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September 2013

September 30, 2021

Man told to demolish $3.3 million dream home

One home owner learned a lesson the hard way. While you can change the decor of your house any way you want, it's a different story when you try to change your home's structure.

A British businessman was told to demolish his two million pounds ($3.3 million) dream home after he made extensive changes. While city council approved him to add 45 per cent more floor space to his home and change a new roof, he went far beyond that.

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Homeless survive using bitcoins

Bitcoins are becoming an acceptable form of digital currency around the world, so much so that the homeless are turning towards it to survive.

A homeless man in Florida is paid in bitcoins to drive traffic to videos. While Jesse Angle relies on food stamps, the extra money makes sure he has enough for meals every day, according to Wired magazine. It sounds surprising, but Angle has access to a laptop (other homeless friends he knows have access to smartphones), free Wi-fi and it helps that the digital currency keeps him safer from being robbed.

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Are joint credit cards ever a good idea?

Linking your credit with another person's credit always has the potential for risks and rewards.

Joint credit card accounts were once quite popular, since they allow couples to share cards, giving  stay-at-home partners with little or no income access to credit since the account is in the names of both people.

But one income families are the exception these days, with the result that some issuers are turning away from joint accounts, arguing that they no longer fit the times.

What's more, since credit issuers in the U.S. are no longer allowed to use income as a factor in rejecting a credit card application, most vendors have simply lost interest.

Shared cards might work where both parties have conservative spending habits, compatible financial goals and are truly committed to each other. But that doesn't always happen. It might be obvious to you which expenses should be put on the card and which shouldn't but one person's "obvious" may be another's "I don't see the problem!"

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September 26, 2021

One in five Canadians expect they'll be working forever: report

Today's retirement challenge? Too much life, not enough savings.

So much so, that nearly one in five Canadian workers (17%) are fairly sure they'll never be able to afford to retire fully, according to study released by global bank HSBC.

Among the 15 countries surveyed, Canada had one of the largest proportions of workers who feel this way, followed closely by the United Kingdom (19%) and United States (18%).

Of those who are divorced or separated, the number jumps to 24% -- another indicator that so-called grey divorces, where a growing number of people are ending their marriages in their later years -- continue to crimp retirement plans.

Late-in-life divorce means that there's much less time to rebuild retirement assets and the numbers are startling.

The divorce rate among middle-aged and older adults has doubled during the past two decades, and the rate was 2.5 times higher for remarriages than for first marriages, according to figures from the National Center for Family & Marriage.

 Whereas if you were younger, in your 30s or 40s and you’re involved in a divorce and division of assets, there is still some time left to rebuild those assets,” she said.

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September 25, 2021

Ex-Trader Joe president plans to open grocery store selling 'expired' food

Would you buy “expired” food? Doug Rauch, an ex-president of Trader Joe’s, is hoping you will with his new store, The Daily Table, launching next year in Dorchester, Boston.

He plans to help with food waste by using groceries close to their expiry date or slightly past and transforming them into healthy meals, such as soup, salad and casseroles. The store will also have a teaching kitchen to teach people how to create easy, healthy meals. They will also sell milk that’s past it’s expired sell date for $1 a gallon, according to the Boston Globe.

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Have you ever lied to your partner about money?

According to a recent study, roughly one in five couples have deceived their partners when it comes to money. Are you among them?

Eighteen per cent of Canadians admit they've kept a secret from their partner about how much money they have spent, saved or have hidden. Thirteen per cent of females admit to secret spending, for instance, compared to only six per cent of males.

In another study, close to 20 per cent of all men and women admit the reason they hide their spending habits is because the truth would worry their partner or cause friction in their relationship.

That's nice of them, except that not being upfront about money has a lot more to do with power and control than hurt feelings. 

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September 24, 2021

Is this finally the beginning of the end for BlackBerry?

After announcing that it would lay off close to half of its workforce and getting killed by last week’s whopper of an earnings warning, struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry may soon be acquired by a consortium led by its biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial.

The going-in price? $9 a share -- way way below BlackBerry's price in the years before the iPhone ate its lunch

The company's shares closed below that number, however, suggesting that investors don't see much upside just yet despite trading volume that was close to triple the daily average.

Fairfax CEO Prem Watsa, who has a longstanding reputation as a value investor, plans to take a page out of Dell's book by taking the company private and refocussing it on the business market.

But that's not going to be easy.

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September 23, 2021

Most expensive Canadian condo sold for $40 million in Vancouver

It is not surprising that the most expensive condo sale in Canada would happen in Vancouver. A Middle Eastern royal paid a whopping $40 million for a penthouse suite and the unit underneath in the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel.

It's a record amount with the deluxe penthouse suite selling for $25 million and the other unit putting the total sale over the top, according to the Vancouver Sun. The condo sits in Coal Harbour, an area known for its pricey properties.

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Do you care if the companies you buy from are socially responsible?

Do consumers care if the companies they buy products and services from are socially responsible? Very definitely, according to various surveys from Neilson. And those in the developing world seem to care just that much more

Consumers in Asia Pacific (55%), the Middle East and Africa (53%) and Latin America (49%) are more willing to pay extra for products and services from socially-responsible companies than consumers in North America (35%) and Europe (32%).

The research shows that, more than ever, consumers expect more from the businesses where they shop. And their motives for buying such products are primarily altruistic, with most reporting that they view their purchases as a way to help improve society or reduce environmental damage.

Sixty-three percent of these "socially-conscious consumers" are under age 40, and regularly consult social media about making purchase decisions and their priority causes are environment, education and hunger.

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September 20, 2021

How much is that goat in the window? Try $3.6 million

A businessman in Saudi Arabia fetched a nice payday thanks to his goat. A herder bought the goat for a hefty 13 million Riyals ($3.6 million US), according to a local newspaper.

While experts have said that the goat had unique features and was a rare breed, the amount of dough put out for it is a still mind boggling. Why buy a goat when you can buy a nice mansion? Unless whoever made the purchase already has that.

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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...