General News

August 24, 2021

Is it ok to use your old student ID to save a buck?

Last week, the Globe and Mail shared a list of tips on how to get student discounts long after you’ve graduated.

Stu As long as their face continues to resemble the photo on their student ID, many recent grads or drop outs seem anxious to take advantage of any possibility of a student discount.

Who really checks? And what's the harm, after all? 

First off, there are clear ethical issues with asking for a price break when you’re no longer in school. It’s actually dishonest or at least a bit sneaky, depending on your point of view. 

But is it any worse than asking for a senior’s discount when you look older but don’t actually fall into the correct age range?

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March 15, 2022

Wait, 'DON'T donate money to Japan'?

What’s the one thing we’ve learned about donating money over the years?

Istockphoto_14218389-charity-sign Make sure.

Indeed, the world has seen too many charity scams – or, maybe more commonly, charity misappropriations – to just blindly give anymore. We all want to know: where is this money going?

So it may come as a surprise to some that there’s even a debate over helping out with Japan. As the island nation lies in ruins, at least one person is suggesting the unthinkable, which is for us not to donate right now.

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April 03, 2021

Lipstick effect grips consumers

Money-stretch By Dawn Cuthbertson, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Wandering in and out of shops with friends on a sunny Saturday recently, I saw the lipstick effect at work.

Around since the Great Depression, the lipstick effect shows how women tend to shy away from expensive purchases during times of economic hardship. Instead, they'll splurge on a relatively cheap item like lipstick to make them feel better.

So while high-end retail stores and plastic surgeons report declines, cosmetic companies typically do well during recessions. Lipstick sales reportedly doubled in the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

In this instance, my friend knew she was in trouble before she got into the change room. In her hand was a beautiful spring dress with a $250 price tag. 

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February 23, 2022

Your finances and that dream car

Genesis2 By Errol Muirhead, Sympatico / MSN Finance

I saw my dream cars this weekend at the Toronto auto show. I had the chance to see them up close and imagined myself behind the wheel of each and every one. I was in car heaven.

But there was one distinct aspect of all these dream cars that rudely awoke me from my blissful day slumber: the price tag. It was a rude awakening. They all cost a great portion of my mortgage and few wanted my first-born child and a part of my anatomy as down payment just so that I could make decent monthly payments.

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February 20, 2022

Are winter getaways a good way to splurge?

Vacation By Dawn Cuthbertson, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Now that I have a better handle on my finances, I've enjoyed watching my savings account grow. Turns out I don't have to be a hermit to save money, as long as I pay myself first and am very selective with my "fun funds."

My new basic motto: I have to deem it a “10 out of 10” to spend.

I had not planned to take a trip south this winter. For the sake of my savings account, I was determined to face winter like a trooper and pray for an early spring without complaining too much. Even when I was soaked with dirty slush (head to toe) waiting for the bus a few weeks ago. Even when that pesky groundhog called for six more weeks of winter.

Then curiosity got the better of me.

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January 22, 2022

6/49 jackpot to hit $43 million

By Dawn Cuthbertson, Sympatico / MSN Finance

A sigh of relief could be heard from my apartment this morning as I heard the radio announcer say that no one won last night's Lotto 6/49 jackpot.

Despite my intention to buy a ticket for the $33 million prize yesterday, I forgot. Plain and simple.

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January 14, 2022

Shopping, but not spending

By Dawn Cuthbertson, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Friends excitedly told me about the steals they were finding in stores after the holidays: items marked down 50-70 per cent and good sales at retailers notorious for never having them.

I admit I was curious but in an effort to keep my savings account growing, I stayed away.

Until Saturday.

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January 08, 2022

When gambling becomes a gamble

Moneybags By Dawn Cuthbertson, Sympatico / MSN Finance

What a week Ontario's Thomas Noftall had. It started with elation over winning $135,000 from a scratch lottery ticket, followed by speculation that it might be a hoax. Next came frustration when his worst fears were confirmed and ended with some level of satisfaction over an "undisclosed" settlement.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on who's at fault (OLG, printer) and how Noftall should be compensated, if at all.

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December 01, 2021

Everything old is new again...

Dionblog120108 by Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

And we wonder why voter turnout - particularly among the young - has hit a record low.

The guy who was rejected just a few weeks ago in his bid to form a Liberal government is now emerging as a contender to lead a coalition that may lead the country -- at least until his replacement is chosen next May. That's right, Stephane Dion is, however improbably, on a roll.

If that's not enough to give you pause, the forces behind an immediate $30-billion economic stimulus package is growing among members of the political faction that's been stitched together like Frankenstein to overturn the Tory attempt to rescind their public funding.

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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...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

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...