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I'm starting this edition of the newsletter with a reader question. "We are approaching retirement and want to downscale our exposure to equities," a couple from Mississauga, Ont., writes. "What are good low-risk funds to replace equity ETFs that can generate a stream of dividends that you could withdraw from your RRSP annually?"

The reason I'm highlighting this question is that it reflects what appears to be widespread misunderstanding of dividend stocks. In no way are they a safe way to be in the stock market. Dividend-payers can be among the most stable and well-established of companies, but they are still vulnerable to corrections and crashes. Here's a reminder that dividend stocks in sectors like utilities and consumer staples are also vulnerable to rising interest rates.

But let's be clear about risk and dividend stocks. There's certainly a risk that the price of a dividend ETF can fall. But the risk of dividend cuts is minimized because you're well-diversified and getting dividend income from many companies. If you're an income-focused investor, the security of dividend payments matters a lot.

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Being thin is my biggest expense
A blogger writes about the cost – both financial and emotional – of losing weight. Honest, perceptive writing here.

Protect those rewards points
A handy guide to the expiry and inactivity rules of Canadian loyalty reward programs. Read up if you were caught off-guard by what's happening with Air Miles points.

The guy who invented index investing
A nicely done profile of Prof. Burton Malkiel, the visionary who in 1973 made the case for investing in the major stock indexes rather than picking individual stocks. The rise of exchange-traded funds is a direct result of Mr. Malkiel's thinking.

The lowdown on condo fees
Condo fees are an inevitable part of living in a condominium, but they inspire a lot of fear and loathing. Here's a practical guide to how these fees work, and what they cover.

Scammed by my bank
A millennial explains her generation's lack of trust in the financial industry by relating how she was a victim of a scam involving a big U.S. bank.

Why people don't save for retirement
Flogging people to save for retirement is a key part of the personal finance columnist's job description. So is recognizing that many people aren't listening to advice like this. Here's an article I found that explains why people don't plan for retirement.

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Today's featured financial tool
This is one of my go-to websites for data on rates for GICs and savings accounts.

Featured Videos
Securities regulators have introduced new disclosure rules on advice fees and portfolio returns. Here's how to tell if your adviser and firm must comply.

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