Save A Few Hours, Be More Productive

It seems like there are never enough days in the week, let alone hours in the day. Between work, children, and related responsibilities, a day can be over before you know it. You may have gotten everything done, but now there is no time left for you to concentrate on what you really enjoy. 

Here are four ideas that can help to save a few hours each week which you can then devote towards things you would rather be doing: 

COOK AND FREEZE 

Depending on what you’re cooking, it does not take all that much additional time to make more than you would regularly need. Doing this will allow you to put some in the freezer for later use, thus saving you having to cook from scratch every day of the week. 

PRACTICE NEATNESS 

Hate cleaning? Most people do. You can save yourself time here through the simple task of putting things away after you are done with them. Don’t throw them on the floor, leave them on the counter, or fail to toss them in the garbage. You’ll just have to do this later…and for many objects at once. 

SHOPPING EFFICIENCY 

Always remember to have a shopping list with you so that you don’t waste time wandering around the store trying to remember what you need. Also, it helps to go to a big box store where you can buy several types of things at once, rather than going to separate retailers for each thing. 

PUT THAT PHONE DOWN 

You would probably be aghast if you knew how much time you wasted each week looking at your phone, social media, and other things on the internet that do not really help you in any way. Limit your phone and computer time to just an hour or so a day, if possible. 

 

What the Interest Rate Hike Means for Mortgage-Holders

On July 12, 2017, the Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate from 0.50% to 0.75%. Canada’s five biggest banks immediately followed suite, matching the 0.25% increase in their prime interest rates.

The move came as no surprise to economists, who have been predicting a rate increase for some time now in response to record-high levels of consumer spending, housing prices, and household debt in Canada. But for many ordinary Canadians, who haven’t seen rates go up since 2010, the hike is alarming.

Some of you will have already felt the effects of the change. Others are still wondering if (and how) it will impact their day-to-day lives. We’ve examined how the new interest rate will impact two key areas: mortgages and the value of the Canadian dollar, and individuals like you.

What Does the Interest Rate Do?

As Canada’s central bank, the Bank of Canada sets the overnight interest rate. This is the rate banks pay to make one-day loans to each other. When the overnight interest rate goes up, banks usually increase their prime interest rate as well – which is what happened this week.

A bank’s prime interest rate is the rate banks use to calculate a variety of loans, including variable-rate mortgages and lines of credit. The five biggest Canadian banks (TD Canada Trust, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, and CIBC) all had a rate of 2.70% before the change. In response to the Bank of Canada’s change, they bumped the rate up to 2.95%.

That means bank customers with loans based on the prime rate will see their interest payments go up immediately.

Value of the Canadian Dollar

After the announcement went public, the value of the loonie shot up from 77.40 to 78.70 cents on the American dollar. That’s the highest the dollar has been since August of 2016. Some economists, including Adam Button of Forexlive.com and Scotiabank strategist Eric Theoret, predict it could hit 80 cents this year.

The cause? Confidence, according to Theoret. Though markets saw the rate increase coming, people were surprised by the Bank of Canada governor’s confidence in the move. This, along with positive economic data, shows the Canadian economy doing well and recovering from the recent oil-slump.

Mortgages and Housing Market

As mentioned, people with variable-rate mortgages will see an immediate uptick in the amount of interest they pay to lenders. The change could impact those with fixed-rate mortgages as well, as they could see higher rates when it comes time to renew.

For some, the change will be difficult to cope with. 0.25% is no small increase for those who are already struggling to pay their mortgages. It will be especially difficult for would-be house flippers who purchased a second or third home at the height of the housing boom in hope of a quick turn-around, seeing as the housing market has cooled since the spring.

But that’s not the only way the interest rate hike could impact housing. The other effect is harder to predict, but sure to be felt: a shift in consumer sentiment.

Preet Banerjee, the author of Stop Over-Thinking Your Money!, predicts the rate hike will change how Canadian consumers think about spending and borrowing.

“Because interest rates have fallen, and because borrowing money has become normalized, this could represent a real problem for them because they’ve gotten used to living month-to-month, paycheque-to-paycheque as a lot of people do, with very low costs of interest,” says Banerjee.

Right now, an alarming number of Canadians are comfortable carrying high debt loads and saving little to no money each month. Banerjee argues the interest rate hike could serve as a wake-up call.

This could only accelerate the recent dip in house prices, as consumers take a step back and wait for the right time to jump into the market. With real estate and financial services making up 20% of the Canadian economy, even small shifts in the market could have drastic effects on our economy overall.

Are Drive-Ins a Wise Investment?

Drive-ins were incredibly prolific in the 1950s. The combination of readily available and affordable cars, and teenagers looking to get away from their parents led to these outdoor cinemas enjoying considerable popularity.

However, the drive-in’s heyday started to decline in the ’70s and by the mid-80s, they were closing in droves. Home video caused many people to stay home, but one of the major considerations was the value of the land. As many towns expanded outwards, the drive-ins were no longer located far away. That increased the value of those particular plots, which were soon worth far when converted into shopping centers.

Drive-ins will never experience that kind of popularity again, but they have been getting more press lately, thanks to nostalgia and the fact that it is easier and cheaper to take a family to a drive-in than a multiplex.

As of this year, there are only 338 drive-ins left in the United States. A few decades back, it was not so unusual to have more than one in a single town; now you can drive through large sections of the country and not find a single one. In addition to fighting against the many forms of entertainment readily available, a good number could not afford the recent switch to digital projection and closed.

So, is a drive-in a good business investment? There are a few left that enjoy steady, large crowds, but generally, there are a lot safer ways for you to invest your money. If you do decide to open one, choose an area that is well away from expanding populations centers, but not so far away that people do not want to make the drive. Families tend to make up the lion’s share of patrons these days, so exhibitors tend to focus on booking movies that attract this demographic.

More Developments for Sears Canada

In the week since my previous post on Sears Canada, more news has come to light. While the majority shareholders in the company mull over their options, word has surfaced that the company’s pension fund may become a victim of the court-ordered restructuring.

The company announced that retirement benefits have been suspended for their employees. In addition to the loss of finances, the discontinuation of regular pension fund payout levels would likely also mean the termination of retiree health and life insurance benefits. With the pension plan currently underfunded, there is a very real chance this could occur. And you thought the loss of 59 locations, many jobs, and no termination packages was as bad as this could get?

There is something particularly despicable about robbing people of their pension benefits. The lure of a pension and financial freedom in your golden years causes many people to stay with a firm longer (sometimes much longer) than they would otherwise. That sort of employee loyalty is gained under false pretenses when you fail to protect their pensions in times of company financial strife. Sears’ problems are not the fault of their employees, but of systematic mismanagement in the C-suite. Will those men and women suffer in the same way? Probably not.

The law does not help the retirees’ case. They are considered to be the equivalent of unsecured creditors and that means their claims rank after those of banks and other secured creditors. Likely that means while they will get something, it will fall far short of the benefits they expected to receive until the end of their lives.

Such news is especially unfortunate for people this age because many are no longer in sufficient health to get a new job. This can lead to depression and anxiety woes, on top of the money concerns involved.

 

Sears: The End of an Era for Big Department Stores?

You will no doubt have heard by now that Sears is struggling. The retail behemoth has regularly posted losses over the past few years and things are no better for its Canadian cousin. That became all too clear last month when Sears Canada announced that it would be closing 59 locations in this country and laying off 2900 employees.

This seems inconceivable to people of a certain age. Long before the days of Walmart and Costco dominance, Eaton’s and Sears were the places for your clothing and electronics needs. These stores were such mainstays in Canadian retail, it was not uncommon for someone to start their careers at one and stay there for many years.

However, the internet has changed many things in our lives and the world of retail certainly falls into that category. Sites like Amazon not only offer lower prices, due to their lack of physical locations, but they also deliver the convenience of never having to leave your home. About the only downside is having to wait longer to get your things, versus picking them up at a store, but Amazon’s forthcoming drone fleet may well reduce that to mere minutes.

Of course, stores still have some advantages. For those of us who like to browse, they offer much to hold our attention. I don’t always know what I want to buy people as gifts; surfing around on the net always takes me longer than simply walking around a mall. Also, when it comes to clothes, I like to try them on and immediately know how they look and whether they fit properly.

However, it would seem that convenience is the primary goal for people in this busy day and age. Sears is not officially dead yet, but it has reached the life support stage. I will be sorry to see it go.

Stu pendousmat at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Whatever Happened to the Friendly Neighborhood Pharmacy?

We used to have one in my hometown. There was a time, when I young, that we went there often. It can’t be that long ago — I’m not that old.

It was on the eastern corner of a tiny, 60’s-style mall, next to a variety store and two stores down from a Chinese restaurant. The shelves were stacked floor-to-ceiling with remedies, bandages, and other ordinary medical supplies. The pharmacist’s counter sat parallel to the entrance on the other side of the cramped but cozy store.

Despite the clutter, no one ever had trouble finding what they needed. The pharmacist and her assistants were always there to guide you to the right aisle, and happy to answer whatever questions you had about your prescription.

I never felt anything but welcome there, even as a shy little kid. When my mother said I was scared about taking an antibiotic, the pharmacist offered us a cute, green medicine cup in the shape of an alligator. When our family doctor passed away, she referred us to a new doctor who had just opened a practice in the area.

Of course, the place is long gone. It was replaced years ago by a PharmaPlus, soon joined by a Rexall just down the street. The local grocery store vanished around the same time, and in its place is a sprawling Sobeys with its own pharmacy counters.

The aisles in these stores are wider. The selection of items is broader. But I’ve never had the pharmacist there offer to help me find what I’m looking for. I’ve never thought to ask them for advice — they’re too busy.

Unfortunately, when it comes time for independent pharmacy owners to sell, it’s not always easy to find a buyer who wants to keep things the way they were. Many enlist the help of a pharmacy broker, who help people buy and sell a pharmacy. This often results in the business changing so much that it hardly resembles the friendly business that built years of good will in the community.

There’s value in a neighborhood pharmacy. Fortunately, I’m not the only person who thinks that way. That’s why independent pharmacies can still survive by taking the traditional approach. They can still offer the kind of one-to-one, pharmacist-to-patient relationships I remember. Customer service and counselling is what sets independent pharmacies apart from their towering competitors.

Companies like Colony Drug are helping to keep independent pharmacies alive. Unlike a pharmacy broker, Colony commits to keeping the same staff, branding, and policies when it buys an independent pharmacy.

3 Types Of Business Ownership – What’s Required

Here, you will get a short intro to each of these business types so that you can identify which one will work best for you.

Minimal Liability Corporations is a structure where a business shows both the qualities and qualities of a basic partnership which of a basic corporation. This is typically represented by the initials of ‘LLC’. When a small company selects this particular type of business structure, they are able to take pleasure in the high-end of advantages when it pertains to taxes that need to be paid to the Federal Government under which they operate. The benefits in this area are much like the ones that are experienced when one experiences a structure that is considered to be a partnership. Additionally, the LLC is able to make the most of that they get protection from cases of individual liability. This is commonly a particular that is shown in a basic corporation.

Tips and Tricks About 3 Types Of Business Ownership

Sole Proprietorship takes place when an individual engages in a small business structure in which they own all by themselves. Business has to be unincorporated in order to be thought about for this kind of business structure. In this business structure, you are expected to properly handle your spending and profit and report it to the Internal Revenue Service at the end of the year. You are responsible for managing other tax liabilities, like Medicare and Social Security.

3 Types Of Business Ownership Update:

S Corporations are those in which the structure allows the owners to be exempt from specific types of taxes, and other monetary liabilities. Companies that choose this type of structure for their small business need to work to guarantee that they thoroughly track their spending, revenues, basic income, and any other kinds of gains. There are some gains that need to be considered when it concerns tax liability, but the majority of are not when it concerns S corporations for the small business.

Really?

When more than one individual has actually an invested stake in the ownership of the business, partnerships happen. These kinds of business structures are typically viewed as ideal due to the fact that they are more cost effective. Tax liability is shared in between each individual that takes part in the arrangement for the small company partnership. Everyone is held personally responsible for the affairs of themselves, along with their partners in the small business.

Partnerships – Partnerships offer a business structure for individuals who wish to join together to run a business and own.

Selecting the ideal structure for your business can be tough; nevertheless, putting in the time to research your choices will show to be very handy.