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February 2011

February 18, 2022

Should you be making more money at your job?

Hold off screaming “Yes! God, yes!” at the above title for a second, and let’s think this one through.

Istockphoto_7777651-pay-day Because, asking a Canadian worker if they should be making more money would be like asking Toronto’s right-wingers if they love Rob Ford right now: it’s kind of a loaded question.

But a more important, more direct follow-up query is this – what are you going to do about it?

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Are you mooching off your neighbour’s Wi-Fi

According to a recent survey, 32 percent of Americans admit to surfing on their neighbour’s open Wi-Fi networks.

That’s up from 18 percent in 2008, reports USA Today, and there's no reason to think that the Canadian numbers are that much different.

Wifi According to experts, that's a practice that puts you and your sensitive information at risk.

"The reality is that many consumers have not taken the steps to protect themselves," says Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director at the Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit trade group that commissioned the survey.

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February 16, 2022

Should Canada teach financial literacy earlier in schools?

There are exactly two finance-related things I remember from my elementary and high school education.

862490_back_to_school The first: in about grade two or three or so, we learned how to write a cheque – you know, scribble the amount out long-hand and then draw the little line to the end of the space so no one can scam you. The second: in grade 12 economics, I was taught the definition for opportunity cost, which can be described as measuring the gains of one choice versus the losses levied by that same decision.

That’s pretty much it. The point, aside from me not exactly being a Rhodes Scholar? Financial literacy could get started a lot earlier for Canadians. And one Canuck task force certainly agrees.

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Review RRSP beneficiaries regularly to avoid estate problems

With the RRSP deadline just around the corner, inattentive investors can easily lose sight of a critical tax detail: designating a beneficiary for their money in case of death.

Estate If you're married or living in a common-law relationship, you're probably better off to name your spouse or partner as the beneficiary, allowing the funds to be rolled over to them, tax free.

This way, your RRSP assets can be rolled over to his or her plan at your death, allowing you to avoid paying tax until the surviving spouse is faced with his or her own final tax return.

You can also name your estate as the beneficiary and then leave your estate to your spouse, a dependent child or a grandchild in your will, though probate fees will apply.

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February 15, 2022

Clothing prices next to jump, by up to 10 per cent: report

It’s tough to sit here and say the economy’s resurgence, which has been seen modestly but seen nonetheless, has its pitfalls.

Istockphoto_13854541-shopping-bags But it does, relatively speaking, and it’s generally with respect to the wide world of consumerism.

Earlier this winter, it was grocery prices that were set to rise, and now – “as the world economy recovers and demand for goods rises,” one report notes – clothing prices appear next in line.

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Canadians want flexibility when it comes to retirement income

Canadians have been bombarded with advice about how to save for retirement but, until recently, they’ve been left on their own when it comes time to tap their nest eggs.

Retire That’s why products offering the prospect of a guaranteed income in retirement have gained massive appeal, particularly in the aftermath of the most recent financial crisis.

Nonetheless, it appears that most of us want the best of both worlds when it comes to retirement income planning – a guaranteed income stream and the flexibility to access funds whenever they choose.

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February 14, 2022

Boob job data shows economy is perking up

To gauge the economy’s performance, we always look at jobs data, but maybe we should be looking at boob  jobs data.

Istockphoto_11087653-woman-measuring-herself Yes, in spite of all you heard about the recession’s easing last year, perhaps nowhere was it more reflected than in the world of cosmetic surgery, which enjoyed a nice mini-renaissance in 2010.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the ultimate sign the economy is back has nothing to do with housing markets, employment numbers or currency rates. It’s all in the breasts.

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Handling cash offers some relief from pain: study

Physically handling money works like a painkilling drug, maintains University of Minnesota researcher Kathleen Vohs.

Cash In her study, Vohs had one group of subjects count cash and another slips of paper, ostensibly to test their dexterity in handling the notes.

Soon after, she asked all the subjects to dip their hands in very hot water and rate the pain they felt. Those who had just counted cash claimed that their pain was significantly less than those who counted the paper.

In a related study, cash counters who were later shunned by others while playing a computer game felt less excluded than those who counted the greenbacks.

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February 11, 2022

Doug Ford and other top money-related quotes

Maybe it’s the conservative in me, but this quote from Doug Ford yesterday cracked me up.

1317230_dollar_sign Ford, the brother of bloated, right-wing Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was being confronted and berated by an Ontario Coalition Against Poverty protestor in the Big Smoke when he quipped, “Get a job.”

I dunno. I guess it’s a simple comeback, but I thought it was just superb. Ford denied the jab, of course, but 680 News caught it on tape (listen here). And, on the Friday before a weekend, Dougie Ford’s Dangerfield-like sting gives us a great chance to count down other great money-related quotes.

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February 10, 2022

Strong loonie sending exporters (and Cdn. jobs?) overseas

No one knows quite what to make of a strong Canadian loonie.

Istockphoto_600141-coins-16 We’ve all heard the harm it gives our economic outlook though, let’s be honest, it’s a little tough to grasp such drawbacks when our dollar goes as far as it does. It’s a cruel reality, but at a time when the loonie leaves more money in our pockets after U.S. shopping trips or vacations to the sunny south, we’re not really thinking about foreign affiliates, offshore production or the balance sheets of Canadian exporters.

Of course, we should, because no matter what kind of consumer boom we’re feeling, the strong loonie may slowly be rotting Canada’s economy from within.

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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...