Thursday, April 30, 2009

The more things change...

I haven't written much about it here, but I've had a number of frustrations in the past with Rogers, especially their website. If you've been fortunate enough to avoid dealing with their customer-facing website, then I envy you. Personally, I find their site to be a bloated, unstable, convoluted mess that is very difficult to navigate.

In addition to the pain involved in visiting their site, I've been constantly annoyed by how long it takes them to post their monthly statements online. My billing date is the 26th of the month, and my statement is never available online before the 30th. It seems to me that, if banks can report the interest accruals on my accounts on the first of every month, then Rogers should be able to post my balance online more or less immediately. Sadly, this doesn't seem to be the case.

Although this month was no different (my April bill finally posted this afternoon), I was surprised and impressed by a change they've made to their notification e-mails. The message now contains the total amount of the bill, where previously you needed to click through and login to the site in order to get any specifics. Now I can get the amount owing from the e-mail, and login at my convenience to check the specific details.

I was really impressed by this innovation, and decided that, since I've delivered scathing criticism on numerous occasions using their website feedback form, I would let them know that I approve of this new feature. So, I punched up the Rogers URL, clicked "Contact Us", and made the appropriate selections to leave "Website Feedback".

Here's what they gave me in return:

I forget, how many words is a picture worth?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Experian discontinuing Canadian operations

I recently requested copies of my credit report from the three reporting agencies in Canada. It took a few weeks to get al three reports, with Experian's report finally arriving last Thursday. When I looked over the package from Experian, I was surprised to see their cover letter stating that they will cease operations as a Canadian credit bureau effective April 17. Here's the notice from their website (emphasis mine):
Effective April 17, 2009, Experian will unfortunately discontinue its Canadian consumer credit bureau operations as a result of the very difficult economic environment in Canada and around the world, which Experian believes will persist for some time. This means that as of April 18, 2009, Experian will no longer be providing credit reports out of its Canadian database regarding any consumer in Canada.

We will continue to respond to ongoing consumer requests for copies of credit reports, as well as handle disputed items and other consumer assistance until April 17. After that date and upon completion of any disputes in process, all consumer information will be deleted from our database and will no longer be available to consumers or creditors.

If you have not previously obtained your credit report from us or initiated a dispute on your Experian credit report, you may wish to contact one of the other credit bureaus for assistance.
So, after this Friday, Experian Canada is closing shop and destroying its records.

That's too bad; their report was by far the slickest-looking of the three that I received this time around.

I've updated my credit report post with this information.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Payday update - rolling over

OK, so this is kind of cool.

I got paid today (as I do every second Thursday), and in typical data-addict mode, I've been updating my financial spreadsheet. This is where I keep track of monthly net worth, as well as monthly and bi-weekly progress toward my various financial goals. Looking at the numbers, I noticed that a whole slew of balances crossed key thresholds today.

Here's the run-down:
  • Revolving Debt - Crossed the $14,000 mark, dropping from $14,069.07 to $13,853.02. This finally puts me below my year-end target for 2008.

  • Student Loans - Crossed the $21,000 mark, dropping from $21,195.20 to $20,913.86. This gets even cooler when you realize that the two loans making up this total went from $4,023.47 to $3,945.06 and $17,171.73 to $16,968.80, respectively.

  • Mortgage - Finally crossed the $300,000 mark for the last time. At $299,116.04, we are at last beyond the reaches of accruing interest. Look out, $200K, here we come!

  • Rising Above the Powers-Of-Ten Bias - Most significant of all, my Emergency Fund and Wedding Fund crossed the $1,732 mark and $2,127 marks, respectively, currently sitting at $1,733.86 and $2,160.11!
I've updated my progress bars, as well as the NCN Network chart for my revolving debt, bringing my Total % Paid to 49.83%. I'm so close to half-way I can taste it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

March update

April has arrived, and we're firmly into spring, so let's see how I did last month:
  • Reduced my revolving debt to $14,069.07 - Still chipping away... I'm within spitting distance of $14,000 (my 2008 year-end goal), and almost half-way through my debt elimination. Over the next month, I'll be ramping up my bi-weekly payments to get a bit more aggressive with paying this off.

  • Grew my Emergency Fund to $1,718.86 - Slowly but surely closing the gap to my $2,000 goal for the end of the year.

  • Grew our Wedding Fund to $2,110.11 - I owe less income tax than I was expecting, so I was able to transfer some cash from the tax savings bucket in my Freedom Account over to my Wedding Fund. Ms. Loonie is working on her own savings account for the wedding, so by the end of the year we should have a nice bundle built up.

    NOTE: Since this money is earmarked to be spent on our wedding next year, any valid wedding expense that we pay for from this account will not reduce my progress on this goal. This may seem like funny accounting, but the real goal here is to pay cash for the wedding, so I don't plan to penalize myself for using these funds as intended.
Now, on to my month-end update:

Online Savings - $1,875.90
Self-Directed RSP - $35,174.22
Employer Group RSP - $9,430.82

Revolving Debt - $14,069.07
Student Loans - $21,195.20

Net Investable Assets: $11,216.67
Net Liquid Assets: ($33,388.37)

For a change, my RRSP actually grew this month, thanks to the recent market rally and over $600 in contributions. Liquid savings are down a bit, for a net increase of $3,879.42 in my investable assets, accompanied by a $905.41 drop in my non-mortgage debt.

Overall, my net investable assets decreased by $4,784.93, and my net liquid assets increased by $569.97. My NetworthIQ profile has also been updated (including loose cash, home, car and mortgage). I recently re-checked the Canadian Black Book® value of my car, and found that it has dropped substantially since I last checked two years ago. I've reflected this change in my overall net worth calculation going forward.

Drawing a blank

If there's anything more lame than a note in your calendar that says "come up with something funny on Wednesday", it has to be a flat-out failure to produce said funny. I had the best of intentions to follow up last year's sale of the blog with another bit of tomfoolery, but it just wasn't in the cards.

So, for anyone who came here this morning looking for some chicanery, "April Fools!" Remember to keep a handful of salt handy as you peruse the Web today.