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December 2009

December 21, 2021

Luxury mortgages ravaging homeowners in downturn

We’ve all heard about Nic Cage’s lost millions and Warren Buffett’s dwindling fortune, but the recession’s impact on the wealthy has been tough to pinpoint.

New info on the alarming state of luxury home mortgage rates, however, might provide that missing link.

According to Bloomberg News, American homeowners of US$1 million-plus mortgages are defaulting at nearly twice the country’s rate, forcing many borrowers to unload their properties at a fraction of the market value.

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December 18, 2021

How much could you save by skipping Christmas?

There are a lot of curmudgeons in this world.

Donald Trump doesn’t seem like the most pleasant fellow; Christian Bale’s a pretty volatile guy; and this dude appears to be a mean S.O.B.

But you’d have to think none of those people, misery and dejection considered, would suggest skipping Christmas.

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December 17, 2021

Would you accept products in lieu of your CD interest payout?

A new deal with some serious intrigue has popped up at the Central Pacific Bank in Hawaii.

In lieu of interest payouts on certificates of deposit, the bank has struck a deal with Sony to offer premium electronics to its clients.

At the outset, your first thought is, This is stupid. It’d be short-sighted to take material goods instead of showing some patience and collecting interest once the term is complete.

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Is the Miami Herald really asking for your donations?

If we’ve come to be sure about anything in this world, it’s that nothing is free.

Especially, that is, concerning stuff we actually enjoy. YouTube is generally a pretty cool thing; so – of course – why wouldn’t they try and charge us up the Brent Butt for it?

The same goes for online newspapers these days. They want to charge us, yet while we like their (especially local) coverage, we struggle with the idea of paying to read content we can largely find free elsewhere.

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Beware of product pushers when assessing advisors

There are probably as many perceptions of what a financial advisor is, or should be, as there are people who hire them.

Most advisors these days are busy positioning their practices as real professions, the way lawyers and accountants look at themselves.

But, when assessing his fellow advisors, Ted Rechtshaffen, President of Toronto-based financial planning firm TriDelta Financial Partners, thinks too many of them are still product pushers, rather than truly independent professionals that clients might like them to be.  

And, even though it’s not a particularly popular view, he’s not afraid to tell them so.

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December 16, 2021

Mall Santas: the real economic indicator

For all the talk we hear about positive economic indicators – a rise in retail spending, the falling unemployment rate – who can really  say how things are across Canada?

Yes, those factors will help measure our long-term recovery, but when it comes to gauging the mood of a nation, they don’t quite cut it.

Enter: kids. When pressed, no one’s more honest than children, and their trips to the mall Santa Claus this holiday season are now proving to be more telling than any Consumer Price Index or government data.

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December 15, 2021

Will new players finally mean lower cellphone rates?

If you’re shelling out $100 a month or more to Rogers or Bell for wireless service, don’t expect your bill to drop in half.

But Globalive Communications, the newest player on the block, may finally spark some cost cutting from established wireless carriers.

The federal government has paved the way for increased cellphone competition by allowing Globalive to finally set up shop, despite the CRTC’s initial misgivings about the company’s failure to meet Canadian ownership rules.

This means a fourth national carrier could be up and running any day now, at least in Toronto and Calgary, with the initial retail thrust coming through small "stores within a store" at a number of Blockbuster Video outlets.

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December 14, 2021

Would you donate to eBay "panhandlers"?

The soup du jour around MSN Money these past few days has been holiday scams.

We reported on the disheartening rise of seasonal cons last week, and just today, fellow contributor Gordon Powers let us in on a particularly disturbing scheme targeting seniors across Canada.

But as we’ve come to learn, the most ambiguous scams are sprouting on the Internet, where – really – who’s to say what is real and what is fraud?

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Help, grandma! I'm in big trouble.

Last week, colleague Jason Buckland highlighted several holiday scams making the rounds. Now police are warning of a particularly mean spirited racket targeting seniors across the country.

The scam involves older people getting calls from a supposed grandchild, usually from outside the city or province, saying he or she’s been in an accident or is in trouble with the police and needs bail money – which grandma is asked to wire as quickly as possible.

The con artists posing as the grandchild usually say something like, “It’s me, your favourite grandchild,” and let trusting grandparents fill in the blanks.

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December 11, 2021

Would you consider donating frequent flier miles to charity?

With the economy leaving many feeling financially squeezed, it’s tough to find the cash to support your favourite charity. How about donating some of those air miles instead?

Websites such as MileDonor have detailed lists of airlines and their charity organizations. Donating your AIR MILES allows non-profit organizations like Kids Help Phone or Special Olympics Canada to access airline seats to fly people in need, or book them into a hotel room. 

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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...