Great Ideas for Saving Money

Ontarians can save money on electricity bills by living at night and on weekends and holidays, which many of us are persuaded to do since our electricity bills are so high these days.

Our government(s) could also save us, as taxpayers, significant cost by operating at night and on holidays and weekends. This would also make those services available to working people (non-government) without the need to take holidays or time off work, thus benefitting the average worker even more.

In addition, hospitals, dentists and many of the services and facilities that the average person needs to access could be open outside of the 7 am to 7 pm block of hours. This would reduce the cost to taxpayers and businesses alike and would likely increase business, which is supposed to be a good thing, generating more tax dollars to replace the  tax dollars saved by reduced electricity costs.

In my opinion, the cost of electricity, for me and others that still rely on electricity for heating, has risen a great deal to offset the profit lost by the massive move to natural gas heating. This leaves those of us who still rely on electric heat paying ridiculous costs for heating in a region where –20C to –30C is the norm for the winter months.

Personally, we have been fortunate enough to to be able reduce our annual electricity consumption by about 10000 Kwh over the last ten years by replacing windows and doors, burning wood and shifting our usage to the evenings and weekends. This has enabled us to keep our costs to a level that has allowed us to continue living in our home while on a pension. However, our electricity costs have now risen from about $2500 per year (average of previous nine years) to $3800 per year (this last year). Using the same years, our consumption has gone from about 27000 Kwh to 16500 Kwh. There is not much left for us to do to reduce our consumption.

As the cost of electricity continues to climb beyond our budget, unfortunately, we will, like many others have, spend thousands of borrowed dollars in the near future to convert to natural gas heating. It seems likely that we will save $200+ per month by making this move, although we will pay for the conversion for several years. Hopefully by the time the conversion is paid for, the price of natural gas is still reasonable.

image (4)

Posted in electricity, energy, money | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Do We Canadians Even Bother?

Why does Canada bother investigating companies that are suspected of wrongdoing at great cost to the Canadian taxpayer when there is no punishment nor charges laid?

Why does Canada research different ways to change existing systems when all that does is cost the taxpayer more money with no significant improvement in these systems? Why try to improve things that don’t need improving and make them worse with expensive efforts?

Why do we pay other countries to take our surplus electricity when many of us would gladly use that surplus electricity for free and save the country a billion dollars a year? Why are we being told to cut our electricity usage and being penalized for using more when surpluses exist?

Do we really need so many costly studies?

Why is it that when someone (i.e., executives, big business) is obviously doing something wrong, is it recommended that they not do it, the choice being theirs. This is usually the result of some investigation at great cost over many months or years.

How can we continually ignore those that are not doing their job instead of firing them immediately?

How is anyone worth a $1,000,000 salary or more per year?

Why is it that low income Canadians (i.e., all Canadians) are approached by charities and encouraged by government to donate when they have no money for their own electricity, oil, gas or food?

Why is it that we hear of ex-politicians getting jobs with big business after retiring from service, leading us to believe that they were not operating at arm’s length when in politics?

Are we deaf, dumb and blind? Are we stupid? Or are we just beaten down by the rich and powerful? We are all of these things. We are fed the news that keeps us that way. We are led to believe that the country cannot survive without the government, and expected to support a government that assumes our stupidity.

As Canadians, we will accept almost anything we are fed. We have a global reputation for it. I say it is well past the time to be heard. Have you had enough yet? Or are you willing to eat it all for another century or so? It’s no wonder that the rest of the world thinks we acquiesce and that big business runs our country, government included.

I still have some pride left for Canada and a little hope too but that won’t feed the unfortunate in this country no matter how much I donate to charity, how many CFL bulbs I buy or how many L/100km my 4-cylinder car gets.

Why bother? Because it matters a lot. There should be at least one country in this world that does the right things for the right reasons. I don’t have a problem with supporting a trustworthy government. I don’t have a problem supporting those Canadians less fortunate. I just need to be able trust someone other than my family and friends.


Note: the links here are only examples

Posted in government, money, taxes, trust | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Review of a TriStar Vacuum Cleaner

In the summer of 2005, while splitting firewood (with an axe) in our side yard on a warm day and perspiring quite profusely, I was interrupted by a TriStar vacuum salesman. After a brief aggravating discussion, we went into the house to allow his vacuum demonstration to proceed.

Unfortunately, the demonstration was very convincing. The principle and performance of the vacuum impressed me. The warranty described to us by the salesman was also very convincing, being total warranty coverage for life and transferable to any of our children and at any time in the future.

After more than an hour of one-sided discussion, the salesman offered us a deal in which he would allow us $800 for our old vacuum (not a very old upright and working well). That brought the price down to an even $2000 including tax. I am embarrassed to say that we paid this much for the vacuum.

During the following eight+ years, the vacuum worked very well, being a relatively quiet model as well as powerful. The vacuum seemed very solid and had very good filtration for the exhaust air. The HEPA filtration was also used as a selling point by the salesman. The paper filter bags were reasonably priced and the suction did not reduce even with a full bag.

In March of 2014, the power carpet brush stopped working and after testing a few of the wand electrical connections, I found that the problem was within the main body of the vacuum. At this point, I found my manual and read every word of the warranty. I discovered that only the unbreakable metal body of the machine was lifetime warranteed. I was disappointed in myself for not reading the details of the warranty at purchase time and disappointed that such an expensive machine has essentially no useful warranty.

I took the vacuum to a local authorized repair shop and ordered the part required, which was a reasonable price and cost me about $30 including shipping. I received the part from Tri-Star in short order (a few days). After the repair shop replaced the part and got the machine going, it was the shop’s standard practice to run the vacuum for 10 minutes to test the operation before having the customer (me in this case) pick up the machine. A few minutes into the test, the vacuum motor electrical windings burned and rendered the vacuum unusable.

At this point, from the warranty, I was faced with possibly an additional $150 for the motor replacement plus the repair shop’s time to replace it, on top of the accumulated costs for the earlier work done. In total, these repairs could have cost me about $300 which was unacceptable to me when new vacuums with warrantees cost only a bit more. I traded the useful parts of the Tri-Star in on a Simplicity Verve purchase. We will see how well this one does in the next several years.

All in all, even though the TriStar is an excellent machine when new, the poor (almost non-existent) warranty and small overworked motor do not justify the ridiculous initial price. I do not recommend TriStar for anyone requiring good value in a vacuum cleaner.


My Ratings (out of 5)

Performance – 5

Noise – 4

Cost – 1

Warranty – 1


Posted in appliances, reviews | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

How Can This Keep Happening?

I read today that how more than 4 billion dollars designated for the horse-racing industry over the last 15 years is unaccounted for by the Ontario government – Where did ontarios slotsforhorses money go.

I always assumed that horse racing was a viable business and was profitable. Now I read that on October 15th, the Ontario government has committed $400 million over the next 5 years to support this industry. I say to myself “This can’t be true”. But here we go again. The average person has to account for all monies received when filling out their tax return but the governments have no such requirement, or if they do, they can plead ignorance.

It’s about time that these organizations hire someone (maybe an average person) who CAN keep track of money. I think we need to change something here. Ever since the governments have been talking about accountability and transparency, we have had no accountability and very little transparency. Canada’s finances (even with all of the positive international news we hear) are rapidly becoming a public embarrassment and a source of frustration for the average person who sees millions being thrown around without care while they are required to cut back and make the most of what little they have. I don’t like it. It needs to change.

If I were to add a note to my income tax return stating “I have no idea how much money I received or what I spent it on this year – sorry”, I am sure there would be serious consequences.

Frustrated by unaccountable governments.

Posted in money | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

And Another Thing …

As I can’t seem to find out anything about this on my TV service provider’s site (Bell Expressvu), I thought I would rant a bit in this blog.

Why is it that when we are watching a movie on some channels (too many), we get these annoying advertisements for other channels or future shows on the same channel on the lower right (or other bothersome spots) on my screen. We are paying enough with our service plan to watch movies without advertising and I must say it’s pissing us off. Sometimes we need to see what is under the advertisements and there is no way to get rid of this crap. We don’t need reminders or ads showing us what is coming up on another (or the same) channel! We are capable of finding this information out on our own. We can use a remote.

This is of course in addition to the fact that we have hundreds of reality shows available and only a few informative programs available. Movies tend to be older ones that we have seen already and it hardly seems worthwhile paying so much for so little (even if it’s HD crap).

If there is so little fresh and substantial programming available, what do we need with hundreds of channels. We are seriously considering changing or cancelling our service. It is too bad that over the last few decades we went from enjoyable television to frustrating garbage. If service providers made individual channels available at a per channel cost, then one could customize their programming in an intelligent way without paying an arm and a leg for stuff they NEVER watch.

I know this rant won’t provide any real solution to our problems with TV programming, but at least I got it out of my system for an hour or so. Cheers.

Posted in television | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Venture Index Could Hit 1000 Soon

If one looks at recent trends only, it seems likely that the Canadian Venture Index could pass through 1000 in the next week or so. Looking at the last couple of years, it would appear that investment interest in juniors is waning quickly. Does this mean that conservative Canadians are fed up with taking chances on long shots and startups? I think so.

Many investors have lost so much on the markets in the last few years that, I believe, few are willing to take chances with even those companies that are profitable and regaining strength individually.

Two years -55% 2424
Six months -12% 1243
One month -10% 1217
One week -4% 1100
Posted in investing | 1 Comment

Want To but Can’t

I’m not sure how many people feel the way I do, but I have had this desire to upgrade to a new operating system for some time. The fear that I have in doing this, after spending money on something that I don’t really need, is that the hardware that I have spent good money on over the years and which works well, and with which I am familiar, will now be unsupported by the operating system. I have run into this problem several times and it makes me very reluctant to make changes.

Now, one might say that the hardware is old and needs to be changed but I am not talking about the computer itself (which is capable of running even the latest offering from Microsoft). I am talking about peripherals such as two scanners, two printers, a blood monitor, a voice recorder, at least two digital cameras and a couple of GPS units. In order to replace these perfectly functional devices with equivalent (compatible) hardware, I would be spending more than 10x the cost of the operating system upgrade.

At present, in order to continue supporting these devices, I have three computers, two of which I have been given by people that were upgrading. As it stands, my main system is running Vista 64 Ultimate (since 2008) and I have no complaints with this, apart from the fact that it does not support all of my peripherals. Therefore, I have a secondary system running XP Professional, which supports most of the rest of the hardware and even allows me to run older games which I enjoy playing from time-to-time. A third system running Ubuntu fills in any gaps that have been left by the other two systems.

I tested the preview version of Windows 8 for a few weeks and do like the speed and the underlying system but not the interface for a desktop. Alternatively, I would very much like to move to Windows 7 but am concerned that I would be dealing with even more compatibility problems.

I think that if I want to reduce the number of computers that I maintain, I will be spending significant cash to change many of the peripherals as well. Unfortunately, older computers and peripherals have almost no market value these days and would not help with the cost of upgrading. There has to be a better way – but – until something breaks (hopefully not), I guess I will be sticking with Ubuntu, XP and Vista for the foreseeable future.

Posted in computers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment