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December 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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December 30, 2021

The weirdest travel tales of 2010

Catching up on last year's Christmas presents, I finally got a chance to look at Thomas Kohnstamm's Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? last week.

Travel It's a tell-all memoir that tracks his dubious research practices and mildly self-destructive habits as a Lonely Planet guidebook writer.

I didn't finish it, largely because I don't much like travel books -- or, in this case, books about travel writing. But I am willing to lend a sympathetic ear to tales of just what can go wrong when you get off the couch.

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December 28, 2021

Is real estate actually just like sex?

"What do college students talk about with their roommates?''

House Sex, according to author Marjorie Garber.

Twenty years later, what’s the main topic of conversation with their friends and associates?

You got it: Real estate — and with the same gleam in the eyes, she declares in her book Sex and Real Estate.

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December 27, 2021

Why getting a tax refund in May is a bad idea

Getting a large tax refund each year simply means you’ve remitted too much tax to the Canada Revenue Agency throughout the year, essentially giving the government an interest-free loan. 

Losing control of that money is a really bad idea, says tax expert Tim Cestnick, pointing to a recent study that tries to explain why most taxpayers are willing to be so generous. 

While mChequeost of the study participants understood that there was a cost to overpaying taxes throughout the year, the idea of receiving a 'surprise' refund appealed to them, much more than having to deal with the uncertainty of how much they might owe at year-end. 

In fact, many participants admitted to experiencing anxiety over the prospect of owing money in April and felt more comfortable with the forced savings/found money aspect of their getting a refund.

Good for them, but they're still making a mistake, Cestnick maintains. 

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December 24, 2021

Spooked Bank of America registers 'BrianMoynihanSucks.com'

Public relations must be a tricky biz.

A lot of it, surely, is read-and-react. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” or vowing to help find the “real” killers of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. But then there are those scenarios that require advance care; when you know someone or something’s screwed up, and you’ve got to prepare, ahead of time, for how to save your client from a high-profile flogging.

Bank of America, it appears, has encountered the latter. According to a service called DomainNameWire.com, the bank – facing the threat of a WikiLeaks info spill – has allegedly registered several unflattering Internet URLs to prevent its name from being sullied online.

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December 23, 2021

The ten most overused résumé buzzwords of 2010

Though the unemployment rate has dipped to a serviceable 7.6 per cent in Canada, millions of Canucks still go through the menial, often humiliating, task of looking for work each day.

Putting yourself out there is quite compromising, sure, but even more so when you have to whip up some B.S. résumé and cover letter filled with lingo you know is total nonsense.

Luckily, for our own sake, business social network LinkedIn has developed a list of the 10 most overused “buzzwords” found on résumés last year. Call it a list to save us from our own, cheesy selves.

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Would you lend your car to a stranger?

Realizing that car ownership is no longer a cost-effective means of transportation, more urban drivers are looking at car-sharing services that allow you to rent cars by the day, or even the hour.

RelayRides Car sharing usually involves joining an organization like Zipcar that owns a fleet of vehicles scattered throughout the city. Members pick up cars from various locations across town and return them to the same spot when they're done – all for a set hourly rate. 

Think ZipCar minus the communal cars, and you've got RelayRides, a new Google-backed start-up.

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December 22, 2021

Who are you tipping this holiday season?

Ah, the holidays. The one time of year we have to pretend to like this guy or that, enjoy gifts from this girl or that and relish a homemade meal from this relative or that.

But enough bitching about such Griswold family moments. The real holiday acting for Canadians come when it’s time to tip our maids, mail carriers and doormen.

And even though the thought of handing over hard-earned cash to the garbage man makes us look like Jets fans after finding out Rex Ryan allegedly took part in his wife’s foot fetish videos, tipping is simply a part of the gig. So, who are you tipping this holiday season?

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The downside of smartphone holiday shopping

If you find the holiday season hectic, have a thought for all those cyber-criminals out there. All this retail activity is keeping them up nights looking for ways to steal your money before Holt Renfrew gets it all.

Today’s fraudsters are no longer simply targeting desktop or laptop devices, however. Like everybody else they’ve gone wireless.

Realizing this, the FBI is urging consumers to use extra caution when making both online and smartphone purchases.

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December 21, 2021

Five Canadian sectors hiring in 2011

No one knows what 2011 will hold (Should Brett Favre’s agent lobby a contract from the Minnesota Vikings? Should he lobby one from Playgirl?) and, certainly, forecasting Canada’s economic future is no less daunting.

What can be roughly sketched for next year, however, is something on many Canadians’ minds: where will the jobs be in 2011?

We can’t tell you precisely where the 7.6 per cent of unemployed Canucks can find work, but here’s five sectors that a few placement agencies see as first destinations to check out.

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Watch out for year-end fund distributions

With the stock market continuing to push higher and lots of cash on the sidelines, somebody must be thinking of getting back in. But, if you’re going the fund route rather than buying individual stocks, you may want to hold off just a bit longer.

Fund companies will be making their year end distributions over the next few days. And, if you’re not careful, you could get stung with an unexpected tax bill by buying in too soon.

If you decide to invest in a certain mutual fund before the record date, you may be subjecting yourself to the same tax burden on the distribution as those who bought the fund at the beginning of the year.

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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...