Are There Any Personal Finance Software Programs That Are Particularly Good For Canadians?

Are You Aware of Any Internet Based Personal Finance programs?

First Published: November 6, 2008

I always get emails from ADJ readers asking questions on a variety of topics. I try to reply those as soon as I can. Take the email snapshot on the top left, for example. A Canadian couple wants to know which personal finance software programs to use. Today, in this post, I will let you read my answer. I haven’t changed their questions, or my answers, except one thing – their names are being withheld for privacy.

On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 11.14 AM, A Canadian Couple wrote:

Do you recommend any software programs such as Money or Quicken?  Are there any that are particularly good for Canadians? Are you aware of any Internet based personal financial programs?

Here Is My Answer:

Hello There,

Thank you for reading my site. Your questions can be answered in two parts.

Part 1

If you are looking for a software to bring all your accounts such as bank accounts, mutual fund accounts, credit card accounts under one platform, there are two options. You can use either MS Money or Quicken. These two have Canadian versions and you can budget, track your expenses, and see all your accounts and transactions on one screen. Quicken would cost about $100 and MS Money would cost about $50. Many computers have MS Money installed on it. So check first to see if you already have MS Money. Which one is better? Quicken is my choice but it costs more. If you can get free MS Money, do not spend money on Quicken. One point I would like to mention is probably you will get notifications every year asking you to update (meaning spend more money). Do not upgrade. It is unnecessary and a waste.

Part 2

If you do not need to see all your accounts and transactions under one software,  go with an online program.  There are the two I would like to mention: and I use Expensr. With these you can track your spending, make budgets, set goals etc. Check both and pick the one you like.

Why We Spend Unnecessarily and What to Do About It

Why People Spend More Than They Earn

First Published: July 21, 2010

Remember “the number one personal finance tip of all time” I mentioned in Ten Timeless Personal Finance Tips By Financial Author A. Dawn article? That is, you need to spend less than you earn. To spend less, you need to know why we spend more than we earn. If you can grasp the basics of the “spending more than earn” scenario, it will be a lot easier for you to save money by spending less. Let’s look at the most important factors that cause us to spend more.

Lack of Information – The majority of the population have no idea where their money is going exactly. We often ignore small spending here and there; but at the end of the month all these tiny expenses add up and turn into something big and beyond our control. To handle this, you need to keep track of your spending. I don’t believe that dollar-for-dollar budgeting works. However, you need to keep track of your spending to see the patterns in your spending behaviour and take steps to cut down on unnecessary expenses. Here is an article to help you find personal finance software to track your spending: Personal Finance Software Review by Financial Author A. Dawn

Lifestyle Habit – Keeping up with the Jones, competing with colleagues, a tendency for showing off riches to the world, acting rich and successful but not able to survive without steady paycheques, feeling a sense of power while spending money, being jealous at other people’s stuff and trying to match their possessions, an inability to say NO to others when they ask for something (although you’re not in a position to afford it), not treating credit card spending like real money, not being true to yourself, and much much more – all these are variations of lifestyle habits. Let’s be honest here – If you aren’t able to save money because of one of these reasons or a similar one, it can be a serious problem and has to be dealt with seriously. I doubt that reading articles online will be any good resolving this. If you think you have this problem, I would suggest you read a few books, and based on the severity of your problem you may need to consult a qualified financial professional. Books I recommend:

The Simple Living Guide
Your Money or Your Life by Dominguez and Robin
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley & William Danko

Instant Gratification – Here is an excerpt from my book Invest Now which is very suitable: “Every day, we face tempting opportunities to spend money. A sea of indulgences can distract you from investing for your future. “Buy now!” “Pay after one year!” “Don’t pay interest for six months!” Everyone everywhere is urging you to spend, spend, spend. I’ve even seen a “Vacation now, pay later!” advertisement on the subway. But every dollar you spend now is a dollar in lost investment opportunities that could have grown a lot more in the long run”. We are bombarded every second to buy into some “now and pay later” scheme. We want what we don’t need when we want it, and are willing to drag on paying interest to fulfill our instant gratification mentality year after year. What we don’t realise is that a $100 item is costing us $150 at the end of the interest paying term and it is prohibiting us from investing for our future – because we are paying interest on many other similar things and becoming money constrained. How should you handle instant gratification syndrome? Here are a few simple tips: try to pay for everything in cash; learn to delay major money sucking purchases, your urge will likely wither away if you can delay a few days; if you are at a store and can’t stop yourself from purchasing something you don’t need and/or is out of your budget, try counting 1 to 10, or take a few deep breaths, or try walking around the store. Once you try one of these; most likely your strong desire will go away.

Not Having Any Goals in Life – We tend to spend recklessly if there is nothing to look for in the future. Setting up goals for different stages in life is a smart way to save money and accomplish goals. These goals can be broken down into smaller parts. For example, instead of saving for a $20,000 down payment for a condo, it’s a lot easier to save $5000 each year for 4 years. Also, have set plans about your life such as buying a house by 30, paying half of the mortgage by 40, retiring at around 50, and so on. Each time you purchase something, think before paying for that item. Take a moment to think whether this purchase will help you achieve your goals or will take you away from your goals.

Whether your spending habit is causing you debt problems or keeping you from achieving your future goals, take a deep look at the causes and eliminate them to start saving for your life. No one else will care for your future and money like you do, and only you can take the necessary steps to secure your financial future.

You Are Rich If You Have $3650

Where Most Millionaires Live

First Published: Published Date : December 19, 2014

According to Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2014, you are one of the half wealthiest people on earth if you have $3,650. The other unfortunate half own less than one percent of global wealth. If you would like to be the top 10 percent of wealthy people, that would require $77,000. This top 10 percent owns 87 percent of global wealth.

And almost half of the global wealth owned by the richest 1 percent. You will need $798,000 to belong to the top 1 percent of the richest people. Where are all the rich people? 41 percent of the world’s millionaires live in the USA. Other top countries where millionaires reside are Japan (8 %), France (7 %), Germany and UK (6 %), Italy (5 %), Australia (4 %), China and Canada (3 %). The highest density of millionaires can be found in Europe.

By 2019, global millionaire numbers are expected to increase by 53 percent, the global middle class is expected to increase 30 percent and upper-middle class only 22 percent.

China is expected to give birth the most millionaires by 2019 due to its skyrocketing population growth. Millionaires growth in the USA will not be as vigorous as China, however it will still retain its title of the country where most millionaires live by 2019.

Your Debt Won’t Go Away Unless

First Steps to Get Rid of Debt

First Published: Published Date : June 11, 2016

Debt is like a never-ending vicious cycle that’s just hard to terminate. Most people who are in debt failed to realize two simple and basic things that make it impossible to get out of debt. Today, I will talk about what you need to realize first, even before applying other debt-relief strategies.

Accept You Have a Debt Problem – This is the number one thing you need to admit or accept: that you have a problem. Most people failed to realize that they had a problem and that led them to not take any actions to work towards eliminating their debt. Think of an alcoholic who does not admit he is an alcoholic and declines to get any help. The same applies with debt. If you don’t admit it, you will never get help or take steps to be debt free.

Stop Borrowing More – This is another big problem that makes it hard to get rid of debt. If you are in debt and paying your balances slowly every month, it should be OK, right? That’s right. However, the problem is when you are paying your balances, but at the same time borrowing more. It’s like you are paying $200 per month towards you loans, but taking out $300 per month. The end result is you are sinking more into debt.

Obviously there are more steps you need to take to get rid of debt. Paying more towards debt, earning more, consolidating debt, and seeking professional help are only a few to mention. All these will happen as long as you go through the first two most important things I mentioned above.

How to ride out market volatility

How to ride out market volatility

First Published: Aug 7, 2008

Unless you are living under a rock these days, you're concerned about the recent market turmoil. Investors all over the world have been losing chunks of their portfolios every day. I remember that I stopped looking at my portfolio at some point and since then I have been checking it very infrequently. Poll after poll shows that the majority of investors are pessimistic about the future and they are making changes in their portfolios based on emotion and fear, not based on a calculated decision.

The most common action they are taking? Switching out of equities and parking money into money market products. Equities are at their lowest at this time and switching out of equities may cost you a lot more than you can possibly handle. It is never recommended to get rid of equities when they are at a heavy loss. Now, naturally, you are going to ask, "If we're not to get rid of equities, what could we do to ride out market volatility?" My number one suggestion would be: do nothing. Yes, indeed – do nothing. Just sit back, relax, fasten your seatbelt, and ride out the market volatility.

If you are not convinced yet, consider the following points:

  • Diversification is the key to achieving stable returns throughout the good and bad times. A well-diversified portfolio should not fluctuate to the same degree as stock markets.
  • Volatility is a normal part of investing. There will always be ups and downs in the market. Do not let market volatility divert your focus away from your goal. Stay invested, keep adding more money, and you will be fine in the long run.
  • Investment is a discipline. Do not make decisions based on emotions. Research has shown that the stock market has averaged an annual 11% rate of return over the last 120 years. Stay invested for the long run – through good and bad times.

I would like to end today's article with a quote by legendary investor John Templeton. John Templeton recently died at the age of 95. He was famous for this quote: "Buy at the point of maximum pessimism." Templeton's quote makes perfect sense—whenever there were declines in the market, the market eventually recovered with greater gains. Investors who acted emotionally lost the most. That's why my advice is: Do Nothing. The market will recover and you will be in good shape again. Just be patient and ride out the volatility.