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September 2011

September 22, 2021

Investors more risk-averse in winter than summer: Study

There's some evidence that the stock market's performance is tied to the time of year and even the days of a month.

Leaf But, as the leaves change, you may actually want to pay more attention to your own seasonal clock, says U of T finance professor Lisa Kramer.

People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) tend to stick to safer investments in the fall and winter when days are growing shorter but take bigger risks with their money in summer, she believes.

SAD is a disorder that causes varying degrees of depression due to reduced levels of daylight; it affects about 15 per cent of Canadians, to varying degrees.

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September 21, 2021

More older and educated people declaring bankruptcy

Times sure are tough across the border.

B The number of Americans with advanced degrees filing for bankruptcy jumped 20 per cent over the last five years, the Institute for Financial Literacy reports. And the Canadian numbers show a strikingly similar trend.

More and more people over age 55 are finding themselves having to file for bankruptcy as a way to get out of financial holes and to help rebuild their lives. 

Older debtors, particularly those on a fixed income, run into financial problems, largely because their cost of living keeps increasing.

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September 20, 2021

How advertisers target consumers in the post-recession world

If nothing else, commercials are a good way to gauge demographics.

Stock-photo-15440490-dart-target-icon On Spike TV, meant for dudes looking for answers to questions like these, we see ads for Axe body spray and fantasy football. On daytime TV, tailored to stay-at-home moms, we see ads for bleach pens and dishwasher tabs. On the Masters telecast, watched by old men on Sundays, we see ads for Cialis and luxury hybrids.

So what can we tell about the world from today’s television ads?

According to a new report, consumers are concerned about three things these days: banking, financial investments and car insurance.

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Drooling for dollars more than a simple expression: Study

It's not just your imagination. Thinking about money or fast cars does make your mouth water, says David Gal, an assistant professor of marketing at Northwestern University.

Car How much a person actually salivates while thinking about the good life seems to depend on their mindset at the time.

In a recent experiment, Gal randomly divided his subjects into two groups: one that felt powerless (they had to write essays about a time they had no control) and one that felt powerful (they wrote about being on top of their game).

When he exposed the subjects to various pictures, those shown pictures of money began to drool. This was especially true in those remembering the times they felt they weren’t really in control.

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September 19, 2021

Irene's washout means pumpkin prices set to soar: report

For those in Canada’s east, be prepared to dole out big bucks next month. For pumpkins.

Yes, as the damage wrought by last month’s Hurricane Irene continues to be leafed through, one unsuspected seasonal casualty has taken much of the storm’s brunt.

According to reports, the pumpkin, that symbol of October, was wiped out en masse by Irene’s torrential rains and flooding in much of the Northeast U.S. and Eastern Canada.

What’s that going to mean? Higher prices, for one, but also the need for the rest of Canada’s pumpkins to come to the rescue.

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Human hair trade soars on celebrity culture

Talk about a crime wave.

Hair Discerning thieves have decided that high-end human hair is now a worthy target, forcing some hair retailers to take precautionary measures.

High-quality human hair retails for as much as $200 per bundle, with the average individual needing two to three bundles to complete a hairdo, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

And prices are rising as the growing desire for the glossy, long locks of celebrities has driven demand for hair through the roof, according to e-commerce site Alibaba.

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September 16, 2021

Which age group do you think got the worst of the recession?

So, the recession has given you a raw deal, huh?

Well, sure it has. If you’re X-years-old, your job prospects are a sliver of what they once were. If you’re Y-years-old, you can’t move up your career ladder because each rung has either been laced with cyanide or blown away completely. If you’re Z-years-old, you can’t retire at a time when you should because your nest egg has fallen from the tree and cracked on the pavement.

All fair points. Yet, which age group has been hardest hit from the downturn?

With help from The Atlantic, let’s take a look …

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September 15, 2021

What's behind all these fast food chain makeovers?

On this day last week, McDonald’s Canada officially announced what many diners of the restaurant already knew: it’s undergoing a makeover.

Indeed, as several of the fast food chain’s locations have undergone fancy renovations of late, the restaurant publicly admitted it’d be spending $1 billion to renovate and refurbish most of its 1,400 Canadian outlets.

To the newly-redesigned restaurants will be Wi-Fi access, fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, stone and tile accents and improved seating. They will be, in the goal of the corporation, places you’ll feel comfortable staying long after your meal.

Well, on the heels of McDonald’s’ announcement, it looks like another storied fast food chain is remodelling. Save for her glorious head of hair, you may not recognize Wendy much longer.

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Free cruise: Scam or the deal of the decade?

When does ‘free’ actually mean something completely different?

That’s the question consumer advocate Christopher Elliott, whose “Travel Troubleshooter” column appears in several U.S. newspapers, has been asking lately.  

Elliott has expanded beyond mediating grievances of airline passengers and hotel guests to helping settle a host of customer-service disputes through his blog On Your Side.

His latest crusade: The kinds of teaser mailings and phone calls that promise a free cruise for answering a series of questions or attending a 45-minute presentation.

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September 14, 2021

Is there anything you won't haggle over?

Is there anything you won't bargain over?

Haggling-150x150 While haggling can be a little awkward for some, it can pay off in unexpected ways, claims Len Penzo, a frugality enthusiast who goes to great lengths to get a deal.

Sure, some stores or vendors may refuse to budge on price, but most are willing to bend to the demands of the marketplace, says Fred Gleeck, author of Negotiate Anything: How to Get the Absolute Best Deal on Any Product or Service You Buy.

If one manager or salesperson says no, for instance, come back later when the shift has changed and try again, he suggests. 

Here's a partial list of frugal Len's favourite targets.

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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...