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Welcome to this edition of the new 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.

In this edition, a look at what the big and small economic picture means to you as an investor and consumer. Leaders of the G8 group of economic powers met in Italy this week and there was a sense that the Great Recession won't end any time soon. This raises some questions. Should you prepare for deflation, where the price of goods and services falls, or an inflationary spike as all the economic stimulus being pumped into the economy takes hold? Read on in this week's Reader.

Looking for ways to lead a more frugal lifestyle? Below, you'll find some websites and blogs that will help, and a look at a new book that says our pursuit of cheap prices has a cost. Also, there are discussions of two basic principles of personal finance that are worth highlighting in these financially challenging times.

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 Your eldest child can earn cash - and help you save taxes - by babysitting younger siblings, says Tim Cestnick on the subject of splitting income with kids

Personal Finance Amex's new charge card offers exclusivity, but you'll pay for it, writes Rob Carrick

Estate Planning Getting married? Having a baby? It might be time to check in on your insurance portfolio. Click here to find out more.

High Net Worth The market meltdown is denting charitable giving, as philanthropists hold on to their dollars

Real Estate In this video, mortgage planner Robert McLister discusses what borrowers should do in the current environment



Must Reads From Around the Web

It Comes Down to This John Mauldin, the money manager behind the always interesting Outside The Box blog, says the biggest of all questions for investors today is whether we face deflation or inflation. Want a smart analysis of both sides of the debate? Then read this paper written by Niels Jensen, one of Mr. Mauldin's friends and business partners.

Minding the Banks The BankNerd.ca website is all about Canada's big banks - who they are, what they sell and what their best products are. Highlight: the head-to-head match-ups between popular bank credit cards. Winners are chosen.

Credit cards have been demonized in the recession because of the way they've been used by many people to amass large and expensive debts. But Gail Vaz-Oxlade, host of the TV show Til Debt Do Us Part, has some good things to say about them on her blog.

Guide to Organics I came across Squawkfox recently while perusing the lists of favourite blogs turned in by Globe journalists and some outside contributors ( here's the list, ranked according to their popularity with users of Globeinvestor.com). Squawkfox is a frugal lifestyle blog with a youthful bent. Here's a representative recent posting on the best values in buying organic produce.

Squawkfox is the work of B.C.-based Kerry Taylor, author of a book called 397 Ways to Save Money. The book was recently featured on the Wealthy Boomer website.

The Cost of Cheapness The media, including the blogosphere, has jumped hard on the theme of celebrating frugality in the current recession. But cheap prices at the retail level may have a cost in the form of an underpaid workforce or less than enlightened environmental policies, journalist Ellen Ruppel Shell argues in her new book, Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. Here's a recent review of the book in the New York Times.

The other side of the frugality issue is that in a recession, cheap prices can help you make it through the week. Here's a presentation of people affected in one way or another by the economic downturn. It appeared in Time earlier this year and it's called Thrift Nation.

Personal Finance 101 The concept: pay yourself first or, in other words, put some money aside every time you get paid. Here, the Financial Highway blog explains the ins and outs of this strategy, which I myself have used for years. Some day, I might write a column on how electronic banking makes paying yourself easy and automatic.

Budgeting is another basic personal finance topic. Here, the Dough Roller blog explains how to avoid traps that can undermine your budgeting efforts.



That's all for this week

You can tell us what you think of the Reader by sending us an email at globeinvestor@globeandmail.com.

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