Friday, October 18, 2013

Short Takes: Better Fee Disclosure, Fake Pet Cremation, and more

This week I managed a post each day after Thanksgiving:

Are Pensions Worth Zero?

BlackRock Canada Launches New Mutual Funds

Making Sense of Your CPP Statement of Contributions

Here are my short takes and some weekend reading:

Tom Bradley at Steadyhand gives us a sample of their improvements to disclosing mutual fund fees on client statements. One of the most financially enlightening things I do for friends and family is tell them how much they pay per month in investment fees (in dollars rather than percentages). For investors who get good advice for their money, this is just some interesting information. For other investors who get little for their money, the monthly cost is surprising and frustrating.

Freakonomics performs a gruesome experiment sending fake pet remains to pet crematories to see what would come back. The crematories promise to send back just your pet’s remains, but in each case they sent back bone ash (even though the fake pets were just fur and hamburger). This should make you wonder if the remains on your mantel really belong to your beloved Fluffy.

Canadian Couch Potato reports that more swap-based ETFs like Horizons HXT are poised to hit the market. If all goes smoothly with the counterparty swaps, these ETFs have better tracking error than their competitors which leaves more money in investors’ pockets. The difficult thing is to estimate the odds of a counterparty default. For example, if such a default were to cost investors 10% of their assets and defaults are expected to happen once per century, the expected cost is about 0.1% per year. I don’t know whether these estimates are optimistic or pessimistic, so I haven’t bought any swap-based ETFs yet.

My Own Advisor says unbundled cable packages can’t come soon enough. My initial reaction was to look forward to unbundling. However, cable companies aren’t just going to sit around and accept lower revenues. I expect that they will find a way to extract as much or more money from us after the law changes.

Big Cajun Man seems very Scrooge-like with his tips for a frugal Halloween.

Where Does All My Money Go? interviews David A. Whitten to discuss job security after maternity leave.

The Blunt Bean Counter brings us a guest post explaining qualifying spousal trusts. I suppose it’s not good enough for me to plan to live long enough to spend all my money.

Million Dollar Journey brings us a 34-year old millionaire’s five financial principles. He beat me by a year.


  1. Michael, thx for the link. After hearing you speak at the conference on investing, I just figured you were/are going to be so wealthy you could not outlive your money :)

    1. @Mark: When my health starts to decline, I'm going to start burning bundles of cash in my fireplace :-)

  2. I think Scrooge is getting a bad rap, especially for Candyfest/Halloween!

    Have a great weekend and thanks for the mention.

  3. Yeah, those cable companies will still find ways to make their coin, I'm not worried about that. That said, either they find more ways to stay in business or suffer a slow painful death.

    Thanks for the mention!