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This year is shaping up as a positive one for Canadians as borrowers. With interest rates rising, we are finally starting to curb new borrowing. You can see this in slowing growing in demand for mortgages and in the latest forecast for home renovations.

A recent poll from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce suggests that nearly half of Canadians plan to renovate their homes this year, but reno spending is expected to fall by 7 per cent to a five-year low of $11,000. Roughly one-third of renovators plan to borrow money. Household debt levels remain near historic highs, so any indicators showing a declining demand for spending and borrowing has to be welcomed. But there’s another benefit here as well if renovators and trades people become just a little less busy.

One of the worst aspects of home ownership is trying to get work done on your house in a reliable, cost-effective and timely way. You’re competing with so many other people who are fixing their place up, too. If reno spending declines, maybe it gets a bit easier to find people to work on your house.

Meantime, I am looking for ideas on how to find good plumbers, electricians, carpenters and renovators. A couple of resources I’ve found include, HomeStars and Jiffy, as well as Google and Yelp ratings. Let me know what works for you and I’ll share the information in an upcoming newsletter. I’m at

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Seven Aeroplan alternatives

Air Canada and Aeroplan are splitting up in 2020. Consider these other travel reward programs if you don’t see a future with Aeroplan.

Why bonds make sense even when interest rates rise

We all know bonds fall in value when rates rise (and gain when rates decline), right? This explains why I keep hearing investors ask if they should continue to hold bonds in their portfolio in the current rising rate environment. I say yes, and my reasons are summed up well in this blog post.

Save money with a Do Not Buy List

Kind of like an anti-budget. You list the things you specifically want to avoid buying.

A millennial tells you how it really is

A smoking good take on millennials and their financial challengers. “We’re the generation stuck in the middle, still bearing the weight of societal expectations on what it should look like to be an ‘adult’ in your twenties, unable to afford any of it, then blamed for our generational laziness and love of participation trophies and avocado toast.”

Today’s featured financial tool

If you’re just getting into personal finance, the Curious Investor is for you. The focus is on covering basics like why tax-free savings accounts are great, the importance of emergency funds and good debt vs. bad debt.

Ask Rob

Q: “You say [in a newsletter last week] that Bond ETFs are ‘fixed income for sure.’ What? There’s no maturity date on bond ETFs. You do not receive a return of principal at a fixed maturity date. So why would you consider such ETFs fixed income?”

A: Bond ETFs are fixed income because they hold bonds that pay a fixed amount of income through their interest payments. These interest payments are routed to bond ETF investors via distributions that are typically made on a monthly basis. It’s true that bond ETFs don’t have a maturity date – they float in value according to interest rate cycles (rising rates depress prices, falling rates send prices higher). But in building a portfolio, bond ETFs go on the bond side of the ledger.

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.

Featured Video

Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon talks to kids about money.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance stories

  • Mortgage hunters, take advantage of variable rate sales while you still can
  • Selling your home tax-free may be more complex than you think
  • This couple making $258,000 a year are worried they are paying too much in investment fees as their retirement nears (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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