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August 2011

August 23, 2021

Landlord accused of releasing scorpions into apt. building

I once had a landlord whose only fault was talking too much.

610522_scorpion She was a kind, old lady, but you couldn’t ask for a copy of your rent receipts without getting 40 minutes on how the city knocked down your branches when they were fixing the hydro lines and how their customer service line is a nightmare for your rotary phone.

But what she never did, no matter her intentions unbeknownst to me, was this.

She never released live scorpions into my apartment in a bid to get me to leave.

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Is home ownership getting out of your reach?

The cost of home ownership in Canada is on the move again.

House The proportion of pre-tax income required to handle the costs of owning a home jumped last quarter for all types of housing tracked by RBC Economics housing affordability index.

The biggest jump was once again in Vancouver with the cost of mortgages payments, utilities and property taxes for a bugalow coming in at close to 93% of a typical household’s monthly gross -- up 10.4 percentage points from the previous quarter.

In Montreal, home ownership cost roughly half that eating up 43% of a typical family’s income, up 1.4 percentage points from the first quarter. Other major cities in the survey include: Ottawa (41%), Calgary (37% and Edmonton (34%)

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August 22, 2021

Watching too much TV is actually killing you: study

Football season is right around the corner, and for me that will usually mean a few things.

1224537_couch_potato It will mean a good, firm butt mould in a couch or chair, it will mean multitasking through enough electronic devices to make Thomas Edison blush, and it will surely mean two folded arms and a pair of giant, rolling eyeballs from my exasperated girlfriend.

Yet while 12 hours in front of the TV on Sunday is all in good fun, a new study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine isn’t laughing along.

By a report just published in the medical log, watching too much TV is – yes, mom – killing you.

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Is autopaying your bills a good idea?

Although I wouldn’t describe myself as an early adapter, I have switched to automated payments for most of my bills— primarily because it’s convenient and, in some instances, generates credit cad points. Although there's something to be said for seeing a balance in front of you ans writing a cheque of paying online.

Bill But, says Marketwatch, letting vendors reach into your wallet each and every month can be a problem since you may be setting yourself up for all-too-frequent fee hikes, surprise costs, and payments for services you never even use.

I do check, of course, and haven’t had many problems but maybe I’ve been lucky. Anyway, here are five fees you may want to worry about, Marketwatch warns.

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August 19, 2021

Is Abercrombie's threat to 'Jersey Shore' star just a PR stunt?

In a world where even Rod Blagojevich can get an endorsement deal, it doesn’t take much for a celeb to be associated with a product or service.

336833-336833-briefcase-full-of-money-with-clipping-path But the opposite of a paid spokesperson deal is when a brand feels their link with a particular person or group is so detrimental to business they order it stopped.

Remember: when Cristal maker Louis Roederer suggested to rappers that its champagne wasn’t for pimp cups or pouring on strippers, or that particularly nasty hoax from the ‘90s when Tommy Hilfiger was falsely rumoured to have said that, if he knew blacks and Asians were to wear his clothes, he never would have made them.

We have arrived, again, at an endorsement cease and desist, but one of dubious nature. According to an Abercrombie & Fitch press release, the trendy clothier has told Jersey Shore  star Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino to stop wearing its clothes.

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August 18, 2021

Only in Paris: the baguette ATM

Certainly, the world has no shortage of bizarre ATMs.

4413310-4413310-baguette There’s the mobile ATM in Texas. There’s the gold ATM in Abu Dhabi. There’s the generous ATM in Louisiana.

But few ATMs may reflect the nation they sit in more than this.

In France, the bread-mad French now have to access to exactly what you’d think: the baguette ATM.

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August 17, 2021

Do stores really match lower prices from competitors?

“We’ll match any price or give you a discount if you find the same item offered for less at another store," screams the ad.
But does it really happen?And will your time be well spent?Price Sometimes, particularly if you're politely assertive. Some outlets even offer the full difference and 5-10% on top of that. The only catch with price matching is that it's usually a bit of hassle, particularly if you care what the people behind you think and you don't really know the rules.

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Warren Buffett demands to pay more taxes

Warren Buffett, to be sure, is not your average tycoon.

169849_tax Yes, the investing guru is among the world’s wealthiest (officially third this year, according to Forbes) but he’s decidedly unique even among the stinking of the stinking rich.

For instance, not only does he look like Orville Redenbacher, but he appears to live just like any old moth-ballin’, Werthers-suckin’, change-rattlin’ 80-year-old. Despite a fortune of $47 billion, he’s lived in the same modest Nebraska home he bought for $31,500 in 1958.

Still, there is yet another characteristic to the Berkshire Hathaway boss that is dissimilar from the world’s billionaires: he wants to pay more taxes.

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August 16, 2021

Tax proposal would charge drivers a fee for the miles they drive

If the Dutch government has its way, the cost of driving may be going up for those who spend most of their time behind the wheel.

Meter-2-popup1 A select group of cars in the Netherlands have been outfitted with meters designed to charge drivers a monthly fee for the kilometres they drive.

Aside from obvious costs like gas, the meter also factors in the cost to society in the form of pollution, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and wear and tear on roads, reports the New York Times.

Using the car's GPS and a wireless connection, the system tabulates a charge for each car trip by using a  formula that also takes account of a car’s fuel efficency, the time of day and the route (driving on less-traveled roads is cheaper). 

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August 15, 2021

Extreme couponer arrested for stealing 185 newspapers

This spring, colleague Gordon Powers wondered if extreme couponers give other shoppers a bad name.

14121429-14121429-clipping-coupons You know the ones, the perceived nutbags you see on TLC documentaries talking with terrible American accents and generally seeming as balanced as Gary Busey. (I know, I know, some are just out to save money for their families, yet let’s be real – having to build a bunker to hold toothpaste and no-name cereal might be savvy, but come on ...)

In any case, you have to concede that, at the very least, extreme couponers are very good at what they do. And, if you don’t buy that their shopping behaviours give other, smart-in-a-sane-way shoppers a bad name …

… maybe this does.

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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...