Ashleigh Patterson

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Ashleigh is senior editor of Yahoo Finance Canada.

Blog Posts by Ashleigh Patterson

  • Jim Flaherty, former finance minister, dead at 64

  • Tiny Toronto home sells for $165,000

    It's 230-square-feet and has no running water, but this tiny Toronto home just sold for $165,000 in yet another sign home prices in Canada's largest real estate market continue to defy logic.

    Described as "cute and cozy" by listing agent Paul Vallis of Real Estate Homeward, the detached home boasts one bedroom, air conditioning and is located at 30 Hanson Street in Toronto's desirable east-end neighbourhood of Greenwood and Coxwell.

    The converted garage was on the market for three weeks before selling and was originally listed at $229,000 and later reduced to $195,000 before selling at $165,000, which is nearly 28 per cent below the original price.

    The property will function as an investment for the buyer, Vallis told Yahoo Canada Finance, as opposed to a primary residence. And while plans have yet to be divulged, the property will see some 'minor' changes in the short term.

    Vallis said he wasn't surprised the home sold as he's seen an influx of interest for smaller properties close to

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  • World’s super rich hit new record as Canada declines

    Sound the alarm: Canada's super rich may be an endangered species, bucking the trend that saw the ranks of the world's wealthiest reach a record high in 2013, according to a new report.

    Defined as those with US$30 million in net assets, Canada's population of ultra rich declined from 5,015 in 2012 to 4,980 in 2013, the inaugural Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report 2013 shows. However, that mountain of assets these ultra-rich Canucks are sitting on remained unchanged at $595 billion.

    Overall, North American growth of the "ultra-high net worth" population was strong -- up 7.9 per cent, representing more than $9.68 trillion in wealth -- mostly due to a resurgence of wealth south of the border.

    The amount of super rich in the U.S. spiked by 8.7 per cent to 65,505, the survey shows. Globally, the world's ultra rich hit a record high of 199,235 individuals with a combined fortune of almost $28 trillion, representing a 6 per cent increase in population size over the year.

    But Canada's not

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  • Toronto flood most expensive natural disaster in Ontario history

    Insured damages from the July 8th thunderstorm that rocked Toronto, causing widespread flooding and at least one $200K Ferrari to be abandoned, will be the highest in Ontario history, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said on Wednesday.

    The intense rains, which shuttered most of Toronto's downtown core, will cost insurers an estimated $850 million, IBC said in a release.

    Even when adjusted for inflation, that total far surpasses the previous provincial record of $671 million (2012 dollars) set in 2005 during an intense wind and rain storm. And IBC warned the current estimates are just the beginning.

    "While these preliminary estimates are staggering, we do expect them to go even higher," Ralph Palumbo, IBC vice-president for Ontario, said in a release. "The good news is that our industry was well prepared to handle our obligations to customers."

    Steve Kee, director of media relations for IBC, told Yahoo! Canada Finance it's difficult to speculate just how high insured damages will go given

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  • TFSA limit rising to $5,500 in 2013

    Question is whether Canadians will take advantage

    Tax-free savings accounts just got a bit more attractive to Canadian savers and investors -- too bad the $500 increase will likely go ignored.

    The federal government announced Monday the TFSA contribution limit will rise from $5,000 to $5,500 beginning Jan.1, 2013. This is the first time TFSAs have been indexed for inflation, which occurs in $500 increments, the government said.

    "Our Government remains committed to our low-tax plan for jobs and growth and we are very pleased to offer Canadians ways to save on taxes and keep more of their hard-earned money," Ted Menzies, minister of state (finance) said in a release. "TFSAs have become an exceedingly valuable savings tool for so many Canadians."

    The government even released a handy chart to demonstrate the benefits of the tax-free account, stating: "A middle-income saver could accumulate about $2,340 more in tax savings on their investments than if the additional investment had been made in a taxable savings vehicle (unregistered

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  • Black Friday Canada by the numbers

    Canadians are no longer stomping their feet and bemoaning annual Boxing Day sales as a day-late, dollar-short time-waster. We've now got alternatives: Black Friday Canada. Cross-border bargain hunters are gassing up their vehicles and strategically planning their shopping excursions in an act of optimism to lock in savings now.

    Statisticians and retailers have taken note, flooding editor in-boxes with surveys of Canadian shopping habits come Nov. 24. Get ready for the U.S. Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza. It starts on Black Friday ('black' because stores use the deep discounts to get into the black, or profit, for the year) and ends on Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day on the calendar. And while it was once just a U.S.-based bash, now it's big on both sides of the border.

    How big? Well, here are the numbers:

    • 40 per cent of Canadians will participate in sales on one of those days, spending roughly $245 each, according a study commissioned by Staples Canada.
    • Atlantic
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  • Canadians have little confidence, trust in employers

    The creators of "Undercover Boss" may have been on to something, taking C-suite executives from the corner office to the trenches of their own companies. The reality television show offers a chance for those the most removed from the rank-and-file to glean a whole new perspective on the business -- one that appears to be increasingly needed in Canada.

    According to a new survey from Ipsos Reid, the majority of Canadians have little trust or confidence in the senior leadership of their organizations, causing the country's workforce to appear disengaged and downright disgruntled.

    A mere 44 per cent of Canadian employees expressed confidence in senior leaders, the survey, conducted on behalf of the Canadian Management Centre, shows. Broken out by industry, transportation, government and retail exhibit the least levels of confidence. While IT and technology show the highest levels.

    "We see a gap in trust and confidence increasing between public and private with the public sector really

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  • Canadian consumer debt soars 53 per cent

    Looks like Canadians have learned nothing about the perils of debt from our friends across the border. Over the past five years, Canadians have increased their consumer debt loads by 53 per cent, according to new figures from the Credit Counselling Society, with the heaviest borrowing occurring in the two years immediately after the global financial crisis.

    "On average, clients come to us owing over $31,000 of unsecured debt," Scott Hannah, president & CEO of the non-profit Credit Counselling Society said in a release. "Our hope is that consumers take heed of the warnings and decrease their reliance on credit."

    Unsecured debt includes loans, credit card balances,  home equity lines of credit and unpaid bills.

    Canada's debt-to-income ratio has now reached a record high, topping levels seen in the U.S. just before the housing market collapse of 2008.

    In the second quarter of this year, Canada's household debt-to-income ratio jumped to 163.4 per cent. This means that for every dollar

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  • Canadians plan on lottery winnings, inheritance to secure financial future

    You have a better chance of dying from a toppling vending machine or being hit by an asteroid than you do of winning the lottery. In fact, your chances of winning the lottery in Canada are anywhere between 1 in 13.9 million to 1 in 28.6 million.

    Yet one-third of Canadians are banking on a huge jackpot or inheritance windfall as part of their long-term plan for financial success, according to a new survey from Capital One Canada and Credit Canada Debt Solutions.

    "It's troubling to see so many Canadians putting more trust in the lottery than sound financial planning — but I see the effects every day in our agency," Laurie Campbell, CEO, Credit Canada Debt Solutions said in a release.  "Canadians need to recognize that there is no magic solution to gaining control of their finances.  It means hard work and sticking to a budget determined by income."

    And it appears these startling findings aren't a one-off.  A whopping 32 per cent of Canadians aged 45 to 64 said they expect lottery

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  • Wayne Gretzky: Retirement planning lessons from “The Great One”

    Wayne Gretzky the hockey legend needs no introduction -- at least not in this country, anyway. But "The Great One" as an advocate for prudent retirement planning and fiscal conservatism? That's something new.

    "I never borrowed or leveraged myself to turn $1 into $10," he said during a panel discussion Monday "on life after hockey, financial advice and the need to plan for retirement, even if you're Wayne Gretzky" at TD Waterhouse, the wealth management division of Toronto-Dominion Bank.

    Gretzky, 51, learned early how to stretch a buck, making just $24 a week in 1978 while playing hockey in Sault Ste Marie, Ont. And from an early age, his father imparted a conservative approach to money management that has built the framework for Gretzky's continued financial success.

    Even after banking his first signing bonus -- a $250,000 payout for his first pro contract -- Gretzky continued to lean on his dad, Walter.

    "He wrote me a check for $5,000 and said: 'Go get whatever you want.' I bought a

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  • Canadians willing to trade pay for pensions

    Volatile global markets, dwindling income streams and decimated nest eggs have Canadians thinking short-term pain for long-term gain when it comes to financing their retirement years.

    One-third of Canadians say they would give up a portion of their salary in order to secure their retirement future, while one-quarter of Canadians say they would be willing to forgo bonuses for more retirement security, according to the 2011-2012 Towers Watson Retirement Attitudes Survey.

    "As financial insecurity becomes more widespread, Canadian workers are increasingly interested in a secure rewards package with retirement benefits they can count on" Ian Markham, retirement innovation leader for Towers Watson, said in a release.

    "While Canadians have traditionally looked to employer-sponsored retirement plans as one part of their financial future, the fact that so many workers are willing to trade pay increases or bonuses for enhanced retirement security points to the significant unease that many

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  • Thanksgiving travel: Canadians spending more on hotels

    Thanksgiving is fast approaching and as Canadians cement their travel plans, a new survey suggests we're getting off our wallets and globetrotting.

    Canadians spent 5 per cent more on hotel accommodation worldwide in 2012 compared to last year, according to the Hotel Price Index released by Hotels.com.

    As the economy improves, travel outside our borders has increased over the course of this year. Canadians made 2.6 million overnight trips outside the country in March, the highest monthly level since Statistics Canada began keeping records in 1972. Bolstered by new duty free limits, shoppers flocked to the U.S. in record numbers this summer. Overnight travel to the U.S. alone rose 7.5 per cent in June -- also the highest level on record.

    So where are Canadians spending the most globally? Pacific and Caribbean saw the biggest increases in spending (8 per cent), while Asia came in a close second (7 per cent).

    No surprise, Canada's largest cities continue to dominate for top travel

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  • More than one-third of Canadians don’t choose retirement date

    You've diligently saved, invested wisely and eliminated debt, but the choice when to leave the workforce may still be out of your hands, according to a new RBC poll released on Wednesday.

    Only 62 per cent of Baby Boomers made the choice when to retire, reports the third annual RBC Retirement Myths and Realities Poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid. Perhaps more surprising, 20 per cent of Boomers knew only one month or less that they were about to leave the workforce permanently. An estimated 42 per cent had no more than six months of lead time before they retired.

    Results of RBC pollResults of RBC pollThe findings of the poll are in stark contrast to the perceptions of working Canadians. According to the findings, 85 per cent of Boomers with more than $100,000 in financial assets believe they will retire on their own terms.

    However, older workers have increasingly been delaying their retirement since the mid-1990s, according to Statistics Canada.  The employment rate for working Canadians over the age of 55 has steadily increased

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  • Top 5 ways to save on currency exchange

    If you're traveling abroad this summer, or making a quick trip across the border to cash in on relaxed duty free limits, you're going to need to exchange your loonies for some Benjamins and that's going to cost you.

    But not all currency exchange services are equal and the amount you pay at your bank, credit union, currency exchange kiosk or on your credit card can vary wildly.

    It always pays to do your research. Here's how to keep more dollars in your pocket when traveling outside of Canada:

    Avoid the airport and hotel currency exchange
    You're jet lagged, laden with baggage and just want a euro for the vending machine. Sound familiar? If you must exchange cash at a hotel, train station or airport, be forewarned you're going to pay a premium. Transaction fees are usually much higher in exchange for convenience. The same applies for currency brokers in high-traffic, tourist-heavy areas.

    Travelex, the world's largest non-bank provider of currency exchanges, typically charges a blanket fee

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  • Cast your vote: Top business newsmaker of 2011

    Flaherty or Carney? Balsille or Brochu? It was a big year for Canadian business with some of the country's top power players and policy makers jostling for headline dominance. Research in Motion and Sino-Forest both had a disastrous 2011, while Canada's big-six banks posted stellar year-end results. Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney made a splash as the new head of the Financial Stability Board, while Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty struggled with deficit-reduction promises in the face of a stagnant Canadian economy.

    Which of these game changers had the biggest impact in 2011? Have your say with the Canadian Press Business Newsmaker of the Year poll.

    A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

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  • Bring on the carbon fuel standards

    The European Union's Fuel Quality Directive that the federal government is furiously lobbying to kill is the worst kind of regulatory trade barrier. Under its current wording, it would ascribe all oil produced from Canada's oilsands a greenhouse gas rating of 107 grams of carbon dioxide per megajoule and thus force its importers to pay for carbon offsets. Conventional crude oil, emitting 87.5 grams (they say), would be OK.

    Related: Does carbon capture have a chance?

    What the directive fails to recognize is that the carbon intensity of oilsands production is falling (see our story from last year) and differs from project to project. Meanwhile the carbon footprint on conventional oil—especially when shipped from farther afield and refined from ever-heavier crudes—is increasing. So there's no saying whether the directive will in fact help reduce emissions from transportation by 6% by 2020 as it's designed to do.

    Related: Carbon emissions taking a back seat to the financial

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