwood and the Blue Mountain region.  Known for its’ small town charm it is the perfect blend of rural and urban settings with people that know how to make you feel at home.  Perfect for retirement or vacations this area boasts a wide offering of commercial and residential real estate properties that can be affordable for renters or multi millionaires looking to make a home away from home.

Real estate professionals in the area are plentiful and they have the knowledge and understanding of the area with a desire to know your needs.  They can assist you in finding properties within your budget and answer any specific questions you have about the surrounding areas.  This area is an affordable way to get a little piece of heaven for those of you who enjoy the peace and tranquility of preserved natural wilderness combined with urban activities not too far away!

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the realestateexpedition.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Jan 20, 2009.

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Is It Still Possible to Make Lots of Rewards Points from Credit Cards?

July 23rd, 2015 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

Rewards Points Opportunity Still Exists

Rewards Points Opportunity Still Exists

In the past, credit card rewards points explorers were able to take advantage of juicy sign-up rewards bonuses over and over from the same cards and various different cards. However, some credit card companies closed the loophole that existed and others are working on closing it.

If you check the footnotes underneath credit card profiles on issuers’ websites, you will see that some of them are started to add something like this: Bonus offer is applicable to new members only. If you have held this card in the past, we may still approve your application, but will not reward you with any bonuses.

So this raises the question: Are the rewards points parties that existed until now all over? The answer is actually surprisingly both yes and no. Yes in the sense that like many points explorers did in the past – opening 5 to 10 accounts every year to rack up rewards points and then close those accounts after 3 months and then reopen them again to continue this rewards points party cycle – again and again are over. Credit card companies became aware of these parties and are closing the loopholes that existed.

However, the other answer is – no, it is still possible to make decent rewards points from bonuses every year and year after year. Slow and steady process is the key here and if you carefully apply for one credit card every six months, you can still make decent points without damaging your credit score.

But to succeed with this slow and steady process, there are other details you need to carefully consider and that’s what I will talk about in my upcoming book Credit Card Hacks: What Credit Card Companies Don’t Want You to Know. A full chapter will be dedicated on how to travel for free or with very little money from rewards points. Stay tuned for more once the book is published.

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Car Loans Getting Easier

July 21st, 2015 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

Car Loans Getting Easier

 

 

 

 

 

Loan Approvals Have Risen To Their Highest

Canadians looking to purchase a new car in the second half of 2009 should find it easier than they did a few months ago, according to a new report which gives broadly positive news on the likely availability of car loans for new customers. The report, released this Thursday, 25 June 2009 says that loan approvals have risen to their highest level in more than a year, and since the recession was declared. At the time of the recession’s onset, getting credit for any purpose became a great deal more difficult, with affordable loans comparable to the Golden Fleece for anyone not in possession of a world-beating credit score. With financiers more willing to lend now than they were a year ago, the motorist is getting a green light to secure funding for the vehicle they want.

The main reason for this ease would seem to be the federal government’s move to secure the finance of $12billion worth of car loans which will allow the financing companies to lend to deserving customers who have a decent credit rating. In any recession there will be a reluctance to lend to anyone but the absolute “can’t miss” customers, who often have little need for a loan in order to buy a car and borrow more for convenience than out of necessity. This latest move will open up the chance to buy a new car to a wider range of individuals and allow a greater fluidity of cash through the industry, which will in turn help stimulate an economy in need of some good news as it battles its way through the recession.

The withdrawal of some major lenders from the auto-loan business over the past year is also believed to have played a major part in the absence of credit – with the Bank of Canada being a notable exception. The car companies themselves, though, had in no small part either removed their lending branches or increased the credit score necessary for them to forward credit to new customers. Although there is good reason for being circumspect in giving out new car loans, it did have the effect of creating a vicious cycle which saw fewer customers able to buy cars, and consequently fewer cars being bought.

The overall impression emerging from the latest news is that the credit-worthiness and the intent to buy new is experiencing a rise in Canada and that there will be increased growth in the Canadian auto market as the year progresses. Household credit ratings are improving as the lessons of the recession are learned, and in combination with an increase in the amount of retail and durable goods purchases over recent months, the least that can be said is that the worst of the recession is over. How quickly this translates into growth of a reasonable amount remains to be seen, but it is a relief for any financial commentator to be able to say that better days are very nearly here. How much better depends on how ready people are to believe it.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Canadapersonalfinancewebsite.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on June 28, 2009.

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Cottage Country Canada – Part 3

July 20th, 2015 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Canada Cottage Country Real Estate - Part Three

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Ontario Cottage Country Is So Popular

It is often considered one of the most beautiful areas in the world, with crystal clear lakes, prime fishing areas, thick and plentiful forests, luxury resorts, and some of the most amazing sunsets you’ll ever witness. It’s the choice of home to several millionaires as well as a summer playground to the rich and famous.  In Ontario, Canada, the area is known as cottage country and it consists of a large area of land that consists of several popular towns such as Muskoka, Peterborough, Bracebridge, Haliburton, Huntsville, Orillia, Minden, and Collingwood.

It is an ideal area to purchase real estate as there are thousands of waterfront cottages, homes, and condos available for those who are interested in residential properties. There are also quite a few commercial properties available in the area. Many people have owned homes and cottages in the region for years and they are passed down from generation to generation. However, there are still many of them for sale on the market. These properties are an excellent investment and they are often rented out for extra income.

One of the most attractive things about cottage country is that it’s almost just as popular in the winter as it is in the summer. While people swim, water-ski and boat on the lakes in the summer, they snowmobile, fish, and play hockey on them during the winter. This is ideal for those who want to purchase real estate with the intention of renting it out. It is also known as one of the best areas in Canada to retire to.

The real estate prices vary greatly in cottage country as cottages are sold as low as about $100,000 and can reach as high as millions of dollars. If you have a price range in mind as well as a specific location , there are hundreds of real estate agents in the area that are more than willing to help you out. You should be able to find something suitable for just about any budget.

It is also possible to by land, such as waterfront properties, to build your own dream home or cottages on. This will also take a little bit of time and research and the help of a qualified real estate agent. There are many websites to help you in your search. These sites will give full details of the properties and buildings that are for sale and generally come with a series of photographs and contact information for the seller. While some property and homes are sold privately, you will find that most of them involve real estate companies.

The options are endless in cottage country because of the size of land it encompasses. If you do decide to look for residential or commercial property in the area, it’s a good idea to do some homework so you know what to expect when it comes to pricing. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, you may want to enlist some professional help. If you decide on using a real estate agent, it’s recommended to ask for some referrals or testimonials as it’s important you get a good agent to help you out.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the realestateexpedition.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Jan 17, 2009.

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WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard: Should You Keep It?

July 19th, 2015 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts, Reviews|Interviews | No Comments »

WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard Review

The WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard is a MasterCard Elite series

high-end travel rewards credit card that lets you earn WestJet for everyday purchases that can be used towards WestJet flights and vacations without any blackout periods or restrictions.

The Cost

Annual Fee = $99. Additional cards = $49

Minimum annual income required = $70,000 (or household income = $120,000)

Rewards Points Snapshot

– Earn 2 WestJet dollars for every $1 spent on WestJet flights and vacations.

– Earn 1.5 WestJet dollars on everything else.

– There is no limit or restrictions on earning.

First Time Bonus

A $250 WestJet dollars welcome bonus when you use your card for the first time.

Anniversary Bonus

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).

Features & Benefits

– The primary cardholder (and up to 8 additional guests on the same reservation) awarded 1st checked bag for free on all WestJet flights.

– Emergency Medical Insurance (15 days<65, 3 days>65 or older).

– Travel Accident Insurance (Up to $500,000 CAD).

– Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance.

– Trip Interruption Insurance ($5,000 each, maximum $25,000).

– Emergency Purchases (After 4 hrs,$250 day, maximum $2,500 per occurrence).

– Flight Delay Insurance (After 4 hrs,$250 day, maximum $500 per occurrence).

– Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance ($2,500 per occurrence).

– Purchase Security (For 90 days, up to $50,000)

– Extended Warranty Insurance (1 additional year)

What’s Missing

Some of the important benefits this card does not offer:

– Price Protection Insurance

– Trip Cancellation Insurance

– Delayed and Lost Luggage Insurance

– No Concierge services

My Take

Although The WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard is missing some elements of insurance and services you would expect from a high-end credit card, its anniversary bonus makes it a card to consider adding to your credit card portfolio.

You can easily offset the annual fee and still stay on the plus side if you use the annual companion flight for $99 each year. Here is one example from my Las Vegas trip: Regular return trip fare from Toronto to Las Vegas = $600 (includes base fare, taxes, and fees)

My companion return trip would cost only $250 ($99 plus fees and taxes)

My total round trip cost for 2 = $850

That’s a $350 savings ($1,200 – $850)

Plus I would save on checked bags = $25×4 = $100

As you can see, you can save at least $450.00 on an average trip. Your savings can be lower or higher based on your trip distance. If you are not planning to use the annual companion flight feature every year, keeping this card makes no sense, as you can make more money with other cards that offer better returns and more benefits.

I personally hold this card as of this writing and I’m planning to hold it as long as I make one trip on WestJet every year. I use this card for some of my expenses as well. However, if I were not to use this card for any transactions, I would still hold it and would not mind paying $99 just to get the annual companion fare.

Disclosure: Information provided here may not be accurate and no longer valid. The mentioned card provider is not related to A Dawn Journal and neither monitor this site nor responsible for any inaccurate information. Contact the card company directly for accurate and updated information.

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Canada Cottage Country Real Estate – Part Two

July 18th, 2015 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Canada Cottage Country Real Estate - Part Two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cottage Country Canada – Part 2

Some of the hottest and most sought-after real estate properties in Canada at the moment, both residential and commercial, are in the region just north and east of Toronto, Ontario, in what is known as cottage country or ‘the Muskokas’ to the locals. While summertime traffic can often make the trip there a brutal one, it’s well worth it once you get there to enjoy everything the region has to offer.

The area is teeming with freshwater lakes, woodlands, wildlife, hiking trails, scenic cliffs, and quaint little towns. It’s no wonder that so many people are seeking property there. It’s a virtual playground all year round and a decent sized waterfront home or cottage can often fetch well over a million dollars. The area has started attracting the who’s who of North American society and many financiers, athletes, and film actors now own or rent property there.

While many Canadian entertainers and sports stars have known about the place for years, it appears Hollywood types have finally been let in on the secret and it’s not uncommon to run into Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Martin Short, Tom Hanks or many others on the streets or at the local stores as they own cottages in the region.

A real estate boom hit the area about 10 years ago and many of the smaller lakeside cottages in the Muskoka’s  were bought up and then torn down, only to be replaced, by larger, luxury homes. However, while the area is definitely seen as a paradise by many, there are still quite a few real estate deals to be found on homes, cottages, and properties.

Lakefront lots are obviously at a premium, but there are so many of them, they can still be bought and built on quite easily. The region is also home to hundreds of private islands and thousands of kilometres of shoreline with many properties being pretty secluded. 

The regions of Haliburton, Collingwood, Huntsville, and Peterborough are also ideal for those who are looking to retire or to invest in some property. These towns are almost as popular in the middle of the winter as they are in the summer and there’s an endless supply of visitors looking to rent accommodations on a weekly basis. You can easily cover your mortgage by renting out your property.  The properties in these areas are typically less than in the Muskoka’s, but the locality is just as nice.

Some people have sold their homes in cottage country by necessity instead of choice though, as property taxes continuously seem to rise in Ontario. But there definitely wasn’t a shortage of buyers and that’s why country living is now more high-end than ever before.

There are many real estate agents in and around cottage country who can help you if you’re interested in residential and/or commercial properties in the area. There are also many websites that feature most available real estate properties. These will give you a good idea of the types of homes that are available and the price range that they come in.

It is believed the average price of a lake house in the Muskoka region was about $225,000, about 15 years ago, and according to the Muskoka and Halliburton Association of Realtors, that price is now closer to $1 million. However, there are still some hidden gems and prime real estate still available for considerably less.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the realestateexpedition.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Jan 16, 2009.

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Best States to Retire

2015 Kiplinger’s 10 Best States to Retire

July 16th, 2015 Posted in Retirement 101 | No Comments »

Delaware is The Best State to Retire

Delaware is The Best State to Retire

Personal finance magazine Kiplinger recently looked at factors such as affordability, economic health, crime rates and tax laws, etc. among all 50 American states, including the District of Columbia, and rated the top best states to retire in America. Here are the best 10 states:

1. Delaware

2. Florida

3. West Virginia

4. Pennsylvania

5. South Dakota

6. Arizona

7. Hawaii

8. Iowa

9. Kansas

10. Wyoming

Those states that are economically healthy and affordable, along with low crime rates, are favoured by the rankings. If you recall my 2015 America’s Best Places for Retirement by Bankrate, the top ten places were very different than this rating. For example, Delaware and Hawaii were absent and 3 cities from Arizona were among the top. The full Kiplinger report can be viewed here.

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A Record Number Of Canadians Now Own Their Own Homes

July 15th, 2015 Posted in Canada|Global Economy | No Comments »

A Record Number Of Canadians Now Own Their Own Homes

 

 

 

 

 

A Nation of Homeowners – Canada

In the middle of a worldwide recession, would it surprise you to hear that a record number of Canadians now own their own homes? It would surprise just about anyone, surely? But that is the conclusion from a report by the Bank of Nova Scotia, details of which were reported this week. The caveat to this is that the figures refer to households that owned their own home in 2006 (with the belief that the number increased yet further in 2007) and that the full figures for 2008 will not be known for a couple of years. What is indisputable, however, is that there has been a significant increase in ownership compared with the same figures a decade earlier.

The Scotiabank report states that in 2006  a record high 68.4% of Canadian households were owned by the householder, and that there was reason to believe that the percentage increased in 2007. This was in comparison with figures for 1996 that showed a total of 63.6% of householders owning their own homes. How the figures will be effected by the recession still remains to be seen, as the compilation of the figures from a wide range of sources in a wide range of different jurisdictions takes time. It may well be that there has been some fall-off in the last couple of years as people have sought to cash in the capital locked up in their house and begun renting. However, there is little likelihood that this will have taken the numbers beneath those set a decade ago.

Reasons for this rise in the figures must include the fact that “baby boomers” now make up almost the entirety of the 45-64 age group which is considered the prime house-buying section of society. With the birth numbers having been so elevated in the last 60 years, and the improvements in medical science that have been seen in the intervening period, there are now more people than ever who are ready, willing and financially able to buy a house. Aside from this, however, the numbers have increased for those in other demographics buying houses. this can be put down in large part to the desire for owning assets for the purpose of having something to subsidize a pension. People are saving for their retirement earlier and earlier these days, and using more methods than ever before.

In addition to the headline story of the report, there was also some interesting data to be found in that 9% of Canadian households now own a second property, typically used for the purposes of a holiday, compared to 7% in 1999. How this will have been affected by individuals cashing in on their properties in order to ride out the current recession remains to be seen, and certainly it is unlikely that the numbers will rise as quickly over the next few years. Nonetheless, the changing trend towards home ownership seems to suggest that those who rent their homes will stay in the minority for some time yet.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Canadapersonalfinancewebsite.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on June 23, 2009.

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Get $50 Free From Tangerine Bank

July 14th, 2015 Posted in Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

High Interest and $50 Bonus

High Interest and $50 Bonus

No-frills bank Tangerine is currently running a promotion for new clients that offers $50 for free and double interest rate at 2.10 percent for six months.

You will have to meet certain conditions to get this free money. For example, you have to open a new TFSA, RSP, or savings account with a deposit of minimum $100 by July 31, 2015 and then you will have to setup a monthly automatic purchase plan (by July 31 as well) to run for at least 6 continuous months.

There are other terms and conditions. Visit the Tangerine website for details. Tangerine offers no-fee chequing, savings, and other accounts. President Choice Financial is another bank that offers various no-fee accounts.

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