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February 2012

December 03, 2021

Have you used Airbnb to rent out rooms in your home?

Would you rent out rooms in your home? Toronto's Lisa Marion has. She's been using Airbnb, a popular site that streamlines the process of renting out extra bedrooms for short-term home and apartment stays.

What's not to like? Avoid high hotel rates, get to stay in neighborhoods where there probably aren’t hotels at all and connect with plugged-in local hosts as well. Plus, the best listings will have plenty of photos and reviews from other users.

Ask someone who lives in a condo building how happy they'd be if their neighbour was using Airbnb a few days a week though.

At the best of times, the landlord-tenant relationship can be tricky. But when you're then subletting the  same space, it becomes even more complex -- particularly when you find you're actually breaking the law

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February 29, 2022

Two-thirds of consumers switched providers in the past year: study

If you're still with the same wireless provider or bank that you were last year, you’re among a minority of users. And if you actually feel any real loyalty to those providers, then you’re part of an even smaller group.

“Only an average of one in four consumers feels ‘very loyal’ to his or her providers across industries, and just as many profess no loyalty at all," according to the Accenture 2011 Global Consumer Research Study.

"Furthermore, two-thirds of consumers switched providers in at least one industry in the past year due to poor customer service.”

When asked what frustrates them most, the most common response from consumers is “having the company deliver something different than what they promise upfront.”

This frustration was the most frequently-selected issue regarding companies’ sales and marketing practices as well as companies’ customer service practices (65% and 64% of consumers, respectively, find it “extremely frustrating”).

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Woman turns tables, steals $33K from Nigerian scam artists

Sometime at the dawn of the Internet, email inboxes began filling up with the stuff of dreams.

Stock-photo-14983644-scam-letterpress-lettersIn a far-off African country, usually Nigeria, a deposed emissary, wealthy and generous to anyone that would hear his pleas, had had funds seized by his oppressive government. He needed your help.

If you would, the man, often with a name like Ndaye Banya, would ask, please send a few thousand dollars to pay for his administrative costs to free up the cash. Once it was withdrawn, Ndaye would gladly share his fortune with you.

Of course, we know now that’s the textbook rip-off known as 419 fraud, and it’s duped plenty in its time, like this woman from Oregon, who lost $400,000 in the ruse and still believes her millions are coming.

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February 28, 2022

10 minutes scanning your Facebook profile can predict what kind of worker you'll be

By now, everyone knows that pic of you holding the bong or posing with a handgun on Facebook isn’t the greatest idea.

Facebook_logoIt only took a few months after the social network’s launch for employers to realize, Hey, let’s just hop online and look what kind of idiot I’m about to hire, but they have, en masse, and the proof is in the pudding.

Some 70 per cent of recruiters and HR staffs have reportedly turned down job candidates after scoping them out on Facebook.

But according to a to-be-published report, it isn’t just the flagrantly preposterous photos of drug use or gelled hair club-losery that doom your job prospects.

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Diversity programs for new Canadians still lacking: report

With a declining birth rate, Canada will need immigrants to help drive economic growth. But does our system reward the immigrants most likely to create that growth?

While 71% of employers believe they have successful programs to integrate foreign-trained professionals into their workplaces, only 34% of such professionals feel the places they have worked have policies that welcome new Canadians, a new study says.

“While employers recognize the value of hiring new Canadians in our global economy, we’re finding workplace diversity and recruitment policies lack the bite needed to really make a difference,” says Silma Roddau, president of the Progress Career Planning Institute, a not-for-profit counselling service that tracks diversity programs.

The survey questioned 560 professionals who earned their degrees in another country and have been in Canada for between six and 15 years. Of the total, 238 were currently employed and 322 were not. 

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February 27, 2022

What it costs to be a bridesmaid

To a man, the idea of a female wedding party is just plain confounding.

No guy really knows the inner-workings of what goes on, when it happens or why. We just presume you girls take off to Vegas beforehand, pay a dude named Chaz to strip at the bachelorette party and, later, you all get gassed up and have to take dumps in a sink like Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids.

That, we’ve got figured. When it gets to paying, though, men have no idea what goes on.

Because, apparently, being a bridesmaid isn’t just part of a derisive expression. It’s expensive, too.

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Fears of someone stealing your identity overblown: report

Something many of us don't consider until it happens to us and we're playing catch up is identity theft. And it does happen, as evidenced by this busy guy from Winnipeg.

But such fears are being hyped by marketers to scare consumers into buying costly services that they really don't need, reports Consumers Union.

"More of these pitches are coming from banks, which account for more than half of the $3.5 billion a year spent on ID-theft protection subscriptions."

"In a sense, consumers who buy this protection from their banks are helping to foot the bill for services that financial institutions are obligated to provide by federal law to shield their customers from losses stemming from credit-card and bank-account fraud, says the Consumer Reports Money Adviser.

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February 24, 2022

Tooth Fairy leaving a fraction of what she used to under pillows: report

At the ground level, there are precious few economic indicators that actually resonate.

Indeed, even at the height of the recession, you couldn’t quite get a sense of the economy by sticking your head out the door, which is to that if you didn’t lose your job or house and your neighbour didn’t lose his job or house, you might’ve looked at headlines in the Wall Street Journal and went, “I don’t get what all this fuss is about.”

Yet while today’s lingering economic slump doesn’t bear the same dramatics of, say, soup lines during the Great Depression, there are plenty of ways it hits home.

Like, say, the amount of cash the Tooth Fairy’s left under your kid’s pillow.

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February 23, 2022

What does your retirement plan look like?

As North America shifts from a society of shared risk to one of personal responsibility, retirement starts to look a little more gloomy for many.  

Prospective retirees are being asked to rely less on guaranteed retirement income provided by government and defined benefit plans, less on the health care coverage supplied by Medicare and an employer-based health insurance system, and more on their own, self-funded retirement security.

And that means some serious planning, suggests research from the MetLife Mature Market Institute, which argues that too many people allow themselves to lured into a false sense of security.

What does your retirement plan look like?

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Finally, Ikea puts assembly videos on YouTube

Ikea assembly instructions have always been maddeningly vague, but I guess that’s kinda their thing.

They feature no words, kitschy graphics and this smirking bubble figure dude who, by the end of construction, you’ll be telling where he can stick his Allen key!

Still, Ikea has trumped on with their visual instructions in spite of itself – the retailer’s not-so-subtle message persisting of, “You’d be an idiot if you can’t follow these things. They are quite literally laid out for children.”

Finally, though, the furniture giant is throwing customers a bone. It’s introduced its first instruction video on YouTube.

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February 22, 2022

What Seinfeld can tell you about managing your money

Everything old is new again, it seems. Although it's been off the air for years now, the much-loved Seinfeld has been rewired to import important money lessons to a new generation of viewers. 

Fot instance, the antics of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer faithfully follow the rules of classical economics.

At least that's the contention of the economics professors behind Yadayadayadaecon.com, a site that hopes to be the definitive source of Seinfeldian wisdom, with descriptions of nearly 200 scenes and the economic principles each demonstrates.

You'll learn about dynamic pricing, incentives, cost benefit analysis, game theory and competition. And much,much more!

Consider the episode in which Elaine proposes an idea for a store that sells just muffin tops, only to have her boss open up such a store a few days later. A perfect example of the value of intellectual property rights. Then there's the cost benefit analysis on the merits of illegal cable.

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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...