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Personal Finance Reader

Flat-screen TVs: How much to spend? Add to ...

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

My boys are bugging me to get a big-screen TV. Frankly, I don't even know how big our current TV set is, but word has come down that it's too small and, quite frankly, a fossil. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I got the full court press from a Future Shop salesperson that left one question unanswered: Is it better to buy a really good big-screen TV, or go low-end and replace it in a few years when it either breaks down or is rendered as obsolete as our current set?

In this smart consumer's edition of the Personal Finance Reader, the question of how to buy big-screen TVs is covered. So is the right way to make complaints about bad service or goods, teach your teen about managing money made through a summer job, advice on not being a hypocrite when trashing the spending habits of your friends and a review of an exclusive new travel rewards credit card.

There's also an item about bonds that pay out in boxes of chocolate rather than interest, and advice on how to buy insurance for your investment portfolio.

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

Note: If you're having trouble reading this e-mail, try viewing the Reader online.

From The Globe and Mail

Have you heard about hybrid mortgages? Our Home Cents blog examines the pros and cons.

If you collect art, wine or jewellery, you'll want to check out these tips for protecting their value.

With the HST looming, it's a good time to prepay for funeral services and save your loved ones some cash.

Thinking about a cross-border shopping trip? Here's what you need to know about when to go, how to pay and what you can bring back home.

Found an amazing deal down south, here at home or online? Share it with other Globe readers.

Is confusion keeping you from investing? A Canadian firm is helping would-be investors demystify their options.

Wondering who the top 10 highest-paid Canadian executives are? Find out here.

Must Reads From Around the Web

Smart Consumption An inquiry into the matter of whether it is better to go top quality when buying a big-screen TV, or choose the cheapest option on the expectation that it will break soon and need replacing.

Tips for teaching your teenagers how to manage the money they make at a summer job.

Top strategies for making complaints about bad products or service, including taking pictures and asking for a private chat with the manager.

How not to be an annoying hypocrite when criticizing how your friends and family spend money.

Six suggestions for simplifying your life by getting rid of stuff you never use.

A lukewarm review of the new BMO World Elite MasterCard from the Rewards Canada website.

After a bad experience with a car salesperson, The Canadian Finance blog decides to check out a vehicle found on Craigslist, an online marketplace. Here's his advice on how to protect yourself when buying privately.

A survey of four new books examining consumer behaviour in areas such as shopping and drinking bottled water.

Investorama The Million Dollar Journey blog explains how to buy some portfolio insurance against falling stock markets by using put options.

Stocks that are hot with hedge funds.

The unanswered question to be asked in the debate over the merits of index investing (you buy index-tracking mutual funds or exchange-traded funds) or active management (you buy a traditional mutual fund): Why don't active managers do more to protect their clients from bear markets?

Will That Be Milk or Dark? Brilliant idea - British retailer Hotel Chocolat is raising money by issuing bonds that pay out in the form of "tasting boxes" of chocolate rather than interest.

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