« July 2010 | Main | September 2010 »

August 2010

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.

Continue reading »

August 31, 2021

Is there any hope for Blockbuster?

How do you tell something great it’s time to say goodbye?

Who, in 1994, would’ve ordered Lassie put down? Who, in 1991, would’ve suggested Magic Johnson retire? Who, in 2008, would’ve urged The Wire  not to come back for a sixth season?

And who, in 2010, is going to tell Blockbuster the ride’s been fun? Because Blockbuster, it’s probably time to say goodbye.

Continue reading »

How to survive a toxic workplace

Are you doing more than your fair share at work, but still being ignored? Are you upset watching your boss bullying you and your peers? Are you starting to dread heading into the office each day?

If so, you’re not alone. Talk to occupational health physicians and they’ll tell you that at least half of their caseloads are related directly or indirectly to mental health concerns from those trapped in a toxic workplace.

And there’s no shortage of them. The Mental Health Commission of Canada, for instance, estimates that between 10% and 25% of workplaces are characterized by conditions and environments that are considered “mentally injurious.”

Continue reading »

August 30, 2021

Women still view sex with a boss as a way to get ahead

Not unlike malt shops, bellbottoms and the integrity of the Emmy Awards, the notion that a woman needs to sleep with her boss to get ahead should be a thing of the past.

This is, after all, a new professional era; one where, though women may not earn as much as men in the workplace, they sure command the same levels of respect.

So why is it, in 2010, that a staggering percentage of executive women participating in a recent survey admitted to having had an affair with a superior?

Continue reading »

Retirement calculators often little short of misleading: report

What’s all the fuss about retirement planning?

All you have to do is go online to any number of web sites, key in some basic information, and seconds later, there’s your retirement mapped out for you. It’s easier than ordering pizza.

But can you count on those results?

Probably not, according to a recent study from the Society of Actuaries which suggests that most web-based calculators are seriously flawed.

Continue reading »

August 27, 2021

$50,000 will get you a new set of sparkling, white teeth

In 2010, cosmetic surgery can do wonders.

Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C. (Mmm, maybe not Exhibit C.)

But the moral of the story is, hey, this isn’t a story book world. If you’ve got cash, an issue of self-esteem and the will, you can change almost anything about your physical appearance.

And now, for $50,000, you can get a new set of teeth. In one day.

Continue reading »

August 26, 2021

Twilight, vampires worth $7 billion to Hollywood

You can spend as much time as you want denouncing Twilight – and God knows I have – but you’re going to have concede one thing: man, do these movies make money.640280_dracula

Courtesy of MSN’s own James Havers, I happened to stumble across this news out of Hollywood Thursday, highlighting just what impact Twilight  and other vampire-related content is having on the film economy.

The results? Over the past two years, according to estimates from the Hollywood Reporter, vampires have contributed some $7 billion to show business. Seven b-i-l-l-i-o-n. That’s more than two-and-a-half Avatars. Or, for more emphasis, 371 Kazaams.

Continue reading »

Student loan debt increasingly overwhelming: report

21% of post-secondary students admit to finding it hard to make ends meet, 36% believe getting through their financial difficulties will be a struggle and 41% of students are spending more money than they save, according to a recent TD Canada survey.

What’s worse, the majority of students anticipate they will be in debt when they graduate; 69% of students predict they will graduate with some debt, while 17% expect their debt will be $25,000 or more.

Good guess. According to the most recent Statistics Canada data, two years after completing school, Canadian students owe an average of $21,000 – although many professionals can lay claim to three or even four times that amount.

Continue reading »

August 25, 2021

Coach tries to unbrand Snooki by sending her rivals' gear: report

If you watch Jersey Shore – and for those not inclined, it’s that guilty pleasure hit reality show on MTV – you know what it’s like to watch one of the series’ stars, Snooki, stumble around.

She’s always a little bit drunk, a lot bit crazy and notoriously has that tiny Coach purse hanging from her wrist. She’s lovable, but she is also a train wreck.

Well, imagine how Coach feels.

Yes, while Snooki has become a bona fide celebrity from her David Hasselhoff-like behaviour, it’s been a regrettable celebrity at that. And in one of the coolest marketing stories I’ve heard this year, it turns out brands don’t want the Snooki Stink.

Continue reading »

Advisors face same rules as telemarketers: CRTC

Pretty much everyone views telemarketers as annoying pests. But do financial advisors fall under the same umbrella?

Seems so, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. It's decided that the rules governing unsolicited telemarketing now apply to financial advisors and insurance agents as well, rescinding an exemption for advisors granted back in 2008.

Instead of extending the exclusion to the insurance sector, as industry lobbyists had hoped, the CRTC went the other way, removing the exemption for financial advisors.

In its decision, the CRTC said that while both groups clearly have an obligation to communicate with clients, there’s nothing to say they have to do it by telephone.

Continue reading »

August 24, 2021

Besides waiters, who are you tipping, and how much?

Tipping has always been touchy, and the recession and its lingering effects have changed little about the act.

Toward the end of 2009, for example, our first real holiday season when the downturn was in full-swing, tipping was set to slim down in unison with our consumer spending. Not shocking news.

But if there’s to be any return to normalcy in the financial world post-recession, we’re bound to see it in tipping as much as anywhere else. Generosity, after all, often stems from what we can afford to lose.

Continue reading »


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...