Saving and retirement tips, personal finance advice, and other money-related content.

October 07, 2021

Would it hurt to drug test unemployment benefit recipients?

The fun thing about politics, left and right, is that the two ends of the spectrum clash on a routine basis.

Most famously: the Vietnam War; marijuana legalization; the recent Wall Street bailouts. But these are extreme examples. Tussles between Liberals and Conservatives happen all the time.

Like, for instance, the latest squabble in South Carolina over unemployment benefits. The issue: should recipients of employment insurance be subject to drug tests in order to claim payouts?

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Wedding rules: Is it ok to ask for cash?

Since many couples establish a household together before marriage, they often aren't in need of traditional gifts like towels, dishes and sheets.

So it’s not surprising that whether and how to ask for money as a wedding gift, without it seeming too tacky, is becoming a pressing issue for many couples formalizing their living arrangements.

The key to pulling it off without offending anyone is in how the ask is made, says Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, and the author of Do I Have to Wear White? Emily Post Answers America's Top Wedding Questions.

Here's her take on how to set the stage.

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October 06, 2021

Would you like online shopping to come to Facebook?

During the formative years of its operation, Facebook made its bones without bogging users down with advertisements and pop-ups.

As site founder Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed as saying in The Social Network, the site was supposed to represent the best party on earth. In the movie, when he’s presented with the idea of introducing ads as a means to monetize the company, Zuckerberg responds that such a move would be like taking that shindig, and shutting it down at 11.

While Facebook may have wavered a bit on its no-ad policy over the years, it’s still done a pretty good job of insulating users from the presence of the corporate world. Now, though, because of diapers, that may be coming to an end.

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The benefits of triple digit oil prices

The world isn’t running out of oil. It never will. There is something like 170 billion barrels of the stuff trapped in the Alberta tar sands and over 500 billion barrels immersed in the Orinoco tar sands in Venezuela.

But what the world has run out of is the oil that it can afford to burn. Because the very triple digit oil prices that we will turn these places into tomorrow’s Saudi Arabia will translate into the same gasoline prices that will take millions of drivers right off the road.

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New service allows investors to rate and review advisors

As anyone with university-aged kids can tell you, Rate My Professor and Rate Your Prof are popular online services that allows students to anonymously rate and comment on the professors teaching at their schools.

Just by browsing the rankings, you can find out everything you ever wanted to know – and maybe some things you didn’t – about current or future profs.

Now there’s a new Canadian research tool, called Know Your Financial Advisor, that’s built on a similar principle.

Although still in its infancy, a number of hungry advisors have signed up with the service in recent weeks, hoping to be discovered by potential clients.

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October 05, 2021

Air Canada takes a stab at Porter's Toronto island airport monopoly

Finally, cracks in the monopoly are showing.

Following Porter airline’s four-year stranglehold on Toronto’s island airport, Air Canada has made headlines this week after being granted access to shuttle flights in and out of the terminal, which boasts a valuable proximity to the city’s downtown core and business centre.

Yet while the announcement, one that also outlines Air Canada’s intention to begin flights from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport next February, may ring exciting for those flying into, out of and through Ontario’s capital, what we don’t know about the operation is cumbersome.

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Men more likely to cheat if they earn less than partner: study

Do men who cheat really outnumber their female counterparts? Is infidelity in marriage more natural to them?

It’s hard to say. Researchers suggest that men generally inflate their number of relationships and sexual partners, while women tend to be more reticent about the extent of any extramarital affairs.

But, if the polls are to be believed, men do stray more than women, and have affairs to avoid intimacy, recover their lost youth, or escape an unhappy marriage.

But a recent item goes one further, suggesting that it’s men who are economically dependent on their female partners that are more likely to wander outside the relationship. What's more, the results proved to be quite the opposite when gender and breadwinner roles were reversed.

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October 04, 2021

Guess who opposes legalizing pot -- the beer industry!

In the long campaign waged to legalize marijuana, there’s been no short supply of detractors.

1206038_dutch_weed-2_jpg After all, in spite of its relative harmlessness compared to other illicit narcotics, it may never shed its reputation as a gateway drug – the joint that leads to a line that leads to a needle sticking from your arm.

And while it may not be too difficult to make a case against legalizing pot, either, rarely has the business sector involved itself with the issue. But as California inches closer to flipping its laws against marijuana, it isn’t mother’s groups or cops shouting loudest. It may be the beer industry.

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Hello, hello? Turning the tables on telemarketers

I’m pretty sure there’s a special corner of hell reserved for telemarketers.

Thanks to computerized dialers, cheap long distance rates and even cheaper third-world call centres, Canadians are getting more and more intrusive calls than ever before.

If eerie silence follows your greeting, it’s likely the caller is using “predictive dialing” technology, in which a computer dials multiple phone numbers over a short period in order to get a hit.

When you answer, you’re supposed to be quickly transferred to an available rep, but if all of them are occupied with other calls, you hear nothing – your first clue. Your last chance will be the annoying buzz of disembodied voices that precedes some garbled version of your name.

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September 30, 2021

What is the world's most dishonest profession?

When I was in the market for a new vehicle, back about 10 months now or so, I went into the pursuit with one stereotype in mind: car salesmen are the worst of the worst. Be careful.

But come on, I thought. For a profession so prejudiced since the dawn of time, they can’t all be that bad. In fact, being no doubt aware of their public perception, I imagine the modern car salesman is quite reasonable. Fair, even.

Well, scratch that. When I walked into that car dealership, I never, not once, got the idea I wasn’t simply a dollar sign with a face to those people. In my opinion, every opportunity they saw to exploit me, they took. This couldn’t have been an isolated incident. Stereotype: upheld.

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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...