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March 2013

March 29, 2021

Don't break your budget for Easter

1391192_20157018Eggs...check. Baskets...check. Chocolate...check. Presents...check. Budget...what budget?

Believe it or not, Easter is the second biggest gift-giving holiday occasion for Canadians next to Christmas.

From organizing an Easter egg hunt for your kids to buying gifts, flowers, food, candy, visiting relatives -- it all adds up. And, if you didn't already have it included in your annual household budget you may be stretching it a little bit.

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March 28, 2021

Americans top list of illegals working in Canada: report

Following the lead of several U.S. cities, the City of Toronto recently passed a controversial 'access without fear' motion that would provide undocumented migrants access to municipal services such as food banks and homeless shelters.

The move sparked howls of protest from groups like The Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, who argue that by failing to uphold the law, Canada´s largest city has sent a message that the law doesn´t matter.

Dissenting councillor Minnan-Wong doesn't agree with the decision either, suggesting that illegals don't deserve access to government services.

“We shouldn’t encourage them. We shouldn’t help them. We should not facilitate them. They are an insult to every immigrant who plays by the rule to get into the country. They are an insult to every immigrant who is waiting to enter this country legally,” Minnan-Wong told the Toroto Star.

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Funding post-secondary education

298822_6140There's much to be said about a good education.

But if you're late getting out of the gate, how do you plan on funding your child's post-secondary education?

Graduating high school students, like my daughter in Grade 12, are just now starting to get their acceptance letters to colleges and universities. And, according to a new report by BMO Wealth Institute, a four-year university degree can cost upwards of $60,000 and yet three-quarters of Canadian parents are not prepared and only half have taken advantage of Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs).

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March 27, 2021

How much are your employee benefits actually worth?

Although they vary sharply across companies, employee benefits are designed to add value to an overall compensation package. Typically, they include things like vacation time, sick days, health and drug plans, disability benefits, life insurance, and retirement plans.

If you're lucky, they might also include items like a car or gas allowance, child-care, employee discounts, education assistance, legal assistance, gym memberships, etc.

But many people find it difficult to place a value on their benefits, preferring instead to focus on salary since it's immediate and tangible.

After all, you can't eat benefits and who says you'll even need glasses down the road?

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Coin counters: rolling with the times

CoinsI remember my father with his neat stacks of coins lined up on the kitchen table, ready to roll up into coin wrappers of every denomination.

Quarters, nickels, dimes and, of course --- lots and lots of pennies!

He had a lot of patience sorting and counting the change and I admired how he managed to stuff those neat stacks of coins into the little paper wrappers with expert precision.

Now, many banks across the country are rolling out coin counting machines to offer convenience for all that spare change laying around the house.

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March 26, 2021

Dust off your finances with a little spring cleaning

To do listAs soon as the temperature begins to rise after our long, cold Canadian winter, we tend to get a little more motivated to tackle some much needed spring cleaning around the house.

Washing windows, scrubbing floors, organizing closets, wiping and dusting are all an important part of the annual ritual.

However, there is one extra item that you should add to your household spring cleaning "To Do" list -- your finances.

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Canada Revenue Agency turns up the heat on cash businesses

The Canadian tax system relies upon self-assessment, which means, essentially, that you’re trusted to be honest in your reporting, maintain good books, and hang on to the records needed to support your claim. And most people do just that.

Every year though, the CRA highlights certain areas in search of unreported income like cash-intensive businesses, such as restaurants, for instance.

Recently, CRA has taken to double-checking reported company revenues by indirect means, such as extrapolating total sales based on tip income declared by wait staff.

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March 25, 2021

Funds using low-tax strategy under scrutiny


There's been an appetite among investors, in today's low interest rate environment, to keep more of what are already relatively low yields.

One way to achieve that result is to invest in mutual funds and ETFs that allow an investor to hold a bond portfolio, but enjoy the favourable tax treatment of capital gains. The advantage being that interest income is taxed at your marginal tax rate, while only 50% of capital gains are included in taxable income.

These so-called “advantaged” funds have become extremely popular, so much so that the government is proposing to shut them down, according Finance Misister Flaherty's most recent budget.

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March 22, 2022

Don't fall prey to tax season scams

Ca_tax_scams_guideIn 1789, the year before his death, Benjamin Franklin wrote: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

If ol' Ben was alive today, he might modify his suggestion to: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and scams during tax season."

That's because a new survey by the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA-Canada) found that one in five Canadians -- 20 per cent -- are exposed to tax season scams.

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March 21, 2022

Car-on-car crashes not sole source of major car damage: report

The familiar two-car accident may be every driver's worry, but these types of incidents actually make up made up less than half of all accidents, according to research from CarInsurance.com. 

The analysis drew on data submitted by more than 42,000 drivers who provided details on previous incidents as they shopped online for liability, comprehensive and collision policies.

“We buy auto insurance because we envision two cars careening toward each other and screeching brakes,” says Des Toups, CarInsurance.com managing editor. “But more than a third of all incidents involve things like a parked car, the weather, vandalism, hitting animals or road debris.”

The trouble is, each type of accident will likely affect insurance rates differently, he explains. Which means consumer need to get a handle on the factors that affect car insurance premiums the most.

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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...