December 24, 2010

File Your Income Tax Return Yourself

You Know All About Your Own Situation

Unless your situation is very complex, you should file your income tax return yourself. You are the best person to analyze your own tax situation and take into account all nuances and possibilities.

You are also more motivated to reduce your own taxes than the H&R Block clerk can be.

Just A Little Research and Reading 

By completing your tax return yourself, you are, among other things, less likely to forget deductions. You just have to play with some numbers and read a bit; a little arithmetic and reading has never killed anyone!

December 16, 2010

Almost Always Waive Life and Disability Insurance Clauses on Loans

When you borrow from financial institutions, they systematically offer you life and disability insurance to «protect» your mortgage or loan.

It might be wiser to waive these insurance clauses and thereby avoid paying «small» supplements.

Indeed, most of the time, loan insurance clauses are simply not beneficial to you.

Less Expensive Possibilities

You need to check and compare it with other options available to you. But in most cases, it’s possible to obtain similar protections cheaply.

Thus, Group Insurance available through your job is often interesting and can fully cover your insurance needs at a low price. There’s absolutely no point to have double or triple coverage; you’ll probably only get paid once anyway.

In addition, it is always advisable to combine coverage on a single contract to avoid undue administrative costs.

December 13, 2010

Evaluate Training Needs during Annual Evaluation Meetings

Only 12 days till Christmas…hang in there!

Set Up A Training Plan Adapted For Each One

Specify your organization’s training needs during annual evaluation meetings.

Begin by evaluating staff training needs yourself.  But also take time to specify expectations and training needs with each employee. Each individual can have different needs but some group training is often possible.

That way, your staff members will feel valued and will develop new expertise which could be beneficial for the entire organization.

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December 10, 2010

You Must Have A Will If You Have Kids

To Protect Your Children

If you have children, and even if you are still relatively young and healthy, it’s essential to have a valid and up-to-date will.

While it’s not pleasant to think about that possibility, there are certain arrangements that you should take now to ensure that your family is in good hands if both you and your spouse die.

Tutors and Life Insurance

Thus, in addition to clearly outlining your last wishes in your will, you should also appoint one or more tutors to take care of your loved ones if necessary. Adequate life insurance coverage is also desirable.

December 07, 2010

Maintain a Minimum Balance to Avoid Banking Fees

Avoid Bank Service Charges

For some of us, it may be interesting to maintain the minimum balance required to eliminate our monthly banking fees. Although it is not usually advisable to let money sleep in a bank account, this time around it could be beneficial to you.

A Great Investment

Indeed, maintaining a minimum balance can even be considered as an excellent investment depending on your situation.


If you’re required to maintain a $1000 minimum balance and that you can save $9.95 on monthly service charges,we can calculate that it represents a 12% annual performance, without taking any risk.

Furthermore, considering taxes, assuming a marginal rate of 40%, fees saved equate to a 16.8% interest yield [12% x (1+40%)].

December 02, 2010

Avoid Paying Annual Fees on Your Credit Cards

Never Pay Fees

You should never pay fees on your credit cards; whether it is interest charge, late fee or even annual fee.

Just use common sense and a little discipline. Credit Card Fees are Simply Useless.

Switch To a No Annual Fee Card

You rarely can take advantage of additional features provided by credit cards with annual fee. Just ask your financial institution to switch to a no annual fee credit card.

The only reason you should pay annual fee is if you can get an immediate monetary advantage than is greater like a cash reward program. But remember that many no annual fee cards can still offer you competitive cash rewards.

November 29, 2010

Take Pre-Approved Mortgage With a Grain of Salt

Dream House

Sunday morning, Mister and his tender half, dream of more space. They think of moving out of their tiny apartment. In fact, they hope they can finally afford a cozy house: their first house.

Mister proposes to contact their bank as of the following day; two days later, they suddenly sit in front of the nice mortgage clerk. After some quick questions, some fast typing and several smiles; a sheet is frantically printed in the adjacent room, the verdict is out: $300,000!

Wow! Our young couple is ecstatic, they can stop to dream of a house; they now can afford the house of their dreams! And all this, despite their income…their modest income.   

But their dream will probably transform into a nightmare if they don’t wake up soon. At this moment, they only think of their house; their castle in fact. They don’t think of the financial burden, the high monthly payments of more than $1900 (@ 6% over 25 years) and of all the expenses that come with a big residence.

November 23, 2010

Improve Working Conditions with Annual Evaluation Meetings

Improve Working Conditions by 
Listening To Your Employees

In addition to improving the work and productivity of each employee, annual evaluation meetings should also make it possible to ameliorate working conditions of all members of the organization.

Take advantage of annual evaluation meetings to allow employees to express their needs and by the same token, to develop better working conditions for the entire company.

Everyone will greatly benefit when you listen to the needs and requests of your employees.

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November 18, 2010

Paying Some Loans Early May Not Always Be A Good Idea

Some Contracts Won’t Allow You to Save Interest

As a basic rule, getting rid of debts is a pretty good thing. But be careful, it’s not always true.

In fact, some type of loans won’t allow you to save on interests even if you pay up early. It’s often the case with car loans or leases. 

For these loans, interest charges are calculated as part of the original contract and cannot be altered.

Verify The Contract

The only way to actually know is to read the fine prints of the contract. So check your contract before getting rid of this type of debts.

November 15, 2010

Keep a Detailed Price List of Products That You Buy Frequently

Write Down a Detailed List

Most of us do not have a precise idea of the price of products they regularly buy. A good way to remedy the situation is to establish in writing a detailed list of products you buy frequently. Products like butter, paper tissues, canned peas, bread…

Your list should include the price of each product as well as the corresponding quantity. It could also include the brand and the store where you usually purchase it. We should not forget fruits and vegetables or other products you buy in bulk.

Regular and Special Prices

It might also be interesting to indicate the price you usually pay (regular price) but also the best price you got (best special price).

November 12, 2010

Avoid Preparing Your Tax Return at the Last Minute

Prepare and Plan a Little Ahead

You should not wait to the last minute to prepare your income tax return.

For most, filing income tax return in late February or early March is possible when employment slips arrive. It’s even possible to prepare the majority of your declaration in advance and to finalize it with last-minute details. There’s no use to wait until April or even worse, till the end of April to send your tax return, especially if you’re entitled to a refund.

If you are a do-it-yourself investor like me, you may have to wait a bit longer for some papers because brokerage firms have till the end of March to send them out. You can still make sure that your transaction records are in order for your non-registered accounts. After a quick check when you finally get all your documents, you’ll be to file your tax return with no undue delay.

November 09, 2010

Avoid Over-Diversifying Your Mutual Funds

While investing in mutual funds, do not diversify too much.

Already Diversified Enough

By definition, a mutual fund is already diversified!

Indeed, the fund manager buys different titles with money invested by all shareholders of the fund.

Some specialized funds are a little less diversified but in general, mutual funds are a well diversified investment vehicle.

Limit Yourself to a Couple Funds

It is not necessary to select a large number of funds for your portfolio. Three or four different funds should be sufficient to meet your needs. In some cases, a single fund may do a great job.

November 04, 2010

Shop Around and Negotiate Your Credit Conditions

Always Worthwhile to Negotiate

It may be interesting for you to shop and negotiate loan or credit line conditions with a few different financial institutions.

On your mortgage, for example, a difference of only 1% will save you tens of thousands of dollars in interest before you finish paying your home.

Consult Several Institutions

Avoid being lazy and get information elsewhere. At worst, negotiate with your regular institution to obtain the best possible terms afterwards.

November 01, 2010

Carefully Choose Your Life Insurance Agent

Nowadays, with the multitude of products that are offered to us, it’s difficult to make wise choices. We would like to blindly trust our life insurance agent, but that could be one of the most serious mistakes that could be made. In addition to being expensive, that kind of mistake could really place your family in a precarious situation.

Make Your Own Analysis First

There’s no magic formula for choosing a good life insurance agent. You should start by making your own reflection and by determining by yourself your life insurance needs. Your life insurance agent should only validate your analysis and help you choose specific products tailored to your needs.

Choose Products According to Your Needs and Not Your Capacity to Pay

October 29, 2010

Simply Use Common Sense and Better Judgment

This may seem obvious but in finance or life in general, many do not use common sense or they often demonstrate bad judgment. Is it because they are eager for easy solutions or quick profits?

Too Good to be True

Then, if it sounds too good to be true: it’s probably not true! I'm not saying that opportunities to get rich or to improve our lives do not exist. But, I’m only saying that these opportunities rarely come from a stranger, who writes you an email telling you that by giving him some money, you will obtain ten times more...

You Know What Works for You

October 26, 2010

Systematically Use the Small Tasks Method

Simplify All Tasks

Want to be better organized; one of the first things to do is to adopt the Small Tasks Method.

This method consists of bringing all your tasks into a relatively simple level by breaking down too complex tasks into several smaller and easier to accomplish tasks.

The effectiveness of this method, simplistic at first glance, has been proven over time. Its psychological effects on motivation and productivity are undeniable.

Mysteriously, it’s more interesting to have accomplished 10 tasks out of 40 than 1 out of 4. You have the impression of having completed more.

October 24, 2010

Learn About RESPs If You Have Kids

In Canada, governments really entice you to save for your children’s education. Especially if you are a low-income family, you must take advantage of all this free money.

Let’s start by looking at the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Although the RESP is a bit complex, it can be pretty interesting for most families.

Here are some highlights of the RESP to help you get the most out of it:

Contributions Not Tax-Deductible: RESP contributions are not deductible from your income tax, contrary to those of an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan).

Grant and Bond: Instead, governments pay incentives to the RESP in the form of grant and bond.

Tax-Free Growth: money can grow tax-free while in the RESP.

October 21, 2010

Give Priority to Personal and Family Matters

Family First

While it’s commendable to think of others, you should always take special care of your family. Personal and family matters should be your first priority.

If you don’t do it, nobody will!

Work Hard Without Neglecting Your Family

Some work rigorously and prove to be outstanding managers for their company. But often become careless regarding their family and personal affairs. Therefore give at least as much importance to your family business.

October 18, 2010

Use Line of Credit to Avoid Paying High Interest on Debt

A Reasonable Interest Rate

A personal line of credit is an excellent way to avoid paying high interest on certain debts.

Interest payable on credit lines is reasonable. Even if it is higher than on a mortgage, it is much lower than, for example, credit cards.

On an As-Needed Basis

Because interest will only be charged if it is used, you can draw from your line of credit only if required.

This enables you to cope with small contingencies and make sure you pay the full balance of your credit cards each month.

Credit lines can also be used as a short-term loan to maximize your RRSP.

Relatively Easy to Obtain

If your financial institution did not already offer you one, it is relatively easy to apply for a line of credit. Depending on your credit rating, it can be expected to pay a few more percentage points than the prime rate, from 1% to 5% more.

October 15, 2010

The Right Long-Term Choice For Your Mortgage : Variable Rates

History Favors Variable Rates

Interest rates are far from being an obvious issue; we take a chance and venture a guess on what’s going to happen next, but in most cases, variable mortgage rates will be the right choice.

Indeed, historically variable rates have been lower than fixed rates. A variable rate would especially be beneficial if a decrease in rates can be anticipated or even if rates remained relatively stable.

However, a variable rate will not benefit you if a rate increase is anticipated. Thus, the fixed rate today can be lower than the variable rate in a few years.

Fixed Rate Premium

You take a certain risk with variable rates, it’s only normal to be rewarded by a lower average rate.

October 12, 2010

Provide All Necessary Information to Tax Expert or Software

Tax Experts Need Detailed and Complete Information

If you decide to hire a tax expert, a knowledgeable friend or to use tax software: be sure to provide them with all related information. 

They won’t be able to make a good job and maximize your return if you forgive some receipts or omit relevant information.

Only You Can Know

You are the best person to know your particular situation. Indeed, if you don’t provide all the details of your situation, the expert or software cannot guess. You have to allow them to exploit all possibilities that apply to your tax situation.

So, be sure to provide all current year tax information. Some previous years’ information may also be useful.

Good tax experts will ask the right questions. But still will be more motivated to maximize your return when you provide them organized information and make their job a little easier.

October 07, 2010

Help to Choose Your Checking Account and Banking Package

Use this Interactive Tool

Because financial institutions are always greedy, be smart and select the banking package that’s right for you.

To ensure that your banking package meets your needs, you can consult the Cost of Banking Guide from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), follow the link to the interactive tool:

Limit or Eliminate Banking Fees

With a little creativeness, you will easily limit your banking fees and even in some cases, eliminate them. In fact, depending on your situation, you should pay a monthly maximum of $10 for your banking charges.

October 04, 2010

Manage Your Credit Situation With Debt Consolidation

Only One Outstanding Loan

Roughly, debt consolidation consists of regrouping multiple debts and taking out a new loan that will allow you to settle all debts at once.

This will leave you with 1 single loan and 1 single payment to handle. It also can enable you to sometimes get a better rate of interest than some of your previous loans.

Be Sure to Carefully Check the Conditions

However, debt consolidation is not a miracle solution and you should be wary of conditions that are not always beneficial to you.

Some credit companies will offer loans under doubtful conditions that will reduce each payment but will only defer the problem.

Doubtful conditions such as:

September 24, 2010

Emphasize Qualities and Promote Recognition during Annual Evaluation Meetings

Be Grateful and Recognize Good Deeds

The annual evaluation meeting constitutes a good occasion to recognize the qualities of each one of your employees; you also have to acknowledge their work, their dedication and their good deeds.

Avoid mistrust and reprimands but rather insist on the positive side of things. Your employees know that they can improve and a stimulating climate of encouragement will be beneficial for their development.

Nevertheless be frank and do not hesitate to specify your expectations; also be sure to express your support throughout the year.

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September 16, 2010

Use Online Tools to Evaluate Your Power Consumption

Many power suppliers offer online tools to evaluate your power consumption and to help you save money and resources.

Online Questionnaire to Evaluate your Electricity Consumption

For example, Hydro-Quebec’s interactive and personalized web questionnaire “Mieux consommer” can help you evaluate your electricity consumption.

It will only take you a few minutes to answer the questionnaire. They will actually fill in the blanks using your real electricity consumption from what they have on file.

The interactive tool generates a report on your power consumption and will suggest different solutions to quickly reduce your electricity consumption and bill.

September 13, 2010

Organize Your Tax Documents Throughout The Year

A Single File with All Tax Documents

Instead of running around at the last minute for all your income tax papers,  gather and file all necessary documents as you receive them in a single folder for the current year, for example, identified "2010 Taxes”.

Make Copies and File As You Go

Group receipts in order by category and date. If it’s possible for you and you know copies will be necessary, make them before you file.

For example, place all receipts for medical expenses together and organize originals on the top of the stack and copies on the bottom.

September 10, 2010

Use Government Agencies’ Online Simulators to Determine What You Need to Save for Retirement

Easy to Use Online Tools

Government agencies now provide online services to simulate and calculate your future retirement income.

These services can be used to help determine what must be save today in order to meet your retirement needs.

For Quebecers, CompuPension online service from the Regie des Rentes du Quebec (RRQ) is particularly well conceived. You can access it here:

For other Canadians, the Canadian Retirement Income Calculator from Service Canada will also help you. Use following link:

Use Online Simulator Before You Consult Retirement Planning Salesperson

This service is effective and comprehensive, among other things; you will do the calculations yourself without being forced to meet so-called specialists that do not always

September 07, 2010

Take Advantage of Group Life Insurance as Much as you Can

The Least Expensive Insurance for Your Entire Family

For most people, group insurance is the least expensive form of life insurance if it’s available to them. Thus you should fully exploit all possibilities it provides.

The majority of group insurance programs offer a basic life insurance. To this mandatory protection, you can add complementary coverage for you, your spouse and even your children; all this at an extremely interesting cost.

Insurance companies can provide group insurance at a very low cost because they are assured of the adhesion of the whole group. Mandatory coverage results in very low cost to you.

September 02, 2010

Get Out of Debt (Part 4 of 4): Combine Methods Depending on Your Situation

Adapt Each Step to Your Situation to Get Rid of Debt

It’s also possible to combine the highest interest rate method and the lowest balance method (see previous posts) to eliminate your debts.

Depending on your situation, you will decide for each step the liability to be eliminated.  The highest interest rate one or the lowest balance one.

August 30, 2010

Get Out of Debt (Part 3 of 4): Pay the Lowest Balance First

A More Motivating Method to Eliminate Your Debt
Another alternative similar to the highest interest rate method involves starting with the lowest balance debt.

The fist debt will disappear more quickly and the process is a bit easier to initiate.  This can be a little more motivating for some.

You Pay More Interest

Even though it appears that the lowest balance method gets things done faster, you effectively pay more interest on other debt. In the end, this method is more costly and you will be debt-free later.

August 27, 2010

Get Out of Debt (Part 2 of 4): Pay the Highest Interest Rate Debt First

The Best Way to Get Rid of Consumer Debt

The best way to get out of debt is to completely pay off your debts in order starting with the highest interest rate item on your list.  This should be done while still doing minimum payments on other loans.

Mathematically, this is the best method to get rid of debt. Paying off the highest interest debt first is also the most financially sound method.

Domino-Effect After the Elimination of The First Debt

The toughest part is to get rid of the first liability. Subsequently, that first debt’s payment will be

August 24, 2010

Get Out of Debt (Part 1 of 4): Immediately Reduce Interest You’re Paying on Your Debts

Run Away from High Interest Credit Cards

Many opportunities are probably already there for you to reduce interests that you pay on your debts.  Particularly, high interests on your credit cards balance.

Do Some Changes Now

Nobody knows your situation better than yourself.

So use your low interest credit line, a personal loan, savings sleeping in a low interest account (even if institutions call them high interest savings accounts) or at a pinch another credit card with not so greedy interest rate.  Do some little changes today!

August 19, 2010

Before You Can Improve, You Must Be Able to Measure Your Progress

Before implementing changes to fix problems and improve, the first step should be to adequately evaluate your value and measure your performance.

Therefore, you must begin by putting in place a system and tools to process all the necessary data. This database will help you assess the situation and observe improvements as they arise.

If already existing measuring tools are not adequate, a certain data gathering period must be planned to ensure that your data analysis tools are valid to monitor your evolution.

August 13, 2010

Find A Good Family Doctor While You Are Healthy

Your Access-Point to the System

Nowadays, it is essential to have a good family doctor. Indeed, a good family physician will give you access to the whole healthcare system and its services.

Our healthcare system is not as bad as we believe; it is often only difficult to gain proper access to it.

Register Your Family Before You Get Sick

Because the registration process is usually pretty long, do what necessary now while you are still in good health and that you can bare the dreaded waiting-list. Even if this can take several months, it will be worth the wait.

Register all members of the family with the same doctor. Your future doctor is perhaps in a neighboring city, so make sure to check all services available in your surrounding area.

August 05, 2010

Focus on Quality Dividend-Paying Stocks

Dividends and Appreciation

Blue-chip dividend-paying stocks should occupy an important part of your investment portfolio. They can be acquired directly by buying shares of solid dividend-paying companies in at least three different sectors of the economy. Some mutual funds or ETFs also specialized in dividend stocks.

Indeed, in addition to often offering interesting capital gain, these stocks also provide regular dividends to their owners. Those dividends may be easily reinvested or provide regular income.

August 02, 2010

Everybody Must Have a Basic Home Insurance

Despite the fact that I am the first to say that we are too insured, there is a form of insurance that should not be overlooked: Home Insurance.

Basic Home Insurance is Affordable

Indeed, even if you are a tenant, nobody can afford to be without a basic home insurance. Do a little shopping, depending on the size of your home and where you live, you should be able to find an adequate coverage for 20 to 30 dollars a month. Home insurance is usually not that expensive.

Prevent a Tragedy

Without home insurance, the consequences of a disaster such as a fire are tragic. In addition to living the experience of a disaster, a lot of people end up in the streets while having lost all their belongings.

July 30, 2010

Have a Plan to Get Out of Consumer Debt Within 3 Years

Take Action Today

The secret to solve your debt and credit problems is to setup a good plan: simple and effective.  It takes a bit of discipline and common sense. But there’s no point in delayed it; take control and start getting out of debt today.

Your plan should have an immediate impact and help you get out of consumer debt within 3 years.  After that, only your mortgage and maybe a car loan will remain and can be the exception.  It could take more time only if your credit situation is extremely severe.

Use Online Debt Repayment Calculators

To estimate what you should expect to repay each month, use online calculators.

July 27, 2010

Develop An Annual Evaluation Program For Members Of Your Organization

Annual Meetings to Improve

At least once a year, business leaders should meet with each member of their service or organization to evaluate them in a well structured matter.

If possible, choose the same slower-business period every year for these talks and produce a written report.

All must take place with trust in mind and in order to improve the general operations and business process of the organization.

A Structure to Show That You Care

Each employee’s annual meeting report should include:

a) last year retrospective, 
b) personal goals and 
c) organizational goals for the coming year.

July 19, 2010

Avoid Extras And Gimmicks When Shopping

Just Say No!

This may seem a bit simplistic but when you shop: avoid gimmicks!

For example, don't buy the doubled-price-shining-bottle thing we strongly suggest for your new shoes. I am not saying not to care for your shoes, but there’s probably a way to do it without the little-20 bucks bottle.

In fact, don’t be surprised at the cash register by the offer, do not get caught and do not be afraid to simply say: "No, thank you!" However, don’t be mad at the person begin the counter; she’s only doing what the boss is asking.

Extras Can Really Add Up

A classic is the cell phone or electronic device scam. For these you must buy a nice leather case, an adapter, a charger, batteries, a memory card and, do not forget, spare batteries. And yes, the inevitable monthly service-plan. After all these gadgets, you get a pretty expensive bill. It’s not forbidden to recycle a case or batteries whenever possible.

July 16, 2010

Apply Medical Expenses For The Whole Family On The Same Tax Return

Because your medical expenses deductions are reduced according to your income (3% of your income), rather than using them separately, it is permitted and advantageous to claim medical expenses on the same federal tax return for the entire family.

You may simply not reach your income reduction limit if you use these deductions on separate returns.

You can deduct medical expenses made for yourself, your spouse or your children if they were paid by you or your spouse.


Let’s suppose both Mom and Dad have a $50 000 taxable income and that, medical expenses are $1000 for Mom, $800 for Dad and $400 for Baby.

Claimed separately, Mom (with Baby’s expenses included) would get no deduction
($1000+$400-$50000x3% = $1400-$1500 = -$100 < $0).
No deduction for Dad either
($800-$50000x3% = $800-$1500 = -$700 < $0)

But if Mom claimed all the family’s medical expenses on her return, she would deduct 700$.
($1000+$400+$800-$50000x3% = $2200-$1500 = $700)

July 13, 2010

The First Step To Get Out Of Debt : List Your Liabilities

Make a List

The first step to improve a bad debt situation is pretty simple : make a list. 

Your death list...oops...your debt list!
And soon, your back-to-life list!

So, just write down your family’s debt report.  This report simply is a detailed list of your liabilities.  It should help you easily assess your credit situation.  This is the fist step for you to take back control.

This list should contain all your liabilities: credit cards, car loan, credit line balance, student loan, etc.

Do Not Forget

Your mortgage, probably the most important liability for most, should be included in your list.

July 08, 2010

A Different Way To View The Budget

Most people do not like having a budget. They see it negatively. A budget has a complex and restrictive aspect. Keeping a budget necessarily means making sacrifices for them. For them, budget is so often synonymous with cuts?

A Great Tool to Make Choices

In fact, we should rather consider the budget as an extraordinary tool; a simple tool that allows us to assess the situation, to regain control, to make corrections or changes.

A good budget also allows us to make choices, informed choices.

Realize Your Projects, Your Dreams

The purpose of this is to reward ourselves; to choose knowledgeably to indulge ourselves. It is ultimately the only way to acquire the means to realize our dreams.

July 05, 2010

Quickly Estimate Your Life Insurance Need

Use the following formula to quickly estimate the level of life insurance coverage that you need:

Life Insurance Need =
Dependents x10 + Final Expenses + Debts – Assets

The annual amount necessary to meet the needs of people who financially depend on you. These people are mainly your children, maybe your spouse or other members of your family.  Your children will usually reach financial independence around the age of 25.

Factor 10:
This factor is an approximation.  The number 10 is relatively suitable for most cases, especially if dependents are young children.  It should be increased if a longer dependency period can be anticipated, for example, for handicapped dependents or stay-at-home spouses.

Final Expenses:
Mainly funeral expenses and other expenses to cover at death. The only part of the equation for all, throughout life. 10,000 to 15,000$ should be sufficient.