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August 2011

August 15, 2021

Motor homes shrink in size but sales continue to climb

Hoping to get another weekend or two at the cottage before school starts? You may soon see some relief from the convoys of motor homes lined up ahead of you.

Rv The sluggish economy and high gas prices are forcing many monster RVs to the side of the road. And, it seems, the newer models that are taking their place are that much smaller.

"Fuel prices are driving it, but this is a cultural shift," says Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream, which converts delivery-van-style Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into low-key motor homes. "There's a shift away from conspicuous consumption," he told US Today.

Though these units are still priced upwards of $125,000, they typically don't have the panache of larger units. But they do get triple the gas mileage of some big gasoline-powered motor homes.

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August 12, 2021

How much is love worth? For one woman, up to $5B

Coming up with an introduction to this blog post was impossible, in that any sentence that rattled off my keyboard sounded like a pitch for a Reese Witherspoon movie.

2614112-2614112-love-and-money But really, despite it being at the centre of a million bad films and novels, the “What is love worth?” conundrum is pretty intriguing.

And never more so: according to the BBC, Spain’s Duchess of Alba has agreed to give her fortune to her children, a gesture to prove her remarriage to a civil servant is for love – and nothing fishy.

Touching? No doubt. But guess how much she's giving away …

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August 11, 2021

Time to think outside the hammock, author says.

Just think: every eight seconds, one more boomer turns sixty.

Ad And, while that may signal trouble for some, most believe they’re just getting started at this age. So instead of retiring, it's more like graduating. And that means moving away from home.

Moving touches every part of your life, however, and not all aspects are necessarily for the better.

That’s why, if you're thinking about picking up the stakes and relocating in your retirement years, it's never too early to start planning, says author Barbara Corcoran in her book NEXTVILLE: Amazing Places to Live the Rest of Your Life.

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August 10, 2021

Should you ever loan friends money?

There are three scenarios in life guaranteed to end, like this sentence’s phrasing, awkward.

349117-349117-handshake-over-signed-contract 1) Admitting that you own U.S. Treasury bonds.
2) Laughing on a first date and having a fart slip out.
3) Being asked to loan a friend money.

The first two can be avoided to some extent, but we always seem to have that leech of a friend, er, friend in need to consider helping out with cash.

Should you ever do it? Of course – realistically, how are you going to get away with saying no? A better question, perhaps: how  should you do it?

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Do more expensive wines actually taste better?

While many wine lovers will tell you otherwise, the most dominant flavour in that glass of Merlot may its price tag.

Wine That's the opinion of Robin Goldstein, whose paper detailing more than 6,000 blind tastings maintains that “individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine.”

Goldstein argues that most people buy wine based on image rather than smell and taste and that our expectations do influence our taste sensations.

As a result, when most people are given wine without seeing the label, they prefer cheap wines just as much or more than expensive wines.

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August 09, 2021

Virtual supermarket lets commuters grocery shop with their phones

So far, it’s been a wild week for consumer technology.

15033006-15033006-fruits-and-vegetables-in-grocery-bag To wit: the e-card you send sexual partners to tell them, “Hey, ya know what? I know exactly  what that burning was! You might wanna get yourself checked out.”

But aside from online STD warnings – seriously, they’re a real thing – one consumer tech innovation is bound to lead to some cool developments down the road.

For shoppers, meet the virtual supermarket.

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Don't be spooked into selling, suggests author Burton Malkiel

The stock market's gyrations over the past few days have spooked even the most savvy investors but those who run for the hills at this point will likely regret it, maintains Burton Malkiel, author of the popular "A Random Walk Down Wall Street" and now a Princeton economics prof.

Burt "Investors who have sold out their stocks at times when there have been very large declines in the market have invariably been wrong. We have abundant evidence that the average investor tends to put money into the market at or near the top and tends to sell out during periods of extreme decline and volatility," Malkiel wrote in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Good advice but tough to do when many believe a mean, old bear has been unleashed. Nonetheless, investors should stay the course, Malkiel advises.

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August 08, 2021

Carlos Slim (presumably) can't stop losing billions

Sunday night at Fenway Park, as the Boston Red Sox wrestled first place in the AL East from the New York Yankees, sat Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man.

296223_empty_pocket_1Plopped in Sox owner John Henry’s private box in a white golf shirt, he looked every bit like a man worth nearly $25 billion more than Warren Buffett should: tanned, relaxed, enjoying the finer, but still modest, points of American culture.

Of course, for Slim, with such a vast fortune – estimated at $74 billion earlier this year by Forbes – comes wild fluctuations in worth.

Like, losing $8 billion, and likely more, in the span of about a week.

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Are health costs in retirement different for men and women?

When you or your partner retires, does it affect your health?

Pill That depends on whether you're the husband or the wife, says Angela Curl, a professor of social work at the University of Missouri.

According to her research, husbands report that while they feel their health declined after retirement it improved once when their wives retired. And that may mean less spending on health care, a major expense in retirement.

Wives, on the other hand, didn't share that sentiment. They maintained that their health remained pretty much the same after their husbands left work.

And when these women retired themselves and were asked about their own health, they generally rated it as worse during the first few years after they left their jobs, but then said it improved as time went on.

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August 05, 2021

Do lower mortgage rates make you flock to buy a home?

Fathers are great because they always make you believe they had it so hard. You know, in the “I had to walk to school barefoot, uphill both ways, with four Orson Welles' on my back” kind of way.

1108079_monthly_fee_5 Over the long weekend, my own pops gave me his version of this line in a talk about modern mortgage rates. We talked about how fixed rates are incredibly low, and he claimed, of course, that he was charged about 750 per cent interest on his first mortgage.

An exaggeration? Okay, his actual number may have been a bit lower, but the point remains. Mortgages – they’re pretty much giving them away these days.

Yet how low can they go before consumers start taking advantage of plummeting rates?

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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...