January 17, 2022

Cash strapped retirees pile into reverse mortgages: report

It's not uncommon for many retirees to take out small loans against their home equity to fund renovations or even to make down payments on an additional property.

More and more, however, older homeowners are finding they need to squeeze a bit more income out of their house. That's leading to record number of reverse mortgages in Canada, according to a recent HomEquity Bank study.

Reverse mortgages are offered to Canadian homeowners 55 and older and have no income, credit or health hurdles to cross. As well, unlike traditional loans, borrowers don't have to service the interest or repay the principal for as long as they own their home and are still living in it.

Business seems to strong. HomEquity, the only national provider of reverse mortgages in Canada, says its reverse mortgage business was up 42% in the fourth quarter of 2011. On an annual basis, the company wrote $239 million in reverse mortgages, a 16% year-over-year jump that lifted its portfolio of reverse mortgages to $1.2 billion.

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November 30, 2021

Is working out at the 'brain gym' really worthwhile?

After forgetting his PIN number twice in the same week one of my friends has decided his brain is just a bit out of shape.

AdHis solution? Spending several hours on Lumosity, a brain-training program that includes close to 40 games and exercises aimed at sharpening memory skills, improving concentration and thinking faster.

And he's not alone, it seems. Some 14 million people around the world either subscribe to the company's website or have downloaded one of its iPhone apps.

Just as you can tone up your body by lifting weights, the types of games that Lumosity and its competitors like MindSparke and Posit offer are supposed to make your brain stronger and help it work more efficiently. That’s key for all those people who show signs of aging or memory loss.

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November 16, 2021

Watch out, RIM -- Apple warming up to corporate market

Today was supposed to be a good day for Research In Motion.

IPad2_iOS5_Hero_PIPHv2After all, however sorry it may be that this now passes as good news for the company, a big headline on the read last night, “RIM shares briefly outperform Apple.”

Yes, you could see it now. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, with their stock forecast upgrade and fancy new operating system, had to be feeling pretty good. Chests puffed out. Cigars freshly lit. The works.

Only, then, you read this feature in the New York Times, and suddenly the BlackBerry maker seems like the Titanic circa early April, 1912, all over again.

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October 12, 2021

BlackBerry outage bad timing for weary RIM

In terms of “what RIM needs right now,” a massive, sweeping BlackBerry outage falls somewhere between its stock price falling below $20 and photos of Jim Balsillie in drag popping up online.

9900Bold_blk_BottomAngleIndeed, just when the world was beginning to forget about the ongoing PlayBook debacle, all that Research In Motion may have left – the sturdy BlackBerry and its reliable service – appears to be wavering, giving everyone the chance to reopen that age-old smartphone argument:

BlackBerry, iPhone or otherwise?

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August 09, 2021

Virtual supermarket lets commuters grocery shop with their phones

So far, it’s been a wild week for consumer technology.

15033006-15033006-fruits-and-vegetables-in-grocery-bag To wit: the e-card you send sexual partners to tell them, “Hey, ya know what? I know exactly  what that burning was! You might wanna get yourself checked out.”

But aside from online STD warnings – seriously, they’re a real thing – one consumer tech innovation is bound to lead to some cool developments down the road.

For shoppers, meet the virtual supermarket.

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May 30, 2021

TripAdvisor's user-generated reviews now on Canadian site

Online travel bookings by Canadians are on the rise, driven largely the strong loonie.

Trip So, it’s not completely surprising to hear that Canada is one of the most successful local units for Expedia Worldwide, the world's biggest online travel company.

Transactions were up 30% overall last year, with gross bookings hitting a record high of $1.5 billion, the Toronto Sun reports.

Determined to hold on to its dominant position, Expedia, which recently announced plans to split its TripAdvisor unit into a separately traded company, has launched an updated TripAdvisor search engine for Canadians.

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May 12, 2021

App simulates breast enhancement surgery

Boobs. There’s an app for that.

Some women – and some RuPauls – may want to know what they’d look like with a larger bust. They must: otherwise, why would we have this?

Making headlines across the world right now is iAugment, the newest, most controversial iPhone app. With the flick of a finger, women can simulate how they would look if they underwent plastic surgery.

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May 06, 2021

Apple factory workers forced to sign 'anti-suicide' pledge: report

Apple gets a lot of good PR; a perk, definitively, for being one of the world’s most recognizable brands.

1338398_pollution But it’s not always good. Behind the iPads and iPhones have been long-standing allegations of employee abuse at Apple’s factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, where disgruntled workers jumping to their deaths famously prompted suicide nets being put up at site dormitories last year.

Though the plants are run by a company called Foxconn, they nonetheless fall under Apple’s umbrella, and the California-based tech giant is facing another potential nightmare in the form of new research into its operations.

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April 07, 2021

Baseball vendor lets your order beer via Twitter

There’s nothing pleasant about buying a beer at a baseball game, but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

Istockphoto_9944667-beer-at-the-game The lines suck, which you fear, and the prices are obscene, which you expect. But even if a beer vendor happens to venture to your section – as he did to my primo 500-level seat at the Rogers Centre last Sunday – you’d need a Russell Brand-sized mouth if you ever hope to yell and get the guy’s attention.

Enter: Twitter. It’s an idea so simple you feel stupid for not suggesting it yourself. Starting at the team’s home opener tomorrow, a beer vendor for the Seattle Mariners will start taking drink orders via his Twitter page.

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March 30, 2021

Filing your taxes online? What program will you choose?

As the filing deadline approaches, most of us are thinking about getting our taxes done quickly and, increasingly, that means going online. 

Tax Not that there are a lot of early adapters when it comes time to settle up.

In fact, only about 56% of tax returns were filed online last year. That leaves close to half of the population either using pen and paper, or the automated telephone method, Telefile.

The CRA would rather you file online than mail in your return because it saves them a fortune in data processing fees. And, if you’re expecting a refund, it will certainly speeds things up.

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March 29, 2021

New service lets guys buy fake Facebook girlfriend

Money can buy guys a lot of love on the Internet, though it’s probably not the kind of affection you’d want to show friends and family.

Istockphoto_15633443-online-love But what if you could pay for the kind of relationship you could broadcast all over Facebook? Like, quite literally, a relationship designed to broadcast all over Facebook.

That’s the premise behind a new Web start-up called Cloud Girlfriend, which lets male Facebook users, for a still-to-be-determined fee, create a female companion that will act as their better half online, posting all the usual sweetnothings partners are known to do on your social network profile page.

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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...