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GiveLife.ca

    
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PRINT EDITION
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Globe Columnists
Sunday, October 21




  Rob Carrick
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Personal Finance



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Canada's favourite dividend mutual fund and dividend ETF square off space
DIY investors should rethink whether ETFs' no-brainer reputation is rightly earned
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, October 20, 2018 – Page B10
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-- PORTFOLIO STRATEGYThe awesomeness of ETFs has its limits.Exchange-traded funds are a simple, low-cost, transparent way to build portfolios for all kinds of people and all kinds of investment goals. Justifiably, ETFs are steadily grinding away at the mutual fund industry's dominance in retail investing.  FULL STORY arrow
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Market timing: Should I make hay or buy low? space
Stocks are due for a correction, but there's seldom any indication on a right time to invest
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, October 19, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Your worst investing nightmare probably goes something like this: After investing a large chunk of money in stocks, the market tanks.Recent stock market turbulence reminds us that this is no abstract risk. Stocks have had a great run and will at some point correct. Wouldn't it make sense to stay in cash until that correction happens? A reader with $200,000 in a savings account recently asked this question. ''While realizing it's not the optimal solution, the market is at its highest in history and will go down, short-term or medium-term. Should I wait for the next downturn to invest or is such a strategy never viable?'' Never is a strong word. Some investors, either by skill or luck, may pick the ideal time to get in or out of the market. But the chances of success are slim.  FULL STORY arrow
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Don't combat rising rates with your mortgage space
Focusing on paying off credit-card and line-ofcredit debt will serve you better in the long run, expert says
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, October 18, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Mortgage debt is the best debt.Remember that if you're freaking out about having to renew a big mortgage at a time when interest rates are rising. The rate on a mortgage generally beats the cost of any other type of borrowing. So why be in a rush to pay down your mortgage, even if it's huge?  FULL STORY arrow
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Seniors the first to crack as rising rates crank up debt stress space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, October 17, 2018 – Page B12
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-- The storyline that debt levels in Canada are big but manageable is starting to unravel.Oddly, it's seniors who are showing the first signs of serious debt stress. In the second-quarter edition of its National Consumer Credit Trends Report, the credit-monitoring company Equifax reported yet another year-over-year decline in the percentage of people falling behind on their debts. The one group to buck the trend was seniors.  FULL STORY arrow
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Investors focus on low fees, product selection for bonds space
A rush of money into bond ETFs in August shows ultrashort-term funds are well suited to a rising rate world
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, October 17, 2018 – Page B13
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-- The mutual fund industry had a bad month recently, and mass selling of bond funds was a big part of the story.Where'd the money flying out of mutual funds in August go?  FULL STORY arrow
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The book to help teens get on the right financial track space
The Wealthy Barber is an unparalleled introduction to personal finance
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, October 12, 2018 – Page B9
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-- A grandparent asked recently for some advice on which financial book to buy a 15year-old for his birthday, and one book immediately came to mind.It's The Wealthy Barber, by David Chilton. First published in 1989, I'd argue that it's the most successful personal finance book ever written. Forget the two million copies sold in Canada. This book's real achievement was showing how personal finance could be made relevant and comprehensible to everyday people.  FULL STORY arrow
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Yes, you still have to save for retirement even if you have a workplace pension space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, October 12, 2018 – Page B8
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-- A type of pension covering 1.1 million workers has been given a strikingly lukewarm endorsement by the people who actually run these company plans.Defined contribution plans are retirement savings in which workers make contributions and their employers provide matching funds.  FULL STORY arrow
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Money-related stress is only going to get worse as interest rates climb space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, October 10, 2018 – Page B1
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-- Two weeks ahead of what will likely be the next leg up for interest rates comes a warning of how much stress households already feel about money.Updating its Financial Health Index for 2018, a firm called Seymour Consulting concludes that moneyrelated stress is ''omnipresent and mainstream.'' In its just-issued 2018 Affordability Index, insolvency expert BDO Canada Ltd. found that 31 per cent of participants said they didn't have enough money to pay for their basic needs and 52 per cent had just enough to cover living costs.  FULL STORY arrow
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What should investors do with their U.S. dollars? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, October 10, 2018 – Page B8
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-- A lot of Canadians appear to have a greenback problem - a stash of U.S. dollars sitting in a bank or investment account and earning nothing.Snowbirds have this problem, and so do investors who have accumulated U.S. dollars in their non-registered accounts as well as U.S.-dollar registered retirement savings plans and tax-free savings accounts. These cash holdings typically earn little or nothing in interest. Lately, I've heard from several readers in this situation asking what they can do to put this money to better use.  FULL STORY arrow
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Here's how women can fight for better investment advice space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, October 6, 2018 – Page B11
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-- Too few men in the investment advice business know how to talk to female clients.''Women have more and more money, and they're looking for advisers that they connect with,'' said Judy Paradi of the financial services consulting firm StrategyMarketing.ca. ''And on the other hand, we talk to advisers all the time who simply do not know how to find female high-networth clients. They're used to prospecting for men, they're used to the golf course, they're used to Sales 101.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Brace yourself before reviewing your portfolio's 2018 results space
It could turn out to be a frustrating year for Canadians who mostly have domestic stocks, bonds in their holdings
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, October 5, 2018 – Page B11
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-- Your success as an investor in 2018 and beyond may depend entirely on how much global exposure you have in your portfolio.Through the first three quarters of the year, bonds have been money losers and the Canadian stock market has been weak. Only global markets have performed dynamically.  FULL STORY arrow
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Young adults need a credit card to attain financial adulthood space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, October 5, 2018 – Page B10
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-- A new money rule for young adults: Get a credit card as soon as you start university or college and use it often.A personal finance writer is saying this - not a bank. Our financial system is evolving in a way that leaves people marginalized if they don't have a credit history. And the easiest way to generate a credit history is to use a credit card responsibly. In case you need a refresher, that means paying your balance in full each month without fail.  FULL STORY arrow
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ETF portfolios for investors fleeing mutual funds space
Investing author Larry Bates highlights options for four different demographics
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, October 3, 2018 – Page B11
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-- Larry Bates has three different escape paths for you if you're an investor who is sick of high-fee mutual funds sold by banks.Mr. Bates is the author of a new book called Beat The Bank: The Canadian Guide to Simply Successful Investing.  FULL STORY arrow
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Home buyers, owners are among new agreement's losers space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, October 2, 2018 – Page B6
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-- The better things get for the economy, the harder it will be to afford a house.So let's add home buyers and owners to the list of those who are worse off under an overhauled North American free-trade agreement. The proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) removes the biggest concern of the moment about Canada's economic future.  FULL STORY arrow
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Having a big balance on lines of credit the new norm space
A new report suggests an increasing number of Canadians are resorting to HELOCs as a crutch
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, September 28, 2018 – Page B10
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-- If anything has rubbed the stink off carrying debt, it's the home equity line of credit.A new report on the use of home equity lines of credit, known as HELOCs, was published this week by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. The Crown corporation suggests that while the use of HELOCs (pronounced hee-locks) has not reached epidemic levels on a national basis, there are signs these borrowing tools have become a financial crutch for many people.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why some seniors should splash their retirement cash space
Retirees spending below their means may be passing up the best years they have left
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, September 27, 2018 – Page B10
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-- The last thing Canadians need to hear is advice to spend more money.But that's exactly what a select group of seniors should be doing.They're spending below their means and potentially not enjoying life to the fullest in the prime of their retirement.  FULL STORY arrow
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A dividend ETF built for rising interest rates space
New offering from Fidelity Investments Canada helps to limit risks in the current environment
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, September 26, 2018 – Page B10
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-- Rising interest rates and Canadian dividend ETFs don't mix well.Exchange-traded funds holding Canadian dividend stocks are good income-producers in any market environment, but their share price tends to underperform the SandP/TSX Composite Index at times when interest rates are in a rising trend. The reason is simple: Canadian dividend ETFs tend to have higher weightings in three rate-sensitive sectors - utilities, telecom and real estate - than the broader index.  FULL STORY arrow
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Canadian investors are too obsessed with U.S. stocks space
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By ROB CARRICK
Monday, September 24, 2018 – Page B9
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-- If past returns were a reliable indicator of future returns, the investor asset mixes I'm seeing these days would make great sense.One reader talked about having 70 per cent of a portfolio invested in Nasdaq 100 stocks. Another mentioned a portfolio of two mutual funds, a balanced fund with a one-third weighting and a U.S. index fund for the rest.  FULL STORY arrow
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Time to take Manulife's IncomePlus payout? space
The insurer is offering customers a bonus for moving their cash out of the oncesensational retirement fund
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, September 22, 2018 – Page B10
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-- If you're part of the crowd who put money in Manulife Financial Corp.'s IncomePlus guaranteed retirement income product after it debuted in 2006, watch your mail for a surprising offer.  FULL STORY arrow
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With student debt paid off, how should money be redirected for investing? space
Portfolio allocation options include starting down-payment fund
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, September 20, 2018 – Page B9
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-- If you're looking for money to start investing, try paying off a debt.A 34-year-old reader plans to pay off his student debt later this year and he's wondering how to get started as an investor. ''As I shift from debt repayments to investing, my question is what my portfolio allocation should be.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Report highlights seniors' rising debt levels space
TransUnion research shows alarming volume of new mortgages set up by people between the ages of 73 to 93
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, September 19, 2018 – Page B9
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-- Our willingness to keep running up debt is starting to fade, finally.The most recent evidence came last Wednesday in a report by the credit-monitoring firm TransUnion that shows the average non-mortgage debt level per consumer rose 3.9 per cent to $29,648 in the second quarter of this year compared with 4.1 per cent in the same period last year.  FULL STORY arrow
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Are your children away at school properly insured? space
Property, tenant and car insurance are all options worth investing in for students living at university or college
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, September 18, 2018 – Page B10
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-- This is a delicate time to dump extra expenses on students living away from home and their parents, but $200 or so for tenant insurance could be a smart purchase.  FULL STORY arrow
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Utility stock challenge: Fortis vs. Emera space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, September 15, 2018 – Page B15
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-- A rising-rate world is a desert for utility stocks, but let's say you take the long view and value their consistent dividend growth.Two stalwarts in the utility sector are Emera Inc. (EMA-T) and Fortis Corp. (FTS-T) - which one looks like the better investment right now?  FULL STORY arrow
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Dealing a one-two punch to consumer protection space
Pair of developments this week point to how governments are failing financial firms' clients
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, September 14, 2018 – Page B9
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-- How comforting it must be for Bay Street to see government standing up for the overdog in matters related to consumer protection.Two recent developments highlight the power banks, brokers and mutual fund companies have to shape the regulations that protect consumers from financial firms. One is the surprise announcement on Thursday that the Ontario government does not agree with modest changes to mutual fund commissions that were proposed by provincial securities regulators.  FULL STORY arrow
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Diversify into U.S. market with an S&P 500-linked ETF space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, September 13, 2018 – Page B9
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-- After a spectacular nine-year run, it has never seemed easier to make money in U.S. stocks.So I was surprised to hear from a reader recently asking ''for an easy way to diversify into the U.S.  FULL STORY arrow
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Retirement-saving method now sees us work longer, run out of money sooner space
Recently updated Rule of $20 is more demanding as a result of today's smaller investment returns
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 – Page B9
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-- An epic decade of financial disruption has made it quantifiably harder to save enough for a secure retirement.Consider the Rule of $20, which says that every $20 you have in personal retirement savings will on average generate $1 of inflation-adjusted, pretax retirement income annually. Developed by global asset management firm Russell Investments a little more than nine years ago, it applied if you retired at the age of 60 and projected that your money would last about 30 years.  FULL STORY arrow
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Attention investors who want to avoid foreign exchange fees in their DIY accounts space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, September 8, 2018 – Page B14
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-- One of Canada's better online brokers has filled a big hole in its product lineup.Scotia iTrade has finally introduced U.S.-dollar registered accounts, joining almost every other play in the online brokerage business. This means that investors who sell U.S.  FULL STORY arrow
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How to build a better ladder: Comparing GICs and corporate bonds space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, September 8, 2018 – Page B14
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-- Rising interest rates have been great for the street cred of the humble GIC.Rising rates mean higher yields on guaranteed investment certificates - that's one factor.Another is the negative effect that rising rates have on bond prices. Fearing that the bonds in their portfolio will dramatically lose value as rates move higher, some investors have been using GICs as a replacement.  FULL STORY arrow
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Low-cost investing smackdown: Balanced ETFs vs. robo-advisers space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, September 8, 2018 – Page B14
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-- A welcome new development in exchange-traded funds raises questions about the relevance of robo-advisers for people who want a simple, low-cost ETF portfolio.Balanced ETFs give you a fully diversified portfolio in a single purchase. Your investing future with one of these products is simply to keep buying more of the fund you've chosen because the fund managers handle diversification and rebalancing for you.  FULL STORY arrow
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Our most irrational financial habit? Cheaping out on retirement saving space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, September 7, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Dan Ariely's job is to figure out why you won't pay attention to perfectly good financial advice such as spending less and saving more.Mr. Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University in North Carolina and a co-founder of Toronto-based BEworks, a management consulting firm that uses behavioural science in its work. His mission: Find out why people make bad decisions about money and figure out ways to get a better outcome. I recently spoke to Mr. Ariely to find out why people keep making the same money mistakes, despite readily available advice from the media and financial-literacy initiatives.  FULL STORY arrow
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For a happier new you, pay down your debt space
A new survey suggests that despite a growing economy, Canadian families are struggling to address their debts
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, September 5, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Like an antibiotics-resistant germ, household debt is holding up alarmingly well as the economy improves.A new survey shows the economic growth of the past year has helped ease some of the financial challenges faced by Canadian households. Fewer people are spending their entire paycheques and fewer think they would financially implode if they faced an unexpected emergency expense.  FULL STORY arrow
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The best banks for millennials who are still in school, or recently graduated space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, August 31, 2018 – Page B7
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-- For all the talk about their quirkiness, the young adults known as millennials make surprisingly conformist choices about where to bank.A survey of banking habits by Ratehub.ca suggests 45 per cent of millennials used recommendations from family and friends as the main input for deciding on where to bank. That's pretty much double the rate for Gen Xers, and vastly higher than the 8 per cent of baby boomers who said they chose a bank this way.  FULL STORY arrow
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Overprotective parenting can hurt an RESP space
You can target safe returns or higher returns - but not both. Here's why you should opt for the latter
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, August 31, 2018 – Page B7
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-- If you're the nervous type as a parent, take a look at how you're investing your child's registered education savings plan.Just as they nurture their children, there's an impulse among some parents to coddle their kids' RESPs by investing conservatively.  FULL STORY arrow
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ENSURING YOU GET A GOOD GIC RENEWAL RATE space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 – Page B7
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-- Convenience has its cost, GIC investors.If you deal with a big bank, you may get a renewal notice when your guaranteed investment certificates come due. It basically sets out the amount of principal you have, the maturity date of your existing GIC and the rate being offered on renewal, which can occur automatically.  FULL STORY arrow
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The future looks bright for GIC investors space
Small banks are already hiking rates for the certificate, and there's reason to be optimistic
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 – Page B7
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-- A small but encouraging rate war is being fought over five-year GICs.EQ Bank is offering 3.52 per cent on a guaranteed investment certificate with a five-year term, just surpassing the 3.5 per cent offered by Oaken Financial. Several other small independent banks are offering rates in the 3.1-percent to 3.3-per-cent range, while the big online bank Tangerine offers 3 per cent. Expect more battling over the months ahead on rates for both GICs and savings accounts.  FULL STORY arrow
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How ETF investors are playing defence amid a hostile time for bonds space
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By ROB CARRICK
Monday, August 27, 2018 – Page B5
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-- Interest rates and inflation have been rising, yet bond ETFs are crushing equity funds in attracting new investment.The exchange-traded fund format can be a smart way to add bonds to a portfolio, but what's up with the strong preference for bonds at a time when fixed income is under pressure? For answers, consider the bond ETFs that were most popular with investors in July.  FULL STORY arrow
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Money-saving deals can help millennials invest space
Starter accounts are alternatives for those who can't afford to pay expensive per-trade and maintenance fees
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, August 25, 2018 – Page B10
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-- One of the toughest jobs in investing is to start an account with little or no money and not get massacred by fees and commissions.If you're a millennial investor with just a couple of thousand dollars in your account at an online brokerage, paying $10 to trade a stock or an exchangetraded fund and $25 per quarter in account maintenance fees is prohibitive. Robo-advisers are rightly thought of as a good spot for young adult investors, but some are more welcoming than others to people starting with tiny amounts.  FULL STORY arrow
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Stop pushing seniors to sell their houses space
The vast majority want to stay in their current homes, yet many report pressure to downsize
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, August 23, 2018 – Page B7
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-- The seniors of the nation would like to thank you for your concern about their home-ownership burdens.Two related facts you may not know about seniors: The vast majority want to stay in their current homes, yet many report pressure from realtors and family to sell and then downsize. ''That's a very common situation,'' said Laura Tamblyn Watts, national director of law, policy and research at CARP, formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. ''Just about every time I go to a community event and engage with older people, I hear versions of that complaint.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Air Canada lands Aeroplan with $450-million deal space
To win loyalty, Air Canada's points program needs a makeover. Members should hold out for better rewards
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 22, 2018 – Page B1
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-- You can stop plotting how to burn off your Aeroplan points.Air Canada will no longer be leaving Aeroplan to fend for itself like a shopping mall that's lost its anchor retailer. Instead, the airline and its financial partners have reached an agreement to buy Aeroplan.  FULL STORY arrow
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How long to save before leaving the nest space
Owning a home can be as much of a financial sacrifice as stashing money away for a down payment
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By ROB CARRICK
Monday, August 13, 2018 – Page B5
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-- Living at home with her parents at the age of 28, Stephanie Clarke wants to get on with her life.But how? She has a multiyear plan for building up a down payment for a house while living with her folks and doubts she could keep that up if she moved out.  FULL STORY arrow
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How market-linked GICs exploit wary investors space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, August 10, 2018 – Page B5
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-- Investment adviser Cliff Broetz had a recent conversation with a client who was ''ready to pounce'' on a market-linked GIC offered by a bank.So he researched the information provided to advisers for that particular guaranteed investment certificate. The results surprised him so much he wrote me to share his findings and conclusion. Basically, it's that marketlinked GICs are engineered to target people who are ''terrified of the stock market,'' as the Parksville, B.C.-based Mr. Broetz put it in an e-mail.  FULL STORY arrow
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Two trends driving bond ETF returns higher space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 – Page B7
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-- It's time to give bond ETFs a fresh look if you lost faith in them because of the threat of rising interest rates.Soaring bond yields in the spring triggered a flow of e-mails from readers who worried about falling bond ETF prices. You hold bond ETFs to add stability to a portfolio; to see these securities falling in value can be unnerving. Bond yields fell back in the early summer, then started edging higher again. Longer term, it's quite possible they will climb still higher and, in turn, push prices for bonds and bond ETFs lower. (Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.)  FULL STORY arrow
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Low credit score? Smartly manage your profile to appease picky mortgage lenders space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, August 4, 2018 – Page B10
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-- Between rising interest rates and tougher borrowing requirements, 2018 is the toughest year in ages for people seeking a mortgage.Here's a tip on how to improve your chances of getting the mortgage you want in this challenging environment for borrowers: Manage your credit profile intelligently. There's more to this than having a high credit score.  FULL STORY arrow
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Slimming rate gap in GICs makes them worth a look space
If you've been reluctant to consider guaranteed investment certificates, there has seldom been a better time to dive in
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, August 3, 2018 – Page B8
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-- An irritating little problem for online brokerage clients is how hard it is to get your hands on guaranteed investment certificates paying top-ofthe-market rates.There is always a gap between the best rates in the marketplace and the highest rates offered through online brokerage GIC inventories. But if you've been reluctant to consider GICs for your portfolio as a result of this rate gap, it's time for a second look.  FULL STORY arrow
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Has the chance to invest in real estate gone out the window for now? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, August 2, 2018 – Page B8
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-- There are times when being a smart investor means saying no to something that has made lots of money for others.Right now, this applies to real estate investments in cities where prices have already soared. Ever heard of the ''buy high'' school of investing? It's for people who jump late onto investing trends and end up exposing themselves to more downside risk than upside potential. Smart investors don't dismiss real estate investing. They just say they'd prefer to wait for more attractive prices.  FULL STORY arrow
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For solo seniors, who takes care of the will? space
Corporate executor may be a consideration when family dynamics or complex financial arrangements are factors
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 – Page B5
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-- One of life's most unappealling honours is to be selected by someone as executor for their will.Being an executor means walking a long and grinding road - emotion, money and bureaucracy joined together in a task for which you will never receive thanks from the person who asked you to do the job in the first place.  FULL STORY arrow
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Paying debts tops investing - but should it? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 – Page B5
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-- It looks like Canadians have come to a consensus in answering the perennial personal-finance question of whether to pay down debt or invest.Debt wins, by a kilometre. A recent survey by Manulife Bank asked 2,003 people this question: ''If you were given an extra $1,000 a month, what would you be most likely to use it for?'' Fifty-two per cent of survey participants said paying off debt or a mortgage, while 30 per cent picked saving.  FULL STORY arrow
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Not all online brokers are cash friendly space
We can debate the merits of holding cash, but the reality is there's a lot of it out there
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, July 28, 2018 – Page B13
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-- How's the parking at your online brokerage firm?Online brokers are virtual - you can transact by phone, but they're at their best and cheapest when you research, buy and sell investments online.  FULL STORY arrow
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A tax-smart way to get the U.S. stock market into your TFSA space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, July 27, 2018 – Page B5
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-- DIY investors, please stop stressing about holding U.S. ETFs paying dividends in a tax-free savings account.A 15-per-cent U.S. withholding tax is applied to dividends paid into TFSAs by U.S. companies and ETFs. In registered retirement savings plans, this tax does not apply. In non-registered accounts, you may be able to claim a foreign tax credit for the amount paid in withholding tax.  FULL STORY arrow
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Your money anxieties explained space
Pitiful income growth that fails to stay on top of inflation is partly to blame for Canadians' financial worries
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, July 26, 2018 – Page B8
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-- So much of the narrative of what's going wrong in household personal finances these days focuses on personal irresponsibility, but maybe that's off target.A look at income trends since 2005 suggests a good part of the problem at least is weak income growth, which is to say the economy.  FULL STORY arrow
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Earth to investment advisers: You're blowing it with millennials space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, July 21, 2018 – Page B14
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-- The investment advice business has a millennial problem.As clients of advice firms, the young adults born between the early eighties and mid-nineties are close to statistically insignificant. A study by the PriceMetrix unit of consulting giant McKinsey and Co. shows this cohort accounted for just 2 per cent of assets at investment advisory firms in North America last year.  FULL STORY arrow
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Seniors may have a hard time with TD's security process for online banking space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, July 20, 2018 – Page B10
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-- The cost of making online banking safer means losing a little of the ''anywhere, any time'' convenience that makes it so great.You can see this trade-off in the reaction to a security process called two-step authentication that Toronto-Dominion Bank has been rolling out for the past couple of months. This measure will make customers safer, but it's going to bug some seniors because it's a hassle to use unless you have a cellphone and are comfortable with texting.  FULL STORY arrow
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Bond ETFs' doom and gloom offers lesson in holding firm space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, July 19, 2018 – Page B8
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-- So much for the hysteria over bond ETFs getting massacred.There was a point in mid-May when it looked as if bonds were going to be a big problem for investors in 2018. And then it passed. Let this be a lesson to all the investors who lost faith in bond exchange-traded funds - you never know what's ahead in today's ever-unpredictable financial markets. Stop trying to guess and just hold your bond ETFs, individual bonds, guaranteed investment certificates or whatever you use for exposure to fixed income.  FULL STORY arrow
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Use caution when advisers cut their fees space
PriceMetrix analysis implies such reductions are a defensive move by those who have trouble competing on service
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, July 14, 2018 – Page B11
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-- The problem with seeking the lowest-cost investment advice is that you may end up with the lowest-quality advice as well.Savvy investors generally work on the principle that paying less is unquestionably a good thing.  FULL STORY arrow
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Should we buy a rental property? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, July 14, 2018 – Page B13
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-- The smartest real estate investors are waiting for a big pullback in prices to start buying.The second-smartest are the people who are tempted to buy in now, but want to speak to someone to get some advice first. This group includes a reader who recently came into some extra cash and is considering a rental property. ''We are unsure who to consult with on whether this is a good decision for us versus our current investments,'' she wrote. ''Any ideas on how to make the comparison?  FULL STORY arrow
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A rising-rate guide to mortgages, HELOCs, GICs, savings and more space
With the BoC adjusting its overnight rate, adjust your finances to this new reality by taking these five steps
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, July 12, 2018 – Page B6
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-- The era of fantastically low interest rates ended Wednesday.The Bank of Canada increased its influential overnight rate by just 0.25 per cent, but the cumulative increase in the past 12 months is a full percentage point. Rates are still low, but they're no longer a gift to borrowers and a saver's nightmare. Adjust your finances to this new reality by taking these five steps.  FULL STORY arrow
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In cooling housing market, time to revisit active saving space
Rising home prices have long been a proxy for building a nest egg but the game plan may now have to change
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, July 11, 2018 – Page B7
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-- A hot housing market feels awesome if you own a home, but there are side effects.You spend more when your home is rising in value, and you put less money away as savings.  FULL STORY arrow
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How seniors get second-class treatment at some online brokers space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, July 7, 2018 – Page B12
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-- What looks like a subtle form of ageism can be found in how some online brokers treat clients who are seniors.A strong majority of brokers have for years offered U.S.-dollar registered retirement savings plans, which are a must-have for investors who invest in stocks listed on U.S. exchanges. But a small subset of these brokerage firms haven't extended this feature to registered retirement income funds. RRSPs must be converted into RRIFs by the end of the year in which you turn 71.  FULL STORY arrow
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It's not your fault it's so hard to understand investing space
Introducing the missing link in financial literacy: the industry's inability to communicate in plain language
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, July 6, 2018 – Page B7
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-- If investment-industry websites were books, the reviews would be brutal.''The problem with the copy that we're reading and analyzing is that it is turgid, dense and complex,'' said Fergal McGovern, chief executive of VisibleThread, a company that offers tools to analyze how well corporate websites communicate.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mortgage renewals just got more complicated space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, July 4, 2018 – Page B1
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-- New accounting rules adopted by the banks mean they're paying closer attention than ever before to your financial situation and your home's value when you renew a mortgage.  FULL STORY arrow
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It's time to stop trash-talking RESPs space
Registered education savings plans have powerful benefits that are being overlooked
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, July 4, 2018 – Page B7
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-- The most underused saving vehicle in Canada is the registered education savings plan.I'm starting to wonder if one of the reasons is the disinformation being spread about RESPs. ''I keep reading that RESPs aren't all they are cracked up to be and we run the risk of losing this money if the kids don't go to college or university,'' a reader wrote recently. ''Are RESPs outdated? Is there a better way to save for them so the money will be available for [our grandchildren's] education?'' The answers to these questions, respectively, are no and no.  FULL STORY arrow
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Five tips for weathering a market correction space
Here's how to prepare your portfolio ahead of any turbulence
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, June 30, 2018 – Page B15
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-- The well-built investment portfolio is always prepared for a stock-market correction. That's the point of diversification and continuing portfolio maintenance. You don't have to make adjustments on the fly because you're set for all market conditions. If you're worried about a stock-market correction and are unsure about how ready you are, check out these five suggestions: 1. REBALANCE Rebalancing means buying and selling parts of your portfolio to get back to the mix of stocks and bonds you set initially to meet your investing goals. Benchmark returns over the past 36 months for major stock and bond indexes highlight the need to rebalance.  FULL STORY arrow
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New report makes case for delaying CPP till 75 space
C.D. Howe suggests extending deferral of pension plan addresses concerns over sluggish saving for retirement
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, June 29, 2018 – Page B6
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-- Canadian minds are never more closed than when asked to consider delaying the start of CPP retirement benefits.So a new paper from the C.D. Howe Institute about the benefits of extending maximum deferral of the Canada and Quebec pension plans to age 75 from 70 likely won't get the attention it deserves. Considered on merit, this paper's argument should grab the attention of the federal government and people planning their retirement.  FULL STORY arrow
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Did you get faked out by soaring bond yields? space
The lesson here is to accommodate rising rates in your portfolio, but in a measured way
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, June 29, 2018 – Page B7
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-- May 17 was a big day in investing for the year so far.That's when high-rate hysteria peaked. The five-year Government of Canada bond yield hit 2.33 per cent, compared with 0.91 per cent a year earlier. Bonds and bond funds were in full retreat at this point, and utility stocks, long an investor favourite, were being pushed steadily lower.  FULL STORY arrow
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Is it safe to have all your money at one bank? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, June 28, 2018 – Page B10
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-- One of the lingering effects of the global financial crisis is a wisp of worry about whether money sitting in bank and brokerage accounts is safe.I see it from time to time in reader questions such as this one: ''Is it safe to have all your monies in one financial institution if the funds are all covered by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp.? I have close to seven figures invested with [one of the big banks] and its affiliates for simplicity. If I pass away, my widow will have less to deal with. All my eggs are in one CDIC-insured basket.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Put kids' education before home ownership space
Parents will be doing their children a great service by investing in an RESP for them
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, June 27, 2018 – Page B7
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-- The best financial support that parents can offer their children is a fully paid university or college education, not a house down payment.This needs to be said following the recent release of some research by Royal Bank of Canada on the cost of a postsecondary education. Some quick highlights: University tuition cost increases have outpaced inflation since 1982, and it now takes 505 hours of work at today's average minimum wage to pay the average university tuition, compared with 293 hours of minimum wage work back in 1990. Half of new undergraduates finish their schooling with some level of student debt, and more than 20 per cent of grads with a bachelor degree start out with $25,000 or more in debt.  FULL STORY arrow
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DIY investors: Swallow your pride and check out these mutual funds space
In a recent Top 100 analysis, Canadian dividend funds offered by the big banks stood out with strong results
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 – Page B11
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-- The strong anti-mutual fund bias of the DIY investor sometimes goes too far.People often come to do-ityourself investing after a frustrating experience with mutual funds that they felt underperformed and overcharged in fees.  FULL STORY arrow
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Fix to mutual fund rules falls short of expectations space
Why the investment industry will never ensure that clients come first
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, June 22, 2018 – Page B1
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-- The dream of creating a standard of transparent, client-focused service in the investment industry died Thursday.Regulators bailed on two reforms that would have made a huge difference for both investors and an investment industry that refuses to change a business model in which too many bad actors are allowed to prosper.  FULL STORY arrow
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ETF firms take mutual funds to school on fee competition space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, June 21, 2018 – Page B10
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-- The country's second-largest player in exchange-traded funds issued a news release recently to announce it was cutting the fee on one of its ETFs by 0.01 of a percentage point.  FULL STORY arrow
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How lenders encouraged Canadians to pay off debts space
As interest rates rise, data show flows into bank deposits were at more normal levels in March than first two months of 2018
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Oh, Canada. Can we talk about your debt load?The past several years have been a marathon of nagging you to get control of your debts for personal finance writers. Just in time, you are finally showing some progress. Keep it up, kid.  FULL STORY arrow
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How to bluntly break up with your adviser space
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By ROB CARRICK
Monday, June 18, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Toronto money-manageA ment firm has come up with a novel way to get some attention: Help investors identify and fire bad advisers.  FULL STORY arrow
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Analyzing Canada's largest mutual funds: 'Mediocre is kind in some cases' space
A look at the fees and returns of the 100 most popular funds
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, June 16, 2018 – Page B14
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-- Judge by hype alone and you might think that dividend stocks and exchange-traded funds are all Canadians invest in.But mutual funds are still the investment of the masses. The data analysis firm Strategic Insight says there was roughly $4.5-trillion in financial wealth in Canada at the end of 2017 - and almost 36 per cent of it was is in mutual funds, more than either bank deposits (including guaranteed investment certificates) or individual stocks and bonds.  FULL STORY arrow
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Making sense of a loved one's finances space
If you're worried that your financial life is too complex for others to have to unexpectedly untangle, take comfort: There's an app for you
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, June 15, 2018 – Page B9
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-- The savvier you are with money, the harder it will be for your family to make sense of your savings, investments, insurance and more if you get sick or die suddenly.  FULL STORY arrow
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TFSA growth seeming a little light? Here's why space
Less-than-optimum results should be a prompt to bring more investing discipline
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, June 14, 2018 – Page B13
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-- A recent column on benchmarking the growth in your tax-free savings account has generated some bragging and some frustration.An annualized return of 4 per cent was used for a balanced TFSA containing both stocks and bonds, with a tilt toward the stocks, while an 8-per-cent return was used for an all-stocks portfolio. Both figures are after fees. A few readers e-mailed to say they had been wondering how their TFSAs had done on a comparative basis and were pleased to see they had beaten the benchmark return. And then an investment adviser got in touch. She reported a couple of calls from clients who read the column and wondered why their accounts lagged.  FULL STORY arrow
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Haunted by housing: Millennials let rip about home-ownership woes space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 – Page B10
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-- Although house prices have soared in many places, we still to a large extent tell ourselves that home ownership is doable if you save hard and have a decent job.  FULL STORY arrow
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Let's snap out of our willingness to live in debt space
Ontario election's three major party platforms reflect a convergence of financial recklessness
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, June 9, 2018 – Page B4
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-- Low interest rates brought us a Doug Ford government in Ontario, and they would have been responsible for an NDP or Liberal win as well.One of many things that made the Ontario election so interesting was the way three such different major party platforms converged in financial recklessness.  FULL STORY arrow
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Tasty rates are now available for money you can afford to lock up for a year in a GIC space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, June 8, 2018 – Page B9
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-- It's taken a while, but interest rates for conservative investors are starting to edge higher.The upward creep of rates can be seen clearly in what banks, trust companies and credit unions are offering people willing to lock in money for a year with guaranteed investment certificates. There are several options that will give you returns that meet two important requirements.  FULL STORY arrow
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Parents can financially suffocate their children by helping them buy houses space
It may seem benevolent, but it can also bring potentially debilitating financial obligations
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, June 7, 2018 – Page B12
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-- Today's big test of parental devotion is the gift of money for a house down payment.Talk to financial planners and advisers these days and you're almost certain to hear about their experiences with parents who want to help their adult children buy a home. The parents worry that, without this assistance, rising prices will keep their kids from ever owning, and so they're getting expert help to see how affordable it would be to carve off a slice of their savings to help out.  FULL STORY arrow
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It's not a waste to keep money parked safely space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 – Page B9
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-- You can tell we haven't had a serious stock-market correction for a long while by the way people chafe at the idea of keeping money safely parked in cash.  FULL STORY arrow
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As politicians promise to tax the rich, the wealthy need to plan ahead space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, June 5, 2018 – Page B1
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-- A winning strategy in politics these days is to promise to tax the rich.  FULL STORY arrow
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How big should your TFSA be? space
The answer depends on whether one is an aggressive investor or a passive saver
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, June 2, 2018 – Page B11
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-- TFSAs were launched in 2009, which means we're well into our 10th year of having them available to build tax-free wealth.Care to benchmark your TFSA to see how you've done over the first decade for this popular investing and savings vehicle?  FULL STORY arrow
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Investors are overdoing it with balanced funds space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, June 1, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Stop two-timing your balanced fund.Chosen wisely, balanced funds are convenient blends of stocks and bonds can be your entire portfolio.If this convenience allows you to commit to a regular investing plan over the long term, then balanced funds can be a big win.  FULL STORY arrow
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Protecting yourself when your bank's online security fails space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, May 31, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Lost money is the least of your problems if you're a victim in a data breach such as sthe one that has affected as many as 90,000 Bank of Montreal and Simplii Financial clients.  FULL STORY arrow
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The tough-love guide to having your adult children move back home space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, May 30, 2018 – Page B9
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-- Nowhere in the literature on parenting does it mention how to get your young adult children off the family payroll.So it's no wonder that lots of attention has been paid to the 30-year-old in upstate New York who was taken to court by his parents to get him to move out.  FULL STORY arrow
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Have Vanguard's new balanced ETFs made robo-advisers obsolete? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 – Page B10
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-- The breakthrough of robo-advisers is to offer a way to instantly turn the cash you want to invest into a properly diversified, well-tended portfolio.The three new balanced exchange-traded funds from Vanguard do pretty much the same thing. So have robos been outflanked? The answer is no. Robos still rule for the investor with minimal financial savvy, other than an understanding of how important it is to take a sound, disciplined approach to investing. If you're comfortable investing with ETFs and want a simpler approach, definitely take a look at the Vanguard Conservative ETF Portfolio (VCNS-T), the Vanguard Balanced ETF Portfolio (VBAL-T) and the Vanguard Growth ETF Portfolio (VGRO-T).  FULL STORY arrow
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Is this bond mutual fund an ETF-beater? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, May 26, 2018 – Page B14
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-- The savvy investor's preference for ETFs over mutual funds can be a bit limiting at times.Certain mutual funds compare very well with exchange-traded funds and may actually be more suitable for do-ityourself investors. Example: the Phillips, Hager and North Bond Fund in its Series D option.  FULL STORY arrow
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A line has been crossed on taxing lofty home values space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, May 25, 2018 – Page B9
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-- You had to figure that governments would eventually find a way to tax the wealth locked up in houses that have soared in value.Only a federal government with a death wish would touch the personal residence exemption, which lets you sell your principal residence without having to pay tax on your capital gain. That leaves property taxes, which typically treat all homeowners equally by applying the same tax rate against the assessed value of their home.  FULL STORY arrow
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These ETFs could shield your portfolio from rising rates space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, May 24, 2018 – Page B10
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-- Preferred-share ETFs are showing signs of being a refuge for income-seeking investors worried about what rising rates will do to their portfolios.Preferreds as a group were at one time as vulnerable to rising rates as bonds and utility, pipeline, telecom and real estate stocks. But the preferred-share world is now mostly made up of rate-reset shares, which adjust their payouts every five years to keep up with interest rate ups and downs.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mortgage stress tests aren't killing the housing market space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 – Page B10
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-- When things go wrong in the housing market, people get angry.So expect to hear a lot of irate commentary on whose fault it is if house prices keep falling in Toronto and other places where people have been making lots of money off the housing boom.  FULL STORY arrow
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Women need to save more for retirement space
Earning less than their male counterparts, taking more time out of the workforce has women working harder for that cushy nest egg
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, May 19, 2018 – Page B13
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-- It's harder to save for retirement if you're a woman.Women earn less than men on average and more often take time out of the work force to raise children or look after elderly parents. ''If you're not working, then you're not paying into work pensions, you're not paying into CPP and you're not developing the same retirement income base,'' said Jane Bolstad, a certified financial planner (CFP) in Calgary.  FULL STORY arrow
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How not to get hammered by rising condo fees space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, May 18, 2018 – Page B8
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-- When lawyer Denise Lash was recently looking for a condo to buy, she based her final decision more on numbers than on features.''I knew of a building that was about 10 years old and I knew the board,'' said the founder of legal firm Lash Condo Law. ''I liked the unit and I thought, you know what? If I buy in a building, I want it to be one where I know it's a good one. I judged it by the board, their reserve fund and how well maintained it was.''  FULL STORY arrow
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How to get ahead of the clouds forming over fixed-rate mortgages space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, May 18, 2018 – Page B8
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-- If the mortgage-rate outlook was a weather forecast, you'd see gathering clouds and rain.For now, the sun is done. Borrowing costs on the hugely popular five-year fixedrate mortgage have been creeping higher since the year began, and pressure for more increases is building. You can see it happening in this chart showing the return, or yield, on the fiveyear bonds the Government of Canada issues to finance its operations.  FULL STORY arrow
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There's no such thing as a low-risk way to invest in stocks space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, May 12, 2018 – Page B13
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-- Recent results from low-volatility exchange-traded funds are a reminder of an immutable investing rule that people keeping hoping to outsmart.You can't successfully invest stocks without risk. Low-volatility ETFs seemed to refute this for a while, but they're coming back down to earth. A recent note from investment dealer Richardson GMP explains why: Basically, it comes down to something called interest-rate sensitivity risk. As bond yields increase, the price of bonds and stocks in dividend-heavy sectors such as utilities, telecom, pipelines and real estate decline. These are exactly the sectors that dominate lowvol ETFs.  FULL STORY arrow
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How aggressive is your bank about jacking up interest rates? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, May 11, 2018 – Page B8
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-- It's a mistake to shrug off interest-rate increases because all banks are doing it.There's a lot of sameness to how banks treat their customers, but raising rates is an exception. We've recently seen varying levels of aggressiveness in raising mortgage rates. And in one case, we've seen an unusually shaky hand in ramming through a rate hike on lines of credit. If you're a borrower, keep an eye on how banks compare with each other to make sure you're not getting shafted.  FULL STORY arrow
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Pity the two-vehicle family with a mortgage up for renewal this spring space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 – Page B8
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-- We are starting to accumulate all the irritations you normally see when the economy's going great.Rising gasoline prices? Check.Rising borrowing costs? Yup.Rising inflation? You bet.Costs are rising on a wide front this spring, but they'll hit one demographic hardest. That's the family with two vehicles and a mortgage that must be renewed this spring. Between higher borrowing costs and surging gasoline prices, a typical family could easily expect to pay an extra $165 or more a month.  FULL STORY arrow
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Sometimes, it's worth paying for an adviser space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 – Page B9
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-- They're the kind of clients that advisers drool over - investible assets just into the seven-figure range and a desire to have someone handle their money for them.There's just one hitch: This couple, both in their 70s, are leery of advisers. ''We are feeling like we would like to have someone manage [our money] for us, but have had negative experiences with financial advisers,'' one of the spouses told me recently. ''We are wondering what options you would suggest and the positive and negative ramifications of each.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Why robo-advisers aren't the answer to all your needs space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, May 8, 2018 – Page B1
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-- Score one for the humans in the battle between robo- and traditional advisers.Robo-advisers are still a financial industry newcomer, but they've been around long enough to start losing clients who were unhappy with their experience. Financial planner Rona Birenbaum recently took on someone who moved some money from a full-service brokerage firm to a robo-firm, and then was disappointed not to get financial planning in addition to investment management. ''This person wanted a consolidated approach and to speak to real people,'' Ms. Birenbaum said.  FULL STORY arrow
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Inflation concerns have brought real-return bonds back from the dead space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, May 4, 2018 – Page B7
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-- Renewed worries about inflation are reviving the fortunes of a onetime bond market darling that has faded into obscurity in recent years.While the broad bond market has been on the defensive this year, real-return bonds are looking strong. While there are good reasons not to add real-return bonds to a portfolio, there's no doubt that they're enticing right now.  FULL STORY arrow
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Bank of Canada may want to coddle borrowers, but bond market won't space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, May 4, 2018 – Page B1
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-- he plan to baby the counT try's borrowers has a flaw.The Bank of Canada wants to be gentle in raising interest rates to minimize the jolt to heavily indebted households and the economy, but it doesn't directly control the full range of borrowing costs. Fixed rate mortgages, the kind most people have, take their cue from a bond market that cares nothing about the difficulties some families might have if rates climb.  FULL STORY arrow
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Bank of Canada may want to coddle borrowers, but bond market won't space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, May 3, 2018 – Page B1
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-- he plan to baby the counT try's borrowers has a flaw.The Bank of Canada wants to be gentle in raising interest rates to minimize the jolt to heavily indebted households and the economy, but it doesn't directly control the full range of borrowing costs. Fixed rate mortgages, the kind most people have, take their cue from a bond market that cares nothing about the difficulties some families might have if rates climb.  FULL STORY arrow
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