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(Milan Markovic/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Milan Markovic/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Carrick on money

Is it OK to criticize your spouse’s spending on hair care? Add to ...

Short answer to this question: No way. While couples should absolutely have frank and open conversations about money, a spousal hair budget should be considered off limits. A U.S. personal finance writer came to this conclusion recently after asking his social media followers about it. “Smart husbands don’t mess with the hair-doing budget,” one person replied.

Maybe the best way to answer this question is to say that it costs more to be a woman than a man and hair care is part of that. Ever heard of the pink tax? That’s the extra price women pay compared to men for basic products. In Montreal, a law firm has launched a class action lawsuit against eight firms for putting higher prices on products for women.

Paying more for deodorant and razors isn’t the only way women differ from men in personal finance. More attention is being paid lately to the fact that women must take a different approach to saving and planning for retirement, notably by saving more money.

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The biggest surprises in retirement
The Wall Street Journal asks readers for the biggest surprises they encountered after retiring – both good and bad. One that jumped out at me was “the unexpected luxury of time.”

What if you can’t afford to save for retirement?
Encouraging, realistic advice for people who are too stretched by mortgage and daycare costs to put much into retirement saving. You can catch up later.

No cookie-cutter weddings for millennials
Nope, they’re having “event weddings.” The idea is to make the wedding memorable, and not necessarily by spending a lot. Sounds smart.

Why renting makes sense in Toronto
An attempt to open people’s generally closed minds about renting instead of buying in a very expensive housing market. My suggestion is to rent if you can’t afford the full cost of home ownership. Use my Real Life Ratio calculator to see how affordable a house is.

How property taxes work
They’re a big and unavoidable part of the cost of owning a house, but how are they set? And what’s the impact of soaring house prices?

Mutual fund madness?
Former Bay Street guy Larry Bates has created a website called The Wealth Game to help people understand the impact fees have on their mutual fund returns. Here’s a blog post where Mr. Bates looks at one particular bond fund. Scary stuff.

Looking for free financial advice?
How do you know your financial plan on the right track? Contact the Globe to be part of our Financial Facelift series, and you can receive free advice tailored to your unique financial situation.  You can even choose your own false name.

Today’s featured financial tool
Presented because it’s RRSP season: The federal government’s excellent Canadian Retirement Income Calculator. Use it to get an idea of what your government benefits, savings and pension, if you have one, will produce in terms of retirement income.

Ask Rob
The question:
“Is it worthwhile to pay an adviser to pick and manage ETFs?”

My reply: Totally. If you’re not confident in your ability to effectively manage a portfolio of exchange-traded funds, then finding an adviser to do it makes good sense. The cost of owning a portfolio of low-cost ETFs, plus advisory fees, should be well below 2 per cent. You’d pay much less doing it yourself, but you’d need the time, knowledge and inclination to keep on top of your investments.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

Featured video
The tiny house – OK, I’ve seen bigger backyard toolsheds – that sold for $370,000 over asking in the hot Toronto real estate market.

More Carrick and money coverage
For more money stories, follow me on Twitter and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group.

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