Rumor Has It...

Growing up we assume the different aspects of our life are separated or compartmentalized by society.  We couldn't be more wrong.

Social Stigmas 


When we look at people or people look at us assumptions are made - good or bad, right or wrong.  Everyone forms an opinion about another person based solely on sight.  Add to the sight assumptions - rumors and your have a volatile mix of misinformation.

Here are some more common stigmas:
  • She goes to church with her parents = a 'good' girl
  • He got into a fight at school = trouble, always looking for a fight
  • His dad's a drunk = the kids will be unambitious drunks too
  • Her parents are really smart = she is smart
You get the idea.

These are simple assumptions based solely on the kids' parents and the whole 'apple doesn't fall far from the tree' mentality.  How accurate are they? Not even close.

How Social Stigmas Affect You

Social stigmas are out there.  They are an automatic response in every person.  Maybe its a throwback to our primitive ancestors when instantly accessing another individuals intentions was a life and death skill. 

Many people don't even realize they are making assumptions or if they do they make a conscious effort to ignore them.  You can't avoid being immediately categorized upon initial contact.  What you can do is make a good first impression.

How to Limit the Effects of Social Stigmas

As you grow older, rumors tend to play a bigger role in social stigmas than pedigree.  Your best option then is to make sure the rumors are more positive than negative.  So how do you do that:
  • Realize everything you do is being observed and judged by someone.  From where you live to what you do for a living.  How you treat other people to how you interact with animals.  Where you go on vacation to how you spend your non-working hours.  It is all being observed, shared and judged.
  • Nothing ever goes away on the Internet.  Everything put on the Internet is there forever so be very careful about what you post.  Those drunk photos or nude selfies might find their way to your boss or possibly even the spouse you never had at the time (think 10 years later).
  • Be real.  Be you.  If you are happy with who you are then be that person all the time.  The rumors will reflect this person.
 Actions always speak louder than words.  The person you present to the world through photos, writing, speaking and interactions will ultimately overwrite the rumors.  Just remember, you can't hide.

Ultimately the Internet can be your best friend or worst enemy depending on how you use it.  It is becoming more and more common for a prospective employer to do a 'quick' Google search on their applicants.  What will they find if they were to type in your name?  This article: Can Social Media Affect Your Credit Score? has more great but disturbing information on this topic.

In the end you are who you are.  You will always be gossiped about and assumptions will always be made.  All you can really do is quit feeding the fire.

Rebates - Scams or Money In Your Pocket?

Everybody likes a deal.  That's why rebates work so well.   Consumers walk into a store, if there are two competitive products side by side for a similar price but one item offers a mail-in rebate which item do you think ends up in the cart?  You got it - the one offering the rebate.

Unfortunately, not all rebates are created equal.  Some rebate applications are long, complicated processes.  Some rebates come with unexpected fees and expiration dates.  Some rebates don't come at all.

Be Aware

The truth is stores don't want to give you a rebate on anything.  It costs them money.  So to help limit the number of rebates actually handed out a store relies on a common human trait - laziness. 

Long, complicated forms that require accompanying receipts and barcodes sometimes even a small fee to cover shipping prove to be major deterrents for a lot of people.  For those of us that persevere there are other issues:

·      Expiry dates.  Read the fine print on the rebate offer.  Often an item will sit on the shelf long after the expiry date on the rebate offer.  If the only reason you are buying that product is the rebate make sure you have time to claim it.
·      Hidden fees.  If you have to pay a shipping fee, processing fee or user fee then is the rebate really worth it? 
·      The delivery method.  The trend seems to be leaning away from issuing checks for rebates - the preferred delivery seems to be debit cards.   This could be a problem if a store won't accept it as part of a combined payment.  For example, you use the remaining balance on your card plus cash to make a purchase.

Not All Rebates Are Scams

While it's true you have to be a smart consumer and do your due diligence when it comes to rebates its important to note that not all rebates are out to cheat you.  Many big and small businesses use rebates as a marketing tool with no malicious intent at all. 

You can feel secure in the fact that if you follow the rebate application requirements to the tee you will get your promised rebate from any of the big name companies.  The smaller, no-name businesses might be a different story so a quick Internet search might be in order.

As a general rule your rebate should arrive in several weeks.  If it arrives too fast then you should run a quick check on the issuer just to be safe.

The best rebates are the instant rebates that are given at the till.  Be sure to check your bill though before you leave the store.  Sometimes claiming a rebate requires a teller to manually enter it and it can easily be forgotten.

Rebates can be good for the pocket book if they are legitimate.  However, if you are making a purchase just because it has a rebate attached to it then you are indulging in impulse buying and that is ultimately bad.  See my article, The Curse of theImpulse Buyer for more about impulse buying.

Before jumping on the rebate bandwagon consider the regular price, quality and legitimacy of the company offering the rebate.  Read the fine print and take note of the expiry date and application process. Shop smart and buy things because you need them.  You are not actually saving anything if you purchase something you will never use.

The Consumer Affairs website has many great articles on rebate scams and safe practices if you are interested in learning more.

10 Ways To Be Poor Forever

Financial independence is something we all dream about but unfortunately for many people it will always remain a dream.  Most people are destined to be poor forever.  

Luckily, you are taking steps to keep you from falling into the "poor forever" trap.  Making money is a habit that you learn through education and experience.  It takes commitment and dedication on your part. Most importantly, it takes an attitude.

What Is Your Financial Situation? 

One of the biggest mistakes people make is in not knowing their financial situation. Things like how much debt you are carrying, the actual costs of items like insurance and loans or not thinking about the future.  Things sneak up on you when you live like this.  Big things - like foreclosures and repossessions. 

 10 Steps To Keep You Out Of The Poor House

To help you stay out of the poor house I've made a list of some of the most important factors you need to keep in mind.

1.     Get educated.  Either through courses offered at work, post secondary education or on-line classes - make yourself a more valuable employee. 
2.     Know your debt.  Consolidate all your debt into one place so you can see at a glance how much money you owe.  Be aware of this debt and work to minimize it.
3.     Pay back your debt.  Easier said than done sometimes but you need to make every effort to pay debt off.  Interest rates on personal debt is high and if you don't get a handle on your debt it quickly becomes unmanageable.
4.     Don't live outside your means.  Before you run out and spend money ask yourself if you really need it  - then ask yourself how you are going to pay for it.  Remember, debt is not necessarily your friend.
5.     Learn your tax system.  Educate yourself on the basic tax rules.  Knowing how your government taxes you will help you save money.  You can plan major purchases or sales to minimize your taxes owing.
6.     Save some money.  Canada has plans like the RRSP - registered retirement savings account and TFSA  - tax free savings accounts that offer incentives to help you save money for the future.  Even $50/month will make a difference.
7.     Graduate.  Post secondary studies are a great thing.  There is so much you can learn but it is expensive.  Unless someone else is paying your way you need to graduate and get to work. 
8.     Review your insurance needs.  Insurance costs can get expensive. Know what you need to insure and review your insurance needs yearly. 
9.     Forget about the Jones.  Be your own person.  Don't try to compete with those around you it will only drag in down into the debt trap.
10.  Choose your friends wisely.  Surround yourself with people that have a similar mindset as you.  You constantly feed off of the people around you.  They motivate and educate you so make sure your friends are people who will help you move forward.

These are factors that I feel are important for a healthy financial life.  As you educate yourself on personal finance and wealth building you will develop your own list. 

Whatever points you decide are important will be correct for you and your personal mindset.  The main idea here is that you need to always be thinking about money and how you are going to keep it in your pocket.


 The Future Is Yours

The future will be what you make of it. Life will undoubtedly throw you curve balls but if you keep a strong 'money matters' mindset you can overcome anything. Save Money By Keeping Track Of Your Receipts is another article I've posted that you might find helpful when it comes to knowing where your money is going.

That being said, don't let money consume you.  Make time for friends and family they are what is really important.  Money may make living life easier its people that make life worth living.

The Curse of the Impulse Buyer

An impulse buyer can have more of an impact on your financial situation than you may realize.  Often, you don't even recognize yourself as an impulse buyer - or if you do, you don't realize how bad it is.


Ask yourself these simple questions:

·      Does anyone complain about how much money you are spending?
·      Does the balance on your credit card surprise you at the end of the month?
·      Do you have more clothes, shoes, jackets, etc. than you can possibly wear?
·      Do you have all the latest gadgets as soon as they are released?
·      Do you buy things you "didn't even know you wanted" until you saw it in the store?

If you answered "yes" then you may be (probably are) an impulse buyer.


The effects of impulse buying are varied but in the end someone will suffer.

If you are single and unattached then the only thing suffering is your bank account.  However, if you have a family or significant other then your uncontrolled spending will also affect them by limiting what you can afford to buy or do as a family.


The good news is once you recognize your impulse buying habit; you can take steps to control it.

1.     Only go shopping when you actually need something.  Don't wander aimlessly through the stores this actually promotes impulse purchases.  Go only to the store you need and pick up only the items you came for - then leave, fast.
2.     Carry cash.  If you can't seem to stay out of the stores then carry cash.  Leave the credit cards at home and just carry a minimal amount of cash.  Plan ahead for your purchases and bring just enough money for the item you're planning on buying.
3.     Make a list.  Write down what you are planning to buy when you go to the store and then follow your list.
4.     Give yourself some buffer time between seeing an item you want and the actual purchasing of the item. If you spot something not on your list then tell yourself you have to wait until it is on a list before you can buy it.  When you get home put it on a list if you still think you need it.
5.     Wait two weeks.  For the bigger items (set a dollar limit, say $50) make yourself wait two weeks before going back to buy it.  That should be enough time to decide if you really need it or not.

Don't be too hard on the impulse buyer - whether it's yourself or someone else.  As consumers we are buffeted 24/7 by advertising blitzes and some of those advertisements can be pretty convincing.

Recognize impulse buying as a problem and take steps to limit it. My previous article: Frivolous Spending, will help with this. It might also help to set a financial goal to feed your "impulse" money to instead of random products - like a down payment on a house, new car, vacation, education, etc.

Retail therapy - the act of buying something in the hopes it will make you feel better - is not something you want to indulge yourself in for very long.  Follow the five steps listed above and get control of your spending. 

Your financial future will thank you.

The Benefits Of A Home Based Business

For some reason many people think a business that is run out of the home is not really work.  I've even heard some people say home based business operators are lazy, unmotivated or don't want a real job.  These nay-sayers  couldn't be more wrong.

Most people that run a business out of there home work very hard at it.  That being said there are many different types of businesses with different levels of commitment required.  Basically, you get out what you put in.

What Can You Expect To Gain:

This post is not about the different types of home based businesses though.  Its about the benefits of running one.
  1. Tax Savings.  Everyone pays taxes.  The average employee will pay taxes on every dollar he earns and if he's lucky he might have a few allowable deductions or credits that he can use to recover some of his money.  The home business owner also pays taxes on every dollar earned but he can then claim deductions for all the money he spent to earn his income.  This is powerful. 
  2. Your Own Hours.  If you work your own business out of your home you can set your own hours - to some degree.  Obviously, you will still need to interact with the general public during regular business hours.  You can choose how many hours a day you want to work. When you start. What days you take off, etc.  Usually though, many home business owners tend to work longer hours that they did at their regular day job.  On the plus side, those hours benefit you directly not some corporation.
  3. Family Time.  Many home business owners are stay at home mom's or dad's.  Often they work when the kids are napping or at school.  If available often parents will drop their kids at preschool, play school, a babysitter or daycare once or twice a week so they can work and the kids can socialize with peers.
  4. Attitude.  While its true that there might be more pressure on you to make your business work its your business.  With the pressure comes a sense of pride, a sense of ownership and a level of satisfaction that you normally wouldn't find as an employee.  You now have a reason to get up in the morning and your motivated to go to work.
  5. Your The Boss.  You get to make the decisions.  You get to reap the rewards.  You get to hire and fire.  You're the boss!  That also means you are responsible for all the bad decisions as well but - you're the boss!  I bet that feels good.
To put this in perspective lets look at Jill.

Jill is married.  Her husband works at a construction job and makes decent money.  Jill is a hairdresser.  They have two children in elementary school.  Jill's wage pays for the babysitter they need to look after the kids everyday after school and the odd Saturday if they are called to work.

Jill quits her job and sets up a hairdressing shop in the spare bedroom at their house.  Now Jill is able to be home when her kids get home or if one of them is sick - no more babysitter.  Jill builds a clientele and is busy.  She hires someone to come in part time and help her.  Since she has help Jill expands her business to include hair cuts and styles at the clients home.  Everyone is happy.

When tax time rolls around Jill is starting to worry.  She has made more money than she ever did working for a wage.  Fortunately, she is able to lower her earned income with business deduction.  The cost of setting up her shop and all her supplies are deductible.  Her employee's wages are deductible.  She can also claim a portion of the household utility bills and mileage for the use of her car.

In this example our home business owner is really working her business hard.  If you are not ready to commit to that degree there are many businesses you could work in the evenings or weekends.  As long as you can show that you are running a business with the intent to make money you should qualify as a home business as far as the tax man is concerned.  Local by-laws may limit you to some degree so always check that before you commit yourself.

Your home based business may consist of only an office in your house if your business is internet based or requires you to visit clients homes.  That is another benefit - you don't have to make your home assessable to the public - go to them. 

What's Holding You Back?

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit then a home based business might be a good fit for you.  Look around your community and see if there is a need you can fill.  Check out the by-laws relating to home based businesses.  Then plant a sign in your front yard and get to work.  Build your business slowly and stay working at your day job until you are confident enough to run it full time.

Home based businesses are not for everyone but you might just find one you.