News you can no longer afford to ignore

Time was we could all afford to yawn or change the topic when we heard such news as the federal finance minister is meeting with his provincial counterparts in Saskatoon. The economy being what it is, however, we no longer have the luxury of plugging our ears and humming: these are pre-budget consultations which have a direct and immediate bearing on our respective bottom lines - not to mention the political and economic consequences that hang in the balance. The provinces are in dire need and are pushing for the federal government - which most of them were actively dissing up until a couple of months ago - to push forward with big-ticket infrastructure projects to kickstart the economy. That's supposed to be the golden bullet that will create jobs and, of course, get tax revenues rolling into government coffers once again. The catch is that many of these projects were supposed to be public-private sector partnerships (known as Three Ps in certain circles) and the private money isn't really there anymore. On the political front, if Finance Minister Jim Flaherty doesn't get it right, the Opposition will defeat his January budget and send us all back into political purgatory - wasting even more time at such a critical juncture. So stay tuned: who knew Saskatoon could be such a hot spot in

Smart Cookie 101

When a friend told me that 2009 was the year she was determined to get a handle on her finances, I sympathized. I, too, am trying to save more and spend my money more wisely. At a potluck dinner I hosted at my apartment last night, the same friend asked if I got around to reading The Smart Cookies’ Guide to Making More Dough, a book about five young Canadian women who banded together and swapped strategies in an effort to erase their debt and obtain their financial goals. The Smart Cookies have appeared on Oprah, have a television show and released a book. My copy was collecting dusk on my bookshelf. I was embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t read the book. The conversation with my six girlfriends quickly turned to money as we discussed the Smart Cookies and skimmed the book jacket. And then I realized that all of us are at a point in our lives where we could benefit from some Smart Cookie advice. A few years into our careers and on starting salaries, there usually isn’t much left over at the end of the month. One friend just bought a condo and is saving for a wedding next fall. Another is about to live on her own and will have to shoulder all of the rent after living with a roommate. Yet another is weighing the pros and cons The of renting versus buying, while one more already owns but is dreading the $6,000 she needs to shell out for a new boiler. We all agreed that we should start our own money group. I guess my first step is to crack the