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Crimea, Russia - September 20, 2015: Mazda 6 car drive on road at daytimekurmyshov/Getty Images

The national inflation rate was up a mere 1.5 per cent at the end of last year, and yet a recent report from Bank of Nova Scotia pegged the rate of price increases for cars and trucks at 5 to 6 per cent in the latter half of 2016.

A recent edition of this newsletter featured a blogger arguing that buying new vehicles is killing our finances. Since then, a few insights have emerged to provide some context for this trend. Price increases are part of it, and so is a change in buying patterns. Premium-priced trucks and SUVs are taking market share away from cars. Last year, vehicles sales in Canada reached a record high thanks in large part to SUVs and pickup trucks.

Buying cheaper vehicles is one solution, but so is taking a smarter approach to buying. Here's an article demonstrating how zero per cent financing can actually cost you more when buying some vehicles. The reason is that you miss out on certain discounts or incentives that would otherwise be available.

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How to read financial news headlines
Common sense commentary on how to interpret the kinds of headlines you see all the time in coverage of investment and the markets.

Should I contribute to my TFSA or RRSP?
A balanced answer to this commonly asked question.

Why your adult kids are still living at home
It's all explained in this chart about how young people are increasingly finding part time jobs instead of full-time work.

The problem with teaching financial literacy in schools
Parents tell me all the time that the best way to help young people be financially literate is to teach personal finance in schools. But here's a story from Quebec on teachers saying that content for a high school personal finance course is being provided by the financial industry.

The business of university fees
A blogger tallies up the fees universities charge beyond tuition. Unless you have a kid in university, you won't believe the list of fees charged by the school his daughter attends.

BMO beats all
In an increasingly online world, it's crucial to be able to get information from your bank by e-mail, social media or online. How do banks and credit unions stack up responding to inquiries sent electronically? In this survey, Bank of Montreal topped a list of 26 financial institutions.

Today's featured financial tool Chartered Professional Accounts Canada has published a book on how to survive the loss of a job.

Ask Rob The question: "I am considering borrowing against my home equity and investing in high quality dividend securities. My hope is that the portfolio will grow faster than the interest I pay on the home line while still experiencing appreciation on my home. Is this a sound investment strategy for someone who in in their 30s, has no RRSPs and has a steady job?"

My reply: "The numbers can certainly make sense for this type of investment plan, but remember to consider the emotional side of things. If we see a major stock market correction, dividend stocks would not be immune. If interest rates rise, we could see many dividend stocks falling in price. I'm more open to doing this sort of thing after a big market decline than after the kind of run-up we've seen for dividend stocks in the past five or so years. Note: On your taxes, you can claim interest paid on the line of credit if you use the money to buy investments that generate investment income like dividends."

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.

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