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November 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.

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November 30, 2021

Does where you graduate university/college really matter?

The next few months, for the bulk of grade 12 Canadian high schoolers, are prime time for anxiety.

As university/college applications turn into university/college acceptances and rejections, every student feels the need to measure themselves against their peers. Where is he going? Where did she get into? What kind of post-grad salary are they looking at?

Yet for all the hair-pulling and teeth-grinding, is it really worth it? In the end of it all, does where you went to university or college really matter?

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Canadians fly out of U.S. border airports in record numbers

Earlier this year, we reported on the staggering number of Canadian who are turning their backs on domestic airports and crossing the border to take advantage of the gap between Canadian and U.S. airfares.

US_Airport_Security With three-quarters of this country's population living within roughly 160 kilometres of the Canada-U.S. border, Canadians regularly nip across to save money and avoid hassles with airport security since they’re flying domestically inside the U.S. instead of coming from abroad.

But the extent of the current exodus is unprecedented. The number of one-way trips made by Canadians at 14 key U.S. airports hit a record 4.6 million in 2009, according to a recent study by the Globe and Mail.

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November 29, 2021

Royal Wedding = big bucks for Canadian travel agents

Canadians are suckers for romance.

1229225_wedding_cake_1 It’s why the diamond biz is worth billions, Jennifer Aniston is still a mega-celeb and Twilight  fans continue flocking to the series’ next instalment – when the movies, by all accounts, even those of vampire backers themselves, kinda suck.

Yet such infatuation will never change, and that’s why the latest tale of universal romance – Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton two weeks ago – has captured Canada, too. And you bet the business world isn’t far behind.

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Taxpayers have up to 10 years to fix incorrect returns

It’s truly surprising how many people are behind in their tax filing obligations—for multiple years in some cases, it seems. If you’re one of them, you may be wondering what options you have, particularly as we roll into December.

Taxes Ignoring the issue could be particularly expensive, unless you know how to take advantage of Taxpayer Relief provisions, says Evelyn Jacks, author of Essential Tax Facts: Simple tips for preparing your 2010 tax return and saving money the rest of the year.

If you’re not able to pay your taxes, the CRA offers payment options and may even waive some of your tax debt by approving your application for Taxpayer Relief. And, sometimes, going back in time can work in your favour.

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November 26, 2021

Run, don't walk, to buy a flat-panel TV right now

Like you need any more reason to shop on Black Friday.

Indeed, while we might be shut out from a good chunk of American Black Friday deals (though, not nearly all of them, as MSN covered here), there’s still plenty of incentive for Canadians to find the malls north of the border as November comes to a close.

Namely: Canucks looking for a new flat-panel TV. As is often the case this time of year, there’s never a better time to buy.

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November 25, 2021

Cyber Monday starting to make waves in Canada

The retail sector really is smart, isn’t it?

538310_no_copyright_issues_ Sure, business isn’t so great now, but that’s in large part because of the recession. The ad men behind the industry are so smart, we mean, because of the two-word spending frenzies they consistently drum up for North America’s shoppers: Black Friday; Valentine’s Day; Father’s Day; Mother’s Day; Boxing Day, etc.

Really, what were these dates before retail marketers decided to promote the hell out of them and make the days – seasons, really – appointment shopping destinations? The reality: they weren’t much, yet don’t think retailers will stop now. Another contrived, two-word shopping day is fast growing among us, Cyber Monday.

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Is it smarter to buy in bulk, or only as needed?

For years, consumers have been stocking up at big box stores, confident that bulk shopping offered the best value for their money. But a seemingly never-ending recession is altering the way many people think about shopping.

P1-AY327_JIT_p1_NS_20101122185618 More and more consumers are saying no to bulk buying, picking up only what they need now and for the immediate future instead, according to the Wall Street Journal

Manufacturers and retailers report that people are buying less, shopping more often, and are more interested in having cash, rather than goods, on hand.

The new shopping behaviour is having a big effect on club stores, in particular. Costco, for instance, has reported increased shopping-trip frequency and decreased transaction sizes in what some observers dub "pantry deloading."

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November 24, 2021

Public service pension shortfall tops $65 billion: C.D. Howe

As the first wave of baby boomers heads to retirement, the nation is dividing into two classes of workers: those who have public service pensions and those who don't.

Money Retired government workers are twice as likely to get a pension as their counterparts in the private sector, and the typical benefit is far more generous, according to a recent C.D. Howe Institute report.

At present, pension-plan members account for a third of total contributions on average whereas the government — through the taxpayer ­— makes up the rest.

Backing promises to public service workers, the RCMP and Canadian Forces would actually require contribution rates of 35, 41, and 42 per cent of pay respectively, the report declares.

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November 23, 2021

Will you consume more Tim Hortons now that it accepts debit?

Here are three statements that, if true, would all warrant the same reply.Tim-hortons-alwaysfresh-ellispe-logo

1) “Hey, guess what: CBS realized Charlie Sheen is totally nuts and Two and a Half Men  was never funny in the first place. It’s cancelled!”
2) “An airport security guard lost his ring inside a traveler he was ‘patting down’ today. Everyone’s pissed, so no more embarrassing public molestations!”
3) “The day has come; Tim Hortons now accepts debit cards!”

That retort, of course -- “Finally!” Yes, it’s been a long time coming for Tims fans who, not having cash or change in their pockets, have been turned away from many Canadian locations that didn’t accept plastic.

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Should Canada have a guaranteed annual income?

Does it make economic sense to provide each Canadian with a guaranteed annual income?

Cheque Sure, the question sounds like the latest topic from the Saint Ignatius debating club, but many analysts believe that the answer is yes, according to the Globe and Mail. 

This week, a House of Commons committee on poverty released a report proposing a guaranteed basic income for Canadians with disabilities, on the model already available to seniors. Earlier this year, a similar report outlined how such a scheme would work for all low-income Canadians.

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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...