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March 09, 2009

New Internet Venture - Make Extra Money

NEW INTERNET VENTURE: 
"BarterForFree.com"  &  GLOBAL TV INTERVIEW
A month or so ago, I offered an opportunity to become involved in a new internet venture; I look foward to working with the group of people who have joined me on this wonderful ride.   This new spin on an old idea will be LIVE by the summer.   Although there is no longer an opportunity to become involved with the venture, you can still register now to receive our Free Gift when we go Live on the Net!
It's free to register, you'll receive a free gift in the early summer, and you'll learn how to barter goods and services to reduce your cash outflow and get stuff you want or need.  If I haven't convinced you to register at www.barterforfree.com, you might do so after seeing what I've received with no cash outlay over the last few weeks only!
  • a couch reupholstered
  • fitness classes for my students
  • large dents on my car repaired
  • driveway resurfacing
  • carpet replacement at my cottage
  • plumbing repairs
Regsiter with www.barterforfree.com today and save thousands tomorrow with this innovative approach to a time-tested concept.  

Should We Take Responsibility

SHOULD WE TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY?
I often wonder whether the excesses of our lifestyles (as opposed to the lifestyles of our parents and grandparents) are at least partially responsible for this mess we're in now.   For many decades, we have lived in what I call the "I deserve" decade.   During this time, we have not worked for the money first, then purchased later.   Instead, we have bought first (because we deserve) then figured out how to pay for it later.   In simple terms, this is easy to understand:  the over mortgaging of a house, the easy credit society of North America, the resistance to working for a living, or the grandiose excesses of our lives.  
What if we were to apply this concept to a much larger scenario?   Take for example, the workers in the automobile industry.   Can we consider that the union strength and worker demands might have had at least something to do with the fact that there is almost no positive, healthy auto industry left?  What about Nortel?  This corporation (who's stock are now valued at 10 cents, and has written off 3 billion dollars over the last 4 months and fired over 70,000 employees) has just somehow voted on 45 million dollars worth of bonuses for senior level management!   I mean, imagine the entitlement umbrella under which these guys are taking cover!  And this is just after posting a 15% drop in revenue!
If we think about, we have all been responsible for getting to where we have landed.  Our destination was almost certified from the day we boarded the train.   If we are to climb our way out of this, I believe we will need to take some responsibility for changing the way we operate, both personally, and corporately. 

This Recession Will Deepen

RECESSION UPDATE
CMHC has forecasted that our economy is to rebound by 2010 and the Bank of Canada chief has also been quoted as expecting a rebound in early 2010; these forecasts have also been received with widespread ridicule.   I wouldn't necessarily ridiculue anyone for their forecasts, but I would consider looking at the current facts and trends.   All of the forecasts that have been proclaimed, over time, have been revised downwards as these last few months have passed.  For example, an original housing starts fourth quarter outlook from last year was predicated at 200k, but reduced to 177k, then reduced even further.  The fact is that housing starts are now lower than they have been in seven years!  I believe that housing starts, which have been steadily declining since last October, and are primarily fueled by the global financial crisis will result in further decline of home sales, leading to a further softening of the economic climate.    But Duggan, the CMHC chief has proclaimed the following:
"Housing market activity will begin to strengthen as the Canadian economy rebounds in 2010 and the level of housing starts over the forecast period will be more in line with demographic fundamentals."
Further reports from CMHC show drastic declines in housing starts, especially in the West (most likely because it was booming the most), where upwards of 30% drops are expected by the year's end!   Can you imagine if your home value dropped by 30% in one year?   But most reports and many forecasters are suggesting that perhaps with the exception of BC and Quebec, most provinces should see some relief in 2010.   I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Home sales in Canada have also been steadily declining (housing starts and home sales are interconnected); current forecasts for average decline rates are in the 15% range for the next year!   Average home prices are expected to decline by a little over 5 %!   Current data shows that Canadian home sales have plunged dramatically by 41% and prices dropped by 11%!  This signifies a huge and abrupt stalling (but a year is still less abrupt than a day, or a few minutes, like in the stock market - and we did have notice) of the market.
MORE BAD NEWS!
Set off by AIG (the world's largest insurance company) which recently received a bailout of over 180 billion dollars!!!!, markets were in a spin this past week.   Last Monday, AIG wrote off over 62 billion dollars and coupled with a sinking US economy and a drop in Gross Domestic Product (Canada's drop was over 3% last quarter)  markets reacted aggressively.   Our stock exchange dropped over 435 points in just one day - the lowest close in OVER a decade!
Since Labour Day, the stock market average has been going south consistently.  Markets ranged in the 14000 point scale and now our just over 7000 - a 50% drop since September/08 and we are only in March/09.  Although things aren't as bad for us in this area as it is in the US (where markets closed last week at their lowest ever in more than a decade!), things are still concerning.   And with the GDP continuing to decline, this is my summation:  this recession will continue to deepen. 

March 07, 2009

Spend A Day Learning About Success!

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SPEND THE DAY WITH AMERICA'S #1 SUCCESS COACH - THIS MAY IN TORONTO!
This May, success coach Jack Canfield, originator of the Chicken Soup for The Soul books will be arriving in Toronto for the first time to teach "The Success Principles 2009", his powerfully motivating positive thinking program.    You can spend the day listening to his teachings and leave that much stronger, more knowledgeable, pumped to change, and more dedicated to success than ever before.   I will be there in support of my very good friend, and one of the original founders of this club, Ginny Kontosic.  It was her brilliant idea to bring Jack Canfield to Toronto, and I am dedicated to her success.  Join me and fellow club members for the day and learn the specific strategies Jack has used to become a millionaire many times over!  Buy your ticket on the Early-Bird Special and save on your ticket price.  Check out her website at www.universalenergieseventplanning.com.   Anyone who is dedicated to success will be there!   See you at the Metro Convention Centre on Saturday, May 23rd, 2009.

On Your Journey To Financial Freedom

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PLOT THE PROGRESS TOWARD YOUR GOAL

If you are really interested in succeeding, you must have a specific goal.   Goals are funny things, because they often actually cause failure.  For example, many people have the goal "I want to be rich", or the even more creative - my own personal favourite because of the words ("I want to attain financial freedom.").  Although we should all be aspiring to the latter, the words are lofty in nature and broad in scope.  

To be workable and focus-oriented, goals should not be lofty and vague, but instead be attainable, realistic and measureable.  The following goal is an excellent one: "By January, 2010, I want to increase my monthly cash flow by $5000 through the generation of positive cash flow and the reduction of expenses."   This particular goal gives you a specific scope, tells you how to do it, then expects itself to be completed by a specific date.    
Marking your achievements on a desk chart, a wall chart, a computer tracking program, or a graph of some sort, will help you along the way.  Charting your progress on a specific day of each week helps continue to make yourself accountable.    One friend of mine had a creative spin on the charting/graphing idea.  She has purchased a slightly upscale (read:  attractive) key holder.   You know those ones I mean:  the ones that are like a little cabinet, using being in the property manager's office, or the janitor's office.   The cabinet opens up to a gazillion hooks upon which you hang your keys.  My friend's version is a slightly upgraded (non-metal) version of this idea:   each time she buys another property, she hangs a copy of a set of keys!  Way cool!   

A Dozen Hard Learned Lessons!

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SOME HARD LEARNED LESSONS!

Lesson # 1:  Combine the things you love, but make sure one of them makes you money! 
Lesson # 2:  Watch Fads because they could become Moneymakers! 
Lesson # 3:  Even successful people can be close minded about new things - they may only trust the market they know. 
Lesson # 4:  Realize how stupid you were yesterday, how much you need to learn today, and how much you will realize you didn't know today when tomorrow comes
Lesson # 5:  There is always another way to solve the problem; you just have to be open-minded enough to see it
Lesson # 6:  Don't be afraid to venture out and try something new
Lesson # 7:  Real estate growth is way easier than working for a living
Lesson # 8:  "Listen to people who have more than you in the field in which you wish to gain, not less.   Pay attention to their prejudices about new things, but trust what they say about what they know.
Lesson # 9:  Even though you make the same amount of money, you can move up if your real estate makes more money than you do!) 
Lesson # 10:  Don't be afraid to do what you love, just find something else to subsidize it, instead of having it deplete you.)  
Lesson # 11:  Fear and need are powerful motivators.
Lesson # 12:  Don't forget to give.   You shall receive.   Always spend your days trying to find some way of giving back something.   It doesn't really matter what, who, or how much.   Just do it!

Don't Forget to Do Your Homework - You Might Win Big!

Due Diligence UPDATE

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Just the other day, I glanced at the letter addressed to me from the Planning Department of the city hall of a town in which I have invested.  To tell you the truth, I avoided opening it, as I thought it was yet another complaint from the lady who owns a house behind one of my properties.  Over the last few years, her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend have built some sort of tent/shelter out of an old trailer.  This 'building' actually sits on a portion of the rear of my property.  Even though I staked out the property (officially by a surveyor, nonetheless) and proved that this 'shelter' was infringing on my property, nothing was done!   (Lesson:  "Understand the Community Where You're Investing - to avoid annoyance.")  However, when this same woman complained that my willow tree was blowing stuff on her daughter's 'shelter', I was asked officially to either remove the tree or spend thousands trimming it!   (This is small town Ontario, you know!)   I have been narrowly avoiding the cost of this ridiculous requirement for several years - oh, the problems of landlordship!   Less facetiously, the minor annoyance of this problem (notwithstanding its 'entertainment value') will not likely supercede the thousands in income this property has afforded me.  (Lesson: "Buy Cashflow Properties in Stable Markets").  But, I digress.   Finally, I decided to face the music and open the envelope, which led to my pleasant surprise!    (Lesson:  "Never Avoid")    This envelope contained a Notice of Application, not a Willow Tree Compliance Order!   (Lesson:  "Think Positively")    Apparently, the historic mill in this town will be undergoing a huge revitalization, starting with the proposal of a 60-unit condominum development!     (Lesson:  "Real Estate Pays Off").  Now, truthfully, this may never happen, but I do remember talking to the elderly lady and owner of the property next door to my property.   I was listening to the list of ailments that had been afflicting her husband at that time (you have to actually talk to neighbours in small town Ontario), when she seguayed into the potential for this very condo development.  At the time, I thought it was just wishful thinking on her part.  Today, I am humbly embarrased by my arrogance:   somehow, she had known all along(Lesson: "Listen to Older People - they know more".)  And know, I know, too.   I will definitely not be one of the complainers who shows up at the new development committee meetings to whine about the advancement of new property developments!

Listen Up!

SPEAKING INTEREST RATES AND OF PAOLA BEING DUMB!(LOL)...

I talked to an old timer the other days (these guys are great to talk to you because you get their wisdom instead of your own arrogant knowledge base (I speak for myself), so you always seem to learn something knew - if of course, you're willing to listenWe started talking about how times have changed and how he's seen it all ... blah..blah...blah.... I guess (I must admit) I slightly glazed over when he was talking about the good old days in real estate, but I was sadly too arrogant to completely listen, because only when I was intelligent enough to tune back in did I realize he was given me nuggets of gold.  He told me that he had rental homes ("you young people have fancy names for them like cashflow holdings, but they're really just rental homes you didn't buy when either you or the market was being stupid") for example, in 1981 when the rates where 19, 20 and 21 (bank rates are always a bit higher than the Bank of Canada rate.   Thankfully, I was totally alert by then, when he said (after I asked him how he fared during those times), "no problem:  I wasn't stupid, so I didn't buy anything and try to apply for a mortgage when the rates were so high, plus I just sat on the homes I had when the rates were low.   I had some cash by then, so I bought a few home from people who went 'belly up' - I kid you not, those were his words - IN CASH while everyone else was scrounging for pennies and crying because they couldn't pay.   And you know what, young lady? (for a few seconds I was called a young lady- which was nice - my kids usually call me 'old bag' -lol),  'it was the best time for real estate'!   I still have those homes (because I've never sold anything, and now I'm a millionaire many times over."    Needless to say I was internally embarrased that I didn't quite listen to the first part of the conversation, but I have to say I was happy when he told me that he liked my style until he issued forth the punch line: "I think I know a bit about your holdings....been snooping around to see if you're for real....don't like those wiseguys selling courses who don't know what they're doing...so I just checked you out and, you are for real.   But that's not the best thing I like about you.  You know what that is?  Most of the time, you look like a bum!"    With that he laughed, clapped me on the back, showed me the twinkle in his eye and walked away!
It serves me right, I guess.   But still, - it was informative.   And I learned more in that few minutes than I have at any university class!

Recessionary Blues Suddenly Look Pink!

This for sure is a time to reflect on the changes in the market over the last year.   We have gone from boom time to a serious recession.  To be sure, this year has been an interesting and challenging one for investors, with all the wild fluctuations in the market and the global economic crisis threatening to strangle virtually every economy on the globe.  

For many years, (since approximately 1992, in fact), the western world has enjoyed an exuberance of value, an oppulence of spending and a carefree attitude towards credit and fiscal responsibility.   There was what can be described almost as a buyer's frenzy or buyer's mania, where we thought nothing about the impact of such 'freedom buying'.   Things have clearly changed.
Many of you might recall the many months ago, I issued a warning with respect to the upcoming and imminent corrections (through the newsletter) citing beginning and slight agitation in the market, the warnings of financial gurus and a variety of other factors.   Let's review for a moment what's happened since then.  
There has been a dangerous plunge in housing value not only in the United States, but also in western Europe.   There's been a credit freeze almost worldwide, which the Innisfil group can attest to has filtered down to the little guy.   There's been drastic plummets in the values of commodities and stocks.  There have been massive governmental bank and auto bailouts (and outright failures) across the broad chest of our important trading partner to the south.  I know it sounds a little petty, but even I was shocked into reality (although I had seen and recognized these symptons long since) when I heard our very own Conservative PM encourage the idea of 'deficit spending'.  
Well, we all know the basic facts now.   If we haven't protected ourselves in the past few months, then we ought to learn a lesson - and remember these signs the next time they occur.   In the meantime, as my grandmother used to say, "there is no use crying over spilled milk - just clean it up on your own, then get on with your day".  What are we to do now?
I guess the big question to ponder is this:   is real estate still the best option for investors?   My answer is unequivicably:  YES!   In my personal situation for example, my home will likely drop in value, my income from school will drop even to a more serious negative cash flow position (with two families who've lost jobs as of early January, and likely few new prospects given the economy) and any equity property I have will siphon badly needed cash from my pocket, unless I can figure out how to make the equity properties into cashflow properties.  Actually, almost all of my equity properties also cash flow (at least to some degree - and some to exceptional degrees).   But what about my land purchases?  
They're still sitting there and will likely drop in value, but it doesn't matter because the maintenance on them (financially) is very low.   The big clincher though, is what about my cashflow properties?    THEY ARE STILL CASHFLOWING!   This is the best thing about cashflow real estate: even in a crisis market, you can still find a way to make it work.   And, if you have any cash base at this time and going forward, it is definitely the time to buy!   With prices dropping by the minute it seems, and the Bank of Canada doing its best to protect the economy by dropping interest rates, this is the time to buy if you are buying for cashflow.  Consider this:   the money from my cashflow properties still came in this month!   That's what RichDad's Robert Kiyosaki is talking about....(www.richdad.com). 
Let's look at this market as opportunity 'cause that's what it is.

Market Update & Personal Finance Suggestions

MARKET UPDATE

For many months, there have been warnings of a market meltdown, or an impending crisis.   Unless you live in a cave, you know by now that there are problems both in the US and globally.   Financial markets like the TSX went down over 800 points this week, house prices all over Canada are falling, the US situation is a disaster, with people loosing their homes left, right and centre, and debt load consumers are bracing for job losses in all major Canadian industries.   And although, we're not facing the same horrific situation here in Canada, we are definitely feeling the pinch on the credit lending side.   There will be less lending, more prudent decision making, and tighter controls.   As of October 15th, Canadian lending institutions will administer the change in law on lending practises, to buffer the Canadian economy and avoid the credit crisis facing the Americans.   (In parts of Southern California, for example, half of all house sales are reposessions!   HALF of all house sales!   And listen to this:  a majority of all houses are full of stuff the owners leave behind, including TVs, flat screen TVs, and other high-ticket items.   What's the reason?   They can't afford movers, so they just pack their car with whatever fits and leave the rest behind.)  Surely these are all signs of omminous times. 
What does that mean for us?    Well, I think it means time to plan ahead.   We're likely a few months behind whatever economic horror is occuring across America.   According to Warren Buffett, the "Americans are heading for an economic Pearl Harbour."  If Pearl Harbour or something like it is in the near future, then we should clean house to make sure we are padding ourselves with cloaks of safety.  
Here are some personal financial suggestions:
  1. Clean house:  review all of your monthly expenses and reduce them in any way you can.
  2. Get rid of excess stuff you don't need by selling on e-Bay.   You'll generate income AND clean house.
  3. Start an internet business and spend a few hours per week working on it... it may provide you with a few extra thousand in a year or two.
  4. Do not pay off all your bills with any windfalls:  buy some property instead. 
  5. If you have any savings accounts, switch them to banks paying high interest on savings accounts (without the bother and chains of locking in).   This means you leave TD or BMO and head over to www.hsbc.cawww.icici.com, or www.ingdirect.ca.   All of these banks offer regular savings accounts that pay out 3% interest.   It's better than nothing and it's NOT locked in.
  6. Review all your credit outstanding and make a plan to get rid of them.
  7. Consider buying stocks now or in the next while... as things are sliding.    When stocks go down, we forget that it's actually the best time to buy!

Here are some real estate suggestions:

  1. Refinance today!    Get a credit line quickly.   If your house goes down in price and you lose your job, at least you'd be able to use the credit (from today's value of your home) to purchase something which will generate income. 
  2. Buy cash flow property now!   
  3. Sell off large scale equity property that have no possibility of becoming cash flow property.  

Take heart, things will get better.   In the meantime, make sure you clean house and review your holdings.  Slight adjustments now will guarantee your financial future will be that much brighter!

Your New Part-Time Job

YOUR NEW PART-TIME JOB

During the last few meetings, I was esposing the virtues of a weekly time you could allocate/dedicate to your new part-time job.   This part-time job is about securing your future or attaining your financial goals.   The idea is that you would set aside 2-4 hours per week to dedicate to your financial future.   You spend that time (come hell or high water) at the computer doing 'real estate homework', meeting with a mentor, or reading a Rich Dad book (or checking out the CFF website www.canadianfinancialfreedom.com, or doing whatever you need to do to make your financial future better.    I've picked one night per week from 11:00 pm to 1:30 am because it's the only time I have and it works for my life style:  I know nothing will come in the way of it.  
Over the last few years, when I have employed this strategy, it has worked.   When I have not, (although I still have all the past financial improvement to enjoy), I gain nothing new.   
What's the moral of the story?    Get yourself a new part time job!
One for which you receive no money, just a much more promising financial future.   And one that's for you....only you....and your retirement, or the financing of your dream, or for your family; one that's for whatever you want it to be.   You just have to do it.

Economic Update

ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT UPDATE

If you believe we all have something to learn from one another, you will surely respect the opinion of Warren Buffet, one of the leaders in investments and money.   In mid August, he was quoted as saying that "ripples in the industry will continue to cause larger and larger problems in the financial sector and the economy as a whole".   He correctly predicted more huge companies folding under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and widespread damage in the US economy.   A few weeks later, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the largest source of funding for the US) required a federal bailout, Lehman collapses (stocks which were worth $66 in February a few short months ago are now worth 21 cents!), Merrill Lynch (the third largest investment bank) is saved at the last minute by the Bank of America after it posts huge losses, and the US government bails out huge insurance giant American International Group (better known as AIG)....are you insured with them?   Yesterday (Tuesday, September 16th), US stocks had the biggest drop in seven years....
The situation in Europe is not much better.   The recent pound's fall against the Euro is the latest sign that Britain is on the brink of recession.   Apparently, this is the worst economic crisis in 60 years, according to Britian's treasury chief.   He continued to say that he believes that "the economic situation is going to be more profound and long-lasting than people thought."
Are you getting scared?    Well, I am - just a little bit.  
But, if we keep our head on our shoulders, and stay rational, we will think logically - not emotionally.    The world has gone through these kinds of times before, and we have come out the other end the better off for it.    If you think back to the Great Depression, or even the stock market crash of Black Monday, (and if you do your homework and check the stats like I did), you'll find that we're WAY higher stock-market wise than we were before those times.   No matter what, it always finds a way to creep back up.....
We just have to ride through the storm
But, it's also a time to be smarter than we were before....here are a few suggestions:
  • If you've never gotten into the stock market, and you have some savings, this is what they're talking about when they say "buy low, sell high" - this is the time to BUY!
  • Hide out in cash flow positive real estate purchases.
  • Don't do anything 'high equity, low cashflow' - it's even a bigger gamble than it was before, and more dangerous economically than it was a year ago.  
  • Don't waste your money on empty purchases (like 'I want purchases') - instead go into debt ONLY for cash flow positive purchases, or if you're totally secure in your job (who is these days?), go for cash flow equal if the other option is to do nothing.
  • Be more cautious than you would have been last year.
  • Before you buy, do your numbers!
  • Do your homework (I'm a teacher at heart, what can I say?) - Or as they say in the real estate circles..."do your DD - due diligence".   Don't we understand 'homework' better?   It's what we hate to do, but what we know will save us later on?

 

Barter - The Recessionary Economy

USE BARTER DOLLARS

Has anyone heard about barter exchanges?   I've been using BNL (Barter Network Ltd.) and Itex Canada for sales and purchases for several years, and it's worked really well.   What is a barter exchange?   The simple version of a barter exchange is that it works on the old fashioned idea of trading services or goods.    It's a great system if you're short of cash, or want to produce extra disposable income with little effort to a dedicated market.   The barter exchanges I have used are "Barter Network Limited"  http://www.barternetworkltd.com/index.asp and Itex Canada michael.muzzin@itexcanada.net, (www.itex.com) as well as Trade Business Exchange:   www.oktrade.ca.   There's also some internet websites www.barterforfree.com and www.swapsity.ca.  
In effect, you barter (trade) your services or goods in exchange for a credit, which then you can spend with any of the other people in the barter exchange system.   The bonus to this system is that it is cashless (you don't need money), and it is a dedicated market:  people will look to you because you are a barter exchange member.   It's a great idea!  (P.S.   The exchanges charge a small fee to join, then a percentage of sales, but it's worth it.)    Tell them I referred you - you never know I might get a kickback or referral fee, and instead of donuts and juice at the next meeting, we might just have champagne and caviar!  LOL....

Psychology of Building Wealth Through Real Estate

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BUILDING WEALTH THROUGH REAL ESTATE

Many people have tried and failed to build wealth through real estate.   The first question we should ask (even if it was us) is why?   What did we do wrong?   The truth be told:   those of us who have failed (including me at times), have not followed the equations; we've invested without thinking, without having a plan, without seeing the overall picture, without doing our homeowrk, etc.   Sometimes we were short-sighted with our vision and saw only what we wanted to see, but not what really was....
How can we change our thinking?   Here are a few tips:
  • Instead of saying "We can't afford it.", think:   "How can we afford it?"
  • Instead of thinking "We're poor", think:  "How can we be rich?"
  • Instead of thinking "It doesn't work!", think" "What can I do different to make it work?"
  • Instead of thinking "I don't have money this month again - to pay the bills.", think:   "How can I generate more cash monthly?"
  • Instead of being negative, forget about yesterday and think about today and tomorrow.
  • Read more and talk less, unless it is to ask someone who knows more than you do (because they've done it, not because they say it). 
  • Agree that you need to know more and find out what you're missing.
  • Get a real estate investment mentor.
  • Set a goal and then work backwords.
  • Write it down and pin it up somewhere where you'll see it everyday - except change the colour or backing of the paper weekly so you don't get used to it and treat it like something you can just walk by and ignore.
  • Join the clubs and take a few courses.
  • Intermingle with people you aspire to be... the value of networking cannot be underestimated.
  • Buy someone (who knows more than you) some lunch or dinner...then listen to them while they share with you their secrets of wealth attainment.  Cardinal rule:   don't pretend you know more than they do, instead value their knowledge and learn from it.
But, what can we actually do?   Here are a few tips:
The first and foremost:   inform yourself and then buy cashflow properties first.   When you want to do more, buy equity and value added properties to increase wealth exponentially.
Think of the three income types:   earned income, portfolio income (for which we are taxed) and passive income (through real estate for which we can claim expenses).   Which one do you depend on?   If you're like most of us, it's the earned income.   But what does that mean?   In clear terms, it means that we must work to earn.   If we want to earn more, we must work more.   And really, is that all we want to do?   Although I'm personally at odds with this (I absolutely LOVE doing the job I do - and I don't think I'd be able to be happy and spiritually satisfied if I didn't do the job I do), most people seem to be in a different boat.   They're working because they have to - and not liking it.   How can we switch it to passive income through real estate?   Here's the simple answer:   cash flow properties only.  If we want to work a little and gain a lot, then we can extend this to equity purchases and land improvement (building, renovating, etc.)  But if we don't want to work too much, here's the answer:  plain, simple and boring cash flow properties are the ticket to achieving wealth.
Here's another interesting psychological nugget from Guide to Investing on unsuccessful people:
"Unsuccessful people find their strengths and spend their lives making their strengths stronger, often ignoring their weaknesses, until one day their weaknesses cannot be ignored anymore.   Successful pepole find their weaknesses and make them into their strengths."  (p. 274) 
Which group do you want to belong to?

A Past Newsletter Tidbit

INSPIRATION

Have you found that you just can't get going in real estate?   If you're in a little bit of a rut, and you need a kickstart, have you considered a Daily Mantra?   Before you laugh this off and think that perhaps a New Age Guru has taken over this blog, let me assure you that it's still me - Paola, writing to you from cottage country enjoying this week's supply of rain!    When I first started, I repeated this sentence each morning as I started my day:  "I am now a real estate investor.   What will I do today to that end?"   During the time that I used the Daily Mantra, my equity wealth and some cash flow stuff improved my overall financial wealth picture by 67%.   In mid March or so, I stopped repeating this sentence (things got hectic for me and serious family illness added to the commotion) and my wealth over that period did not increase at all!  I restarted the Daily Mantra routine in mid June, and since then I have decreased my expenses by $225/monthly (to add to my next purchase investment accrual high interest savings account), as well as increased my overall wealth picture by 22% (in two months).   Have I convinced you yet?    Try creating a sign and sticking it up beside your bathroom mirror to read everyday.  You can use my sentence or create your own one.   If you can't be bothered to make the sign, feel free to use the one I am now using, by downloading from our website.

The R-Word: Recession!

Recession Definition
None of us has been living in a cave for the past few months, so we all know that the economic crisis in the US is in full swing.   Most of us also know, believe, respect the opinion of economists, or at minimum, recognize that history repeats with respect to most things; the translation advises us that we are about to be affected by the economic crisis faced by the US and a recession is either already occuring or imminent.
What exactly is a recession?   According to economic definitions, a recession is a downturn in the business cycle that occurs when the real gross national product (GNP)—the total output of goods and services produced population declines for two consecutive quarters, (1/4 year = 3 months, so 2 consecutive quarters is six months). Recessions are usually characterized by a general decrease in output, income, employment, and trade lasting from six months to a year. A more severe and long-lasting economic crisis is known as a depression.   Mostly because we are living in North America, our government somewhat protects us from dropping into an economic depression, which hasn't happened for decades - mostly due to government interventions and strategies. 
Recession History
A quick review of the history of the recession indicators from the turn of century start with a 1907 drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to the tune of 35% over a period of nine months!   If we remember anything from high school history, we know about the Stock Market Crash of 1929, when stock markets dipped 85% over three years, but made a dramatic drop over a few short months and for the first time affected global markets.   Then there was the 10 month recession in 1960-61.  Then the Iranian Revolution and the associated oil crisis and energy crisis of 1969-1970.   Some of us might remember the oil stock crash of 1973, when the evening news showed us line ups for gasoline in the US, oil prices quadrupling (due to OPEC changes) and heavy financial losses from Vietnam, with economists and financial analysts described the 40% drop in the two year period post 1973.   In the early 1980s, there was the recession of 1982 and 1983, caused by tight monetary policy in the US to control inflation and sharp correction to overproduction of the previous decade, which effectively was masked by inflation.  The national exuberance of the 80s (real estate in Canada as well as the S & L (Savings & Loan) exuberance) period probably led to the recession of the late 1980s.    Most of us can't help but forget the 'Black Monday' of  October 8th 1987, when stocks abruptly fell in one morning, but continued to fall over three weeks to an almost 82 points.   Then, spurred on by the tech stocks, the collapse of junnk bonds and a credit crunch, as well as the internet revolution, there was the serious 1990 recession that lasted from July 1990 through to March of 1991, but had after effects for some time after that; fortunately, government spending and other initiatives helped to stall the advent of an actual depression, although interest rates for residential mortgages climbed dramatically during this period.   The next recession began in March of 2001 and ended in November, with after effects until 2003 with the collapse of the Dot com Bubble.    Of course, we all remember the minor correction/contraction caused by the September 11th attacks and the accounting scandals.  However, since about 2002-2003, there has been no recession, with the economy in an upward swing that seemed everlasting - until now.
Update - July 2008

Another war and another credit crunch brings us to 2008.   Here we are, with a brooding economy south of the border (should we have known when our dollar crept up for the first time in three decades?).   As the real estate bubble continued to gain momentum, and more and more people were encouraged by the social morals of this day and age (purchase on credit and worry later - laden with debt) affected the judgement of the mortgage industry, and we continued to buy, buy, buy, and spend, spend, spend, we should have known it would end.   And now, it has.  

What are we to do?   That's the million dollar question.  If you're in real estate, you might now be reducing your risk and playing the RichDad "Where can I really find hard core cash flow properties?" routine....whatever your choice, you've surely reviewed your goals and modified your real estate decisions over the last six months, to accommodate for the changing financial arenas.
Update - March 2009
Well, here we are:  in a full out recession, which people are likening to the Great Depression of the Dirty Thirties!   With AIG needing a further bailout, with auto companies failing, and European banks at the brink of disaster, what are we to do?     I continue to say that this is likely one of the best times to buy we've seen in the last couple decades.  You could argue that we should wait a few more months to a year to make sure that we've hit the low, but regardless, moving forward, we should look at the situation as a situation of hope!   Why?   Because this is the type of situation they are talking about when they say "Buy Low, Sell High."   Don't run for cover or let the media and the economic uncertainty rule your decision making.   Break free!  

Ten Rules for Creating Wealth

A few rules I've learned about creating wealth:

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Rule # 1:   Decide what you need the money for and designate it as your goal.  (If you're working for something you want, you'll be more dedicated to it.)

Rule # 2:   It's never too late to start.  

Rule # 3:   You can always start fresh every day.  (If you didn't succeed in a venture, it was because you did something wrong.   Determine what that was and don't repeat it in your new venture - which you should force yourself to complete, without allowing your failure/poor performance to dictate your future.)
Rule # 4:  Spend less than you earn.   (It's surprsing how many of us do not do this.)
Rule # 5:  Borrow only for good debt - which means don't borrow for bad debt, unless you can profit from it anyways somehow.
Rule # 6:   Don't pay a lot to learn something from someone.   If you're taking a course, make sure the fee is reasonable or even inexpensive (<$1000 for example   If you're paying anything more than that for a course or mentoring, then you are subsidizing someone else's great business idea.)
Rule # 7:   Have a set time of day or week to work on 'getting wealthy' and stick to it.   (If you consider it a part-time job you've committed to, say every Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, then you will grow wealthy more quickly.)
Rule # 8:   Create to income streams to generate more money, then allocate that money to your investment goals.  
Rule # 9:  Understand that there are no secrets and that it doesn't work overnight.   You have to fine-tune your thinking constantly over time until it's right and until it affects your decision making all the time.  Building wealth takes time and learning how to build wealth is a process.
Rule # 10:  Remember the best advice is free!   If someone is telling you something, you only have to question their motives and understand if they are legitimate.   (If you are paying some top dollar for a course, their motive may be to help you get rich, but it also may be the $4000 you just paid them to tell you stuff you can learn from each other for free, or for small amounts.  I also once met someone who spends a lot of time counselling other investors in real estate investment, but doesn't actually own any property!   So remember to ensure legitimacy.)
Follow the rules and financial freedom will come!

Cashflow, Cashflow, Cashflow!

DO THE NUMBERS!

I'd like to re-iterate the importance of doing the numbers on your prospective property purchase, as I've heard a few people saying they know it cashflows, but can't produce a spreadsheet to prove it.   In my opinion, and believe me, I've learned my lesson in this area, properties that seem like they would cashflow don't necessarily cashflow.  And that's fine, provided you're buying for equity (and that's your strategy) AND you can support the negative cash flow in your overall picture.  Notice that I've attempted to make an impact on readers by dramatically highlighting the key phrases.  

CONCENTRATE ON THE BIG PICTURE

It's also important to consider the "BIG PICTURE".   To do that, the best suggestion I have is to buy a large piece of bristol board, (like you did in Grade six when you had to do that project on the Native Peoples of Canada) and plot it all out in boxes.   What do you have?   Colour code the cash flow properties one colour (blue - solid/boring, but cashflow productive) and the equity properties another colour (red - to signify hot/lucrative, but dangerous).   Make the bristoal board total picture match your goal.  If your goal is to purchase three cashflow properties by December, then you should include three empty boxes, which should 'bug you" as you look at them sitting empty every day - right beside your desk or hanging by your bedroom lamp, where you'll see it all the time.    This simple exercise will help you: identify your goals, write them down (in visual format), see what's missing visually, and constantly try to fill in the missing pieces.   It will keep you on track when you're looking at investments, because it'll make you think (while you're hearing people talk about great deals) - "does it fill in my empty box bugging me on the bristol board beside my desk?"

A Warning With A Lot of Notice

DO I STAND CORRECTED? 

In one of my newsletters of the past, I included the following sentence: " Since everyone is saying that real estate is about to take a major plunge downwards..."  then I went on to warn people (like I'm warning myself) to maybe consider hiding in cashflow properties, and less in equity purchases.  Quickly thereafter, I received a chastizing email saying that my comments were terribly irresponsible; there was also a link to a CMHC article about the sellers' markets returning to a balanced state!   (In retrospect, what were they thinking to write an article like that when clearly the writing was on the wall?)   The email went on to say that my comments could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.   And, I do believe in those types of things as well.  I know, like the movie "The Secret" (www.thesecret.tv - if you haven't watched it, you've missed a great message) that our beliefs, ideas, and values become our reality because they drive our daily decisions.  
The only problem is that I don't believe I was prophesizing.   I think I was reflecting on the market changes in the US, which have historically been followed by market changes right here in Canada because of our major trade connection and inter-dependence.   Remember Pierre Elliot Trudeau's famous comment about the mouse and the elephant?   Who has greater power?   I  think it stands to reason that we are about to be impacted by the growing and impending recession in the US.   This is not a prophecy:  Michigan is in a disastrous condition and Florida is becoming known as the "Foreclosure State".  Several other states have seen huge decreases of real estate equity. 
At the same time, I believe that we will not drop dramatically and have as many problems as the US is having and is about to have, because we haven't been as aggressive as the US in the sub-prime mortgage market.  As Canadians, our ideas, beliefs, and values are somewhat less aggressive, and from a business perspective, when times are good, this may not been viewed as avant-guarde, (or old fashioned, as even the new 40 year amortization raises eyebrows here) but during times of recession, the offsetting value is that we will be somewhat insulated from the degree of negative drop. 
Although I'm no economics major, and certainly don't profess to be anybody important in this great debate, I have to wonder why the Bank Of Canada is even considering dropping the rates.   After all, I know a few basic things:  
  1. There is a huge sub-prime mortgage crisis occurring in the US; 
  2. The US will suffer from the 3 trillion + spent on the war effort for decades;
  3. We are succumbing more and more to the manufacturing prowess of the emerging markets;
  4. The trade interdependency between the US and Canada will affect us more than it will them, and lastly;
  5. The downturn in the economy already happening will negatively affect the Canadian economy because of its interdependency.   
So, I guess I agree that while some ideas can become self-fulfilling prophecies, other thoughts and ideas can be reflective of changing trends in the markets, and should be serving as warnings to us all.   Current investors need to be aware, in my opinion, more than ever before, that this is a time for cash flow purchases - not risky equity deals.  If the market continues to drop, your cash flow properties will protect you and provide more or less the same income, regardless of whether the value of the property goes higher or lower. 
This did prove to be a correct summation of the recessionary tendency of the time.  Now, there isn't anyone who wouldn't agree that 'hindsight is 20/20', but it wasn't too hard to see this one coming!

Buying in Florida

WHAT TO WATCH FOR IF YOU'RE CONSIDERING PURCHASING IN FLORIDA

Property Taxes
Property taxes are sky high for foregin investors. The current taxes on listings are NOT what you will be paying - ask what taxes YOU will be paying after purchase. You may be in for a big shock.   For example, in Florida, the state's Homestead Act and "Save our Homes" amendment gives permanent residents of Florida the first $25,000 of the assessed value of their home tax free and caps the rest of their property tax at three per cent", but this advantage isn't conferred upon visitors - who end up paying much of the difference. 
Property Insurance
Property insurance is also sky high, IF you can get it. In  Florida, for example, tax and insurance alone are more than a lot of mortgage payments. Talk to Canadians (or anyone) who has been a snowbird for a few years = many are desperately trying to dump their properties here for this reason.   Escalating problems with condos near the water and without hurricane proof windows (i.e. anything not built recently) is sometimes very difficult to insure - some purchasers finding that insurance is impossible to get. 
Condo, Association and Homeowner Fees
These fees, which are known as a variety of different things in the US, can and DO change without notice. When insurance for the development goes up, you get hit with an fee to cover it. Hurricane damage to the development (even if you have none) - you get hit with a fee. 
Residual Cash Requirements for Cash-Strapped Municipalities, Counties, Insurance Agencies, Condo Association and Banks
One particularly intelligent and forward seeing comment at one of our meetings was about what was going to happen to the tax base for municipalities if a large majority of the properties were being place in positions of default?   It stands to reason that the costs will end up being shared by the remaining howeowners who will be left holding the bag.   This comment should be considered possibly being applied across the board, i.e. what about a condo development only receiving 1/2 of the fees it had grown to expect from past years?
Neigbours and Emptiness
In a development where flippers bought property, and are now desperate and unable to sell (with the 18 months of stock holding up in Florida, this seems likely), homes and condos will sit empty or be rented to anyone available.  This means you could end up with neighbours who don't maintain the property, seedy renters as neighbours, or lots of vacant houses, which for vacation property could be dangerous.
Immigration and Border Changes
Immigration and border-crossing policies are changing, so make sure you know what restrictions you'll face. As of 2007, Canadian citizens who spend less than 183 days in the US, calculated over a period covering the current year and two previous years (where even a few hours in the US on one date is counted as a day), are considered non-resident aliens, but landed immigrants residing in Canada experience greater restrictions, some countries of origin require the landed immigrant to get a US visa if being a permanent resident in Canada has been less than 10 years. Longer stays involve a wide range of complications depending on the state involved.
Income Tax
Selling real estate in Florida is easier than in North Carolina or Georgia since Florida has no state income tax. If you are a non-resident in Florida you may be subject to holding tax if the selling price is more than US$300,000. To pay this tax, each seller must file a US tax return—another expense. Then, there's capital gain on the profit you make. You'll pay tax on this to the US government in US dollars and also to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), with a credit for US tax already paid.
If your Florida property is not your principal residence, you will pay much higher property taxes than locals, capital gains and estate taxes if you sell. One way around this is to place your sunbelt property in a Canadian limited liability company which will pay capital gain but not U.S. estate taxes. Also, rental properties held by foreigners must file separate annual tax returns to the U.S. tax officials. This is an annual cost which must be included.
Another tax trap that many couples fall into—buying in one spouse's name, expecting to switch ownership to the other spouse later as easily as they could in Canada. However, in the US, this name change may be subject to gift tax, which starts at about 18% and may go as high as 48%. This expensive mistake is one example of how, although buying seems easy, problems may materialize on selling or when the owner dies.
More on the tax implications in this article:
Estate Taxes
U.S. estate tax, which kicks in after death, applies to non-residents who own property in U.S. and taxes property at 45 per cent if the deceased's worldwide holdings are worth more than $2 million - which is the trap that a lot of people get into is that they buy U.S. real estate without knowing about the estate taxes.  Some accountants suggest having outside of the U.S. owned by one spouse and assets in the U.S. owned by another spouse, such that the spouse that owns the U.S. property gets the worldwide estate under the $2 million."
Taking Title
Most Canadians treat buying in the US as if they are buying a property  in Canada, but buying in the US is very different.  Depending on which state is involved, there are about 6 ways to title property, each with different implications for taxes on sale or at death, and on how to go through probate. Many estate issues go into a decision of how to take title [when you buy]. In a state like Arizona there is common property, so that's two more choices for title. 
Making an Offer
Prices are so low now and inventory is so high, it is really a buyer's market.   Diane Francis (the National Post) offers this suggestions for making an offer on a Florida property:  find out the 2006 value, divide in half - and offer that price.
I hope these tidbits satiate your interest in purchasing Florida property, as well as warning you about the possible pitfalls.   Remember, investing in property can be a windfall with the appropriate research and tempered understanding of the market, its fluctuations and our correct understanding of where we are in any market.   This is probably the single best moment during the last 30 years or so to buy property in Florida.   Take advantage of it, but take care in your decision-making.
For general information about buying US property to retire to, or as a Canadian, check out the Canadian Snowbirds Association's website for lots of great information.   They've been around for along time and have an excellent knowledge base: http://www.snowbirds.org/ 

Formula for Success

NAPOLEON HILL’S FORMULA FOR SUCCESS

Here is an excerpt from Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich regarding the FORMULA FOR SUCCESS:

"The application of this principle may be made through a simple arrangement of positive thought impulses stated in writing, memorized, and repeated, until they become a part of the working equipment of the subconscious faculty of your mind." Commit to this formula and you are bound to have success:

FIRST: I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my definite purpose in life; therefore I demand of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I here and now promise to render such action.

SECOND: I realize the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action, and gradually transform themselves into physical reality; therefor, I will concentrate my thoughts for 30 minutes daily, upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to become, thereby creating in my mind a clear mental picture.

THIRD: I know through the principle of autosuggestion, any desire that I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of attaining the object back of it; therefore, I will devote ten minutes daily to demanding of myself the develpment of self-confidence.

FOURTH: I have clearly written down a description of my DEFINITE CHEIF AIM in life, and I will never stop trying, until I shall have developed sufficient self-confidence for its attainment.

FIFTH: I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice; therefore I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use, and the co-operation of other people. I will induce others to serve me, because of my willingness to serve others. I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism, by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me sucess. I will cause others to believe in me, bcause I will believe in them, and in myself.

I WILL SIGN MY NAME TO THIS FORMULA, COMMIT IT TO MEMORY, AND REPEAT IT ALOUD ONCE A DAY, WITH FULL FAITH THAT IT WILL GRADUALLY INFLUENCE MY THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS SO THAT I WILL BECOME A SELF-RELIANT AND SUCCESSFUL PERSON.

Thanks to Joan Hing-King from www.helpingeachother.ca or www.justaskjoan.ca for this synopsis.

The Richest Man In Babylon - Rewire Your Thinking

I  thought I'd get a little historical and philosophical for a moment.  Here are some gems from Clason's 1926 book called The Richest Man in Babylon:
  1. "I decided that if I was to achieve what I desired, time and study would be required."  (p.11)
  2. "I found the road to wealth when I decided that a part of all I earned was mine to keep."  (p. 13)
  3. "Every gold piece you save is a slave to work for you.   Every copper it earns is its child that can also earn for you."  (p.14)
  4. "Each time I was paid I took one from each ten pieces of copper and hid it away.  And strange as it may seem, I was no shorter of funds than before." (p.15)
  5. "A man's wealth is not in the coins he carries in his purse; it is the income he buildeth, the golden stream that continually floweth into his purse and keepeth it always bulging."  (p.32)
  6. "Study carefully before parting with thy treasure...(money) be not misled by thine own romantic desires to make wealth rapidly."  (p.34)
  7. "Be not too confident of thine own wisdom in entrusting thy treasures to the possible pitfalls of investments.   Better by far to consult those experienced in handling money for profit...such advice is freely given for the asking and may readily possess a value equal in gold to the sum thou considerest investing." (p.34)
  8. "I do recommend that every man own the roof that sheltereth him and his." (p.36)
  9. "Provide in advance for the needs of thy growing age and the protection of thy family."  (p.39)
  10. "Preceding accomplishment must be desire.  Thy desires must be strong and definite."  (p.41)

If you get a chance to read this little book written after World War I, you'll be happy you did.  

Wasn't that an amazing group of gems?    They're exactly the same suggestions for attaining wealth offered by today's top financial gurus:
1.   Learning about financial wealth.
2.   Pay yourself first.
3.   Make your money work for you.
4.   Save a little from each paycheque and you won't even miss it.
5.   Think Cash Flow!
6.   Don't go for any of the get rich quick schemes.
7.   Ask for and follow the advice of financially independent people.
8.   Own your own home.
9.   Plan for your retirement.
10. You can do anything you want if you so desire. 
Some of these gems of advice seem a lot easier to do than they really are.  For example, how many of us can say we have adequately provided for our retirement - or for that matter, how many of us actually pay ourselves first? There's always a lot to learn, but better late than never!

Investment Resolutions!

Have you made any Investment Resolutions?   If you haven't yet done that, why not consider these?
  1. Wake up every morning and write out the sentence:  "I am an investor.   What will I do today to confirm that fact? 
  2. Attend a meeting each WEEK to further your investment network, connections, and most important - your knowledge base. 
  3. Play Cashflow at least once a week: it trains your mind to think about collecting assets instead of spending money to acquire doodads.
  4. Purchase at least X number of properties by X Time Frame.   (Create your goal and work towards it.)
  5. Buy, or at least offer to purchase, at least one property per month this calendar year.
  6. Travel to another town or city outside of your comfort zone and meet with a new agent at least once a month. 
  7. Read one new investment book at least once a month.

 

March 06, 2009

Recession Beater!

AN OPEN LETTER DURING THIS RECESSION TO ALL CLUB MEMBERS AND INVESTORS

If you have studied the path to financial freedom, you will know that it consists of these two things:
  • Lowered Expenses
  • Increase Income
And you will also know that freedom is attained only when your Independent Cashflow Income (money you don't have to actively work for) > (greater than)  Monthly Expenses.  
We have all been studying how to find cashflow properties to increase our income, and all who have worked on this and stay focussed on cashflow properties have been successful to varying degrees.  What we sometimes forget is that it is even easier to spend some time reducing your expenses:  this will equal the same thing.   Imagine reducing your expenses by $400/month just by spending one Saturday afternoon doing some work.   Did you get that?   Spending one Saturday afternoon reducing your monthly expenses will net you a $400/month reduction on your expenses!   Isn't that the same as locating a cashflow property that will increase your income by the same amount?   Only, this is a lot easier and you're less likely to be rebuked by your local mortgage broker or banker!  
Here are some tips to reduce your monthly expenses, so that you can increase the rate at which you become financially free:
  • Before buying anything new or at retail prices, check out sites where you can buy or find stuff much more inexpensively than retail:  www.kijiji.ca, www.ebay.ca or www.craigslist.ca
  • Learn how to monetize a website to give yourself independent income without quitting your day job.  For example, you could start a blog, or website, publish it free to search engines, grow an email list and start selling your wares.   You could even create a simple website called: "EducationalBooks.com", (less than $50 for a domain name and three months hosting at www.yahoo.com) to Amazon as an Associate (for free), set up a Store (simple to do at www.amazon.ca) and load it up to your website.  Begin earning money quickly!   Use www.paypal.com to effortlessly and securely get people to 'buy stuff' from your site.  
  • If you can't build a website, or are afraid of the job, get a website developer to do it for you:  www.cheapinternetwebsite.com.  At this website, you can get an inexpensive website for $500 or a bit more complicated website for $1000 - no extra fees except the domain registration and monthly hosting - which can be as little as $10/month.  
  • Reduce your banking fees by switching to some of the no fees accounts from www.pcfinancial.com,   http://www.sbicanada.com, www.hsbc.ca
  • Check out the following for great interest rates for your parked money... www.icici.com, www.hsbc.ca.
  • Transfer your credit card balances (with high paying interest rates) to other companies for drastically reduced rates.   (Capital One Mastercard and TD Emerald are good examples  of cards with great rates.)
  • Call all your credit card companies and ask for a reduction in interest rate!  If they refuse, ask to speak to a supervisor and say you'll switch over to the company who's ad you just received in the mail promising .009% financing for 6 months, then 10% after that (or whatever)... you'll be surprised!
  • Analyze your credit cards by lining them up and organizing them by interest rate (after you've phoned each one to inquiry on what you're paying).  Write up a table with the amount owing on each one, and the interest rate - in order of interest rate - highest first.  Pay the minimum on every other credit card (but put them ALL in ziploc bags - see below), but pay as much as you can on the first highest interest card.  Once that's paid off, move down the list.
  • While we're on credit card spending, a tip I overheard from some wise person goes like this:   fill a ziploc bag with water and insert your credit card, close and insert in freezer.  Let it freeze.  Next time you want to use it, you'll have to wait until it thaws out.   If it does thaw out, hopefully you've had a chance to think about whether you really want your purchase or not.
  • Reduce your insurance costs by checking out the following sites:  www.insurancehotline.com and www.kanetix.ca as well as www.pcfinancial.com!
  • Reduce your long distance payments by NEVER using your Bell line to dial out of town!   Buy phone cards for $5 and yap as long as you like across the world.   Or get a bulk rate organized with your provider.   Try www.skype.com for free or VOIP plans.   PC International and MagicJack are also cheap phone options.
  • Call your cable company and get rid of all the extras on your bill!   Drop as many features as you can.  Do we really need 500 channels?   (And if you watch a lot of TV, cut it off completely....then there will be no excuse for having no time for your part-time real estate career!    Or check out the new "Free To Air" receivers to cut off hundreds of dollars in costs yearly.  
  • Call your cell phone provider and drop features and get a better rate.  If you've tried that, contact Hilary (a club member) and have her reduce your cell phone bills immediately at www.savecell.ca.  
  • Contact club member rstaubin60@hotmail.com if you want to find out how to pay $20 and get $100 worth of gas coupons!  While we're on gas, don't drive an extra 10 kilometres for a few cents less.   Fill up when you see reduced costs (don't wait till Friday of a long weekend to fill up).   Cehck out the points from Real Canadian Super Store or www.canadiantire.com to get points for gas.
  • With home heating, there are many websites that offer tips to reduce your heating footprint.  Check out www.energyshop.com  for tips on how to lower the temperature on your water heater a few degrees to save hundreds over the course of the year, switch to an automatic thermostat to reduce energy consumption overnight (when you're sleeping anyways), switch to energy bulbs, insulate your hot water lines, use low usage showerheads, and more.
  • Shop at outlet stores like the ones on Orfus Road in Toronto, or Cookstown near Barrie, or the outlet malls near Niagara Falls.   Get the same nice stuff - just pay a LOT less.
  • Take another look at your life.   Decide where you spend money frivolously and remove the problem.   For example, if you shop a lot for frozen foods, try "Almost Perfect" in Toronto instead of the grocery store.  Or, if you buy paper cups for your  office coffee, go the dollar store instead and get 20 plain white ceramic mugs for $20 bucks and never pay another cent in styrofoam fees!   If you truly scruitinize your purchasing habits, you will find hundreds of ways to reduce your expenses.
  • Don't forget "The Latte Factor" by the famous author of www.finishrich.com.  Discover what your Latte Factor is and do something about it today!   (If you're not convinced, check out the example on his website where $30/week on coffees and muffins will equal $950,000 after 40 years!)   Your own personal Latte Factor is really worth figuring out!
  • Go through everything in your house that you don't need and photograph it.   Upload to your computer and then create a free ad in www.kijiji.ca  to sell it off.   (Wouldn't it be great to get an extra $1k in cash just from the extra stuff lying around your house that you don't need and don't use?)
  • If you have an extra room in your home (or a vacant basement), rent it out!  If you're concerned with renters, try one of the international students hosting programs, especially if you're close to subways or transportation.
  • Use Points Programs from various retailers:  www.pcpoints.ca/en/index.asp?refId=topnav, www.airmiles.ca, www.aeroplan.ca.  These are great ways to save money.   I hardly ever pay for a movie anymore.  I just redeem airmiles points for a movie certificate and go with that.
  • Barter your goods and services and reduce your cash outlay but still get what you want!   (www.barterforfree.com, www.swapsity.ca, www.barternetworkltd.com, www.itex.ca, www.oktrade.ca ).  These are great places to conserve cash, get rid of stuff you don't need anymore, and generate additional income! 
  • Coupons or Freebies:   Check out www.Attractionsontario.ca for freebies in Ontario theme parks, museums, and galleries.  Or check out www.save.ca, www.canadianfreestuff.com, www.bestbuys.cawww.shoestringshopping.com, www.frugalshopper.cawww.free-samples.ca,  for additional savings. 
  • If you'll be travelling, google the internet for cheap flights (www.redtag.ca or www.cheapoair.com) to save hundreds on flights!
  • Reduce your interest payments on your mortgage by renegotiating your mortgage now that it's gone down so far - even if you're in a closed mortgage situation.   The savings will far outweigh the cost.  If you can, with the savings you just renegotiated, turn around and ADD 20% to your monthly mortgage payment to pay down your mortgage even faster! 
  • Check out the following websites for more money saving websites:   www.moneysavingmoose.ca 
  • Make sure you work daily to beat the effects of the recession; you'll come out wiser (and richer) on the other end!