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July 2011

March 22, 2022

Hong Kong housing comes cheap -- if it's haunted

You know, it was 2009, during one of the worst stretches of the recession, but we got some interesting results to a hypothetical on housing we posed here at the time.

The question: would you live in a haunted house if it came cheaper?

A quick browse through the comments from ’09 and they’re about two parts “ghosts aren’t real, of course I would” to one part “no, no, a million times no.” Though don’t tell this to residents of Hong Kong.

In one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets, housing can be had on quite the discount in Hong Kong if you’re willing to shack up with a ghost or two.

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July 29, 2021

Should booze be available in corner stores all across Canada?

Heading into the long weekend, Canadians may care about three things: booze, cottages and booze.

1337577_wine_swirl Make that four or five, I guess, if we toss in beer and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which is only for girls and totally not for guys to sneak embarrassed, secretive sips of.

In any case, for Ontarians the Civic holiday, as its summer long weekend brethren do, does little more than tease us. Thanks to our archaic liquor laws, we can’t go buy our beverages at the corner store or supermarket like other provinces.

Of course, many of us hate this – so much so that 60 per cent of Ontarians said recently they want our province’s alcohol retail system to open up for competition. The question is: are they onto something?

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July 28, 2021

Do you really need to buy rental car insurance?

Does anybody actually buy rental car insurance? I know I usually don’t.

Car Every time you rent a car, you can expect to be asked to accept or reject the vendor’s offer of car insurance, known as loss damage or collision damage waiver. But do you really need to pay that extra $15 a day?

Well, maybe.

It’s no secret that most higher-end credit cards like Amex Gold and Platinum take care of the basics like damage collision, theft, liability, fees but those ‘basic’ cards may not – unless you’ve signed up at the source, generally for a $25 to $40 annual fee.

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July 27, 2021

New service lets you 'swipe' credit card via webcam

People will buy anything online – books; movies; Leonardo DiCaprio.

537904_stocking_for_business And how do you do it? You add an item to your cart, head to checkout and type in your credit card info, right? Easy peasy.

But as fraudsters leach onto any and every method of consumer payment, staying ahead of the game is, well, the name of the game for online retailers.

Suddenly, simply entering your credit card and three-digit security code may no longer be the safest way. Now, we’ll soon be able to “swipe” our cards via your computer’s webcam.

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Satisfaction levels with Canadian banks much higher: report

Since the economic crisis, banks around the globe have experienced huge challenges with their customer relationships. But Canada's banks have been largely immune from the controversy.

In its annual banking customer survey, Ernst & Young asked more than 20,500 participants aroundthe world to share their levels of satisfaction. Canadian banks fare quite well, it seems.

In fact, overall customer satisfaction with banks in Canada has jumped sharply, according to the most recent J.D. Power and Associates Rankings.

Overall satisfaction with primary financial institutions averages 756 on a 1,000-point scale in 2011 — up 26 points from 730 in 2010 and continuing a three-year improvement trend.

That’s the good news, I suppose. Despite these gains, satisfaction with fees and problem solving has declined significantly across all three segments in 2011, compared with 2010.

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July 26, 2021

What inflation? 10 consumer items getting cheaper

Inflation is a real pain.

1037486_3d_decay_graph_bar It’s raised the price of certain commodities, made it so no working stiff can even consider owning his own home in many urban cities, and jacked the cost of bacon so high the term “strategic pork reserve” has entered the modern-day lexicon.

But remarkably, in the face of rising costs, some consumer items are actually getting cheaper.

And no, not just outdated items, like VHS tapes or the RIM PlayBook (count it!).

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Shopping with hand-held basket encourages poor choices: Study

Using a shopping cart instead of a much smaller basket can help you make healthier choices as you cruise down the aisles. At least that’s the thinking behind a recent study in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Basket Watching people as they stocked up in the grocery store, the researchers found that people who used hand-held baskets instead of those insidious oversized carts were more than three times as likely to choose unhealthy over healthy food items.

Why, exactly, is a little complicated, but essentially the notion is that bodily sensations can influence our thoughts and emotions.

In this case, the researchers maintain that the act of flexing your arm, as required by the basket, somehow encourages you to choose smaller, easier and generally less healthy items, while extending your arm, as you do when you push a cart, has the opposite effect.

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July 25, 2021

Penile length linked to economic growth: study

To get an accurate picture of the modern economy, common sense suggests scouring the world’s business headlines.

Istockphoto_7828712-businessman-without-pants-isolated-on-white After all, where else can you find debt ceiling information, unemployment figures and inflation forecasts?

But for the layman, many of these measures don’t mean squat. For some, we need a more, um, grounded approach to understanding the economy.

Thanks to a Finnish study, then, we may have one. According to a new survey, the economic prospects of a country may directly correlate to the size of its male citizen’s sex organs.

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First nations entitled to tax break on investments, top court rules

It’s fair to say that some Canadians find it troubling that First Nations citizens don’t pay much in the way of taxes. Well, now those folks are really going feel hard done by.

Court In a decision aboriginal leaders are hailing as a major affirmation of Indian status rights, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a Huron business man who invested in term deposits at a credit union located on his Quebec reserve doesn’t owe any tax on the interest he earned on his investments.

The landmark decision overturned lower-court rulings claiming that the estate of the late Rolland Bastien was required to pay taxes on the passive investment income he earned from the sale his longstanding moccasin business.

Section 87 of the federal Indian Act dictates that income earned by natives working on-reserve isn’t taxable. However, income earned off-reserve is taxable.

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July 21, 2021

Beckhams send 'To Kill A Mockingbird' sales up after naming baby after author

Celebrities have power. They must have – how else to explain Jennifer Lopez going from tabloid fodder to million-dollar private Ukrainian concert headliner in less than a week?

Istockphoto_6932812-baby-sitting-with-bag-of-money But while many enterprising celebs promote themselves, pitch products and star in commercials for financial prosperity, rare – but not endangered – is the unintentional A-list endorsement.

Yet a remarkable case of accidental publicity is underway after David and Victoria Beckham announced why they chose to name their newborn daughter “Harper” this week.

Harper Lee is Posh Spice’s favourite author, the couple said. It was a one-off statement, but in a true display of the pair’s power, already sales of “To Kill A Mockingbird” have shot through the roof.

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Is a daily deal site just for men really necessary?

It was bound to happen: The daily-deal business model popularized by Groupon is inspiring a number of group-focused copycats looking to dissect an already crowded marketplace.

Dudes With so few few barriers to entry, a number of group-buy sites geared toward specific groups are sprouting up, beyond those that concentrate on certain product areas like electronics or pet food.

Healthy Deals just launched over the weekend providing savings of 50 to 80 per cent off on heath, beauty and wellness products and services, largely geared to women who seem to be driving growth on group-buying sites.

Men and women visit retail sites in practically equal amounts, but women spend 20 per cent more time on those sites. That time equates to more money spent in most retail categories, as women buy more frequently than men do.

In fact, according to recent research from Comscore, women comprise a majority of the U.S. audiences on both Groupon (62%) and LivingSocial (67%).

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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...