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November 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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November 30, 2021

A different take on retirement planning

Exactly what it means to retire “comfortably” has probably changed over the years. Most people’s standards of living have increased, taking expectations for the lifestyle that retirees are entitled too along with them.

But one thing hasn’t changed at all. Everyone has a sustenance level of income or wealth that they simply must have, no matter what. 

And that means you have to separate your needs into two groups: “absolute must-haves” and “wouldn’t that be nice”, says York University prof Moshe Milevsky, the author of Your Money Milestones: A Guide to Making the 9 Most Important Financial Decisions of Your Life.

And the amount that you absolutely must have has to be immunized with the safest investments possible, he adds – no matter how large a chunk of your money that represents. 

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November 28, 2021

Pizza Pizza offering free lifetime pie for 1,000,000th online order

Willy Wonka is often discussed when it comes to great marketing ploys.

His Golden Ticket idea was a worldwide hit, sending Germans, Americans and British alike into a chocolate-buying frenzy.

But experts tell me that whole thing was a ruse for some movie; contrary to popular belief, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory  was not a documentary (meaning then, if you’re paying attention, the multidirectional glass elevator hasn’t yet been patented.)

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November 27, 2021

How to free up some of that pension money

Do you have a locked-in RRSP left over from an old employer-sponsored pension plans?

Because the withdrawal rules are so stringent and the amount often small, money like this is sometimes put away and forgotten about. Now, however, it’s possible to get at that cash, under certain circumstances.

But it’s not always easy. 

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Who still pays by cheque, anyway?

What’s that old Jerry Seinfeld joke, about how cheques are like a note from your mother saying, “I don’t have any money, but if you contact these people … they’ll stick up for me”?

Yeah, that seems pretty fitting here.

As the holiday shopping season rapidly approaches (or churns on, depending how you look at it), it’s become increasingly apparent no one is paying by personal cheque at stores anymore.

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November 26, 2021

You should probably stay away from that store credit card

Rewards, especially in this state of consumerism, are awfully tempting.

We mean rewards as in, 10-to-20 per cent off a purchase-type incentives. The good kind.

One easy way to get those? Sign up for a store credit card, be it at Home Depot, Sears, The Bay or wherever.

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November 25, 2021

Would you still fly if you had the swine flu?

Ask anyone the above question, and the response you’ll get is a vehement, explicit, fervent “NO!”

And of course it is. What kind of monster, knowing the societal health risks, would willingly board a plane and turn it into a giant, vapour-sealed Petri dish at 40,000 feet?

But after you read this, toss the idea around once more for fun. It’s likely people might start thinking twice.

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November 24, 2021

Eat a dog and save the planet

Dogs cause more damage to our planet than SUVs, according to a controversial new book, Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living.

The environmental footprint of your average hound may be as much as twice that of a typical sport utility vehicle, maintain New Zealand researchers Robert and Brenda Vale.

The enterprising Vales maintain that it takes 1.1 hectares of land per year to create enough chicken, beef, and lamb for a medium-sized dog to eat, in contrast to the gas-guzzling Toyota Land Cruiser SUV which requires less than half that – just 0.41 hectares, assuming a modest 10,000 kilometres a year of driving. 

Needless to say, not everyone agrees with the math, let alone the concept.

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November 23, 2021

Will the downturn cause you to tip less this holiday season?

As an overall blanket excuse, “What, in this economy?” works pretty well:

-Fill up my tank with premium fuel? What, in this economy?
-Send the in-laws gifts on top of a card? What, in this economy?
-Hire someone to watch the kids while I’m at the strip club? Are you nuts? In this economy?

Yet, one place where that line of interpretation might not fly is the world of tipping.

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Supermarkets battle to attract customers

Everyone’s feeling the shock of higher grocery prices these days: you run in to buy a few basics, and 80 bucks later you leave the store wondering if there’s a hole in your pocket.

Grocery bills have actually risen about 2.3 per cent over the past year. But the worst may be over, says economist Millan Mulraine, pointing to lower import prices and a stronger dollar. 

Better still, tough talk from Loblaw, Canada's largest grocery chain, has fuelled speculation that food sellers are gearing up for an old-fashioned price war this Christmas.

But not everyone is convinced.

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November 20, 2021

Facebook photos get depressed woman's benefits cut

When it comes to employee benefits, people generally splinter into two radical groupings.

The first thinks the big, bad corporations should pay us minions whatever we want; the idea here being, whatever help we need is just a fraction of your overall, lucrative profits.

The second rationalizes we’re all a bunch of cry-babies and should have to earn what we keep; too long have the weak been protected by bull-headed unions and payouts unfair to their employers.

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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...