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Spring in Ottawa, where I live, lasts about a week. That how it seems, anyway. From frost warnings just a week or two ago, we’ve gone to a weather outlook with daily highs in the area of 30 degrees C.

Our air conditioner has already had a workout, and I’ve heard some neighbours running theirs. We’re only at the beginning of June and already it’s time to resume that most difficult of marital discussions – what temperature to set the thermostat. Couples do argue over temps, and I wonder if these disagreements will be more heated this year as a result of inflationary pressure on household budgets.

A U.S. heating and cooling company called Sealed recently commissioned a survey on thermostat settings, and the results are an eye opener. Almost 60 per cent of men said they believe they’re overpaying their electricity bill because of their partner, compared to 49 per cent of women. Forty-five per cent of survey participants overall said they have gotten into a fight with their partner about setting the temperature. Seventeen per cent said they have tried to block their partner from being able to adjust the temperature using thermostats like Nest.

Here’s what my wife and I do to control the cost of air conditioning. We have a programmable thermostat that goes down at night for sleeping and allows the temp to rise during the day. If one of us wants to adjust the temp lower for the moment or open the windows to catch a breeze, we do it. Sometimes, just clicking the temp down half a degree can make a difference. The underlying idea in our thermostat management plan is compromise and recognition that you can’t control everything.

If you’re irked by your partner’s temperature preferences, log into your hydro utility account and see how much more you’re paying in the summer months versus the winter. That’s the cost of marital harmony.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

‘A massive machine called the wedding industry’

A look at how the cost of weddings has increased, and the role of the wedding industry in encouraging people to spend. Also, tips for managing wedding costs.

A deep dive on the FHSA

A detailed look at who can contribute to a tax-free First Home Savings Account, and what the rules are for withdrawals. FHSAs, available since April, are an ideal way for anyone 18 and older to start saving for a first home.

Valuable vintage items

Household items that can look like junk, even while having surprising value. Examples include vintage Pyrex and Beanie Babies.

If your life insurance company goes under

If you have a life insurance policy, disability and critical illness coverage or an annuity, take a look at this summary of improvements in protections for policyholders if a life insurer goes bankrupt.

Ask Rob

Q: Why are financial institutions dragging their feet in starting up First Home Savings Accounts?

A: The FHSA was introduced in April. Companies now offering this account include the digital broker Questrade, Royal Bank of Canada, Fidelity Investments and National Bank of Canada. Others in the financial industry have clearly not put much emphasis on preparing to launch FHSAs, possibly because the dollar amount going into these accounts will be modest. The annual contribution limit is $8,000, with a lifetime maximum of $40,000. Expect pretty much a majority of investment companies and banks to have FHSAs by fall.

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.

Tools, Explainers and Guides

Every so often, I hear someone say they want to buy an RRSP. Here’s a helpful rundown on what registered retirement savings plans are – a type of account and not a specific investment – as well as the investment products you can put in your RRSP.

The money-free zone

For sheer inventive loopiness, nothing compares to The Far Side cartoon series by Gary Larson. Here’s a list of 10 underrated Far Side cartoons. Now for Stephen King’s favourite Far Side.

Watch this

An instalment of a Tik Tok series called Canadian Real Estate vs. Literal European Castles. Featured is a beautiful Swedish castle and a modest – no, make that gross – house in Kitchener, Ont., going for $1.8-million.

From LinkedIn

A financial planner on why people are better about holding onto real estate investments compared to stocks.


More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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