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November 2011

November 18, 2021

Black Friday shopper already camped out at Best Buy

The wildest and most pathetic Black Friday stories are never mutually exclusive.

Earlier this week, for instance, we discussed how unemployed Americans were offering their services as satellite shoppers for consumers that didn’t want to brave store line-ups. It is a story that’s, at the core, both kinda wacky and kinda sad.

Yet the latest weird tale from Black Friday, which has endured its trampling deaths and gun threats, is the woman in Florida that’s already camped in line out front her local big box electronics store.

In other words, Occupy Wall Street is over. Occupy Best Buy has begun.

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November 17, 2021

The rush to develop caregiving products for boomers

Plastic bands that restrict movement and harnesses that make the body hunch over painfully may sound like just another late Saturday night for some, but they're just a few of the tools researchers are using to get a glimpse of what the aging of the baby boom generation might look like.

AdTo see what the future might feel like, MIT’s Age Lab, a research center designed to develop technologies and services geared to today’s aging population, created a high tech suit that’s designed to inhibit movement and sensation to better understand the physical challenges associated with aging.

Dubbed AGNES, an acronym for Age Gain Now Empathy System, the suit is worn by product developers and marketing folks looking to feel what it might be like to be a lot older and, in many instances, well heeled. 

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Cash or not, the Salvation Army is coming for your donation this year

Salvation Army kettle captains, God bless ‘em, must hear the following more often than a street escort looking like Rosie O’Donnell: “Sorry, haven’t got any cash.”

SALVATION-1-popupAnd just like that, the passerby nods, and on the charity workers go ringing their bells, braving the cold. That’s how it’s been at kettle sites on city streets and out front Walmarts for years.

But these holidays, the Salvation Army in some cities won’t let commuters and shoppers off so easy.

Many will be equipped with cell phones fitted with mobile payment systems, so anyone with a credit card – that is, most every consumer known to man – will have a tough time shrugging their shoulders when faced with solicitation this year.

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November 16, 2021

Watch out, RIM -- Apple warming up to corporate market

Today was supposed to be a good day for Research In Motion.

IPad2_iOS5_Hero_PIPHv2After all, however sorry it may be that this now passes as good news for the company, a big headline on the Star.com read last night, “RIM shares briefly outperform Apple.”

Yes, you could see it now. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, with their stock forecast upgrade and fancy new operating system, had to be feeling pretty good. Chests puffed out. Cigars freshly lit. The works.

Only, then, you read this feature in the New York Times, and suddenly the BlackBerry maker seems like the Titanic circa early April, 1912, all over again.

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What's the best day of the week to shop online?

It’s no secret that the price of most products can vary significantly based on peak season pressures, the scrutiny of price comparison sites and one-off special events like next week’s Black Friday.

AdNow, it turns out that the day of the week has a significant impact on prices as well, at least when it comes to online shopping.

One of those price comparison sites, Extrabux, along with camelcamelcamel — which updates consumers when prices fall on Amazon — analyzed prices for more than 100,000 products sold online at variety of retailers.

They found that the price of televisions, computers and stacks of other consumer products can vary by anywhere from $20 to $40 from one day to the next. As a general rule, the best day to buy electronics, for instance, is Monday.

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November 15, 2021

Your kidney is worth $150K on the black market

The North American financial system may be repairing, yet such is not the case in many regions, where recession doesn’t indicate fiscal performance of the day, rather enduring economic despair.

Indeed, poor countries are poor countries, but while residents will do anything to free their families from poverty, of course, desperate and dangerous behaviours have reached this side of the Atlantic, according to a new report.

By an investigation from Bloomberg Markets Magazine, the global black market for illegal human organs is thriving, and many are rushing in to sell parts of their body for some quick cash.

Kidneys, the report says, can be sold for upwards of $150,000 on the black market.

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How much time should a woman take off work to raise children?

In Canada, we may pride ourselves on our generous parental benefits, but even the most family-friendly employer will secretly groan when notified about an employee’s pregnancy, warns careers columnist Leah Eichler.

AdWhen you're preparing to add a new member to your family, work is often the last of your worries. But little mistakes and oversights can turn that parental leave into a big mess – which generally lands at the mother’s feet.

Taking a truncated leave can cause more problems than it solves, for instance, including exacerbating health risks for new moms.

But some employers still clearly view mat leaves as being on par with taking a year off to learn skydiving. And then there's the actual cost of repeatedly taking time off to raise kids.

So, how much time should a woman take off work to raise children? And at what point does that time away negatively affect her career aspirations?

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November 14, 2021

Don't want to brave Black Friday? Hire a shopper to do it for you

As Canadians, we look at Black Friday with a kind of removed curiosity. Like, how we follow the Penn State scandal, or the idea that anyone was ever watching Cover Me Canada.

Stock-photo-13674022-black-friday-store-windowWe hear about all the deals available south of the border, and we become jealous. Then, we hear about all the chaos, and we recoil.

But at a time when a sputtering U.S. economy may preface fewer Yanks shopping on Black Friday this year, there’s still a handy way Canadian consumers can take part.

Without even stepping foot in the States.

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Thousands of Canadians missing out on pension benefits

While it’s not Greece, Canada is still fairly comfortable place to retire.

AdA working couple who is retiring today at age 65 after earning the average industrial wage throughout their careers will receive a combined annual Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security pension of about $36,000, indexed for life.

That’s a significant amount of retirement income – which makes you wonder why so many people never get around to collecting so much of it, says consumer advocate Richard Shillington.

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November 11, 2021

Old people flourishing, young people suffering since the downturn

Back near the end of the summer, we asked a loaded question: which age group got the worst of the recession?

To oversimplify a global crisis, we spun a feature from The Atlantic to compare the economic trials the downturn levied on GenYers, GenXers and Baby Boomers.

The exercise may have treaded water – indeed, just as each group had its own rock-solid argument, MSN commenters appeared to argue the merits of all three demographics equally – though maybe we just needed more time.

Maybe we needed new data from the Pew Research Center to prove what the recession has done to the financial outlook for young and old people alike.

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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...