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May 2010

May 20, 2021

Retrofit your toilet to dual-flush, save $100 per year

Let’s all be grown-ups here: after a big meal, night out drinking or whatever, sometimes you’re thankful your toilet has a powerful flush. This is fact.1006471_toilet

Yet as any boater (“If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow.”) or home owner that pays their own water bill can attest, flushing a toilet a few thousand times each year can really add up.

So why not make the switch to a dual-flush bowl? Why not spend $30 once to save $100 every 12 months?

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Hybrid mortgages catching on with homebuyers

It's the question Canadian homeowners continue to obsess over: Should I stay fixed or go variable?

Historically, borrowers have saved money by choosing a variable mortgage. But a pending upswing in interest rates, which can only move higher as the economic recovery takes hold, has some consumers looking to lock in at still low fixed rates.

Then why not do both by taking out a hybrid mortgage

Hybrids – sometimes known as 50/50 mortgages – include a mix of fixed-rate and variable-rate elements within a single mortgage. You get the best of both worlds, argue supporters: the security of fixed repayments with the flexibility of a variable rate. 

A good way to go? Well, some people seem to think so. 

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May 19, 2021

Does Canada need a cap on ATM fees?

794358_atm_3 Anyone who’s visited a bar, movie theatre or general tourist spot lately knows one thing: BYOC.

That’s, “bring your own cash,” because any of the aforementioned locales will have ATMs that levy some of the nastiest bank machine fees on earth.

With duties as high as $3 per transaction in Canada (has anyone seen higher?), paying to get your cash out is a costly affair – especially when you consider many banks double that fee on the back end if you use an ATM not recognized by your financial institution.

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Canada needs to revamp retirement age: report

Improved healthcare and falling birth rates mean the average age of people in developed countries is rising. By 2050, some societies face the expensive prospect of having as many retirees as active workers, according to the OECD.

And paying pensions to all those folks will be no mean feat.

Which is why Canada has to push up its normal retirement age from 65 by at least a few years, argues McMaster University prof Martin Hering. Not doing so will mean big problems for government pensions like Old Age Security, he predicts.

Some countries are already increasing the full retirement age to beyond age 65: Spain, Australia and Germany to 67; the United Kingdom to 68; and Denmark to age 67 and then linked to life expectancy after that. 

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May 18, 2021

Should employers fire workers based on Facebook behaviour?

Yesterday at Everydaymoney.ca, we featured guest blogger Stuart Schultz – the author whose book, Gradspot.com’s Guide to Life After College, discusses how people should clean up their online profiles in the face of prospective employers.

The gist: not all companies monitor your Facebook page, but if they do, it’s best to keep that pic of you gripping a bong or flashing your (expletive) away from the Internet.

Yet whether or not employers actually peek at your profile, chances are you have an opinion on the matter. And never has the “should companies check up on their employees online?” debate been more topical than today, with news coming out of the U.S. that a waitress was fired by her restaurant for complaining about a bad tip on Facebook.

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Can airline travel actually be getting better?

Though you wouldn’t know it by talking to anyone that actually flies regularly, it seems airlines are actually getting better.

According to the 2010 Airline Quality Rating report, which ranks the 18 largest U.S. airlines on four criteria – on-time performance, mishandled baggage, denied boardings and general complaints – the quality of air travel across the border improved last year, with more flights arriving on time and fewer bags going astray. 

Unfortunately, there’s no across-the-board winner to be found, which means you basically have to decide which category is most important to you.

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May 17, 2021

Would you ever invest in GM as a public company again?

There was once a time when General Motors was the blue chip of blue chip stocks.

But then – and not sure if you guys heard – the auto maker started not doing so well. It began putting too much emphasis on the SUV, too much focus on making money from financing and was eventually forced into bankruptcy last year.

Though after years now of disastrous PR, plummeting sales and the company’s taking the brunt of the blame for this latest recession, could GM actually be trusted as a public company once again?

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Looking for a job? Clean up your online profile

Many of us have come to love Facebook. It's made socializing in college and in life beyond effortless. It's made wasting time during a boring lecture a cinch. (Will you please fertilize my Farmville eggplant patch?) And most importantly, it's enabled us to stalk ... friends.
Unfortunately, however, in the same way Facebook enables us to check out the profiles, pictures, etc. of the people we know, or at the very best loosely know, it also enables potential and future employers to take a peek into our own personal lives. Trust us, they do. And if they can't access you themselves, they'll find a friend or a friend of a friend who can.

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May 16, 2021

Do car dealerships still use high pressure tactics?

Just about everyone has a story about pressure tactics and broken promises after shopping at a car dealership.

Just what did you expect?

Dealerships spend thousands of dollars on training systems to teach their salespeople how to influence buyers from the very first moment that you make contact with them on the lot.

Some years ago, Edmunds, a web site that gives car-buying advice to consumers, had one of their employees, Chandler Phillips, go “undercover” and get a job at a couple of California car dealerships.

His description of the pressure techniques taught to car salespeople illustrated how, with a little sleight of hand and even outright deception, dealerships sweeten the deal in their favour — often costing you hundreds of dollars or more.

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May 14, 2021

A gold-dispensing ATM? Only in Abu Dhabi

There’s no short list of reasons the United Arab Emirates are more extravagant than Canada.

Exhibits A, B and C in the courtroom: the oil-rich region boasts an underwater hotel, an 818-metre high tower and a whiskey that’s $7,438 per shot.

Yet just to hammer the point home, the country has raised the stakes. Bringing to the judge’s attention – the gold-dispensing ATM.

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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...