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October 2011

October 21, 2021

Does ditching your maiden name hinder a woman's career?

What’s in a name? A better question: what’s in a taken name?

As an unmarried man, the whole have-a-woman-take-your-name thing both confounds and intimidates me. This is 2011; it’s no longer a given that a bride adopts her husband’s last name. How it’s decided, or whether – gulp – hyphens are involved is a world I yet know nothing about.

But here’s an interesting take on the economic consequences of a woman ditching her maiden name.

According to a few reports, employers – the whole corporate and societal structure, really – perceive women that adopt their husband’s last name as less ambitious, more focused on family than career and, thus, inclined to work fewer hours on the job.

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October 20, 2021

The costs of binge drinking on society

Time and again, even in this space, smokers are ripped in the media.

Stock-photo-16692549-tequilaThis ain’t the ‘50s and ‘60s. There are no more ads with heroes like Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle, imploring that “From my very first puff – man, it was Viceroys for me!” Now, smokers just hear how much of a drag they are on society, costing Canada about $11 billion in health care costs and lost productivity each year, by one estimate.

Let’s give smokers a breath though, shall we? A new report details not the societal costs of hacking butts but binge drinking, which smokers would love to tell you is just as bad.

And, according to a new report out of the U.S., the cost of each drink adds up quick.

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Canadians' sense of well-being? Depends on who you ask

A couple of week ago, we talked about the Misery Index, a measure of how Americans feel about their bleak economic prospects.

Now, however, Canadians have their own index and it's much broader than the U.S. version -- but not really any less gloomy.

The measure is based on 64 indicators from eight separate areas: living standards, community vitality, democratic engagement, education, healthy populations, environment, time use, leisure and culture.

Overall, the index suggests the quality of life in Canada has actually decreased since 1994, the starting point for the new measure which is based out of the University of Waterloo.

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October 19, 2021

Recessions are bad news when it comes to workplace safety: report

Canadians are worried about the impact of the economic downturn on workplace health and safety. But what do they do about it when everyone is so concerned about jobs?

A worker is more likely to be laid off if he or she has reported an accident within the past 12 months, according to a recent Dutch study

The researchers’ hypothesis was that the apparent decreases in the number of safety incidents during economic downturns aren’t a result of safer workplaces or work practices but instead reflect workers’ reluctance to report problems to their employers for fear of getting fired.

Increasing a company's layoff rate even slightly leads to a significant decrease in the probability that workers will report accidents, the researchers say.

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BlackBerry outage causes dip in car crashes: police

Since Research In Motion accidentally flicked off its BlackBerry switch last week, the Waterloo-based company has done much to win back the affection of its smartphone users.

Stock-photo-15205572-text-messaging-while-driving-xxxlJust look, there was Mike Lazaridis in a hastily-produced video last Thursday, doing everything short of holding a copy of that day’s newspaper in deadpanning RIM’s call to action. And then there was the big reveal: after many BlackBerry users had argued for cash compensation for their suffering during the outage, RIM tried to calm the storm by offering a $100 credit for certain BlackBerry applications, an offer the Consumerist calls “some free apps you might not want.”

But here’s the one good thing to come from the BlackBerry outage, and it didn’t have much to do with RIM, after all.

By traffic figures just released, BlackBerry’s loss of service may have resulted in fewer car crashes by distracted drivers.

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October 18, 2021

Is a variable mortgage still the way to go?

Is now the time to lock in your mortgage? Some people certainly think so.

AdTraditionally, a five-year fixed-rate mortgage would be 1% to 2% higher than the five-year variable rate, depending on the prevailing yield curve. Today, you can get a five-year fixed mortgage for much lower than that. 

Most studies says that variable-rate mortgages have worked out to be better than fixed-rate mortgages over the past 25 years. And the difference was fairly dramatic, saving consumers thousands in potential interest costs. But is this likely to be the case going forward?

Maybe not, says Rob McLister, who tackles the issue head on this week on his excellent Canadian Mortgage Trends blog. Read his rationale here.

Aggressive brokers are selling five-year fixed rates at 3.25% or less. That’s an unusually low half a percentage point premium compared to a variable choice and "a spread that tight doesn’t come around often, and it makes you rethink all of the research suggesting variables are the way to go," he says.

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Not even 'The Situation' can get his hands on an iPhone 4S

In the annals of consumer history, wild headlines have been made as shoppers wait in line.

IPhone4s_3upv2_Photo_Siri_Sprgbd_PIPHFor instance, in 2008, while Black Friday was raging, a Walmart worker was trampled and killed after a frenzied mob burst through the doors as the store opened. And back when the Furby was a must-have, some shoppers lucky enough to land one would buy it from the store for $35, go outside and actually sell it back to customers still waiting in line for a few hundred bucks.

Today? Well, there was no tragic death or “It” toy capitalism at play, just a delightful story for you to share with your friends.

By a few media reports, "The Situation," that fated reality star of Jersey Shore  fame, reportedly was booted from an Apple Store after trying to bully his way into an iPhone 4S.

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October 17, 2021

Should cash-strapped boards allows ads in their schools?

Okay, so, each morning come September, you manage to separate junior from his laptop and set him down at the breakfast table.

Then, after you’ve yanked the iPod headphones from his ear and turned off the kitchen TV, away he goes to school, where you hope – pray, really – he’ll be unplugged from consumerism long enough to actually learn something.

But what if, as the bus takes him down the street littered with billboards, the advertisement bombardment doesn’t stop at school? What if it actually gets worse?

The above may seem like Ray Bradbury-inspired paranoia, though it’s the fear many U.S. parents are feeling now after some cash-strapped education boards across the country signed deals to allow marketers to splash ads across their schools.

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People without significant assets less likely to marry: study

It’s no secret that Canadians have been getting married later in life and are becoming more likely to forego marriage altogether.

AdThose with at least some level of post-secondary education are more likely to tie the knot, so perhaps as more people become more educated, they’re simply delaying marriage until they’re more established in their careers.

Or, according to a recent Princeton University study, maybe it really has more to do with money.

People who lack personal wealth in the form of a car or financial assets are significantly less likely to enter into a marriage, says Princeton's Daniel Schneider.

Several studies have found that having a steady job and a good income are important factors in determining whether someone gets married. But income only explains a part of these gaps, he says.

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October 14, 2021

No shortage of pet peeves around the office: study

If hell really is other people, particularly those that are pigs, then the fact that one of the top complaints among professionals is dirty shared microwaves or refrigerators won't come as much of a surprise.

AdThat's one of the findings of an admittedly non-scientific survey conducted by LinkedIn, a high-profile social network for professionals, to find just what gets under office workers' skins.

To undercover these irritants, the study polled over 17,000 LinkedIn users in 16 countries, including 1,228 in Canada.

Other top pet peeves include:

1. People who don’t take ownership of their actions

2. Constant complainers

4. Boring meetings that start late or go way too long

5. People who consistently seem to miss your email

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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...