April 25, 2021

Mortgage brokers just want a little respect

The Canadian mortgage market has changed substantially in the past 20 years. Trust companies have been taken over by banks; small virtual banks have introduced new mortgage products; and brokers now play an important and much larger role in matching borrowers and lenders.

Mort In other words, things are a lot more competitive that they once were.

Mortgage brokers, many of whom start out as lenders with larger financial institutions, fight against platoons of mortgage specialists deployed by the banks to retain or snatch business away from them.

It's a tough business so it's no wonder that the constant slagging we view daily during the current federal election campaign seems to becoming contagious.

At issue is a flyer a maverick RBC mortgage specialist has been circulating that "grossly mischaracterizes mortgage brokers in relation to bank specialists," says Rob McLister on his CanadianMortgageTrends blog. "It’s a document that demonstrates a stunning lack of knowledge, professionalism and discretion," he adds, taking it apart point by point.

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March 10, 2022

Is Best Buy's 'buy back' program worthwhile?

Timing is everything when shopping for electronics. That's because there's always a possibility that a newer version of your favourite gear is just around the corner.

Buy Enter Best Buy’s new ‘buy back” program, a new take on trade-in programs that already exist, which usually don’t let you know how much you’ll be getting for your old stuff until you bring it in. 

Here's how the program (U.S. purchases only at the moment) works: When you buy new electronics at Best Buy, you have the option of paying a fee ($60 to $300 depending on the item and price) that will guarantee the store will buy back the item at a later date, if you're so inclined to upgrade or simply get rid of it.

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February 01, 2022

Site boosts charity of the day, $1 at a time

Yesterday, we talked about the incredible popularity of Groupon and its clones. Now there’s a similar service that draws attention to struggling non-profits that could use a little help.

Upstart Char Philanthroper follows the daily-deal styling of Groupon but instead features one charity per day, allowing you to donate as little as a dollar – most charities require a minimum of $10 or $20 – if that’s all you can manage.

The thinking here is that handing over a buck is as tempting as, say, downloading that new app or a cup of discount joe at Tim Hortons.

The tax-deductible money reaches those in need quickly, Philanthroper claims, with most featured charities drawn from six major categories – arts, education, animals, environment, human rights, and health – receiving the funds within the week.

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January 12, 2022

Huh? Products shrink but prices stay the same

Have you noticed that your favourite brands seem to be shrinking? Well, you’re on to something.

Consumer Reports recently released its findings about several products that have reduced their size by as much as 20 per cent even though their manufacturers continue to charge the same amount of money for their offerings.

"From toothpaste to tuna fish, hot dogs to hand soap, companies have been shaving ounces and inches from packages for years," CR maintains.

Manufacturers are blaming the growing cost of raw ingredients. They say they don't want to pass on price increases – so subtle shrinkage is a handy alternative.

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January 03, 2022

How effective brand names get you to buy

What do brand names like Coca-Cola, Tutti Frutti, Lululemon, Kit Kat and Jelly Belly have in common?

They roll off the tongue with a repetition that influences your spending habits, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Marketing.

Brand names containing repetitive sounds can influence our mood and thus our decision-making ability when it comes to choosing whether or not we buy certain items, claims University of Alberta marketing professor Jennifer Argo

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December 01, 2021

Envy the key to many buying decisions: Report

While people may be reluctant to admit it, "keeping up with the Joneses" remains a strong motivator when it comes to spending. And a key component of that desire is that old green-eyed monster, envy.

Cheap-cell-phones But a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that it’s the nature of your envy — whether it’s benign or malicious — that determines whether you'll pay a premium to keep up with the neighbours.

Researchers from Tilburg University in The Netherlands studied envy-triggered behaviour by asking subjects what they would do in certain social contexts. The researchers used the iPhone and competing BlackBerry smart phones in their tests.

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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...

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...