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The most wonderful time of the year - for parents Add to ...

Welcome to this edition of the Globe and Mail Personal Finance Reader. I'm Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist at The Globe, and each week I compile a list of articles, blog postings and websites that represent the best of what the online world has to offer on money-related subjects.

This week, there's a back-to-school theme for The Reader. You're still in summer mode, I'm sure. But through some quirk of the calendar, kids at the schools attended by my two sons are headed back on Sept. 1 (yes, they feel totally ripped off). Below, you'll find tips on saving money when shopping for school supplies and clothes, tips for students themselves on managing money and some commentary on the topic of students and credit cards.

Just for the heck of it, I threw in a link to a controversial Macleans article on people who have chosen not to have kids (was there ever a better way to save money that that?). Also, there's a lot of investing talk in the Reader this week, including a look at the pluses and minuses of guaranteed investment certificates, and a list of the worst investment traps of 2009.

Found something on the Internet your fellow investors might enjoy? Talk to me at rcarrick@globeandmail.com

The latest from The Globe and Mail and Globe Investor

Tax Matters Getting hitched can mean a whole lot more to your taxes than you think, writes Tim Cestnick

Penny pinching Our readers share their best money-saving ideas with Rob Carrick

Real Estate Buying a cottage is not a road to riches but a lifestyle decision that comes with big maintenance and tax bills, says Roma Luciw

Home Cents It is not surprising that Canadians are delaying medical care due to financial strain, writes Chaya Cooperberg

Let's Talk Investing These two videos cover the outlook for real estate amid slowing population growth and the stability of dividend stocks

Must Reads From Around the Web

Smart Shopping The Financial Highway blog offers this nice little roundup of money saving tips for back-to-school shopping.

You'll find all kinds of online coupons and promotions on the RedFlagDeals website , including many that are of interest to students. Phones, furniture and laptops are included.

For college and university students: check out RedFlag's forum for buying, selling and trading used textbooks .

The AOL Canada website offers this suggestion for saving on back-to-school clothing: try the online supermarket EBay, where it's apparently possible to find brand name new and lightly-used clothes.

Humorous Interlude Here's the laugh-out-loud funny commercial that Staples plays every year to sell back to school supplies. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year - for parents.

Customers of Tomorrow Students can be a mess financially - mounting debts, little or no employment income and sometimes dicey job prospects, especially in today's economy. In that light, it's comforting to know that the big banks are looking out for students. Or, rather, for future customers of their mortgages, credit lines, credit cards and investment products. One way the banks are reaching out to students is by creating websites offering financial tips. Here are a couple of examples, one from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce called Student Life and the other from Royal Bank of Canada called Better Student Life. Nice to know that competition lives in the banking world.

This article from The Globe's Life section looks at whether banks are going to be tougher this year about allowing students to sign up for credit cards.

Here's a good roundup of the arguments for and against student credit cards from Credit Counselling Services of Canada.

The Case Against Having Kids That's the title of an article published in Macleans magazine earlier this month and it seems apropos, given that kids - and the cost of raising them - are top of mind at this time of year.

After you've read the article, check out the response from writer Anne Kingston to the responses, some quite testy, that she received.

Scary Stuff This post on the Business Insider blog shows how closely the stock market is tracking the pattern of 1929, when a seeming recovery from a market plunge unravelled and took the market to new depths.

The 411 on GICs The manual for conservative investing starts with the concept of the bond or GIC ladder, where you divide your money evenly into terms of one through five years. It's a strategy that gives you new money to invest every year at potentially higher rates, while limiting the damage if rates fall. Now, read about the down side of laddering GICs from James Hymas, one of Canada's foremost experts in preferred shares.

Mr. Hymas' comments have been posted on the website of an independent education website called Independent Investor, which itself has some comments on GICs (called certificates of deposit here) and preferred shares.

Invest in GICs to fund your retirement rather than stocks? That's the case made by author and accountant David Trahair in the Globe's Investor Clinic feature this week.

Beware the Snare Here are the Top 10 investor traps of 2009, as identified by the North American Securities Administrators Association, a regulatory organization with U.S. and Canadian membership. Number Three on the list: leveraged exchange-traded funds, a way of making double or triple the daily amount that various stock indexes or commodities rise or fall in a day. Investors have run into trouble with these ETFs by holding them for longer periods.

Sweepers, Cash Cows and Mr. Bucket The Weakonomics blog describes the various kinds of savers out there. Me, I think I'm a Mr. Bucket kind of guy, though I most certainly have some fun with my money now and then. Maybe I'll share my system with you sometime.

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