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May 2012

March 07, 2022

What students should be studying at the School of Life

Elisabeth Donati, author of The Ultimate Allowance, looks at kids these days -- and by kids she actually means anyone under 30 -- and wonders what exactly they're being taught at home and at school.

"Our children aren’t learning how to take care of themselves … emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually or financially," she maintains.

"They aren’t learning how to think through problems and solve them. And they aren’t learning how to think globally for the most part. Everything is geared toward solving problems individually when in reality, we solve problems best when we work on them together."

Donati decided to compile a list of what she would want kids to learn in her school, if she started one. Here’s a sample what she's come up with so far.

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May 31, 2021

Men's offices crawling with 20% more bacteria than women's: study

In general, men are grotesque creatures. I don’t need to link you to photos of Jack Black or late-‘90s John Goodman to prove the point.

But for all the crumpled shirts, sweaty underarms and greasy hair, are men really dirtier than women? Like, “bacteria” dirtier?

In the workplace, at least, it’s a no-brainer.

According a new study, men’s offices are crawling with much more bacteria than their female counterparts.

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Duty-free limits on cross border shopping jump this weekend

And you thought the line-ups to get into the United States were too long the last time you went.

Despite the fact that prices are roughly 14% cheaper across the border, online shopping, lack of passports, border delays and the price of gas have kept many shoppers close to home.

But with the duty-free limits increasing this weekend, consumers will once again start looking south, predicts BMO Capital Markets.

Thanks largely to a weaker dollar, the price gap has dropped from the 20% price differential that BMO found last year, but higher duty-free thresholds could make up the difference.

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May 30, 2021

Facebook's disastrous IPO is the worst in a decade

You don’t need a Yale MBA to interpret Facebook’s stock chart, which might make RIM appear like the next hot thing on Wall Street.

Though what you might not realize is that Facebook’s IPO earlier this month, the most hyped of hyped public offerings, may just be among history’s worst.

According to the chart shown below, when compared against the ten largest IPOs of the past decade, Facebook’s return after five trading days was so lousy it holds one historical distinction.

It’s the poorest performing company IPO of the past ten years.

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Employees have false sense of security about current finances: Report

Employees' financial stress levels have been declining steadily for the past couple of years, says Financial Finesse, a leading provider of workplace financial wellness programs.

But that may be a sign of complacency and that those lower stress levels could actually be dangerous, causing a false sense of security that they're on track to meet important financial goals when, in reality, they're not, the company warns.

Financial Finesse found that while employees’ financial wellness is still higher than it was at the height of the recession, it has slipped recently in a few key areas.

One giant red flag, according to their most recent report, is that while 16% of employees report having no financial stress, 68% also say they're unprepared for retirement. As well, a majority don’t have a will or trust established and only half say they have enough life insurance to protect their family.

That doesn't sound right.

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May 29, 2021

Denver's parking meters are the least fun in North America

Because much of Canada, had you injected them with truth serum, would tell you paying for parking is stupid, it’s no surprise Canadian drivers get creative when stashing their cars.

There’s the “find a business lot” trick, where you utilize company spaces during the evenings/nights when no one’s there. There’s the “tailgate, tailgate, tailgate” manoeuvre, where you enter a garage but instead tailgate another driver when it’s time to leave so you don’t have to pay. And of course there is the simpler “get lucky” strategy, where you find a meter with time still left on it by the previous driver.

But oh no, the city of Denver is saying. The latter will be no more.

According to CBS out of Colorado, Denver is testing a new pilot program for sensor-equipped meters, which would wipe out whatever fun could possibly be left in public parking.

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How much does it cost to quit smoking?

Some 6 million people in Canada are smokers, and many of them wish they weren't. About two thirds of smokers say they'd like to quit and have tried at least once to break the habit.

For the few who go cold turkey, the costs of quitting may be minimal. Others can spend hundreds of dollars on gum, patches, inhalers, nicotine replacement systems and hypnosis.

Although costs vary, quitting generally costs about $150 a month, according to Dr. Michael Fiore, director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. One-on-one counseling may add to the tab.

Some provinces now have subsidies for some people to cover smoking cessation programs.

Others, like B.C, pick up the tab for prescription meds. Often though, you're on your own although a friend of mine's insurance covered much of the cost of her smoking-cessation regimen.

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May 28, 2021

If you found cash, would you take it or turn it in?

Good Samaritans come in all shapes and sizes, but may primarily fit into two groups: those that’ll do the right thing in public, and those that’ll do so when no one’s looking.

For instance, you may be likely to hold a door or help a senior cross the street, but what if you found, say, a bunch of cash and nobody was around to see?

Would you take it and run? Would you turn it in? What would you do?

Two recent cases out of the U.S. show the consequences of both making off and making nice with found money.

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Is the high cost of living alone worth the price?

The percentage of North Americans living by themselves has doubled since 1960, so much so that roughly 28% of all households now consist of just one person -- the highest level in history.

Is this a natural state? Absolutely, maintains sociology professor Eric Klinenberg, in his book Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. In fact, people will live alone whenever and wherever they can afford to do it, he insists. 

The proof is what comes out of their pockets, since 'singletons' willingly pay a premium for the privilege of living alone.

Loosely put, the cost of living is the square root of the number of people living together. So if you live with someone else, whether they're a roommate or a significant other, you’ll pay about 70% of what you would pay if you were living alone.

But the money doesn't matter for most people, Klinenberg believes. It's simply the cost of freedom. Living alone comports promotes freedom, personal control and self-realization — all prized aspects of contemporary life.

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May 25, 2021

American CEOs earn plenty more than their Cdn. counterparts

You might think CEOs are all part of the same posh fraternity, but in fact the pay scale for chief execs differs greatly between nations.

In Canada, for instance, CEOs are festooned with riches – the average compensation among the top 100 paid chief execs equals 189 times what the typical Canadian earns each year – but how does pay stack up with top businessmen and women south of the border?

Compensation data out of the U.S. was released today, and on average terms, pay discrepancies between Canadian and American CEOs may not strike you.

But work up the list to the highest-paid execs in the U.S., and Canada’s richest CEOs start to look like a bunch of rags.

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May 23, 2021

Even Mark Zuckerberg is selling off Facebook stock

Here were the words of one top money man last week regarding Facebook stock:

“This baby’s got legs!”

I was speaking with the investor, who I’ll allow to remain nameless in light of how his prediction's turned out, ahead of the social network’s IPO, when speculators seemed to be split in two camps: 1) Facebook doesn’t earn; stay away, and 2) Anything with 900 million-plus users can’t possibly flop; get in while it’s still cheap.

In four days of trading, Facebook certainly hasn’t shown it has legs, and today a tough harbinger has hit the company. Even Mark Zuckerberg is selling.

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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...