July 31, 2021

Canadians now able to pay with credit card at U.S. gas pumps

Travelling to the US this summer? You'll be happy to hear that gas prices are still about 20% less than we’re paying here. Unfortunately, you may need stacks of cash to buy it.

Billed as an effort to combat card fraud, more and more ‘Zip Code-required’ gas pumps have been popping up along U.S. highways. 

The ZIP-code pump creates hassles for Canadians as it doesn't recognize Canadian postal codes, which include letters as well as numbers. As a result, drivers have to prepay (on-the-spot refunds if you guess wrong aren't attendants' top priority) or leave a credit card inside before filling up.  

But help is at hand, at least in many states. 

When prompted, Canadians can now enter the three numbers in their postal code, and two zeroes. So, if your postal code is A2B 3C4, you enter 23400 and roll on out.

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May 29, 2021

Canadians love U.S. travel

1414861_51130807Canadians love their American friends.

According to Statistics Canada, overnight travel by Canadian citizens to the United States increased in the last quarter of 2012.

And visiting family and friends tops the list of go-sees with 832,000 overnight trips to U.S. destinations, up 19.4 per cent over the same period in 2011.

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May 20, 2021

U.S. bill provides snowbirds even more time in the sun

Canadian snowbirds may soon be able to spend as much as two months more nesting down south next year.

U.S. legislation now being debated in Congress would allow Canadians aged 55 and older to spend up to 240 days in the country without a visa, almost two months longer than the current 182-day annual limit.

The provision is not yet law, but it has the backing of New York Senator Charles Schumer, a legislator who has long been keen on finding ways to get more Canadians spending their dollars across the border.  

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May 08, 2021

Boomers seek to create a new retirement reality

When it comes to retirement, baby boomers seem to be favouring lifestyle choices over wealth preservation, quite a different path compared to the generations that came before them, according to recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey.

The study found that retirement has been redefined – with people expecting to live and often work longer than any preceding generation, and taking different approaches to preparing for and living their best life during these years.

Most are seeking flexible work arrangements, such as part-time work (39%) or going back and forth between periods of work and leisure (24%), but not always for the same reasons.

Most boomers have "mixed feelings about living longer and transitioning into retirement," said Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, the group that conducted the research.

"While they welcome the extra time to pursue new interests and spend more time with family and friends, they are concerned about outliving their assets and experiencing a serious health disruption. Even those who have saved adequately can be anxious and often overwhelmed by this complexity and the unknowns they face."

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April 23, 2021

Can you deduct travel expenses when visiting your Florida condo?

Renting out your Florida condo can be a good way to offset some of your costs. But be wary when it comes to writing off expenses, experts warn.

Don't expect to rent out it out for a month or two during the winter and deduct a year's worth of interest and other expenses, for instance. The CRA expects to see such expenses be pro-rated, allowing you to deduct them only for those months when income was actually being earned.

If you've advertised that the property is available for rent but it still remains empty, you may be able to write off the expenses for this open time period. The time spent trying to find a tenant may be considered a deductible expense,providing you can document your efforts.

Forget about deducting the cost of your flight down there, however. And the same rules apply if you're driving.

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March 21, 2022

Spring is in the air and so are Canadians

Spring is in the air and so are Canadian travellers.

It seems the cold, dark months have been with us for forever. Everywhere I go I hear people talking about heading to warmer climates or I see their vacation photos from some sunny paradise posted on their Facebook page.

If you haven't gotten away yet, don't worry.  There may be hope yet. A new survey reveals that at least 79 per cent of Canadians are planning on hitting the sunnier trails this season.

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March 01, 2022

Retirees are happy and busy as bees

You would think that life slows down in retirement.

But in fact, according to a new report by BMO Bank of Montreal, Canadian retirees are busier than ever. 

There's not enough hours in a day for all the activities retirees have these days.

The report revealed that more than one-third of those polled have more activities than time in which to do them and one in three admit that retirement is more expensive than they expected.

However, 82 per cent say they are happy with their current lifestyle.

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February 18, 2022

Why the wrong travel companion can really cost you

When it comes to holidays, who you go with can be just as important as where you go and how much you're willing to spend. 

Assuming you're not simply stuck with the kids during March break, consider your travel companion carefully, as the wrong choice can mean the difference between a great trip and a disaster.

Consider taking a test run first. Overnight trips or even a weekend outing may help you both get a good idea about your compatibility.

One pair of women knew each other from the gym, but had never spent a lot of time together. Turns out one was an unstoppable chatterbox who yakked incessantly about anything and everything.

"I will never, ever travel with her again," her disgruntled partner fumed, "and I don't know how I'm going to make it through the next five days without strangling her."

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December 21, 2021

The car rental fees you didn't know about

Heading south sometime this winter? Maybe you should bring your own car this time.

If not, remember that the advertised price for a rental car bears no relationship to the price you will actually pay, especially at big city airports, reports Consumer Traveller. And those costs are likely to go up.

In the U.S, Arizona, Texas and Florida seem to add some of the highest mandatory extra fees but the additional charges are pretty significant everwhere you go.

While these extra charges usually show up in the estimated total shown on the screen, you won't find them in the base rate, largely to drive profits, CT explains. Here's what to watch for, warns Independent Traveler. 

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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...