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Personal Finance Reader

Charged: The credit card edition Add to ...

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

Let me begin this credit card-themed edition of the Reader by disclosing that only once in my life have I not paid my credit card bill in full at the end of the month, and that was an accident. While making a payment online, I transposed two numbers and came up a few bucks short of what I actually owed. Interest was charged, of course. Not a big amount, but enough to ensure I'll never pay interest again. I'd like to help you never pay interest again, either. That's why there's lots of advice here on how to tackle card debt.

Credit cards used properly are one of the handiest financial tools around, in part because they sometimes offer useful rewards. Read on to find out how to find the card reward program best for you. Also featured this week are some thoughts on how best to donate to Haiti, some tips on selling your gold jewelry and lots of commentary on both stocks and bonds.

Found something on the Internet that your fellow investors might enjoy? Talk to me at rcarrick@globeandmail.com

From The Globe and Mail and Globe Investor

Does my reno qualify for a tax credit? With the Jan. 31 deadline just around the corner, Canadians are scrambling to take advantage of the government's home renovation tax credit

Have you had the (tax) talk with your teen? Don't miss out on RRSP contribution space, says Tim Cestnick

Borrow for an RRSP? Waiting until you have the cash may be a better idea. John Heinzl explains why in this video

The cost of bad habits Smoking, immoderate gambling and drinking put a real dent in your finances, says personal finance blogger Chaya Cooperberg

We all want a lower tax bill Taking the time to explore the various tax options could save you thousands, writes Smart Cookie Angela Self

Must Reads From Around the Web

Dealing With Card Debt The Globe's Roma Luciw looks at the best ways to beat down the debts you amassed over the holidays.

For more on dealing with card balances and other debt, check out this online discussion with Laurie Campbell, executive director at Credit Canada, a non-profit credit counselling agency.

Finding The Right Card Attention, comparison shoppers. This website is a good place to start your survey of what's out there in the world of credit card reward programs.

The Rewards Canada website, maintained by Patrick Sojka of Calgary, is a great resource for people who want to maximize the travel benefits available from their credit cards. Here's a link to a sweeping look at how all the players stack up.

Mr. Sojka was asked for his top five credit card picks last fall and here's what he came up with.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a lot of great information for people on credit card fees, terms and conditions. If you don't understand something on your card statement or in your card agreement, check here.

Miscellaneous Card Tricks Tips on using the extended warranty coverage provided by some credit cards as part of their reward package.

What to do with credit card company junk mail.

Helping Haiti Some thoughts on how donate most effectively after disasters like the earthquake in Haiti.

Credit card companies are waiving their processing fees on donations that are paid for with plastic.

Stock Talk What investors should buy and what they should avoid in 2010, according to the well-respected economist Gary Shilling.

The Seeking Alpha blog discusses Shilling's market calls.

Four U.S. investing pros lay out their thoughts on the decade ahead.

A portfolio manager's take on two TSX-listed dividend ETFs.

Talking Bondage The Wall Street Journal's Smart Money website looks at the dangers faced by investors who have stocked up on bonds to add safety to their portfolios.

Bonds are overrated, says the head of London-based economic consulting firm.

Junk bonds got massacred in the bear market, and now they're flying high. Too high, some say.

Oil Glut This Business Week article argues that global oil supplies are more durable than many people think.

Golden Advice Debt expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade offers some tips on selling your jewelry to capitalize on how high gold prices.

Editor's note: If you don't receive Rob Carrick's personal finance newsletter each week by email, you can sign up to receive it free by registering 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 top business stories of the day

- Berman's Market Update, a summary of the markets at the open, noon and close

- Globe Investor Magazine, a biweekly collection of smart investment idea and portfolio management stories

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