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April 2012

April 30, 2021

Virginia woman wins $1M lotto jackpot twice in same day

Perhaps the last thing you need to hear on tax deadline day is about people actually winning money, not having it ripped from their cold, clenched hands.

In any case, such a story needs to be shared.

Weeks after three public school employees took home the record $656 million Mega Millions, another lotto has made an American rich, though this time in a most peculiar way.

In Virginia, a woman won the state’s $1 million Powerball jackpot -– twice in the same day.

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What happens when wives make more than their husbands?

Over the last 25 years, there has been an astounding surge in the proportion of wives who make more than their husbands.

Statistics show that something like 40% of working wives in the U.S. and an estimated 30% in Canada already earn more than their male partners, a shift that's projected to continue through the next decade, claims Liza Mundy in her book The Richer Sex: How the new majority of female breadwinners is transforming sex, love and family.

The next generation of women, Mundy calls them 'breadwomen', will easily do better than their husbands since they already hold more university degrees and managerial jobs and also work in more knowledge-based settings.  

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April 26, 2021

How much would cigarettes have to cost for smokers to quit?

God love ‘em, but there is no demographic on earth more stubborn than smokers.

‘Cause, come on: they’re not dumb. Each smoker knows the risks, knows the substantial, detailed information on what a lifetime of smoking is likely to do to your body, so it’s fair to say everyone that lights up willingly enters this dangerous contract. This, you would think, is not in dispute.

So, then, what’s a nation to do? For countries like Canada, whose publicly-funded healthcare system is bogged by smokers, we tax, tax, tax. Increases of a few cents here and there, a few dollars each pack over the course of a decade.

But you would say, by and large, this has failed. For every smoker you know that’s cut back because of increasing prices, you know ten that smoke the same but just gripe more about how much it’s costing them. So we wonder … what is the number that would finally price smokers out of their habit?

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Are you willing to pay more for green products?

Everyone talks about buying socially and environmentally superior products. But, when they're alone in the shopping aisle and it’s just them and their wallet, it seems people rarely fork out more for “green.”

In a recent survey, nearly half of the respondents (46%) say they're more inclined to buy a product if it's  eco-friendly, but 59% admit they'd be unwilling to pay a higher price for an eco-friendly product or service over one that is not eco-friendly.

The problem seems to be that most consumers believe organic and eco-friendly products are good for the planet, but they aren't certain how big a difference these products actually make. And they certainly don't feel like paying more for them.

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April 25, 2021

Pizza Hut Middle East unveils cheeseburger stuffed crust pie

It’s a bit of irony that in Canada and the U.S., where waistlines don’t exactly resemble Calista Flockhart’s and writers use references to forgotten late-‘90s actresses, our fast food options are relatively tame.

No, really. It may seem that with items like the Baconator and Double Down we’re on a fast track to heart attack hell, but the big fast food chains from home often offer even more outrageous products at their restaurants abroad.

There is the Mega Egg at McDonald’s in Japan. There was the seven-patty Whopper at Burger King in the island nation, too. And released just this month at Pizza Hut in the U.K.: a pizza with a stuffed crust made of hot dogs.

Though, says Pizza Hut’s Middle Eastern outfits, is hot dogs the best you can do?

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Insurers back away from "income for life" products

Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefit or GMWB plans were the first fail-safe retirement income products to hit the Canadian market. Soon, it seems, they'll be fewer of them.

GMWB plans are insurance products that work much like a very expensive mutual fund with a guaranteed withdrawal rate. Essentially, the insurance company guarantees you access to an income stream based on your original investment.

Desjardins Financial Security is the latest insurer to suspend sales of its guaranteed retirement income product. They likely won't be the last

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April 24, 2021

How emotion dictates how we pay down debt

So much about debt is emotion.

618061_walletAfter all, 99 times out of 100 it’s our own doing we’ve spent beyond our means, emotion being the catalyst that dictated our mood when we bought that jacket, signed up for that smartphone or agreed to take that loan.

Then, why shouldn’t paying down debt be about emotion, too?

By a recent study from marketing professors and behavioural economists, the way we pay back our loans is intrinsically tied to how it makes us feel. Though perhaps we do so in a way that’s not always to our benefit.

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Are you paying too much for home insurance?

The rapidly changing makeup of home insurance rates means that finding the right company at the right time may be the best way to save on insurance costs.

On average, Canadians pay $840 annually for their home insurance, according to recent numbers from InsurEye, a Vancouver company that provides online analysis to help buyers manage their insurance.

The highest level of home insurance premiums is in British Columbia at $924 annually, followed by Alberta with $912 annually. Annual home premiums in Ontario go as high as $828, and in Quebec they reach $768 per year.

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April 23, 2021

How to call in sick without compromising your job

According to a 2007 report by Mercer Human Resources Consulting, the average worker takes about five sick days a year, despite being offered eight or nine on average.

505275_migraineWhat’s the catch? Well, likely most employees don’t need nearly two weeks of sick days, though what’s also probable is workers, legitimately under the weather, don’t quite know how to call in sick without alienating their bosses.

Indeed, guilt often runs as high as fevers when it comes to missing work, though many HR sources say it shouldn’t – in fact, in many cases you might be doing the office a favour by staying away when you’re sick.

How do you call in sick without compromising your job? Here’s a few ways to try.

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If someone found your wallet, would you reward them upon its return?

Most of us have probably experienced that "I'm gonna puke" feeling when you realize that you’ve lost your wallet, phone, or perhaps even worse, computer.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife lost hers although she didn't know it at the time. Later that day, she got a call from the police explaining that a young man had found her wallet inside the grocey store and dropped it off to them -- intact.

She couldn't track him down and that was the end of it. But, if she had been able to find him, we would have offered him some money, along with our heartfelt thanks.

Would you do the same?

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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...