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August 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.

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August 31, 2021

Limiting the tax bite on the family cottage

A few weeks ago, we featured a general article about how to engineer a tax-cost-effective transfer of the family cottage to the next generation.

Some readers were curious as to how much it might cost to use life insurance -- either to pay the capital gains tax required down the road or to provide some liquidity to adult children who would never use the cottage.

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August 28, 2021

Has there ever been a better time to eat at a restaurant?

There are two philosophies on consumerism during a recession.

The first is, Good God, save your money and hide … we’re all going to die! The other is, Hey, this might not be bad time to sneak out a deal or two.

About five months ago we wondered if, with dealers offering to damn near paint your house to get a vehicle off the lot, now might not be the best opportunity to buy a car.

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Unpaid overtime: Are you being short changed?

In a class action lawsuit filed last week in California, disgruntled workers allege that United Parcel Service, the world's largest package delivery service, owes them as much as $100 million in unpaid overtime wages. And they’re not alone.

Short staffing, as well as problems recruiting and retaining good employees, are leading an increasing number of those who actually still have jobs to complain about excessive overtime and too many weekends being eaten up by work.

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August 27, 2021

Survey says: Saving money is better than sex

Huh. Maybe this is why Donald Trump’s so uptight.

In the words of Tony Montana, in this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the woman.

Grandiose, extravagant stereotyping? Definitely. Sound philosophical reasoning? Sure. Backwards thinking, though? Maybe.

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August 26, 2021

Should grocery stores switch to a single-line checkout system?

You ever been in one of those new Wal-Mart super lines, the ones where – despite the stereotypes – you’re literally packed in next to a handful of screaming kids and at least two women that look like Aileen Wuornos?

Sure you have. And then you’ve likely wondered the following: "Why on earth, with all these cashiers, are they funnelling everyone in through one line-up instead of spreading us to each checkout? This is going to take forever."

Of course you thought that. Only, it never does. No matter how long that damn single line gets, the one-line queue always seems to rifle us through with remarkable efficiency.

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Off to College? Check your insurance coverage

Most family discussions about postsecondary education centre on finding the money to get there. But there are other issues parents need to worry about before Labour Day rolls around.

Like what happens if some light-handed thief walks off with all their stuff.

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August 25, 2021

Does it make sense to buy a vacation home?

Whether the sun is shining or the snow is blowing, there’s always somebody grappling with the same question: Does it make sense to buy a vacation home?

On the cost side, property taxes, condo fees, and utilities, as well as maintenance and insurance on a property, can easily add up to 5 or 6% of the home's value every year. Expect a big insurance premium, for instance, because the very things that make a vacation home appealing — proximity to water or mountains, distant from civilization — also make it riskier to insure. And, of course, there's the cost of getting there.

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Smokers get resourceful, grow their own tobacco in downturn

You might ask a lot of things about smokers.

You might say, ‘Geez, how can these people continue to kill themselves like this?’ Or maybe you’ll question, ‘I wonder what smells worse, a smoker’s breath or a dutch oven from John Goodman.’

But there is one thing we know for sure about smokers, and that is none – and I mean none – of them enjoy paying the outrageous, tax-crazy and ever-climbing price for a pack of darts.

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August 24, 2021

Consumers ditching full shopping carts more than ever: report

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

It’s been a tough, gritty fight to find the most depressing story of this recession.

Back in March, no one was having sex. Then April came, and abortions were on the rise. Just last month – in a kind of cruel, ironic circle of life – people couldn’t even afford their own damn funerals.

Rarely have stories come out showing just how the downturn has ravaged our psyche, though, having turned healthy consumers into frugal, paranoid and frightened shoppers.

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August 21, 2021

Women love muscle cars, too

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

After reading the above title in the Toronto Star, it’s very tough not to make jokes about buzz cuts, hiking boots and plaid vests.

But really, as a still-terribly chauvinistic society, what do we think of when we discuss women and cars? This comes to mind. So does this. And this.

Yet despite what that last example would have you believe, this ain’t 1991 anymore. Cultural ideals to women and cars have shifted, and maybe more than you think.

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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...