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Among the things we learned in the pandemic was how much it costs in time and money to commute to work.

Money saved through remote work has contributed to the billions of dollars parked in savings accounts right now, while time saved has improved family life and lowered stress levels associated with traffic and transit that doesn’t run on time.

The return to work is the topic of Episode One of the fifth season of our Stress Test personal finance podcast for Gen Z and millennials. We started the podcast just as the pandemic began – that’s where the term Stress Test comes from.

The pandemic has ebbed and flowed since then, but the stress remains. Most recently, it’s found in households where one or more people must transition from the comfort and convenience of remote work to office life

There can’t be a household in Canada that hasn’t already felt staggered by inflation’s effect on at least one aspect of daily life. The return to work doubles down on this inflation exposure by increasing the amount of driving, the number of takeout meals, the amount of clothing purchased and dry cleaned. If you last commuted by car in early 2020, you’ll find today’s gasoline prices about 38 per cent higher on a national average basis.

In our podcast episode on the return to work, we cover all the costs commuters must reacquaint themselves with, and we hear about how young adults are adapting to the return to work. Some are taking advantage of the worker shortage in some areas of the economy to negotiate flexibility in their work-life balance that would have been unimaginable in pre-COVID days.

Worker empowerment is one of the most surprising economic effects of the pandemic. Take advantage of it to ease the cost of the return to work.


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Rob’s personal finance reading list

All-inclusive vacations and your travel reward card

A look at the best travel reward cards for people who want to use points toward all-inclusive vacations as opposed to flights or hotels.

Now is the time to ask for a raise

Tips on when to ask for a pay boost, how much to ask for and Plan B strategies like extra vacation time.


Q&A

Q: I want to simplify my financial life and I’m seriously looking at buying an asset allocation ETF like the BMO Balanced ETF (ZBAL) or the Vanguard Growth ETF Portfolio (VGRO). If I buy ZBAL or VGRO in my nonregistered account, they contain a Canadian component. My question: How will that purchase affect the dividend tax credit for Canadian stocks?

A: Let’s use ZBAL as an example. This ETF offers a balanced portfolio with 60 per cent of its assets in stocks and 40 per cent in bonds. Canadian stocks account for about 17 per cent of the total portfolio. On the BMO ETFs website, the fund profile for ZBAL shows that a total of $1.15 per unit was distributed to shareholders last year, 13.7 cents of which was considered eligible dividends and thus eligible for the dividend tax credit.

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

For tax planning – the 2022 personal tax calculator from Ernst & Young


The Money-Free Zone

Best accordion ever – Man Enough, by Lloyd Cole.


Tweet of the week

Lower house prices, anyone? Rising rates are having an effect.


In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories
  • Decision to retire early easy for 57-year-old entrepreneur, but follow-through proved difficult
  • Mortgage Rundown: ‘Inflation horror show’ could mean three years of misery for variable-rate borrowers
  • Court decision provides a breath of fresh air for taxpayers

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.