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Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem takes part in a news conference in Ottawa, on April 13, 2022.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The biggest question in economics right now is whether inflation has calmed down enough for us to stop worrying about more interest rate increases.

The Bank of Canada has a chance to adjust its trendsetting overnight rate on Wednesday. The consensus is that the bank will hold steady while it monitors inflation and the economy. The remaining rate-setting dates in 2023 are April 12, June 7, July 12, Sept. 6, Oct. 25 and Dec. 6. If you have a variable-rate mortgage, line of credit or floating rate loan, these are dates to note.

With inflation on the rise, rates began moving higher a year ago. What a ride it’s been so far. Rate increases on mortgages and lines of credit have left many households paying hundreds of dollars more per month. This extra cost has emerged amid rampant food inflation that has recently hit levels of 10 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

The upside of higher rates is that savers are getting the best returns in decades. I covered the ins and outs of five different savings options in a recent column and the rates available ranged as high as 5 per cent or so. That’s a darned good result when you consider the level of risk of losing money is close to nil where deposit insurance applies.

How are you feeling about your finances overall after the past 12 months of rising rates? Help me get a sense of things by taking this quick survey. I’ll report back on the findings in an upcoming newsletter.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

The sad news on housing affordability

Lots of data here on how mortgage rates have jumped in the past year. So much so that owning a house has become less affordable, even as prices decline.

The return of Zellers

In case you don’t know, Zellers was a low-cost department store chain that pretty much disappeared several years back. Now, it’s making a comeback. Here’s a nicely written look at the surprising amount of nostalgia felt about Zellers, and a sneak peek at the relaunch.

Where did all my money go?

A quick roundup of five different budgeting apps. Automate the tedious process of tracking your spending.

Gadgets to save you time and money

A roundup of cheap hacks for organizing your stuff and keeping things clean around the house. Instead of calling a plumber for a clogged drain, use a drain snake kit. I’ve done it – works well to clear bunk from a bathroom sink.

Ask Rob

Q: Wondering if you think it’s better to use mortgage brokers vs the banks for mortgage negotiations. Our mortgage is up for renewal and I’m not sure the bank will give us the best rate.

A: Can’t imagine why you wouldn’t get a quote from a mortgage broker or two in addition to your bank. Compare rates, and terms such as prepayment rules and penalties for breaking the mortgage before maturity. If the best package comes from a mortgage broker, say au revoir to your bank.

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

March is Fraud Prevention Month. Here’s a cybersecurity tool kit offered by the Canadian Bankers Association, and a thorough rundown of various types of scams to avoid.

The Money-Free Zone

The David Bowie song Moonage Daydream is stuck in my head, maybe because it seems like perfect rock and roll. Here’s a fresh cover version by Naomi Cowan and the Easy Star All-Stars, and the original.

From the Twitterverse

CBC business journalist Jeannie Lee on the big U.S. retailers that came to Canada and then left after failing to build a viable business. So there’s one U.S. retailer I’d like to see here – the A grocery store chain Trader Joe’s. Has a cult-like following in the United States.

What I’ve been working on

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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