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Some people have used their pandemic savings to install a new deck.iStockPhoto / Getty Images

A pandemic splurge is something you buy yourself to counter the deadening effects of physical distancing.

Some people are adding decks to their backyard, hence a lumber shortage, while others are adding a swimming pool to their backyard. Others are keeping it simple. In a recent Toronto Life profile, a Toronto woman included an air fryer, a bed and a couch in her recent splurges.

A splurge is money spent to indulge yourself. The implication is that a splurge is expensive, but there are affordable splurges as well. I’m curious about pandemic splurges, but not so I can nag you about over-spending and under-saving. As I reported recently, people fortunate enough to have kept their jobs and income are saving phenomenal amounts of money. What interest me about splurging is what it says about how we comfort ourselves through what we buy.

Help me dig deeper into this by clicking here to take this poll. I’ll report on the results:

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

Cellphone contracts and your credit score

I learned something from this blog post by a non-profit credit counselling agency – you can damage your credit score by cancelling a phone contract and not paying the cancellation fee because you don’t think it’s fair.

How tell if you should use a financial adviser

What can an adviser or financial planner do for you? Answers here. Now for a look at the true value of an adviser, which I’m including here because they’ll help you get away from the idea that fees are the one true indicator in assessing advisers.

A cleaning and decluttering guide for a stay-at-home world

Social-distancing requirements mean we’ll likely be spending a lot of time at home this fall and winter. Dozens of ideas here on getting your home clean and organized without spending a lot.

Pandemic learning pods – the insurance angle

Home-insurance policies generally protect against liability when you’re sued by someone injured on your property. But what happens if a child in a learning pod in someone’s home is injured or contracts COVID-19?

STRESS TEST Podcast callout

Stress Test, the millennial and Gen Z podcast I’m recording with Globe personal finance editor Roma Luciw, is gearing up for a second season. Are you under 40? Have you recently left Toronto or Vancouver or another large city and moved to a less expensive home elsewhere in Canada? We want to hear from you! To share your story, email us. You can subscribe to Stress Test on iTunes or Spotify.

Ask Rob

Q: We know the Bank of Canada is buying a lot of bonds. Where does it get the money to purchase them?

A: Thanks to the people at the C.D. Howe Institute for pointing out this explanation published by the Library of Parliament. Basically, the Bank of Canada adds the value of the bonds it buys as an asset on its balance sheet and reports the proceeds of the sale of bonds as a deposit in the federal government’s account at the central bank, which is a liability. “By recording new and equal amounts on the asset and liability sides of its balance sheet, the Bank of Canada creates money through a few keystrokes.”

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

RewardsCanada highlights the ultimate credit-card loyalty programs in various categories. Examples: For people who want to avoid foreign transaction fees, for high-end travellers, for students, for small business and more.

The money-free zone

I asked my fellow Ottawa residents for their picks for best pizza in the city, and Colonnade Pizza won by a mile. My personal fave came in second – Anthony’s. My two other top picks, Tennessy Willems and Bread and Sons were also mentioned, as was the city’s ubiquitous Gabriel chain.


Here are some recent Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories:
  • How relief recipients can plan for an unprecedented tax season
  • If you want the tax breaks, make sure you meet the right tests for self-employment
  • Rosenberg: How investors can profit from one of the most important societal shifts triggered by COVID-19 (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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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