Is income tax season as scary as they want us to believe?
Spoiler alert: Nope!
Well it’s the end of February and I’m starting to hear all of the usual ads on the radio when I’m driving anywhere now. Even on TV you’ll see a few of them. They’re all reminding you of the same thing and trying to tell you that you need a professional’s help. They’re all about tax season! With Canada’s personal income tax deadline coming up on April 30th, 2016 I’m going to tell you why you don’t have much to worry about and why you should file your taxes yourself.
Judging by all the commercials I hear on the radio you’d think filing taxes was the hardest thing in the world. These commercials like to emphasize that if you don’t get it right the government is going to come after you for more money. Sometimes they’ll use terms you might not be completely familiar with like deductions, tax credits, or audits.
I think a lot of people are under the impression a lot of these tax preparation places employ accountants and highly trained professionals that know the income tax structure inside and out. Unfortunately this is about the furthest thing from the truth. Read more
If you read my last post about Canadian investors losing faith you probably know that I’ve been waiting to see an end to the falling oil prices. I live in the province of Alberta in Canada and it’s basically a petroleum province. A large percentage of Albertans are employed directly through the oil and gas companies or their service companies like construction, or drilling. Pretty much the rest of them are employed indirectly by working at the banks and car dealerships to help flood the province with jacked up rig rockets…Oh and feeding us, they feed us too…
What’s a Rig Rocket you might be wondering?
Well since you’re clearly not from Alberta with that question, here’s an example.
Rig Rocket – A lifted truck with HID headlights, running boards, questionable stickers and a chip that “totally makes 750hp Bro!”.
But Rig Rockets have nothing to do with falling oil prices, if anything they’re helping get rid of the oversupply!
On to the real topic of falling oil prices!
Since oil prices started to fall a little over 18 months ago jobs in Alberta have been dropping faster than Donald Trump supporters should be (how does his rating not drop with every public appearance?). By the end of August 2015 Alberta had lost 63,500 jobs and i hasn’t stopped there with Husky and Cenovus letting go a few hundred more this past week.
Needless to say when news of a recent meeting between Saudi Arabia and Russia over oil productions flooded social media earlier this week a lot of people were getting excited. They can’t possibly be meeting to let each other know that they’re increasing production, right? Well no, they were talking about maintaining current production levels. Which could be great but I don’t think it will be all sunshine and rainbows any time soon. These talks came with several strings attached and here’s my thoughts on them:
Ohh hey there fellow Canadian Investors!
(and non Canadian investors alike! but this post is geared slightly more towards the Canadians. Sorry!)
Hope I haven’t kept you waiting too long! I’ve been under a rock these last few months hiding from the falling Canadian stock market. I haven’t been hiding by myself either, according to the Financial Post Canadian investors haven’t been feeling this worried since the financial crisis in 2008.
Don’t worry Justin Trudeau and the Liberals will probably NOT be raising your taxes.
Dear people who think they’re a part of the 1% and are going to “suffer” from the proposed new tax regime that the Liberals talked about during their campaigning, you probably don’t need to worry as much as you think!
First of all let me say, I saw an unbelievable amount of “end of days” comments after the election. Everything from terrorists are now going to invade us to how much more in taxes Albertans are going to be paying. I can’t really dispute the terrorism thing with cold hard facts, other than nothing has happened so far! Now with us heading into winter I think we’re probably safe until Spring 2016. On the other hand, the tax issue I can definitely shed some light on.
2015 Q3 update!
Hello everyone! I’m back after an almost 2 month hiatus with my 2015 Q3 update. First let’s recap what has happened in the last three months cause I’m sure some of you were wondering where I disappeared to!
I managed to keep my Monday and Thrusday posting schedule for about a month, then it dwindled and I ended up stopping posting all together. The last half of August was insane at work, lots of people on vacation so I ended up working 11 days straight of 12-13 hour days. Add a one hour commute on either end of that and it REALLY didn’t leave much time for anything other than eating and sleeping.
After that ridiculous 11 days of work I hopped on a plane for my old stomping grounds of Halifax, NS. I ended up spending the long weekend there for my good friend’s bachelor party and then spent the following Monday and Tuesday catching up with some friends I haven’t seen in 4-5 years. It was a pretty awesome time. I got to spend some time at the Boardroom which was a very nice spot, great place to sample some new board games and surprisingly good food too. It wasn’t all play though, I did end up with a business meeting to get some more information about some business in Halifax I am looking into. I unfortunately can’t divulge much information on it at the moment, but it’s exciting for me nonetheless!
Alright now on to the finances!
As many of you probably know the last 3 months were less than stellar in almost all markets. The S&P 500, which is an index of the top 500 companies trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) drop 6.94%. Not good, we don’t like drops at all, unless we just came into a pile of money and were planning on investing. This was the same for almost all other major indexes or markets, the Dow Jones dropped 7.98%, the TSX dropped 8.17% and almost all other markets. (I say almost all, but haven’t thoroughly checked everyone so maybe a couple had a good quarter! )
So with that heartwarming and optimistic intro how bad did I do? Actually not as bad as I thought…
Driving can be very expensive. Everyone knows how much they pay for their vehicles and they know how much they pay for gas and insurance and everything else, but does anyone actually add it all up and see how much does it cost to drive a kilometer in their particular mode of transportation?
For me personally, I drive a 2009 Toyota Rav4. I bought the Rav4 used in 2013 after the 14 year old Grand Am that I inherited had everything break in it. Seriously, the AC broke on my drive from Halifax to Calgary in June of 2011 and the heater broke in January 2013. Needless to say, spending several thousand dollars to get them fixed on a car worth maybe $2000 once everything was fixed wasn’t really a great financial decision.
I bought the vehicle because I thought it was the right thing to do. I do need a vehicle occasionally to get certain places that public transit doesn’t reach. Sometimes it’s nice to do a small road trip to the mountains or wherever I want to go.
The cost of the having the vehicle doesn’t bother me, I personally think it was a great deal. I bought it used in 2013 with 69,231 kilometers (43,018 miles) on the odometer, fully loaded, leather seats, spare winter tires and rims, all of the options. It would have cost me just under $22,000 if I have paid for it outright in cash. Everything comparable was several thousand more and the Rav4 had won best in its class for several years running by consumer reports and many Car and Driver comparisons.
Lately I’ve been wondering how “good” a deal I really got for myself or is it just expensive personal travel? I took a look into my old files from when I bought it to find out what it’s currently costing me (and my girlfriend) to drive each kilometer.
So here’s the break down:
Why don’t we learn about personal finance in school?
I don’t think I’m alone here when I say everything I was taught about money was either self-taught or taught to me by family members. I went into high school knowing almost nothing about money and came out “prepared” for the real life, knowing almost nothing about money. I mean I came out with some really useful life skills like knowing that mitochondria is like a power plant for your cells. Or that calculus sucks. Probably my most useful skill was learning how to break an egg from several floors up while trying to not break the egg…Seriously, did anyone’s egg not break or am I just a terrible engineer?
Upon my graduation, the whole money thing wasn’t a big deal, I was heading to University. I had some money saved up, was working 20 hrs a week and was living at home with my parents help. Sad to say but I wasn’t overly concerned or really even aware of my situation in life and I don’t think I was alone. Then one day some student organization put up some craft paper on a wall with the title “Debt Wall”. Students were encouraged to write how much in debt they were in anonymously. After a few days this thing was filled with insane numbers. There were a lot of $30,000+ numbers, hundreds of them all probably from only student loans and maybe some credit card debt. It astonished me that people had put themselves into this much debt this early in their lives, such a deep hole to climb out of so early in life when soon you should be buying your first car, house and getting married or whatever else we used to think we were supposed to do right after high school or after your post-secondary education.
But that wasn’t me, I had no debt and I thought they were fools; without knowing how much I didn’t know.