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April 2013

April 30, 2021

Canadian businesses looking to hire new grads

Now that school is out for college and university students, the race is on to find a job.

Even though employment fell by 55,000 full-time jobs in March, it is up by 203,000 over last year.

But even better news is that almost half of Canadian businesses plan on hiring students or recent graduates this year, according to a new report by BMO Bank of Montreal.

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Should couples merge their finances or keep things separate?

20 years ago, merging finances after becoming a couple wasn’t something people thought about much. Most of them married young and quickly opened joint bank accounts, got a mortgage in both names, and shared credit cards.

Younger people are marrying less and less these days, and when they do marry, they're generally older than in generations past. It’s also much more likely that both people will work and have their own sources of income.

As well, with common-law relationships becoming much more common, the whole 'merging-money' issue is simply a little more complicated than it once was. If you get together when you're older, for instance, you're likely already financially established and merging your finances may seem like too much trouble.

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April 29, 2021

More last-minute tax questions answered

Cleo Hamel.HR BlockCleo Hamel, senior tax analyst with H&R Block, answered many of the MSN audience's pressing tax questions last Friday on our live tax chat. Unfortunately, she was only able to get to a portion of the questions that were asked. Cleo has graciously answered many more questions, which we are posting below.

Questions are grouped by category and the categories are in alphabetical order. Enjoy!

Charitable contributions

  1. Question: Is it a good idea to make a charitable contribution each year? How much do you get back?
    : Charitable donations can provide a significant tax savings. You get a 15 per cent credit  on the first $200 and a credit of 29 per cent on every dollar over $200. To maximize this credit you should pool the household receipts and one person will claim the entire amount. Or you can hold on to your receipts for five years and claim them all at once.

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The key to happiness may lie in not looking so hard

Several studies have revealed that unhappy individuals are more likely than happy ones to dwell on negative or ambiguous events. 

According to psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, all of us have a happiness set point. It’s partly encoded in our genes. If something good happens, our sense of happiness rises; if something bad happens, it falls -- often drastically. But it doesn't usually stay there, at least for very long.

Our key error is that we overestimate how long and how intensely a particular negative life event (such as a diagnosis of HIV or being fired from a cherished job) will throw us into despair, and how long and how intensely a particular positive event (earning lifetime tenure or enjoying a financial winfall) will throw us over the moon, she maintains in her book The Myths of Happiness.

The primary reason that we do this is neatly summed up by the fortune-cookie maxim: "Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it."

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April 26, 2021

Canadians getting the job done by telecommuting

Most employees dread having to take their work home with them.

But that was then and this is now.

Telecommuting provides employees with the freedom to get out of the office and take their work home with them, on the road or even conduct business from a restaurant or a coffee shop.

Currently, 23 per cent of Canadian companies offer telecommuting to their employees, with large businesses more likely to offer it than smaller ones.

But do mobile employees actually get the job done?

Well, according to a new poll by BMO Bank of Montreal, 65 per cent of business owners feel that they do.

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April 25, 2021

Canadians plan on paying down debt with tax refunds

1317230_29811116It's not quite like winning a lottery, but almost 8.8 million Canadians will be getting a tax refund so far this year.

To date, 13.1 million tax returns have been filed before the April 30 personal income tax deadline. About 86 per cent of those were filed electronically, and the average refund to date is about $1,585.

If you're one of the lucky ones receiving a tax refund windfall, how do plan on spending your new found wealth? 

Well, according to a new study by BMO Nesbitt Burns, many Canadians will be paying off household debt and making investments.

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Do you think you'd buy an annuity in retirement?

Transition Boomers — those ages 55 to 65 and closing in on retirement — are more interested in protecting their retirement savings with a guaranteed return even though they realize the stock market may offer better returns over the long haul, according to to a recent survey.

87% say they'd be more interested in a financial product with a 4% return, which is guaranteed not to lose value, over one with an 8% return but which is subject to market downturns.

Despite this, only 25% say they currently own an annuity, a product that can help answer the demand for guarantees, largely because they don't feel comfortable with them, it seems.

75% of admit to a general lack of understanding, saying either “there’s a lot about annuities I’m not sure about” (37%) or “I haven’t got a clue” (38%).

And that's too bad, according to a recent C.D. Howe Institute report, which suggests that more Canadians approaching retirement should be looking at annuities.

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April 24, 2021

Taxing times for Canadian families

169849_3851Believe it or not, families are spending more on taxes than they are on the basic necessities of life.

According to a new report by the Fraser Institute, 42.7 per cent of an average Canadian family's income went towards taxes while just 36.9 per cent was spent on food, clothing and shelter in 2012.

And we wonder where our money goes.

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Homebuyers need to be on the alert for bogus claims

Most homebuyers shopping in a choppy market are taking their time. But, if you're in the minority of people who have a deadline - because of an impending birth or a new job - this environment offers both opportunities and challenges.

Some people who move too quickly are motivated by timing pressures related to relocation, while others worry they'll be living with their parents because they've sold their home a bit faster than expected.

But the bigger issue is often with stressed sellers who are simply too anxious to get out in a hurry.

When a homeowner is desperate to sell and a buyer is ready to fork over the cash, the truth about a house is often swept under the rug, experts suggest.

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April 23, 2021

Last-minute tax questions? Ask our expert


[This chat is now closed. For more answers to your questions, click here.]

April 30 is the last day to submit your personal income taxes. Have any last-minute questions? Cleo Hamel, a senior tax analyst with H&R Block, is here to help you navigate through the tax maze.

What: Tax chat

When: Friday, April 26, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

How to participate: Send in your questions beforehand here or post your questions on our Facebook page. You can also participate in the live chat by returning to this page on April 26 between 12:30 and 1:30.

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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...