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Let me set the scene for the interview that anchors the most popular episode of the Globe and Mail’s Stress Test podcast for Gen Z and millennials. Our guest, ace real estate guy John Pasalis, is sitting in a closet in his home that contains a very fine collection of business attire. I’m in my home office and conversing with John via Zoom while sitting like a tentpole under a blanket to enhance the audio.

Two seasons of Stress Test are now in the bag and we’ve done it all remotely because of the pandemic. The Globe and Mail team behind the podcast: Personal finance editor Roma Luciw, executive producer Kiran Rana and me. Along with producers Hannah Sung and Amanda Cupido, and audio editor T.K. Matunda, we battled more than a few technical challenges to produce a total 16 episodes.

Open this photo in gallery:

The Stress Test team of personal finance columnist Rob Carrick, personal finance editor Roma Luciw, middle, and producer Hannah Sung, top, work on the podcast from home during the pandemic lockdown.The Globe and Mail

The most popular one by a good margin featured Mr. Pasalis helping us explain what young buyers need to know before getting into the housing market. In fact, the episode dropped at roughly the same time last year that it became clear the pandemic was driving a surge in demand for spacious homes in the suburbs.

Young adults were hit hardest in an economic sense in the pandemic – that may explain why the second most-listened to episode was titled, Should you move back in with your parents?

Number Three on the list of most popular episodes covers the cost of having kids. Raising a family means taking on a long series of costs that aren’t much talked about unless you’re already in the parenthood club. It’s clear that young adults are keen to learn more.

One of my favourite episodes looked at how the pandemic has changed food spending. Our guest, Sylvain Charlebois of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, talks about how an era of cheap food may be coming to an end. Watch your grocery bill.

We’re starting to plan for a season three, so let us know what topics you want covered. Send your thoughts to

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

How to boost your CPP retirement benefit

Retirement expert Alexandra Macqueen on the two-part boost some workers may get for their CPP benefits if they work past age 65.

Negotiating your monthly bills: The how-to guide

Smart tips to help guide the conversation when you call your cable/internet provider and others to lower your monthly costs. Has anyone noticed less willingness on the part of telecom companies, at least, to negotiate costs lately?

The two Canadas: One is thriving financially, the other just holding on

A second wave of COVID-19 cases has slammed workers who were already struggling. Good context amid all the coverage of rising stocks, higher house prices and savings piling up as a result of not being able to travel or socialize.

Another coffee miracle

Coffee is one of my favourite things. I make a cup every day and then dump the grounds in the compost bin. Little did I know that coffee can do so much more – deodorize your fridge, take the garlic smell off your hands after making dinner.

Tell Rob

A 65-year-old retiree from Guelph, Ont., had an interesting comment on a newsletter last week on adult children looking into whether their parents are financially prepared for retirement: “Well, it is easy to say you should discuss finances with your children or with your parents,” she wrote in an e-mail. “But it’s a very cultural issue. I grew up never knowing how much my parents made, how much their house cost and how much they had to retire on. My children have no idea how much money I have and, if they asked, I would tell him it was none of their business. Not every family and culture are comfortable discussing finances.”

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 and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

The Condominium Authority of Ontario produced this residential condo buyers’ guide. A useful overview if you’re giving some thought to living in a condo.

The money-free zone

As an introduction to a 60s/70s band called Black Merda, check out the song Cynthy Ruth. Black Merda’s psychedelic rock-funk sound ages really well.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories:

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

Subscribe to Stress Test on Apple podcasts or Spotify. For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group.

Even more coverage from Rob Carrick:

Are you reading this newsletter on the web or did someone forward the e-mail version to you? If so, you can sign up for Carrick on Money here.

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