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Just do it yourself

Posted by mapetitechou on Apr 29, 2015 in spending less

Right now I’m pretty mad at myself. Why, you ask? Because against my better judgement, I’ve hired someone to do a job that I should’ve done myself. And it usually ends up being a crappy job that they’ve done, as I feared. What was it? So my mom’s house has a large back yard with the house being on a corner lot. The lawn work gets very tiring and time-consuming. With two young children, my husband and I don’t exactly have a lot of time left do take care of her lawn. Last year it took a lot of time and I spent a lot of money on seeds, dirt, anti-weed stuff and the lawn still wasn’t in good shape. So I decided this year I would hire a lawn care company to bring the lawn to a good condition first, then hopefully I can maintain it throughout the summer, stay on top of de-weeding. Even when I was looking for a lawn care company, at the back of my mind I had doubts about hiring somebody to do this. Because pretty much every time we decided to hire someone to do something for/around the house, it ended up being a bad experience.

Once we hired a guy to build our deck. He over-charged us, lied about how much material he needed to buy, and delayed construction by a whole month. My husband is very handy. He put down hardwood floor at ours and my parents’ house. He put down tiles on our kitchen floor. He put down hardwood on the entire staircase. He built our fence. In comparison with other home reno jobs, a deck is pretty easy to build. So That experience made my husband totally swear off home renovation contractors. He should’ve just done it himself.

Another example was snow removal at my mom’s house. It’s a big ass driveway. We also help my mom shovel the snow. The winter two years ago, we got a ton of snow so shoveling the now became life-consuming. Literally I would spend 2 hours on Saturday nights shoveling snow. So I made the stupid decision of hiring a snow removal company to do it last winter. That turned out to be a crappy job again. The guy would not come in the morning even though there was two feet of snow on the ground and my car got stuck on the driveway and couldn’t get to work on time. His reason was because he had come the before. I was like “but you said you’d work with your customers and remove the snow whenever it is needed. We had a big snow fall the night before. You need to come now.” He wouldn’t even answer my call. So I got so fed up with him, I wanted a refund. And my husband had to call him and yell at the guy to give us the refund. For the rest of the winter, we shoveled the snow ourselves and I actually felt very rewarding. Luckily we only got a few very heavy snow falls, so it wasn’t a horrible winter. I felt again that this was something that I should just man up and do it myself. Never depend on someone else to do it especially if you expect them to do as good of a job as you do.

You’d think I would learn my lesson by now. But now I had to make another mistake. I hired somebody to take care of the lawn. Well, once again, they cut corners. The aeration was not done properly. They didn’t put down enough seeds. So now I’ve emailed them and want them to come to re-do the aeration. I haven’t heard from them yet. Of course I had to make the mistake of paying them already before I was satisfied. ARRRRGGHH! I should’ve known better. I paid $330 for the whole thing – de-thatching, aeration, seeding, and fertilizing. We can definitely do the de-thatching, seeding and fertilizing ourselves. For aeration, yes you need a heavy-duty machine to do it. A good job of aeration should cost no more than $50. So really I should’ve paid only about $50 for aeration and that’s it! I can’t believe paid $330!!! I’m kicking myself right now. Well, another lesson learned right? Next summer, I’ll make sure to just be diligent and be top of it all, and stop being a wuss and a complainer. I should always count on myself and nobody else. Hiring somebody else to do my own job is never going to work out the way I want.

If you are reading this and you live in the Kitchener-Waterloo area in Ontario, Canada, stay away from this lawn care guy Zana Yousif of TLC Property Maintenance! He told me in a very condescending tone that he is running a business, he can’t just come fix problems as time I want. I need to be patient. And he’s been ignoring my emails ever since. He clearly does not care about customer service, especially the PAID customers, repeat business or any good recommendations from his customers. He got his money and that’s that. Absolutely no business ethic. Do not hire him.
And for decks and fences, stay away from Andrew Wood of Built True Contractor. He is the same crappy contractor that does not care about customer service and is dishonest and only wants to get more money out of you.

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TFSA increased to $10,000 a year! Best news ever!

Posted by mapetitechou on Apr 27, 2015 in ETFs

If you live in Canada, you must’ve heard about TFSA change from the federal budget. It has increased to $10,000 a year! I am so excited. If you’ve already contributed $5,500 this year, you have another $4,500 to contribute! That’s huge. What do you plan on doing with the extra contribution room? Last week I had gotten the company bonus which I planned on using it to add to my US equity ETF (VUN) in my non-register account. Now I can add that money to my TFSA account instead. That makes me immensely happy :).

This increase could also potentially solve my re-balancing problem. Basically I follow one of the Canadian Couch Potato‘s model portfolio — 20% Canadian equity, 20% US equity, 20% International equity, and 40% bonds. All my bonds are in RRSP accounts. I maxed out my TFSA contribution room with an international ETF (XEF) which at the moment far exceeds the 20% target. It’s more like 38%. My Canadian ETF (VCN) and US ETF (VUN) are held in non-registered account. So if I wanted to balance the portfolio, I would’ve had to put more money into the non-registered account, which of course would be taxed. But now the TFSA room has expanded, I plan to purchase another US equity ETF in the TFSA account. By the way, if you are looking for an excellent online discount brokerage, I recommend Virtual Brokers. All ETF purchases are commission-free. And they also have a large list of ETFs that are commission-free when you sell them too. That’d cut down your trading cost significantly.

Anyway, hope everyone’s happy about the news and will be taking advantage of this soon! Cheers!

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Work bonus must be sheltered

Posted by mapetitechou on Apr 9, 2015 in saving

Just got the email from the CEO about the company bonus that is coming in 2 weeks! Needless to say, it’s very exciting. And we have the choice of putting it into RRSP. What am I going to do with my bonus? You guessed it, I’m going to put a major portion into my RRSP account. I would’ve liked to put the whole thing in my RRSP, but I would end up over-contributing. So 68% is the appropriate amount after I did some calculation. It’s too bad that the Tax Man still gets to take a big chunk out of the remaining. But I’m not too broken up about it, I will have some mad money to spend on fashion! 😀

The decision to shelter the bonus was a no-brainer. That’s what I’ve always done with my bonuses. I was so shocked to hear from some of my coworkers that they were still debating whether or not to put theirs in their RRSPs. One even said he was not going to put any of it in his RRSP and would rather take the tax hit! That is a huge tax hit. These are all high-income earners, so their marginal tax rate is very high.

For me, sheltering bonuses is a must. It does not matter if you think you need the cash so badly. It is not worth taking the tax hit, especially if you still have RRSP room. Put it in your RRSP, then take your tax refund and spend it however you like. Heck, if you really need the cash now, take out a small line of credit. The interest rate is so low right now, it’s not going to hurt you as long as you pay it off quickly. Save that glorious bonus and let it grow in a tax shelter.

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