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March 2011

March 05, 2022

Rich forced to ditch country clubs, summer homes post-recession

In the years during and since the recession, it’s been no small feat drumming up sympathy for the rich.

Stock-photo-16651936-money-being-takenLike everyone else, they had their jobs threatened, paycheques cut and lifestyles changed. Like everyone else, they were forced to adapt to a new world where money isn’t what it once was.

Though at a time when people were being booted from their homes, not just their country clubs, feeling sorry for the wealthy has been one tough sell.

Which is what makes this feature from Bloomberg so interesting.

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March 31, 2021

What makes you tip more at restaurants?

Chances are, when you go out to eat, you’ve got it in your mind just what you’re going to tip and why you’re going to do it.

Istockphoto_15691573-woman-paying-bill Most diners, especially if they’re old and crotchety, are thinking: this server could bring out the goddamn Mona Lisa on a plate but if I have to wait ten extra minutes, they’ll be lucky to get five per cent.

As it turns out, maybe that’s not it at all. According to a couple recent studies, we tip because of flirting, smiley faces printed on cheques and breasts, breasts, breasts. Uh, not necessarily in that order.

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March 30, 2021

Airline fares expected to jump again this summer

The kids will be out of school. You deserve a vacation. You need to work on Spanish.  Whatever the reason, you likely want to take some time off this summer.

Coin Good luck if it involves flying though.

Travel experts expect demand for seats will be brisk, allowing the airlines to keep raising fares.

A few weeks ago, major U.S. carriers like United and Continental raised ticket prices again. But those increases were later trimmed when low-fare competitors like Southwest and JetBlue didn’t follow along. But don’t expect that to last.

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Filing your taxes online? What program will you choose?

As the filing deadline approaches, most of us are thinking about getting our taxes done quickly and, increasingly, that means going online. 

Tax Not that there are a lot of early adapters when it comes time to settle up.

In fact, only about 56% of tax returns were filed online last year. That leaves close to half of the population either using pen and paper, or the automated telephone method, Telefile.

The CRA would rather you file online than mail in your return because it saves them a fortune in data processing fees. And, if you’re expecting a refund, it will certainly speeds things up.

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March 29, 2021

New service lets guys buy fake Facebook girlfriend

Money can buy guys a lot of love on the Internet, though it’s probably not the kind of affection you’d want to show friends and family.

Istockphoto_15633443-online-love But what if you could pay for the kind of relationship you could broadcast all over Facebook? Like, quite literally, a relationship designed to broadcast all over Facebook.

That’s the premise behind a new Web start-up called Cloud Girlfriend, which lets male Facebook users, for a still-to-be-determined fee, create a female companion that will act as their better half online, posting all the usual sweetnothings partners are known to do on your social network profile page.

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Banks chasing small change to boost market share

Nearly everyone has spare change piling up in a jar or piggy bank, or lurking beneath the couch cushions. Now two major banks are starting to fight over those pennies in an effort to get you to switch accounts.

Coin Following the Toronto-Dominion Bank’s installation of automated coin-counting machines at 13 of its Ontario branches, Bank of Montreal is following suit, unveiling a plan to introduce dozens of the machines in new and renovated branches across Canada.

It’s not a new idea, of course. Lots of TD’s U.S. branches have “Penny Arcade” machines located inside bank branches.

The machines are the legacy of TD’s acquisition of Commerce Bancorp, which actually introduced them more than 10 years ago. The machines are quite popular and TD is hoping to replicate that success north of the border.

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March 28, 2021

Scrap nuclear power, even if it means higher hydro bills?

Discussing any storyline outside the catastrophic human loss still unfolding in Japan is tricky, but if we concede that, of course, the world mourns for the tragedy facing the island nation, there are several secondary issues worth discussing.

1343381_danger_radioactive_2 The most apparent: the planet’s contested, continued reliance on nuclear energy.

That’s what has every country buzzing in the wake of Japan’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which has led to the near-meltdown of a nuclear plant that doesn’t want to cool, even weeks after it first lost power.

What has detractors in a fuss is, why does the world insist on producing power through nuclear energy, a source insiders insist is very safe but one with several high-profile pockmarks on its résumé?

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March 24, 2021

Who is Canada's worst telemarketer?

There’s no shortage of reasons Seinfeld  is the greatest sitcom to grace television, but what sets the show even further apart is its ability to speak for the masses.

Istockphoto_14442376-man-yelling-into-a-phone-isolated So when, in the fourth season, Jerry gets a pesky call from a telemarketer, he says exactly what we’d all like to.

-“Oh, gee, I can’t talk right now,” he says to the caller, who’s promoting a new long distance phone plan. “Why don’t you give me your home number and I’ll call you later?”
-“Uh, well, I’m sorry,” the telemarketer replies. “We’re not allowed to do that.”
-“Oh, I guess you don’t want people calling you at home.”
-“(pause) No.”
-“Well, now you know how I feel.”

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More players roll out mobile and e-mail payment systems

When it comes to paying and getting paid, cash is no longer king.

Cash More and more Canadians are adopting a digital currency, using a computer or mobile phone to pay for tickets or parking as well as person-to-person transactions like splitting a restaurant bill or sharing costs, says PayPal, the leading online payment service. 

And business is booming.

The majority of us (62 per cent) are regularly transferring money online using our computer – whether it’s through PayPal, newcomers like Popmoney and Venmo, or through our bank account using the Interac network.

According to PayPal’s research, 33 per cent of those who also put their mobile phone to use this way say their use has increased steadily in recent years, and 20 per cent say, if they could, they would use it to pay for everyday purchases like their morning coffee or lunch.

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March 23, 2021

New apps alert tipsy drivers to DUI checkpoints

Whether unspoken or not, there’s a certain level of cat-and-mouse gamesmanship between cops and drivers.

Istockphoto_12258853-police For instance, we admonish speeding and publicly consider it reckless behaviour. But, then again, maybe we’re not above flashing our high beams at oncoming cars to let them know a speed trap’s ahead. It’s all part of the game of roadside patrol.

Though DUIs, unless you’re Miguel Cabrera, are never acceptable. So, why is it there’s a flurry of smartphone apps designed to re-route tipsy drivers away from police checkpoints?

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Are ATM fees heading higher again?

Some of the biggest banks in the U.S. are imposing a variety of new fees on those withdrawing money from automated-teller machines.

Atm Looking to replace billions of dollars in revenue expected to be lost from new federal regulations on overdraft charges and debit cards, the banks view ATMs as their next cash cow.

So much so that JP Morgan Chase is currently testing a $5 ATM fee in Illinois and a $4 ATM fee in Texas – both for non-customers who use its ATMs – to see if they produce enough revenue to introduce nationwide, CNN reports.

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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...