Mar 272013

home aloneThe age at which children can legally be left at home alone for short periods of time varies varies from 10 to 12 years depending on the province of residence.

Alberta – There is no law in Alberta that specifies the age of children who can be left alone. Many Albertans expect families to arrange care or supervision for children left alone under the age of 12.

Ontario – Children of age 10 and over can be left home alone in Ontario. The period of being left alone should however be less than 2 hours.

The Criminal Code of Canada: Part VIII, section 215 to 218 states. (1)a states we have a legal duty as a parent, foster parent, guardian, head of family, etc. to provide necessaries of life for a child under the age of sixteen years; and can be imprisoned for up to 5 years if they are willfully negligent in doing so.  Under section 218: Every one who unlawfully abandons or exposes a child who is under the age of ten years, so that its life is or is likely to be endangered or its health is or is likely to be permanently injured,

All school age children need to be supervised by a responsible adult and child’s age might not be the only determining factor if the child can be left at home alone.

Canada Safety Council’s advice on leaving child alone include:

  • Set firm rules, with clear do’s and don’ts.
  • Prepare your child to deal with situations that may arise.
  • Specify how his or her time is to be spent.
  • Keep in touch – if you’re hard to reach, get a mobile phone or pager.
  • Make sure your home is safe and secure.
  • Limit the time you leave your child at home alone.

More info here.

Our conclusion – 12 years old children can be left alone at home for not more than 2 hours.

Apr 112012

Things to do before moving:

  • Call all utilities and give the disconnection and connection dates. Ideally a 2 weeks notice is sufficient. Depending on where you live, you can call agencies responsible for Gas, Electricity, Light, water and sewer, Telephone, Cable TV, and internet.
  • Home services, if any, should be canceled/moved. Some of the general home services include dry cleaning, newspaper, diaper service, magazine subscriptions, house cleaners, milk delivery etc.
  • Send “Change of Address” cards to friends, relatives, and business accounts like:
  1. Post Office
  2. Vehicle Registration
  3. Insurance companies – residance, fire, life, auto
  4. Accountant
  5. Bank/Finance Companies
  6. Lawyer
  7. Credit card and charge accounts
  8. Medical, dental and eye-care offices
  9. Stock Broker
  10. Family Allowance Office
  • School transfer and student information transfer.
  • Order new blank cheques with new address.
  • Cancel or transfer community-based memberships like social, athletic, civic or religious memberships.
  • Pet care and safety arrangement.
  • Get moving boxes, wraps, and marking pens to mark the boxes.
  • Arrange for final inspection.

Before moving out make sure:

  • Read all the meters
  • Turn down furnace and shut off air conditioning
  • Turn all lights off
  • Set refrigerator to the lowest level
  • Shut and lock all the doors and windows
  • Disconnect telephone service
  • Disconnect alarm system


Nov 252011

Credit scores are calculated based on five different factors. Let’s analyze what is required to be done to maintain a good credit score.

Don’t miss the payment

The worst thing to do to damage your credit score is not to pay the bills in time. Apart from high interest, payment history has the highest (35%) effect in the credit score. Even if you are broke and don’t have money to pay-off the bill, you should pay the minimum to play safe.

Paying minimum is the worst-case-scenario as it is very costly to carry credit card debt.

Increase debt owed to available credit ratio

The lower the debt/credit ratio the better the credit score will be. The ratio has 30% share in the calculation of credit score. As a rule of thumb, always try to have debt/credit limit ratio under 50. A ratio of 30 is better. 10 might even be much better.

Increasing credit limit in credit cards helps in reducing the ratio and hence being favorable for the credit score.

Don’t apply for too many cards

Every new credit card you sign-up boosts your total available credit. That makes your debt utilization appear lower and experts say that it can work against you. Opening a new account and credit inquiries in fact lowers your credit score by 10%.

Don’t close unused cards

Closing unused cards is also bad for your credit. When one closes an account, the total amount of available credit decreases. Decrease in the overall available credit increases the debt utilization lowering the score.

If you don’t use a credit card too often, some issuers may close old credit cards because of inactivity. So, it is a good practice to use the old credit cards periodically and pay the due amount in time.

Oct 272011

credit_scoreSome say, low credit limit is better for credit score. But, it is not as simple as that. The total credit score is the sum of five different factors:

  • Payment history (35% weight)
  • Total debt owed vs. Available credit (30% weight)
  • Length of time establishing credit (15% weight)
  • Types of credit established (10%  weight)
  • Inquiries and New accounts (10% weight)

In the list above, the first two are factors are the most important factors to increase (or, decrease) your credit score. Missed payment and lower debt-credit ratio will have 65% effect in reducing the credit score.

For example if a person has two credit cards with credit limits of $10,000 and $50,000. The total credit limits on the cards are $60,000. Suppose the person has a balance of $20,000 between the two cards. That is about 33% of the available credit. Such a ratio can be considered an allowable rating to the scoring system.

Now, suppose the person decreases the credit limit of the second card to $30,000 such that the combined credit limit becomes $40,000. If the person has the same balance of $20,000, the person will be using 50% of the available credit. Although the new ratio is not very bad, it is much worse when compared to the previous case when the ratio was 33%.

Having a higher credit line doesn’t always mean you should use it all. Whatever you spend, you’d have to pay it back anyway. So, it doesn’t hurt to have a higher credit limit as long as you are not using more than you need.

Oct 052011

auto_insurance_canada In a study conducted by the Fraser Institute, residents of Ontario pay the maximum auto insurance in Canada and Quebec has the lowest premiums.

The average auto insurance premiums by province are:

  1. Ontario    -   $1,281
  2. British Columbia -  $1,113
  3. Saskatchewan  – $1,049
  4. Manitoba  – $1,027
  5. Alberta – $1,004
  6. Newfoundland and Labrador – $749
  7. Nova Scotia  – $736
  8. New Brunswick  – $728
  9. Prince Edward Island – $695
  10. Quebec – $642
Jul 252011

Vehicle renewal and registration can be done online through e-registry website. The registration process requires:

  • Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice
  • Insurance pink card
  • Credit card (Visa or MasterCard)
  • A web browser with 128 bit encryption capabilities.
  • Online registration won’t work if your mailing address has changed recently. The registrations and tabs are sent by mail to the address mentioned in the vehicle registration record.

    The process is fairly simple once you go to the e-registry website (click on green button beside step 1).


    Continue reading »

    Mar 112011

    In Alberta, driver knowledge test is available in 9 other languages in addition to English. For those who are not confident in answering the question in English can take the test with regular fee (current test fee is $17). The available language for the electronic driver BasicCoverFeb2010 knowledge test are:

    1. Arabic
    2. Chinese (Traditional)
    3. Farsi
    4. French
    5. Hindi
    6. Punjabi
    7. Spanish
    8. Tagalog (Philippines)
    9. Vietnamese
    10. English

    Those who are not proficient in any of these language can also take the test in their own language. But, for that, they have to pay an extra charge for an approved translator (The cost of translator might range from $70 to $100).

    For those who can’t read, at an extra charge (currently, $30) audio test is available in English.

    The questions in the Class 7 knowledge tests are prepared based on material from the Basic Licence Driver’s Handbook, available in English from Government of Alberta website or a hard copy from any of 200 Registry Agent office across the province. 

    Unofficial translation of Handbook are also available from private vendors. As per this link (pdf, 83kb), The only available foreign languages handbooks are in Chinese, Hindi and Punjabi, and Spanish.