Monday, June 21, 2010

manage personal finances

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I'm an American who moved to Canada as a Québec-selected skilled worker, but I also lived in France teaching English on a year long permit for younger people.

You should start improving your language skills now before doing anything else. Especially if you're considering a non-English speaking country, you will open yourselves to more job postings and find better quality information on immigration. For example, when I was moving to Canada, I found the English language forums to be garbage. They were flooded with people coming from places other than the US that were having a much harder time moving to Canada than you would. There were not a lot of Americans on the site-- especially in the Québec section. The French language forums had more reliable information.

The majority of Americans I met when I lived in Europe were either teaching English (like me), retired there a long time ago (like my grandmother), or worked for a company in the US that transferred them there (like my college roommate who now lives in the UK). Also keep in mind that Canada will be a much easier adjustment for you coming from America than Europe. The job market in Europe is hard to break into if you don't have an IB (International Baccalaureate) and didn't go to school in Europe. Even if you get a work permit from a European country, you're likely to end up in the scenario of my American friends who moved there- having to renew your permit every year never knowing if it will be approved for at least 5 years before you can get a passport. If this kind of permit is not renewed or you both lose your jobs, you will be ordered to leave the country with very little notice.

Québec (through the Canada-Québec Accord) has a separate immigration department with more authority than the other provinces to select candidates. Their screening exam requires fewer points to pass, so theoretically even if you don't speak French you can get more points on the Québec test than on the Federal Skilled Worker test. After Québec approves you, the federal government can only deny you for criminal or medical reasons. The Federal Skilled Worker program just got much more difficult last year, so the provincial systems are the way to go. Québec and Alberta have the most open immigration systems in Canada right now, with Québec's being more established and much bigger. Québec's is the system the other provinces are interested in copying. Unlike the Federal Skilled Worker program and some of the other provincial programs, you do not need prearranged employment to move to Québec. Here is the link to a preliminary points test for the Québec-selected skilled worker program.

I work for a Canadian company in an English environment in Montréal. Don't count on finding a company to sponsor you (mine didn't), but I finally bit the bullet and applied and got accepted. It was really much easier than I expected it to be and, as an added bonus, I don't have to worry about being forced to leave the country if I lose my job (I've had that happen once when I tried to extend a temporary work permit- believe me, you don't want to go through that experience!). I have a bachelor's degree not in my field, an AS degree related to my field, and an AA degree. If you do find a company that will sponsor you, the process is much faster, but as American citizens with work experience and higher education it should take 9-10 months start to finish to get permanent residence through Québec without arranged employment if you do it right. NAFTA permits are available at the border if you're lucky enough that your education or job experience matches exactly one of the few job titles on the very short list. The process cost me roughly $1500 and took 364 days because I delayed the move for a relationship I was in at the time. It will cost a little more for you as two people.

After 3 years of residence in Canada, you can apply to become a citizen for like $150, keeping your American passport (Germany and other countries, for example, would make you relinquish it as part of the naturalization process). Regardless of what your intentions are, keep in mind that if you do plan on relinquishing your US passport, you have to pay taxes for the next 10 years on all of your assets due to some fairly recent legislation. Also, I can tell you that working for a Canadian company that has tons of US clients, being a US citizen gives me job security. When a client demands a US citizen for a project, I'm one of only two people in the company that they can work on it. My company wins contracts because they have me.

Another important thing to keep in mind: If you renounce your passport, they'll see that every time you come to the US when they swipe your new passport. You'll probably get put through additional screening and they could decide not to let you back into the country. You would be surprised what comes up on the screen when they swipe your passport in their computer. Keep all of this in mind if you have friends or family in the US and you ever plan to visit them again.

This last part doesn't apply to you, but I'm including it as maybe somebody will find it useful- it's actually easier to get work permits in Europe if you have a Canadian passport first. Agreements exist between Canada and a few Western European countries, like France and The Netherlands. Canadians 18-35 can get work visas of 1 year without arranged employment, so if you were to find a job, a company could sponsor you for a French carte de séjour (residence permit). See here for an example of this type of visa from the French embassy in Canada.

posted by globotomy at 12:21 AM on May 22
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With how hard everything is getting to be these days, people often ask each other about managing personal finances. We already know that there are a ton of ways to go about this. We also know that anybody that isn't careful may end up in a tighter situation than they already are. Even beyond that, we know that there are scams that promise a lot out there, and even a lot of the options that are not scams can be rather risky, but what not everybody has caught on to yet is the fact that working on some of these plans can be very beneficial to your financial situation.

The first things that you absolutely have to consider are long term goals that you may have. Most people live in the day to day expenses without even truly thinking about what will happen when they have kids who need to go to college, or needing a new car, or even their retirement. The thought seems to be that they will all work themselves out with time, but that isn't really true.

Next you must look at your priorities. What goals do you want to happen fast, and what goals do you have time to accomplish. The point behind this financial safety net is to have the money you need to do what is going to happen in the future.

If you have a young child who you want to be able to pay for to go to school so that they won't have to go through being in debt, then you should focus on their college funds. Not only should you have college funds set aside and building, but you also have funds for the hospital, and braces, and anything else that may happen that could cause you to dip into their college funds. If you don't end up needing these funds for them, then you will have some extra money that you can put into other funds, or enjoy then.

After you have all of that straightened out, you can begin your plans. During the planning process you are just setting an outline of what you plan to achieve and how you plan to get there. In reality, you will find that things often go wrong and set you back a little. For example, there is a good possibility that some of your funds will conflict with each other. When this happens, it doesn't mean that you should just give up on one of them. When this happens you need to take a step back and decide which one needs the most attention the fastest, and then decide on how much extra money that one will get from reducing the other, you may end up reducing a few of them to make it work

As you can see there are many reasons for managing your finances and it isn't any where near as difficult as everybody makes it out to be.

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