Sunday Reader – The One Where I Keep Score


Sunday Reader
Don’t worry. I’m from the internet.

The TimelessFinance Sunday Reader is not your typical PF carnival. In fact, it is not a carnival at all. It’s a weekly round-up of interesting and informative articles that I, Joe Wood, serve to you garnished with a healthy dose of my own opinion. For comic relief, and because bad writing and poor decision-making is in no danger of extinction, the PF Fail of the Week tradition lives on. Send your suggestions (and PF Fail nominations) to who will help me pick the cream of the crop.

This week’s Sunday Reader is brought to you by the letter “Y” – as in I’m still trying to figure out why this week’s PF offerings were so lackluster, this site included. Naturally, that doesn’t apply to this post’s delectable gems.

Marissa at Thirty Six Months wrote about how to negotiate discounts. Her strategies are solid but the only reason I’m including it is because they involve calling your service provider, not emailing them.

Sunday Reader score

Wealth Informatics wrote a post on how to get cheap prescription drugs and save on medications that I found by way of CYC’s perma-excellent Carnival of Wealth. Usually an article boasting a topic as SEO-rich as “cheap prescriptions” would be a debauched melange of sponsored links and references to ED. Not so here. Wealth Informatics gives a great list of actionable tips for saving money on drugs. Sure, Canadians get drugs cheaper than their southern neighbours, but the truth is that medication can still be expensive here and, unlike old people or folks on welfare, a ton of Canadian workers don’t have drug coverage. A Canuck can’t apply all of the tips, but some ideas like getting a prescription for a 90-day supply or a bigger dose that you can split (in accordance with a Doctor’s instructions, of course), are welcome. I’ve heard these individual tips before; it’s the article’s comprehensiveness that makes it particularly useful.

Andrew at 101 Centavos marveled at the inane machinations behind today’s labels. Oh, and I’m way more concise than Adina.

Sunday Reader - Joe wins

Canadian Capitalist of MoneySense smacked-down the Group RESP industry, a financial product that sits on the “sketchy” spectrum somewhere between Amway and emails from rich Nigerian princes. If I’ve learned anything from reading, it’s that if a scheme involves commissioned workers, they’ll all flock to blogs that criticize their industry and post mindless, sometimes vicious comments defending their hustle with no regard for how dumb they look. Some people can work on commish and maintain their dignity, but they are few and far apart.

The Personal Finance Fail of the Week also comes from MoneySense, proving that I’m an equal opportunity jerk. Julie Cazzin disseminates some of the most boring, cliched, advice-lacking content I’ve ever read in “RRSPs in your 20s“. Let’s start with the couple that lives in Kirkland Lake, earns $110K a year, has two kids under the age of 2, and only contributes $2,400 annually to RRSPs. Neither has a pension (of course). And as a broke-and-struggling pair is wont to do, they’re trying to buy a more expensive house. It’s a genius idea because Canadian real estate — especially in the destitute reaches of the country’s far north — can only increase in value. Care to guess what the article’s so-called financial advisers said about these two doofuses? Instead of questioning how Bozo and Sandy burn through a $110k gross income living in Northern Ontario (a.k.a. the real middle-of-nowhere), they’re told not to worry because they’re “ahead of the game”. You’ll probably ask yourself “what game is that?” because it certainly isn’t the game of life.

But forget those high-flying over-achievers busily rearranging their personal Titanic’s deck chairs in accordance with some journo’s money advice (because we all want money advice from somebody who was brilliant enough to go to university for a degree in Journalism). The real message of the article is “don’t bother thinking about saving for retirement in your 20s”. Blow your money on the latest iCrap because you still have your best years ahead. And, if I could read subtext, I’d probably notice an unhealthy amount of the journalist telling herself “You’re gonna make it, after all!”

It comes back to what I’ve said many times: “It doesn’t get easier to save.” There will always be excuses ready for the picking by lesser minds. Financial excuses have a single terminus: being a Wal-Mart greeter when you’re incontinent and senile. Life’s real winners eschew excuses, build revenue sources, and live well within their means.

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4 Comments… Share your views

  1. From that moneysense article is this gem:

    ” “With my modeling job, entertainment and clothing bills are stupid,” says Bassarab. “Once I pay all my expenses, there’s just nothing left at the end of the year.” Her goal? To eventually use her $15,000 or so in RRSP savings to make a down payment on a small condo. ”

    How many fails in that one small passage? She’s spending all her “modelling job” money on entertainment and clothes, not saving anything for retrement, and wants to raid her meager RRSP from a previous career to buy a condo in Toronto at the peak of a massive condo bubble, despite huge headlines every day saying WARNING DON’T BUY A TORONTO CONDO RIGHT NOW. And she’ll be double taxed if she uses the Home Buyers Plan to buy the condo (assuming she pays the HBP back in after tax dollars then is taxed in retirement when she takes money out).

    But yes, the couple with no money in Northern Ontario even though they make a decent amount combined is puzzling. The cost of housing is cheap up there but sometimes goods are more expensive in remote areas…still doesn’t explain where all their money goes…

    • Yeah, the entire HBP system is sketchy. The only real benefit for people is the fact that it’s a pool of liquid savings they can access and, because the average Canadian is a broke idiot, it’s their ONLY pool of liquid savings they can draw on.

  2. I read that Money Sense “article” with my mouth agape. Crazy. What’s wrong with the HBP? How is it double-taxed?

    • Normally you put before tax dollars into an RRSP. Then at retirement you’re taxed. But if you withdraw the money through HBP, you’ve got to repay the RRSP within a certain window with AFTER-tax dollars. And THEN at retirement you’re taxed on 100% of it as income (including any accumulated amounts — even dividends which you can enjoy at a LOWER tax rate outside an RRSP).

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