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October 2011

October 31, 2021

Why several small pleasures beat a few large ones

Researchers have found that the types of purchases we make, their size and frequency, and even the timing of that spending all affect long-term happiness.

AaaOne major finding is that spending money for an experience — like concert tickets, Spanish lessons, white water rafting — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.

There are situations where having cash to spend helps, of course, including for those who become sick or disabled, another study found; for them, money matters. But that's a different kind of spending.

The enemy of happiness is adaptation, says Psyblog. Unfortunately we get used to things and they give us less pleasure; after a while we start taking them for granted.

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The secret fear of some 'Occupy' protestors

Remarkably, the world’s “Occupy” protests haven’t lost steam – look, “Occupy Wall Street” might even be its own trademark soon – but what, really, is the uprising about?

Stock-photo-13934902-hands-upAs pissed-off consumers continue their marches in Montreal and otherwise, it appears, at least, that the revolt is aimed at a simple redistribution of wealth. The rich make too much, the poor make too little – let’s spread things around a bit.

But according to two Ivy League professors, there is a surprising psychological element lying deep within the minds of some protesters.

Namely, that many lower-income earners actually oppose income redistribution for fear of making the least money among their peers.

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October 27, 2021

The ever-evolving definition of 'retirement'

Remember those Freedom 55 commercials from the ‘90s?

Stock-photo-16283874-golden-nest-eggMan, what a crock of (removed)!

Indeed, what every Canadian knew, deep down, about the financial afterlife was confirmed earlier this week, when Statistics Canada revealed that early retirement was a nineties myth along with “Nobody’s stopping Sinbad” and “Put all your cash in Bre-X.”

The cruel reality, as per StatsCan’s numbers: a 50-year-old worker in 2008 could expect to stay in the labour force 3.5 years longer than they would have more than a decade ago.

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Occupy Wall Street: Are you one of the 99%?

The Occupy Wall Street protest movement is making headlines all over the world and has spread to numerous cities across the continent.

AdOne of the more interesting things to come out of the recent demonstrations is the We Are 99% Tumblr.

At the site, people hold up signs that explain their current circumstances. Their testimony tells the stories of a whole range of folks struggling to make it in what they clearly know is a recession.

Just who are these people? Although the numbers are a couple of weeks old, blogger Mike Konczal found the median age of the protestors to be 26, with the average age to be 29, which means there are quite a few older people involved, all of whom feel disenfranchised.

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October 26, 2021

400 rank-and-file jobs lost in NBA lockout: report

You almost need a Cornell MBA to follow sports these days, though since the NFL avoided missing any regular season action, fans are stuck now navigating a murky labour situation in basketball.

Stock-photo-15561878-basketball-on-the-floor-of-courtOn the surface, of course, it seems like millionaires squabbling with billionaires, and that’s a tough pill for consumers to swallow at a time when, say, Canadians can’t retire to save themselves.

Certainly, the issues surrounding the NBA lockout are complicated – the talks have stalled because of disagreements between players and owners over how basketball-related income, which accounts for everything from ticket sales to concession takes, should be divided, as well as player contract lengths and a bevy of other nuts-and-bolts discrepancies – but right now there’s become a more everyman casualty to this story.

According to a new report, it isn’t just millionaires and billionaires losing out on paycheques. Regular NBA employees, just like you or I, have been caught in the labour crossfire, too.

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How long could you manage without a paycheque?

It seems most Canadians can’t go very long without getting paid.

Ad57% of Canadians admit they’d in a tough spot if their paycheque was delayed by just one week, according to a recent survey from the Canadian Payroll Association.

That's a lot of stress. People who are strapped can’t afford to switch jobs or get laid off because they're just barely making enough to squeak by.

What’s more concerning though is that that number has remained fairly steady for the past two years and is quite evenly distributed among provinces. Here’s what things looked like last year

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October 25, 2021

What do you make of Tim Hortons' new lasagna?

Where reviews are concerned right now, much of the world is pondering the fate of The Rum Diary  or last night’s Game 5 of the World Series.

4FD414DBDE521FD87A3A85D3F4C2FCanadians? Well, we won’t stop until we’ve assessed one thing, above all: Tim Hortons’ new beef lasagna.

Surely, as MSN highlighted Tuesday, much of the country is abuzz over the coffee chain’s new menu add, which is either the greatest thing since McPizza or an ill-advised step from the franchise’s comfort zone.

What do the initial reviews of the pasta dish say? Of course, they are mixed.

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Hotels look to cash in by selling 'standby' upgrades

Staying only one night, coming in late and traveling when there's a conference in town have always increased the odds of of getting an upgraded hotel room.

AdBut these days room upgrades are harder than ever to come by. Unless you're willing to pay for them up front, of course.

Basically, what some hotels are doing is following the airlines' lead by charging extra for something you used to get "free," at least some of the time, depending on your frequent flyer status or the metallic colour of your credit card,

According to Consumer Traveler, asking prices for conditional upgrades start at $9 for a room on a higher floor, $20 for a room with a better view or a smoking room, $65 for a late checkout, or $125 for a suite – assuming there’s one available when you actually check in.

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October 24, 2021

Rise in sitcoms suggests economy's not fixed, after all

Want proof the economy’s still hurting? Turn to Hollywood.

Stock-photo-2944695-movie-nightIndeed, for all the consumer confidence figures and unemployment rate numbers we see tossed around, there is still one indicator that shows the downturn may not have ceased fully, after all.

According to the New York Times, one mustn’t look further than the slate of new comedies networks are ramming down viewers’ throats this season as a gauge of economic performance.

Since we chase laughter in times of financial peril, the thinking goes, the rash of New Girls  and Up All Nights  show one thing: we’re not all the way back yet.

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Shaky economy may drive more more people to drink: study

Past research has suggested that economic downturns mean less money for potentially unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking or excessive drinking.

AdAfter all, alcohol is expensive, so people are less able to afford it when they lose their jobs and money is short.

But a new study out of the University of Miami suggests that, rather than actually cut back, more people are likely to drown their financial sorrows in a down economy.

The study also discovered that binge drinking increased with a rise in the state-level unemployment rate. Driving while intoxicated and alcohol abuse and dependence also increased for both genders and across ethnic groups.

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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...