Money management

July 11, 2021

Paying in cash may help keep you healthy

It’s no secret that people spend more money when using credit cards compared to cash purchases, or that consumers also spend less when they look at their expenses in detail.

Dol This just in: Shoppers who pay with plastic are also more likely to make impulsive junk food purchases than those using cash, according to a recent study from the Journal of Consumer Research.

In one experiment, participants — who thought they part of a market research study for a large retail chain — were asked to evaluate a series of 20 items, which unknown to them had been independently evaluated as either a “vice” (e.g., cookies, donuts) or a “virtue” (oatmeal, granola bars).

After viewing each item, participants had to decide whether to toss it into their shopping cart or continue on to the next item. The result: Those who’d been told that they could use any of four popular credit cards were more likely to buy the unhealthier products.

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June 15, 2021

Investors employ lifeboat drill to develop a sense of the future

The last few weeks in the Canadian market have been difficult ones and you can’t be certain as to
what’s in store in the near future. In the mean time, investors are being told to resist the temptation to pull the trigger.

Life Trying to control your portfolio in response to world events provides a short-term illusion of sound decision-making, but may come at a long-term cost, warns David Crowder, a consultant at Russell Investments.  

It’s important to understand that it's changes in your life, often made by choice, that have a far greater impact on your wealth than any collection of current events.

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June 09, 2021

Are green mortgages starting to take off?

While Canadians are interested in reducing their impact on the environment, the decision to buy a "green home" is really being driven by saving cash, according to a recent survey.

Green Despite saying all the right things, more than 59 per cent of respondents cite financial savings as the main reason for making eco-friendly upgrades and purchases.

The trend toward green living has encouraged Canadian banks to start offering "green mortgages," which offer home buyers a discounted interest rate and other incentives to buy more environmentally sensitive houses or perform upgrades aimed at lowering their environmental footprint.

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May 16, 2021

The lives of the rich and sad

Ever wonder what it might be like to be really rich? Not going to happen? Well, have a look at the most recent issue of The Atlantic and you may feel a bit better.

Mag “The Secret Fears of the Super Rich” delves into the results of revealing study of the very rich (in this instance, folks with a net worth of more than $25 million) from Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy.

Paul Schervish, a sociology professor and the college's director, has been studying the lives and philanthropic habits of the super-wealthy for some time now.

And, guess what, they’re just like that nervous guy next door, exhibiting a surprising litany of anxieties including their sense of isolation, their worries about work and love, and most of all, their fears for their children.

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May 05, 2021

Mom, do you make more money than daddy?

The question of how much – and how – to talk to kids about family finances often stymies even the most dedicated parents.

Ad While kids don’t necessarily need to know exactly how much money you make, they do need to know how the world works. Children, as they grow, need to learn what money means, how much it costs to buy things, and how the money to buy things is earned.

But what if they seem to be trying to figure out who’s the primary breadwinner?

It’s a tricky question, and as with most such money queries, you should probably begin by trying to figure out why the child is asking. Why would it matter which parent makes more money?

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May 04, 2021

How to identify and build your investor identity

There’s lots of evidence to suggest that most of us have innate irrational biases that lead to poor decision-making. Worse still, in times of crisis the reasoning part of our brain actually shuts down a bit, increasing our likelihood of making poor decisions.

Psy “There is nothing more emotional and irrational than the relationship people have with their money,” Frank Murtha, head of Market Psych, told a group of advisors last week in Toronto.

Fear and greed, always at odds, are the two strongest emotions at play in investing, says Murtha whose firm often works with advisors to help them incorporate investor psychology concepts into their businesses.

“Fear crushes greed; it’s not a fair fight because the pain of loss and its emotional imprint is two-and-a-half times greater than the joy of any gain,” Murtha explains.

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May 03, 2021

Is cross border shopping getting easier?

The wave of virtual shoppers doing regular business with sites south of the Canadian border continues to rise. Buying from U.S.-based merchants is easier than it once was and, given the current strength of the loonie, more affordable than ever.

Cross Yet unspoken costs, from tariffs to shipping fees, can change that equation in a hurry. On top of this, credit card companies charge heavily for currency conversion.

Canadians commonly encounter two potential roadblocks that prevent them from ordering online or by phone from U.S. retailers, warns the Crossbodershopping site:

Some U.S. companies aren’t interested in shipping to Canada and those that do often have prohibitively expensive shipping fees. Many shipping tables don't include Canadian addresses, so you won't know the total cost of each order until checkout.

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May 02, 2021

Controversial website highlights financial advisors, warts and all

Finding an advisor is often a hit-and-miss process driven by word-of-mouth referrals. It's not easy to sort through the alphabet soup of credentials and find an advisor who fits your needs.

Ad That’s why Brightscope, which offers online performance measurement tools for 401(k) and other pension plans in the U.S., recently launched a free service to help people research and shop for financial advisors.

BrightScope Advisor Pages pulls together a variety of public data that most consumers would have trouble finding into a single view, and allows users to search and compare advisors based on qualifications, amount and types of assets under management and area of specialty.

It also lets you see red flags such as legal disputes, customer complaints and regulator actions as well.

BrightScope says its aim isn't to punish unscrupulous advisers. The company hopes that once its directory pages become more popular, advisors will embrace them as a marketing tool and upload extras such as pictures, information about their practices and perhaps even performance data.

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April 26, 2021

Are online coupons soon to replace weekend flyers?

The days of clipping coupons from newspapers and flyers may be over.

Coupon Another new digital coupon service launched last week. Unlike group buying sites, however, it’s not designed to offer deals on spa treatments or restaurants.

Instead, the service from SavingStar will work with the loyalty cards handed out at large U.S. grocery chains to give extra discounts on everyday items such as juice, paper towels, and diapers.

Although online coupons account for only one percent of all coupons distributed, they account for about 10 percent of all coupons redeemed, said Susan Gear, group vice president for digital at Catalina which provides a similar service.

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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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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...