Hub Blogs

Hub Blogs contains fresh contributions written by Financial Independence Hub staff or contributors that have not appeared elsewhere first, or have been modified or customized for the Hub by the original blogger. In contrast, Top Blogs shows links to the best external financial blogs around the world.

The what, when and why on the new Debit Card Chips

By Jessica Kane

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

For years, we got used to swipe, type and go. Then, all of a sudden, we were forced to insert our cards and wait, like we’ve been thrown back to the Stone Age. Well, you will be pleased to know that it was not a step backward. This is real progress for the protection of the cardholder.

What makes the chip so different?

The difference between the chip and the magnetic strip is bigger than just your experience when you check out. When you swipe your card at the terminal, your personal information is vulnerable. We have seen this numerous times in major department stores over the years. All it takes is one good hacker, and all of the information on every card ever swiped within that database is up for grabs.

Yes, that means identity theft.

With the new chip, all of that information is encrypted before it is processed. What does that mean? In a nut shell, your information is transmitted as a one-time-use code. No more hanging your personal info out there for someone to grab a hold of. This doesn’t mean the codes are unbreakable, just that it takes a whole lot more to crack them.

In addition to that, the chip can’t be counterfeited. That magnetic strip on the back of your card, which you’ve been swiping forever, can easily be duplicated. If someone gets their hands on your card, that one strip could quickly turn into hundreds. If you have a chip card stolen, the culprit must have your personal identification number (PIN) in order to use it. And because it can’t be copied, there will only be one bad guy to track down.

When did the chip come into play?

The United States just adopted the more secure way to pay in 2015. But, believe it or not, the chip card has been around since 1994. Fraud was a huge problem in Europe, so they decided to change the way they make transactions by using this seemingly new technology. Since they made the change, Europeans have saved millions that would have been lost to fraud and counterfeiting. Slowly but surely, the rest of the world is following suit.

Why do I have to use them?

Continue Reading…

How to save on prescription medicine

By Chantal Marr, LSM Insurance

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

In Canada, we enjoy a universal health-care system that provides us with emergency medical treatment, regular health check-ups and hospital care.

Unfortunately, this publicly funded system doesn’t cover all of our prescription medications. This means that aside from meds given to you while you are in the hospital, the majority of Canadians have to pay for their prescription drugs themselves – either through an insurance plan or out of pocket.

Prices for prescription drugs in Canada are also among the highest in the developed world. This is due to a complex web of negotiations that undermine our collective buying power.

This results in many Canadians being unable to afford doctor-prescribed medications. Polls indicate that as many as one in five people can’t buy the medication they need. But not taking the prescribed drugs could lead to catastrophic consequences to their health.

For people who need several prescriptions per month, even saving a few dollars on each one could really add up over the coarse of a year. Here are some ways to save money on prescription medicationL

Ask your doctor if you really need to take the medication

You should never stop taking prescribed drugs without speaking to your doctor first. Not taking the prescribed amount or stopping altogether could seriously effect your health or interfere with the progress of the condition your doctor is treating. However, it never hurts to ask if you really need the medication.

Continue Reading…

Top global investment trends of 2017

By Sia Hasan

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

One of the most important things anyone can do for their future is to invest. There are many ways to build wealth over time if you start early and stay consistent no matter what the market is doing.

There are many global investment trends in 2017 that you need to know about. With all the changes that are going on around the world, this is one of the most important things you can look at changing in your personal finances. When it comes to investing, it pays to look at ways that you can improve constantly.

Real Estate

In many parts of the world, real estate is starting to heat up. With fewer properties on the market, many investors want to take advantage of real estate demand. In some developing nations, there are still opportunities to invest in growing areas. In certain places like the United States, the real estate market is so competitive that it is difficult to find a solid deal for the future. You always need to think five or ten years down the road when you are investing in real estate. This is true whether you are buying a home to flip or if you are just buying a home to rent out.

One other reason to consider real estate is that interest rates are still low. With the low rates, the amount of interest you have to pay on your debt is minimized and you can make more money as an investor. If you borrow money this year, it will be cheaper than in the future.

Equities (Stock Market)

When it comes to investing in the stock market, many are worried that we are in bubble territory. The stock market has been on a positive run for nearly a decade now. At some point, there is going to be a correction, and no one wants to invest right before a crash. If you are going to invest in the stock market, you need to have a plan for the future. Investing in the stock market is all about thinking many years down the road. Continue Reading…

Chinese A-shares to go mainstream with inclusion in MSCI EM Index

(Sponsored Content)

Chinese equities will be going mainstream next year following a decision by the MSCI to include 222 China A-shares in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EMI). China A-shares were traditionally only available to domestic and qualified institutional investors, but have recently expanded global investor access through the Hongkong-Shanghai and Hongkong-Shenzhen Stock Connect programs.

The A-share market, including shares from Shanghai and Shenzhen markets, is worth roughly $7.5 trillion, the world’s second largest after the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.[i]

“The decision to include China’s A-shares on the MSCI Emerging market index is very positive for the onshore listed companies as well as foreign retail and institutional investors, who will now benefit from more investment opportunities in China’s domestic growth” says Christine Tan, Chief Investment Officer and Senior Portfolio Manager with Excel Investment Counsel Inc.  “This decision comes after four years of consideration, during which the Chinese regulators have made many positive changes to improve investor access to the onshore equity market.”

Christine Tan

“These A-share corporations will benefit from increased investor interest and flows,” says Tan. “In turn, mutual funds such as the Excel China Fund and Excel Chindia Fund will now invest directly in China-listed companies for further diversification and access to sectors that were not well-represented on the HongKong exchange.”

Almost $18 billion to move into Chinese stocks

According to the MSCI, the inclusion of A-shares on the index will result in about $17 billion to $18 billion of global assets moving into Chinese stocks initially. Continue Reading…

It’s tough managing money: somebody has to do it, but not necessarily you!

Protecting and growing your retirement nest egg is one of your most important financial responsibilities.  Ensuring that your nest egg is sufficient to fund your lifestyle in retirement often means putting at least part of it at risk in the stock market.

Unfortunately, too many people are swayed into believing that being a successful stock market investor means you have to actually beat the market.  Beating the market is really, really difficult, especially over longer periods of time.  It’s a tough job, but why is it so difficult?

Picking outperforming stocks is hard

A recent article from one of our favourite authors and commentators, Larry Swedroe, highlights some data points from studies that indicate why stock pickers might have such a tough time beating the market:

  • The Russell 3000 Index of the largest 3000 US stocks delivered an annualized return of 12.8% between 1983 and 2006
  • While that’s an impressive return over that period and achievable for anyone investing in a Russell 3000 Index fund (if there was one in 1983!), trying to beat that index by picking stocks would have been a formidable task – here’s why:
    • the median annualized stock return was only 5.1% and the average stock actually lost money, -1.1% annually
    • 39% of stocks lost money
    • half of the stocks that lost money lost at least 75% of their value
    • 64% of stocks under-performed the Russell 3000 Index
    • just 25% of stocks were responsible for all of the gains.
    • only 48% of stocks returned more than one month Treasury bill returns

No wonder it’s so difficult to beat market indices. Outperforming stocks are really hard to find!

Even the pros find it difficult

Continue Reading…