« March 2009 | Main | May 2009 »

April 2009

January 24, 2022

Starbucks to serve beer and wine at some U.S. stores

Let’s brainstorm together: if there is one place on earth where people linger too long, where is it?


Indeed, there are few social meeting spots as cliché as the coffee chain, yet still it persists, Starbucks being the  place you want to be if your desire is to be seen in public typing on your laptop, studying for an exam or wearing a cashmere scarf with glasses absent prescription frames.

Business-wise, having people spend incredible stretches of time in your outlets is a big money maker for Starbucks, though in the U.S. the franchise has found a way to lure customers in for even longer.

Continue reading »

April 30, 2021

Feds spend $15 million of your money on bottled water

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

No, the kid from Blank Check isn’t running parliament. I checked.

In a revelation yesterday even Ottawa would admit is ill-timed, documents came to light showing the federal government has spent more than $15 million on bottled water in the last five years, $10 million of that in the last three.

Now, you don’t need me here to tell you that $15 million for water could, yeah, probably be spent a little bit wiser. But if one thing’s for sure about Canadians, it’s that they don’t like wasted taxpayer money.

Continue reading »

April 29, 2021

Check beneficiary when setting up a TFSA

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

While many Canadians are keen on the new TFSA, few are clear on what happens when the planholder dies, a recent survey by Mackenzie Financial suggests.

Of the one in five Canadians who currently hold a TFSA, just about half weren't sure whether the account would be taxable to their beneficiaries on death, and more than two thirds didn't know if the beneficiary would require TFSA contribution room to continue to enjoy tax-free growth.

Continue reading »

Mexican tourism crippled as swine flu spreads

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Canadians can say goodbye to its neighbours to the way-south for the next few months; the Mexican outbreak of swine flu having turned the tropical hot spot into the Baghdad of world tourism.

Many of our leading airlines and tour operators have suspended travel to the country until various dates in June, and perhaps longer, as fear mounts over the epidemic few seem to still know much about.

Montreal-based Transat AT Inc., Canada’s largest tour agency, has wiped out all packages to Mexico until June 1 and is rushing to add new flights to bring existing customers, passengers and employees home from the south.

Continue reading »

April 28, 2021

Recession linked to more abortions, vasectomies

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Yesterday in this space, we discussed how abandoned swimming pools – left untended by mass home foreclosures – were becoming havens for disease-spreading mosquitoes, a cruel sign of just how the recession is still affecting us.

It offered an interesting angle on the downturn, at least, and here – so does this.

Several news agencies have reported poor economic times have caused couples to rethink parenthood, resulting in a staggering spike in the instance of abortions and vasectomies.

Continue reading »

April 27, 2021

Good news: Money can buy happiness after all!

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that it’s possible to buy happiness after all: providing you spend money on others.

In a series of studies, a team led by UBC professor Elizabeth Dunn found that people report significantly greater happiness if they spend money on gifts for others or charitable donations, rather than on themselves.

Continue reading »

Recession causing abandoned swimming pools, increased risk of West Nile

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Sure, everywhere you look, it’s darker and darker.

Your local Starbucks is closing. Paul McCartney and Elton John are losing cash. Chrysler dealerships couldn’t sell a Scarlett Johansson sex tape at this point.

Yet here’s a sign of the economic times no one’s talking about. Entomologists are finding abandoned swimming pools, of all things, are providing a daunting picture of the recession as they turn into breeding grounds for disease-spreading mosquitoes.

Continue reading »

April 24, 2021

Calverley responding to your 'housing prices' comments

By John Calverley, guest blogger for Sympatico/MSN Finance

My thanks to all those who commented on my post on Wednesday. Readers seem about evenly divided between those who agree that housing prices will fall further and those who are angry that I am trying to talk the market down. The latter is certainly not my intention and, anyway, I have no illusions about my influence.

Continue reading »

What's your time really worth?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Is it worth driving the extra few minutes to save three cents a litre on gas or a couple of bucks on groceries? Should you hire a housekeeper to free up your time? A gardener?

Well, it all depends on what you figure your time is worth.

Continue reading »

Wonka-style edible ads -- the future of marketing?

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

In case you haven’t noticed, newspapers ain’t exactly the place to be right now.

But Old Man Print is a resilient fellow. Even though his battle against the Internet might be more lopsided than one of those Kimbo Slice street fights, there’s now something the papers can offer you’ll never find online.

The Economist reports newspapers might be getting a shot in the arm by delivering edible ads inside its pages, an homage to Willy Wonka and a creative spin on those cologne/perfume pages you see today in magazines.

Continue reading »

April 23, 2021

How to get a handle on your money

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

So, you’ve finally made the choice to get a handle on your finances. What’s the best way to pull it all together and then track your progress?

Perhaps you should draw a picture … or, more precisely, a map.

A financial network map is a one-page diagram that shows the links and relationships between each of your financial accounts, which include but aren’t limited to bank, brokerage, fund, retirement, credit card, and service accounts, says Jim Wang on his Bargaineering blog. Click here and here for some other examples.

Continue reading »


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...