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GiveLife.ca

    
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PRINT EDITION
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Globe Columnists
Tuesday, January 16




  Rob Carrick
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Personal Finance



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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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A curious balanced-fund blind spot space
ETF companies seem reluctant to reach out to investors who buy this well-loved product. But that's starting to change
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, November 11, 2017 – Page B9
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-- The ETF industry won't seriously challenge the supremacy of the mutual fund until it develops an alternative to the humble, but hugely popular balanced fund.Balanced funds are a blend of stocks, bonds and sometimes other investments such as preferred shares and real estate. They're a convenient way for investors and advisers to diversify portfolios and they sell like nobody's business. In the first nine months of the year, members of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada reported $21.6-billion in net sales of balanced funds. Net sales of individual equity and bond funds together came to just $15.3-billion.  FULL STORY arrow
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Better interest rates really are out there space
It'll take some work for the aggressive saver to outpace inflation with their savings account, but the rewards are worth it
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, November 10, 2017 – Page B7
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-- Decent interest rates on savings accounts are out there, but only for intrepid savers who hunt them down.The Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point over the summer, the first uptick in seven years.  FULL STORY arrow
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These bond ETFs have been survivors in a nasty year space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, November 10, 2017 – Page B8
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-- A handful of bond ETFs seem to be holding their own or even flourishing despite the challenge of rising rates in 2017.The big, broad-based bond ETFs have done what you'd expect when rates are rising - they have fallen in value over the past 12 months even after you factor in the yield on their interest payments to investors.  FULL STORY arrow
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Low interest rates have turned us into a country of money klutzes space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 – Page B1
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-- The single worst thing to happen to this country's personal finances in the past 10 years is the decline in interest rates.Remember that as we make our way through another Financial Literacy Month, with its helpful suggestions from government agencies, banks and others. There's a view that we can teach our way to better standards of financial literacy, and it's valid for sure as long as it's done in a way that engages people.  FULL STORY arrow
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Accept it, your children may grow up to be renters space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, November 3, 2017 – Page B1
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-- Get over your hang-ups about renting versus owning a home.The latest census data suggest the home-ownership rate in this country may have already peaked and that means more renting ahead. The idea of peak oil has fizzled, but peak housing is a theory we can build on.  FULL STORY arrow
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Dividend funds for investors who are banked to the max space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, November 3, 2017 – Page B12
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-- Canada's banks are dividend machines, so it makes sense that dividend funds and ETFs are loaded with them.But if you've got a lot of bank exposure elsewhere in your portfolio, your dividend fund could put you at risk of bank overload. You don't want potential trouble in one sector to infect everything in your portfolio. Yet this could happen if you owned a broad-based equity mutual fund or exchange-traded fund, and had holdings in preferred shares and corporate bonds.  FULL STORY arrow
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Nervous about frothy stocks? Here are four alternatives space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, November 2, 2017 – Page B14
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-- Persistently strong stock prices are as much a threat to smart investing as falling markets.You can see this in the rising number of questions I'm getting from investors who are nervous about buying into the stock market right now and are looking at alternatives.  FULL STORY arrow
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Robo-planning: An idea whose time has come space
Viviplan finds a niche offering affordable advice and leaving the portfolio-building to others
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 – Page B13
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-- Two of the most important financial questions of our time are: Can I afford to buy a house, and do I have enough money to retire?Rona Birenbaum and Seyon Vasantharajan are offering answers to these questions through their new robo-planning firm, Viviplan.  FULL STORY arrow
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Finding the right robo: A practical guide space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, October 28, 2017 – Page B10
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-- It's time to stop treating roboadvisers as a novelty and start considering them as a smart option for people seeking help in building an investment portfolio.Robo-advisers fill the middle ground between the rock-bottom costs of do-it-yourself investing and the premium cost of having an adviser at an investment firm.  FULL STORY arrow
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Even as TSX hits record highs, long-term returns are meagre space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, October 28, 2017 – Page B1
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-- Every day the Canadian stock market extends its recent rally helps hide an uncomfortable fact about investing.Even after 10 years, investing in stocks can seem futile. On an afterinflation basis, the SandP/TSX composite index lost money over the past decade. The index averaged a gain of 1.1 per cent annually for the 10 years to late October, while inflation averaged 1.6 per cent. And, yes, that includes Friday's record-high close on the TSX.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why a 20-per-cent down payment for a home may not be worth it space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, October 27, 2017 – Page B1
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-- It's tough to feel financially prudent when buying a house these days.That's why an increasing number of first-time buyers are saving a down payment of 20 per cent or more. In doing so, they avoid having to buy mortgage default insurance which, in the case of a house price of $487,095 (the national average) bought with a 10-per-cent down payment, would be 3.1 per cent or $13,590. This premium is generally added to the mortgage, which means more interest to pay.  FULL STORY arrow
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Ottawa takes tax action with CCB tweaks space
Canada Child Benefit improvements will be a difference-maker for families in need, and help keep the program relevant
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, October 26, 2017 – Page B12
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-- If you're going to shake more money from the wealthy to improve tax fairness and help the middle class, using it to fund programs such as the Canada Child Benefit is the way to go.  FULL STORY arrow
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Long-term-care insurance is slow to catch on space
Policies for those who can't look after themselves should be part of retirement plans, but costs and availability can be a barrier
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, October 20, 2017 – Page B11
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-- There is seemingly not a financial product more suited to the times than long-term-care insurance.Between an aging population, longer lifespans and medical advances, there's a growing sense in financial planning that a sound retirement plan must include a way to address the costs of care for people who can't look after themselves. Longterm-care insurance is one option, but you soon won't be able to buy it on its own from one of Canada's largest insurance companies.  FULL STORY arrow
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Squeezing first-time buyers is smart policy space
OSFI's job is to make sure the banking system stays healthy, not help young people get into the housing market
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 – Page B6
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-- If some aspiring home buyers have to be turned away to protect the solidity of the country's real estate market, then so be it.A broad swath of the economy that makes its living from selling real estate has criticized new mortgagelending rules because they make it harder for rookie buyers to afford a house. But responsibly managing the housing market so we adjust smoothly to rising interest rates takes precedence over helping the most people possible buy homes.  FULL STORY arrow
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HOW DIVIDEND GROWTH CAN BOOST A STOCK'S PRICE space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 – Page B11
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-- As company's dividends grow, so grows its share price.Growth in dividend payouts and share price don't move in lockstep, but there's a close relationship over the long term.  FULL STORY arrow
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How a rallying market hurts your portfolio space
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By ROB CARRICK
Monday, October 16, 2017 – Page B5
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-- Here's the problem with a resurgent Canadian stock market. In a way, it's bad for your portfolio.When the SandP/TSX composite index is doing well, it's a near certainty that financials and energy stocks are driving the bus. If you own funds or stocks that mirror the broader market, every tick higher by the TSX skews your portfolio to these two dominant sectors.  FULL STORY arrow
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Have you hurt your portfolio with destructive diversification? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, October 14, 2017 – Page B10
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-- Smart diversification is spreading your investing assets between bonds and stocks, economic sectors, geographical regions and size of company.And then there's destructive diversification. That's a term that applies to the idea of spreading your personal investment accounts among multiple firms.  FULL STORY arrow
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Rising rates make annuities more attractive space
A laddering approach using these cash-for-life retirement contracts can help you benefit as interest rates go up
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, October 14, 2017 – Page B9
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-- With interest rates rising, it's time for a fresh look at the cash-for-life comfort and convenience of annuities.A lot of investors and their advisers have avoided annuities in recent years because low interest rates have depressed payouts. But there are signs the rate increases that began this summer have had a positive impact on annuities. To capitalize, consider the same kind of laddering strategy that works well for people buying guaranteed investment certificates.  FULL STORY arrow
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Putting a price on wealthy clients' advice fees space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, October 12, 2017 – Page B13
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-- The most coveted clients in the investment advice business may be paying excessive fees.High-net-worth clients - let's say people with investable assets of $1-million and up - typically pay a much lower advice fee than less wealthy individuals. It's basic economics - a smaller percentage of a huge portfolio makes advisers and their firms more than a larger percentage of a small portfolio. But high-net-worth investors may still be paying more than they should. If you're being charged a fee of more than 1 per cent, this column is for you.  FULL STORY arrow
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This money-saving mortgage is on sale, but you should pass it up space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, October 12, 2017 – Page B1
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-- The all-star mortgage choice for saving money over the past few decades is finally back on sale at your mortgage broker, bank or credit union.As was the case before the financial crisis terrorized the world, you can now get a variable-rate mortgage with a discount of close to a full percentage point off your lender's prime rate. The prime today is generally 3.2 per cent. A variable-rate mortgage at 2.3 per cent to 2.4 per cent is attainable.  FULL STORY arrow
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These dividend stocks offer the best of two worlds space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 – Page B10
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-- Delayed gratification is a fact of life in dividend growth investing, but there are exceptions.The typical dividend growth stock has a low yield, but a record of providing reliable dividend growth through the years.  FULL STORY arrow
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Think living space, not money machine space
Between maintenance costs, mortgage interest and property tax, a home is not the long-term investment some seem to think it is
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, October 6, 2017 – Page B8
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-- Take some advice from rookie homeowner Desirae Odjick about houses as an investment.As a personal-finance blogger, she ran the numbers on the cost of owning a home and concluded that breaking even would be a good outcome when it comes time, many years down the road, to sell.  FULL STORY arrow
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A worthy price for peace of mind space
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance could save you a lot if you're taking a trip with significant non-refundable costs
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 – Page B11
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-- Trip, interrupted.Don't let this be the story of your next vacation. Protect your investment in travel with trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Yes, it can add 5 per cent to 7 per cent in costs to your next trip. The payoff is that you're reimbursed for the cost of travel you miss out on for the kind of reasons we're likely to see a lot more of in the future.  FULL STORY arrow
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Beware the mutual funds from hell space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 – Page B12
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-- The mutual-fund industry never looks worse than when you consider the money market fund.Yes, these fossils are still home to billions of dollars in investments from retail investors. A reminder of this sad truth came recently in an e-mail from investor advocate Ken Kivenko. The subject line read: ''The money market fund from hell.''  FULL STORY arrow
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The case for starting CPP benefits early space
They're guaranteed as long as you live, which these days could be a lot longer; meantime, you conserve your own retirement savings
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, September 30, 2017 – Page B10
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-- The most dispassionate, databased experts on retirement say you should delay starting your Canada Pension Plan benefits until after age 65.But the actuarial take on CPP doesn't sway retirement planner Daryl Diamond. The Winnipegbased author of Your Retirement Income Blueprint recommends that clients start their benefits whenever they retire. ''I don't care whether it's 59 years and 11 months or, age 62 and a half,'' he said. ''It's one of the first streams of income we look at if people are retiring.''  FULL STORY arrow
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A loud, sad message from the Equifax affair space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, September 29, 2017 – Page B8
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-- The Equifax security breach should have you wondering who has your back when thieves steal your private data.You're best off if you assume the answer to this question is no one. The saddest storyline in the Equifax situation is the lack of respect shown to people worried their data may have been stolen.  FULL STORY arrow
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Want lower investment fees? Don't be too hasty space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, September 29, 2017 – Page B8
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-- The level of fee awareness among Canadian investors rates may be a C-minus or D-plus.And yet, there is a small but growing slice of the investing public that isn't just aware of the cost of investing. No, these people are frantic about fees. They feel they must reduce their costs and they're keen to get moving.  FULL STORY arrow
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Sorry, but owning a home won't fund your retirement space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 – Page B1
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-- A disturbing number of people are building their retirement plans on a weak foundation - their homes.Years of strong price gains in some cities have convinced some people that real estate is the best vehicle for building wealth, ahead of stocks, bonds and funds. Perhaps inevitably, there's now a view that owning a home can also pay for your retirement.  FULL STORY arrow
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Five dividend funds that excel at consistency space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 – Page B10
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-- Investors have had so much success with dividend funds in recent years that it's easy to become complacent about these products.But times are getting tougher for dividend stalwarts in sectors such as utilities, pipelines, telecoms and real estate. Interest rates have been on the rise in recent months, and this in turn has put downward pressure on these rate-sensitive sectors.  FULL STORY arrow
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The latest retirement obstacle: Thirtysomethings living at home space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, September 22, 2017 – Page B1
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-- The newest retirementsavings challenge is the thirtysomething who still gets parental financial support.In a recent survey done for a financial planning organization, 13 per cent of parents with children 34 and older said their sons and daughters are financially dependent on them. Twelve per cent said their kids in this age bracket are causing a strain on them financially. How inconvenient - parents with thirtysomething children should be reaching peak retirementsavings momentum.  FULL STORY arrow
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These brokers are the best at keeping their clients satisfied space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 – Page B10
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-- Desjardins Online Brokerage has taken top spot in a new customer-satisfaction ranking.But if you're looking for the optimum do-it-yourself investing experience, check out Qtrade Investor. Qtrade took second spot in the customer-satisfaction survey by J.D. Power, and it's a top player in comprehensive rankings of Canada's online brokerage firms. J.D. Power assigned Desjardins a rank of five out of five based on the results of a survey of 2,609 investors who are primarily self-directed as opposed to having an adviser. Qtrade came next with a score of four, followed by seven firms with an industry average score of three. Questrade received a score of two.  FULL STORY arrow
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A $500,000 lesson in how to fight identity theft space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 – Page B1
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-- Identity thieves once stole a total $500,000 by pretending to be Jennifer Fiddian-Green.Her story is worth hearing if you want to understand the risks that arise when your personal information is stolen. We're told endlessly to keep our data private so identity thieves can't get it. But a data breach at the credit monitoring company Equifax highlights the way people can be vulnerable through no fault of their own.  FULL STORY arrow
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Don't be pressured into taking risk in your RRIF space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 – Page B11
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-- A recently retired couple wants to add some safety to the husband's RRIF account. Their adviser thinks that's a bad idea.The wife recently e-mailed to get an opinion on this impasse.  FULL STORY arrow
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If you're married to paper investment statements, it's divorce time space
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By ROB CARRICK
Monday, September 18, 2017 – Page B5
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-- There's the eco-argument for choosing electronic statements from your investment firm over paper and then there's cold, hard practicality.No matter what firm you deal with, electronic statements offer a more organized, secure way to store monthly or quarterly statements, trade confirmation slips and tax documents. Suggestion: Pick one of your investment accounts to test electronic document delivery. Once you try it, you'll never go back.  FULL STORY arrow
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A bull market for bonds in the ETF world space
Despite rising rates, these securities are increasingly becoming the choice for investors over individual debt issues. Here's why
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, September 16, 2017 – Page B9
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-- The outlook for bonds in 2017 started out blah at best and got worse.Years of speculation about higher interest rates gave way to a rapid-fire pair of rate increases in July and September. Higher rates are bad for bonds, but there's no sign of any concern about this in the world of bond ETFs. In fact, exchange-traded fund sales numbers for the year through Aug. 31 show bonds have by far been the most indemand category of exchangetraded fund.  FULL STORY arrow
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How to get ahead when your income is hardly growing space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, September 14, 2017 – Page A11
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-- If you're financially struggling to get ahead, here's why.Puny income growth is a fixture in the Canadian economy, new census data show. Our economic reality is that prosperity comes not from a growing paycheque, but rather from the stuff you do with the pay you get. Three strategies to follow: 6 Invest in your career; 6 Invest in your wealth; 6 Make one significant cut in your household spending.  FULL STORY arrow
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Could my brokerage get into trouble? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, August 29, 2017 – Page B8
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-- A lingering after-effect of the global financial crisis is the skepticism that people are showing about the investment firms they deal with. Good on you, skeptics. There's no downside to asking hard questions about what happens to your assets if an investment firm fails.  FULL STORY arrow
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Stop ducking your investment statements space
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, August 26, 2017 – Page B11
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-- Whether it's out of dread or complacency, a lot of investors aren't reading their account statements.That's the conclusion to be drawn from a J.D. Power survey in which investors were asked if they noticed any change during the past year in how fees and performance information was communicated by their advisory firm.  FULL STORY arrow
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Strange but true: A big bank savings account with decent rates space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, August 24, 2017 – Page B1
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-- There has been a crack in the steely resolve of the big banks not to offer a competitive rate of interest on savings accounts.Bank of Nova Scotia was set to introduce a new online savings account on Thursday that pays a regular interest rate of 0.7 per cent and a premium of between 0.75 per cent and 0.9 per cent if you leave your money untouched for a certain period of time. These rates are good, not great, in the broad banking universe. Among the Big Six banks themselves, they're excellent.  FULL STORY arrow
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For postsecondary school, don't make a $20,000 mistake space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 – Page B1
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-- There's a flaw in the usual back-to-school financial advice for university and college students.Budgeting and controlling debt are covered, and rightly so.But there's never any mention of a mistake costing as much as $20,000 that is commonly made at this time of year.  FULL STORY arrow
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What to do when the grim reaper comes for your ETFs space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 – Page B7
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-- As popular as ETFs have become, there's not enough room in the marketplace for every fund now available.So expect to see more of the kind of announcement that BlackRock Canada's iShares division made a couple of months ago. By the end of September or thereabouts, seven of the firm's exchange-traded funds will be terminated. Five are fund-offund products in the ''portfolio builder'' series, and the other two are cover emerging markets (Brazil and the other BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, Indian and China).  FULL STORY arrow
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Time to tool up for a new investing season space
This set of simple online resources should help patch any holes in your portfolio before fall comes around
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, August 19, 2017 – Page B10
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-- For investors, fall tends to be a hotter season than summer.So find a mellow moment before the summer ends to review your investments in peace. Prepare for any dramatics this fall before events start exposing any flaws in your portfolio.  FULL STORY arrow
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You're overpaying for financial products space
Canadians would save thousands if they shopped for banking purchases the way they do with vacations
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, August 18, 2017 – Page B9
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-- Not shopping around for financial products can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. It's just pathetic how often this happens.A recent survey commissioned by the website LowestRates.ca tells the story. Of the 2,002 people who participated in the study, 63 per cent said they use price-comparison websites to book hotels and another 60 per cent said they compared and booked flights online. Just 45 per cent said they did lots of research when applying for credit cards and 47 per cent heavily researched car insurance.  FULL STORY arrow
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What PC Financial clients need to know space
If CIBC wants to retain its customer base, it should offer them something more, such as free e-transfers or better overdraft protection
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, August 17, 2017 – Page B2
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-- The online bank President's Choice Financial will fade to black in November. Roughly two million PCF accounts will be moved over to a new online bank called Simplii Financial, which will be run by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why we pay so much for chequing accounts space
The big banks typically have offerings costing well below $15, but extra service fees can pile up if you're not careful
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 – Page B8
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-- In a financial-services sector where many costs are falling close to zero, the big banks have created a booming business in chequing accounts costing a hefty $15 or so a month.  FULL STORY arrow
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ETFs for an RESP? The math doesn't work for this investor space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 – Page B8
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-- Sometimes, the math on ETF investing just doesn't compute.A reader found this recently when he looked at making regular contributions to his daughter's registered education savings plan account at an online brokerage.  FULL STORY arrow
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Investors need to be ruthlessly pessimistic about their returns space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, August 10, 2017 – Page B7
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-- The need to be ruthlessly pessimistic in your expectations for investment returns cannot be overstated.The latest update of investment return guidelines for financial planners suggests conservative investors should expect annual returns of 3.25 per cent after fees over the long term, which is specified as 10 or more years.  FULL STORY arrow
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The final defence against old age space
A power of attorney allows a trusted individual to look after your investments when you can't act for yourself
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, August 5, 2017 – Page B10
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-- There's more to de-risking your retirement investments than preparing for stock-market crashes, inflation and other headline-grabbing events.The risk of losing your ability to look after your investments as you age must also be addressed.  FULL STORY arrow
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Want to be a homeowner? Here's a game plan space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, August 4, 2017 – Page B1
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-- We're finally seeing some hopeful signs for the wannabe home buyer who has been priced out of the market.The twin cities of unaffordability, Vancouver and Toronto, have cooled down some. And many other cities across the country are producing more or less normal price gains that make it possible to buy without committing financial self-strangulation.  FULL STORY arrow
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Has the time come for relationships of financial convenience? space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, August 3, 2017 – Page A9
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-- Living alone is bad for your personal finances.From a basic sharing of expenses to the availability of tax breaks, you're better off financially if you have a spouse, partner or roommate. But as 2016 census data show, singles now account for the biggest slice of Canadian households. Possible trend of the future: The relationship of financial convenience, where people of all ages live together to save money.  FULL STORY arrow
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Do seniors lose from inflation? Not as much as you'd think space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, August 1, 2017 – Page B1
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-- The financially frail senior on a fixed income is a stereotype ready for retirement.A significant part of your income can be inflation-protected in one way or another when you're retired, which is to say it's not fixed at all.  FULL STORY arrow
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Support for adult children the new norm space
The trend of parents giving their grown offspring money is largely a reflection of our economy in the 21st century
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, July 28, 2017 – Page B8
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-- One of the biggest 21st-century paradigm shifts in personal finance could be the growing extent to which parents are financially supporting their adult children.Parents helping with the costs of weddings or home down payments has always been a thing, but today, the scope is much greater. The parenting playbook pretty much dictates that you will be a major source of funding for your kids long after graduation.  FULL STORY arrow
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Warning signal: When adviser fees are 'too complicated to explain' space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 – Page B10
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-- What do you make of an adviser who provides friendly service and good returns, but talks complete garbage when asked about fees?I ask in the context of a note from a reader who simply wants to know what she's paying her adviser and firm in investmentmanagement fees.  FULL STORY arrow
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Bond investors, hang tough space
As long as there's an expectation of rising interest rates, bonds will struggle. Here's a seven-point survival guide
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, July 22, 2017 – Page B10
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-- Doing the right thing as an investor can sometimes be costly and painful. Example: Holding bonds when interest rates are rising.Bonds are a non-negotiable part of a well-diversified portfolio, but they're struggling right now. Count on this continuing as long as there's an expectation of high rates in Canada.  FULL STORY arrow
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About those pension payments for life you were counting on ... space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, July 21, 2017 – Page B1
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-- Apparently, Sears Canada can't interest you in kitchen appliances, golf pants, tube socks, luggage or any of the other miscellaneous items found in its stores.Now, what about defined-contribution pension plans? The struggling retailer, now under court protection from its creditors, has done a great job lately of selling people on the attributes of this second-best type of pension plan.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why GIC rates will stay stuck in the basement space
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By ROB CARRICK
Tuesday, July 18, 2017 – Page B1
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-- As a seller of GICs and mortgages, Brandon Brot is the first to hear about how the financial industry is reacting to the recent rise in interest rates.Every day, he receives bulletins about changes in rates for both GICs and mortgages. ''We're getting mortgage-rate increase, mortgage-rate increase, mortgage-rate increase these days,'' said Mr. Brot, a principal at GIC Wealth Management. ''But we don't see anything on the GIC side.'' The Bank of Canada's first increase in its benchmark lending rate in seven years has either directly or indirectly fed increases in borrowing costs for mortgages, lines of credit and loans in the past week or so.  FULL STORY arrow
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Your new retirement-income tool: TFSAs space
A breakthrough strategy using these versatile accounts to pay yourself in retirement offers simplicity - and new levels of tax freedom
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By ROB CARRICK
Saturday, July 15, 2017 – Page B10
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-- TFSAs are still new enough that using them for generating tax-free retirement income is a fresh concept.Just fill your tax-free savings account with dividend stocks, real estate investment trusts, preferred shares and such, and then pay yourself tax-free income using the combined income and share price appreciation. For simplicity and efficiency, it's a breakthrough strategy.  FULL STORY arrow
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The question we should be asking about our debt space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, July 14, 2017 – Page B1
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-- Trivia question: What is the interest rate you're paying on your various debts?Interest rates seem vitally important in a week in which the Bank of Canada raised its benchmark lending rate for the first time in seven years, but they're not what you should be focusing on as you prepare for the possibility of borrowing costs ahead.  FULL STORY arrow
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A surprise ally for your portfolio against rising interest rates space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, July 14, 2017 – Page B8
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-- Preferred shares as a hedge against rising interest rates?Believe it. The changing profile of the preferred share market in recent years has remade what was once a dismal place to be in a rising rate world.  FULL STORY arrow
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How the rate hike affects your mortgage space
When the Bank of Canada changes its benchmark rate, the move ripples through to other interest rates, including those of mortgages. With that in mind, Rob Carrick, Jeremy Agius and Matt Lundy provide a guide to how the rate hike will affect homeowners and prospective buyers
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By ROB CARRICK, JEREMY AGIUS, MATT LUNDY
Thursday, July 13, 2017 – Page A8
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-- HOMEOWNERS WITH FIXED-RATE MORTGAGESThere is no immediate impact on payments for existing mortgages. Only when the mortgage comes up for renewal would higher rates affect payments.The interest rate on fixed-rate mortgages is influenced by the interest rates on bonds issued by the federal government, not the Bank of Canada's overnight rate.  FULL STORY arrow
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Five harsh realities of rising rates for savers and borrowers space
No real winners with Bank of Canada rate hike
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, July 13, 2017 – Page A8
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-- Everyone has something to complain about as interest rates rise. There are no true winners - borrowers pay more, while returns for savers and cautious investors improve to pretty bad levels from the punitively awful. Here are five harsh realities of rising rates for both savers and borrowers:  FULL STORY arrow
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What to do with risky preferred shares? Don't own them at all space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 – Page B7
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-- A reader recently asked what to do about some preferred shares in his portfolio that he was quite correctly worried about.The investment he asked about was a preferred-share issue from Aimia Inc., parent company of the popular Aeroplan customerloyalty program. Aeroplan announced in May that its star attraction, Air Canada, will exit to start its own client-loyalty offering starting in 2020.  FULL STORY arrow
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Six ETFs that could get smacked by rising rates space
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By ROB CARRICK
Monday, July 10, 2017 – Page B5
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-- We've seen so little of rising interest rates in the past few years that it's worth a review of how they affect various types of investments. Here's a six-pack of exchange-traded funds that could come under pressure when rates rise: 6 BMO Equal Weight Utilities Index ETF (ZUT): The utilities sector is notoriously sensitive to rising interest rates. Remember, utilities are a defensive sector that flourishes in uncertain times. If rates are rising, that signifies an expanding economy.  FULL STORY arrow
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Make no mistake, borrowers will bear the brunt of rate increase space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, July 7, 2017 – Page B1
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-- W hen the Bank of Canada cut interest rates in 2015, the big banks brazenly refused to fully pass along the full extent of lower borrowing costs to their clients.  FULL STORY arrow
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If your portfolio works, stop worrying about missing out space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 – Page B7
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-- A reader reports that she had a nice little portfolio of ETFs going, but then started putting money into something she thought was better - TD e-Series index mutual funds. Now, she has a question: Sell the ETFs and commit to e-Series funds, or find some better ETFs?  FULL STORY arrow
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TFSAs squeezing out RRSPs space
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By ROB CARRICK
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 – Page B1
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-- TFSAs are beating up on RRSPs.The tax-free savings account has only been around since 2009, while registered retirement savings plans were created in 1957. But age and experience count for little in today's savings world. Data from the Canada Revenue Agency show that TFSAs have been drawing in more money than RRSPs in recent years, and the growth rate in TFSA contributions makes RRSPs look kind of sad.  FULL STORY arrow
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Six reasons to be thankful on Canada 150 space
Amid the festivities, let's pause to salute a few personal-finance gems, from TFSAs to the humble loonie
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, June 30, 2017 – Page B8
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-- Not everything is about money.But Canada's 150th birthday is an ideal opportunity to consider our good fortune in living in this country. In the personal-finance realm, here are six things to be thankful for as Canadians.  FULL STORY arrow
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How to benefit from a rate hike space
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By ROB CARRICK
Friday, June 30, 2017 – Page B9
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-- The positive spin on the interest rate increase that could come as soon as July 12 is deliverance from the hell of trying to earn a decent return on safe money.  FULL STORY arrow
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Six index busters to help diversify your portfolio space
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By ROB CARRICK
Thursday, June 29, 2017 – Page B8
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-- Good money has been made by investing in the main Canadian stock market index - close to 7.5 per cent annually on average for the past 30 years.But the SandP/TSX composite index is definitely flawed. It's our very own index and totally reflective of corporate Canada.  FULL STORY arrow
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