You Only Live Once, So Don’t Blow It!

you_only_live_once_so_dont_blow_it.jpgTo save or to yolo? That’s the question.

Can the battle between frugality and “living life” cease to exist? And if so...

How do you strike that elusive balance?

Let’s examine “balance”, shall we?

It’s a soothing word to smooth over underlying conflict between two camps.

First, there’s work-life balance. A conflict of time spent between work and life outside of work.

Then there’s the balanced diet. A conflict between different food types. Natural food vs. junk food. High-fat vs. low-fat. High-carb vs. high-protein. And so on.

And not to be outdone…

There’s also the balanced budget. In personal finance, it’s taking the money we earn (after tax) and allocating chunks of it to: fixed and variable costs, savings, investments, debt payments, etc. A balanced budget is achieved when 100% of our money is properly allocated.

The conflict comes when we overspend in one area because it takes away from other areas.

Excess can be avoided with balance.

But - is balance just unicorns and rainbows?

YOLO Isn't a License to Blow Your Money

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5 Best Ways to Redeem Your Expiring Air Miles

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You know those Air Miles you’ve been collecting for what seems like an eternity?

Well, they’re about to start expiring!

The fact is that any individual mile you’ve had for more than 5 years will expire quarterly beginning in 2017.

If you’ve been accumulating them one or two at a time hoping to get enough for that dream vacation someday - those dreams might be about to go up in smoke.

It’s time to stop dreaming and get real about what you can actually get for your points today before they’re worthless.

When Will Your Miles Expire Exactly?

Since each individual mile has its own expiration date, there is only one way to figure out exactly when your miles expire…

Use the Request Expiry Statement feature on airmiles.ca to get an email report of how many of your miles will expire in each upcoming quarter.

Your oldest miles are redeemed first, so you can give yourself some breathing room by redeeming for something small to cover the next few quarters until the timing is right for a larger redemption.

Your Options For Redeeming Air Miles

A big change to the Air Miles program, Air Miles “Cash”, was announced back in 2011. At the same time, the clock on this new 5 year expiry policy started ticking.

If you chose to switch your points to 100% Air Miles Cash at the time, then you’re pretty safe. Just go to a participating Air Miles sponsor in your area - maybe a gas station or grocery store - and get part, or all, of your purchase for free.

With Air Miles Cash, your miles can always be redeemed at a rate of 95 miles = $10. That gives each single mile a value of 10.5 cents. This is known as the cost per mile or CPM and is an easy way of comparing reward value.

You calculate CPM by taking the real cost in dollars of the reward you are buying and dividing it by number of Air Miles required to redeem for that reward. I’m going to be using CPM throughout the rest of the article.

If you chose to stick with Air Miles “Dream”, then you have a much more difficult decision ahead of you. You can choose between a variety of rewards including travel, merchandise, events & attractions, and even sweepstakes.

Inside each one of those categories is a confusing array of additional choices. The bad news is that the selection of high value rewards has really dwindled since Air Miles Cash was introduced.

My go-to reward was always the free movie certificates because they gave a 30 cent per mile value, nearly triple the cash rate. Years ago that reward disappeared so I switched to car washes which also had a high value. Not long after, that one was gone too - followed by the great selection of gift cards they used to offer.

The good news?

There’s a few things left worth redeeming for and I’m going to tell you what they are.

Top 5 Air Miles Dream Rewards

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11 Signs Your Financial Advisor Is Robbing You Blind (And How To Stop It!)

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Investing your money is complicated at best. And downright scary at worst.

With seemingly unlimited investment options available and no formal training on how financial markets work, you naturally turn to a financial advisor for help. Seems like the only rational choice, right?

It is a good choice actually - the bad news is that many people cannot be trusted with your money, including so-called “financial advisors”. That term is completely unregulated in most of Canada and practically anyone can call themselves an advisor.

Many of these advisors, especially at retail banks, are just glorified salespeople that are given extremely short training. They are basically told to promote the bank’s own products whenever possible to give them the highest profit. Here’s one prime example.

Advisors that work more independently - like those at Investors Group, Freedom 55, or the investing arms of the big 5 banks - have a huge incentive to recommend high fee funds that pay them increased commissions. That doesn’t mean your advisor is doing that - but you need to be aware that they could be doing that.

Sadly, the low cost DIY approach to investing can be equally problematic - take a look at my own investing blunders for proof of that.

So what’s a Smart Saver to do then? Throw in the towel?

NO WAY ...

Instead, watch out for these big red flags that your financial advisor is ripping you off, start asking the right questions, and take action!

Warning Signs Your Financial Advisor Is Ripping You Off

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Robo Advisors: What They Are and why You (and I) Might Need One

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This article was sponsored by ModernAdvisor.

Even smart people can make stupid money mistakes.

Take me for instance.

Not to blow your socks off, but...

I’m a reasonably smart guy.

I worked hard and did very well in school. I have a degree in computer science. I come from a family that has logic-wired brains.

And to top it off my dad is an investment advisor.

You’d think if anyone could make half-decent investing decisions it would be me, right?

Well, I hate to burst my own bubble. But...you’d be wrong.

My Personal Investing Horror Show

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