Yearly Archives: 2015

Top Seven Business Books Read on 2015

I love reading business books. They’re motivational, inspiring and they help me keep focus on achieving higher goals. Most people think  business is only about making money, but it’s way more than that. When we learn about business we learn about how to create something of value, a product or a service, for people who are willing and happy to pay for it. Many business people step out of the crowd, fight their inner fears and insecurities to do something better for the world, then they turn around and share their knowledge and experiences with the rest of us. This is the knowledge I find in business books.

Out of all the books I read this year, these are the ones that I like to recommend. Note: these are not recent books. I just happened to read them this year. I buy most of my books at second hand stores or they are passed down to me after someone else reads them. Many of these books are classics already read and reviewed by many other bloggers. I am just adding my voice to the chorus.

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach7. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

The Automatic Millionaire: Canadian Edition: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich

The most important ideas of this book are: Pay yourself first and The latte factor.

Pay yourself first: The most essential part of personal finance is to save money for retirement. However, many people find it hard to muster the discipline to save. Mr. Bach tell us that self discipline is not even necessary. All we have to do is to ask our employers to deposit  money directly into our registered account, even before it touches our own bank account. By doing so, the registered account continues growing paycheck after paycheck until we retire.

The latter Factor: Many of us claim that we don’t have enough money to save, but Mr. Bach suggests that if we cut out the consumption of small, unnecessary items, such as the daily coffee and doughnuts, those little savings, over a long period of time, could build up to a substantial amount of money.

The Wealthy Barber6. The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton

The Wealthy Barber

This book is a parable about three people who seek financial advice from their local barber, who became rich after studying many personal books and seeking advice from financial mentors.

I agreed with the main idea of the book which is to pay yourself first and invest the money. But the devil is in the details. Mr. Chilton advises the reader to find a good fund manager. Research has shown that over 75% of mutual fund managers do not beat the index. I argue that a better suggestion would have been to invest the savings in index funds and/or ETFs.

Mr. Chilton also suggests that we should pay our mortgages as soon as possible. Obviously Mr. Chilton never experienced the low mortgage rates that we are living in our period. In a low mortgage rate environment, I argue that it is better to delay paying the mortgage as much as possible and invest the money in the stock market. If your mortgage rate is 2% and you can get 6% return on the market, why would you pay your mortgage early?

The millionaire mind5. The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley

The Millionaire Mind

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. In this book Mr. Stanley tries to create a statistical portrait of the average millionaire in the U.S. The book was well researched and entertaining. There are many things which made sense, many surprises and some conclusions which Mr. Stanley wanted to believe himself. I believe that Dr. Stanley, in his effort to dismantle the Hollywood version of a millionaire, created a different fictitious millionaire. The religious, hard working millionaire who lives below his means and who is totally devoted to his family.

I found the book interesting, motivating, and even if I don’t believe everything in the book, I still recommend it. There are many valuable lessons in it.

rich dad4. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not!

This book has inspired millions of people to invest in real estate. It’s a parable of Mr. Kiyosaki’s life, mixed with some entrepreneurship and real estate lessons.

The major lessons offered in this book are:

  1. School does very little to give us a financial education.
  2. Wealth is defined, not by how much we earn but by how long we can live from the income of our assets.
  3. In order to become wealthy, we have to invest in income producing assets such as real estate and/or stocks.
  4. Our house should not be considered an asset.
  5. We should use other people’s money to achieve our financial objectives; for example, borrowing money to buy commercial properties.

I recommend this book for anyone who is tired of working for the man.

How to win friends and Influence People3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Mr. Carnegie is one of the greatest communicators of the 20th century. He created one of the best known public speaking and self improvement programs of our era. His training program is known throughout the world.

Mr. Carnegie’s course is based on a five-phase continuous improvement cycle:

  1. Build greater self-confidence
  2. Strengthen people skills
  3. Enhance communication skills
  4. Develop leadership skills
  5. Improve attitude and reduce stress

The book is a gem. It will not only improve your business, but it will also improve your personal life.

Builiding Wealth2. Building Wealth by Russ Whitney

Building Wealth: From Rags to Riches Through Real Estate by Russ Whitney

This book is similar to Rich Dad Poor Dad, but it goes a bit deeper into different techniques to build wealth in real estate.

There are several elements that I like about the book:

  1. It is a great source of inspiration;
  2. It is full of techniques and wisdom on how to buy, sell and rent properties;
  3. It shows you how to get started with little or no money.

Overall, the book is a great investment. It is recommended reading for anyone who wants to build wealth, anyone who wants to stop dreaming and start doing. I believe that I will be well compensated for the time I put into reading this book.

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre1. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre

The book is a disguised biography of legendary trader Jesse Livermore. What struck me the most is that even though the book was written in 1923, it feels as if it was written today. It accurately describes how time stands still in Wall Street. We clearly see that the psychology and emotions of a stock market trader are timeless.

The book makes you feel as if you were there, next to Jesse Livermore, deciding which trade to do next, living the thrill of the win and suffering the pain of losing.

Mr. Livermore became famous mostly for taking advantage of the bear market of 1907 and on the bear market of 1929 he made about $100 million. In today’s dollar that would be about $1.4 billion.

If you like the stock market, I think that this book could play a major role in your success.

McGill University students
I am teaching a bachata class at McGill University

Conclusion

Please let me know in the comments if you have read any of these books and your opinion of them. Which business books would you recommend to the audience.

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Happy new years.

 

 

Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo

Book Cover: Presentation Secrets of Steve JobsHow to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience

As a member of Toastmasters International ( a public speaking organization), I am always looking for information on how to improve my public speaking skill and how to do better presentations.

Yes, I found some valuable information in The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Nothing new nor revolutionary, but it is good to hear the same lessons over and over again until they become part of my subconscious.

Here are some of the lessons which are shared in this book:

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

  1. Have a clear message
  2. Answer the most important question the audience has: Why should I care?
  3. Create Twitter-like headlines
  4. Present the problem or an antagonist
  5. Present the solution
  6. Make sure the numbers are easy to understand
  7. Don’t talk longer than 10 minutes without introducing something new
  8. Invite other speakers to the stage
  9. Keep slides simple
  10. Use props wisely
  11. Practice, practice, practice
Hollowing party
This was a Halloween party at McGill Toastmasters club

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
was 234 pages long. The actual valuable information could be condensed to 34 pages. The other 200 pages were a combination of Steve Jobs and Apple idolatry plus a bit of self promotion. If you are an Apple/Steve Jobs evangelist, you will love this book. If you are a regular individual, you will find yourself rolling your eyes about three or four times per page.

I think that  when Steve Jobs died, Mr. Gallo saw an opportunity, to wrap a speaking manual around his death.

Overall, I don’t recommend this book. The book has a valuable message, but you have to read through all the other stuff to find that message. You will find better value for your time elsewhere.

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How much do I need to retire?

Climbing my way to succeess.
Climbing my way to succeess.

I am a frugal person and I can live with very little. In addition, I am single and have no kids, so I don’t need much.

My monthly expenses are less than $2,000 per month. This includes a traveling budget for an annual one-week vacation.

I have a property which I rent through Airbnb and this property gives me cash flow of about $1,000 every month ( Summer more, Winter less).

In partnership with a dear friend, I own another property which is rented on a yearly lease. This property generates cash flow of about $100 per month.

I have about $39,000 invested in the stock market. If I assume a return of only 4%, that will be about $130 per month.

In total, my present passive income is about $1230. I need an additional $770 in passive income to cover my expenses and retire.

What is my plan?

The plan is to buy another property and rent it out via Airbnb. This would give me a bit more than I need for my retirement.

The big problem is that with my small income, the bank doesn’t want to lend me more money. I already owe them $220,500. Also, I have reached the limit of my friends generosity. I owe my friends $84,000. I pay them interest at 4% per year.

I am trying to convince other friends that instead of buying Certificates of Deposit at about 1%, or buying bond funds which only pay about 2%, they should lend me some money at 4%. But to no avail, this has not worked out. My friends are afraid of mixing friendship with business and I understand them.

Nevertheless, I am certain that I will find lenders to finance my next property and in about 12 months from this date I will be writing about how I achieved retirement.

How about you, how much do you need to retire?

As you can see from my example, the fastest way to retire is to create a business which will produce cash flow in excess of your expenses. In my case it will be Airbnb rentals. What will be your hustle?

If you don’t have a hustle, and you will be depending on your savings, then this is the calculation which I invite you to do:

  1. Figure out your expenses (Let’s say $2,000 per month, )
  2. Figure out how much you will be receiving from the Canada Pension Plan and any other retirement income. ( Let’s say $600 per month )
  3. Subtract your expenses minus your retirement income ($2,000 – $600 = $1,400)
  4. Divide $1,400 by 4%  and multiply it by 12 months. ($1400 / 0.04 = $35,000 X 12 =  $420,000 )

The 4% rule.

Why did I divide $1,400 by 4%? This is just a rule of thumb which says that if a person withdraws about 4% per year from his savings his money will last about 30 years. Remember, this is just a general guideline. More serious calculations might be needed.

Feel free to mention in the comments where you are in your quest for retirement.

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Which investments do you own, and why?

I wish this was my office
I wish this was my office

More than once I have met friends who don’t know which assets they have in their portfolio. Also, they have no idea how the portfolio is performing. They don’t know if they are making money or if they are losing money. It seems that they don’t even care.

Most people go to their financial adviser and simply do what the adviser tells them, blindly, without knowing why, without knowing what the strategy is? What are they trying to achieve? Do they own regular mutual funds? Stocks? ETFs? Bonds? A combination of all of those? Who knows? Who cares?

A friend of mine chose an adviser because he was invited to a restaurant.  My friend ate a delicious steak, drank a glass of wine and listened to a persuasive presentation. In addition, the owner of the firm was Jewish. My friend has the impression that because many Jews are financially successful, he would become successful by association. I took a look at his portfolio and I saw mutual funds with high expense ratios. Maybe the reason why this owner is financially successful is because he charges high management fees to his clients, which means that the clients will be less successful. Maybe my friend should read:  Where Are the Customers’ Yachts by  Fred Schwed.

Another friend had life insurance in her portfolio. But my friend is single with no dependents. When I asked her why she had life insurance, she told me that her financial adviser suggested it but she didn’t remember the reason. Maybe a high commission for the adviser was part of the reason?

Many people, on the premise of diversification, buy similar funds run by different companies. For example, a big-company-U.S.-fund is practically the same whether it is managed by Vanguard or Fidelity. They are buying two similar products with different brand names. That is not diversification.

Many people have investments which don’t fit their objectives.  I have seen it a few times; Investors in their early 30s owning a high percentage of bonds, and investors in their 60s owning only stocks. But the absolute worst are the investors who have 100% of their portfolio in cash because they don’t know what to do with their money.

Finally, it is extremely important to know if you are making any money. Investors with many assets in their portfolio could have some assets going up in value and others going down. Also, they could have many deposits and withdrawals during the year. It could become complicated to figure out what the actual return is, but the only way to find out if you are getting closer to your objective is by measuring your returns. There are many software which would help you keep track of your returns.

My advice to you:

  • Make a list of all your investments.
  • Figure out what your objectives are. Retirement, vacation, downpayment for a house, education, etc.
  • Figure out what your risk tolerance is and keep the assets which are in line with your risk tolerance and objectives.
  • Divide your investment in the most tax efficient manner. Some investments belong in your taxable account and some belong in your nontaxable accounts.
  • Measure your progress at least once per year, and readjust your portfolio to make sure it still meets your needs.

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How much are you paying for financial advice?

meMost Canadians have their first contact with a financial adviser when they visit their local bank. The adviser asks them to fill out a questionnaire to determine their risk tolerance and then the adviser helps them choose one of the bank’s many investment products.

Most of the time the client leaves under the impression that this service is completely free.  Many consumers don’t know that there is an array of fees which come with the purchase of those investment products.

Most bank advisers get paid either with a base salary, base salary plus commission, or base salary plus a bonus. But make no mistake, at the end of the day, the bank adviser is getting paid with your money. For example, if you purchase a mutual fund, you will pay over 2% in expenses.

How are other advisers getting paid?

Many advisers work at investment firms and earn their living by selling mutual funds and life insurance. The first product the advisers try to sell is called Load Funds. These are funds which come with an upfront commission of about 5%. This means that your fund has to go up 5% in order for you to break even.

Most of the funds sold by a commission adviser also have a trailer fee. That means that the adviser gets a yearly kickback from the mutual fund company of about 1% for making sure you stay invested. Many advisers concentrate on accumulating high volume. At 1% they are getting paid about $10,000 for every million dollars.

The thing that bothers me is that the customer never gets to see this behind the scenes compensation. Let’s say that the expense ratio of the mutual fund is about 2%. If the fund had a gain of 10%, the investor would only see a gain of 8%. I am guessing that if the investor saw the gross gain, minus the expense ratio, they would be upset about the real cost of their fund and they would seek less expensive alternatives.

Another thing that bothers me, is that the adviser gets paid whether the portfolio does well or not. If the portfolio loses 5%, one still pays over 2% in expenses. It is akin to the car mechanic getting paid whether he fixes a car or not.

Advisory fee. Some advisers don’t get paid commission, they get paid for managing your account. The typical rate for this set up is about 1%. If you have a big account, you can negotiate a lower rate, If your account is too small you will probably be refused. Here again, the main incentive of the adviser it to manage as much money as possible. Here again, if they lose money on your behalf, they will still charge you.

Hourly fee. In my opinion, this is the best service you could get for your money. You could get unbiased advice as to the best stocks, bonds, ETFs, or mutual funds to buy. You could get advice on how to get out of debt, how to give to charity, how to become more tax efficient etc. The only drawback is that when the client gets to see exactly how much they are paying for advice they might try to save money by seeking financial advice less frequently. At the end, in order to save money, the client might end up missing out on great investments or saving opportunities.

My advice to the reader. No one will ever care more about your money than you. Take your financial future into your own hands by following the following steps:

  1. Hire a fee-only adviser, by the hour, not on a retainer.
  2. Tell the adviser to help you put together a portfolio which is in line with your goals and your risk tolerance.
  3. Open a brokerage account and make your own purchase of stocks, bond, mutual funds, ETFs.
  4. Make another appointment at the end of a 12 month period to make sure your portfolio is still aligned with your risk tolerance and your objective.

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Book review: Seven Years to Seven Figures by Michael Masterson

Seven Years to Seven FiguresMr. Michael Masterson starts the book by telling us his financial story, he explained how he became wealthy and why he would like to share his knowledge with the rest of humanity. This part gets us psyched up to read the rest of the book.

The second part is the meat of the book. It is composed of eight stories about how other people have become millionaires in less than seven years.

I found this part inspirational. When you read how others have become wealthy, something in the back of your head starts telling you, “Hey, maybe you can become wealthy too.” Weaved within each story were commentaries on how we, the readers, can become wealthy as well.

Hanging out with my daughter Andrea
Hanging out with my daughter Andrea

I found the book lacked structure. After reading one story after the other, it is hard to see a strategy, a step by step plan which would guide us into wealth. It is almost like taking the the life story of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet and saying “See, you can do that too.” In addition, in a subtle way, Mr. Masterson pushed his own copywrite program, publications, courses and seminars.

I don’t regret reading the book, but I would not go around recommending it either. On a scale of 1 to 10, I will give it a 5.5

Note: If you are an author and you would like to have your book reviewed, send me a message.

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Beware of deadbeat boyfriends

Hanging out with my daughter
Hanging out with my daughter

As a money coach I listen to a lot of different financial problems. Today I want to share some stories about deadbeat boyfriends.

Cuba: Someone I know used to travel to Cuba regularly. Eventually she met a  man during one of her vacations. They fell in love and decided to get married. After the marriage she did all the paperwork to bring her husband to Canada. Shortly after he became a resident he was no longer in love with her.

Dominican Republic: A Canadian woman in her 50s met a man from the Dominican Republic in his 30s during her vacation. All her friends told her that the relationship was not real, that he was using her, but she believed what she wanted to believe. She used to give him and his family money and gifts, and the plan was to bring him to Canada so that they could live together. Her Spanish was getting better and one day she overheard him explaining to a friend that he didn’t love her, that he was just using her to become a Canadian resident.

Toastmasters: This was a speech that I heard at our McGill Toastmasters club: A woman meets a handsome man, they start a relationship, he asks her for a $3,000 loan, shortly thereafter they break up and he never pays her back.

My friend: She met a handsome young man. Within a few weeks he asks her for a loan, she lends him the money. He asks her for another loan, she agrees and shortly thereafter she discovers that he has similar relationships with two other women. They break up and she still doesn’t have her money back.

The overseas lover: I hate to stereotype or to throw blanket statements but I would like to offer a word of caution. When there is a great disparity between ages and economic class, be aware that there might be a motive for the relationship other than love. As Canadians, we have to keep this in mind when we go to places like Cuba or Dominican Republic where there is a lot poverty. We have to question whether the other person is truly romantically involved, or just looking for some money or a passport out of the country.

The local boyfriend who asks you for money: I have nothing against people in a relationship lending money to each other for different reasons, but when the request for a loan is early in the relationship, this is a red flag.

What to do when your boyfriend asks you for money

If you don’t have it, you don’t have it

If you are already in a difficult financial situation, where you are barely covering your expenses, or if you are already in debt, this is the end of the discussion. You cannot give or lend what you don’t have, and certainly, you should never get deeper into debt in order to lend money to someone else.

Have the credit conversation

When a new boyfriend asks you for money, this means that the bank or the credit card company is not willing to lend him the money. If the bank won’t lend him the money there must be a reason for this. He either has no credit or already has bad credit history. Try to find out why the bank or the credit card company will not lend him the money.

Why doesn’t he have the money?

If your boyfriend is living beyond his means, don’t lend him the money. There could be a reason he doesn’t have money. Maybe he lost his job or maybe he had a series of bad luck incidents (such as sickness or an accident) which have put him in a momentarily bad position. But if being broke is his lifestyle, don’t let him take you down with him.

What is the money for?

Many times the boyfriend asks for money for a new venture, a once in a life opportunity. Be skeptical.

Size matters

If your boyfriend asks you for a small amount, such as $20 or even $50, just give it as a gift. Make sure this is a one time event and not a habit. If the amount is bigger than $1,000 make sure you write a contract.

Put it in writing

If your boyfriend is asking you for a large amount, $1,000 or more, put it in writing. Write a contract stating the amount, the interest rate and the due date.

Listen to your inner voice

If deep inside you think that your boyfriend will not pay you back, listen to that little voice. If your boyfriend breaks up with you because you didn’t lend him the money, consider yourself lucky. If your relationship fails after lending the money, you will be without a boyfriend and without the money.

Talk it over with a friend or with your financial coach

It is easy to get wrapped up in one’s emotions. If you share your situation with a friend or with your money coach, they will be able to see your situation from a different perspective and can better help you decide whether or not lending the money is the right thing to do or not.

Do you want to share?

If you have a personal anecdote to share, please send me a message. I will put it in the blog under a different name. Thank you.

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Book review: The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

The Automatic Millionaire by David BachWe have all been told that if we save a little bit of money every month, over the course of many years, we can all become millionaires. The idea is simple to understand but difficult to implement.

Pay yourself first

The main concept of the book is that you should pay yourself first. Usually the government takes the first bite out of your paycheck. Then most people pay their debts and and finally, if there is any money left, they deposit it in their savings account. In actuality, people are paying themselves last.

To pay yourself first, you have to open a registered retirement account (RRSP) and have automatic contributions going directly from your employer to your registered account. That way you pay yourself first by putting money into your registered account before the government or any other debtor touches it.

The idea is that the whole process should be automatized. Once the process is automatized you are on your way to becoming a millionaire.

The latte factor

small airplane,
Going flying with friends

Mr. Bach has popularized the concept of “the latte factor.”  The latte factor is the idea that if we cut off minor daily expenses, like a latte and muffin in the morning, the money we save could add up to a lot. Of course, a latte is just a symbol; it could be a pack of cigarettes, a six pack of beer, fast food, video games, etc. We all have a “latte factor” which, if we control, we could save a lot of money.

The book is a great starting point for people who are interested in personal finance, but it has a few shortcomings.

  • The book is centered 100% on saving money. Saving money is nice, but making money is even better. There is not one single reference to how to increase one’s income.
  • As for saving money, Mr. Bach assumes a 10% rate of return on one’s savings. Maybe 10 was possible at the time he wrote the book, but it is difficult to imagine a 10% rate of return at our present time.
  • Mr. Bach and many other personal finance authors suggest saving 10% of one’s salary, and this is a great starting point. But how about the possibility of saving 20%, 30%, 40% or even 50% of one’s salary? Then we can stop working for the man much sooner and we can enjoy our money while we are still young, not when we are 65 years old. Mr. Money Mustache retired in his 30s by saving 50% of his income.

There are some other points with which I disagree:

  • Mr. Bach insists that paying down the mortgage be a financial priority. I would say, maybe. If your mortgage rate is 3% and your return in the stock market is about 6%-8%, I would prefer that you take your time paying the mortgage and invest more money in the stock market.
  • Mr. Bach has his own formula to figure out which credit card to pay first. In my head, the only formula which makes sense is to pay the credit card with the highest interest rate first and then the others.

Overall, the book is easy to read and entertaining. I am quite confident that if everyone put Mr. Bach’s principles to work most of them will become millionaires.

Note: If you are an author and you would like to have your book reviewed, send me a message.

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11 Popular investment scams

Kat
My friend Kathleen and I after a hard afternoon of work.

When I used to work for a life insurance company, I used to feel like a scammer. I used to sell mutual funds with expense ratios of over 3% when I knew that there were similar mutual funds with expense ratios of less than 0.5%. I never felt that I was offering my clients the best product for their money.

Also, my boss would encourage me to push my clients into buying more insurance than they needed.

But my situation was not unique. The same scenario is practiced every day at most banks and life insurance institutions. They call it “Free financial advice.” The consumer is unaware that we are not financial advisers, we are financial product salespersons. The client has nothing to pay out of their pocket. Many of the clients are unaware that through undisclosed commissions they are paying an exorbitant price for the products they are buying.

Although the above mentioned practices are totally legal, once the cloak is taken off, it does have the appearances of a scam.

Here are some practices which are illegal scams and some practices which are completely legal but have the flavor of a scam.

1. The obvious: If you open your spam folder you will find them right away. The most obvious is the email about the Nigerian prince who will split his inheritance with you if you help him pay some government fees. Believe it or not, people fall for this kind of scam. That’s why you continue seeing them.

2. Phishing: This form of scamming is extremely sophisticated. The scammers try to make you believe that you are getting a message from your bank, the government, paypal, or any other legitimate organization, and they ask you to confirm your password. If you comply with their request, they can get access to your account or identity, and they can easily steal money from you.

3. Insurance Companies: When an insurance salesperson persuades you to buy life insurance when you have no dependents, I consider this a scam.

4. Mutual fund salespeople: Most the of mutual fund salespeople who claim to be “YOUR” adviser, hide or downplay critical information about competitive products which offer similar returns at a much lower expense ratio.

5. Bank tellers: Many bank tellers try to up-sell you on a higher fee credit card which you don’t need. If they succeed, they’ll get a nice sales commission.

6. Retail stores bait and switch technique: Retail stores advertise amazing deals to get you to go to the store, but when you get to the store, the product which they advertised just ran out and they try to sell you a different product with a higher profit margin.

7. The donation scam: As soon as there is a natural catastrophe somewhere in the world, we  start to see non profit organizations collecting money for the needy. Some of these institutions are 100% scams.

8. Charity institutions: Some charity institutions are completely legal but when 95% of the donation money goes towards administrative expenses and only 5% or less reaches the needy, I feel that those institutions are a scam. Here’s a list of the 50 worst charities.

martin-luther-540x304
Martin Luther: He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased with money. His refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope resulted in his excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor.

9. The catholic church. At one time, the catholic church used to sell indulgences “which may reduce either or both of the penance required after a sin has been forgiven, or after death, the time to be spent in Purgatory.” If you want to go to heaven, all you have to do is to give some mullah to the church. Thank you Martin Luther for revealing such a big scam.

10. Family and/or friends: When a family member or friend asks you to lend them money knowing that there is little probability to pay you back, this is a big painful scam.

11. The new boyfriend/girlfriend. As a money coach I have seen this one more than once. The new boyfriend/girlfriend needs a short term loan to fix a particular problem or take advantage of a fantastic opportunity. If the answer to the loan is negative, somehow the relationship dies shortly thereafter.

How can we protect ourselves from being scammed?

  • Just by reading this blog, you are becoming aware of some of the most popular scammy practices. Being aware of different scams reduces the probability of becoming a victim.
  • Don’t click on links of suspicious emails. Some of those links could download spying software which could uncover your passwords and other personal information.
  • Do research in the Internet about the suspicious activity your are concerned about, followed by the word “scam” for example: “real estate scams.”
  • Be skeptical when a business opportunity sounds too good to be true.
  • Don’t give personal information to strangers, such as address, social insurance number, or date of birth. If your identity is stolen scammers can apply for credit using your name and you could end up being responsible for it.
  • Take your time before making any financial decision. Consult with your friends, your accountant, your lawyer.
  • Give to charities that have a good track record. At least 75% of your money should go towards the needy and less than 25% should go towards administrative expenses.
  • Question the quality of your relationship if your new boyfriend/girlfriend asks you for money only a few weeks into the relationship.

If you would like to share other scams or if you have been victim of a scam. Please share your story. I will put it in the blog with a link to your website.

Scams experienced by readers of this blog:

Santina
I was desperate to find a place in Vancouver during the summer because my landlord back then sold his house.
I look all over craglist and found a post w really nice pictures and really affordable. The guy claimed to have to leave for a job in Europe and is already in Europe.

So he said he’ll send his keys through airbnb, which would hold his package until i send airbnb the deposit. If I didn’t like it after seeing the place then i return the package and airbnb return my money back

I was suspicious then because 1. Many people must have contacted him, but he picked me anyway without asking much about me? Not even skype? You don’t just hand over your place for a year to a stranger. 2. I use airbnb and i dont think they have that service

Anyhow when I actually got the email from ‘airbnb’ I could tell that the domain name of the email is not the real airbnb. They call themselves airbnb inc (and if you search the name and their address on the internet they’re listed in on a company list website in Britain, ie they faked a company) And that the airbnb logo is badly stretched out and the lease and official documents, though long, contained typos
 Worse thing is they are collecting money through moneygrand

Anyhow, I called him out and contacted craglist about his post. I’m sure many people fell for it though.

Lesson, raise suspicion when things are 1. Too good/easy to be true 2. Involve giving money or personal information.

Celia
Recently the phone scam Canadian Delivery Express

Jang
There are those scam artists who hang outside the Bell Center before an event asking for donations. I once asked if I could have a pledge card to make my donation and the lady just ran away.

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Book Review: Let’s get blunt about your financial affairs

bluntI have read hundreds of personal finance books and I promise you, this book is different.

Most personal finance books are about how to create a budget, how to set goals, how to save for retirement, school, education, a house, and even a wedding, and that’s where most personal finance books end.

And that is where this books starts. Have you ever watched a Hollywood romance movie in which, after some kind of drama, the couple gets united and lives happily ever after. You see them walking into the sunset, and you ask yourself: “And then what?” This book is the “And then what?” of personal finance.

The book starts with how to be an executor of a will. I have never seen any personal finance book about how to be a good executor. Then it goes into how to distribute your wealth among your survivors, how to be fair to everyone while paying the minimum amount of taxes.

Spending time with friends
Spending time with friends

Mr Goodfield is an accountant by profession and his accounting knowledge takes center stage. He explains the tax side of many personal finance issues, such as:

  • How to survive a tax audit
  • How to deal with rental properties
  • How to spend your retirement savings without running out of money

This book is not for beginners. This book is geared towards people who already have some assets, people who are not in the accumulation stage of life but in the distribution stage of life. At the same time it is understood that the reader must have some personal finance knowledge.

When it comes to tax talk, it is necessary that the reader has a basic knowledge of the Canadian tax system and has a certain comfort with numbers.

The book is a collection of the best blog posts Mr Goodfield has written in his blog “The Blunt Bean Counter.” As such, the book feels like a conversation. Mr. Goodfield tone is satirical, sarcastic, funny and friendly. Although his knowledge is vast, he doesn’t come across as a know-it-all guru.

If you are at the financial stage where this book could be useful to you, I assure you that by putting any of Mr. Goodfield’s advice into practice, you could save thousands of dollars.

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