Get your “Shoebox” in order to save money

shoebox

Tax time is almost here and now is as good a time as any to get your “stuff” in order to lower your tax bill with your accountant.  The awful truth is that most accountants don’t care about how organized you are because they can use your lack of preparedness to increase the amount they bill you. I can’t do that. My job is to educate and advise my client’s. Part of that advice includes how to organize your finances to :

  1. Understand them
  2. Lower your year end tax bill

Once client`s understand that the more work that I need to do translates into the more they pay, then they usually change their habits. Although, truth be told, there are some that  accept this and are OK with a higher bill.

How to get prepared

  1. Make sure you wait to get all your T4`s, T5`s, T3`s , and RRSP slips. This cuts down on filing amended returns.
  2. Find all relevant receipts (hopefully they are easy to get at) if not there are usually on-line records that you can access
  3. Sort by type of receipt (Medical, travel, meals, donations, vehicle, entertainment, cell phone, etc.)
  4. Add all receipts up with a calculator (buy a calculator with a print feature) then print tab and circle total amount
  5. Paper clip or bind these receipts with tab on top
  6. Present them in one docket or file to your accountant

This eliminates 80% of what accountants do. From here, the accountant should spot check and verify amounts for eligibility and weed out duplicates. This should result in your accountant lowering your tax bill. If it doesn`t then you need to ask yourself if  you are using the right accountant.

Hope this helps,

 

Your friend,

 

Rick Barbosa

My Netflix Changeover

netflix

 

I wanted to share my recent Netflix conversion experience with you so that you could see if it’s worth it for you and your family. Firstly, I held off even thinking about Netflix until their recent run in with the CRTC. I was convinced that the CRTC was going to regulate and destroy the concept in the name of Canadian content. When I like many others saw the refusal of Netflix to cooperate with the CRTC and the lack of follow-up on their part, I started to look into it further.

I was paying 111.78 per month. This was made up of (Before)

  • VIP Cable                      71.99
  • Digital Services Fee    2.99
  • TMN                                16.95
  • Learning Pack              6.99
  • HST                                 12.86

Total                                           111.78

You’ll notice that I didn’t have any rental boxes on there as I believed in owning instead of renting. I was tired of paying so much for the 10-15 channels I was actually watching. We also have 3 T.V’s in our house.

I choose the Netflix 2 TV package which is 8.99 per month. We got rid of VIP, TMN and Learning. Now I bet you’re saying that’s a huge savings already but it actually wound up to be more like this.

We kept basic cable and (After)

  • Basic Cable (Rogers) 36.49  (Digital TV package)
  • Digital Services Fee     2.99
  • Extra Outlet                    7.49 (Once you drop VIP there is a per outlet charge after 2 TV’s
  • Nickelodeon                   2.79 (Advertised on-line but not included in Digital TV package listing)
  • Credit                             -10.00 (for Nickelodeon advertised but not listed and 5.00 credit to defer extra outlet) We had to fight for this
  • Unlimited Data             30.00 (We increased our data to cover usage with Bell Fibe)
  • Netflix                                 8.99
  • HST                                   10.24

Total                                                88.99  Savings of 22.79/mth or 273.48 per year.

Now there is also a Rogers Digital Lite package that’s never advertised which only gives you one box and basic networks for 14.99 per month. We found this to be too extreme but it may be right for you.

Since using Netflix for the past 4 days we have enjoyed the selection and freedom to watch TV without commercials. Now please be advised that your current internet speeds should be 15+mbps download to really work properly and you’ll definitely need unlimited data as we quickly discovered.

Bottom line is you will save money so long as it doesn’t get “regulated” and you will enjoy it. Hope this helped.

 

Your Friend

Rick Barbosa

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the trend is not our friend-The awful truth

Many potential clients start a conversation with me  like this, ” My last accountant/bookkeeper didn’t know a damn thing and was never available.” My first question usually is where did you find them? 9 times out of 10 it was a referral from a family friend or someone they knew. The other question is how much are you paying them? This is where the conversation takes an awkward turn. When they realize they never took the time or effort to look at what they needed and skill set required , coupled with their unwillingness to pay more than a basic wage, then they usually get what they pay for.

Most small business bookkeepers tend to be glorified data entry clerks that know how to work a program. Accountants are professionals who dig deeper, prepare adequate and detailed documentation, and make sure the books are balanced and make sense. Many times the awful truth is that business owners don’t want someone who knows or is willing to enforce  ASPE/US GAAP/IFRS and CRA rulings. So they hire a bookkeeper who doesn’t ask questions. Little does that bookkeeper know that any information that is not in compliance with CRA policy gets linked to them and recorded in CRA’s database for follow up.

The moral of the story is, make sure you find the right accountant. They may cost more, but in the end they will do a better job and let you sleep at night.

 

Your Friend,

Rick Barbosa

 

 

The Road to Prosperity : Step 5 Celebrate Success

You’ve done the hard work of taking responsibility for your own success, tracked everything, learned to pay yourself and finally started living below your means.  At this point you should have had some traction at paying off debt or accumulating some savings or both. It is equally as important to mark these wins as to achieve them. Celebrating milestones keeps you motivated and gives you something to look forward to. Enjoy a night out, nice meal or a weekend away with the family. You’ve earned it. Keep at it and you will start to celebrate more often and enjoy life rather than just living it.

Thanks for staying with me on the Road to Prosperity.

Rick Barbosa

 

The Road to Prosperity: Step 3 Pay Yourself

It’s not a secret, nor is it a new concept, but it is worth repeating, and it is extremely important if you ever want to build wealth and prosperity. After accepting responsibility for your future, tracking and budgeting your spending, the next logical step is to ensure that you treat yourself as an item on your budget. One of my clients asked me how do I pay myself??? Trying to keep things simple I said, treat yourself like a bill. You pay Hydro, Gas, Mortgage, so why not pay yourself. She immediately got the concept. She slotted “Savings” into her spreadsheet and began slowly putting away money each paycheque and was surprised how fast it started to add up.

Now there are different schools of thought on the order and importance savings plays in your budget so I will give you my view based on my own personal experience. During my crunch years (raising kids, paying the mortgage, high household debt) I made it a priority to pay my loans and mortgage off as quickly as I could. This meant that I put very little aside into savings, but still managed to save something each time. My reasoning was simple. I was going to get rid of the debt sooner and sacrifice now (social life, travel, entertainment) while the kids were young so I could enjoy life later. Some may opt to have a more balanced approach, while others are able to both save and pay off debt successfully at the same time. Whatever method you choose, so long as you remember to keep something aside for yourselves then things will work out. If you’re not saving, then ask yourself this question, “What do I have to show for all my hard work?”

Until next time.

Take Care.

Rick Barbosa

The Road to Prosperity: Step 1 Take Responsibility

responsibility2

Prosperity however you define it, either being happy, healthy or financial stable, all comes about by what I’ve learned is the first and most important step in getting there. Taking personal responsibility means you take ownership for your situation. Don’t wait around for someone else to make things happen, instead, realize that you and you alone are the one who needs to take steps if you want to be financially stable. Successful individuals all have this in common. Those who rose to the top or have great jobs realized that only they could get themselves there. It’s easy to be lazy and just do the bare minimum and get by in life and just pay the bills. Wouldn’t you rather have little to no debt, a paid off house, savings and better vacations with your family?  Taking responsibility or being “accountable” for your life is going to get you there. Don’t rely on employers, government agencies, friends, family etc… These as many of you know can be unpredictable and can lead you into a false sense of security.

The road to prosperity is not a quick one, it takes time, effort, focus and patience. But when you start seeing the results of your actions and how empowering responsibility for one’s success can be, you won’t look back.

Here are some “Areas of Responsibility” that you need to take ownership for.

  1. Education-Go as far and as financially feasible as you can. Make sure you are “investing” in the right career path
  2. Learn your job well or start your own. Being OK at something just doesn’t cut it anymore. Be Great at something.
  3. Learn about money. How to handle it and make it work for you. Don’t be its slave, be its master
  4. Take care of yourself and your family.
  5. Be an example for those around you. Help others like those who have helped you. We all depend on one another.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and stay tuned for Step 2 on the Road to Prosperity.

 

Take care,

Rick Barbosa