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October 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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October 30, 2021

When lay offs become permanent

Whether it starts with wage rollbacks, reduced workweeks or unpaid leaves of absence, being laid off is hard.

But being told you’re being downsized, when you’re really being fired, is much worse,

Too often, employers – either because it has a better ring to it, reduces the emotional pain, or implies that the decision actually had little to do with any one individual – prefer to characterize job loss as a lay off. 

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Madoff victims finally get first cut of repayment

While 71-year-old Bernie Madoff sits tight in a North Carolina prison till he’s, say, 221 … life goes on.

It might seem weird to think, because when the Ponzi scammer was sentenced to 150 years in jail earlier this year, much of the public closed that chapter. The bad guy got what he deserved, now let’s move on.

Well, for about 1,558 people, it’s not that easy.

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October 29, 2021

Shopping on your cell phone: made easy by Amazon

Anyone who shops on Amazon swears by Amazon.

The site has anything you’d ever want, for prices that are – more often than not – better than those offered by local big box retailers.

But it’s the ease of Amazon that makes it stand out above the rest.

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October 28, 2021

Sustainability hurts business? It's a myth

I earned the handle “Radical Industrialist” some time back in the late 1990s, when my company and I were beginning to chart our course up what we have called “Mount Sustainability”, and first began to talk about it with other businesses.

The idea that we could take our petroleum-intensive carpet manufacturing business and re-imagine processes, products, and even the way we went to market was considered “radical” in the context of business as usual.  Today, we’re 15 years into our journey and green is not necessarily a radical notion any more. Whether you think sustainability is the right or the smart thing to do (we’ve found that it is both) you can’t help but notice the business case we’ve been able to demonstrate at Interface:

1.Costs are down, not up, dispelling the myth that sustainability is expensive.  Our first initiative, a zero-tolerance waste initiative, has netted us over $400 million in saved or avoided costs, more than paying for all the costs associated with pursuing sustainability.

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Retirement something of a lottery: report

Retirement is a lottery where the chance of winning is more dependent on just when you retire rather than the soundness of any investment plan, says Michael Nairne who head ups a Toronto firm that dubs itself a family office for “exceptionally affluent families.”

The truth is you’re probably better to leave work following an extended downturn rather than when times are booming, his research suggests – encouraging news for all those being forced out the door these days.

Here’s his analysis.   

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October 27, 2021

Would you live in a haunted house for cheaper rent?

People will do anything to save a buck.

Some skimp on haircuts. Some on child care. Some can’t even afford pants that reach their shoes.

But where resting your head is concerned, rent is often something you can’t cheap out on.

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Accused Madoff conspirator found at bottom of swimming pool

The intriguing trials of Bernie Madoff have taken yet another turn.

At a time when the Ponzi schemer’s every move had already become tabloid fodder, an associate of the disgraced financier was found recently at the bottom of his oceanside swimming pool.

Jeffry Picower, who is accused of netting more than $7 billion from the Madoff scam, died a short time later at a nearby hospital.

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October 26, 2021

You're going to be retired for a very long time

“The good news is: we’re living longer. The bad news is: we’re living longer.”

That’s a central theme in author Terry Savage’s new book The New Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Really Need to Retire – a handy guide that walks you through the process of deciding how much more you need to save each month to reach your “magic number.”

It's a sobering read, particularly when you look at how long your money has to last – the top priority for investors, according to a recent J.P. Morgan study.

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October 23, 2021

Naming a building after yourself cheaper in the recession

This recession’s proven a tough time for the wealthy.

Yeah, they’re still sopping-wet with money, but the rich have seen their fortunes shrink. Country club benefits have been trimmed. Private jets have given way to unbearable first class flights. Trust funds have evaporated to mere millions.

But, hang on a second, let’s not break out our violins for the well-to-do just yet.

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Car rental costs continue to rise

If you haven't rented a car recently, you'll be amazed at how much rates have increased –  despite the fact that airlines, hotels, and cruise lines have been cutting their prices all over the place.

The car-rental business is struggling big time. In fact, agencies are squeezed so tightly they can no longer maintain enough supply to meet demand, according to the Globe and Mail.

Companies are selling their fleets of vehicles and not buying enough replacements. The result: Rising rates and unhappy customers. Business travellers, the industry’s lifeblood, regularly report showing up at major airports only to find no cars, or only older ones, on the lot.

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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...