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Although American-oriented, the Motley Fool School has good information for getting started on a sensible investment plan.
As lame as the titles might sound, I actually found Investing for Canadians for Dummies and Personal Finance for Canadians for Dummies to be clearly written, sensible, well-balanced introductions to money-related topics. They are both written by Eric Tyson and Tony Martin. The investing book was published in June 2000. It covers not only stocks, bonds and mutual funds, but also real estate and small businesses.
There are a variety of ETFs for Canadian, US, and world markets. You generally want to purchase these in large blocks, so as to keep the commission to a reasonable percentage (one or two percent) of the total purchase cost.
Bylo has a page on Exchange-Traded Funds and Indexes.
No-load index mutual funds offer the advantage of being able to start with a small dollar amount and then do dollar-cost averaging, if you get a fund that lets you make small additional contributions for no fee. As far as I know as of this writing (2001-03) the TD eFunds (which can only be traded electronically) have the lowest MER. Since these products are otherwise virtually indistinguisable, the MER is really the key deciding factor.
Bylo has a page on Low-MER, No-Load Index Funds Available in Canada.
Currently (2001-07-14) Canadian online bond ("fixed income") trading includes:
These investments have experienced a recent upsurge in interest. When the underlying asset is doing well, you can get both capital gains and an income stream from these trusts. But if poorly managed or the business cycle changes, the share value will go down and the income will be reduced or stop altogether.
You can also get instruments that invest in a bunch of other trusts, in the same way that mutual funds invest in a bunch of stocks. Basically giving you some active management and a more diversified holding, if you think those are beneficial things to have. The only one I know of offhand (not a recommendation) is Sentry Select Diversified Income Trust, because I saw the manager on RobTV.
compare the monthly service charges of chequing or savings accounts at various Canadian Financial institutions
These rates are for unsecured lines of credit. For a secured line of credit (e.g. against your house) you can get much better rates.
Please note, these rates typically change whenever the Bank of Canada rate changes (it's called the "prime business rate"). Although different bank prime rates are indicated in the table below, I have never seen a case where they didn't change in lockstep with the Bank of Canada rate (some of the banks are better at keeping their sites up-to-date with the latest rate than others). Please check with your personal banker/lender for definitive information.
|TD Bank||Student Line of Credit||TD Prime + 1 *|
|TD Bank||Line of Credit ($10,000 to $39,999) **||TD Prime + 2.75|
|President's Choice Financial||Borrowing Account||Amicus Prime + 1.75||current|
|ING Direct||Credit Account ***||ING Prime + 1.70||current|
Table last updated 2003-05-09.
TD no longer lists its rates online.
* The rate on the TD Student Line of Credit is from their FAQ.
** TD Line of Credit rate and monthly percentage repayment required will vary depending on your credit rating. Also be careful of TD's "base rate" or "base lending rate" terminology. This is not the same as the prime rate. In my experience their "base rate" is prime + 0.5% but you should of course talk to your lender to make sure you clearly understand the rate they are giving you.
*** ING monthly repayment
minimum 2% of your outstanding balance or $25 (whichever is greater). Money transferred to ING is "on hold" (i.e. unavailable) for 5 business days after transfer. You must provide them with a phone number; if this is a cellphone number, you must provide a bill that proves that number is associated with your address. This may be effectively impossible if you have a pay-as-you-go cellphone account that doesn't send you a bill.
It is quite important to periodically request your credit reports, in order to check for inaccuracies. Also they may provide a useful perspective on how lenders will view you, and provide you with some ideas on how to improve your credit rating.
For some more information, try the discussion thread Experiences with Canadian online credit reports/scores?
There are two main credit reporting services in Canada:
Both, as required by law, allow you to request a free copy of your credit report by mail.
In addition, Equifax has added two online services. The first provides your basic credit report to you immediately online for $14.50. Since this is the same as the free report, it's just a matter of how long you are willing to wait for the information. Secondly, they have a "Score Power" report that includes your FICO credit rating and some additional details and information, available immediately online for $21.95
TransUnion provides an online report with
credit bureau score for $14.99
(I haven't bought any books on taxes recently.)
Note that this is not an endorsement or recommendation of any software listed.
Note: These sites offer free filing if you (and your spouse, if married or common law) have a total net income of less than $20,000. I have verified this for QuickTaxWeb and Ufile.
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