Talking Freelancing & Taxes with TurboTax Canada #CDNmoney

It is the time of the year, as the snow melts everyone is getting ready to file their taxes. If you are self employed like me, this time of year might scare you a little. I know it does me. This year I have partnered again with TurboTax Canada to bring my readers and those that participate in the #CDNmoney chats on Tuesdays the latest information when it comes to taxes.

This Tuesday night, March 29th is our first chat and we are talking with freelancers about taxes. One of the things I do love about using the TurboTax software is that it is so easy to use. It provides the self employed blogger like me extra guidance as we walk through things like self employment income and deductions. It helps you file your personal and unincorporated business taxes together.

When it comes to all those deductions we can claim there are clear paths to claiming old space, travel expenses and vehicle expenses. If there is an expense you can claim this software knows about it.

Even if you run into an issue I love that there is free tech support. What are some of my top tips for my fellow freelancers?

1. Save ALL your receipts and invoices.

The government requires that you provide receipts and invoices. If you are audited you need to be able to back up your claims. No guess work allowed.

2. Set a budget for taxes.

Unlike salaried employees, you are not paying deductions for things like income tax, CPP or EI. You need to contribute the employee portion of these which can prove costly. A good standard to go by 30% of your income.

3. Contribute to your RRSP.

Freelancers can not rely on the company retirement plan. They need to have a retirement plan of their own.

4. Home Office Deduction

Be careful with this one, make sure your deduction is reasonable. If your office space takes up 20% of your housing space then that is what you claim. Some of the extra things you can claim internet, phone, home insurance, heat and hydro.

Are you a Freelancer-

Now, if you are like me you always have questions when it comes to tax time, so I am hoping over the next month as we talk taxes with my friends at TurboTax for the #CDNmoney chat each week you will join the conversations.

You can even win tax software! Each week, TurboTax will be giving away 4 downloads of their software, that will definitely come in handy as you get ready to file yours. This week 4 people will win a copy of the Home & Business edition.

Hope to see you tweeting with us this Tuesday March 29th at 7pm EST. No RSVP required!

Want more advice for Freelancers from TurboTax check out this page.

How Far From the Brink are You?

An emergency department sign.

I was reading the newspaper with my tea this morning, yes, I am old fashion like that when I came across an IPOS Reid survey that scares me. For as long as I have had this blog I have shared my story of debt and how hard it is to rebuild after debt destroys your life. It’s hard, it takes work, it takes time. One simple emergency and things change.

A new poll stated that many Canadians are less than a paycheque away from being able to pay their bills in fact many where already there. That should scare you. I know it scares me. Many are on the road to bankruptcy. They see bankruptcy as an option. Bankruptcy doesn’t change habits. It doesn’t change mindsets. Emergencies happen, they are a part of life. I have lived through divorce, fire, flood and hurricane.

I know of more than one who declared bankruptcy only to have to declare it again within years. Why are we allowing ourselves to live so close to the brink? Many Canadians live with no savings and live paycheque to paycheque. I was one for many years. It’s a scary place to be. You have no safety net. You are not prepared for any emergency.

As a nation, we are a nation of debtors. Us Canadians carry the highest debt load in the G7.  We believe because of the low interest rates we can afford more, need more. We no longer save for what we want, we go and buy it and then worry about the payments. We buy furniture, clothes, travel, cars, education all on credit. What does it all this credit do to us. It makes us slaves to those we owe.

Have you ever stopped before you bought on credit? before you took that deserved trip? bought that pair of shoes? took that night out? They all have ramifications if you don’t have the money in the bank.

Getting out from under your debt load takes hard work. It takes taking a step back and seeing how close to the brink you really are. It takes realizing you made a mess and being willing to clean it up. It means being willing to do the work. It may mean some major life changes. I know for me it did.

If you are in consumer debt, figure a way out, stop spending your tomorrow. I know for me it meant being real about my debt, it meant hard conversations, it meant making choices and realizing I really did want a better tomorrow and I would make sacrifices today. Do you know how close to the brink you are?

Things like seeking a professionals help are ok, so is building a nest egg of savings to keep you away from the brink. Build an emergency fund. Start with a $1000 in the bank that is there for emergencies, and build from there. How do you get that first $1,000. Most who have huge consumer debt loads, have stuff. Sell some of it or get a part time job or create a secondary flow of income. Do the hard stuff to get where you want.

Trust me it takes time and energy to move away from the brink but it is worth it for the peace that comes.

How to Choose a Financial Planner in Canada

Tonight for the #cdnmoney chat on Twitter I have a very special guest, Preet Banerjee the TV Host of Million Dollar Neighbourhood is joining me to talk about How to choose a financial planner. Such an important topic as how do we choose the best help for handling our money.

Reasons for choosing a planner may differ, but here are a few questions I would think about:

What are my money goals?

How much do I already know?

How much do I want to be involved day to day?

How does this person get paid and by who?Are they paid extra to recommend certain products?

How would I find a good planner?

What questions would I have for them from the get go? Do you have questions about taking risks? about securities? The list goes on.

Once you know you want from a financial planner, next ask your friends for a referral.  Ask them how are they helping them out? Is that the kind of help you need? If yes then meet the planner and check them out to see if they are a fit for you.

One other resource you may want to check out is The Financial Planning Standard Council they have a wonderful section on financial planning including 10 tips for choosing a planner.

Once you have a few names, you will want to meet them. Make sure you have your questions for them ready.

Remember:

1. You are looking for a fit for you, this person will be handing your money, just as you are choosy about who you date, do your due diligence. Make sure you connect with them.

2. Ask about designations, and experience but more importantly can they make money real to you. Can they explain in ways you understand? Can they answer your questions?

3. Ask what products they offer and why? Are they limited in who they can choose to invest your money in.

4. Find out their track record, the company track record long term.

Do not sign any contracts in that first meeting, go home mull it over, meet with a few before you decide on one. Check references.

Does this sound like a chore, it should we are talking about your money and your future. Do your homework.

Now you have chosen someone, check in often and reassess are they really the best fit for you, are they doing what they said, and is your money growing?

These are just some thoughts on choosing a planner, how did you choose yours? What would matter to you?

You can join the discussion on the topic tonight on the #cdnmoney chat on Twitter, at 7pm EST.

The Great Canadian Blogger Bash –Party On.

Let’s get this party started Canadian style, eh! My friends  Whispered Inspirations, Mom vs. the Boys, Positively Pampered Patty, Good Girl Gone Green and Kat’s Confessions are our wonderful hostesses for this blog hop that celebrates everything Canadian, Canada Day and our wonderful array of Canadian bloggers.

So some interesting facts about me and Canada:

  • I am proud to say I am a 10th generation Canadian. Some of my family members were some of the very first settlers who traveled to Canada
  • I am the first in my family to change religions..we have such an array to learn from in this great land and we can learn from each other’s faiths.
  • I have attended 2 Canadian universities: Dalhousie and the University of Manitoba. One East, one west! Can you guess what my degrees are in.
  • I am proud to say since Canada became a country every generation of my family has had a military connection of some sort. So proud of my cousin who is currently serving, and the service of my mom, grandfathers, great, great great and great great great great great. All served on behalf of Canada.
  • I have travelled coast to coast, seen the southern tip of Canada and have been as far north as Flin Flon, Manitoba.

Now of some of my favorite facts about Canada:

  • The east coast of Canada was settled by Vikings around the year A.D. 1000. Archaeological evidence of a settlement has been found at L’anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. My family were one of the first settlers in nearby Carbonear.
  • Hockey (our national game) has been around since 1877, after Canada became a nation.
  • Ottawa was NOT always Ottawa, originally named Bytown after John By.
  • Canada contains 9% of the world’s renewable water supply. That is a huge amount of water.

Now since this blog hop is about celebrating Canada, Canadian bloggers and all things Canadian I wanted to do a small giveaway to the largest Athletic store chain in Canada: Sportcheck. I have a $25 gift car I will be sending one of you. If you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you know one of my goals for this year is getting fit, so for me it seemed like a good match for my giveaway.

Are you ready to win?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Scanning Code of Practice Defined

Scanning code of practice

Here is Canada did you know that if a retailer who uses a system that scans your item for pricing purposes and it scans the wrong amount,  you may qualify for a discount on that item?  Sometimes the store may give the item to you free simply because they made a mistake.

Most major retailers in Canada follow a voluntary rule that’s called the Scanning Code of Practice.  Here is the Rule:

If an item is scanned for a price higher than what is displayed in the store, or advertised by the store the lower price will be honored.

AND

a)if the correct price of the product is $10 or less, the retailer will give the product to the customer free of charge; or

B)if the correct price of the product is higher than $10, the retailer will give the customer a discount of $10 off the corrected price.

There is also another rule. If say you go to the register with 3 of the exact same item, and they all scan wrong, then you would get 1 free, and the other 2 the price would be adjusted to the lower price.

 

Remember it is a voluntary rule and here is a list of stores I found that practice, and abide by the rule:

  • The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and Ont only)
  • Lawton Drug Stores
  • London Drugs
  • Lovell Drugs
  • Pharma-save (BC and Sask)
  • Pharma Plus
  • Canada Safeway Limited
  • The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
  • Loblaw Companies Limited
  • Sobeys Inc.
  • Metro Inc.
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
  • Co-op Atlantic
  • Federated Co-operatives Limited
  • RCC Supporting Companies:
  • Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
  • The Home Depot Canada
  • Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
  • Toys r Us
  • Rona
  • Wal*Mart Canada Corp.
  • Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
  • The North West Company
  • Best Buy/Future Shop
  • 2 Home Hardware franchisees
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Overwaitea Food Group
  • The Harry Watson Group
  • Longos Brothers Fruit Markets
  • + 1374 independent locations

So when you are at your favorite retailer on the list be sure to watch the monitor as you may be able to get it discounted or free, or price adjusted. Another thing to note you should always check the monitor and you receipt as mistakes often happen and many times they do not favor you. You will have to ask for the discount so make sure you do, and who knows when you will get your next free item or save $10. I have saved hundreds over the years using it.

What Does the New Citizenship Policy Mean for Canada and Muslim Women?

Niqab © by sittiealiah

 

This week the Canadian government announced a new policy. No longer will the citizenship pledge taken by thousands here in Canada each and every year be administered to women who wear a face covering.

This means for women who are Muslim and wear the niqab or burqa they must choose to unveil or lose their chance at Canadian citizenship. What does this mean if they don’t unveil? It means they can NEVER become a Canadian citizen. They will not have the right to vote, to have a say in this democracy, they will not be able to hold some jobs. So because they choose their faith and the veil they will be relegated to second class status in this great land of ours.

As a woman I am outraged. As a Canadian woman even more so. Why?

Because our forefathers wanted a land that was welcoming, that could include all, that all points of view could be heard and seen. We established even a charter of rights and freedoms. It is my right as a woman to wear what I want as long as I am not indecent. I could swear citizenship in a bikini if I wanted too, but I can not dressed modestly and covered. I have the right as a Canadian to express my point of view, but these women will be forever denied that if they choose to cover. They will not have a say in our society, and it is NOT a male relative taking it away but our government.

Around the world there are many niqabi (women who cover and wear and veil) who hold great jobs and are great members of society. If you attend any mosque here in Toronto and are in the sisters area you can meet and talk with women who choose the veil. You would be surprised to find out some are born right here in Canada and see it as a deeper commitment to God. They don’t do it because they have too, or are forced here. Yes, in some parts of the world it is law but here they know they can choose it or lie it down. The veil is worn by these women because they are strong in faith and want to wear it, just like someone may say I am going to wear a habit because it is a symbol of my faith.

For those that say it is an identity issue I say Hogwash! A woman’s identity can be verified simply before taking the oath in a private room, where any woman I know would be glad to show her face to a female court officer. To say how can we know it is her is a moot point as many countries can tell who is who even covered.

By the way I can walk into a mall, and see a niqabi wearing friend of mine and know it is her. I can identity her in a crowd even of other sisters all wearing niqab. It is easy enough to do. identity is not the issue here.

What does that mean for Canada? What does this new policy really mean? If you are not like previous generations of Canadians you are not welcome here. Do as we do, say what we say, be like us, your ways are wrong, we want to empower you but you must do it this way to be empowered you can’t choose your way, you don’t have that expressive right. We are saying to these women because you are not already Canadian you have no charter rights, we do not have to give you them, and we can relegate you to second class member of society if you wish to wear that covering.

The policy is a huge step backwards in this land that is supposed to offer freedom and charter rights. We can no longer say ALL are welcome because as of Monday that is not the case. It is now you are welcome if you do what we say, and are just like us.

What can you do if you are like me and are thinking this policy is wrong? Write your MP. Call him or her and let them know your thoughts. Let me know your thoughts too, and yes I do care.

Micro-Volunteering comes to Canada with Koodonation

Volunteering for Haiti © by cambodia4kidsorg

Have you heard about Canada’s first online microvolunteering community: koodonation.com.  Today Koodo is supporting a social change movement that is redefining volunteering across Canada. An entirely not-for-profit, grassroots community, supported and powered by Koodo, koodonation.com allows consumers and Canadian charities to work together where a huge percentage of Canadians spend their time – online — with the concept of microvolunteering.

Microvolunteering is volunteerism built for the social media generation. It gives us web savvy Canadians the opportunity to make a huge contribution to Canadian not-for-profit and charity organizations, right from our computers, in 15 minutes or less. With microvolunteering, volunteering becomes a purely online-activity which can be done any time the volunteer has a spare moment: before work; during a study break; or simply on a free evening at home.

Small online acts of charity add up to big social change

Microvolunteering tasks are designed to take a short period of time, typically 15 minutes to two hours, but help not-for-profit organizations to very quickly and easily crowd-source solutions through a range of high-impact challenges and questions such as disaster or emergency relief, fundraising ideas, social media strategy, copywriting, graphic design, and much more.

Koodonation has already been embraced by some of Canada’s most respected charity and not-for-profit organizations including; Canadian Feed the Children; Kids Help Phone; Sustainable Waterloo; Canadian Animal Assistance Team; and Students Offering Support — and more are joining every day.

Koodonation has also been embraced by some of Canada’s best sports and entertainment personalities including MTV Live Co-Host Sheena Snively, Jeremy Taggart of the iconic Canadian rock back Our Lady Peace, Daniel Johnson, member of the break-out Canadian band Stereos, Toronto Argonaut Mike Bradwell, and one of Canada’s top social media personalities, blogger Casie Stewart. In the true spirit of this campaign, each of these personalities is volunteering their time at a charity competition between Ontario colleges and universities, which will launch Koodonation in Toronto toay Thursday, October 13, 2011. This event happens at Yonge/Dundas Square from 11-3.  As a thank you for their support, Koodonation.com is making a $20,000 contribution to a charity of their choice. When I soke to Casie recently she was having a hard time choosing who she was going to gift.

Koodonation is powered by Sparked.com, San Francisco-based pioneers of microvolunteering. Operating similar microvolunteering communities in the U.S., Sparked.com and the microvolunteering concept have been celebrated by the TED community . You can watch this great TED talk all about volunteering.

Ben Rigby – Micro-Volunteering – Giving Back for Busy People

“We’re thrilled to partner with Koodo to launch Canada’s first-ever microvolunteering network,” says Ben Rigby, CEO of Sparked.com. “Backed by Koodo’s unparalleled knowledge of the Canadian market, koodonation.com will transform the not-for-profit landscape in Canada by leveraging the skills, expertise, and know-how of Canadian citizens.”

Nearly 90 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 34 use the internet*
51 per cent of Canadian 18-34 year olds volunteer or fundraise for charities
47 per cent of Canadian 18 -34 year olds volunteer at least once per month
More than 64 per cent of Canadian 18-34 year olds prefer to support causes within their community and Canada

*Internet usage statistic courtesy of Library of Parliament, all others courtesy of Koodo Mobile

Think.  It’s easy. It’s fun. And it makes a difference.

Do you have 15 minutes to spare for a good cause? If yes check out Koodonation.

 

32 Sites for Watching TV in Canada for Free

Canadian TVWe all have our favorite TV Shows right? I know I have mine. But let’s get real here who really likes to pay the cost of cable these days especially when there are so many alternatives. Trust me you can cut the cable and not miss your favorite show.Many of our favorite shows are broadcast online. This week I am going to show you how you can watch TV for free here in Canada.

First of all there is no catch and it is 100% legal to watch and access these shows, and it is rather easy to do.You can literally sit at home laptop open and stream tv, or you can even connect to your television set with a few simple tricks.

So why watch TV online?

  • You can watch an entire season of a show in one sitting if you wished.
  • You choose when to watch, you aren’t glued to their timetable.
  • Less commericals..30 seconds vs 2 minutes so you save some time.

What are some issues to watch for:

  • Bandwith, constant streaming can put a tax on your caps if you are with a provider who caps your internet usage. I hope by now you are not.
  • Shows are sometimes hard to find, but with this list that will about to become a non issue.

So where to watch:

First the Big Networks all have an extensive listing of their best shows and even some special events and movies:

  • CBC (Home of Dragon’s Den, Hockey Night in Canada and more)
  • City-Tv (Home of The Bachelor, Cityline, Hell’s Kitchen and more)
  • CTV (Home of Conan, Desperate housewives, The Amazing Race and more)
  • Global (Home of Glee, Survivor, Big Brother and more)

For Kid friendly viewing:

  • Family( Home of Phineas and Ferb, Good Luck Charlie, and Jonas and more)
  • Teletoon(Home of Transformers, Stoked, Adventures of Finn & Jake and more)
  • Treehouse(Home of Angelina Ballerina, Dora the Explorer, and more)
  • YTV (Home of iCarly, House of Anubis, and more)

For the News Watcher:

  • Al Jazeera (Home of Newshour, The Stream and more orginating  from Middle East but streams live global news)
  • Bloomberg News ( Live stream news from Asia, Europe and the USA)
  • BNN (very extensive library of news and shows relating to business)
  • CTV News (Home of Question Period, W5, and more)
  • Global News (local, national,and global news)

For the Music Lover

  • Much Music ( Home of Degrassi, Punk’d, Concerts and more)
  • CMT (ER Vets, Pet Heros, Concerts)
  • MuchMoreMusic (First Spin, The Week That Was and more)
  • MTV (Jersey Shores, The Hills, and more)

For the Cook and Home Improvement Person

  • Food Network (Kitchen Nightmares, Chef Off, Everyday Exotic and more)
  • HGTV (Property Virgins, Holmes on Holmes and more)

Other Speciality channels include

  • A&E (Hoarders, Intervention, Storage Wars and more)
  • APTN (Blackstone, Fit First and more)
  • Bravo (Holywood Treasure, The O’Regan Files and more)
  • Discovery Channel (Cash Cab, How It’s Made, Daily Planet and more)
  • History (Pawn Stars, Top Shot and more)
  • OLN (Mantracker, Ghost Hunters and more)
  • Showcase (Weeds, Lost Girl and more)
  • Slice (Til Debt Do Us Part, Princess, The Mom Show and more)
  • Space (Torchwood, Doctor Who and more)
  • Spike (Auction Hunters, Entourage and more)
  • The Comedy Network (The Colbert Report, Comedy Now, and more)
  • TVtropolis (Wipeout Canada, Carlawood and more)
  • W Network (Love It or List It, Property Brothers and more)

Later this week I will share how to actually watch these on your TV, all it takes is a few tricks. So now what is your favorite show and have you watched it streamed?

31 Days and 31 Ways to Save : Cutting Cable Costs

Are you spending a small fortune on cable or satellite tv? The average Canadian household spends I would guess at least $100 a month on tv. That is $1200 a year! What could you do with that money? Spending a small fortune on cable does not work for me.

What does is is cutting the cable costs. There are many ways to drop your cable costs each and every month. Some are less radical then others but let me share what has worked for me.

Recently I cut the cable at our house as both my daughter and I have laptops. We watch alot of media online so this made sense. All of my favorite shows I can find online the day after they are on tv and guess what there are less commericals and since I am already paying for my internet connection it is free.

I also ordered Netflix. Here in Canada it costs me $8 a month and you can have 2 devices watching at any one given time. This works for us as Rachel can be watching her favorite animated shows which are on Netflix while I watch a movie.

We have also cut our cable. We choose to view online. We also bought an antenna that allows us to get 7 channels ( we live in a basement apartment), other friends using an antenna are getting more.

So do you want to cut your costs after hearing what works for me? Here are some of the things you can try:

1. Call your cable provider and tell them you are thinking of leaving, see if they can offer you a better bundle.

2. Get rid of theme packages that you are not watching all the time. Come on do you really need them?

3. Do not order Pay Per View movies, or sporting events. You can get a theme package or two for the cost of these. If you love movies I do recommend Netflix or how about using your local library. We use ours alot and the Toronto libraries have many great choices.

4. Get rid of the cable box. If you have a new tv most come with a buildt in scanner thus taking $5 off your bill each month or if you need a box buy one outright from many of the big box stores.

5. Go on a Media diet. Cut the cable and choose other sources for media input and watch what you are watching there is alot more to do then sit in front of a screen.

6. Go radical and cut the cable and instead of buying an antenna you could even build one.

All of these would work for me and I hope they work for you as well. Now I am off to We are That Family to see what is working this week for others.

And if you want to get radical and build your own antenna here is a video I found on doing so: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWQhlmJTMzw]

31 Days and 31 Ways to Save: Extreme Couponing Canadian Edition

coupons couponsHave you watched “Extreme Couponing” on TLC yet? The show shows people saving thousands and they shop. Is that possible here in Canada? The simple answer is no but you can save a great deal of money and even get some great freebies along the way.

First you need to get the coupons.

Where can you gather them from in Canada?

1. Newspaper inserts. With these I ask my neighbours who dont coupon to save me theirs as well I go to my local corner store the day after and ask for the inserts.

2. Check online resources. There are several websites that offer great coupons. They then mail the coupons to you:

3. Sign up for alerts with GroceryAlerts.ca a site that lets you know when new coupons are available.

4.  Participate in forums on Frugal Shopper.ca, RedFlagDeals.com and SmartCanucks.ca. By participating in these forums I have access to the latest information shared by great couponers. I have also been able to trade coupons and even participate in coupon trains.

5. You can sign up for email or write directly from companies as well. Also sometimes you can get high value coupons by simply writing the companies you love. Most have a contact us page, try you using it.

Now that you have your coupons it is time to discuss how to use them:

Best way to use coupons in Canada

1. Use your weekly flyers to figure out what you want to buy that is on sale.

2. Match your coupons to what is on sale.

3. Compile your your shopping list and place coupons in an order so they are ready to use.

4. Check your store couponing policy. Different stores have different rules. Know yours. London Drugs is the only Canadian store that allows stacking. Stacking means they will accept more then one type of coupon for a product as long as they come from different media source ( ie. newspaper, inserts, online, etc. ).

Now the fun part. Shop and save. I have known many Canadians who have been able to cut there grocery bills in half simply by couponing.