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December 2012

December 31, 2021

What's your money resolution for the New Year?

2012 was a year highlighted by motifs of fiscal irresponsibility, a time when terms like “debt ceiling” and “fiscal cliff” entered the mainstream lexicon.

1408768_2013_1But let’s leave that behind, shall we?

While our neighbours to the south may be battling that whole cliff thing well into the New Year, perhaps we won’t have to, leaving us 365 days to get our wallets in order.

So, what will your financial New Year’s resolution be for 2013?

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Game simulates the ongoing challenges of poverty

Sometimes, all it takes is one life-changing experience to land someone on the streets: a job loss, the death of a loved one, divorce, or some natural disaster.

CoinThat's the underlying message of Spent, an online point-and-click game game in which players are asked to make tough decisions while earning minimum wages, like those often found in retailing or fast food. 

The game was created by ad agency McKinney for pro bono client Urban Ministries of Durham to highlight the challenges and tradeoffs faced by low-income earners trying to break out of the poverty cycle.

The dilemmas in the game are based on real-life experiences of people served by UMD, which maintains a homeless shelter and outreach program for the disenfranchised.

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December 28, 2021

Unpaid overtime a growing legal problem for many businesses

A 2012 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling may have more companies rethinking how they manage employee overtime.

793500__canadian_money_The court decided that two major unpaid overtime lawsuits against CIBC and Scotiabank can proceed as class actions, alleging that bank employees were expected to work late regularly, but overtime policies made it difficult for staffers to get paid for their extra work.

The lawsuits could prove problematic for many employers — particularly small businesses, which often rely on workers to put in extra hours to get the job done, warns employment lawyer Laura Williams.

For details about these cases, go to www.unpaidovertime.ca.

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December 27, 2021

At what point do you ask your partner about their credit history?

There are no murkier waters than those governing the relationship between romance and money.

1316486_mock_credit_card_2Certainly, there are no rules, and perhaps that’s where we get stuck. There is no guidebook for when to ask, say, how much a date earns as a salary, or how much they’ve got saved in the bank.

If there is one thing becoming clear, though, it’s that the recession has lifted some of the taboo around wondering about your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s financials.

In fact, according to the New York Times, things like credit scores are now becoming as important in the dating world as a good head of hair or straight set of teeth.

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Social contacts work for men, but not women, in job hunt: report

That thud you may have heard recently is the sound of women continuing to hit their heads on that invisible glass ceiling, particularly when it comes to looking for a job.

1197499_stop_1Work experience generally helps people foster the kinds of personal contacts that can lead someone to new career opportunities, but a study from North Carolina State University suggests that this is really only true for men and that gender bias plays a key role here.

They were no more likely to find a job through informal recruitment than they were through a formal job search, the researchers maintain.

“Researchers have argued that women face lower-wage payoffs than men with similar work experience because the women have fewer opportunities to develop job skills,” says lead researcher Steve McDonald, adding that a lack of useful social connections may also be driving the gender wage gap.

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December 26, 2021

Are more expensive wines really that much better?

While many wine lovers will tell you otherwise, the most dominant flavour in that glass of Merlot may its price tag.

Wine"We’ve known for a long time that there’s a correlation between what you pay for a wine and how good it tastes to you, but this correlation only exists, of course, when people know the price," says Dan Ariely, author of The Upside of Irrationality.

To prove his point, he references the work of wine critic Robin Goldstein, whose paper detailing more than 6,000 blind tastings maintains that “individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine.”

Goldstein argues that most people buy wine based on image rather than any combination of smell or taste and that our expectations do influence our enjoyment.

As a result, when most people are given wine without seeing the label, they’re just as likely to prefer cheaper wines as compared to more expensive wines.

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December 24, 2021

Target's incoming rewards program making Cdn. stores rethink theirs

To the fanciful realization of many local shoppers, 2012 will be the last full year in Canada where there has been no Target.

173363_REDcard_iconic_DebitCertainly, it’s been a long time coming for the U.S. retailer’s expansion north, an oft-called for, much-hyped move that will finally commence next spring.

But already, Canadian consumers might be enjoying the perks.

When it opens across the nation in March, Target Canada will be unveiling a rewards program so generous it’s making the country’s own storied loyalty plans up their ante.

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Advisors challenged when dealing with same-sex couples: report

Between 2006 and 2011, the number of same-sex married couples nearly tripled, according to the most recent census data.

As a result, demand for specialized financial services has also increased, as thousands of LGBT individuals strive to get their financial houses in order and deal with complicated issues such as income splitting and estate planning.

But advisors anxious to serve this growing market say that traditional financial planning software doesn’t adequately meet the needs of such couples, the Financial Planning Association reports.  

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December 21, 2021

The cost of placing an armed cop in every school

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is back in a winless position right now, holding once again the villainous role it seems oblivious to in the wake of any American mass shooting.

But there was Wayne LaPierre today, holding a press conference in Washington to break the NRA’s silence after last week’s Sandy Hook massacre.

Said the group’s executive vice-president: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

It was the line everyone imagined he'd say, but perhaps came alongside a proposal some had not. Earlier today, LaPierre called on Congress to place an armed police officer in every school in America.

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December 20, 2021

Man puts on 70 pieces of clothing to avoid heavy baggage fee

Airline fees, it is no news to report, are getting absurd, although there’s no real way to talk about them without having it sound like an awful stand-up bit.

But then what else can we say? Not to sound like Jerry Seinfeld or anything, but the thing about airline fees is they’ll always be there, because for the most part they’re the only way airlines make money in their world of razor-thin margins. They need the mark-up.

Surely what other explanation could there have been after the recent news that Southwest would begin charging passengers a fee for … not showing up to their flights?

So under that premise, that airlines will gouge early and gouge often, it’s high time we salute a traveller that does his best to avoid paying.

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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...