September 30, 2009

September 2009 Net Worth Update

I had to suffer a loss from trading RIM which were plunging more than 13% ahead of Friday's opening bell after the company's most recent quarterly report and forecast raised fears of slow growth on Sept. 24.

As the housing market is slowly finding its footing in the slow recovering economy, I am getting my mortgage pre-approved right now to be ready for the bargain hunting. If I can find a bargain - the property's listed price is less than 90% of the city assessed price - during this winter (usually it's the slow season), then I might be a new home owner in near future.

Here are the assets/liabilities result for September, 2009:


Vehicles: $26,000

Cash: $8,900

Savings: $14,400

TFSA: $5,100

Registered Investment Account: $24,100

Non-Registered Investment Account: $6,100

Total Assets: $84,500


Credit Card Debt: $$1,700

Total Debts: $1,700

Total Net Worth: $82,800

Started 2009 with Net Worth: $65300

Year-to-Date Gain/Loss: +26.80%

My net worth goal at the end of year 2009 is $90,000, and I still have $7,200 to make in the next 3 months.

September 23, 2009

The surprising truth about what's really in Canadians' wallets

Those who want to know how they financially stack up against others should check out MoneySense magazine's All-Canadian Wealth Test.

Despite a growing chorus of voices that say the recession is over, many Canadians are feeling downright poor these days. But MoneySense magazine's All-Canadian Wealth Test reveals that many of us are actually a lot better off than we think.

Available on newsstands across the country starting today, the Wealth Test lets Canadians determine how they stack up against other Canadians on all the key indicators of household prosperity. MoneySense research reveals whether we're earning more or less than our peers, if we're wealthier or poorer than others, and if our track record in the stock market is better or worse than most investors. Canadians can also visit where they can calculate their own net worth and compare it to people like themselves.

The good and bad news on how we stack up:

  • The good news - yes, good news - is that the average household is better off today than it was nine years ago at the peak of the dot-com boom. In fact, we're 7 per cent richer in real terms in grim 2009 than we were in bubbly 2000.
  • But there are warning signs. While the rich are getting richer, it's not clear that middle- and working-class Canadians are any wealthier.
  • Another problem? The way we're getting rich. Rather than make moneyon the stock market or accumulate savings in the bank, a significant portion of our wealth is tied up in the rising value of our homes. Real estate now makes up an unprecedented share of our personal balance sheets. That may be fine now. But if house prices crash, look out below.
The All-Canadian Wealth Test also reveals that:
  • The average unattached Canadian has an annual income of $37,800. The average family earns $91,500.
  • The path to higher income starts with being a guy. Women make, on average, about two-thirds of what men do.
  • The richest 20 per cent of Canadian households control about 69 per cent of the wealth in Canada. Meanwhile, the poorest 20 per cent controls no wealth at all. It's actually in debt.
Source: MoneySense

September 21, 2009

59% of Canadians live payday to payday

Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians would have trouble paying the bills if their paycheque were delayed by one week, a nationwide survey suggests.

The Canadian Payroll Association survey released Monday found that not only were 59 per cent of respondents living paycheque to paycheque, but they had little ability to put money away for their retirement.

"We were shocked by that number," CPA chairman Janice MacLellan said. "So many Canadians are now living so close to the line that if they miss a single paycheque, the majority will find themselves in financial difficulty."

Financial experts recommend that people should have emergency funds to cover about three months of expenses, such as rent, mortgage, utilities, other bill payments and groceries.

Of those surveyed, the younger workforce said they felt the greatest pinch. Forty-five per cent of people aged 18 to 34 said it would be difficult or very difficult to make ends meet if a paycheque were delayed, with a further 21 per cent saying it would be somewhat difficult.

Single parents were in the most precarious situation, with 72 per cent saying they would have some trouble making ends meet.

The survey also found that 50 per cent of workers couldn't save more than five per cent of their net pay for retirement — half the amount financial experts generally recommend.

About one-third of respondents said they've been trying to save more money than a year ago because of the economic uncertainty, but have been unable to do so. Another 42 per cent said they weren't trying to save more.

When it comes to remuneration, 65 per cent of employees said higher wages were most important to them, while 25 per cent cited better health benefits and 10 per cent preferred education funding.

Asked what they would do with a $1 million lottery win, 70 per cent of people said their top priority would be to pay off debt, while 35 per cent would put as much as possible toward retirement.

Surprisingly, not many people would have a celebration. Just three per cent of Canadians said they would use some of their winnings to throw a party, with Quebecers — at seven per cent — a bit more likely to do so.

And if you're a relative of a lottery winner, don't count too heavily on getting a share. Just 26 per cent of Canadians said they would give some of their winnings to family members.

The CPA survey involved more than 2,800 employees across Canada. The results are considered to have a margin of error of 2.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Source: CBC News

September 20, 2009

6 Simple Tips to Save Water Usage for Our Home

While access to clean water is not an issue for most of us, it makes sense to be more water conscious for the following reasons:

  • Lower water and energy bills by reducing your metered usage.
  • Enhanced drinking water quality by maintaining higher levels in our lakes.
  • Less environmental impact by deferring the need to supply water from new sources and by reducing the energy and materials required to treat and deliver water.

We all can take immediate steps starting in our own households to more efficiently use water so there is enough to go around.

Be water conscious
Just like you think about saving energy by turning off your lights, switching off the power strip and charging your phone with your solar charger, you should be just as conscious about conserving water. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving, use less water when hand washing dishes, don’t use hot water to defrost food, and take shorter showers. We all know these things and mean to do them, but sometimes we forget. Program these simple changes into your daily routine and be conscious about water use.

Fix leaks
A dripping tap sends your money down the drain. If your tap is leaking one drop per second, you are wasting over 9,460 litres of water per year. You can fix this problem by replacing a simple washer. Even if you have to change the entire tap, it’ll cost less than what you’re wasting. Also, check your toilet, it might be leaking too even if you don’t hear it. You can check for a leak in your toilet by adding a few drops of food colouring to the tank. If within half an hour the coloured water has disappeared from the bowl, you’ll know you’ve got a leak.

Use low water flow fixtures
Low flow showerheads and faucet aerators save up to half of water used without compromising your shower quality and washing experience. Also, take the opportunity to install a low-flow toilet and save even more money! Since 30% of the water consumption in your home is from toilet use; the older the toilet, the greater the use. Old toilets use at least 16-20 litres per flush. However, more recent models use about six litres or, if you install an ultra low-flow head, your toilet will use as little as three litres of water per flush—a big difference for huge savings!

Wash full loads
Use your appliances efficiently by washing only full loads of dishes or clothes. Wait the extra meal to have enough dishes or another day until you have enough clothes to make running that appliance worth it. While some appliances have settings for smaller loads, most do not, and use just as much water to wash a few things as it does to wash a full load.

Replace old appliances
Energy Star rated appliances save you energy, water, and money! Energy Star rated washers use half the water and energy per load of older models. If you’re looking for a new washing machine, frontload washing systems have a much larger capacity and save a lot of water and energy. Also, take the time to look at investing in a dishwasher. This might surprise many but washing your dishes by hand in your sink uses more water than running an Energy Star rated dishwasher. Hand washing your dishes twice daily uses about 70 litres of water while a dishwasher, filled to the maximum, uses only 30 litres.

Saving water saves you money
From leaky taps and running toilets to watering your lawn, there are many things around your house that drain your money if you are not aware of them. You can be green and save water and money by following the above steps—use less and you’ll save more!

September 16, 2009

SWOT Analysis - Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ)

Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) is a significant producer of natural gas in Canada, representing approximately 10% of western Canadian output. Its undeveloped land base represents the second largest portfolio in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) and it also has an exposure to virtually every play type found in the basin. Strong market position allows the company to take advantage of economies of the scale and reduce risk. However, increased cost pressures and environmental regulations may adversely impact the company’s future net earnings, cash flow, and capital projects.


Leadership position in Canada - The company’s production is concentrated in five North American core regions: Northeast British Columbia, Northwest Alberta, the Foothills, the Northern Plains, and the Southern Plains. In addition, the company holds extensive leases in the Athabasca region that are estimated to contain approximately 16 billion barrels of original bitumen in place. It also dominates the infrastructure in its core areas allowing it to control its cost. Moreover, natural gas remains its largest single product offering, representing 45% of its production mix in 2008. Strong market position allows the company to take advantage of economies of the scale and reduce risk.

Strong oil reserves - The company has strong oil reserves. CNR’s crude oil and NGLs proved reserves, before royalties increased from 1,123 million barrels (mmbbl) in FY2004 to 1,543 mmbbl in FY 2007, at a CAGR of 11%. Further, the crude oil and NGLs proved reserves, after royalties, also increased from 1,066 mmbbl in FY2004 to 1,358 mmbbl in FY2007. The company’s strong oil reserves give it a significant competitive advantage, especially when a large proportion of global oil fields are reaching maturity.

Strategic land base - CNR has the second largest undeveloped land inventory in the WCSB, with undeveloped net acreage in excess of 12 million acres, excluding leases at the Horizon Project. The strength of the company’s land base is a result of continued land purchases, and strategic acquisitions including the incorporation of the ACC properties that were acquired in late 2006. The vast majority of the company’s land base is positioned to utilize existing owned and operated infrastructure and also strategically positions CNR. Further, it also maximizes the benefit of new play types developed by the company and industry. This strong concentrated land base affords significant opportunities to control operating costs, along with minimizing finding and on-stream costs.


Poor performance of North Sea geographic segment - The revenues and the crude oil production from CNR’s North Sea geographic segment have been witnessing a decline over the years. The revenues from North Sea declined from C$1,656 million (approximately $1,490.4 million) in FY2005 to C$1,594 million (approximately $1,434.6 million) in FY2007, at a CAGR of 1.9%. Further, crude oil production before royalties from North Sea declined from 68,593 barrels per day (bbl/d) in FY2005 to 55,933 bbl/d in FY2007, at a CAGR of 9.7%. The decline in production was due to lower than anticipated production from the Lyell Field development and water injection problems experienced during the year at the Ninian Field.

Declining natural gas reserves - The company has witnessed a significant decline in its natural gas reserves in 2008 compared with FY2006. Natural gas remains its largest single product offering, representing 45% of its production mix in 2008. The natural gas reserves, before royalties, declined from 4,613 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in FY2006 to 4,435 Bcf in 2008, representing a decline of 3.9%. Further, its natural gas reserves, after royalties, declined from 3,798 Bcf in FY2006 to 3,666 Bcf in 2008, representing a decline of 3.5%.


Rising demand for oil and natural gas - The strong economic growth in the developing countries will drive global oil and natural gas demand. The overall global energy demand is expected to grow about 1.6% annually to 2030. With the growing transportation sector, the demand for liquid fuels is expected to rise at a rate of 1.4% per year. Driven by increasing demand for electricity, natural gas demand is expected to increase by 1.7% annually to 2030. The projected increase in demand for liquid fuels and natural gas in the coming years would help the company boost its sales and strengthen its financial base.

Horizon Oil Sands Project - The Horizon Oil Sands Project is located 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, where CNR owns and operates leases covering 115,000 acres through lease arrangements with the Province of Alberta.The Horizon Project includes a surface oil sands mining and bitumen extraction plant coupled with on-site bitumen upgrading and associated infrastructure to produce synthetic crude oil. Drilling on these leases indicates an estimated 16 billion barrels of bitumen in place, with approximately 6-8 billion recoverable barrels under existing mining technologies. The Horizon Project asset is substantial and is anticipated to provide significant free cash flow in the future to CNR.


Environmental regulations - CNR’s businesses are subject to numerous laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment.The company’s associated risk management strategies focus on working with legislators and regulators to ensure that any new or revised regulations reflect a balanced approach to sustainable development. Further, specific measures in response to existing or new legislation include focus on the company’s energy efficiency, air emissions management, released water quality, reduced fresh water use, and minimization of the impact on the landscape.

Increasing cost pressures - Strong commodity prices in recent years have resulted in increased demand and costs for oilfield services. This has lead to inflationary production and capital cost pressures throughout the North American oil and gas industry, particularly related to natural gas drilling activity and oil sands developments. The strong commodity price environment has also impacted costs in international basins. Specifically, the high demand for offshore drilling rigs continues and securing rigs on commercially acceptable terms is an ongoing challenge.

Adverse weather conditions - Adverse weather conditions could pose a substantial threat to the company both in terms of curtailed activity and its potential effect on natural gas prices. Warmer than normal weather can impact the demand for natural gas, resulting in lower realized price for the company.

September 13, 2009

The Best Growth Investing Information Ever

This video contains all the fundamental information you need for growth investing during the next few years.

September 10, 2009

10 Ways to Cut Your Moving Costs

Moving can be a very chaotic and expensive task, one that needs to be accomplished very carefully. A move carried out in haste can bring about several unnecessary problems. Almost everyone looks for cheap movers. After all, most of us want to save on out of pocket expenses but there are several disadvantages of selecting cheap movers. There are professional moving companies, who offer competitive rates that are easily affordable by everyone. However, there are certain techniques or methods of preparation that can also help you minimize your expenses.

When planning your moving budget, it is very important to keep a check on the outflow of cash. This will make you better prepared to understand the unnecessary expenses. Create a budget template in Excel or Microsoft Word—this will make your calculations easier.

Decide if you will hire a professional moving company or you will do it yourself. If you are hiring a mover, collect quotes from at least three different professional moving companies and include the highest quote in your budget.

Check all the items that you are moving. This will help you evaluate if you need more insurance because the default insurance offered by movers might not be sufficient for you. Along with added insurance, find out if you require extra services.

Because of rising fuel costs and a shortage of drivers, the cost of a full service mover has risen in the past few years. Anything you can do yourself—even if seemingly small—will help cut your moving bill and give you extra money to spend on other relocation costs (like the pizza and beer for after your move).

1. Reduce your load. Get rid of household items that you no longer need. Hold a garage sale and leave books with friends, the local library or sell them to a used bookstore. Anything you can't sell, give to a local charity. Weight equals money. The less weight, the less money. It's that simple.

2. Pack it yourself. Packing services performed by the mover are expensive and could amount to 25% of the moving cost. Even if you don't want to pack it all yourself, you can always do a partial pack, and have the movers handle the rest. For example, items that are nonbreakable such as linens and bedding can be packed easily without the risk of damage. Every box you pack yourself is money in your pocket.

3. Save on packing. Luggage and carrying bags are perfect for packing sheets, towels and clothing. Also, the bottoms of wardrobe boxes are great for bulky, lightweight items. Be wary of packing tips that might save you money initially but won't protect your stuff, for example, using newspaper instead of bubble wrap. Sure, it might save a few bucks, but in the end, is breaking something worth it?

4. Drive your own moving truck
Using a full service moving company is extremely expensive. You can rent your own truck and hire movers to help load up and unload.

5. Recruit help from friends or family
If you have friends or family in the area, getting them to help you load up and/or unload is a blessing, because it saves time and money. If you’re going to recruit help, make it a fun event. Order some food, and make it a moving party.

6. Avoid the busy season. If you are using a full service moving company, avoid June, July, and August as these are the most expensive months to move because of demand for moving services. Also, try to plan your move during the middle of the month—rates are higher at the beginning and the end because of the large number of apartment leases with month-end dates. If you can be flexible with your move-in times, you can also save money because the moving company can combine shipments.

7. Get organized. Time is Money. Color-code boxes according to the room they belong in so they all end up in the same place, saving time for both you and your mover.

8. Avoid storage costs by moving into your new property immediately and make sure that you have payment ready for when the truck arrives. Any delay could result in storage-in-transit fees if your things have to be stored until they can be unloaded and after the move is paid in full.

9. Make sure you are insured. Your existing homeowner’s insurance policy might cover your move so you don't have to buy additional moving protection.

10. Your move may be tax-deductible. Keep all receipts and visit the Canada Revenue Agency's website for specific details about which moving expenses you can claim, or consult a professional accountant to maximize your tax return.

September 04, 2009

Canada Auto Sales for August 2009

Here is the new auto sales statistics in Canada for August, 2009 compared to same period last year.

Acura: +26.4% to 1,644
Audi: +89.6% to 1,058
BMW: +20.5% to 2,292
Chrysler: -6.8% to 14,393
Ford: +7% to 22,166
General Motors: -27.5% to 23,018
Honda: -21.8% to 10,574
Hyundai: +38.4% to 10,418
Infiniti: -13.6% to 604
Jaguar: -18.1% to 68
Kia: +20.6% to 4,672
Land Rover: -27.2% to 134
Lexus: +31.3% to 1,532
Mazda: -10.7% to 6,880
Mercedes-Benz: +20.5% to 1,992
Mini: -9.5% to 457
Mitsubishi: +24.9% to 1,860
Nissan: +4.2% to 7,071
Porsche: +7.1% to 120
Saab: -79.8% to 36
smart: -30.4% to 268
Subaru: +4.2% to 1,940
Suzuki: +1.3% to 1,315
Toyota: -24.2% to 16,707
Volkswagen: -5% to 3,605
Volvo: +16.3% to 527

September 03, 2009

August 2009 Net Worth Update

After I sold my car, I bought a new car using some money from my saving account and non-registered investment account. I am not a new car buyer in general, but I bought it for the following reasons,

1. Safety - As Canadian's winter could take as long as 6 months, this is my primary reason to sell my old car earlier this year, and get all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle for safety purposes.

2. Cash Purchase Promotion - almost 10% cash back + another 10% off the original price. This justifies a bit new car depreciation cost.

3. Re-sale value - after some research, I found that Japanese AWD vehicles could hold their resale value the most.

Here are the assets/liabilities result for August, 2009:


Vehicles: $26,000

Cash: $6,000

Savings: $14,400

TFSA: $5,100

Registered Investment Account: $23,200

Non-Registered Investment Account: $8,400

Total Assets: $8,3100


Credit Card Debt: $1,600

Total Debts: $1,600

Total Net Worth: $81,500

Started 2009 with Net Worth: $65300

Year-to-Date Gain/Loss: +24.81%

My net worth goal at the end of year 2009 is $90,000, and I still have $8,500 to make in the next 4 months.