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July 2010

July 23, 2021

Does shopping at Costco really save you that much?

For many shoppers, Costco is haven of to-die-for consumerism.

The deals, if used right, are sublime. The quantities, if utilized appropriately, are generous. The selection, for all intents and purposes, is fair.

Yet how exactly did Costco arrive at such a favourable reputation? Sure, a 60 pack of hot dogs for $15 might be a steal, but how many wieners can one man take? (Don’t actually answer that.)

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July 22, 2021

It's a buyer's market out there for cemetery plots

You know, dying doesn’t have to be so expensive.

One of the defining themes of the recession has been this: people are broke, and the last thing they want to do is fork over thousands for funerals, body identifications and all the other costly, macabre economic elements that accompany death.

As a result, things like cremations were up as the downturn churned on. But how about we turn this trend on its head? Why can’t a lousy economy be used to our advantage here?

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Is your 'latte factor' worth worrying about?

Unless you really don’t pay any attention at all to how much you spend, you’ve probably heard of the ‘latte factor’, a phrase coined by David Bach, the author of The Automatic Millionaire.

He says that too many of us ignore seemingly insignificant purchases (like the jolt that you pick up each morning before you head to work) even though they really add up.

If you spend $4 on a latte every day, for instance, your habit adds up to $20 a week, excluding weekends. That’s the equivalent of a wide screen TV every year.

Click here to see just how easily those little expenses add up. By entering how many times a week (or month) you purchase certain products or services, you’ll come up with a running total that may just surprise you.

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July 21, 2021

Exxon Valdez lawyer takes BP to task over damages

On most matters, especially those with a certain level of controversy, you’re either an optimist or a cynic.

This BP oil spill, though, is the rare story that might make you both. At every sign of progress, even the most romantic Gulf Coast idealist has a sense of the lingering “… but” that’s ready to drop, and with BP, it’s often a huge, Mo’Nique-sized “but.”

So it’s with no short amount of trepidation people are discussing the cap that was successfully applied to the massive BP leak last week, a sign that gushing oil may finally have stopped. Yet that’s just a fix to new oil, and there’s a host of problems – long, long-term problems – that need to be sifted through from the 300 million-plus litres of oil already out there.

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Did you hear the one about the recession?

It's an axiom of troubled economic times: If you don't laugh, you'll cry.

That explains why popular political satirists like Jon Stewart or Lewis Black have so much fun with their takes on corporate greed, executive bonuses and over-generous federal bailouts. And why just about every comic out there has a ‘no-jobs-no-money bit’ ready for the right type of audience.

And we need to hear it.

Studies show that a good belly laugh produces pain-killing hormones, relaxes muscles, and even triggers creativity. Science also says that laughter helps us overcome our fears and approach problems with a more positive attitude.

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July 19, 2021

Shocker: no one is buying Tiger Woods' video game

Over the last eight months or so, there have been so many sordid details reported about Tiger Woods that can’t be confirmed.

He bedded porn stars and Perkins waitresses. He made a sex tape worth $5 million. He paid wife Elin $750 million for her silence in a divorce settlement.

And as much as these juicy nuggets sell magazines and ad space, they are often rumour and innuendo aimed to bring Tiger down from his top spot. Irresponsible? Maybe. But how about, on a Monday after the weekend, some fact and truth aimed to bring Tiger down from his top spot instead?

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Parking rates continue to climb across the country

Parking rates across Canada climbed over the past year with Calgary in the priciest spot at $453 a month, according to a recent survey by Colliers International.

Of the 12 major Canadian cities surveyed, Toronto was deemed the second-most expensive city to park in with a cost of $336 a month, on average – a $60 increase over 2009. Montreal ($281), Edmonton ($275) and Vancouver ($267) round out the top five most costly Canadian cities.

While Calgary prices are high by Canadian standards, they pale in comparison to other major centres around the world. London is the most expensive city in the world to park where the average $933 (in US dollars this time) monthly parking pass explains why the Tube continues to be so popular.

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How will you measure your life?

Harvard Business School prof Clayton Christensen teaches aspiring MBAs how to build more profitable companies. But he also believes that the same strategies can help people lead better lives.

In his classes, he explores questions all of us need to ask: How can I be content in my career? How can I be sure that my relationship with my family is an enduring source of happiness? And how can I live my life with integrity?

Why bother? Well, in a recent study, 87% of respondents indicated that they believed that lack of ethics was a determinant factor in the current economic downturn, and 80% believed that someone can learn effective ethics principles through training.

The answer to the first question comes from Frederick Herzberg’s assertion that the most powerful motivator isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute, and be recognized.

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July 16, 2021

Rich people more likely to default on mortgages: report

Not, uh, not the best week to be well-off here in North America.

Yesterday, we passed along info in this space that ousted CEOs were having a pickle of a time finding new work, slugging through an executive job market that didn’t care much for their pedigrees or résumés.

Today? We turn to housing. It’s no breaking news that it’s been a tough stretch for mortgages – first for the working class, then the middle class – but the rich were largely able to insulate themselves from such defaults. Liquid assets and the initial job security of white-collar occupations provided refuge from much of the downturn.

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July 15, 2021

Ex-CEOs can't find work in this economy, either

Stop me when this sounds familiar:

Due to the recession, an employment group across North America has suffered a seismic strain, resulting in the firings, lay-offs and job evaporations of countless workers – who now actively, if not desperately, seek a place of occupation.

A common tale of the downturn, right? We could fill a number of jobs into the above blank – auto workers, nurses, journalists – and it would fit the bill. But how about this … now we’re talking about ex-CEOs, former company fat cats who can’t find work to save their life.

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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...