August 02, 2021

The pros and cons of being a stay-at-home parent

According to the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC), child care fees are typically the second highest cost to families next to housing.

Not only that, over 70 per cent of mothers are in the work force and yet there are only enough child care spaces for about 20 per cent of the families who need them.

Consider a single parent working at a job with minimum wage. The cost of child care far outweighs the income earned.

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July 29, 2021

Misery index suggests that stocks have more room to rise

The misery index, as the name suggests, is designed to measure the level of wretchedness felt by ordinary people in the economy. Created by Yale economist Arthur Okun some years ago, it’s calculated by adding the U.S. unemployment rate to the prevailing inflation rate.

Since fear of job loss and shrinking purchasing power through inflation have pervasive effects on the lives of most workers, the index is considered to be a good snapshot of the real economy.

As inflation rises the cost of living increases and, as unemployment rises, more people cross the economic line into poverty.

In both Canada and the United States, the index peaked well above 20% in the early 1980s, largely due to incredibly high inflation. More recently, the 2013 number is around 9 down from a recent peak of 12.9% in November 2011 which is up slightly from a month ago when it was 8.6%.

All of which is good for stocks, claims strategist Ed Yardeni, who took a look at how the misery index has matched up with with bull and bear markets.

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July 12, 2021

Canadian job growth continues at healthy pace

If you're still looking for a job, there may be hope yet.

According to Statistics Canada, employers across the country have added more than 250,000 jobs over the past 12 months and that trend is expected to continue.

Economic uncertainty is running rampant across the globe, but that doesn't seem to be the case here at home.

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April 17, 2021

What's the most outrageous thing you've been asked to do at work?

One of the best ways to ensure your day-to-day work life is something to look forward to and that your career remains on an upward trajectory is to stay on your boss' good side.

A big part of maintaining the boss-employee relationship is to never allow a manager to think you dislike your work, are incapable of doing it, or—worse—consider it beneath you, warns Karen Burns, author of  The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use.

As a result, expressions like “That’s not my job” or “It’s not my problem” should never pass your lips, she suggests.

But “no” is always an option, she says, even if it might jeopardize the relationship you share with your boss. It's essential to position yourself in the best way possible if and when you have to say no at work.

Sometimes, requests are either too wierd or simply inappropriate for even the keenest of workers to put up with. Many workers have been asked to do some pretty crazy – and at times potentially dangerous – things for those that call the shots.  

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April 11, 2021

What to do when adult kids come home again

According to a recent Pew Research Center report on what it labels the boomerang generation, roughly 30 per cent of young adults between the ages of 25-34 have moved back home in recent years.

Just what to with them was the subject of a recent MSN Money column that generated a flurry of responses from readers, including this one. 

"Parents of children who move back home may have good intentions but it almost always backfires," writes a disgruntled Anna Marie.

"One big reason is that one or more of the parents feel they have to be parents like they were when the kids depended on them -- let's face it most parents don't want to acknowledge that their kids are adults -- and when the kids come home with no place else to go."

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April 02, 2021

60-year-old worker wins age discrimination case

Last year, an RBC poll found that 85% of yet-to-be retired baby boomers believe they'll work until they choose not to. But, among those who've actually retired, only 62% actually had that choice.

That's changing, of course. Now that provincial governments have struck down laws allowing employers to sack staff once they turned 65, businesses are more cautious when about weeding out higher-paid older workers through early-retirement incentives or outright layoffs.

In fact, even talking about retirement with older employees can get you into trouble, warns Toronto lawyer Colin Kelly

Any comments that an employee might reasonably interpret as encouraging retirement, even if  well-intentioned, may result in employers being charged with aged-based discrimination, according to a recent Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruling.

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March 12, 2022

There's a good reason you can't find a job, career coach says

Been out of work for awhile now?

If you've got 10 years experience in your field, don't even think of starting off at the bottom again -- all you'll do is annoy the employer, says outspoken career coach John Heckers. You'd be much better off consulting or starting your own business than to apply for entry-level jobs.

When he sees someone with extensive experience applying for an intern job, Heckers admits he's not even going to interview them.

"I know that they’ll be gone in a heartbeat if something in their field comes along, and that they won’t stay and grow with my company," he says. "I also know they’re going to second guess me, not be coachable and generally be a pain in the neck."

Other things that turn him off: the smell of smoking, visible tatoos, piercings, and face stubble.

Grumpy, but at least he's honest.

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February 04, 2022

Mystery shopping scam still alive and spreading

With so many Canadians looking for work, it's not surprising scam artists are targeting people desperate to earn money through part-time work, such as mystery shopping.

The pitch starts out sounding legitimate, particularly to someone who's already struggling and may not be thinking that straight.

You answer an email or Kijiji post looking for part-time work. The scammer tells you that they're looking for mystery shoppers who can shop on their own time and earn a fee at the same time.

To get the ball rolling, the company will send you a cheque for as much as $4,000 to buy the items you need to purchase to appropriately rate the retail outlet, most likely a bank or payday loan service. 

The con artist's excuse for sending so much money is that they want you to take your fee out of the cheque. They then want you to wire the balance back to them so they can monitor things from their end.

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December 27, 2021

Social contacts work for men, but not women, in job hunt: report

That thud you may have heard recently is the sound of women continuing to hit their heads on that invisible glass ceiling, particularly when it comes to looking for a job.

1197499_stop_1Work experience generally helps people foster the kinds of personal contacts that can lead someone to new career opportunities, but a study from North Carolina State University suggests that this is really only true for men and that gender bias plays a key role here.

They were no more likely to find a job through informal recruitment than they were through a formal job search, the researchers maintain.

“Researchers have argued that women face lower-wage payoffs than men with similar work experience because the women have fewer opportunities to develop job skills,” says lead researcher Steve McDonald, adding that a lack of useful social connections may also be driving the gender wage gap.

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November 22, 2021

'Keeping up with the Joneses' could increase suicide risk: report

As good consumers, we are taught never to live beyond our means, for that is how all financial misery will begin.

But then, in many ways doing so is the only way we can get that jacket, that car, that condo in the sky. Spending more than we should, then figuring it out later, is a disease caused by the modern marketplace. It’s affected us all.

Hardship is sure to follow such fiscal imprudence, though maybe the consequences can stretch much further than debt.

Perhaps keeping up with the Joneses can in fact boost your risk of suicide, too.

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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...