Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The big six energy suppliers are spending £1 billion over four years to give some low income customers a discount off one winter electricity bill. This year the discount is £130 and around two million households are eligible.

Pension age – ‘core group’
People over pension age on pension credit qualify for the discount if their income is below around £143 single or £218 (couple). That has to be true on 21 July 2012. People already 80 on that day qualify with a slightly higher income – below £161 (single) or £241 (couple). Some people with disabilities or carers can have higher incomes and still qualify. There are reckoned to be more than a million in this ‘core group’ and they should get the discount automatically – the energy supplier will match their details to a list provided by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Low income
Low income households can qualify for the discount if they apply for it. This is called the ‘broader group’. Each of the big six energy suppliers has its own rules about who qualifies in this group. Generally it is households on a low income where the customer or their partner or child is disabled or they have a child under 5. But each supplier has its own detailed rules and they are all different from each other. Some suppliers also include people over pension age on pension credit who do not get the automatic ‘core group’ payment. See 'Details' below for the six different schemes.

You apply to your energy company. Find it online or call the customer number no your bill. Ask about the Warn Home Discount. See 'Details' below for contact numbers for each scheme.  

You can get the discount however you pay your bill. So it includes people on prepayment meters as well as those who pay quarterly or by monthly direct debit. People on prepayment meters will get a credit to put no their key. Some may get a cheque. More here

Big six only
Only the big six energy suppliers are part of the scheme. People with smaller suppliers and those in Northern Ireland will generally NOT get the discount.

The big six are:
British Gas (includes Sainsbury’s Energy), EDF Energy, E.on, npower, Scottish Power, SSE (includes Atlantic Energy, Scottish Hydro, Southern Energy, SWALEC, Ebico, Equipower, M&S Energy).

Utility Warehouse and Equigas give the discount to those in the core group only. People with the other smaller energy companies and those in Northern Ireland will NOT get the Warm Home Discount.

Social tariffs
Before 2011 people on low incomes could pay less for their energy through what were called ‘social tariffs’. They included schemes like Energycare Plus, Energy Assist, Essentials, Fresh Start, and Spreading Warmth. These schemes are closed to new applicants and are being phased out. But some people may still get them and they cannot get the Warm Home Discount as well.

The discount has to be made by 31 March 2013 and applications in theory can be accepted up to that date. However, some suppliers have earlier deadlines. British Gas says you have to apply by 31 December and E.on will only accept applications up to 24 January but both may be flexible. If you qualify it is best to apply as soon as possible.

Run out of cash
Even if you fulfil the conditions you may not get the discount. There is a fixed amount of money for the broader group scheme and once that runs out no one else will be paid. However, no supplier has run out yet.

Not paid automatically
If you are in the ‘core group’ of people on pension credit but have not been sent a letter you should contact your supplier and ask why. It is possible that the information held by the DWP is slightly different from the details held by the energy company and you are in what is called an ‘unmatched’ group. Call 0845 603 9439 to get it sorted out.

The core group is defined as people on pension credit who get ONLY the guarantee credit and do NOT get any savings credit. However, people born 21 July 1932 or earlier qualify even if they get guarantee credit even if they also get some savings credit.

In general the date when you have to fulfil the conditions for the Warm Home Discount was 21 July 2012. If you have moved supplier since then it can get complicated. Ask your existing supplier what to do. Remember it is your electricity supplier who pays the discount. That is because everyone gets an electricity bill but not everyone has piped gas.

The broader group is defined differently by each of the six energy companies. You can read the details of each six and how to apply here

Thanks to Consumer Focus for that information.

There is a Warn Home Discount helpline on 0845 603 9439

Where The Debt Stands...

So we have had quite a few snafu's over the last few weeks - it's causing a bit of pain with regards to meeting our goal of credit card debt free going into 2013.

When we changed our car payment schedule, BMO accidently withdrew an extra payment of nearly $300

  • BMO's extra withdraw caused a ripple affect whereby our account was overdrawn and our mortgage payment bounced

  • We were charged a $65 bounce fee for the payment, but got it in a few days late once we realized what happened

  • Jordan was sick one day a week or so ago and he was out of sick time.  His manager/payroll person didn't tell him and instead of charging the day to vacation instead (which he has plenty of) - they just docked his pay by 7.50 hours.  He's a salaried employee.  I was livid.

  • Jordan was put in a Secret Santa draw at work that cost us $25 we hadn't budgeted for 

  • An extra tank of gas this week ($60) b/c of two Christmas parties ($100) this past weekend

So.  There's that.

We also have overspent our Christmas budget.  Again.

Also I forgot that it costs $ to ship gifts.


So...Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


There is nothing like the Christmas season to have giving on the mind. It’s a time of year when there are so many people in need, and we receive so many asks for support.

Two years ago, my family created a donor advised family fund to direct our philanthropic desires. Held within the Golden & District Community Foundation (GDCF), all donations to the Principal of the fund are in trust. The Foundation has support from the Columbia Valley Credit Union for above market interest rates – and it’s the interest that is granted to programs within the community that need support.

We have found that by donating this way, the money keeps working – and works collectively – to bring more and more funding to our community.

After we established our fund within the GDCF, we set a goal of raising $10,000 (the minimum before the interest earned can be used for grant giving). We have just recently reached that goal – and are immensely proud of our efforts.

It’s now time to set a new goal, so that our fund continues to grow each year and we can continue to support our community now – and in the future.

If you are in Canada, and want to find out if there is a Community Foundation in your town, you can check out this website:

If you are interested in supporting my family’s fund through the GDCF, please click the donate now button on the right hand side of this page, and be sure to choose the Crandlemire-Keenleyside Family Legacy Fund from the drop down list.

~ thank you, and best wishes this holiday season

No Cliff Calamity: That's What Stocks Are Correctly Predicting

Despite all the media hullabaloo about the fiscal cliff and a potential recession if none of the Bush tax cuts are extended, stock markets have behaved calmly throughout this whole period. In fact, as of this writing today, the Dow is up 100 points.

I’m gonna guess that stocks, in their wisdom, are correctly sniffing that there will be no calamitous falling off the cliff. By that I mean there will be no $500 billion tax hike, which would be an economy killer.

Instead, after speaking with prominent Republican House and Senate members, I have come to believe the following: The GOP knows that Obama has the upper hand in this post-election battle. Therefore, they are preparing a strategic retreat.

Republicans don’t want to be the party of rich people and let Obama maintain his hold on the middle class. Republicans also don’t want to be the party of recession. So if no comprehensive deal is reached by President Obama and Speaker John Boehner, Republicans will not block an extension of the so-called middle-class tax cuts, which are roughly three quarters of the total.

It’s hard to know how this story will work itself out. There may be deals on upper-end tax rates, say 37 percent instead of 39.6 percent. And maybe even some lower tax penalties on capital gains and dividends.

Ideally, the GOP can get solid promises on spending cuts and entitlement reforms in return for a tax package. That tax package may include a dollar limit for tax deductions along with the rise in upper-end tax rates. Entitlement reform is also on the table. And so is a roughly $60 billion 2013 spending cut, which carries over from the across-the-board sequester. That is still possible.

But what is not possible is that House Republicans give up their constitutional prerogative to set the debt ceiling. That is their biggest point of leverage. And that leverage will carry over into 2013 as lawmakers once again attempt an across-the-board effort for pro-growth tax reform (flatter rates, broadening the base), serious structural entitlement reform, and more discretionary spending cuts. This will be the battle royale of next year.

As I said, no one knows how all this is going to play out in the next two weeks. But from the standpoint of the economy and the stock market, a worst-case tax-hike scenario that would sink GDP is not likely to happen.

There will be a deal to extend most of the tax cuts. And while higher tax rates on successful earners, small-business owners, and investors are most definitely not pro-growth, at least the across-the-board tax-hike calamity will be avoided.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Car Payments - Made a Change

So we had a date with the Bank of Montreal this weekend.  Among many things including exploring the line of credit I asked you guys about a couple days ago and a changing my name - we also chatted about our existing car loan.

The payment frequency used to be every two weeks, just under $195.  It was a pain, because we bought the vehicle on a weekend, so the payments always came out on Monday or Tuesday rather then the Friday - and once and a while there was three payments - I didn't keep track well which months because it's the Mondays rather then the Fridays.

All that said - we changed our payment frequency to $100/week rather then $195/two weeks.  Annually, our payments have increased from $5,052.06 to $5,200 - not a huge change at all - but the payments now align with our mortgage and I like round numbers.