Real Estate

Dealing With Real Estate Agents And Other Real Estate Resources

My parents (Hi Mom and Dad!) are planning to buy a new house in the near future after living in their current house for 40 years.  Right now they are in the process of figuring out how to get a real estate agent.  Unfortunately I can’t be of much help to them since I don’t live in the same city but I did offer to share all my writings on real estate agents.  The following is a list of posts we’ve done on real estate and agents with a brief description of each.

The next series of posts were written by a first-time home buyer who explains all the various steps she went through:

That’s it!  Good luck with the house hunting!


Will There Be A Second Stimulus Check In 2009?

The question all Americans want to know is whether they will receive a late Christmas present this year in the form of a 2nd economic stimulus check.

In 2008 the government sent out economic stimulus checks to 130 million Americans with the idea that this money would be spent on consumer goods and services thereby stimulating the economy. While the program was considered a success by some – it didn’t prevent the economy from slowing down into a recession with the possibility of a depression.

President-elect Obama has proposed an economic stimulus package for 2009 which will total almost 1 trillion dollars – or about $3300 for every single American.

Second economic stimulus check

So far there has been no mention of any stimulus checks (like in 2008) however that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Nothing has been approved or finalized so it is still possible. If a second economic stimulus check is going to happen in 2009 it would be more likely to appear later in the year if it looks like the initial stimulus efforts are not doing enough to get the economy going.

Stimulus tax cuts

Obama has proposed stimulus tax cuts of $1,000 for couples and $500 for individuals. If this passes, it might be the closest thing to an actual stimulus check that most Americans will receive in 2009. This kind of stimulus is not as much fun as getting a large check all at once since it would take the form of reduced withholding taxes on regular paychecks. However, in the end – extra money is extra money.

Emergency Energy rebate

One of the more controversial initiatives is an energy relief plan to help Americans pay their energy bills this winter. The $1,000 emergency energy rebate would be given directly to Americans and would be paid for by windfall profit taxes on the large oil companies.
This particular initiative might not have much of a chance given that with the rapidly dropping price of oil, home heating costs are going to be a lot lower than initially predicted as recently as a couple of months ago.

Infrastructure stimulus spending

The Obama stimulus plan is calling for a huge investment in roads and bridges and mass transit improvements. This will total $850 billion over 2 years. This portion of the plan is the main driver behind the goal to create 2.5 million jobs over 2 years.

$250 stimulus check for select groups

There will be a $250 stimulus check for select groups.


Shooting Down Goals

There seems to be a increase of goal-setting in the blogosphere recently. I think this is partly because we are approaching year end and a lot of people like to set goals for the next year. Patrick from CashMoneyLife even started a new carnival about financial goals. I think it’s a neat idea but I’m not really into setting short term financial goals and the long term ones don’t lend themselves all that well to carnivals if you want to enter more than once a decade. I did set a weight loss goal as part of Brip Brap’s public declaration challenge but other than that most of my goals are pretty long term and undefinable ie “save a lot”, “eventually pay off mortgage” etc.
I do have to take issue with some of the financial goals that I have read. In my opinion, a valid goal is when you set a target that you can measure and that you have a lot of control over the outcome. If your goal involves something that you don’t have any or much control over then I would call that more of a “wish” rather than a goal. For example saying that you want the weather to be nice tomorrow is a wish – not a goal.
One of my favourite bloggers, Canadian Dream likes to set goals and I decided to use his goals of examples of what I’m talking about – in no way am I trying to be critical of Tim because he’s a good guy and has a great blog however his goals from 2007 and 2008 provide perfect examples of what I’m talking about here.

Save $10k in 2007 – This is a perfectly valid goal because it’s almost entirely within Tim’s control as to whether he can achieve it or not (he did).

Investigate other streams of income – Another valid goal because again it’s success or failure is entirely determined by Tim.

Increase net worth by $30k in 2008 – The problem with this goal and one of the reasons I ignore net worth is that like a lot of us, a big chunk of Tim’s net worth is in his house. In his case he’s counting on about half of the net worth increase to come from events within his control (like contributions) however he’s also predicting a 4% increase in house value which will provide about 40% of this goal. I have no idea how the value of Tim’s house will change next year but what I do know is that Tim’s efforts won’t have much to do with it (unless he goes berserk and trashes the place 🙂 ). Another part of the net worth increase is to come from investment return which again, is out of Tim’s hands in my opinion.


While I don’t think there is anything wrong with setting goals, I think you have to draw the line between “goal” and “wish”. I wouldn’t say that anyone should rewrite their goals because of this post but they should recognize that some of the goals are out of their control and shouldn’t take too much credit if they are achieved and at the same time, don’t get to down if they fall short.