Global Credit Crisis and Canadians

April 14th, 2015 Posted in Canada|Global Economy | No Comments »

Global Credit Crisis and Canadians

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadians Showing More Caution On Borrowing

It is becoming clearer that the average Canadian is cutting right back on borrowing as the global credit crisis continues to exert its hold on the purse strings of both businesses and the individual. In a world where money is now becoming more of a luxury item, people are becoming much more likely to save than to go out and spend money that they do not really have. What is becoming more and more obvious with every new set of figures that is released, is that more and more people are coming around to the idea that this credit crisis is not something that will be here today and gone tomorrow.

It is therefore no great shock that people are seeking to feather their nests in the current climate. With the best will in the world, no one really seems to have any firm idea when things are going to be better. So while people at the beginning of the credit crisis may have taken a more gung-ho attitude and resolved to ride things out without making major changes, it would take a brave or foolhardy individual to look at the pronounced slowdown and assume that things will improve tomorrow, next month or even next year. In such a climate, the only thing that many people feel they can do is hold on to what they have and pray for a boost.

With the figures for 2009 likely to show that the market growth globally for this year has slipped into the negative numbers – the first time that it has happened since the end of the Second World War – there is an absolute necessity to live according to the realities. This in turn is posing problems for governments, though. In order for markets to recover, it is essential that consumers are spending. If consumers are to spend, it is necessary that banks will allow them to borrow. With banks going to the wall in many countries, it is unsurprising that those who remain are keeping a firmer hold on the purse strings. It all adds up to a apocalyptic vision.

Fewer people are buying homes at the moment, and now it emerges that less money is going on retail too. When you are not sure that your job is recession proof, the prospect of speculating in order to accumulate is naturally less attractive. So what does the future hold? If people do not get spending, how will the markets ever recover? What we are likely to see – and there is not a period on this – is a slow, cautious improvement when it happens, which will gradually pick up pace as people gain confidence in the markets. We must hope when this does take place that banks and governments have learned lessons from the chaotic situation which has led us where we are now – and make the changes that need to be made.

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 Mar 27, 2009.

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How to Travel and Make and Receive Calls on Your Cell Number Without Paying For Roaming

April 12th, 2015 Posted in Internet |Technology, Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

How to Travel and Make and Receive Calls on Your Cell Number Without Paying For Roaming
Photo Credit:Roamerapp.com

Apps Lets You Roam Over Wi-Fi or 3G

We all have heard one of those horror stories where someone accidentally placed or received calls while roaming and ended up paying sky-rocketing roaming charges. Well, no more. There are apps now that let you roam paying little to nothing. Today, I will talk about two such apps that will let you roam on your own phone number in foreign countries without hassle and paying big fees to phone companies.

Roamer - Roamer lets you use your own cell phone number abroad and you can make or receive calls either using Wi-Fi or local SIM card cellular networks. As of this writing, you can buy SIM cards for 40 countries on the Roamer website and it comes with free international shipping. The way it works is before you travel you buy a SIM card of that country and Roamer forwards calls made to your cell phone to that local SIM, making it like a local call with low local rates in that country. If you are on Wi-Fi, you can even receive calls for free in foreign countries. The rates to call back to your home country using Wi-Fi or local networks are much cheaper than your phone companies roaming charges. The Roamer app is easy to use and has a sleek interface.

YouRoam – YouRoam allows you to make or receive calls over Wi-Fi or 3G on your cell phone number anywhere on earth. YouRoam has an unlimited plan option for $4.99 per week that lets you make and receive unlimited calls over Wi-Fi on your own US phone number. Or you can call or text for 1 cent a minute to most US numbers.

If you do not want to use apps like Roamer or YouRoam, there are other apps such as Fongo, Groove, and many more that give you real US or Canadian numbers that you can use to make or receive calls (to/from USA/Canada) while travelling via Wi-Fi anywhere on earth.

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Real Estate Property In Kuala Lumpur

April 8th, 2015 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

real estate property in Kuala Lumpur

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kuala Lumpur Real Estate

A city which has a thoroughly modern look but no sense of disconnection from its history is truly hard to find in the present day. It cannot be denied that although there are some marvellous holiday destinations in Asia as there are elsewhere in the world, there is a certain dearth of individuality and character in a lot of them. This is not an accusation that can be levelled at Kuala Lumpur, which is one of the most impressive cities on the continent and among the most worthwhile holiday destinations in the world. More and more people are visiting for a holiday and finding themselves drawn back – more than a few ending up living there.

There are numerous reasons why you might want to invest in Kuala Lumpur real estate property. One of these reasons is the rarely discussed, almost mythical idea of living in the property you have bought. Of course this may seem dreadfully conventional compared to buying and renting out, or buying and renovating to sell, but then it is important to take into account that it will allow you to live in one of the most captivating cities you’ll ever visit. If indeed you are simply interested in an investment property, the good news is that a well-turned out house in Kuala Lumpur beats anywhere else in Malaysia and most of Asia in general for resale value.

It may be that you just want to rent a place for long-stay holidays or business placements. In the city center and the immediate suburbs, you are likely to find that Kuala Lumpur is somewhat expensive for rental properties – but if the company is paying and you are not the one writing the checks at the end of it all, then you may as well enjoy yourself. By being close to the city center you will have a great deal of shopping and nightlife opportunities close by. If this doesn’t sound like fun then it is a better idea to find a spot further out. The nights are a good deal quieter and the rental properties an incredible saving.

Never just buy the first property you see for sale in Kuala Lumpur. The housing market there has a tendency to surprise you, and bargains can be had if you look hard enough.

It is worth being aware, however, of the Malaysian Government’s law on foreign ownership of real estate properties. These are somewhat long winded, but it will serve you well to know someone “on the ground” in Kuala Lumpur before you go. The government is currently extending visas for an initial period of five years to foreign citizens, renewable at the end of those five years as long as the visitor’s passport is still in order. These visas are multiple-entry, so you can treat Malaysia as a base from which to travel elsewhere. If trying to help get a business off the ground in a Malaysian base, it is a very worthwhile idea – check out “Malaysia My Second Home” on Google for fuller details.

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 Aug 2, 2009.

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Canadian Bankruptcy

April 5th, 2015 Posted in Investing|Personal Finance | No Comments »

Filing Bankruptcy In Canada

Filing Bankruptcy In Canada

Sometimes, no matter how much one wants to prevent it, personal finances can spiral out of control. You can find yourself struggling to make debt repayments, worrying constantly about the future and what it may bring. If you ever reach the stage where you freeze in terror every time the phone rings or the doorbell goes, it may be time to face the state of your finances.

When it comes to personal debt, the word bankruptcy is particularly terrifying. To many, it signals the end of life as they know it, and as well as the financial implications there is something of a social stigma attached to it. Yet sometimes, if debts are substantial and you aren’t earning enough money to cover your outgoings, it is the only reasonable option to free yourself from the never ending cycle of debt. Bankruptcy is the last resort and should only be entered in to with the knowledge that all else has failed, but it’s part in helping resolve finance issues is irreplaceable.

In 2007, more than 100,000 Canadian nationals filed for bankruptcy, so you are not alone. If you have decided bankruptcy is the only option left available to you, you begin the process by filing for bankruptcy via a trustee for bankruptcy. To find one, check your provincial advice pages or even just check the Yellow Pages.

When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is granted to you. This means that, during the bankruptcy process, your creditors cannot make moves to seize assets and should stop making collections calls.

For a first time bankrupt, the term of the bankruptcy is nine months. This increases if you have to go bankrupt more than once. At the end of the nine months, the bankruptcy is discharged. During those nine months, you are required to make payments to your creditors and to the trustee you petitioned for bankruptcy with. Depending on the size of debt, these payments vary, with a national standard of $200 per month for the nine months. You will also need to pay around $85 for financial counselling as a condition of discharge. At the end of the nine-month period, the bankruptcy is discharged and in all but a few rare cases the debts are erased.

Bankruptcy does not automatically mean you will lose all your asset s, as in most cases there are certain limits that you can own. For example, In Ontario, you can keep up to $5,650 equity in a vehicle, $11,300 worth of household goods, and up to a value of $11,300.00 worth tools you use to earn your living . Your trustee, who will advise the best course of action, which may involve selling items, makes the decision on any amounts over these for each particular area.

When discharged, the bankruptcy will remain on your credit file for up to six years. During this period, it may be difficult – though not impossible – to get credit. However, this should not be too much of a deterrent; as if you are in a situation where bankruptcy is the only option; your credit file is going to be damaged hugely anyway. At least with bankruptcy you gain a clean slate in six years, something that would be hard to do struggling to make repayments on any large debts.

Overall, if you have reached the end of the line and creditors are hassling you non-stop, bankruptcy may be the most efficient and effective method of getting out of trouble. If you are having difficulty paying your debts and/or considering bankruptcy, I suggest you contact a Canadian Bankruptcy Trustee licensed by the federal government to discuss your situation. To find a trustee in your area, search on Google or Yahoo using these keywords: Bankruptcy, Trustees, Your Area.

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 Mar 14, 2009.

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The HSBC Main Building – A Landmark Of Modern Architecture

March 31st, 2015 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank (HSBC) Main BuildingHong Kong & Shanghai Bank (HSBC) Main Building

Anyone visiting Hong Kong will be unable to miss seeing the most expensive skyscraper in the territory and one of the most expensive in the world. Built while Hong Kong was still under the control of Britain, but during the normalisation period during which its return to Chinese control was assured, the headquarters of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation – HSBC for short – is a quite impressive building. Actually, that rather undersells it, as it is one of the most fascinating structures in Asia and the world beyond, for many reasons.

It became apparent that a building such as the HSBC Main Building would be necessary in the 1970s. After more than a century during which headquarters were built, knocked down, moved and rebuilt, in 1978 it was decided that the bank might as well tear down its headquarters which were, in any event, too small to hold all of its departments. People and sections were scattered in far-flung parts of Central Hong Kong and it was felt that a proper headquarters would be needed – one which could hold all departments and provide an element of streamlining to the city. It would take another seven years to have it built, and when it was completed it was the most expensive building in the world. Although it may have since been outstripped in this respect, it is still an impressive edifice.

The final cost of the building is believed to have been 5.2 billion Hong Kong dollars, close to US$670million. The architect who conceptualized the building was none other than the legendary British architect Sir Norman Foster, and it has many of his signature touches, not least its epic size but minimalist design. 30,000 tonnes of steel were used in its construction, and from the outside it is one of those classic skyscrapers that looks like a glass palace. There is good reason for this transparency, too.

The building may have taken place between 1979 and 1985, before ecological concerns became quite as big a consideration and quite as fashionable as they are now. It is, however, an excellent example of how one can build a skyscraper without excessive damage to the environment nor waste of energy. Due to the glass edifice of the exterior and the bank of giant mirrors which sits atop the atrium, much of the indoor lighting is provided naturally. The coolant for the air conditioning inside the building (which can be a godsend in a glass-based structure – is natural sea water.

There are many things which make the HSBC Main Building a building quite unlike any other. Not least of these is the fact that it relies very little on elevators inside the building, and people moving between floors tend to do so by way of escalators instead. This kind of personality makes the building one of considerable interest. Built with the principles of Feng Shui in mind, the building has a vast expanse of open ground in front of it, with only Statue Square separating it from Victoria Harbour, meaning that workers can look out onto water (in Feng Shui this is important for personal wealth. All in all, it is an interesting building indeed.

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 July 25, 2009.

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March 29th, 2015 Posted in ETFs|Mutual Funds | 1 Comment »

Canada Invented ETFs 25 Years Ago

Canada Invented ETFs 25 Years Ago

Canada is the country that invented peanut butter, walkie-talkies, insulin, garbage bags, basketball, alkaline batteries, sonar, and the telephone, among many other things. Included among all of these is, of course, ETFs. The Toronto Stock Exchange launched the world’s first ETFs called TIPs (for Toronto 35 Index Participation Units), similar to the iShares S&P/TSX 60 Index ETF that trades these days.

Today, global ETF assets have reached a staggering record high of $2.919 Trillion. In Canada alone, the amount is more than $85 billion, and it has a lot more to grow in the future.

New Canadian Dividend ETFs

iShares recently launched 5 new Core ETFs, including one U.S. Unhedged Dividend ETF. Let’s look at these ETFs.

iShares Core S&P U.S. Total Market Index ETF: XUU MER 0.10 – U.S. large, mid, and small cap exposure. Holds 1500 stocks. Similar to Vanguard U.S. Total Market VUN that holds 3800 stocks.

iShares Core S&P U.S. Total Market Index ETF: XUH MER 0.10Same as XUU, but hedged to the Canadian dollar.

iShares Core MSCI All Country World ex Canada Index ETF: XAW MER 0.20 – Large, mid, and small cap exposure to US, developed, and emerging markets, excluding Canada. Holds 5000 stocks. Similar to Vanguard FTSE All-World ex Canada VXC that holds 3000 stocks.

iShares Core MSCI EAFE IMI Index ETF (CAD-Hedged): XFH MER 0.20 – Large, mid and small cap exposure across developed markets, excluding the US and Canada.

iShares U.S. High Dividend Equity Index ETF: XHU MER 0.3075 high quality, U.S. dividend stocks. The Canadian dollar hedged version of XHU is XHD.

More ETFs mean more competition, more choices, and lower MER for you. However, before loading up your portfolio with any ETFs, make sure you are not holding similar ETFs from different providers. Keep your holdings minimal and simple, as simplicity applies even when it comes to your finances.

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Budgeting: The Dos and the Don’ts

March 24th, 2015 Posted in Investing|Personal Finance | 1 Comment »

Budgeting The Dos and the Don'tsStrict Budgeting Does Not Work

It would seem that anyone giving financial advice always begins by saying “use a budget”. Unfortunately, this to many seems restrictive and cloying, and few people do it when times are good. Budgeting is associated with periods of low income, but in reality, if you budget during the affluent times too, the benefits can be huge.

If budgeting does seem to be too restrictive for you, then introduce a flexible budget. Instead of saying that X amount will be spent on X every month, try saying between X amount and X amount will be spent on X every month. For example, a strict $300 for groceries can become $300 to $350 a month for groceries. Studies have shown that even this slight difference is enough to make people feel released from the confines of a budget.

A budget doesn’t need to be strict. Instead, it can be more of a general guide If you aren’t struggling financially, then you can make your budget as vague as you like, while the practice of actually having a budget and sticking to it will be stored for future use should your circumstances change. There’s no need to write down the exact amount of money for everything you could possibly spend it on; some budget “$10 per month for magazines”, which is a little extreme.

Why not budget just for the essentials?  . These are simply amounts that rarely fluctuate and are essential. When you know roughly how much you need for these each month, the real budgeting begins.

At this point, the most common mistakes of budgeting arise. People make the limits of their budget too strict or not strict enough. The only way to avoid this is by trial and error. Split your non-essential expenditure into different groups, rather than specific sets, to begin. Allow amounts for entertainment, going out, clothing and other such variables. At the beginning, it really is best to just guess – find an amount that you think “sounds” right. This might sound a little pie-in-the-sky, but there’s no set figure that is ideal for each person. You have to find out what works for you.

With this done, go through a month on your non-essential budget, then evaluate it. Are there areas where you have a lot of money left over, or areas where you spent more than you were expecting? Within reason, simply alter your budget for the next month to fit the discoveries you’ve made. After three or four months of this, you should have a pretty good idea of the patterns to your expenditure. After six months, you’ll have learned enough to set a semi-permanent budget. After all, if you keep changing your budget forevermore, the point of it is lost slightly!

With your personalized budget in hand, you’re ready to begin. But there’s one final addition that should be in every budget; miscellaneous. You can never know what exactly might appear over the coming months – be it an unexpected bill, or something more exciting like a gadget you just can’t resist – so by always including a miscellaneous amount, you’ve got that covered. If nothing of this type appears over the course of a month, simply roll this amount over. With a plan designed to suit you and a miscellaneous figure allowed for, you’ll soon wonder how you ever managed without a budget.

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 Mar 7, 2009.

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Top Ten Emerging and Frontier Markets

March 22nd, 2015 Posted in Canada|Global Economy | No Comments »

Bloomberg's 2015 Top Market Lists

Bloomberg’s 2015 Top Market Lists

Bloomberg Market recently published its lists of top 25 and 19 emerging and frontier markets. These lists are made based on several factors, such as investing climate, ease of doing business, GDP growth, and so on. Let’s look at the top 10 countries from both emerging markets and frontier markets lists.

Top Ten Emerging Markets

1. South Korea
2. Qatar
3. China
4. U.A.E
5. Chile
6. Malaysia
7. Panama
8. Peru
9. Latvia
10. Poland

Source: Bloomberg Market

Top Ten Frontier Markets

1. Saudi Arabia
2. Estonia
3. Slovakia
4. Lithuania
5. Bahrain
6. Slovenia
7. Bulgaria
8. Vietnam
9. Kazakhstan
10. Romania

Source: Bloomberg Market

The term “emerging market” refers to market or country that is not yet fully developed, but has some elements of a developed market and on is its way to become a developed market in the future or was a developed market in the past. A frontier market or country refers to a developing market that is slower than an emerging market.

For example, MSCI, a leading provider of indexes, considers Saudi Arabia a frontier market, but considers Qatar and UAE emerging markets. South Korea, a widely considered developed market, is still considered emerging market by MSCI due to market restrictions in Korea.

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Real Estate Property in Costa Rica

March 21st, 2015 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Costa-Rica-Si-Muy-Rica.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Costa Rica? Si, Muy Rica.

It would probably take most people quite some time to guess which country recently finished top of the pile when Happy Planet decided to list the happiest countries in the world. Admittedly amid a recession it may not be easy for anyone to guess, because the impression we are generally led to have is that everyone in every country is walking around under a massive dark cloud. It appears, however, that one place in which people are smiling their broadest smiles and talking about the future with optimism is a country with a name that – at least presently – seems perfectly appropriate. Costa Rica – “the rich coast” – is being touted as the place to be. It is green, it is thriving and it seems that nothing can wipe the smile off its face.

To buy real estate property in Costa Rica currently is to join in with an increasing number of American and Canadian citizens who are drawn by the promise of Paradise on Earth. It would be easy to point fingers and laugh at the hubris, the cliché, but unless there is something in the water in San José then it would appear that this is a country with an awful lot going for it. Certainly it appeals to more and more people as time goes on, and business investment as well as real estate are both seeing money being pumped into the country. The fact that there are tax breaks for foreign investors surely doesn’t hurt, but you don’t need to come from elsewhere to see the benefits of Costa Rica – when surveyed, Costa Ricans themselves revealed the highest life satisfaction in all the world.

Property prices for a condo are, in general, slightly lower than you would pay for one further north, with the added advantage that property taxes are low in Costa Rica as a means of attracting external investment, but it is in the housing market that you will really see your dollar go further, with houses of real beauty and luxury in splendid locations costing on average half of what you might expect to pay for similar in the United States. The cost of living in Costa Rica is reassuringly affordable, too. This may have something to do with the fact that the country long ago disbanded its military and puts every penny that would have gone into it towards social programs. As a result healthcare and public services are extremely good.

If you have the patience to live in a country that seems to be a lot more relaxed than most, yet doesn’t fall down on getting things done efficiently and effectively, and can speak Spanish (English is spoken here and spoken well, but it would be a shame to come to somewhere so welcoming and not assimilate at least a little), then Costa Rica is a place worth investing in. The work/life balance is pitched just about perfectly for anyone who likes to enjoy themselves but knows that this is only possible through earning the money to do it.

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 July 18, 2009.

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Beware of Collateral Mortgage

March 16th, 2015 Posted in Economy|Mortgage 101 | No Comments »

What Type of Mortgage Is Yours

What Type of Mortgage Is Yours?

When you shop for a new mortgage, pay attention to what type of mortgage your financial institution is registering you. You may be lured into collateral mortgage without knowing, as financial institutions may not disclose enough to let you know that’s it’s collateral mortgage you are registered for.

Traditional mortgage represents the exact amount you need to borrow – plain and simple. With a collateral mortgage, the amount you are borrowing is up to 125 percent to 150 percent value of your property. And for that reason the lender will have a promissory note and lien registered against your property. For example, if your mortgage amount is $100,000, the bank will register you for $150,000, although you are receiving only $100,000.

Banks or financial institutions will tell you that it’s a good thing to register you for more than what need because you will have easy access to credit in the future without reapplying or avoiding extra fees and credit.

However, what banks will not tell you is the following:

- Unlike traditional mortgages, collateral mortgages are complicated and expensive to transfer to another lender at the end of the term.

- You could be paying higher interest at renewal because your lender knows it’s difficult to switch mortgage and you will have to stay with them, so they can make pay you more.

- Because you can borrow only up to 80 percent of your property value, collateral mortgage will not be able to let you access you the extra money banks are registering you for if your down payment or equity is less then 20 percent.

- If you want to transfer out of collateral mortgage, you must hire a lawyer and pay $1,000 or more to discharge the collateral mortgage.

So when you are shopping for mortgages, always read the fine print and consult an independent mortgage professional before making your decisions.

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