Weekend Reading – High debt, food prices on the rise, and more #moneystuff

Weekend Reading – High debt, food prices on the rise, and more #moneystuff

Welcome to my latest Weekend Reading edition – where I share some of my favourite articles from the week that was across the personal finance and investing blogosphere.

This was my post from this past week:

We reached a new high for forward dividend income in this February 2018 update.

In non-financial news Arizona is now out the NCAA tourney.  I didn’t see that coming!   Thankfully my Final Four bracket remains intact.  Go Virginia!!

Enjoy the following news and these articles this weekend.  Take care. 

The folks at Steadyhand said the combination of low interest rates and our high debt loads will not last forever.   I’ve been hearing this for years but the party is not over – yet.

Interesting data here from Dalhousie University on food prices.  It was interesting to read the following:

“In 2018, food prices in Canada are expected to rise 1% –3%. This is a slightly lower estimate than last year’s forecast, but still higher than what we have experienced to date in 2017. Annual food expenditure for a family of 4 is expected to rise by $348 to a total of $11,948 in 2018.”  When I look at our family of two, we budget about $600 per month for groceries and try and stick to that.  Sure, we could coupon-clip all the time and likely spend $100-$200 less per month but we’d also eat more processed food.  That’s doesn’t sound very good to me.  What do you spend per month on groceries?

I looked back on this post to see some of my favourite Canadian dividend paying stocks now WAY down over the last year.  Here are some examples:

  • Enbridge (ENB) is taking a massive beating.
  • Canadian Utilities (CU) is tanking.

Do you believe this signals a time to buy or sell?  I would be interested in your take.

Get Rich Slowly shared a few types of retirement.  My wife and I are getting closer to the semi-retirement goal – striving for an optimal work-life balance.  I will certainly want to work for many years to come but I would definitely love to do it on my own terms.  I just can’t right now, not yet.  Hopefully in another 5-10 years if things work out.  We’ll see…   When we reach this point we’ll know we can call it quits.  

Here are five keys to being a good investor – what the pros know.

Canadian Mortgage Trends wrote about ways parents can help their kids to buy homes.  Are you (expletive) kidding me??  This was not even close to being an option for my sister (or I) when we were younger.  We were told to get out of the house, get an education (at least a degree), work hard and go get a good paying job.  Then maybe you can get your own home.  I’m glad we both followed their advice.

Take advantage of these saving and investing deals!

Have a great weekend!

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

32 Responses to "Weekend Reading – High debt, food prices on the rise, and more #moneystuff"

  1. another great breakfast recipe…look in the kitchen/food section at Winners, buy truffle oil. next time making an omelette…just chop up mushroom, saute, a couple of drops of truffle oil into the eggs, beat, cook…delicious. just remember…just a few drops, truffle oil is very powerful

  2. Scanner Price Accuracy Code
    From Retail Council of Canda (oh look…Wal*mart is signed up…don’t let them rip you off….beat them at their own game)
    On behalf of Canadian retailers, RCC manages the Scanner Price Accuracy Code.

    To file a complaint under the Scanner Price Accuracy Code, please contact: 1-866-499-4599.

    scanner code of practiceSTATEMENT OF INTENT

    Canadian retailers are committed to accurate scanner pricing. Incorrect prices can result in poor customer relations and legal sanctions. Consequently, many retailers are now implementing a variety of procedures that were developed to help achieve and maintain accurate scanner pricing.

    The Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code (“the Code”) evolved from the collaborative efforts of Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). These associations are composed of national, regional and local retailers selling a wide assortment of general merchandise, as well as pharmaceutical and food products.

    This diversity in the Canadian retail environment underscores the advisability of a voluntary code that can be widely used.

    The Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code has been endorsed by the Competition Bureau.

    The purpose of the Code is to:

    Visibly demonstrate retailer commitment to scanner price accuracy;
    Provide retailers with a consistent national framework for dealing with scanner price accuracy issues; and
    Provide the retail industry with a mechanism for consumer redress in scanner price accuracy cases, to be managed by the industry through an industry committee.
    The Code applies to all scanned Universal Product Code (UPC), bar coded, and/or Price Look Up (PLU) merchandise sold in stores, with the exception of goods not easily accessible to the public (e.g. prescription drugs and behind-the-counter cosmetics), and individually price-ticketed items.

    The Code does not apply in provinces or territories where existing legislation or regulation covers these concerns.

    Signatures to Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code
    Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada Supporting Companies:
    Shoppers Drug Mart
    The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and ON only)
    Lawton Drug Stores
    London Drugs
    Lovell Drugs
    Pharmasave BC

    RCC Supporting Companies:
    Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
    The Home Depot Canada
    Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
    Toys r Us
    Wal*Mart Canada Corp.
    Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
    The North West Company
    Best Buy
    2 Home Hardware franchisees
    Canada Safeway Limited
    The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
    Loblaw Companies Limited
    Sobeys Inc.
    Metro Inc.
    Thrifty Foods
    Co-op Atlantic
    From Retail Council of Canada
    CFIG Supporting Companies:
    Thrifty Foods
    Overwaitea Food Group
    The Harry Watson Group
    Longos Brothers Fruit Markets
    Federated Co-operatives Limited
    + 1374 independent locations

  3. May, WALmart does follow that policy and I have received some things free over the years, but they do not often make mistakes. I stopped shopping at Loblaws/Superstore, because they had just so many errors I was fed up with them. But I did sign up and get the $25.

    A few years back I tracked our family of 4 food spending for one year. It averaged out to a bit less than $800 a month. That is with very few meals outside of home (my son did buy his lunches out) and we eat whatever we want nowadays. Like the real Parmagiano Reggiano. My family has celiac, so gluten free versions of things cost more, but the cost is partly balanced out by not being able to buy many convenience foods and going out to eat is more difficult. I have to do most all cooking from scratch.

    I always check my supermarket receipt and get really annoyed if I find a mistake once back at home.

    1. Oh for sure…mistakes get made but that happens. As long as it doesn’t happen all the time for me I try not to sweat the small stuff. We probably spend more than we should on groceries but we enjoy good fruits and veggies. For example, just this morning, my wife made a great omelette with asparagus and prosciutto. Sure, plain ol’ eggs and toast would have been fine but that breakfast was delicious.

      Quality is sometimes not an expense at all!

      Do most of your cooking from scratch? Nice. Let us know so we can make the trip over there! We’ll bring the wine.

      1. Mark – if “mistakes get made” …why should consumers suffer ?
        Home Depot used to be another chronic “rip off at the cash register” type of company…I discovered when buying several of the same items…getting the first one free or $10 off the first….make sure to only buy one each time…adds up in a hurry.

      2. Yes, you surely should buy yourself the tastiest food that you want, especially if you are preparing it at home, as you are saving so much compared to eating out. We had our first asparagus of the year last weekend, I love it on the grill and it was our first BBQ of the season as it was a sunny day, AAA striploins. I also have some prosciutto in the fridge–I use it to copy a pasta recipe that we ate years back in Ottawa and loved so much.
        Making almost everything from scratch is a pain in the butt, and takes so much time. Nowadays there are quite a few more gluten free things available, I used to hate having to make my own burger buns. Now we can buy good tasting ones, but they cost $1.25 each (or more) and are rarely on sale. I make a great copy of the PC frozen seafood lasagna that we used to like, but poaching the shrimp and scallops in wine, making the sauce, grating the cheese, very time consuming. So it is a once or twice a year treat

        1. Ah, AAA beef – on the grill – great stuff!

          Yes, it does take time. My wife and I try to cook fresh food often. We don’t always eat dinner until 8 pm at night because of that.

        2. Yeah, making everything from scratch is lots of work. Too bad I do not have the time and energy to do that with full time job. I try my best to give kids nutritious food. When I was in rush though, I will just make something simple like mac & cheese.

  4. Weekend musings

    LB.to….CEO should be doing the Perp walk in handcuffs…how the freak do you raise Div’s one week and then decide you need a $125,000,000 cap raise the next week? Well under market. Don’t start me on compliance issues there as well.

    Groceries and eating well – Farmers Markets aren’t always cheaper but at a true FM ( vendors can only sell what they grow) the grocery $$ spent there goes to the grower/producer…not into the Co coffers that spent the last decade price fixing bread and who knows what else.
    I do stop by my local Loblaws…first thing in the morning and follow around the gal with the 50% off stickers. This am I got a $13 bag (500 grams) of ground Italian cheese ( excellent in pasta) that at the deli cooler, was marked down form $13.00 to $6.99…then there was an additional 50% off sticker. when they rang me thru…price came up at $7.99. No…this is priced on the shelf at $6.99..so they rang it up as 50% off of $7.99 No , your Scanning Code of Ethics states…if scanned incorrectly…under $10…I get it free. that required a trip to the shelf to see the price…with a supervisor and yes…finally …I got it free
    Who here actually checks the scanned price of your purchases at checkout? It’s amazing how often you get charged higher prices…stand your ground..under $10..first one is free..over $10…it’s $10 off. also where i shop….7:30 at night all the sliced meats in deli get wrapped up and 50% off, loose chibatta buns get put into a good sized bag….$1 (when they are $0.79 ea) take them home..toss in freezer…great lunch sandwiches the next week….with the 50% off sliced meats. Cheese, butter, yogurt…are are usually 50% off once in a 6 week pricing cycle.
    Yes, we have a large backyard and a veggie garden, I get free mushroom farm compost to fertilize it….had asparagus over 10′ tall and tomato plants over 6′ last year. Food with flavor !!

    1. 🙂 Don’t get me started on compost, Mark will throw me out.

      I have to admit I don’t even take the grocery receipt never mind watch to see if the scanner is correct.

    2. I didn’t check my receipt for a long time as usually I was always in rush. Today I took some Candy as it’s on sale, and I did check my receipt, it’s charged with the original price. Too bad walmart does not have the policy so that I could get it free. Nevertheless, not bad to get the overcharged amount back.

  5. Some nice stories.

    Lloyd , that’s a great well thought out approach. Cannew, It’s obvious you and your wife were also great parenting role models. May, judging by all your posts I’ve no doubt your kids have an excellent role model and will do well too.

    No kids here so can’t really even begin to speculate how I would deal with them. I was on my own just after high school with my parents on the other side of the country, but I survived. Thanks to the valuable lessons I learned from them, followed by school of hard knocks. Help on buying house et??. LOL

    I’m with steadyhand. Yes, you’re right Mark the party isn’t over yet but all kinds of cracks are showing. Increased warnings about our banks, stats on the most personally indebted nation in the world, signficant numbers relying on HELOC (without repayment) to pay bills, growing fed deficits chewing up dry powder etc.When this party ends it may transition quickly and might be described as a funeral for too many, and even those of us not indebted will likely be affected.

    Re favorite div. stocks. A sell- not for me. A buy-who knows. That will vary by person due to many factors. I think there’s lots of shorts out there on utilities.

    For groceries in the past 9 mths of full time residency other than 12 days we spent avg. $436/mth for 2 of us. For 2016 it was $491/avg for 10 mths we were here. This includes sundries which my wife dropped out of her grocery tracking in 2017. We rarely eat out, eat healthy balanced diets, almost no processed food, have a garden providing seasonal vegetables.

  6. Regarding to food price, I feel grocery was up much faster than the inflation rate suggested. I did not pay that much attention to grocery price but I was buying mac & cheese for my kids the other day, I still remember they are $1 a box, I was shocked they are $2 a box now. It’s like in how long? My older kid is 9 years old, and she was at least 2 years old when she started on this.

  7. Time changes, Mark. I have friends whose son is in University now and they are talking about investing for 5 years and then use the money to help their son to buy a home. My first reaction is also “Are you kidding me?”. We came to Canada without any money and even not speaking English fluently (actually still not LOL). Three years later, we bought a small house in suburb of Metro Vancouver. Shouldn’t our kids be able to do better than us, considering they have better language skills, better social support from family and friends, start career earlier and stronger than us?

    But, time changes. The price of our old house is about 3 times of median family income in Vancouver area when we bought it. The same house we sold last year, was about 10 times of median family income in Vancouver area. When I started working here in Canada about 20 years ago, the normal is getting married equals buying a home, depending on different people, it could range from condo to single family house, from inner city to far suburb. But people can buy their own home, no problem. Nowadays though, I have quite a few colleagues with kids are still renting. They want only one kid too as they cannot afford to have two. Here comes a Canada future without babies, horrible.

    It’s very difficult for the kids nowadays to buy home on their own. It will be too expensive to rent too. My kids are still very young, but I am thinking now when time comes, if I am capable, I could buy a home and rent it to them (with lower rent than fair market value, maybe?).

    I also don’t mind if they want to live at home after 18 years old. I am Asian, we have the tradition that multiple generations live under the same roof. I just bought nice bedroom furniture for both kids. I actually will be happy if they end up using those furniture for a longer time. Lots of Asian kids here actually live with their parents until getting married even before house price becomes so crazy. But our kids will be true Canadians, I am afraid they could not wait to get rid of their old parents to have their own life. LOL.

    1. I understand May, times change. It just seems crazy that most parents feel this is an obligation today. I mean, I get helping kids, but I simply can’t imagine my parents with tens of thousands of dollars to give me. They help me with my education – it was up to me to do the rest…

      If you have the financial means to help your kids and not to hurt your retirement in the process – good on you and well done!

      1. Totally agree with you Mark. I scraped and worked 2 jobs plus overtime to get that 5% down payment on my first home and worked up to a single. However I have an adult daughter now who has a multitude of friends / peers whose parents hand out money like its candy to their kids, buying them cars, homes etc

        And now my daughter seems to think i should be doing the same. I find this attitude does nothing but breed sloth among this millenial society. I have a difficult time trying to make my kids understand this.

        Yes times do change however fundamentals like hard work and go-getting don’t.

        1. That’s where I struggle Rob – the “hand out money like its candy”. We don’t have kids but I can’t imagine not working hard for something in life and teaching those values to your kids.

    2. Unfortunately housing prices are up the roof in vancouver. However there are many other affordable canadian cities with cheaper housing if one is flexible and doesn’t mind moving.

  8. Lloyd:
    Again I don’t want to take any credit, though my wife deserves it all, but our kids seemed to have understood that if they want or need something, they’ve got to work/save for it.
    But as you say, we’d certainly be there to help if need, but never with just handouts.
    I now read the article and we are beginning to Gift money to the kids and grandkids. The kids really don’t need the money, so we’re transferring shares so they can max out their TFSA. For the grand kids we’ve started adding funds to their DRIP accounts. Very little is cash for them to get lazy about knowing the meaning of money.

  9. Your a nice guy Lloyd.
    I don’t know if we did something right (or wrong), if the kids just wanted to do things on their own, or if we were just lucky, but we never had to help them out during their teens and twenties. Our son worked in HS and bought his first car, actually a truck. He continued working and paid for his own way through university. He did live at home and we gave him money at times but that was it. Our daughter was sort of an artist and did not go to university but Art schools and even spent two years in Nova Scotia, where she got Student loans. Eventually she came home, got a job, moved out, got married and paid off her student loan. They have two great kids, now 20 & 15 and are beginning to invest and save for their own retirement (any guesses on which strategy).

    1. Thanks cannew, it’s the way I was raised. Dad was born in 1916 and I’m guessing the Depression taught him a LOT to supplement his grade eight schooling.

      I’ll bet a double/double and a box of bits that if either of your two kids, or the grandkids, showed up asking for help you’d be there for them in a heartbeat.

  10. “Are you (expletive) kidding me??” 🙂

    I kinda went down the “partnership” road with our daughter. When she worked in the u-pick I paid her. If she wanted to buy something big (she wanted a nice bike) I agreed to pay half so she had to save some of her pay. We always had an RESP for tuition so when it came time for University I *strongly* encouraged her to look beyond local and agreed to pay for her room and board IF she wanted to get out of Manitoba (she did). When she got sick and had to come home, she wanted to rent a house in the city with a couple of her high school chums. I offered to help her buy a house if they would pay rent (we did). I had intended to offer to match dollar for dollar any money placed into an investment TFSA. She couldn’t work so I ended up funding it entirely. There are ways to help our kids without necessarily just handing it to them.

    1. I have no problem my friend with parents helping out kids but I think “just handing it to them” is not ideal. Kudos to you and your support for your daughter – you cannot predict things life throws your way for sure.


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