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Tu Lan jungle and cave system.Ryan Deboodt

The 30-something blogger Kristy Shen may be familiar to you thanks to her views on how millennials should rent homes, not buy. She and her partner were able to build a seven-figure investment portfolio doing this, and now they're retired and travelling the world.

The cost of one year's travels was $40,143 including travel insurance. Costs were averaged down by spending time in both expensive places like Europe and Japan and inexpensive countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Ms. Shen estimates she and her partner saved at least $10,000 by using Airbnb instead of staying in expensive hotels in Europe.

If you're looking for inspiration about where to vacation in 2017, check out this gorgeous spread from the New York Times (in which Canada gets top billing) and this list of destinations that people are searching for most using an online booking service. Here's a look at what might be the cheapest dates to fly in 2017, from a U.S. perspective.

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Best places to retire around the world
A Top 10 list compiled using factors like cost of living, retiree benefits, climate and health care.

The real story behind the U.S. housing crash
Have you heard the argument that the U.S. housing crash holds no lessons for Canada because it was primarily driven by mortgages given to low-income people who couldn't really afford them? It's true we don't do as much of that kind of lending here, but never mind. Here's an academic study that says mortgage defaults in the U.S. occurred in all income groups – middle and high earners included. Worth a read if you think our housing market is bullet proof.

Pricing your next renovation
Data on the most common reno projects Canadians did last year, plus the typical budget and some commentary on how realistic these spending targets are. The source of this data is a website called TrustedPros that helps people find contractors in their area. If you've used it, let me know what you think.

This millennial loves his pension
A blogger writes about his "minicrush" on the pension he gets as a worker in the health care industry. Rightly, he questions a colleague's decision not to jump into the pension as soon as possible.

Free flights from your credit card
A look at welcome bonuses from travel reward credit cards that might just be enough to get you a free flight all on their own.

The middle class crunch
A smart commentary looking at how retailers catering to high– and low-income people are thriving in Toronto, while those catering to the middle are struggling in some cases.

Today's featured financial tool
Here's a calculator that helps you figure out the best strategy for paying off a credit card balance that persists from month to month.

Ask Rob
The question: "I'm 66, retired and have a defined benefit pension from which I get most of my retirement income. How should I allow for that when deciding on asset allocation in my portfolio?"

My reply:
Having a financially strong DB pension may allow you to lighten up on bonds and have more money in stocks. Here's a column I wrote on this subject a while back.

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
Help for the many investors who get tripped up in trying to figure out the yield they get from bond ETFs.

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