Tag Archives: finances

A little relationship marketing story.

We’ve been getting our finances organized and our advisor suggested that we consider refinancing our mortgage to take advantage of lower rates.  So I put in a call to my bank, leaving a message asking for the penalties that would apply, in particular, the interest rate differential.  This is not something that you can determine from your mortgage paperwork as it depends on the rate you received when you first got your mortgage, relative to the posted rates at the time.  I left a message on Monday, and then another one on Wednesday, with no call back.  So I tweeted the following late yesterday (Thursday) afternoon: 

Want to renegotiate my mortgage. Voice messages to my @td_canada branch haven’t been returned, so may renegotiate myself to a new bank.

Within minutes, @td_canada was following me.

Within a couple of hours, they DM’d me.
@jannie_b Hi there, sorry we haven’t been responsive – can you DM me info about the branch? Thx for your patience Jannie! ^EB
I DM’d back my name and mortgage number.  First thing this morning, someone from my branch called and gave me all the info I needed. 

I have been banking with Canada Trust for about 30 years.  They were the first financial institution to go to longer, customer-friendly banking hours.  They also seemed to have the most flexible mortgages when we were first getting into the housing market.  But since the merger with TD, my perception is that things have gone downhill. We recently moved our chequing account to PC Financial, as were being dinged with fees at TD, even though we have a large-ish mortgage with them.  If our bank balance dropped below a certain threshold, we were charged fees.  Now, we manage a tight ship, with savings and investments going directly into various accounts, and we don’t like to keep much money in our chequing account. Fees and service charges (if any) should be based on your entire relationship with the company, not on an account by account basis. This is the way it worked with Bank of America when we were in Atlanta:  we never paid any banking fees because we had a mortgage with them. In all my experience with relationship marketing in my previous life, you looked at the whole customer, to the extent that was possible.

So now we find ourselves motivated to move the second-last (and biggest) piece of our business away from this bank.  All that will be left is a credit card and that’s easy to drop.  It’s time to start shopping around, not just for rates, but for a bank that will treat our business holistically.

Up for the challenge?

Media_httpfpstockchal_cpjcf

I’ve signed up for the Financial Post Stock Market Challenge’s Training Platform, to get ready for the next contest. I don’t have a lot of experience in the market….my first foray into such things was in a game run by my Grade 7 teacher, Mr. Cook. I had a self-directed trading account for a few years as an adult and did reasonably well, but haven’t done any trading recently.

So I’m giving it a go, virtually again, and we’ll see how things play out!

It’s Tax Time!

We have had the priviledge of filing both US and Canadian tax returns for the past 7 years, five of which were during our time in the US, and the past two in Canada.  We still hold Green Cards so are required to file returns with the US based on our worldwide income.  

As part of our relocation package when we moved to Canada, Z’s employer engaged a major accounting firm to do our taxes for the past two years.  We (and by that I mean “I”) had to fill out long spreadsheets with information about our financial situation, collect all the slips, etc. and submit them to **major accounting firm**.  They did the forms, e-filed the Canadian ones and shipped to US ones to us to sign and mail.  All at no charge to us.  They billed Z’s employer directly and we never saw the charges.

This year, we are responsible for our own tax prep, so we contacted **major accounting firm** for a quote.  Get ready….they quoted us $2500-$3000. Plus I get to spend hours filling out their spreadsheets for them.  To file one Canadian return and one US return. US return includes a couple of minor financial transactions in the US.  Canadian return is for an employee with pretty standard deductions.  

After we picked ourselves up off the floor, I decided to contact **as-seen-on-TV chain tax prep service** at one of their local offices close to us.  I was referred to another office slightly farther away where they do US returns.  Total quote:  $400.  All I have to do is bring all my slips and last year’s return to the office, chat with Laxmi for a few minutes, and we’re done.  They’re even on the subway so I don’t need to drive downtown and pay for parking.   I mentioned to Laxmi that I had last years info from **major accounting firm**  and that her price was WAY lower than theirs.  She told me outright that they have MANY clients fleeing this price gouging.  

I feel like I just earned $2000.