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August 2013

August 29, 2021

Would you pay extra to sit in a child-free zone on planes and trains?

Unruly children remain the biggest in-flight annoyance for the majority of travellers -- ahead of drunken passengers, surly cabin crew and over-talkative neighbours, according to a recent survey.

One in three passengers dread sitting next to a crying baby or annoying toddler so much that they would be prepared to pay more to sit in a child-free zone on a plane ... as much as $75 per return flight.

Children kicking the back of seats was seen as the most annoying in-flight incident, receiving 74% of the votes, while children crying or being unruly was chosen by 61% of those surveyed.

But help is at hand. One Singapore airline is now offering passengers the option to upgrade to seats in a quiet zone -- where children are nowhere to be found.

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August 28, 2021

Ouch! Employee fakes illness to skip work and then gets fired

Every year, sites like Careerbuilder and Workopolis ask hiring managers and HR professionals about the wildest excuses they hear when employees call in sick. And there's no shortage of whoppers, particularly since something like 50 percent of workers admit that they call in sick when they're actually not.

No big deal? Everybody does it, right? Well, the boss is on to you.

One survey found that 29 per cent of employers say they regularly check up on an employee to verify that the illness is legitimate, usually by requiring a doctor’s note or calling the employee later in the day.

In addition, another 18 percent have had co-workers call a suspected faker, and 14 percent have even gone so far as to drive by their home for a closer look.

All in all, some 17 percent of employers say they've actually fired employees for giving a fake excuse about being sick.

And you could be next. That's what happened to an Alberta technician who asked his employer for a day off to play in a baseball tournament despite being told that he couldn't have the time off. 

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August 27, 2021

New app helps drivers identify parking ticket trouble spots

Parking tickets are a necessary evil for most city dwellers. Some people park illegally on a regular basis, content to receive tickets to avoid the congestion pricing.

Trouble is, tickets are being written with increasing frequency these days as cash-strapped municipalities try to squeeze revenue from every side street.

Not only are municipalities making parking costlier and more restrictive, the proceeds – which, at one time, were reinvested in parking and transportation-related services – are now being used to support other programs.

So it's not surprising that police and bylaw officers are becoming increasingly reluctant to give drivers a break. It’s happening in cities across Canada, but Winnipeg appears to be the worst.

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August 26, 2021

Canadians worry that aging boomers will overload health system

As the wave of baby boomers begin to retire, the strains of funding Canada’s health-care system will only grow over the next decade.

Combined with rising costs for most things in general, economists say health care spending, left unchecked, will become unsustainable.

So is it an wonder that so many Canadians worry about whether the country’s health system is ill-prepared to handle the needs of an aging population. 

Six in 10 Canadians lack confidence in the health system’s ability to care for Canada’s rapidly greying population, particularly those who already have experience with its approach to looking after seniors,  according to a recent study from the Canadian Medical Association.

Women, particularly those already caring for an elderly person, are among those least confident that hospitals and long-term care facilities can handle the demands of a population that's living longer than ever before.

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August 22, 2021

Investors fail to realize how rising rates kill bonds: report

If the results of the latest research are any indication, investors are in for a big shock once interest rates start rising and bond prices start falling.

In a survey of U.S. investors, investment firm Edward Jones found that two-thirds of the respondents don't understand how rising interest rates will affect their investment portfolios. Twenty-four per cent admitted they “feel completely in the dark about the potential effects.”

And it gets worse.

One-third of those between the ages of 18 and 34 admitted they have "no idea" how interest rate changes will impact their investments. While the level of awareness increased a bit with age, one-quarter of those 65 and older -- who typically gravitate to the income and perceived safety of bonds -- also indicated they had "no idea."

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August 21, 2021

Who do you think should pay when you're out on a date?

Once upon a time, men made most of the money and non-traditional couples were hard to find. In an age of somewhat higher earnings for women and a more casual approach to dating, one question remains. 

Who should pay for dinner on that all important first date? And what about the ones that follow?

Earlier this year, Learnvest surveyed over 2,000 men and women, and found that the answer differs not only between sexes but significantly by age.

When asked who should pick up the cheque on a first date, for instance, 59% of total respondents said that the man should always pay ... unless the woman has asked him out.

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August 20, 2021

Canadians entitled to settlement from class-action suit against yogurt maker

Yogurt-eating Canadians are now eligible for a little windfall from Danone Inc., thanks to a class-action lawsuit challenging the company's claims that Activia yogurt or DanActive probiotic drinks could aid digestion or prevent colds because of bacteria they contain.

During the proceeedings, Danone denied any wrongdoing, but ulitimately agreed to the settlement to avoid further court costs.

This is not the first time Danone has come under fire for its advertising practices on products. It settled a similar suit in the US as well.

Any class members in Canada who make a declaration that they purchased the products after April 1, 2021 and before November 6, 2012, will qualify for $30 in compensation, according to the terms of the agreement.

Anyone with an actual proof of purchase could qualify for up to $100, depending on the amount of yogurt they actually purchased.

To qualify, you need to fill out a claim form and send it in electronically to info@collectiva.ca. For further information, call 1-800-287-8587. 

The completed and signed Claim Form and the necessary supporting documents must be received before August 27, 2021.

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money

August 19, 2021

Mortgage investment corporations could be in for a fall: report

If you are like most investors hungry for yield, you likely have at least one real estate investment trust stashed away somewhere.

The shine has come off REITs recently, however, as bond yields have started to tick upwards. This has  prompted prospective buyers to worry about the impact that rising rates will have on REITs mortgage costs down the road.

Despite this, yield starved investors are hoping that mortgage investment corporations won't be hit in the same way. But tread carefully here, warns Hamilton Capital Managers analyst Rob Wessel in a recent report. Most MICs are riskier than you might think.

Unlike REITs, which buy income-producing properties and then use the rents to pay distributions to investors, MICs are generally more interested in funding land development and real estate construction, and they attract retail investors by offering much higher yields as a result, often in the range of 7 to 8 per cent.

A typical borrower might be someone who owns a multi-residential property owner and needs short-term cash for construction, for instance -- a loan the big bank simply can't be bothered with.

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August 16, 2021

Where the in-crowd is networking

Forget meet and greet.

Now it's connect and tweet.

According to a new study, LinkedIn and Twitter are emerging as the top social channels for many business leaders.

The 2013 CEO.com Social CEO Report found that 5.6 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs are now on Twitter compared to just 3.6 per cent last year, and 27.9 per cent are connecting on LinkedIn, up from 25.9 per cent in 2012.

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August 15, 2021

How bad hair can ruin your self-esteem

Bad hair can set the tone for the rest of your day.

In fact, women have stayed home from work, from parties and have even passed up job interviews all because of their hair.

At least that's what a new report out of the UK is telling us.

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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...