DIY Life: College edition


Good morning Loves.  Back to school is in full swing and many students across the country are out in the world on their own for the first time.  When I sent out my college applications I applied to a school in my hometown (and was accepted) to make my parents happy, but I always knew that I wanted to go away for college.

I had an idea of how I wanted life on my own to be so I packed my bags and moved 800 miles away from my parents.  I was shocked to learn that life on my own wasn’t so easy.  All I knew about college life was what I had seen in the movies.  At 18 years old I was ready for life on my own; but I definitely wasn’t prepared.  Let me tell you that life on your own doesn’t happen like it does in the movies.

5 things I thought would happen in my first year of college…but didn’t

1. Meet the man of my dreams.  I thought I would meet the man of my dreams the second I stepped onto campus.  Why?  Because that’s how it happens in the movies.  I thought I would be putting money in the soda machine to buy a Diet Coke and a cute guy would walk up to me and offer change.  That didn’t happen. I did meet my BF in college, but not at the coke machine.

2. Get straight A’s.  I admit I didn’t have a 4.0 GPA.  I worked full time during college and my grades definitely suffered.  Thank goodness it didn’t affect my ability to get a job.  However now I think grades take more of a precedent in job applications than they used to.

3. Invent a multi-billion dollar social network.  Oh how I wish this happened; but I didn’t grow up to be a tech guru, I grew up to be a financial planner.  I think there is so much pressure on college students and college grads to be the best at everything that they completely miss out on all the benefits of college life.  If you are in college you don’t have to discover the next big thing at 19 years old – because this is the exception, not the rule.  Enjoy your college life now because you have 50 years of working ahead of you after graduation.

4. Save any money.  This is probably my biggest regret about college.  I had money during my four years of college because I worked (sometimes two jobs) all throughout.  However I mismanaged my money, didn’t save a penny and ended up in a lot of debt.  If I went back to college today I would work and save money instead of spending it on social activities, restaurants and clothes.

5. Pick my major.  I don’t know about other college students but I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do at 18 years old.  I think it’s totally ridiculous that we have to pick our major right after high school.  Not only do I think it’s a good idea to take a year off and work or travel after high school, I also think students should take as many courses as they can before declaring a major.  I changed my major three times from French to Urban Planning before I decided on Economics – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Photo from Flickr

Friday Faves: I’m on vacay for 10 days


Yes that’s right I am off work for a glorious 10 days.  I don’t have to think about my job until Tuesday September 23rd and I am so excited.  I will be relaxing for the next few days and on Wednesday I’ll be in New Orleans for FinCon.  I can’t wait to see you all there!  Be sure to drop me a line on Twitter @TahnyaKristina so we can meet up in The Big Easy.

Have a great weekend Loves!

Blonde on a Budget – Pushing Past the Clutter and Moving Forward

Enemy of Debt – Are You Taking Care Of Your Money?

Budget and the Beach – Can You Fake Financial Confidence?

Lisa vs. the Loans – Maintaining friendships on a budget

Save. Spend. Splurge. – Retirement Strategies for 30-year olds

Photo from my Flickr

Guaranteed Investment Certificates for Investors

What is a GIC? A Guaranteed Investment Certificate is one of the most dependable investment products on the market. And it’s unique to Canada. There is no risk of loss to an investor’s principal investment, but there are multiple options for growth. We’ll explain the details of this interesting investment opportunity, for Canadian investors and International investors with the intention of enlarging their international holdings.

For those readers living outside of Canada, Guaranteed Investment Certificates resemble time and term deposits most of all, but bear certain similarities to mutual funds, bonds, and CDs as well. The key feature of GICs (available in several packages explained below) is the promise that the investor has no risk of losing his or her initial principal investment. The only circumstances where this might occur would be if your bank goes out of business. While this occasionally does happen, the savvy investor will bank with confidence with established institutions, unlikely to go bankrupt in the foreseeable future.

The main feature common to all GICs is the secure principal, with interest. How the interest works is where the variation comes into play. There are 3 main types of GICs available in Canada, including:

1) Interest linked GICs. These GICs are related to national interest rates. They are locked in to return a set interval above the national rate of inflation. So as this rate increases, so do the returns. For periods of large growth, the investor gains a lot. For periods of negative growth, the investor may pull out funds to reinvest in more suitable locations.

2) Guaranteed Investment Certificates. These are the “regular” GICs. All of the details are worked out in advance, leaving no guesswork. You will work out an established term and interest rate with your banker before buying these certificates. They will then mature according to the parameters laid out, usually over the course of 3 to 5 years. If you want to take your money out early, all you have to give is 30 days notice to receive your funds without penalty. However, most investors will choose to let the account mature, as the interest rates have scheduled increases as the accounts mature. This gives the certificates a “snowball effect” of yields. It is possible to organize GICs with steady, linear interest behavior. This is easily organized with your banker or finance professional.

3) Market Growth GICs. These are the most volatile (and potentially profitable) GICs. While GICs are designed to offer security to a portfolio, some investors will want the opportunity for bigger growth. Market Growth GICs are designed to behave much like index mutual funds. The big difference is that you will never be able to lose your principal investment. This doesn’t usually happen with Index Funds, but if you are an older or especially conservative investor, this principal security may be very attractive to you. Some can even offer a minimum return guarantee. These GICs typically have a maximum return rate as well (around 25%), however this is such a remarkable return rate that this limit is rarely a problem for investors. It is very unlikely that your potential yields would exceed this benchmark. If you are concerned about this, regular index funds may be for you.

Guaranteed Investment Certificates offer security to portfolios nationwide, and to the portfolios of international investors savvy enough to have GICs included in their international holdings. You’ll never lose your principal investment, and you stand to gain excellent market rates, with as much risk or security as you desire. GICs are a truly excellent Canadian financial product, the like of which is found nowhere else.

A credit card without debt?


Does that really exist? We shall see.

Have you ever been offered a VISA or MasterCard that you can reload with your own money and thought to yourself “WOW that’s a great idea because I won’t get into debt”?  That is definitely a normal reaction, I mean seriously who wouldn’t love to have a credit card without the temptation to spend and get into debt?  I know I would.  This type of credit card is prepaid and it’s often confused with a traditional VISA or MasterCard.

Do you have a prepaid credit card?

Yesterday my Dad called me and said “I got a VISA today.”  I was shocked and secretly proud because over the last few years my Dad’s financial situation has been less than stellar.  To make a long story short my parents got divorced, my Dad wanted to keep our childhood home so he got into a lot more debt (by buying out my Mom) than one person should.  When you combine this with the overwhelming need to give your daughter everything she wants in hopes that you’ll be her favorite parent it’s a recipe for financial disaster.

Fast forward to my Dad selling his house and paying off all his debt.  You would think that’s a good thing right?  Well it normally would be, if the person worked towards rebuilding their credit score.  However my Dad went in another direction.  He moved in with his now girlfriend and let everything – and I mean everything – from the phone and the car insurance to the house and the cable be in her name.  This is not helping my Dad rebuild his credit.

What is a prepaid credit card?

Yesterday when my Dad was at the bank paying his monthly bills (yes he still goes to the bank) the teller offered him a prepaid VISA card.  She explained that he can use it worldwide where VISA is accepted as a payment method and he can load as much money onto it as he wants whenever he wants.  Since my Dad has been without a credit card for over three years he thought this was a good idea.

The truth is it can be because it gives people with less than perfect credit the option of online shopping as well as booking tickets and travel.  It opens a world of doors for payment options that normal credit card less people wouldn’t have.  Since the card is funded with actual money, not credit, there is no possibility of further harm to your credit score.

Is it really the best option?

So what’s the downside?  The exact same gift of a prepaid card is also the curse.  Since the credit card is loaded with cash or money transferred from a bank account or PayPal there is no credit.  Everyone is approved for a prepaid credit card because there is no approval process, but it also doesn’t help rebuild your credit score.

If your credit is less than perfect you may want to consider a secured credit card because as you use it each month and pay it off you will rebuild your credit score.  Photo from my Flickr