By Rob Carrick
I've seen this before. A young person is profiled for working hard to earn and save money and then savaged by critics. That's the deal with Anthony Molinaro, a 20-year-old full-time student and full-time employee earning $50,000 per year.
Molinaro's drive is stunning. But instead of acknowledging this, a lot of people are criticizing. Some dismiss his achievements because he lives at home and doesn't have to pay his own expenses. Others say he's depriving himself of a full life, or killing himself to get ahead. I'm reminded of the story of Sean Cooper, a 30-year-old who got the hate treatment after he paid off the mortgage on his Toronto house in three years.
Part of the criticism these two men have faced is based on plain old envy and resentment. It's natural to be irked when someone out-works you. But a U.S. personal finance writer's thoughts on Cooper are worth considering as well. Helaine Olen says these stories of epic frugality and saving suggest our financial problems are our own doing, and not a result of what's happening in the economy. The lesson I'm taking out of all of this is that there's a fine balance between inspiring people and making them feel judged.
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Bank fees going up
Guess what – some banks are raising fees while making big profits. Cue the outrage. Do we seriously expect the banks to stop raising fees once they reach a certain level of profitability? Banks exist to make money for shareholders, in part by raising fees. It's my job to make sure they make as little as possible off you.
What if you quit showering?
Considering the time and money involved (that water doesn't heat itself), this is a question worth considering. Apparently, you stop smelling bad after a while.
How to cool hot housing markets
The problem with taking action against hot markets like Toronto and Vancouver is that there's a risk of hurting cities where prices have been flat or declining. But a veteran mortgage broker says there's a way to focus only on the high cost cities – target buyers of homes worth more than $1-million.
This is how much insurance agents get paid
Insurance is behind other parts of the financial industry in terms of disclosing fees to clients, so this infographic is particularly informative. It shows commissions for five different life insurance products.
Wall Street's summer reading list
The huge U.S. investment firm J.P. Morgan produced this list of books nominated by its people from among 450 works of non-fiction. What smart people are reading.
Today's featured financial tool
If you own mutual funds, try this fund fee calculator to see the dollar amount of the fees you're paying. Starting this summer, new investment industry rules will require this information to be displayed on client statements.
The question: "What investments should a 77-year-old be putting in a TFSA? I have been adding to it since inception and bought stock like TransAlta Corp. (TA-TSX), which have not done well. I have $15,000 sitting in cash."
My reply: It all depends on your financial needs. If you're looking for investment income, consider the diversified portfolio of dividend stocks you'd get through a dividend ETF or mutual fund. Here's a recent survey I did of dividend ETFs. If you don't have an emergency fund or do not want to risk losing money in a stock market correction, consider leaving the $15,000 in a high interest savings account.
Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.
Do you have a debt problem? Watch for these three signs.
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