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Heads up, home buyers: Jerk insurance, cheap grills and what's up with rates?

Welcome to The Globe and Mail's Personal Finance Reader. I'm Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist at The Globe, and twice weekly I compile a list of articles, blog postings, videos and websites that represent the best of what the online world has to offer on money-related subjects.

We have two perspectives on housing in this edition of the Reader, the first being some tough-minded analysis of the happy talk coming out of the housing market from Garth Turner, noted real estate doomsayer. Houses aren't just financial commitments, though. They're also places where we raise families, barbecue and collect a lot of junk. This brings us to the second phase of our housing coverage -- a look at whether it's worth it to buy a cheap barbecue, and some tips on selling stuff around the house that you no longer use.

There's also some commentary on how women are different than men when it comes to personal finance, a righteous takedown of fee-grabbing money market funds and a downloadable spreadsheet for budgeting.

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Found something on the Internet that your fellow investors might enjoy? Talk to me at

From The Globe and Mail Rich by 26: Author Lesley Scorgie talks about what it means to be wealthy, and why she devotes so much energy to teaching Canadians financial literacy. Also, read an excerpt from Ms. Scorgie's recently released book, Rich By 40.

Time's up, tax-filing procrastinators: Former dawdler Adam Salahudeen of Scotiabank offers his best last-minute filing tips.

Home Cents: Where the jobs are now: employment growth is continuing its slow march upward, but there is a dark side to this cheery employment news, writes Chaya Cooperberg.

Variable rate vs. fixed rate mortgages: Globe personal finance columnist Rob Carrick and mortgage expert Peter Majthenyi squared off on which is the better plan for your mortgage.

Can your home lower your tax bill? Don Campbell, author of 81 Financial and Tax Tips for the Canadian Real Estate Investor, answered questions about real estate and taxation.

Must Reads From Around the Web Housing market skeptic Garth Turner parses some recent reports suggesting all's just peachy with people buying and owning homes.

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Meanwhile, the U.S. housing market is improving, but only just. If you're thinking of buying real estate down south, pay attention.

The latest on " jerk insurance," plus two other signs the U.S. economy is starting to move again.

The Thrill of the Grill Do you appreciate an expensive, high-quality barbecue, or do you prefer to grill your dinner as opposed to your bank account? Read here for some tips on buying a cheap 'cue.

Spring Cleaning Some ideas about where to sell the junk in your basement.

Women And Money Financial advice tailored specifically to women.

A discussion of how men and women approach financial matters from the Yoder & Sons feature in the Wall Street Journal, where a father and his two sons talk about money matters.

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Everyone and Money The Squawkfox blog offers a downloadable budgeting spreadsheet for tracking your spending.

Making Money, But Not For You Investors know money market funds as a safe parking spot for money in an investment account. But with their bloated fees, they pay virtually nothing in the way of returns right now.

If you've got money sitting in a money market fund or savings account, this one's for you. It's a calculator that shows the dramatic effect of increasing your rate of return by a single percentage point. Yes, higher returns do mean higher risk. So stay diversified.

Follow me on Facebook. I'm at Rob Carrick - Personal Finance.

Editor's note: If you don't receive Rob Carrick's newsletter twice weekly by e-mail, you can sign up to get it for free at The Globe and Mail. All you need to do is register for the site, or if you've already registered, login and go to your profile at the top of the homepage. Once you're in your profile, look under Alerts and look for the Personal Finance Reader and other newsletters. Other financial newsletters include:

- Business Ticker, a summary of the day's top business stories - Berman's Market Update, a summary of the markets at the open, noon and close - Globe Investor Magazine, a biweekly collection of smart investment ideas and portfolio management stories

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About the Author
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998. Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More

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