July has been especially hot and dry here in Ottawa, where I live, and our neighbours are getting a lot of use out of their swimming pools. Pools can be a blast from a lifestyle point of view, especially if you have young kids. The problem with pools? Not everyone likes them, or wants to put in the work to maintain them. For these reasons, pools top this list of renovations that don't add value to homes.
So where should you put your reno dollars if you want to add value to your home? Here are 10 suggestions, starting with more attic insulation. Here's a second voice on improved insulation as a cost-effective reno project. By the way, better insulation will help keep your house cool in the summer as well as warm in winter. Here's a useful primer on home insulation.
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The complete guide to finding cheap flights
What not to buy on Amazon
Not everything the online retailing giant sells is a great bargain. Clothing and beauty products, for example.
You can sell your house tax-free, right?
Correct – this is one of the big reasons why Canadians are such big believers in home ownership. But there are some wrinkles to the principal residence tax exemption that you should know about.
How the CPP beats individual savings
The Canada Pension Plan is like having insurance against running out of money in retirement. That key point is made in this article as a response to those who believe we should replace the CPP with individual savings.
Getting the most from an RDSP
Registered disability savings plans don't get a lot of attention, but they definitely fill a need for some families. Here's a rundown on how to maximize the benefit from these plans.
The problem with holding mutual funds at an online broker
Buried in the fees charged to own your funds are "trailing commissions" that are routed by your fund company to your investment adviser and his or her firm. But here's the thing with online brokers – they pay no advice, and thus haven't earned the trailing commission. If you want to hold mutual funds at an online broker, choose series D funds. The have most of the trailing commission removed and thus the fees investors pay are lower.
Today's featured financial tool
The hardest part of investing in exchange-traded funds is finding the ones that meet your needs from among hundreds available. Here's a screener that will help you narrow things down.
The question: "I'm nearing retirement, at 60. Could you give your opinion regarding annuities versus registered retirement income funds?
My reply: Annuities don't get a lot of respect these days, in large part because their returns are influenced by interest rates. But I'm a fan. Annuities provide monthly income for life, with zero worries about what the stock market is doing to your retirement savings. Consider an annuity for part, not all, of your retirement savings. And consider delaying your annuity purchase for five or 10 years (or buy your annuities gradually over that time). The older you are when you buy the annuity, the higher your payments will be. Annuities are less appealing if you have a health issues that could shorten your lifespan.
Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.
A millennial performance artist named Lilly Singh riffs here on her lack of financial savvy. Note: There's a sales pitch for a TD Canada Trust budgeting app at the end. I don't usually use bank-sponsored stuff here, but this video is fun.
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