Thursday, May 15, 2008

RBC's Laptop Promotion

Its that time of year again where the major banks start to beg for your business. The past couple years, TD has offered an Ipod for you to switch over your banking. CIBC has offered $100. Last year RBC offered a $150 gift card if you switch your banking over to them.

This year RBC is offering the most valuable promotion to date. They are offering a free laptop to those who switch ($300 value). But you will have to do a bit of leg work to get the laptop.

In order to qualify you must:

-Open a new RBC Signature No Limit bank account or RBC Vip bank account.
-Use CustomSwitch to transfer your account balance and preauthorized payments from another Canadian financial institution
-Transfer at least 2 preauthorized payments from your account
-Transfer automated payroll direct deposit
-Select paperless statements
-Pay at least 1 bill through online banking

For more info, here is the link:

It sounds like alot, but for many it just means "do your day to day banking with us". As I recently just moved my mortgage over to RBC I was going to do all but the EasySwitch anyway.

In a couple months I will have the new laptop, I will report back then on how it is. Based on the specs it appears to be a bare bones laptop suitable for surfing and minimal application use. Does anybody have any experience with the Asus line of laptops?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Selling Your Garbage and Cleaning your House

Your trash can be another's treasure; this is the idea behind and I knew this to be true for your lightly used items, but I recently learned that this may be possible for items that you might otherwise have been planning on throwing out.

A few months ago my stove died. Thanks to the extended warranty that the previous owner of my house had bought, I was eligible for a brand new stove for free. Apparently the stove had broken with this exact same problem twice before. Once my new stove arrived, the delivery company instructed me that I would need to contact Whirlpool to have the old one removed. I figured that rather than send it to the dump, I might be able to sell it. It was listed on Craigslist the next day. I fully disclosed the problems and the approximate cost of repair. To my surprise I received numerous requests to come see it. Within a week I had sold it for $180. Not too bad for a broken stove.

I told this story to my manager who decided to try craigslist out for himself. He was finishing his basement and had ripped out the carpet. The company installing his new floors had offered to dispose of his old carpet for $200. Instead he listed it on craigslist. In less than 48hrs he had sold the carpet for $75 saving him $275. Pretty good for some old carpet. He later went on to sell some leftover bricks he had from an interlocking project that were taking up room in his garage.

What have you been able to sell that would otherwise be in the dump?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

My New Car Buying Tips

As I stated in my last post, we recently purchased a new car. In the process of researching for this purchase I realized that I had numerous resources at my disposal that would save me a considerable amount of money relative to MSRP. Here they are in order of accessibility to the average person.

1) Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate

The worst thing that you can be when buying a car is what car dealers call a "lay down". Those that refuse to negotiate are just wasting a tonne of money. A dealers cost is typically 5-10% below MSRP. Negotiate accordingly.

2)Savings Plans through your employer/organization.

Most, if not all of the major car makers have savings plans that they offer to corporations and groups that they do business with. The typical discount is 4% below MSRP or 4% above dealer cost. You can typically negotiate a better price, but if that really isnt your thing, be sure to look for this. Honda has a particularly good program on eligible vehicles that allows you to negotiate your best deal and regardless of price paid, you get a rebate.

3) & are both websites that will provide you with what the dealer paid for the car. Armed with this information you should have the upper hand in the negotiation for your new car. Dont feel like negotiating? No problem, has pre-negotiated deals with some dealers. From what Ive read, it is very difficult to beat the price they have already negotiated. The cost of membership for these sites is $39.95 for 5 reports through CarCostCanada and $65 for 5 quotes through APA.CA. For the extra $25, go with APA for their pre-negotiated deals.

4)Employee Pricing

The employee pricing programs offered by most car companies apply to more than just the employee, they often apply to extended family so be sure to ask around if you know somebody who works for a car manufacturer. In my case I was eligible for Ford's Z-Plan. Z-Plan is for Ford retirees and I am obviously not a Ford retiree, but as the grandson of a Ford retiree I qualified. Those eligible for Z-Plan pay dealer cost. In my case I paid about $2500 below MSRP (pretty good for a 25K car).

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Case Against Public Transit

My wife recently go a new job closer to home and as a result will not be commuting to work on the train anymore. Off to the car dealership to buy a car. In the process of shopping for a car, I came to the realization that some of the benefits of public transit arnt all they are made out to be. Transit is made out to be a cheaper, more convenient alternative to driving. Lets compare.

The biggest issue I have is price. Living in the GTA, my wife had to up to 3 different transit systems between home and work (usually 2 because I drove her to the train station) every day.

The cost for each is as follows:

Go train - 4 X 10 ride tickets ~ $210
TTC - tokens ~$88
Local transit - $25 (likely cheaper than the gas & depreciation that was actually incurred)
Total cost: $323

Compare this to the monthly cost of a brand new economy car of about $200/month. If one were to go used it would be a little bit cheaper.

Add insurance of about $130 a month, gas of $150 and maintenance of $25 (assuming new) and we are at $505 per month to drive a car.

So it works out that the car is about $180 per month more than driving, but in this example the two total values arnt really apples to apples comparisons. When you own/lease a car you have the ability to use it 24/7, where as the cost of transit is just to get to/from work. I would have expected significantly more savings when comparing transit to driving.

The second factor touted is convenience. Adds show people sleeping, reading the paper and relaxed. This simply isnt the case. The subway cars of the TTC and the train cars of the GO during rush hour turn into cattle cars where the benefits of seats are usually rumour more than fact. Getting out of the train station is also painful. It can often take up to 20minutes just to leave the area as people sprint to their cars, or to the waiting cars of loved ones. All of the above assumes that the GO/TTC are even running on time and arnt on strike. Without fail 5 or so times per year there are multi-hour delays getting to/from work as a result of some sort of mechanical failure or accident and of course the all too common strike.

In a world where we are constantly being told to do what is best for the environment, in the case of transit vs car I am personally going to need more incentive.

Im back

Ok, its been about 13 months since my last post so what better time than now to come back. Since my last post, a great deal has happened in my life. Ive got married, my wife is starting a new job, and Ive been promoted. All of this will give me plenty of ammunition for future posts.

Im going to try and keep to the pace of two posts per week, hopefully I can maintain that over the long term.