26
Mar

What I Like About Intuit’s TurboTax

Tax season is here and if you haven’t already submitted, you should be in the final leg of your income tax preparations. Some new things with filing Canadian income taxes this year is that they got rid of sending you your Netfile number through the mail. Instead, you can get it online from the CRA website and providing some personal details like your SIN.

Every year, I’ve been using TurboTax and so far, I haven’t had any issues with them. I can describe my tax profile to be quite simple with employment income, maybe some investment income, registered plan contributions, medical receipts, and rent paid. Because of the simplicity, I find it very easy to navigate the site as it asks you relevant questions before you begin and then it presents you with the appropriate forms with fields to fill out.

Here are some reasons why I’ve been using TurboTax and why I haven’t looked into anything else:

  1. Simple. They ask you questions relative to what happened in your previous tax year and presents you with the appropriate forms to fill. No need to go through various forms and tabs that are irrelevant to your situation.
  2. I use their servers for backup. This makes it extremely easy for me to pick up and start doing my taxes for the next year as they pre-populate all my personal information and even carryover amounts. I have a bad habit of losing files I save locally on my computer and not having to search and look for it saves a lot of time and headache. Some people aren’t comfortable leaving personal information on a remote server but my view is that it’s worth being hassle-free.
  3. Nice interface. Interface is easy to understand and navigate. You can always jump around the various sections using the tabs above. They also have icons that are easy on the eyes.
  4. Reasonable price. Standard online returns cost about CAD$17.99. I get a discount too of about 20% as I’m a TD customer.

Those are some reasons why I use TurboTax and haven’t looked back. If you know of any other tax software that blows them out of the water, I would love to know!

What do you use? Let me know in the comments below.

12
Nov

How Much do Employees Make at Startups?

by themoneymonkey in Economics, Funny, Interesting

Ever wondered how much employees make at startup companies? Here’s a nifty infographic I found. I’m a software engineer by training and software engineers make pretty decent coin at these new startups. But what intrigues me is the sales engineer. How does one engineer a sale?

Check out the original post.

Salary at Startup Companies

This is how much employees generally make at new startups

8
Nov

Thrive Chequing Account: How to Get a Free Apple Gift Card

by themoneymonkey in Interesting, Saving, Tools

I’m an Apple fan boy. I admit it. I love their products, their design, and how everything just works well together. However, what I do like better than Apple is free Apple stuff.

Free $100 Apple Gift Card

I heart Apple stuff!

It can’t get any better than a free $100 Apple gift card! Well, maybe if you win one of the bigger grand prizes which is a $5000 gift card, but I actually question if anyone wins that. I haven’t had the chance to open a Thrive Chequing Account from ING and I’m not sure I will at any time in the future. They seem to be limited in their ABM access which uses THE EXCHANGE network. That means you’ll have to go to credit unions, which to me, is much more inconvenient than my current account with PC Financial. With PC, I can use any CIBC machine as if it were theirs.

Nothing comes for free though so if you want to get that free gift card, you’ll also have to transfer your payroll to the account. It is kind of a hassle but $100 from Apple is still a very good incentive to switch. Especially since they’ve been voted Product of the Year in Canada 2011 and they have really good perks. I believe they provide interest on outstanding balances, free email transfers (probably the biggest selling point for me), no fees, and unlimited chequing activity. I’ll probably post a quick first glance sometime in the future on what they offer but in the meantime you can go to ING Direct if you’re interested.

28
Oct

A Dilbert Comic on Retirement

by themoneymonkey in Funny, Interesting, Saving

I found this comic the other day on Dilbert comics and got more inspired to save up diligently for retirement. Did you know having enough money to retire at any age can release you from working with a terrible boss! Wouldn’t it be great to have some ‘f@$% you’ money saved up somewhere to count on when you don’t want to do what you do anymore?

I want a stash of f@%S you money myself

Having enough money saved up earns you freedom, as this comic illustrates

Quoting Harv Eker from Secrets of the Millionaire Mind:

“Money is a lubricant. It lets you ‘slide’ through life instead of having to ‘scrape’ by. Money brings freedom—freedom to buy what you want , and freedom to do what you want with your time. Money allows you to enjoy the finer things in life as well as giving you the opportunity to help others have the necessities in life. Most of all, having money allows you not to have to spend your energy worrying about not having money.”

I’m going to start naming my retirement fund the ‘f@$% you’ fund. Do you have a name for yours?

4
Sep

First Look at IQ Questrade Mobile

by themoneymonkey in Interesting, Tools

So I just found out that the mobile app for Questrade’s IQ platform has been released in August. After learning this, I quickly went to the app store on my iPhone and downloaded the app.

First impressions are pretty good, the number of ratings for the app aren’t as high but I’m thinking Questrade will probably make patches in the future to improve its interface or performance.

Right off the bat, I was asked to log in and I was immediately redirected to a watch list. I tried to update the watch list but it took forever, probably hanged already. I took a quick look at the interfaces for orders and positions but loading up positions details took forever as well.

Overall it looks promising but performance can definitely be improved. Also the interface can probably be improved in the future as it feels very monotone and not as easy to navigate and get the information you need.

Another issue I found is when I reopened the app about an hour later, it asked me to log in again. Is this always the case? Can’t it store my credentials like Mint does and ask for a quick PIN instead?

Make sure to check in again soon for a more in-depth review.

8
Jun

Look at What I Found! Chart Porn!

Truck Loads of Cash

Truck Loads of Cash

I was browsing around the internet one day looking for finance articles, and new investment ideas and stumbled on a uniquely named blog site. It’s called ChartPorn!

No it doesn’t have the likes of the money honey, Maria Bartiromo from CNBC posing for a nude photoshoot but what it does have is an interesting look or data visualizations of current economic topics. One of the particular charts or visualizations I was looking at pertains to the crisis in Europe. They show how much money have been lent out to the troubled states to keep their economies afloat, using stacks of cash as the visuals. Check out the blog posts here!

Some are also really creative ways to visualize data; this is not your usual vanilla line or pie charts. Who said charts can’t be sexy?

11
May

A Mobile App is Coming to Questrade!

Questrade's New Mobile App

Questrade IQ Mobile

So I just got an email the other day, the usual updates from Questrade and guess what? They’re finally introducing the mobile app for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android!

Now I wonder, will they be releasing an iPad app soon too? I remember impatiently waiting for Mint.com to release their iPad app, which I personally think was worth the wait. Beautiful, clean interface.

Here’s what the email had to say:

This summer, Questrade will introduce IQ Mobile, a trading app for iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices. IQ Mobile will allow you to securely access your trading tools and perform all your regular trading activities using the same username and password you’ll use for IQ. Further details will be made available closer to launch. In the meantime, visit the Exchange for the latest news about our IQ trading platforms.

4
May

How I Use Coupon Sites to Save Money

by themoneymonkey in Interesting, Saving, Tools

The age of cutting physical coupons is dead, if not already dying. In fact it predates me and I have no memory of doing so, but coupons are all the rage these days. Online shopping has made shopping for the best price and comparing between many stores for the same product virtually effortless. The world and the global economy is closer and closer to converging and succumbing to the Law of One Price. Here’s a shameless plug but if you haven’t already done so, search this blog for the Big Mac index to see what I’m talking about.

Anyway, not only can we find the best prices online but we even get to use online coupons to save even more money! I recently stumbled on this site CouponChief.com which hosts deals and coupons for a wide selection of online shops. I really like the clean design of the site, their use of light fresh colors, and how easy it is to search for a store. I would usually use this site to search if there is an ongoing promotion for a site that I already intend to buy something from. If I’m in the market for a new pair of loafers for example, I would usually hit up some online stores like Aldo Shoes and search this site for promotional codes or offers.

CouponChief.com

CouponChief.com

How much do I really save, Mr. Monkey?

Usually deals would be atleast 10% off to free shipping on your entire order. So if you do a lot of online shopping (who doesn’t?), you get to save dollars and dollars of your hard earned cash. And remember, a dollar saved is about $1.50 earned pretax.

30
Apr

Questrade: A Discount Brokerage Review

Here’s my quick and dirty review of Questrade, a Canadian discount brokerage. Like everyone else on Questrade, I was attracted to moving my investment accounts because of their very competitive commission structure. Commissions are $4.95 per trade (up to $9.95 max depending on volume of shares) and around $9.95 per option transaction + $1 per contract.

Now I’ve held my investment accounts with both TD Waterhouse and E*Trade (now Scotia iTrade) before and the only reason I’ve switched is to save on commissions. Back at TD Waterhouse for instance, each side of my trade would cost $29.99. That’s almost $60 to open and close a position. That would totally eat in to your profits especially when the size of your trades are in the four to five figures.

However, not everything comes for free. If you can live with the downsides I’ll be mentioning on the cons section, then Questrade may be for you. Otherwise, you should consider exploring other options out there (Interactive Brokers, Scotia iTrade etc.).

Advantages

  • Ultra cheap commissions! This really is the deal maker with Questrade. Equity trades start at $4.95 up to a maximum of $9.95. Option trades pricing are very competitive as well.
  • Easy to move money into. You set it up as a payee from your chequing account online and pay it like any other bill. Funds usually come in in less than a week.
  • No monthly fees. It costs you nothing to keep your account.
  • Low minimum amounts required. It’s really easy to get started since they only require a minimum of $1000 to initially fund the account and atleast $250 at any given time for it to be in good standing.
  • Online live help is great. Questrade is notorious for having bad customer service. I personally haven’t had to call for support on the phone so I can’t comment on that. Instead, I use their MSN like live support and I usually get a helpful representative.

Disadvantages

  • Silverlight interface This means you can’t open it from a mobile browser or iOS and place orders from your iPhone or iPad.
  • No mobile app As of this writing, they don’t have a mobile app for convenient order placing from a phone.
  • No interest on cash balances! If there was ever a reason why I’d leave Questrade, it’s because they don’t pay interest on your idle cash balances. This is especially a concern if you have a lot of idle cash just sitting and waiting for opportunities in the market.

If you can live with these setbacks, Questrade is an awesome online broker. However, it would be wise to compare them with other discount brokerages before signing up. As with anything, always remember to do your due diligence!

So, what do you like and dislike with Questrade?

Please share this article if you liked it!

21
Sep

Tips To Making Money Through Blogging

by themoneymonkey in Interesting, Strategy, Tools

Money under your finger tips

Money under your finger tips

We all know that there are lots of ways we can do to earn money through the internet. From the previous article, we discuss about making money through article writing. But aside from the article writing, there is also another effective way, it is through blogging.

Blogging is one of the most popular way of making money online. Though, perhaps, is the toughest way to earning money because it takes more time before your blog can attract traffic as well as to being recognized by the search engines. It is usual that for the first few months of blogging, you will get less traffic, but eventually after some regular updates, you will notice the increase in the volume of traffic you are getting. Hence, the start of making money with your blog.


Blogging takes patience

In reality, blogging can’t provide enough amount of money you can earn unless you know different strategies and techniques on how you can make your blog popular that can be reached out by many people all over the globe. To help you with these, here are some useful tips you need to consider when creating a money making blog.

It is very important to choose the right niche to make it a profitable blog. It can be about sports, technology, business or even about making money at home. Blogging has several various niches for you so all you have to do is to choose a profitable one so that you can earn money, you can use these to advertise products and services and earn a part from every sale you made out of your blog.

Since blogging is time consuming, you will need a lot of patience, and of course, updating your blog through creating interesting and informative articles according to your niche regularly. Once you lost your patience, you will also lost the successful of earning money online.


Find a niche

Another useful strategy that you can consider is to operate several smaller blogs in several niches. This way you can have more chances of earning bucks in several products that you will recommend to your readers. It can be possible for you to draw ten to a hundred visitors per day to a small blog base on the amount of competition in each niche which you create blog.

Once you know the secrets of a successful blogging, you will surely proved to yourself that this is a great way to get new money at home. Nonetheless, it is very easy to set up a blog nowadays that there are also platforms that allow you to create for free. And unlike other work which is tedious and boring, blogging is something that is really interesting and fun.