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March 2011

March 22, 2022

Chicken wing biz terrified of extended NFL lockout

Last week’s Sports Illustrated  featured some shocking figures on the NFL and what an extended lockout might mean – not just for players and owners.

1264365_wing_chicken According to the magazine’s graphic, a single NFL game generates some $20 million in local economic activity and, if there is no 2011 season, about 100,000 stadium workers might be out of work.

Daunting numbers? No doubt, but the latest victim to cry fowl – er, foul – over a possible NFL work stoppage is the chicken wing industry, who says a lockout “would kill wings. It would be terrible on wings.”

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Does blind booking a hotel room really pay off?

Price-sensitive vacationers looking to book a hotel seem to have no end of options. The latest entry into the deal-finding field dominated by HotelsCombined and Kayak is Hotelly.

Hotel The fledgling service quickly canvasses a stack of existing hotel-booking engines and offers up their rates side-by-side so you can see which is cheapest for a given room. You then click over to the principal booking site to make your reservations – assuming you insist on knowing where you’re going to stay.

But are you better off in the so-called opaque market where you commit to a price or place a non-refundable bid before knowing which hotel you’re actually going to end up with.

Blind booking began with Hotwire about five years ago, but lately it has taken off, especially among American-based booking engines.

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March 21, 2022

Airline lets travellers gamble over the cost of airfare

Consumers find the most prominent consequence of higher fuel prices at the gas pump, but it’s not the only place we get stung.

1230974_piper_clipper Surely, as the cost of gas continues to skyrocket across North America, so too has airfare. Airlines, terrified at what unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa has meant for the price of oil, have passed the burden onto us: according to the Air Transport Association of America, airfare jumped 13 per cent last month compared to what it cost in February, 2010.

At least one airline, though, wants to play a game. A small Las Vegas airline is asking consumers to buy a ticket that’s price may go up or down depending on the future cost of fuel.

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Can complaint sites really help you resolve your problems?

Many companies treat customers with disdain and contempt. Let's face it, do you know anybody who hasn’t dialled a customer hotline begging for help only to eventually hang up feeling, well, helpless.

Com Determined to at least break through to a live person next time? A good place to start might be Gethuman, which offers tips on bypassing the voicemail systems of thousands of companies.

But even then you may hit a dead end – which is why there are so many complaint sites that focus on one type of product or even one seller, such as (name of favourite wireless provider) sucks.

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March 18, 2022

You need $7.5M to 'feel' wealthy, rich people say

We know you’re tired of Charlie Sheen references, but if we’ve learned anything over the past month, it’s that money doesn’t buy you a whole lot of self-awareness.

687606_vanderbilt_mansion_rhode_island Indeed, the former Two and a Half Men  star, while super rich, doesn’t appear to have a firm grip on reality – yet, maybe he’s not alone among his affluent brethren.

According to a new Fidelity Investments poll, millionaires don’t know what to think about their riches these days. Some think they’re loaded, others don’t, and no one can quite agree on how much money you need in the bank to make you “feel” wealthy.

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March 17, 2022

Inflation level really not as high as it seems: Report

For many Canadians, higher inflation is a foregone conclusion. It’s no longer a matter of if we will experience it, but how soon it will be here.

Images And if consumers truly believe prices will be higher in the future, they should be out buying goods today. After all, why wait for higher prices?

But what if, as a recent C.D. Howe Institute paper argues, Canada's inflation is actually quite a bit less than advertised?

According to McGill University economist Christopher Ragan, the way Statistics Canada measures changes to the cost of living regularly causes to overstate inflation.

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March 16, 2022

Nobody's buying mid-tier retail brands anymore: report

Our habits may never really  improve, but the recession has at least altered some consumer patterns for the better.

1136390_shopping_bag_button Before, when we kept buying, as the The Rent Is Too Damn High Guy might say, too damn much stuff we couldn’t afford, we got dinged. No matter who’ll take responsibility, the housing market collapsed, banks crumbled and credit card debt spiralled out of control because of sweeping financial irresponsibility.

So now, having been spurned, the smart consumer shops discount brands for fear of another downturn. Of course, the rest go right back to Gucci, Louis Vuitton and the like, which has unsurprisingly created a new retail problem: middle-tier brands no longer have any shoppers to call their own.

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Disgruntled B.C. prisoners looking to become unionized

Inmates at Mountain Institution in Agassiz are about to form the first prisoner labour union in Canada

Jail Once they have enough members signed up, organizers will take their proposal to the Labour Board of Canada in a bid to be certified.

The group’s lawyer Natalie Dunbar stressed that the inmates are not trying to create another prisoners' rights group, such as those that exist in the United States, but instead want a body to address prisoners' labour union issues. The average daily pay for inmates, for instance, is something like $15 a day and workplace accidents are not uncommon.

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March 15, 2022

Wait, 'DON'T donate money to Japan'?

What’s the one thing we’ve learned about donating money over the years?

Istockphoto_14218389-charity-sign Make sure.

Indeed, the world has seen too many charity scams – or, maybe more commonly, charity misappropriations – to just blindly give anymore. We all want to know: where is this money going?

So it may come as a surprise to some that there’s even a debate over helping out with Japan. As the island nation lies in ruins, at least one person is suggesting the unthinkable, which is for us not to donate right now.

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New divorce rules for splitting pension assets

When a couple is divorcing, things are generally split down the middle. The person with the more substantial net worth generally pays half the difference to the other person. This is known as equalization of family assets, the largest of which, other than the family home, is often a pension plan.

Pension plans are the trickiest assets to divide, however, both because they’re not valued in terms of a current balance the way RRSP accounts are, and because they generally can't be liquidated prior to retirement age.

This can lead to more conflict since most parties typically want to settle all of their marital property issues as soon as possible so they can simply get on with their lives.

But all this is finally changing.

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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...