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June 2011

January 30, 2022

Is there any difference between renting a condo or an apartment?

A lack of apartment building construction combined with a glut of new condo construction has given birth to a new kind of landlord who buys one or two condo units and rents them out, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

While rents may barely cover mortgage, tax and other expenses in certain markets, the hope is that the rental income evens things off bit until the unit increases in value.

Fair enough, but are you sure you want to be the one paying the rent? First off,  rents for condominium apartments are anywhere from 30% to 40% more than traditional rental apartment buildings -- in the GTA, at least.

You’ll likely get a newer (albeit smaller) unit and, in many cities, you’ll have better access to the downtown core. But tenants who rent a unit in a condominium complex and are used to the standard leases of traditional apartment buildings, may be in for a few surprises.

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June 30, 2021

Even the Queen is taking a pay cut these days

Today is a potpourri of news, economic and otherwise.

Istockphoto_10603416-gold-crown-with-jewels On the money side, we know that Canada’s economy – eh, it’s kind of stalled thanks to lax automobile production. Add to that, Alberta’s teachers are facing massive budget cuts and it’s becoming clear this whole recovery thing is a lot tougher than we initially thought.

But Prince William and Kate Middleton have also touched down in Ottawa, so we feel obliged to find a royal hook to all these financial headlines.

(Searching … searching … here we go … ) Wanna know how bad the economy is? Even the Queen is taking a pay cut.

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Are there chores that you gladly outsource, whatever the cost?

If you run a business or have any serious money to work with, it clearly makes perfect sense to have an accountant, lawyer, and tax pro on your side rather than trying to master complex issues that can really cost you if things go wrong.

Lawn But what about all those tasks – cleaning, mowing, shovelling, painting etc. – that, while important, don’t take necessarily take a lot of skill or a decade in university?

At some point you have to recognize that your time is valuable, too, maintains the Frugal Dad.

Would you rather be enjoying more time with your kids, pursuing more entrepreneurial endeavours, or working in the yard in 30-plus heat on a Saturday?

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June 29, 2021

Condo association to DNA test dog poo found on grounds

When I was a kid and used to pee in my friend’s pools, er, swim in my friend’s pools, that all stopped one day when I was told what you may have been, too.

Istockphoto_11070664-poop-ban “Now don’t pee in the water, guys,” a friend’s mom said. “There’s a dye in the pool that’ll make a big, red ring around you if you do. We’ll know if you’re peeing in there.”

Of course, the urine-detecting dye is a bit of an urban legend, but my, what a deterrent at the time. What’s this have to do with anything? Well, a Florida condo community with a dog poo problem is rolling out their own version of the urine-detecting dye, only it’s real.

Yes, that means a Jupiter, Fla., condo village, if they continue finding dog droppings left on the estate’s grounds, is claiming they’ll institute a DNA testing policy to find the guilty pooch.

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Boomers worry about health costs in retirement

As the wave of baby boomers begin to retire, the strains of funding Canada’s health-care system will only grow over the next decade.

Merd Combined with rising costs for most things in general, economists say health care spending, left unchecked, will become unsustainable.

Add to that the prospect of reduced or even total elimination of company health benefits, and aging boomers may be right to be worried.

As it is, doctors are already having a hard time dealing with aging boomers and their increasing caseload of chronic illness, according to a recent survey

Almost three quarters of them say their caseloads are taking up more of their time, and they blame chronic conditions, extra paper work, an aging population and increasing patient expectations.

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June 28, 2021

What's the best method for paying someone back?

Whenever I owe someone money, I try to use email payment as much as possible.

Istockphoto_11797967-electronic-payment-concept It costs, yes – my bank, TD Canada Trust, charges $1.50 per email transaction – but it’s clean. No cash. Geography’s not an issue. You don’t need exact change. There are few ways for the average consumer to make more direct financial amends.

Am I a sucker for living by that $1.50 fee? Perhaps, and maybe that’s why I find some people resistant to email payment. But if a new PayPal study tells us anything, it’s that preference for dealing with cash, and for making cash payments, may soon be a thing of the past.

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Are group buying sites really that good a deal?

Although it seems that most of the deals on group buying sites are for spa or nail services, they’re no denying their popularity. There are over 100 sites in Canada and over 50 aggregators at last count.

Group While not everybody signs up, 49 per cent of us have at least visited a daily deal site, according to a recent survey by OneSpout, one of the many services that aggregates deals, filters them and summarises the most likely to appeal to you in a single e-mail.  

Of those who bought, 40 per cent say they like group buying because it allows them to try out a product or service they wouldn’t consider at regular price.

At the same time though, roughly three quarters of us admit to signing up for deals that we weren't really looking for. The top of the list: 2 for 1 restaurant deals, it seems.  

So, are you really saving money when you jump on a Groupon or TeamBuy, or are you simply giving in to impulse shopping that has long plagued Costco shoppers?

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June 27, 2021

Uptick in shoplifting signals, oddly, that economy is back

Why does Aladdin swipe that loaf of bread? ‘Cause he’s poor, right? No money for food, so he’s gotta steal.

Istockphoto_399767-handcuffs Certainly, save for Ocean’s Eleven-style burglaries, theft has traditionally been an act of desperation.

But in a strange twist, a recent uptick in shoplifting is being chalked up to an economic recovery  and not a further sink into despair.

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Play hardball with public sector unions, recommends labour lawyer

With the recent postal lockout, the disparity between public and private-sector employees has jumped to the forefront again.

Str Many Canadians in the private sector, tired of layoffs, wage freezes and rollbacks, as well as the shrinkage in some of their benefits, openly resent their public counterparts’ seemingly cushy working conditions.

Not totally surprising – particularly when you consider public sector wage increases have eclipsed those in the private sector for the past four years.

What’s worse though is that most people (including the majority of MSN readers it seems) really don’t like being held hostage by public sector unions which increase the cost of government almost expotentially.

The solution: Fire the advisors and lawyers who have brought the public to this precipice and aren't ready to play hardball, says labour lawyer Howard Levitt whom, I assume, tends to sit on management's side of these debates.   

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June 24, 2021

Rich flourishing, poor struggling in recession recovery: report

If you’ve been confused about headlines detailing the economic recovery, you’re not alone.

1209458_grapho That’s because, there’s two stories going on right now. For every group that’s bouncing back, another is slugging behind. Canada’s aerospace industry is doing well, for instance, while our nation’s youths can’t find work anywhere.

The most prevalent recovery discrepancy? That would be between the rich and the poor. Chances are, you hear plenty about how the well-off are back, or close, to pre-recession normal, but new research suggests the same isn’t true for low-income families.

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June 23, 2021

What would privatizing Canada Post mean for rural mail delivery?

A sample comment from the latest Canada Post story on TheGlobeAndMail.com: “These postal workers are nothing but a bunch of over-paid whiners, with all their fancy perks, days off, etc. Legislate them back to work, pay them a wage that is appropriate to the skill needed to do the job, and what Canada Post can afford. If they don’t like that, privatize Canada Post, fire the whole bunch of them, and start over.”

Mailboxquebec2_en Needless to say, the Canada Post PR campaign has not won the entire nation.

Yet while “privatize those scumbags!” is a popular sentiment, a good point was raised in the Ottawa Citizen Thursday. If, in a theoretical world, Canada were to privatize its national postal service, what would it mean for rural mail delivery?

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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...