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May 2011

May 23, 2021

Downsizing: Choosing a used car to save gas and money

The meteoric rise in gasoline prices may have peaked, at least for now. But many shell-shocked consumers expect the pain at the pump to be a chronic condition, according to US Today.

One obvious solution is to cut your losses and buy something smaller to ease the recurring pain at the pump, particularly as the price of those gas guzzlers is likely coming down.  

"On average, prices of fuel-inefficient used cars fall a lot and those of fuel-efficient used cars rise a lot when gasoline prices increase … So if you drive a lot be aware. But if you drive a little, you should buy a used fuel-inefficient vehicle when the gas price goes up."

This is the advice of Florian Zettelmeyer, a professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management whose newly published research indicates that you’ll save significantly on the selling price of the gas guzzler; but because you'll drive the car only rarely, the extra cost of gasoline will have only a minor effect on your purse.

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May 20, 2021

Gas prices make home buyers want to live close to work: study

Hmm. How best to put an original spin on soaring gas prices …

1235157_house_for_sale Rising gas prices are like the two morons from Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. They’re high – everyone knows they’re high – and you’re sick of hearing about them. You just want them to go away.

And while they may soon (the national Canadian average price has gone down about six cents per litre since the start of May), that doesn’t mean pump reads haven’t gotten so bad they’ve already shaped our consumer behaviour.

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The continually changing face of retail

With daily deals delivered via Twitter feeds and mobile-friendly sale sites, retailing is expanding in directions it would have been difficult to predict even five years ago, says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.

Retyail While consumers have always looked out for special offers and discounts, new technologies and services mean that 2011 will see even more new ways to help rid yourself of those pesky dollars. 

Among several trends that are quickly changing the way consumers shop, Woroch offers a few highlights ....

1. Daily Deals
With the explosion of limited-time daily deals via group-buying and flash-sale sites like Gilt Group and  Jetsetter.com, other retailers will soon be piling in. Target and Overstock, for instance, already offer Deal-of-the-Day sales with more to come, Woroch predicts.

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May 19, 2021

If no fat tax, then what about taxing parents of obese kids?

There’s a reason the fat tax story won’t die.

1119511_burger For every detractor that points out the idea’s a little totalitarian – “Where does it end?” wrote one commenter when MSN floated the idea back in 2009. “Should people who engage in activities such as sky diving or riding motorcycles pay a danger tax? Should people who have sex with more than one partner pay an STD tax?” – there’s someone, anyone, that suggests it’s not as hypocritical as you might think.

“I’m a smoker and have been taxed a lot with the so-called sin tax,” replied another reader. “We are told that it’s because we cost the system more. I don’t see the diference (sic) from taxing a smoker or taxing the fat. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”

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May 18, 2021

Uncovering how managers really feel about their employees

Attention HR:  Before you start spending money on leadership training for managers, find out how they really feel about their employees.

Employ According to a recent University of California study, much of the company's success depends on how managers view their subordinates.

In what he describes as the first study to examine leaders' conceptions of followers, psychologist Thomas Sy found that "if managers view followers positively — that they are good citizens, industrious, enthusiastic — they will treat their employees positively".

"If they think of their employees negatively — that they are conforming, insubordinate and incompetent — they will treat them that way. Manager beliefs about employees impact organizational outcomes," he maintains.  

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May 17, 2021

Take a guess: what religion boasts the highest earners?

“A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, ‘What is this, a joke?’”


1330858_church_windows Often, our religion defines us. But does it also define our earning power?

The New York Times  conducted a study recently to find which faiths earned the top family incomes. What won’t surprise you is the religions that boast the highest level of education also make the most money. Where each religion falls on the rankings, though, you might not see coming.

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Disgruntled teachers fight for increased pensions

Compared to most Canadians, Ontario’s teachers enjoy one of the richest pension plans in the country. Longtime teachers, who now contribute an average of 11% of salary towards their pension, can expect to receive about two thirds of what they were making over their last few years of work once they leave the classroom.

Teach But, according to a group of disgruntled retired teachers, along with their widows and widowers, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan isn’t playing fair when it comes to determining how much of this money the spouses of dead plan members should receive.

At issue is OTPP's practice of denying full survivor pensions to those who marry after they retire. Under the current rules, spouses who come along after the plan member retires are entitled to only 10 years of benefits.

If pensioners who marry after retirement want to provide a longer-lasting benefit, they must take a pension cut to obtain a survivors pension for their spouse. The reduced pension is permanent, even if the pensioner outlives their late-in-life spouse. 

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May 16, 2021

How do you trick yourself into saving?

As consumers, we trick ourselves into a lot of things: that we’ll wear those pants we just have to have; that Facebook isn’t taking over our lives; that it’s a good idea to teach people how to Dougie.

866605_piggy_bank_1 But when it comes to saving, there’s real value in finding ways to fool ourselves into cutting back.

Such as this. The blog 27 and Frugal recently highlighted a common method of self-discipline at the grocery store – avoiding a cart or basket so we only buy what we can carry. Legitimate? Definitely, but what other methods can we use to stop from spending ourselves dry?

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The lives of the rich and sad

Ever wonder what it might be like to be really rich? Not going to happen? Well, have a look at the most recent issue of The Atlantic and you may feel a bit better.

Mag “The Secret Fears of the Super Rich” delves into the results of revealing study of the very rich (in this instance, folks with a net worth of more than $25 million) from Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy.

Paul Schervish, a sociology professor and the college's director, has been studying the lives and philanthropic habits of the super-wealthy for some time now.

And, guess what, they’re just like that nervous guy next door, exhibiting a surprising litany of anxieties including their sense of isolation, their worries about work and love, and most of all, their fears for their children.

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May 13, 2021

Why an investigation into gas prices will come up empty

Industry Minister Tony Clement spoke for Canada yesterday.

1057279_petrol_price_increase As pump prices soared above $1.40 per litre in parts of the country, Clement made a strong political move – if one based on questioned rationale – in appearing to slam gas industry execs.

“No one can understand why last year when oil per barrel was around $140 or $150 a barrel, we’re paying $1.37 per litre. This year oil is south of $98 a barrel and yet we’re paying more,” he said, adding, “All I know is that prices are going up and down and sideways and no one really knows why.”

Clement pounded his fist on the issue, announcing he’ll call industry producers, refiners and distributors to Parliament for an explanation, but is one really needed?

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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...