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There is a lot to take in this holiday season thanks to the latest pandemic developments. Can I add to your burden just a bit?

Charities in our communities are facing a surge in demand, and there are many other worthy causes both here in Canada and abroad that could use your help. People have been donating more this year through CanadaHelps.org, a online portal for charitable giving. But the year-over-year 6.9 per cent increase for the first 11 months of the year is modest compared to the generosity explosion of 2020, when donations were up 116 per cent.

“Last December, we saw charities asking people for help, and people really stepped up,” said Marina Glogovac, CEO of CanadaHelps. And this year? “Maybe people are spooked with inflation,” she said. “Maybe a certain fatigue has set in.”

CanadaHelps is a registered charity that provides one-stop access to 86,000 Canadian charities. Ms. Glogovac said there are some encouraging things happening on CanadaHelps this year, starting with the fact that young people age 18 to 34 represent the biggest demographic among those giving more to charity this year. Also, the number of people starting monthly giving plans on CanadaHelps is up 23.6 per cent, with monthly donations now accounting for 10.3 per cent of the total. Finally, donations of securities like stocks and mutual funds have increased by 52 per cent.

December is big for charities – Ms. Glogovac said 30 per cent of donations come in then. One of the notable changes this year over last is that there are fewer donors supporting small charities. Overall, CanadaHelps says 42 per cent of charities can’t meet demand for their services right now.

A last-minute holiday gift idea: Charity gift cards available through CanadaHelps. More than 5,000 of them have been given this year, up 144 per cent from 2020.


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Rob’s personal finance reading list

Turbulence for the new Air Miles

RewardsCanada. On the new Air Miles flight-booking platform: The general consensus from the website’s readers is that “it is bringing disappointment.”

How to build a good credit history

Enoch Omololu of the Savvy New Canadians blog on how newcomers to Canada can build a good credit score. Mr. Omololu talks about his experience after arriving in Canada in 2011.

Luxury living for seniors

A New York Times story about assisted-living homes for affluent retirees. The term “five-star wellness resort” is used to describe the vibe in these facilities. The cost – I knew you’d want to know – starts at US$8,295 for a studio apartment.

Is cost-free stock trading worth it?

An investing blogger asks and answers this question: Should he switch to online broker National Bank Direct Brokerage to take advantage of its offer of commission-free trading of stocks and exchange-traded funds?


Ask Rob

Q: I recently made a really lucky investment and have turned $10,000 into $100,000. Even better, this was made in my tax free savings account, so no capital gains. My question: Is it best to just leave this money in the TFSA so I can re-invest the funds in safer investments and earn dividends tax-free?

A: I like the idea of turning that big win into something suitable for long-term wealth-building. Smart.

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

Seven budgeting tips for people in the gig economy. With variable incomes, in other words.


The Money-Free Zone

A friend recommended the album Vulture Prince by Arooj Aftab and I found it hit just the right soothing note for these unsoothing times.


Tweet of the week

Candid thoughts on what it means to be the owner of a house that is rising in value.


ICYMI

What I’ve been writing about
  • An Edmonton couple’s story of renting and loving it: ‘Our whole life is freedom’
  • Your preference when arranging a mortgage – having your hand held by a nice banker or the lowest possible rate?
  • These are the ETFs that are most popular with mutual fund managers

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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