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By Rob Carrick

More than their electronics, jewelry, cars and fancy kitchens, it's the trips people take that give them the most satisfaction. That's my personal finance columnist's take on the hundreds of conversations I've had with people over the years about spending money.

Travel can be expensive and I do not advocate going into debt to pay for it. But travel can be worked into your life in an affordable way. For example, you could arrange to work remotely and rent out your house for parts of the year. Or, you could put money away for a sabbatical. A millennial I just interviewed and will be writing about for a future column has decided to forgo owning a home for reasons that include having a bigger travel budget.

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One of the best takes I've ever seen on the financial side of travel can be found in this Q&A with the author of a book called All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending. Scroll down to the part where she talks about the triple-whammy of happiness for every dollar spent on travel. For the budget-conscious, here's a slideshow of destinations where you can travel for less than $100 (U.S.) per day.

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Rob's top web links

The most affordable destinations for Canadian travelers
> Here's a list, ranked by flight costs, of the most popular spots for Canadians as determined by searches on a travel website. Scroll to the bottom to find links for the best travel values for people living in six cities – Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Our retirees are doing nicely
> By this one measure, the median disposable income for people 65 and older, Canada is doing quite well on a global scale. Some perspective for those wondering how effectively we're saving for retirement.

These home renos are worth the money
>
Granite countertops are sometimes maligned as a symbol of conspicuous and excess consumption, but they help sell houses. Also be wary of the renos that add the least value - pools, uber-trendy kitchens and more.

Stop trying to copy rich people
> It's tempting to latch onto the habits of wealthy people, but it's basically a waste of time. A great point made here: "If you're going to look at habits, it's probably better to look at the habits of regular, everyday people like you who are making headway and improving their finances."

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Are you a card-carrying BMO customer?
> Reviews of three versions of the Bank of Montreal's World Elite MasterCard, each with a different approach to loyalty rewards.

Never offer to take a pay cut
> Financial lessons from journalist Michael Kinsley, author of a new book called Old Age, a Beginner's Guide. He offered to take less in pay one time and, well, you can read about it here.

Who's who in car and home insurance
> There's less competition than you think in the property insurance biz; many names are owned by just a few companies.

Today's featured investment tool
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Ask Rob

The question: "You say it is better to rent. My question is, if you are just starting out on your own and have enough money for a down payment, why would you say it is better to rent? From my point of view, I can see the initial investment in the house would definitely appreciate as years go by. And in the past 10 years, it has actually not just doubled, but probably tripled and quadrupled. Please, can you show me the benefit of having a rental for all these years as opposed to owning?

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My reply: It's better to rent than own a house you can't afford. By that, I mean paying so much for mortgage costs, property taxes, maintenance and improvements that you can't afford to save sufficiently for retirement, your children's education and more. If you can manage all of this, by all means buy.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.

Featured Video
Investment adviser Nancy Woods and I talk about estate planning for people with TFSAs. Watch this if you don't know what a successor annuitant is.

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