« March 2011 | Main | May 2011 »

April 2011

April 21, 2021

Is it time to ditch your landline?

Although costs are now pretty steady, many people are deciding the traditional phone that has been their lifeline for years is no longer worth the expense, especially if they spend most of their time reaching for their cell phone to make or receive calls.

Phone Thanks to better competition and lower pricing south of the border, the rate at which Canadians are going wireless is considerably behind the United States, which is at about 25 per cent of households, according to the Centres for Disease Control.

In Canada, roughly one out of every six families has now cut the cord on their landline. But that number is clearly growing, particularly as Skype and its competitors beome more popular. Most offer free calling within their systems — assuming both people on the call are members — and are fairly inexpensive otherewise.

If you’re thinking of ditching your landline, here are a few considerations, courtesy of GeckoBeach.

Continue reading »

April 20, 2021

Canadians are back drinking again

Back when the recession was going on, no one could get a grasp on alcohol sales.

1144224_liquor The conventional wisdom went: the economy’s tanking, so we’re getting tanked. And, indeed, that was the reality during much of the downturn.

But then, the thinking shifted. Not only did we not have jobs, Canadians couldn’t even afford to drink, and alcohol sales began to sink. What the heck was going on?

In any case, as much of the economy’s uncertainty has eased, so has our relationship with booze. Canadians, we’re back drinking again.

Continue reading »

Is now the time to trim that whopping cable bill?

Looking for a strategy to talk your way to lower cable or satellite bills? Just ask, says John Ogilvie, a professor of management at the University of Hartford.

Cable "Many things are negotiable," he says. “But people just assume they don't have that possibility.”

If you notice that Rogers is offering a special promotion to new subscribers, for instance, see if you, as a loyal customer, can get the same deal.

Find out what new competitors like Netflix and Hulu (still blocked here for the moment) are charging and get your provider to justify its prices. Media companies here are feeling threatened and want these new entrants to be subject to the same rules as Canada-based companies.

Continue reading »

April 19, 2021

Stealing hotel towels? You may need to think again ...

As Michael Scott might say, everyone loves S.W.A.G. – (free) stuff we all get.

119644_hotel_toiletries Certainly, for a long time swag was the best part about staying in a hotel. The turn-down service was great, but so was filling your suitcase with shampoos, soaps, shower caps, pens, bibles and anything else not bolted to the room.

Well, after more than a century of consumers ripping them off, hotels appear now to be fighting back against such petty theft/presumed guest perks. Three hotels in the U.S. are now sewing washable tracking chips into their towels in a bid to cut down on lost linens.

Continue reading »

Higher dollar? Canadians still paying more than Americans for the same goods

Canadians are paying 20 per cent more on average than Americans for identical products even though the value of the loonie has soared to three-year high above the U.S. greenback, according to according to a recent study by BMO Nesbitt Burns.

Loon That difference was only 7 per cent when the firm conducted a similar study in July 2009, even though the loonie was trading around 92 U.S. cents at the time.

This only confirms what most of know already. Nearly four years after the dollar first hit parity, we’re still paying a big premium on imported goods.

“There has been precious little movement in underlying relative prices in the past two years despite the currency’s record sprint,” Porter says.

Continue reading »

April 18, 2021

Funeral home offers drive-thru casket viewings

The one thing you learn at a funeral or visitation: everyone grieves differently.

Istockphoto_9993632-drive-thru-this-way-fast-food-sign Indeed, while some sit in stoicism as others throw themselves on the casket, dealing with death is by no means a one-size-fits-all process.

But now one California funeral home is allowing what may be considered the most convenient method of grieving. Introducing the drive-thru body viewing …

Continue reading »

Does ‘extreme couponing’ give savvy shoppers a bad name?

If you’ve ever seen TLC’s Extreme Couponing show, then you know that some people take coupon clipping very, very seriously. So much so, that’s it’s a bit hard to believe just how they spend their time. 

Coup Hard-core couponers are in it for the long haul. They load up three or four shopping carts at a time, all the while testing the patience of overwhelmed cashiers and fellow shoppers. 

Unfortunately, watching someone snag a hundred boxes of pasta and a truckload of soup leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths – you know, those only buying the things they need and leaving products on the shelf for other consumers.

“Nutjob hoarders!” they shout.

Continue reading »

April 15, 2021

$13.1M wrongful conviction payout should slight past victims

If we strip away Canada’s debate coverage, the biggest news story to end this week may be that of Rejean Hinse, the Quebec man who spent five years in a federal penitentiary for a crime he didn’t commit.

Istockphoto_10354953-hands-of-a-prisoner-on-prison-bars Hinse, now 73, was wrongfully imprisoned in 1961 for his alleged role in an armed robbery, and his fifty-year fight to clear his name may have finally come to a close.

As announced this week, the retired pipefitter will receive a staggering $13.1 million in compensation ($4.5 million from the Quebec government; $8.6 million from the feds) for his trials and tribulations. The amount is “unprecedented,” according to The Star.

Continue reading »

April 14, 2021

Are you in denial when it comes to your relationship with money?

Money. People perceive, value and treat it differently.

Money But regardless of how you interact with it, money plays a major role in your life – in some cases, providing security, freedom and power and in others leaving you feeling inadequate and trapped.

It’s a question of training. Perhaps money was always taboo in your home. Or you received conflicting messages that you should feel guilty about money (“only the poor go to heaven”) and that money was unstable and scary (“you could wake up poor in the morning”).

Continue reading »

Which party leader is most fit to run Canada's economy?

The last two nights have been compelling TV for Canadians, if your definition of compelling TV means watching the nation’s PM squirm with a “How long do I have to let these creeps scream at me for buying fighter jets before I can squash them like bugs?” look on his face. In two different languages, no less.

985299_canadian_flag Indeed, Wednesday’s French language debate marked the end of two nights of bilingual bickering, but are we any better off because of them? Does anyone feel clearer about any of the candidates’ platforms, other than the notion Stephen Harper insists on standing like he’s strangling a wide-bodied Verne Troyer as he speaks?

From a money standpoint, there’s plenty of nitty-gritty facing this election. So, going forward, which candidate do you think is most fit to run Canada’s economy?

Continue reading »


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...