Category Archives: finance

John Wiegley’s ledger

From John Wiegley, Emacs ubercoder:

I’ve traded 60 Mb on my laptop for 60 Kb. How can you, too, lose
three orders of magnitude of fat and waste on your hard drive?

By checking out the incredibly lean and mean “ledger” accounting
tool. Written in C++, it parses it only, simplified general ledger
file (intended for editing with Emacs), or it can even just parse
GnuCash data files directly. This gives you the easiest way of
starting out:

ledger -f print

That will print out your GnuCash XML ledger data into much simpler,
text-based “ledger” file.

Below is the code. For reading GnuCash, you’ll need libxmltok1-dev
installed (if you’re a Debian user). It also uses GNU’s
multi-precision library (libgmp3-dev) and Perl regular expression
library (libpcre3-dev).

Edwin’s comment on financial literacy

edwin of technobiography said:

Hi Sacha,

Many of us, like me, have a lot to learn about financial literacy. I’m reading up on financial literacy through Francisco Colayco’s book (Pera mo Palaguin mo) and Larry Gamboa’s book (Think Rich, Pinoy!). Good read, very applicable to us Filipinos.

Gabby and I had a little discussion in January. Take a look: Cashflow! – Edutainment in a box

Yeah, I heard about Cashflow! I’d like to play it. Anyone have one of
those and a free afternoon? We could also have a Monopoly party. I was
never very good at Monopoly (and in fact usually found games a drag),
but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn to be good at it. =D

E-Mail from Richi’s server

猫は夕食に魚にありつくとわくわくする。 My cat is thrilled with joy when she gets fish for dinner.

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Love & Money: A Life Guide for Financial Success

Jeff Opdyke

I browsed through this book on a whim and ended up reading it cover to
cover. This John Wiley book is a great read if you’re looking for
sound advice on finances and relationships. Here’s the book blurb from
the publisher’s site:

Reviews: “The financial decisions we make in our lives are sometimes not the easiest to discuss but have long-lasting effects. [Opdyke’s advice] has opened the door in my relationship to conversations that were a long time coming.” – Josh, regular reader of Opdyke’s “Love & Money” column, Florida

Real answers to real questions about money and relationships:

  • I have too much debt and my credit isn’t very good. How can I fix my financial problems? And how do I break the news to my boyfriend?
  • How do I teach my kids the value of money, when my parents shower them with expensive gifts?
  • My wife makes more money than I do, does that give her a greater voice in our financial decisions? Are we still equal?
  • How much should I give my child in allowance? And will it really help him learn the value of a dollar?
  • We want to have our first baby, but we don’t know if we can afford it yet. How much money do we really need to have in the bank?

If you’re like most people, you’re struggling with questions like these. Whether we like it or not, money makes a big difference in the choices we make and the lives we lead. Unresolved questions about money can put unwanted stress on even the healthiest relationships–between spouses, between parents and children, and even between friends. In Love & Money, columnist Jeff Opdyke offers practical personal finance advice, as well as strategies for dealing with touchy financial topics–so that money doesn’t end up costing you something even more valuable.

Random notes:


  • Most people are terrified of budgets because they think of them as strict limits. Use a spending plan instead, and remember that you’re giving up that latte for something specific like a car.
  • Debt affects relationships and self-esteem. Tell your significant other if you have a debt burden so that it’s out in the open.
  • Little things add up. Be conscious.
  • Mix savings with investments. Find an emergency buffer level both of you are comfortable with.

Building a life together

  • Discuss finances as a couple.
  • Keep a joint account instead of his-and-hers.
  • Resist temptation to hide your expenses.
  • Keep your relationship as equals even if one person earns significantly more than the other. Recognize the value contributed by a stay-at-home spouse. Don’t let your money substitute for your time or effort around the house.


  • Consider finances when thinking about having a child. Will you be able to provide good opportunities without depriving your children?
  • Be careful about toys. Teach kids that material things != happiness instead of indulging them all the time.
  • Allowances can help your children learn how to manage money. Don’t have any big expectations like making them learn how to donate to charity or save for college. Resist the temptation to supplement this through your generosity. Make it regular, not dependent on their behavior: that way, they don’t see money as the reward.
  • Think about the messages you send kids. When they want something, do you tell them you can’t afford it—and then turn around and get yourself something?
  • Plan for education Really Early.

Middle years

  • One income or two?
  • Relocating because of a career is very difficult. Is the traveling spouse willing to give up that dream if necessary? Is the trailing spouse willing to walk away from his or her own career if necessary? Try to find a win-win. Acknowledge difficulties, particularly for trailing spouse.
  • People have different vacation needs. Find a good compromise. (It’s vacation, after all.) Might not even be together all the time.
  • Talk about your life goals. Check for compatibility. Find good compromises.


  • Plan for retirement really early.
  • Medical aid is expensive. Think about that, too.
  • Should you support your parents? Should your children support you when you’re old? Book: Parents should have planned ahead for their own retirement, so should not oblige children as their children’s primary responsibility is to their new family. (For us Filipinos, though, this is practically a given…)

彼女には2人の兄弟がいて、コンピューター業界で働いている。 She has two brothers, who work in the computer industry.

UPDATE: Clair wrote:

I have been browsing through Logsense
( — that blog also some various tips that are
helpful :) Thanks for sharing your notes. Finance – that is something
I am horrible at. The game last Saturday just made me realize how
clueless I am. I ought to get a grip on myself. Am not getting any
younger. And I ought to think of the future, not just the now! Thing
is that with things overwhelming me now, I forget about things for the

コンピューター産業の発展は非常に急速である。 The development of the computer industry has been very rapid.

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My banking needs

I need a Canada-based credit card for most of my purchases. I’ll keep
track of all of the purchases and pay it off in full each month. This
is more for convenience and credit history than actual credit. Also,
using a credit card for most of my transactions reduces the number of
debit transactions I’ll need to make at the ATM.

I need a savings account with Internet banking that either allows me
to auto-debit credit card payments at the end of each month or lets me
transfer the funds online. Most of my research grant will sit there.
If I can get high interest, all the better.

If not, I can maintain a current account with good ATM placement and
no withdrawal fees for my day-to-day cash expenses. I’m tracking cash
and credit separately, so I should be able to get an idea of how much
cash I’ll need each week.

So, what are my options?

The International Student Center‘s page on transferring funds to Canada lists the following banks as being close to the St. George campus.

The Toronto Dominion Bank
Bloor & Bay Branch
77 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 1M2

The Bank of Nova Scotia
Bloor & Spadina Branch
332 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 1W6

The Royal Bank of Canada
Harbord & Spadina Branch
648 Spadina
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 2H7

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
Spadina & College Branch
268 College Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5T 1S1

The Bank of Montreal
Bloor & St. George Branch
262 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 1V9

For President’s Choice:
12 St. Clair Ave E

Toronto, ON

Credit card (no annual fee, 18.5% interest rate)

PC Mastercard .
TD Canada Trust Green Visa Pre-authorized payment service from Canadian banks
Scotiabank Student Credit Cards Tiered moneyback promo calculated yearly. 0.25% for CAD 0 – CAD 1499.99, 0.5% for CAD 1500 to 2999.99, 1.0% for CAD 3000 and up
Royal Bank of Canada Student Visa Classic .
CIBC Classic Card for Students seems to require citizenship
Bank of Montreal Mosaik Mastercard .
Current account

President’s Choice No Fee Bank Account

– Free, unlimited Internet and phone transactions
– Free CIBC network transactions
– Free Interac direct payments
– Free chequing

TD Canada Trust Companion Savings Account

– Two free debits per month, CAD 1.25 fee / debit afterwards.
– Bill payments CAD 1.25 plus debit fee
– CAD 0 – CAD 4,999.99: 0.05% interest, CAD 5,000 and over: 0.25% interest

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

– Free transactions with minimum balance of CAD 2,000.
– Else, CAD 1.25 monthly fee covers 12 non-teller transactions. Extra at CAD 0.25 each (including Internet banking).
– Includes $500 credit limit on Scotiabank Classic Visa and no annual fee while student

Royal Bank of Canada Student Banking

– CAD 3.50 a month, 25 free debits, CAD 0.50 per additional debit
– Interac fee: CAD 1.50, PLUS: CAD 3.00

CIBC Student Advantage

– CAD 1000 minimum balance = no monthly fee for 0 to 10 transactions, CAD 0.30 for additional transactions(?)
– Reapply every year for student advantage

Savings account

President’s Choice Interest First Savings Account

– 2.15% interest (now 4% with balance of CAD 1000)
– Automatic savings plan

ING Direct

– 2.4% interest
– Four free Interac transactions per month, CAD 0.75 for succeeding transactions
– ATM at intersection of University Ave. and Adelaide St., free transactions

Scotiabank Money Master

– 2% interest
– Free transfer to other Scotiabank services. CAD 5.00 debit fee for others.


I’ve decided to go with President’s Choice Financial because it’s a pretty good deal in terms of both offline and online banking. One of my labmates keeps her accounts there, and she’s quite happy with it. Good stuff. I’ll apply for a social insurance number (25 St Clair Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario, M4T 3A4), and then open a current and savings account. If I can get a credit card off them too, yay.

私はパソコンを修理してもらいました。 I had my personal computer repaired.

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More about credit cards has the goods on credit cards in Canada. Check out the list of student-friendly credit cards for no-fee low-minimum-income no-credit-history-needed deals.

If you’re an international student, though, searching for a credit
card is a frustrating experience. Under “Perfect for students!” and
“Low interest rate!” signs, you’ll find “Must be a Canadian resident.”
It isn’t entirely fair how the Canadian government gets to consider
you a resident for tax purposes but you don’t get any of the resident
perks, but that’s life.

Don’t give up, though! Some banks are at least aware of the predicament of international students.
Calling up the International Student Centre yielded this quick tip:

Apply for the TD Canada Trust card at the Bay and Bloor branch (77 Bay Street, a short walk from campus). Don’t forget to bring:

  • passport
  • study permit
  • confirmation of address: rental agreement, phone bill, etc.
  • proof of enrollment: status letter, etc.
  • deposit (at least CAD 1000)

This still leaves me stranded because I’m not actually officially
enrolled yet, but hey, at least other people can use the tip.

As long as you use a credit card responsibly, it’s a great way to
build credit history. It’s a heck of a lot more convenient than
cash—in fact, a little too convenient sometimes. Take care of that
shiny new piece of plastic!

コンピュータがこの会社に導入されつつあります。 Computers are being introduced into this company.

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Spending plan

Whether you call it a budget or a spending plan, an idea of how much
you can spend on what each month is a remarkably liberating thing.
After you’ve put aside money for savings and important expenses such as

I keep my monthly spending plan on a ruled 3×5 index card labeled
“Budget for August 2005.” I divide the card into three columns:
category, estimate, and remaining budget. At the beginning of each
month, I write down the categories and estimates in ink, and the
remaining budget in pencil. Throughout the month, I’ll regularly
update the remaining budget entries. If I want to spend more for
something, I can reduce the budget of another category.

Let’s see how well that system works this month!

その代わりに、彼は自分のコンピュータを制御しているスイッチを操作した。 Instead, he worked a switch that controlled his computer.

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