Monthly Archives: August 2016

How to maximize Credit Card loyalty rewards programs

Frank Psoras

By Frank Psoras, TD Canada Trust

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Credit cards can offer many benefits to achieve your financial goals. And with most credit cards today, the more you swipe, insert or tap, the more opportunities you have to earn and redeem loyalty rewards.

According to a recent TD survey, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of Canadian adults carry at least one card that offers a rewards program, with most cardholders (82 per cent) saying it’s one of the top factors when choosing a credit card.

North Americans are among the most rewards-savvy consumers in the world; they’re always looking for better ways to get the most from their rewards programs to reach their goals faster. That is why it’s no surprise our survey also shows that almost half (49 per cent) of Canadians are willing to change where they shop to earn and redeem points faster. But remember to pay your balance on time and in full to avoid incurring interest charges on purchases. Continue Reading…

8 reasons you may get turned down for Life Insurance

Depositphotos_111789972_s-2015By Chantal Marr, LSM Insurance

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

For some people, getting the life insurance coverage they need is not easy. Factors such as health conditions and lifestyle choices play an important role in determining whether or not a company sees you as a qualified candidate. Lying on your application to hide potentially damaging facts won’t help. It might get you a great policy at prime rates, but when it comes down to filing a claim, the insurance company will discover the truth, and your claim will be denied.

We reached out to Gisèle Babineau, Chief Underwriter with Assumption Life, for the most common reasons a person may be denied life insurance coverage. The reasons for being declined vary from one company to another, and there is also a significant gap between a re-insurer and insurer because many insurers do not shop their declines with their re-insurers. However, in general, these are the most common reasons why an application may not be approved.

Medical Reasons

A medical condition under investigation

If you have some symptoms of an illness or disease, but all of the results aren’t in yet, your medical condition is considered under or pending investigation. During this period, you are considered a high risk applicant and the insurance company may deny coverage or delay their decision. Once you are cleared of any possible long-term illness or disease, the company will probably approve your application or ask you to re-apply with the new doctor’s report.

High grade cancers

Cancer can develop in any part of the body. Where it occurs determines its type. For example, lung cancer develops in the lungs. All types begin as a tumor and how the affected tissue looks under a microscope indicates how quickly the tumor cells will grow and spread. Based on the appearance and other factors, doctors can assign a numerical “grade.”

The grade of the cancer is not the same as the stage. Stages refer to the size or extent of spread. Malignant tumors are very low grade and almost always can be completely removed. High grade cancers tend to grow quickly and spread rapidly, putting your life at a higher risk.

Nervous disorders Continue Reading…

Can “RoboTrader” take the emotion out of picking individual stocks?

Robot hand, ordering on a laptop keyboard, an exchange trade. Robot trading system is a computer trading program that automatically submits trades to an exchange without any human interventions. Depth of field with focus on finger.My latest Financial Post blog looks at a new term, RoboTrader. You can find it by clicking on the highlighted text: VectorVest-Questrade partnership brings unemotional ‘robo’ to retail investing.

As I point out in the piece, the better-known term robo-advisor is well entrenched as a shorthand description of automated online investment services, and generally refers to semi-automated portfolio management systems built on low-cost exchange-traded funds or ETFs.

The idea is to build low-cost well-diversified portfolios and benefit by gradual dollar-cost-averaging of the underlying ETFs, as well as regular rebalancing. This takes a lot of the emotion out of building and monitoring an ETF portfolio.

By contrast, RoboTrader attempts to do a similar thing in the realm of individual stock-picking. RoboTrader revolves around 23,000 individual stocks rated every day by  VectorVest Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., which provides investors with both tools to help them with both technical and fundamental analysis of stocks, as well as ETFs. VectorVest has announced RoboTrader as part of a partnership with Questrade Inc., the Toronto-based discount brokerage service.

VectorVest describes RoboTrader as a “powerful new trading tool that solves the biggest problem for many traders: executing a trading plan without letting emotions cloud judgement.” RoboTrader lets clients implement a trading plan that requires only client confirmation for fast, accurate execution, with results monitored in real time.

VectorVest says RoboTrader leverages the intelligence of its fundamental and technical analysis, making it easier to manage portfolios. RoboTrader sends instant alerts to investors’ VectorVest accounts, phone and email, “letting traders know exactly which trades to make, when to make them and in what order quantity.”

Similar deals with US-based TradeKing and TradeStation

Continue Reading…

Victory Lap Retirement now available

Coauthors Mike Drak (L) and Jonathan Chevreau (R).

As the accompanying photograph of me and coauthor Mike Drak shows, the book Victory Lap Retirement has finally come off the printing presses.

It will be a few weeks before it is available in bookstores but it can be ordered and delivered now directly through the web site

The photo was taken Thursday at Mike’s Toronto home. As you can see from our casual poolside attire, we’re trying to live the lifestyle described in the book, and summarized by the subtitle Work While You Play, Play While You Work.

You can also see the yellow book cover is now in rotation on the front page of the Hub, along with the US and Canadian editions of Findependence Day and the summary Kindle ebooks titled A Novel Approach to Financial Independence.

Victory-Lap-Retirement-Book Continue Reading…

How to use a credit card strategically for emergency expenses

Emergency FundBy Alyssa Furtado,

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

You can’t plan for something you don’t know is coming.

Accidents and emergencies are inevitable and a financial cost is often attached to these surprise incidents. So what do you do when you find yourself with an unexpected emergency expense? One option is to use balance transfer credit cards.

Balance transfer credit cards are great tools to help you pay off your debts sooner. They offer a low interest rate (sometimes 0%) for any debts you transfer to the card for a limited period of time. By minimizing interest costs, the money you put towards your debt will directly pay off the amount owing and not go towards fees. While there can be costs associated to balance transfers — like a fee of 1% to 5% for transferring a balance or an annual fee — the interest savings can outweigh the cost of the fees.

So how can you strategically use a balance transfer credit card for emergency expenses? Charge whatever emergency expense you make to a card you already have, immediately apply for a balance transfer card, and quickly transfer over the balance to the new credit card.

There are considerations you need to know before applying for a balance transfer credit card, such as: Continue Reading…