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GiveLife.ca

    
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Globe Columnists
Thursday, May 24




  Rob Carrick
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Personal Finance



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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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How to quit that line of credit cold turkey space
HELOCs are a great tool for savvy borrowers, but they can also delude people into living beyond their means
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 – Page B2
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-- The home-equity line of credit's (HELOC) great contribution to personal finance has been to disconnect us all from the reality of having to live within our means.If you can't afford what you need or want, a HELOC solves the problem by allowing you to borrow cheaply against your home equity. HELOCs are a savvy borrower's best friend, but they also delude people into thinking it's viable to spend more than they earn.  FULL STORY arrow
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How to undercut robo-advisers with a supercheap ETF portfolio space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 – Page B7
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-- Using a robo-adviser is a smart thing to do if you want help building and maintaining a soundly constructed portfolio of low-fee ETFs.But you can run your own ETF portfolio at half the cost or less. Let's roughly figure a robo-adviser would cost you a total fee of 0.75 per cent - 0.5 per cent to manage the portfolio and 0.25 per cent charged by the ETFs (that comes off the top of returns, which are reported on a net basis). A DIY investor using an online brokerage firm that charges no commissions to buy ETFs could get overall costs down to 0.35 per cent or less, including ETFs and commissions for selling ETFs to periodically rebalance the portfolio.  FULL STORY arrow
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Lingering economic woes sow seeds of millennial discontent space
Survey highlights sentiment that the country's current economic system benefits older generations over younger ones
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, April 27, 2018 – Page B10
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-- The young adults living with their parents or renting because buying a house is unaffordable are starting to get restless.In a new survey of 18- to 37-year-olds, 40 per cent of participants said their generation is mostly or much worse off, compared with their parents and 54 per cent said the economic system in Canada benefits other generations over theirs. Asked whether capitalism is the best model or if we'd be better off with a more socialist system, 54 per cent chose socialism.  FULL STORY arrow
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You may have to work until 70 to afford a house space
With prices, mortgage rates headed higher, first-time buyers looking to enter the market are left at a crossroads
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, April 26, 2018 – Page B12
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-- There's a common theme in all that's going on in the housing market today - none of it's good for the aspiring first-time buyer.Prices are rising smartly in affordable Montreal and Ottawa and in the astronomically expensive Vancouver and Victoria markets. Prices are flat or weaker in other cities, but there's little to no improvement in affordability, thanks to mortgage-rate increases like we're seeing this week. On top of all this is the tough stress test buyers must take to ensure they can afford a spike in borrowing costs.  FULL STORY arrow
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Seeking income? Consider this five-pack of 5% dividend stocks space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 – Page B11
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-- The sad year-to-date performance by the Canadian stock market has had some positive results for income-seeking investors.As of late April, it was possible to get a dividend yield of 5 per cent or more from a five-pack of stocks in the SandP/TSX 60 Index. A company doesn't get into the 5per-cent club without its share price coming under attack from unhappy investors. But a yield of 5 per cent from a blue-chip member of the 60 index (large, liquid stocks) is an attention-grabber.  FULL STORY arrow
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Understanding a crucial yet mysterious fee investors pay their advisers space
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By ROB CARRICK
Monday, April 23, 2018 – Page B9
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-- Look to the trailing commission you pay if you want to grade the value you're getting from an investment adviser who sells mutual funds.It's easier said than done, though. A reader was recently studying his annual investment fee disclosure statement and tripped over trailing commissions. ''I didn't actually pay those fees, yet they must have an adverse effect on my returns,'' he said.  FULL STORY arrow
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An international approach to dividend ETFs space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, April 21, 2018 – Page B12
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-- How to take the sting out of slumping Canadian dividend stocks: Diversify globally.The sixth and final instalment of the 2018 Globe and Mail ETF Buyer's Guide covers U.S. and international dividend exchangetraded funds, which have been steady performers. As documented in the fifth Buyer's Guide instalment, Canadian dividend ETFs have been hit pretty badly.  FULL STORY arrow
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This might be the most useful savings account in Canada space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, April 20, 2018 – Page B7
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-- A 131-year-old insurance company has out-innovated everyone in making savings accounts more useful for everyday banking.New and nimble financial technology companies - fintech - have brought some cool products to personal finance.  FULL STORY arrow
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Interest rate vise may be closing on home equity lines of credit space
Already, TD Bank advises some HELOC clients of rate hikes - and BoC has plenty of opportunity for more in 2018
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 – Page B2
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-- There are two separate interest rate threats facing the people who have collectively borrowed about $207-billion from the big banks using a home equity line of credit.The obvious risk is that the Bank of Canada will continue a process begun last summer of raising its benchmark overnight lending rate.  FULL STORY arrow
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Is this fund fee fracas a case of investor abuse or obtuse investors? space
Enough with the outrage over online brokerage firms selling mutual funds with embedded fees for investment advice
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, April 13, 2018 – Page B4
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-- If you can't research a simple mutual fund, you're not cut out to be a do-it-yourself investor.So enough with the outrage over online brokerage firms selling mutual funds with embedded fees for investment advice. In what may be a first, I'm not jumping to the defence of investors on this one.  FULL STORY arrow
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Don't get penalized for selling your home space
If you don't report the sale of a principal residence on your tax return, CRA could fine you up to $8,000
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Canada Revenue Agency is getting tough with people who fail to comply with new rules requiring the routine sale of a home to be reported, even when there's zero tax owing.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why dividend investors should think twice before ditching their mutual funds space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Your best chance of owning an ETF-beating mutual fund is in the Canadian dividend and income category.A scorecard comparing actively managed mutual funds against their benchmark stock indexes shows a marked pattern of underperformance for mutual funds, except among Canadian dividend funds. Almost 58 per cent of dividend and income equity funds beat the SandP/TSX Dividend Aristocrats Index in 2017, by far the best showing of any fund category.  FULL STORY arrow
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ETF Buyer's Guide: Canadian dividend ETFs space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, April 7, 2018 – Page B12
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-- Canadian dividend ETFs have gone from darlings to dead weight in the past 12 months.The latest installment of the 2018 Globe and Mail ETF Buyer's Guide documents the bleak returns from exchange-traded funds holding dividend-paying stocks for the year to March 31.  FULL STORY arrow
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Forget falling stocks - there are other financial risks you should be worried about space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, April 5, 2018 – Page B10
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-- You have more important financial risks to worry about than falling stock markets.It's easy to get torqued these days about stocks. North American indexes were well into the red as of early April and the losses on a few particular days have been bad enough to rate mention on radio and TV news. Veterans of the most recent market crash know stocks only make the general news when they're dropping dramatically.  FULL STORY arrow
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Website's method of offering second opinions may just pay off space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, April 4, 2018 – Page B8
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-- No one has yet been able to make a business out of offering investors second opinions on their portfolios.The latest attempt to provide second opinions may just be the greatest: a website called Wealthscope, where investors and advisers can put their existing portfolios through a brisk, thorough workout, or test their own ideas for portfolio building. A basicservice tier is currently available for free. More comprehensive services will soon be offered to advisers for a fee.  FULL STORY arrow
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The all-banks stock portfolio (probably) isn't for you space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 – Page B10
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-- Admit it, you've wondered whether you could own nothing but bank stocks and do great as an investor. The answer: Probably, but don't try it.Readers have asked this question many times over the years, most recently in the past week.  FULL STORY arrow
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Saving new home owners from sudden budget-busting expenses space
Title insurance can help de-stress your finances after buying into a market where both prices and interest rates are on a rising trend
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, March 30, 2018 – Page B8
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-- The harsh economics of home buying today demand that you protect yourself as much as possible from the surprise expenses ahead.Title insurance costs a few hundred dollars on average, but it can save you thousands if you find out years from now that a structure on your property is partly on your neighbour's property, if the previous owners failed to pay their property tax or water bills in full, if fraudsters gain title to your house and more. Most home buyers today get title insurance for themselves when purchasing a home, but there are still holdouts. There may also be owners who paid for this coverage, but forgot about it.  FULL STORY arrow
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How not to get ripped off on GIC rates at banks space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, March 30, 2018 – Page B8
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-- It's a basic rule of investing that do-it-yourselfers get a better deal than people who buy through an adviser or sales person.Still, it's striking to see how people buying guaranteed investment certificates get abused when they do their transaction in a bank branch. Expect rates that are dramatically lower than the same bank is offering to clients who buy GICs through the inhouse online brokerage.  FULL STORY arrow
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Yes, variable-rate mortgages can still be cheaper space
The choice to lock down a rate for five years will depend on a number of factors, including your lifestyle and finances
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 – Page B10
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-- The safe and sound choice in today's mortgage market is to lock down a rate for five years and let borrowing costs do what they may.That's how you should proceed if you're a nervous firsttime home buyer or just holding things together financially as you renew. Everyone else, consider the variable-rate option. While they leave you exposed to rising interest rates ahead, variablerate mortgages can be cheaper in two important ways.  FULL STORY arrow
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These bonds can reward taking on extra risk space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 – Page B10
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-- Look to the corporate bond market if you're wondering about the rewards you get from taking on extra risk.A well-diversified short-term corporate bond ETF would get you a forward-looking yield of about 2.5 per cent these days. If you check out individual corporate bonds that just make the cut for being considered investmentgrade, you'll find yields from a variety of issuers of between 3.5 per cent and 3.9 per cent. Here are some examples found the week of March 19-23 at one particular online brokerage firm.  FULL STORY arrow
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Diversify globally to limit domestic risk space
Use the fourth instalment of the Globe ETF Buyers' Guide to spread your holdings across multiple international funds
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, March 24, 2018 – Page B12
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-- Stick to Canadian companies as an investor and you miss out on what's happening in 97 per cent of the global stock market.Adding U.S. stocks to your Canadian holdings brings you up to 55 per cent of the global market. To access opportunities in the rest of the world, try an exchange-traded fund covering international markets.  FULL STORY arrow
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Four ways to best use your tax refund space
Lots of people are getting money back - and the amount they're getting is large enough to do something meaningful
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, March 23, 2018 – Page B8
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-- The sooner you file your taxes, the faster you can put your refund to work in capitalizing on a number of opportunities offered up by financial market events in early 2018.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Big Six will fleece you - if you let them space
Consumers need to know their options for financial institutions to stop exploiting loyalty
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 – Page B2
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-- A federal agency has stripped away any remaining pretense that banks are trustworthy providers of advice, assistance, guidance, help or anything else along those lines.The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) said in a report issued Tuesday that the corporate culture at the Big Six banks is sharply focused on selling products and services, and that there are insufficient controls in place to protect clients from aggressive sales practices.  FULL STORY arrow
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Vanguard's new balanced ETFs show there's a market for sensible investing space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 – Page B9
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-- Some new exchange-traded funds that basically give you an entire diversified portfolio in a single purchase are showing you can be successful in the ETF business by selling nutrition as well as junk food.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mortgage renewals in 2018: Prepare for nasty rate surprises space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, March 17, 2018 – Page B11
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-- The era of pleasant surprises for people renewing their mortgage is done.Years of falling interest rates in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis taught a generation of home buyers that renewing a mortgage is a chance to reduce your payments. Now, we're heading into the first wave of postcrisis renewals at higher mortgage rates.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mortgage plus daycare equals financial overload in Canada's big cities space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, March 16, 2018 – Page B8
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-- The crushing costs of home ownership and raising a family could be driving the latest upswing in household debt.High debt levels reflect the damn-the-consequences style of consumption encouraged by low interest rates and the prompts to spend we get from immersion in the internet and social media.  FULL STORY arrow
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He's soon to retire - should he dump his blue-chip stocks and buy an ETF? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, March 15, 2018 – Page B11
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-- You'll have more time to work on your investment portfolio when you retire, but will you want to spend your leisure time that way?A reader who is three or four years from retirement has asked whether he should stay with a portfolio of individual blue-chip dividend stocks, or replace it with an exchange-traded fund holding blue-chip stocks. As an observer of people more than someone who writes about investing for a living, I tilt toward keeping the stocks.  FULL STORY arrow
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One bank dings clients who travel, while another lightens the load space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 – Page B7
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-- Some competitive jockeying by the big banks on creditand debit-card fees makes this an ideal time to reconsider how you pay for things while travelling.We have two contrasting approaches to fees for travelling customers from Bank of Nova Scotia and Toronto-Dominion Bank. Scotiabank introduced a strong new travel-reward credit card on Monday that doesn't charge the usual 2.5-per-cent fee on foreign-currency conversions.  FULL STORY arrow
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Don't forget about the market to the south space
ETF Buyer's Guide looks at TSX-listed funds that have exposure to the U.S. market
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, March 10, 2018 – Page B12
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-- PORTFOLIO STRATEGYThe Canadian investor's most glaring investor error of the past five years would arguably have been to underplay or ignore the U.S. stock market.Stock-wise, we got smoked by the U.S. market. With its heavy weighting in surging technology stocks, the SandP 500 index delivered an annualized five-year total return of 20.5 per cent in Canadian dollars to Dec. 31, while the SandP/TSX Composite Index made 8.6 per cent. The U.S. market looked shaky in early 2018, but it's a proven way to diversify a Canadian market dominated by banks, oil companies and miners.  FULL STORY arrow
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A GIC for those with stock-market fears space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, March 9, 2018 – Page B12
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-- Safe alternatives to volatile stock markets are starting to look more palatable than they have in a while.You can now lock in a 3-percent return on five-year guaranteed investment certificates sold by online brokerage firms. Yields of 3 per cent have been available for a while now from alternative banks and credit unions, but these players tend not to show up in the lists of third-party GICs sold by online brokerage firms.  FULL STORY arrow
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Where did higher rates for savers go? Right to the banks' bottom line space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 – Page B1
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-- If there is any suspense about whether the Bank of Canada will raise interest rates on Wednesday, it's strictly from the borrower's point of view.Whether the central bank leaves rates untouched or raises them, it makes little difference to savers. Dynamite couldn't break the impasse in banks delivering meaningfully higher rates on savings accounts.  FULL STORY arrow
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These five Canadian dividend mutual funds are ETF-beaters space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 – Page B13
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-- Low-cost ETFs are a practical way to investing in almost all the major asset classes, but that doesn't mean you should automatically default to them over mutual funds.  FULL STORY arrow
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Our children have watched us as borrowers, and now they're loading up on debt space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, March 1, 2018 – Page B9
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-- We have some early indicaW tions of how kids raised in an era of free and easy borrowing handle credit themselves.It's not going especially well.The credit-reporting firm TransUnion says the country's credit profile over all was in reasonably good shape in the fourth quarter of 2017, especially in light of recent interest-rate increases.  FULL STORY arrow
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Federal budget enhances personal security - for some space
Seniors, low-income workers will benefit from new budget measures
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 – Page B7
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-- Seniors worried about the security of their savings and pensions received some modest reassurance in the federal budget.There's zero in the way of dramatic strokes in this budget in a personal finance sense. It might be the blandest of the 25 or so budgets I have covered from the personal finance and business side. But the government has announced a couple of measures to help seniors worry a bit less about money, as well as a revamped tax break to help lowincome workers.  FULL STORY arrow
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Core bond ETFs to diversify your portfolio space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, February 24, 2018 – Page B13
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-- GLOBE AND MAIL ETF BUYER'S GUIDEBond ETFs are not at their best in a rising interest rate world.And yet, the case for filling up the bond side of your portfolio using exchange-traded funds instead of bond mutual funds or individual bonds and guaranteed investment certificates remains strong. You get low-cost diversification in a liquid investment that you can trade any time, unlike GICs.  FULL STORY arrow
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Will these products finally get the mutual-fund industry to lower its fees? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, February 23, 2018 – Page B9
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-- Canada needs a bigger selection of mutual funds like it needs an extra month of winter.And yet, some good for investors may come from the four actively managed mutual funds that Vanguard, the U.S. investing giant, is preparing to launch in the Canadian market. Expect fees for these funds to be dramatically lower than what our domestic fund companies charge.  FULL STORY arrow
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'Bad news' buy signals from four dividend stocks space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, February 23, 2018 – Page B9
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-- Investors seeking high-yielding I dividend income may want to defy the distress signal flashing on some blue-chip utility stocks. Rising interest rates have pushed down the price of electrical utility stocks in recent months, which has in turn sent their dividend yields higher.  FULL STORY arrow
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These bond ETFs are providing a leaky defence for investors space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 – Page B10
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-- So much for the go-to strategy for playing defence with your bonds in a rising-rate world.Short-term bonds are supposed to be preferable to longerterm bonds when interest rates are rising.  FULL STORY arrow
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Full CPP benefits are a tough goal to reach space
Only 6% of people received the highest possible amount in 2016, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good base for retirement
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 – Page B9
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-- Monthly Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits will total a maximum $13,610.04 for 2018 - nothing flashy, but still significant.Unfortunately, few will get it.In 2016, roughly 6 per cent of CPP retirement-benefit recipients received the maximum, data from Employment and Social Development Canada shows.  FULL STORY arrow
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19th annual Globe and Mail online broker ranking space
While these services are strictly prevented from providing investment advice, in 2018, the best of them give you the tools you need to make your own smart decisions
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, February 17, 2018 – Page B10
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-- The best online brokerage firms are the ones that have travelled the farthest since their early days as order takers for investors who wanted to trade stocks for cut-rate commissions.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why millennials can't afford to avoid stocks space
More than any other group, young adults have to be savvy about equity investing while saving for retirement
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, February 16, 2018 – Page B10
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-- Let us count the many ways that investing in stocks is a nasty experience.Stocks fall, sometimes hard, for reasons that no one can precisely pin down. That's basically what's happened this month on the stock markets. Stocks are supposed to reward long-term patience, but they don't always.  FULL STORY arrow
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Set it and forget it: Four strong, balanced fund contenders for your RRSP space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, February 16, 2018 – Page B10
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-- The stock market decline last week reminds us of the benefits of not having all your retirement savings in stocks.  FULL STORY arrow
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Is this the year household debt gets messy? space
New mortgage rules introduced in 2018 mean refinancing is no longer an easy fallback
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 – Page B8
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-- The Toronto housing market's rotten January has thrown a scare into veteran mortgage broker John Cocomile.A lot of Mr. Cocomile's business in recent years has been mortgage refinancings, which are like a financial-stress reducer.  FULL STORY arrow
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A guide to navigating ETFs focused on Canadian stocks space
First instalment of the 2018 Globe and Mail ETF Buyer's Guide takes a detailed look at established domestic funds
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, February 10, 2018 – Page B12
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-- Some of the best bargains in the investing universe can be found in the ETFs that track Canada's stock market.There are funds listed in the Canadian equity fund instalment of the 2018 Globe and Mail ETF Buyer's Guide with management expense ratios as low as 0.03 per cent to 0.06 per cent. The largest Canadian equity mutual funds have an average fee of about 2 per cent. Remember that comparison if you're concerned about the impact fees have on your returns.  FULL STORY arrow
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How to avoid credit-card fees from vacation space
Surcharges incurred while abroad are akin to a tax on travelling
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, February 9, 2018 – Page B7
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-- The savvy traveller's options for avoiding a hidden markup on credit-card purchases made outside Canada are about to shrink drastically.Most credit cards issued in Canada charge a 2.5-per-cent foreign-currency conversion fee when in foreign countries. The tiny group of cards bucking this trend gets smaller on March 15, when Chase Canada shuts down the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa and Marriott Rewards Premier Visa cards.  FULL STORY arrow
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ETFs just underwent a stress test - here's how they did space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, February 9, 2018 – Page B6
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-- One of the knocks on being an index investor is that you're vulnerable in a fastfalling stock market.Most of the assets in exchangetraded funds track benchmark indexes in which stocks are weighted according to their market capitalization - shares outstanding multiplied by share price. The stocks that investors push up the most in price can dominate the index. If these stocks fall hard in a decline, the index gets crushed. The inference here is that you're better off with actively managed money, where an investing pro can build a portfolio for you that may not be so tied to the stocks that have risen the most in price.  FULL STORY arrow
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A trusty alternative for stressed-out bond investors space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, February 8, 2018 – Page B9
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-- There will be blood if you hold bonds or bond funds through a cycle of rising interest rates.Frankly, so what? Long-term investors will make out fine with bonds if they hold through the rising rates that hurt bonds and the falling rates that help. All the while, bonds will pay a reliable flow of interest and act as a cushion if stocks should tank.  FULL STORY arrow
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Market confidence shaken as Dow tumbles 1,175 points space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 – Page B1
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-- The stock market had a long overdue freakout Monday. Be grateful.As an investor, protracted stretches of prosperity should make you nervous. We've seen that in the globally dominant U.S. stock market, where the SandP 500 stock index of big companies averaged returns of almost 16 per cent annually over the five years to Dec. 31 in U.S. dollars. That's pretty much double what the optimistic experts expect for the years ahead.  FULL STORY arrow
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Vanguard launches 'one-ticket solution' ETFs space
Three new balanced funds provide a simple approach to low-cost, long-term investing
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, February 1, 2018 – Page B12
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-- Taking a simple approach to investing does not make you a simpleton.So keep an open mind about some exchange-traded funds that are set to begin trading on Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. A lot of new offerings in the smoking-hot ETF business these days are about trying to make clients feel smart by helping them invest in hot sectors or novel strategies. The three new balanced ETFs from the low-cost investing giant Vanguard wow you with a beautiful simplicity.  FULL STORY arrow
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RRSPs get a bum rap as a tax trap space
Part of the misconception around the savings account relates to federal rules on how they're used
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – Page B9
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-- Regret is something you're supposed to feel for not contributing to RRSPs.But for years now, Jamie Golombek has been hearing from retirees who rue the day they started down the road of using registered retirement savings plans and, in turn, registered retirement income funds (RRIF).  FULL STORY arrow
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Know the limits to sensible investing space
Four examples of how the current enthusiasm for risk is pushing the boundaries
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, January 27, 2018 – Page B12
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-- PORTFOLIO STRATEGYSurging investor confidence in early 2018 is starting to look like reckless enthusiasm.Investors have lately shown a willingness to take on risk in search of home-run returns, and the investment industry is serving up products to capitalize.  FULL STORY arrow
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Missing out on the hottest stocks? Try the get-rich-slow plan instead space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, January 26, 2018 – Page B1
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-- The second-worst stock market environment for the sensible investor is what we're seeing today - a grab-fest of buying based on the fear of missing out.  FULL STORY arrow
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Investors turn to these active bond ETFs in trying times space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, January 26, 2018 – Page B10
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-- An endorsement of active management has come from a most unlikely source.Just over 40 per cent of money flowing into bond exchange-traded funds last year went to actively managed funds rather than those tracking bond indexes. The Canadian market for ETFs has for years offered active-management options, but the most attractive funds are without a doubt the megacheap ones that track mainstream stock and bond indexes. In fact, the two most popular bond funds in 2017 were index trackers - the BMO Aggregate Bond Index ETF (ZAG-T) and the BMO High Yield U.S. Corporate Bond Index ETF (ZJK-T). Over all, 81 per cent of bond ETF assets were in index-tracking funds at the end of 2017.  FULL STORY arrow
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Index investing as a low-fee solution? Not so fast space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 – Page B8
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-- Cheap fees are the foundation of index investing, but they're not the rule.Index investing means buying an exchangetraded fund or mutual fund that delivers the return of a particular stock or bond index minus fees (net returns are reported to investors). Those fees vary a lot, however, depending on whether you're using ETFs or index funds.  FULL STORY arrow
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The growing temptation of a reverse mortgage space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 – Page B7
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-- We can no longer dismiss the reverse mortgage as an icky last resort for the financially desperate home owner.Introduced in Canada in 1986, reverse mortgages are winding their way into the financial mainstream. Demand for reverse mortgages is soaring and now there's a new entrant on the scene to challenge the lone incumbent. Equitable Bank's Path Home Plan became available last week in the British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario markets as a competitor to HomEquity Bank's CHIP Reverse Mortgage.  FULL STORY arrow
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How you're getting richer, even as the cost of debt rises space
Rising interest rates signal broader economic prosperity; further wage increases may be in the not-too-distant future
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, January 18, 2018 – Page B2
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-- Interest rates have been low for so long that we forget the good things happening when they rise.In a massively indebted place such as Canada, rising rates can fairly be described as trouble waiting to happen for both households and governments. But higher rates are caused by positive economic developments, such as a firming job market and rising wages.  FULL STORY arrow
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The case for conservative stocks, even as they get clobbered space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 – Page B11
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-- Safe is no longer sound when investing in stocks.For years, taking a conservative approach to investing in the stock market was the winning approach. You can see this through the success of low-volatility exchange-traded funds and some of the individual sectors these funds focused on, notably consumer staples.  FULL STORY arrow
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Goodbye, stable rates. It's a new world for borrowers - and savers space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – Page B1
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-- This year is already shaping up as the most eventful in a decade for interest-rate watchers.The country is zeroing-in on Wednesday's Bank of Canada announcement as an indicator of what's ahead for rates. But a shift to higher borrowing costs and savings rates has already begun. Mortgage rates have edged higher in recent weeks and returns on guaranteed investment certificates have increased in a few cases. The question going forward is not whether rates will keep rising - it's how much more upside there is in 2018.  FULL STORY arrow
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Tired of flashy? Try the Two-Minute Portfolio space
That this hype-free investing strategy narrowly beat the S&P/TSX index last year is nothing to get excited about - which is kind of the point
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, January 13, 2018 – Page B13
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-- In a time of soaring cryptocurrencies and marijuana stocks, it hardly seems noteworthy that the Two-Minute Portfolio beat the SandP/TSX composite index last year.The 2MP made 9.7 per cent on a total-return basis (share-price changes plus dividends), while the index gained 9.1 per cent. A narrow win for the 2MP. Nothing to get excited about, which is kind of the whole point of this strategy.  FULL STORY arrow
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Nine things you need to know to survive the next online brokerage traffic jams space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 – Page B6
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-- Investors began 2018 with a surge of excitement that quickly turned to frustration when their online brokerage firms struggled to keep up with demand to trade stocks.There were outages for the websites of both TD Direct Investing and RBC Direct Investing in the first few days back from the Christmas break, and complaints continued into this week. TD cited ''unprecedented trading volumes'' in explaining why investors keen to take advantage of hot markets and sectors, such as marijuana, could not log into their accounts or complete trades.  FULL STORY arrow
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Worried you've missed out on the hot market action? Play it cool space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, January 9, 2018 – Page B1
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-- Fear stalks the stock markets - fear of missing out.There has been a decisive shift in investor psychology in recent months. The trepidations about investing that lingered long after the global financial crisis and market crash of 2008-09 have finally disappeared. The traffic jams at online brokers TD Direct Investing and RBC Direct Investing last week are less a story about technology issues than they are of investors acting on a fear of missing out on hot sectors and markets.  FULL STORY arrow
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Higher mortgages rates in 2018 will close door to some home buyers space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, January 5, 2018 – Page B1
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-- This is the year that kills home-ownership dreams for some aspiring firsttime buyers.Mortgage rates are expected to creep higher in 2018, which means declining affordability. As expensive as houses in some cities are, they may never be as accessible to the first-time buyer as they are today.  FULL STORY arrow
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How to beat the banks on GIC rates space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, January 5, 2018 – Page B8
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-- There is no end to the indignity of being a conservative investor these days.To start, rates on guaranteed investment certificates are ultralow by historical standards. Adding to the pain is the fact that GIC issuers have barely responded, if at all, to the rate increases initiated by the Bank of Canada in the second half of last year. One way to fight back as an investor is to use a deposit broker.  FULL STORY arrow
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Advisers hand out some tough love to improve your finances space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, January 3, 2018 – Page B1
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-- The people who have seen you naked, financially speaking, have some ideas about how you can better manage your money in 2018.Financial planners and investment advisers in my LinkedIn network were asked a few weeks ago to complete this thought: ''If I could change one thing about how Canadians manage money, it would be to...'' Here are some highlights from 199 comments covering a great range of topics, starting off with overspending and undersaving.  FULL STORY arrow
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A conservative mix of assets to start off 2018 space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, January 3, 2018 – Page B7
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-- Every year, I take on the challenge of building a good, sound portfolio of ETFs that costs less than the previous year's.The exchange-traded fund sector delivers the low fees needed to make this happen, and what started in 2015 as the Freedom 0.15 Portfolio has morphed into Freedom 0.11 for 2018. That's 11 cents in fees for every $100 you have invested.  FULL STORY arrow
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Enough with your excuses for not investing globally space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, December 23, 2017 – Page B11
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-- One of the most common investing mistakes Canadians make is to overemphasize domestic stocks and play down markets in the United States and internationally.If you've been ignoring advice to diversify beyond Canada, here's some incentive to change your mind. At a time when so many assets are expensive, international stock markets are a comparative bargain. A recent column looked at some analysis by portfolio managers PWL Capital on which assets were expensive, fairly valued and cheap.  FULL STORY arrow
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Investors, don't give in to the fear of missing out space
Hot sectors such as cryptocurrencies and marijuana stocks dominated 2017, but advisers urge caution
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, December 23, 2017 – Page B11
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-- PORTFOLIO STRATEGYSensible investing has rarely seemed as dull and removed from the action as it did in 2017.Between bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, marijuana stocks, robotics and artificial intelligence, an unprecedented amount of attention was given to hot sectors this year. The late 1990s period, with its mania over technology stocks, was intense. Today, there's a greater variety of temptation and thus more risk that people will make investing decisions based on a fear of missing out, rather than financial fundamentals.  FULL STORY arrow
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These are your best avenues for lowering the investment fees you pay space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, December 22, 2017 – Page B11
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-- If you want to pay lower investment-advice fees, the beginning of a new year is an ideal time to make your case.Many investment firms will be mailing clients an annual statement on returns and fees paid in dollar terms for investment advice and services. Advisers are expecting some clients to call to discuss the numbers.  FULL STORY arrow
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Handling debts, stocks and bitcoin in 2018 space
From rising interest rates to cryptocurrency hysteria, here are some risks and opportunities to be aware of in the coming year
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By ROB CARRICK
Monday, December 18, 2017 – Page B8
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-- Eight dos and don'ts for preparing your personal finances for the challenges ahead in 2018:DO BRACE FOR HIGHER BORROWING COSTSThe economy's improving, and that means an increased likelihood of more interest-rate increases next year. The Bank of Canada's benchmark overnight rate moved higher by a cumulative 0.5 of a percentage point in the second half of 2017. A quick scan of the latest big bank economic outlooks suggests it could rise by another 0.5 to 0.75 of a point next year.  FULL STORY arrow
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Don't count on inverse ETFs to hedge against a crash space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, December 15, 2017 – Page B11
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-- Soaring stock markets tend to make investors nervous.''With markets at record highs, I'm looking for products to hedge my portfolio in the event of a downturn,'' a reader writes. ''What is your opinion about inverse ETFs?'' Inverse exchange-traded funds use financial instruments called derivatives to provide the inverse return of a particular stock index over a one-day period.  FULL STORY arrow
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Shut out of the housing market, Gen Y kills it on debt reduction space
Under-35 cohort's freedom is notable when you look at the challenges it faces
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, December 13, 2017 – Page B10
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-- Not owning a house can do wonders for your personal finances.Over the past two decades, the only segment of the population with any momentum in becoming debt-free is the young adult under 35. Prohibitively expensive housing is a big part of the story.  FULL STORY arrow
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Is everything in the markets overpriced right now? Not quite space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, December 13, 2017 – Page B10
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-- The most frustrated investors these days have to be the ones who believe in the foundational ''buy low'' theory of building wealth.Buy low? Does any asset class qualify as undervalued these days? If you go by the semiannual economic and market review from portfolio managers PWL Capital, the answer is yes.  FULL STORY arrow
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How to keep a lid on hidden brokerage fees space
Preventing administration charges is a lot easier than trying to negotiate them away later
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, December 9, 2017 – Page B14
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-- The democratization of online investing with affordable stock-trading commissions for all has hit a speed bump.Buying and selling stocks and ETFs can be economical if you have a small account because it costs as little as $4.95 to trade online, and no more than $10 in almost all cases. The problem is the account fees that brokers may apply to small registered and non-registered accounts with less than $5,000 to $25,000 in them.  FULL STORY arrow
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When it comes to money, Canada is a country of Eeyores space
It seems a rising number of people are reporting financial dissatisfaction despite positive trends over all
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, December 8, 2017 – Page B8
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-- There's lots to celebrate in Canada from a financial point of view as we head into the final weeks of 2017.Unemployment is down, wages are up, stocks are chugging along and houses have held the value they've built up in the past decade. We have a strong foundation for financial happiness, but people aren't responding. It's not just Canada - people in several other well-off countries don't feel satisfied with where they are financially, either.  FULL STORY arrow
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The easy way to lower your investment advice fees space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, December 8, 2017 – Page B8
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-- Near the top of your investing to-do list for 2018 should be a note to schedule a meeting with your investment adviser to discuss fees.A recent survey of investors suggests your meeting could be productive. The study was commissioned by the Canadian Securities Administrators, an umbrella group of provincial securities commissions, and covered a variety of investing issues.  FULL STORY arrow
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Dissecting your excuses for not giving to charity space
A new study shows that while people know it's important, they aren't making donations
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 – Page B9
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-- PERSONAL FINANCEIt's time to find some new excuses for not donating to charity.The old standbys may not hold up. People say they can't afford to give, and yet median donations from well-off households are low. They also say charities are ineffective and wasteful, though there are plenty of ways to find worthy ones.  FULL STORY arrow
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Do you have an inflated sense of your investing skills? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 – Page B12
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-- A reader says he saved $130,000 in advisory fees by taking his portfolio in hand and picking his own investments.He estimates he's made an average 7-per-cent return over the past decade or so with a portfolio that is now invested in a 50-50 mix of guaranteed investment certificates and stocks in sectors such as banks, utilities and telecom. He fired his adviser after a big loss in the 2008-09 stock market crash.  FULL STORY arrow
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How many years past 65 will you work? space
With fewer Canadians qualifying for workplace pensions, seniors are increasingly putting retirement on hold
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, December 1, 2017 – Page B10
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-- Let's have a moment of silence for the late, great dream of early retirement.We're now transitioning to an era of delayed retirement, where it's common for people to work at least part time after age 65. New census data on working seniors prove it. In 2015, 53.5 per cent of men and almost 39 per cent of women who were 65 worked at some point in the year.  FULL STORY arrow
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It may be time to apply this market-leading Canadian ETF strategy in the United States space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, November 30, 2017 – Page B10
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-- The U.S. market is where top performing Canadian-market investing strategies meet their match.The latest example is the low-volatility exchange-traded fund, which has been the best performing Canadian market strategy over the past five years for investors using exchange-traded funds. For investing in the U.S. market, low-volatility funds have been less dominant.  FULL STORY arrow
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Target-benefit pension plans a workable, if messy, alternative space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, November 29, 2017 – Page B1
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-- The pension changes at the heart of the conflict-of-interest allegations against Finance Minister Bill Morneau may just save the cash-forlife retirement pension from edging closer to extinction.  FULL STORY arrow
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Tracking your investments space
With Google Finance's portfolio tracker no longer an option, a look at the alternatives to monitor stocks, ETFs and mutual funds
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, November 25, 2017 – Page B9
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-- The Google Finance online portfolio tracker never offered much eye candy for users, but it was easy to use and popular with investors. Nevertheless, it appears to be on the way out. ''Google Finance is under renovation,'' a notice on the website says. As a part of this process, the Portfolios feature won't be available until a later date, the notice continues. Ready to find an alternative for monitoring stocks, exchange-traded funds and mutual funds you own or are considering for your portfolio? Let's look at a bunch of contenders.  FULL STORY arrow
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How e-transfers are ousting paper cheques space
The electronic method of moving cash is outpacing centuries-old traditional vehicles - and could soon overtake them completely
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, November 24, 2017 – Page B9
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-- The surging popularity of e-transfers could soon cancel the paper cheque's status as our favourite way to send money.The cheque as we know it has been around for 300 years, while the Interac e-transfer dates back 15 years. But recent trends suggest e-transfers could overtake cheques in popularity in a year or two. A pair of new features to make e-transfers more convenient could speed up the process.  FULL STORY arrow
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Best performing Canadian market strategy of the past five years space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, November 24, 2017 – Page B10
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-- The most successful ETF strategy for investing in the Canadian stock market over the past five years is the low-volatility fund.A surprise, right? A lot of investors who favour exchange-traded funds might have guessed dividends, or maybe just using a fund that tracks the broad Canadian stock market.  FULL STORY arrow
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Can the government save the middle-class wannabe homeowner in Toronto and Vancouver? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, November 22, 2017 – Page B1
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-- With a new federal housing strategy coming imminently, let's catch up on what the recent ups and downs in Canada's most expensive real estate markets mean for affordability. Remember the Paul Simon song Slip Slidin' Away? That's your life if you're not a high earner and trying to afford a home. Toronto and Vancouver are markedly less affordable than they were two years ago, and Victoria and Hamilton are similar.  FULL STORY arrow
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A new way for high-net-worth investors to assess their adviser's work space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 – Page B12
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-- We're part of the way there in helping investors fully understand how their portfolios are performing.Disclosure rules now require investment firms to provide personalized rates of return to clients, as well as the dollar amount of fees paid for advice. What's missing from the return disclosures in many cases is context. Great, you made 10 per cent over a one-year period. But how does that return compare with what everyone else made?  FULL STORY arrow
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Why we're a bundle of nerves about money space
Survey uncovers staggering level of financial stress, with 40 per cent of Canadians saying they lose sleep over the issue
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, November 17, 2017 – Page B7
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-- We spend, we worry about money, we spend some more.Why do we do this to ourselves?A recent survey of 5,200 people by a financial services consulting firm has uncovered a staggering level of repressed financial stress.  FULL STORY arrow
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The saving grace of senior co-habitation space
Sharing living spaces makes sense for many living off retirement funds, but they should take steps to avoid predatory behaviour
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 – Page B13
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-- Rising rates of divorce among seniors suggest they may need a refresher about some of the facts of life.Here's one: Consider the co-habitation agreement if you decide to move in with someone rather than getting remarried. Keep your retirement savings safe.  FULL STORY arrow
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Two of the scariest words in personal finance today are 'investment property' space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 – Page B13
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-- Through 10 of the most confusing years ever for managing your money, housing has delivered.So it's no surprise that I'm hearing more and more from people thinking about buying an investment property. Never mind whether this increased interest in investing in houses and condos is a sign of a bubble or, at least, a surfeit of enthusiasm about real estate. Let's look at the question on a pure financial-planning basis.  FULL STORY arrow
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