By Rob Carrick
Bit by bit, we get closer at our house to cutting our cable TV. We're not quite there yet, although many others are, but I'm paying close attention to articles like this one, a complete guide on how to get free TV over the Internet.
What's to complain about with cable? For one thing, our already substantial rates just went up about 3.5 per cent for cable and Internet combined, roughly double the rate of inflation. Anger over cable TV bills prompted the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to order cable companies to come up with a $25 a month "skinny basic" package of channels, which they did earlier this month. Now, the CRTC is getting a lot of complaints about the new cheaper option. Turns out they're not so cheap after all. One critic even calls these new packages a slap in the CRTC's face.
I haven't finished venting about cable. One more complaint is how lame the technology is. Our remote works intermittently and so slowly it's painful. Our cable box has been replaced at least two or three times, probably because they keep handing us what seems to be reconditioned equipment.
Happy with your cable, but hoping to cut costs a bit? Try this guide to cutting your TV-watching costs.
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Rob's top web links
Are you over-washing your clothes?
> Find out using this list of how often to wash 10 household items. Wash less, pay less for electricity.
Why voters will stay angry
> Money-related issues figure prominently in the charts shown here to document why voters around the world are angry, and likely to remain so. To sum up, a lot of people feel they're getting poorer.
21 factors affecting your home insurance rate
> Interesting to see credit history on this list, as well as claims history.
These credit cards cut your grocery bill
> A list of cashback cards that can be used to reduce your shopping bill. Practically speaking, probably the best use of reward points.
Ode to the Billy bookcase
> Is this IKEA staple the world's most versatile book case, or McFurniture?
Today's featured investment tool
This week's federal budget introduced the Canada Child Benefit, which replaces the Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada Child Tax Benefit. Here's a calculator to help estimate how much of the new child benefit your family will receive.
The question: "Hi, I am an aunt with no children. I feel excluded and discriminated against by the registered education savings plan (RESP) structure of parents-only. I can give money, but I can't get a tax receipt for it, and I think it's hugely unfair. Why are so many regulations set up to exclude childless couples or singles who are part of a family, too?"
My reply: You're right – you can contribute to an RESP for a niece or nephew using what are known as individual or group plans. Now, let's clarify that point about tax receipts. RESPs are unlike registered retirement savings plans in that you don't get a tax receipt for making a contribution. The benefit of RESPs is tax-free growth in a plan until a child attends college, university or certain other post-secondary schools. Money withdrawn from an RESP is taxed in the hands of the beneficiary child, who typically has a low income and thus won't have to worry about owing taxes on his or her RESP withdrawal.
Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.
Parents, students and seniors, here's what was in this week's federal budget specifically for you.
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