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April 2011

April 13, 2021

Retirees worry whether they'll be able to pay their medical bills

According to recent research from Fidelity Investments, almost seven in 10 (68%) of those approaching retirement said rising health care costs is one of their three biggest financial concerns (outliving savings and inflation being the other worries).

Ret Good news. For the first time in 10 years, the outlook is improving for older workers wondering whether they'll be able to pay their medical bills throughout their retirements.

Fidelity Investments recently released its annual estimate of the lifetime, out-of-pocket costs for medical bills for a couple, both age 65, retiring in 2011. This year’s number — $230,000 — is down $20,000 from 2010’s estimate of $250,000.

Fidelity's estimate is a projection of what an average couple would need. Actual costs will vary widely, of course, depending on a couple's medical needs and how long they live. The study assumes no employer-provided insurance in retirement, and a life expectancy of 85 for women and 82 for men.

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April 12, 2021

Church group to pray for lower gas prices

Consumers love to bitch and moan about gas prices, but what do we ever do about it?

We protest and write our MPs (Pickering-Scarborough Liberal leader Dan McTeague has long been our shining crusader on this front), yes, though none of us take our gripes to, say, a higher power.

Surely, even the most religious Canadians don’t pray  for lower gas prices, yet that’s what a Georgia church group will do this weekend – proof that, with all that’s wrong in the world, the rising cost of gas may have been pushed to the forefront.

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Most parents are poor role models when it comes to money

Eighty six per cent of parents feel they – more so than educators or others – should have primary responsibility for teaching their kids the basics of personal finance, reports T. Rowe Price.

Parents Yet, parents on average only grade themselves a B- when it comes to serving as role models. What's worse, when it comes to teaching kids the difference between what they need and what they want, more than one-third give themselves a C or lower.

Well, at least they’re honest.

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April 11, 2021

Would you pay extra to watch still-in-theatre movies from home?

Part of the fun in going to the movies is complaining. As in, Do I really need to pay $10.50 for a pop? There’s no way this movie is worth fourteen bucks. Look … at the size … of that popcorn.

Istockphoto_3072283-home-theater-system-with-widescreen-lcd-plasma-tv But for all our whining, we take our theatre gouging because it’s the only way. Unless, it suddenly wasn’t.

Testing how much of a premium consumers would pay to avoid the theatre – and perhaps signalling a shift in how we watch new movies – a few Hollywood studios will begin to debut still-in-theatre films on home video-on-demand next month.

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DB pension plans soon a thing of the past: report

A continuing shift in pension plan funding is driving more employers to rethink their pension plan structures, forcing employees to shoulder more risk in the process.

Pen Contract work, career changes and a longer, more active retirement have changed what Canadians need from a pension. And, increasingly, they’re on their own when it comes to funding their days after work.

Faced with having to pump more money into plans or decrease the benefits, companies of all sizes are increasingly moving workers away from guaranteed defined benefit (DB) pension plans into open-ended defined contribution (DC) plans.

51 per cent of Canadian companies have already converted to DC plans for current employees or new hires, up from 42 per cent in 2008, according to a recent review by Towers Watson. And a further 9 per cent plan to convert this year.

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April 08, 2021

Gold prices spike amid Apocalypse 2012 fears: report

People are dumb, right? Right.

Istockphoto_14797209-volcano-crater-with-boiling-lava-lake We know this, if by no other example, from our irrational behaviour back around Y2K. Our turn of the century fears had a real impact on business, too – we hoarded perishable goods and even took down a giant; Dell’s sales and stock price tumbled because we were too spooked to buy a computer in 1999.

Yet, while even the most dedicated Y2K conspiracist might look back at the year 2000 with a little embarrassment, we’re back at it again. With the end of the world coming next year – you know, Apocalypse 2012 – consumers appear to be focusing their cash once more on the latest threat to civilization.

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April 07, 2021

Baseball vendor lets your order beer via Twitter

There’s nothing pleasant about buying a beer at a baseball game, but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

Istockphoto_9944667-beer-at-the-game The lines suck, which you fear, and the prices are obscene, which you expect. But even if a beer vendor happens to venture to your section – as he did to my primo 500-level seat at the Rogers Centre last Sunday – you’d need a Russell Brand-sized mouth if you ever hope to yell and get the guy’s attention.

Enter: Twitter. It’s an idea so simple you feel stupid for not suggesting it yourself. Starting at the team’s home opener tomorrow, a beer vendor for the Seattle Mariners will start taking drink orders via his Twitter page.

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EI benefits can be a real headache come tax time

The number of EI recipients has fallen sharply over the past year, especially for men. In the span of a year, the number of Canadian men receiving EI benefits dropped by 13.4 per cent, while the number of women decreased by just 6.9 per cent.

Employ But with tax season on hand, some of these folks may be surprised to discover that they owe taxes on those EI benefits, a particular headache for those who were lucky enough to find a decent job sometime late last year. 

Here’s what to watch out for as the deadline approaches.

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April 06, 2021

Child-free flights coming to Ryanair: good idea?

For an airline that services exactly zero North American destinations, Ryanair sure makes a lot of headlines this side of the Atlantic.

690096_silent_scream A quick rundown of its recent polarizing campaigns, all recognizable by just three hyphenated words: the “pay-to-pee” policy; the “only-one-pilot” initiative; and the “standing-room-flights” movement.

But for all the Dublin-based outfit’s bluster, there’s a reason the budget airline thrives – which is to say, it takes a no-nonsense approach to giving the customer just what it wants, no matter the PR consequence.

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The costs of being a gay couple

For years, gay activists have lamented the fact that same-sex couples shoulder health, legal and other living costs that heterosexual couples don’t have to worry about.

GayIn Canada at least, some of this disparity has disappeared now that same-sex couples generally have the same social and tax benefits as heterosexuals in common-law relationships.

But, with all the election talk centring around a host of “family” tax credits, it’s only a matter of time before someone starts revisiting just what constitutes a family unit and what that means in financial terms. 

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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...