Sunday, January 28, 2007

Use The Internet to Save on Cable & Movie Rentals

A few weeks ago, while looking for online video of NBC's "The Office", I stumbled upon two websites that have transformed my free time and may in the future transform my finances. and both offer massive amounts of media content. Television programming makes up the majority of their content (both have every episode of 24) but their movie content is also great.

Unlike the days of Kazaa/Morpheus or the current Limewire, these two sites have nothing to download. Peekvid appears to host its own files while Alluc provides links to a variety of sites that host the content. Since Alluc isnt hosting any content, it is likely more viable long term (less risk of getting sued).

So far the only financial impact I've seen has come from thier movie content. The past three weekends I havnt rented a movie as I have used their content. I would typically rent 2 movies over a 3 week period. Savings: $10.

Based on their content one could potentially go without cable or at least reduce it to basic. Savings-$25/month + until these sites get shut down.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

When Spending More Means Spending Less.

For the past couple weeks I have had a leak in my basement. I figured it was due to insufficient slope at the side of my house. Being as it was cold and topsoil was hard to come by this time of year, I put it off until the spring.
This week I discovered that I in fact had a leak in one of my pipes. It was dripping directly into my insulation and appeared to be coming from outside. The leak appeared to be at a tough to reach point where the pipe reached an elbow and went up through the floor. I felt this fix was best left to the professionals.

A plumber was at my house the next afternoon to surmise the damage. Turns out the leak was under my sink at a T where the main hot water line split off to the dishwasher. The previous owner had apparently used a cheap plastic T when remodelling the kitchen. The plumber informed me that when it came to these plastic parts it wasn't "if" they would leak, but when.
After about an hour of work, a new copper T was installed. Total bill: $300! OUCH.

Moral of the story, spend the extra $5 when choosing plumbing supplies.

If anybody out there has any tips on how I could have had this done cheaper (other than doing it myself) I would love to hear it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tagged-5 Things You Don't Know About Me

Ive been tagged by Canadian Dream. As a result Ive got to tell everybody 5 things they don't know about me or else I'll have bad luck, or never get laid or however those forwards go....

1)Before working in Finance, Ive had a job cleaning surgical equipment post-op.

2)I'll be getting married this fall in Cuba.

3)I'm currently pursuing my CMA.

4)I was arrested at 16 in Harrah's Tahoe for gambling under age (one of my finer achievements).

5)My favorite tv show is The Office

I hope that was informative, it was only mildly embarrassing for me.

Next to be tagged: Beyoungandrich , Bring The Cash Flow , The Dividend Guy Blog

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Is There a Housing Bubble in Alberta?


The following entry at Canadian Dream: alerted me to what is obviously a bubble in the Alberta housing market.

The results of this report showing the New Housing Price Index, identified that prices in Calgary and Edmonton both experienced more 40% growth last year (4X anywhere else in Canada). It stands to reason that housing prices should be very positively correlated with the growth of wages. Did the wages in Alberta grow 40% last year? While they did grow substantially, it was nowhere near 40%.

I would expect that the following reasons have led to the rapid increase in housing prices:

1)Faster wage growth in Alberta than the rest of Canada
2)Population growth-caused by disproportionately high wage growth
3)Speculation in a "hot market"

The reason I think its a bubble is because none of the above reasons are sustainable over the long run since all were driven by the rapid increase in the price of oil. As oil prices stabilize, wages will stabilize along with them. From there the financial incentives of living in Alberta will likely disappear and eliminate the "hot market".

My Latest Money Saving Venture-The Cell Phone

At the end of October my cell phone plan expired. I viewed this as an opportunity to save some money and get a new phone. It really is amazing how quickly cell phone's depreciate. My previous phone was 2 years old and it is almost laughable by today's technology. So last week I entered into another contract that was a whole bunch better than my last.

Here are the tips I can offer for entering into a cell phone contract:

1)Shop around. Just because you liked there commercial, or they are your current provider, doesn't mean you have the best deal. Don't just look at the published rates, there are corporate and student plans out there that may be better than your current plan. Asking your friends/colleagues what they are paying, you may be surprised.

2)Don't buy the newest phone. Today the KRZR is the hottest phone and it will cost you about $200 with a new package. Looking at recent history, this phone will be free or close to it in about a year. If you really want that phone, consider that you are essentially adding $16.50 a month to your monthly plan for the privilege of owning it. The free phones they offer today still have cameras/mp3 etc, they just arn't the latest model.

3)Know what you need. Look at your last few bills and look at how many minute you are using and when you are using them. Get an idea of the structure of plan that will give you the best value. Do you need daytime minutes? Evening/Weekends? Would you save a bunch with Rogers-Rogers or Fido-Fido minutes. A plan with a tonne of minutes at a good price may seem great, but if you arn't even close to using all the minutes, you are wasting your money. Figure out your cost per minute for the month. Pay as you go is a great option for many.

4)Speak to the People with the Power. When it comes time to get your deal, call customer service and tell them you are thinking of disconnecting. They will connect you with the disconnection (customer relations) department. It is these CSRs that have the real power to give you a good deal. The 611 reps (Rogers and Fido) can only give you what you see online, disconnections can give you everything available. When you call, tell them you want to disconnect because you don't feel you are getting good value. Then quote whatever the best plan you know...or maybe the best one you can come up with. Just don't be too greedy. You will be surprised the lengths that these CSRs will go to keep your business.

Hopefully all these hints help. Remember, if you don't have a contract, you have the power, if you do have a contract, it doesn't hurt to call and try for something better.

In case your are curious, here is the plan I received from Fido for $20/month +$6.95 SAF :

200 daytime
Unlimited evenings and weekends
1000 Fido-Fido
Free VM & CD
Per second billing.
A Sony Z710i free on a two year contract (this is listed as $100 on their website).

This plan is as good as anything I've heard of for a moderate user. Do any of you have better plans? Let me know.