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December 2011

December 13, 2021

Just how far are you willing to drive for cheaper gas?

Just how far are you willing to drive for cheaper gas? About 3 to 5 kilometres, say most MSN readers in a recent poll. Although a few would range as much as 10 kilometres. Ad

Although gas prices are expensive everywhere, some stations do sell it for a bit less than others. But does it really pay to shop around a bit?

In a big city, with a variety of prices available at stations within a few miles and even blocks of each other, maybe. But that takes time, although sites like GasBuddy and Ontariogasprices can at least help you avoid driving around checking out signs. 

Obviously, at some point the price of driving outweighs the savings. Here’s a quick calculator (in gallons, however) that can help you figure things out. And then, of course, there’s the cost of waiting.

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December 12, 2021

Norway, where butter costs nearly $500 a pack

Norway is one of the richest countries on earth. It is, if you consider the measure of public policy group The Legatum Institute, the most prosperous nation of all.

Yet all is not well in Norway as the holidays near.

At a time when baking is at a premium, an acute butter shortage is causing a bit of a goofy panic for the dairy product in the Scandinavian nation.

But it’s not just housewives facing line-ups at the supermarket. We’re talking entire families not being able to afford a pack of butter.

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Do taller people really make better investors?

Taller people, especially among men, earn more than their shorter colleagues, says Andrew Leigh, an economist at the Australian National University. Being six feet tall raises annual income by almost $1,000, compared with men two inches shorter, he maintains.

AdThis may be because tall people in today's society have greater self-esteem and social confidence than shorter people, researchers suggest.

The biggest link between height and salary seems to appear in sales and marketing positions — careers in which customer perception generally has a major impact on success.

Height can also be a predictor of how individuals choose to manage their money, says University of Texas professor Alok Kumar. 

In fact, the effect of height on our financial decisions is second only to actual wealth, Kumar suggests: "It is known that wealthier people will hold riskier assets and take more chances. Some have thought that after wealth, age or education would be the next-best predictor. Height, however, beats all of those."

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December 09, 2021

Don't buy these items 'til after Christmas

By 2011, in the era of pepper spraying shoppers, our calendars now are defined by shopping milestones.

1284253_sale_tagWe know it’s winter when Super Bowl sales are on, just as we know fall’s approaching when back-to-school promos start running. When the Black Friday buzz begins, Americans’ mouths start watering (and Canadians, um, consider whether the U.K. has a hand in our … oil sands project?); when it’s time for Christmas sales, similarly, our instincts tell us to brace for approximately 75 terrible holiday parties.

Yet on that last note – even though holiday sales are on, not everything’s a steal.

In fact, where your pocketbook is concerned, it’s probably best to buy several items after the New Year instead.

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December 08, 2021

Putting Albert Pujols' new contract in context

Drinks today are on Albert Pujols.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the free agent slugger has just signed a ten-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels, worth “at least” $250 million. His former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, is now left holding the bag.

Yet while this isn’t business news, and you don’t need EverydayMoney.ca to tell you $250 mil is a lot, Pujols’ contract nonetheless puts him in a salary category nearly all his own.

Meaning, in terms of earning power, only the most egregiously compensated CEOs can catch him now.

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Ontario guidelines for rent increases please nobody

As housing prices continue to rise, more and more potential buyers are opting to rent, fueling a bit of a rental shortage in some urban centres. And then there's all those people who couldn't afford to buy a house no matter what.

AdOne factor driving people to rent is an uncertain job market. Despite low mortgage rates, people are reluctant to get tied down in a mortgage if they don't know where they'll be working next.

To ease the squeeze on tenants facing maximum rent hikes of 3.1 per cent next year, residential rent increases would be capped at 2.5 per cent starting in 2013 under legislation proposed this week by the Ontario government.

Click here for a historical view of previous rent increase guidelines. The average from 2004 to 2011 was 1.89 per cent whereas it was 3.17 per cent from 1993 to 2003.

Not surprisingly, landlords are already starting to howl: “The government is unilaterally imposing a cap without any discussion with an entire industry and is initiating a policy that will be particularly devastating for small landlords," says Vince Brescia, president of the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario.

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December 07, 2021

Passing family businesses to survivors can be complicated

Family-owned businesses face unique issues — succession planning, marriages and divorces, complicated relationships — as well as the routine issues that come with being self employed.

AdThe death of a business owner creates real challenges for the surviving family, however. The newly widowed faces the most dramatic upheaval possible on the home front and often assumes the new responsibility of running the family business.

Sometimes though, those left behind just want to cash out. Now, however, new wills legislation planned for Alberta could make passing family businesses on to the next generation a bit more difficult. 

In fact, changes to Alberta's Wills and Succession Act scheduled for 2012 could mean that some surviving spouses might end up with so much of the estate that a business cannot continue.

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December 06, 2021

40% of Canadians experience workplace bullying: report

Back in May, we discussed workplace bullying in this space.

It’s a tough subject, and we wondered: who could blame victims from fearing retribution should they speak up? As one commenter put it, “If you report the problem, you become the problem.”

Indeed, as in schools, bullying has no upside in the office, yet just how many Canadian workers might be affected by workplace bullies?

As many as 40 per cent, according to the latest estimate.

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Does Canada's pension system deserve a passing grade?

One year ago, Canada had the 5th best retirement-income system in the world. A year later, that really hasn’t changed much, according to the most recent study of worldwide pension systems by Mercer and the Australian Centre for Financial Studies.

AdThe study measured the overall pension benefits that are being provided to the citizens of 16 countries, the likelihood that those systems will be able to provide benefits in the future, and the integrity of each country's private retirement plans.

And, same as last year, Canada scores decent but not overwhelming marks. In fact, Canada earned a low “B” grade for its pension-plan system, according to the 2011 Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, the same grade awarded to Sweden and the U.K.

The Netherlands and Australia earned the highest grades, a B+, for the respective pension schemes. Read the entire Global Pension report here.

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December 05, 2021

Need a job? Facebook is hiring

In a world where much of what we’ve seen about Facebook is through The Social Network ’s lens, the web company seems like a pretty great place to be.

Sprawling, open office space. The site founder and boss sitting at a nondescript desk, right in the heart of the action. Business cards that read “I’m CEO, b*tch.”

Of course, we know that The Social Network  isn’t entirely true, though there are plenty of hints that working at Facebook would be a professional experience unlike any other.

And now, it’s hiring.

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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...