Monday, October 14, 2013

Moving? Get Free Moving Boxes!

My friend was moving apartments the other day and he was telling me how his roommate had taken some of his moving boxes without his permission. When he told me he had paid good money for his moving boxes, I told him that when I moved I just went to the grocery store to get some cardboard boxes they were going to throw out.

An advantage besides getting free boxes is that you can dispose of them after the move, thus freeing up space. Ask for "banana boxes", which are pretty big and can carry quite a bit of weight. They need to have a liner in the middle of the bottom of the box which is usually a strong construction paper material.

Good luck and remember to lift with your legs!

Here's a video with some extra cash saving moving tips:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Another Book from the Shark Tank

Robert Herjavec is best known for his roles on the reality television shows Dragon's Den and Shark Tank. In these shows budding entrepreneur's approach self-made millionaires for capital to help seed the growth of their business.

Robert Herjavec's "The Will to Win" is less of an autobiography (although he does talk about his upbringing and background) and more of a book packed with business advice and career tips. Robert is the son of a Croatian migrant who immigrated to Canada as a young boy. His father was stuck at a dead end job for his entire life sweeping factory floors because it was difficult for a non-english speaking immigrant to get decent work. Despite his father's bleak job opportunities, he was happy to move to a country where people were free to express their political opinions.

Robert started from humble beginnings and from that developed a strong work ethic and drive to succeed. Robert's initial source of wealth was a security software company he started. Later as his wealth grew he invested in various other things.

This book contains a lot of tip lists such as:
- Ten ways to measure productive fun
-  How salespeople can handle rejection
-  Three ways good leaders handle communication

I found that the tone of this book was sometimes that of a lecturing parent and sometimes the advice was a bit lofty and abstract. Something that any football coach would yell, like "work hard", "don't cheat", etc... . I found that the most interesting bits were the actual stories he told about his work experiences and the deals he's made. If you like the show Dragon's Den and/or Shark Tank than you'd probably like this book. Also, there is a book available by Kevin O'Leary another Dragon/Shark that you'd probably like (Kevin O'Leary).

Here's a short clip about the book:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

RetailMeNot has come to Canada!

Do you ever shop online? Have you ever been a click away from check-out and asked if you have a coupon promo code?

Well here's a website that does a great job of compiling online coupons in one convenient location.  RetailMeNot was only available for US sites but has just recently launched a Canadian version. This is definitely a site to check out if you online shop.

Here's a how to video:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Best Way to Build Wealth

Here's another great read from "The Little Book..." series. The Little Book that Builds Wealth by Pat Dorsey is a book about finding great companies to invest in. He takes an important lesson taught by Warren Buffett which is to look for companies with economic moats. Moats used to be water ways built around castles to protect it from incoming invaders, an economic moat is similar only that it guards a company's earning from competing companies.

What does a company with a wide economic moat look like? Pat Dorsey explains the four common traits of a great economic moat:

1) Intangible assets - these are strong brands that entice customers to pay more. This also includes patents that a company may own. 

2) Cost advantages - some companies have important cost advantages based on scales of operations, proximity to resources or well-engineered processes.

3) Customer switching costs - some companies make it difficult for customers to switch to a competing company's product because switching is expensive and/or time consuming

4) Network economics - the more people who use this product the more valuable it becomes. For example Microsoft Office becomes more valuable as more people use it and share files even if there are free word processing and spreadsheet software available.

One of the easiest ways to tell if a company has a strong economic is by looking at it's long-term (10 year) average return on equity. This value tells an investor how efficiently a company utilizes invested capital to generate more earnings. If the return on equity is in the double digits year after year, it's a good sign that it has a strong economic moat and probably has one or more of the traits listed above.

Happy hunting!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What's your opinion worth?

Here's a great way to make a few extra bucks online. i-Say by Ipsos is a marketing company that tries to understand consumer spending habits by surveying consumers online. Join i-Say and get periodic invites to do online surveys. Each survey you complete is worth a different amount of points, usually the more time it takes the more points it's worth. Once you've accumulated enough points you can exchange them for gift cards and prepaid credit cards (works like cash).

I've tried a few of these sites and i-Say is one of the most legitimate. There are frequent surveys and there are a lot of great prizes to spend your points on. One big bonus is that usually before you qualify to do a survey, there is a pre-survey to get an idea of what demographic you're in. If you qualify you go on to do the rest of the survey to receive your points. If you don't qualify most online survey sites won't reward you with anything, wasting a minute or two of your time. At i-Say you usually still get a few points for doing the pre-survey.

Give it a shot. Finally somebody who's listening to what you have to say and they're willing to pay you for it!

Here is a video about how to avoid scams and make money with online surveys:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Top 3 Personal Finance Books - Setting the Foundation

Happy New Year!

So I bet you've made a bunch of New Year's resolutions and this year you're going to get all your financial ducks in a row, right? There's a myriad of personal finance advice out there, so it can be difficult to sift through he garbage. Fortunately by reading just a few personal finance books you can be way ahead of the pack.

You might be asking yourself, what is personal finance anyways? Personal finance is the very practical subject about how to handle money in your life. There's no escaping it, we all deal with money everyday. We work hard for our money, so wouldn't it be nice to learn how to get your money working harder for you. Personal finance is about enriching your life by doing such that, it's about learning how to handle your money in such a way to become financially free.

 Financial freedom can mean many different things to many different people. There's no one size fits all plan, which is why it's important to tailor your finances to reach your own personal goals. Money should never be an end in itself, but a means to an end, which is why it's so important to set financial goals in the first place.

By understanding the purpose of money in our life we can live a much more meaningful one and truly build wealth. Personal finance isn't about amassing a fortune only to be a miser. It's about having security in knowing that you have enough to weather life's inevitable ups and downs, providing for loved ones, and the freedom of enjoying what life has offer.

The topics covered in these books include:
     - The role of debt (particularly how bad credit card debt is)
     - Setting financial goals
     - Paying yourself first
     - Mortgages
     - Insurance
     - Saving for retirement (RRSP for Canadians, 401K for Americans)
     - Investing

By reading these three books you'll be setting a strong personal financial knowledge base. There will be some repeating themes in these books, but they're each taught in a slightly different way. One author may explain a certain theme that will really get through to you, while another may bore you. So my recommendation is to read them all, eventually something is going to sink in. By doing so you'll gain a clearer picture of what to do with your money so that you can eventually become financially free:

1) The Wealth Barber by David Chilton

 For more information visit:

2) The Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam

3) The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

For more information visit:

Here's a short video clip about Andrew Hallam's story and some of his solid financial advice: