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Welcome to the Globe and Mail Personal Finance Reader. I'm Dianne Nice, personal finance editor at The Globe and Mail. Rob Carrick is on vacation, so I've rounded up some money-related articles, blog postings, videos and websites to tide you over until his return.
Ever wondered why stores with loyalty cards are so nice to you, giving you points toward free merchandise out of the goodness of their hearts? As it turns out, there is a catch. Read on to learn the hidden evils of those rewards you crave.
And if you think budgeting is boring, think again. I've found a game that gives new meaning to spreadsheets!
Got some personal finance tips to share? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share your favourite books and websites with Globe readers.
From The Globe and Mail
If you've ever thought of retiring to the U.S., or even just investing in property there, you won't want to miss our discussion with financial planner Bob Keats, author of The Border Guide, Friday at noon (ET).
It seems that everyone has their hand in your pocket these days. Learn how to protect yourself against these six new financial scams.
Thinking of opening an RESP for your children's education? Here are 10 things to know before you go to the bank.
In this Let's Talk Investing video, Til Debt Do Us Part host Gail Vaz-Oxlade gives some no-nonsense advice on where to go for help when tackling debt.
Must Reads From Around the Web
Loyalty has its rewards, if you're rich
A report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston says stores with loyalty cards often raise their prices to cover the freebies, thus costing those without cards -- often the poorest customers -- an extra $23 a year to shop, while the wealthiest customers get an average of $756 in rewards.
Who says budgets are boring?
Here's a new game from the folks at Budgets are Sexy: Strip Budgeting!
If that doesn't convince your spouse you need a budget, here are some other ideas from WealthPilgrim.
Property tax: How low can you go?
I'm sure we all feel we pay too much in property taxes. The Smart Cookies website offers up three simple steps to make sure you're getting the lowest rate possible.
Give flabby finances the boot
LearnVest.com has just launched three online e-mail programs to help women tackle their finances: Financial Basics Bootcamp, Cut Your Costs Bootcamp and Investing Bootcamp. The bootcamps have a cost, but the site offers free daily e-mails containing "tips for living stylishly within your means." I've just signed up and can't wait to become more stylish ... within my means, of course.
Diamond purses and platinum nail polish may be stylish, but not within my means. Check them out, along with these other most expensive luxuries for girls.
Wake up and smell the roses
Before you order your next bouquet, find out what 10 things your florist isn't telling you, from SmartMoney.
From the It's Your Money blog, here are nine scenarios in which it's easy to overpay or get scammed.
Some fruits and vegetables contain so few pesticides, it may not be worth it to buy organic. Check out the " clean 15," as rated by the U.S. Environmental Working Group.
Too good to be true?
The Wall Street Journal's Jason Zweig says his inbox has been buzzing with talk of a new investment product offering yields up to 7.75 per cent. Find out why he doesn't recommend the secondary-market income annuity.
Misleading car ads, credit card bills and shoddy home repairs top the list of 2009's 10 most common consumer complaints. See the full list here.
Share your penny-pinching tips with Globe readers.
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