• Anyone who’s bought a house knows about the little things that can affect its value: a marble countertop adds a few grand; a lack of parking takes back a bit more. Unfinished basement? See ya.

    But, there’s another class of value killers that can eat up hundreds of thousands of dollars, or make a home essentially worthless. And with our wealth increasingly tied up in our homes, finding out you just bought a “stigmatized” home can be ruinous.

     A potential nightmare example emerged last week with an Antigonish, Nova Scotia house that saw its assessed value drop to $1 from $365,000 after the owners found Mi’kmaq artifacts on the property and reported them. If the goal was to reduce property taxes, it was shrewd. But selling the place could be nearly impossible if potential buyers worry they won’t be able to do anything with the property.

    Real estate laws in Canada can be murky on this stuff, as sellers are only required to disclose material defects to the property, such as a crack in the

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  • Seven things to avoid when buying a new car

    It kills me how some people buy cars.

    A few years ago, an elderly family friend in Florida decided she should trade in her car, even though there was nothing wrong with it. She paid the full sticker price for a new version of the same car, and I can’t even imagine what she got for a trade-in on that low mileage, perfectly maintained sedan.

    Please don’t do that.

    Here are few other things to consider before you buy a new car:

    Don’t impulse buy

    First things first - do you really need a new car? If your current vehicle still suits your needs and is in good working condition, consider this question carefully. Don’t be swayed by that new car next door or those high-octane ads on TV. Remember, professional driver, closed course. You're not going to be driving in the surf or salomning solo down B.C.'s Sea to Sky highway.

    But if you do buy....

    Get the car you need, not the one you’re fantasizing about. If you live in a condo in the city, or in an urban area with little in the way of parking,

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  • Hey moron, don’t leave your dog in the car or else...

    You’d think that everybody -- and their dog -- has heard how dangerous it is to leave pets in the car in the summer, right?

    As obvious as it sounds, there are some people who still don’t understand how dangerous this practice is for their animals.

    In fact, earlier this month, a community relations police dog in Alabama died after being left in a patrol vehicle by his handler, Cpl. Josh Coleman. The three-year-old yellow lab named Mason was taken to a veterinarian, but died from respiratory distress. Coleman was disciplined by the police force, but criminal charges won’t be laid.

    Unfortunately that incident isn’t as rare as you’d hope. Last year the Washington Post reported that at least three police dogs died in hot cars during that summer.

    Toronto media relations officer Victor Kwong said that Toronto Police Service has some neat features for their service dogs, including cars that have automatic air conditioning that regulates the temperature “even if the officer is not there or the

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  • The summer money mistake 1/3 of Canadians make

    It’s summer, the time to bury your toes in the sand, enjoy the warm breezes and forget about your finances, right?

    Or is planning for the future on your to-do list, along with booking a hotel, packing the car, and picking a trashy novel?

    Maybe it should be.

    A whopping 83 per cent of Canadians admit that their increased spending in the summer affects their ability to put money aside for a rainy day, according to a recent survey by Tangerine.

    The survey found that two thirds of Canadians blow more on food, drink and entertainment in the summer, with weekend trips and vacations also taking an increased bite out of their household budget.

    Only 12 per cent of Canadians see summer as a time for saving, compared with 47 per cent who think of saving during the colder months. In fact, 33 per cent of Canadians don’t contribute to their savings over the summer, according to a survey by Tangerine, the bank that was ING Canada, before being bought by Scotiabank. 

    Another survey, this one

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  • GM Owner Warned Feds About Deadly Defect — And Was Ignored For 9 Years

    Relatives of people who died in GM vehicles linked to faulty ignitions gather on Capitol Hill. Photo: AP

    The agency charged with spotting deadly defects in vehicles has spent the past decade ignoring consumer complaints, misunderstanding many that it chose to highlight, and burying other problems in a bureaucratic blizzard that leaves no one responsible but everyone in danger, according to a new report.

    The report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General’s office, released today in the wake of the General Motors’ ignition problems last year, found that all too often, NHTSA took a “hear no, see no, speak no evil” approach to potential defects.

    GM’s failures to understand how millions of its own vehicles worked — and that turning the key off while a vehicle was in motion meant the air bags wouldn’t deploy — has now led to 474 reports of deaths linked to the problem and 3,868 injury claims. (GM has only “accepted” 117 death reports and 237 injury claims as ones it

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  • Canadians reveal their worst travel habits in new survey

    Being on vacation is the perfect time to relax, kick back, and let yourself get a little crazier than you usually would. Unfortunately, it's also the time when many Canadians (and other travellers from around the world) indulge in some bad habits.

    Travel Zoo conducted a survey of nearly 10,000 travellers from Canada, U.S., Germany, China and the U.K., and found that we're all pretty guilty when it comes to breaking social rules while on holiday.

    That's just gross

    Ahh, peeing in the pool: people talk about it, but no one claims to have done it. Obviously that colour-changing chemical is just a myth, because 58 per cent of Canadians surveyed admitted to tinkling while swimming in a pool or the ocean. On the bright side, Canadians aren't the worst offenders here: 64 per cent of Americans surveyed have done it, too. We're still worse than the Brits, Germans and Chinese though: only 46 per cent, 44 per cent, and 41 per cent respectively admit to it.

    Help yourself?

    When it comes to getting

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  • Five best cars picks for new grads

    So you’re a smart young grad, with the ink barely dry on your diploma. Now it’s time to start acting like an adult and get a job, a place to live, and a car.

    The sensible advice is to take public transit if you’ve got student loans to pay off, but that doesn’t work for everyone. If you don’t live in a large city with a reliable network, or if you need wheels for a new job, then adding a car loan to you monthly expenses may be the only option. Welcome to adulthood, isn’t it great?

    It’s easy to fixate on price - and you should. After all, you’re going to be paying for this car long after the new-car smell is gone and you’ve given up vacuuming the interior. But there are a few other considerations: New or used, financing terms, not to mention options, packages, and rebates.

    Used versus new

    You can get a cheap used car, but the reliability of that car could be questionable. With low interest rates and long-term financing, new cars can look appealing to buyers who don’t have money set aside

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  • Honoring My Father By Swapping A $100 SUV

    Like a lot of surprises in life, this all started with some spare cash floating around in my pocket and a few too many drinks.

    I was up well past midnight and in front of my computer.  Surfing had turned into browsing. Browsing had turned into shopping, and pretty soon I was looking with rose-colored glasses at a bunch of old government cars that had either been seized, smashed up, or mothballed.

    There was one in particular that caught my eye.  

    This 1994 Ford Explorer that seemed to have more dirt on it than paint. The description from the City of Roswell didn’t help matters.

    1994 FORD EXPLORER WHITE WITH GRAY INTERIOR, 4.0 L V-6 AUTOMATIC, AC, MINOR SCRATCHES AND DENTS ON EXTERIOR, NO CRACKED GLASS, DEAD BATTERY, DRY ROTTED TIRES, NEEDS SHOCKS, NO KEYS

    A lot of room for the imagination about the Explorer’s true condition turned into one dangerous thought, “There is something nice about this one!" 

    I’m not much for SUVs, but the terms and restrictions for the sale made it look like

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  • Why women still pay more for cars

    Am I a typical female car buyer? When I bought a new car last year, I had one in mind after admiring a newly designed model on the street. I read about the car on the auto maker’s website. I compared similar models, making sure this one suited my needs. I crunched the numbers every which way. It wasn’t until I was 99% sure I wanted this car that I set foot in a dealership to test drive it.

    The current research says yes, that makes me typical in today’s car buyer market. The car I purchased, a compact hatchback, was exactly what I set out to buy, down to the trim level and colour.

    Women are the primary decision makers for 75 per cent of households when it comes to selecting the make, model and colour of the vehicle, says Radek Garbowski, COO of Unhaggle.com.

    But even if they’re buying a new car for themselves, 69 per cent of women will still bring a man to help with negotiations, says Garbowski, recounting a story of a real estate agent, well versed in the art of negotiation in her

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  • Gender and sexual orientation can both influence what someone sees on their paycheque. (Thinkstock)Gender and sexual orientation can both influence what someone sees on their paycheque. (Thinkstock)

    Canada’s wage gap has been well established. Researchers have uncovered wage disparities based on gender, race, immigration status and visible minority identities. But until now, little attention has been given to the relationship between wages and sexual orientation.

    Nicole Denier and Sean Waite aim to change that. In their report, “Gay Pay for Straight Work: Mechanisms Generating Disadvantage” published in Gender and Society, the two McGill University Ph.D. candidates set out to understand in the economic lives of gay and lesbian Canadian.

    Their initial findings match findings in other areas of the world: gay men make less money than straight men, and lesbians earn more than straight women. Denier and Waite wanted to take things further, though. By comparing the earnings of lesbians to heterosexual men, they found a hierarchy, where straight men earn the most, followed by gay men, lesbians, and finally straight women.

    For many, the apparent benefits of being a lesbian in the

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  • To most of America, the Incredibles are a suburban family of superheroes dressed in matching cherry red bodysuits, the stars of an acclaimed animated film about to be sequeled. To “bud tenders” and their customers in Colorado, however, “incredibles” are THC-infused “Gum e’s” and chocolate bars with names like Peanut Budda Buddha and Mile High Mint. And for any company entering the edible marijuana market in that state, they will be the super-tough competition to beat.

    Bob Eschino, founding partner at incredibles (graphic emphasis on “edibles” in the logo), says his staff has been building its presence in Denver for five years. He has been told by many of the nearly 800 dispensaries that carry his product line that it’s the top seller in their stores, and his Affogato chocolate bar recently took the Silver in the High Times Cannabis Cup 2015 edibles category. Despite all of this, Eschino says, “It’s taken us five years to get to where we are and there are still issues.”

    “What do I say

    Read More »from How a Canadian company hopes to smoke the edible marijuana market
  • 10 Ways to Avoid Being Ripped Off While Traveling

    Spend your money wisely. (Photo illustration by Erik Mace)

    By: Marybeth Bond

    Travel expenses can really add up. But they don’t have to be quite to hefty is you know how to work the system. Follow these ten tips to travel as cheaply as you can.

    1. Avoid baggage fees. 

    Depending upon the airline, you can pay $15 to $75 for the first checked bag, and more for overweight bags. When possible, pack lightly enough to carry on one bag, or fly airlines that still allow free checked bags (two bags for Southwest and one for JetBlue). Many airline frequent flier programs give members with a high status a free checked bag, so check your status.

    2. Watch your hotel Wi-Fi. 

    Hotels charge from $10 to $30 per day for in-room Wi-Fi. Set up a personal hot spot on your smart phone and use your cellular service to access Wi-Fi on other non-cellular devices. Some hotel chains offer free in-room Internet access to members of their loyalty programs, so ask in advance and sign up to take advantage of the

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  • How Airlines Might Gouge You in the Future: Personalized Pricing

    How can four passengers who booked the same flight, on the same day at the same time, end up paying four different fares? Welcome to the (possible) future of personalized pricing. (Photo: iStock)

    Imagine a time in the distant future when you and two of your friends are invited to a wedding in Myrtle Beach, S.C. You log on to your frequent flier account with AnyJet Airlines, and seeing that you have a Greenwich, Conn., zip code, the airline assumes that you’re wealthy and charges you $398 for your fare (unfortunately, despite your tony zip code, you’re actually a modestly paid schoolteacher). At the same time, your friend and fellow wedding invitee who lives in a nearby, less-affluent zip code is also booking the same flight to the same wedding; she’s quoted a lower fare of $310. And when the third member of your trio logs on to purchase his ticket, the airline sees that he’s a frequent business traveler who’s already taken 15 flights this year. It assumes that he’s an easy sale and

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  • The Rock Shows How To Hit Someone’s Car, Nicely

    When you hit someone’s car by accident, there’s two ways to deal with the damage. The first, chosen all too frequently, is to flee the scene, ruining someone else’s day and burning a bit of your own humanity in the process.

    The second way is to ask yourself: What would The Rock do?

    Dwayne Johnson posted this photo to his Instagram account Monday, demonstrating that despite being a massive movie star, he has time to clean up even small mistakes — like accidentally sideswiping a pickup.

    (Screengrab via Instagram)(Screengrab via Instagram)

    Of those who know they should at least turn around and confront mistakes like this, leaving a note is often considered enough; face-to-face acceptance of responsibility has become a rare outcome. It’s true that this particular case would likely not turn out different with another injured party; is anyone really going to risk damage to their own bodies by jumping The Rock in broad daylight? 

    All that said, Audie Bridges is right; it’s an awesome story. And it shows that sometimes the best way to deal with

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  • The most expensive house in Canada’s most expensive real estate market doesn’t boast a tree-lined drive or sprawling grounds. It doesn’t have a dozen bedrooms, a grand hall, or Victorian-era servants quarters turned guest house. In fact, from the street, Chip Wilson’s $57.6 million Vancouver home could pass for a tidy office block: all open concrete with colour touches that look institutional green.

    But when you’re in the neighbourhood of Kitsilano on the waterfront, the normal standards of appraisal go right out the window.

    The house that snug pants built was named B.C.’s priciest home by the provincial assessment authority earlier this year (and the race was close, because Vancouver’s market is that nuts).

    Wilson, of course, built his fortune on Lululemon, which he founded in 1998. It’s fun to snicker at the see-through pants scandal, but the company has made Wilson a billionaire twice over. So he can afford a pricey patch of land with a killer view of the freighters on English Bay,

    Read More »from In Canada's hottest real estate market, Lululemon founder's home tops the list
  • Canadians sure love their cars: as our debt load increases, car loans are partly to blame. And we’re not just talking reliable minivans or practical sedans that Canadians are steering: Sales of luxury vehicles hit a record last year.

    Consumer debt rose by nearly seven percent this year over last to $1.544 trillion, according to Equifax Canada’s Q3 2014 National Consumer Credit Trends Report. On a debt classification basis, the car-loan sector went up by 4.2 percent.

    Car sales are expected to climb this year for the sixth year in a row, according to BMO Financial Group.

    More than 187,700 cars luxury cars were sold in Canada last year, for the first time accounting for over 10 percent of the overall Canadian market, research by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants found. Porsche sales led the pack, with sales increasing by 34 percent from 2013 to 2014. Land Rover sales were up 22 percent, Audi’s by 19.5 percent, Jaguar’s by 16 percent, Cadillac’s by 12 percent, and Lexus’s by 10 percent.

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  • The next battle over the Jimi Hendrix name could be fought over marijuana-infused gummy bears.

    A Toronto company has big plans to launch a line of Jimi Hendrix-inspired marijuana- and hemp-infused products that would include gummy bears, hard candies and energy drinks.

    But Nutritional High has struck a licensing deal with Purple Haze Properties, a company linked to the late musician’s brother Leon Hendrix and not to Experience Hendrix, the holding company that controls Jimi Hendrix trademarks and manages the rights to his music catolog.

    Experience Hendrix is not on board, and this isn’t the first time the two have tussled.

    Hendrix died without a will in 1970 and years of legal battles have been fought over his estate and the use of his name.

    Nutritional High, a thinly-traded penny stock, says its deal with Purple Haze gives it the exclusive right to manufacture and distribute marijuana- and hemp-infused products named after the late guitarist and his music. The company says it

    Read More »from Proposed Jimi Hendrix marijuana product line could trigger new fight
  • Rats in Your Engine? Here’s How to Fight Back

    Rats in Your Engine? Here’s How to Fight BackRats in Your Engine? Here’s How to Fight Back

    A car-geek friend from Los Angeles called me the other day, said he was having some issues with his old-but-prized 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG coupe.

    Now, a car with the sort of high-performance specs that AMG enjoys — 493 horsepower and a gobsmacking 516 ft-lbs of torque from a supercharged V-8 — is bound to have a range of issues pop up 12 years after leaving the factory. “What is it?” I asked, which is AMG speak translates to, “How much money are you out?”

    “Rats,” he sighed. “Or some sort of rodent.”

    Turns out, he had opened the hood on his SL and spotted some natural detritus among the otherwise pristine metal, plastic and rubber artwork of the car’s engine bay. Looking closely, he saw distinct teeth marks on the hoses. Rats, indeed.

    The problem wasn’t unfamiliar to me. Back when I owned a 2001 BMW M3, I was shocked one day to pop the hood and find that a gaping, irregular hole in a rubber cover. Mercifully, the rat or mouse had decided to stop snacking on my German machine a few

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  • Could You Commute on $1 A Day? Here’s One Way

    Some walk. Others bike. A few of us use public transportation.

    The other 92 percent? We end up using a motorized contraption of some sort to get from boring Point A to boring Point B.

    Commuting is a brutally pointless endeavor for most of us. We line up in traffic, follow the various cars in front of us, and hope the experience is over sooner rather than later. 

    And yet we spend so much money and time on it. The average commuter will spend over $50,000 in a decade and 51 minutes every single day just to get from work to home. Put that money into an IRA over the course of 40 years and invest it at 7 percent interest? You would have $1,068,048. A staggering sum that is almost as valuable as spending a year and a half of your life staring through a dirty windshield.

    So how could you possibly kick the high cost of commuting to the curb and get the cost down to say, $1 a day? 

    You really have three options. The first is having the commute come closer to you, which is unfortunately easier

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  • Here’s How Apple Music Compares With Spotify, Pandora, and Tidal

    Are you ready to rock?! Well, you’d better be, because Apple is launching its own music streaming service, called Apple Music, and the advertisements for it are coming. And though Apple and Apple lieutenant Drake would have you believe that the service is going to blow the doors off of the entire music industry, the truth is that there are already a slew of excellent streaming services out there.

    How does Apple Music stack up? We’ve put together this handy explainer to compare Apple’s music offering with Spotify, Pandora, and Jay Z’s Tidal.

    Let’s crank it up and rip the knob off!

    So, what is Apple Music?

    Right to the point, I like it. Apple Music is the tech giant’s take on streaming music. When it launches on June 30, you’ll be able to stream millions of songs to your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and (eventually) Android device, without owning or downloading them.

    In addition to streaming, Apple Music offers Beats 1 radio, a global radio station that plays tracks from DJs in New

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  • Apple's new iOS 9 mapping features leave Canadians in the dust

    The Hoff may have all the bells and whistles in K.I.T.T., but Canadian iOS users will have to wait indefinitely.The Hoff may have all the bells and whistles in K.I.T.T., but Canadian iOS users will have to wait indefinitely.

    Earlier this week, Apple hosted its annual Worldwide Developers Conference and showed off impressive upgrades to Apple Maps, the punch line of many jokes in the past, and CarPlay, which uses an iPhone to, essentially, turn an automobile's built-in display into K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. Unfortunately, Canadians are once again left in the dust as it appears some of these features won't be made available to those of us north of the border. At least not right away, it seems.

    CarPlay

    Formally known as ‘iOS in the Car,’ CarPlay lets users pair their iPhone to their car via Bluetooth so they can make calls, respond to text messages, change music and use satellite navigation without taking their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road.

    Manufactures like BMW, Mazda, Honda, Ford, Audi and Ferrari, just to name a few, are featured on the CarPlay website which means you can expect further integration between smartphone and automobile in the not-so-distant future.

    Ultimately, this is all

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  • Why prom culture costs so much more in the U.S.

    With this year’s high-school grads partying across the country, it seems that Canadians are showing a little more financial restraint on the rite of passage than their American peers.

    Canadian households with teenagers plan on spending an average of $508 on prom this year (down from $804 last year), while Americans intend on shelling out more than double that—about $1,130, according to a recent survey by Visa Canada.

    American dads are the biggest spenders, planning on forking over $1,426; American moms plan to spend $873.

    Then there is the splurging on “promposals” – a public prom invitation modelled on a marriage proposal. Thirty-five per cent of Canadian families with teens reported no plans to spend any money on a promposal, with the remaining 65 per cent planning to spend an average of $151. In the United States, however, households with teens plan to close to $400 on a promposal.

    So what’s with our neighbours’ extravagance? And why are Canadians holding the purse strings a little

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  • The most expensive house in Toronto? Fort Schwartz

     Part two of a five-part series on the priciest digs in Canada, and who lives in them

    It's been dubbed “Fort Schwartz”, but the name really doesn’t fit the home when you actually see it. The sprawling property at 37 Cluny Drive in Rosedale sits comfortably behind a six-foot wrought-iron fence, which is backed by taller shrubbery. On a June day, the filled-in bushes only partially obscure the Georgian redbrick that sits beyond. The front door is exposed to the street, at the end of a short walk that allows unimpeded access to much the front of the house. Hardly a fortress, but not the type of place you just walk up to and knock on the door.

    The top end of Toronto’s residential housing market may not be as nutty as Vancouver, but it still has some big price tags.

    There are currently just a few houses on the market in Toronto listed in the $20 million and up range, the mathematically themed “Integral House” in Rosedale and its $28 million price tag the most high profile of late. Go up to

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  • According to a recent report in MoneySense, Canada’s rich cities are indeed getting richer. Six cities now have an average household net worth over the million-dollar mark, up from just two cities last year.

    While some of the top finishers are not surprising (North and West Vancouver, duh), some of the top entrants aren’t exactly synonymous with urban paradise (Stouffville, anyone?).

    With three of the six cities in the Greater Toronto Area, it illustrates the degree to which Toronto’s wealthy are flocking to the suburbs, either by choice or necessity.

    And of course, rising household worth is tied to soaring real estate prices and low interest rates, but there are also reasons why these six stand above the rest.

    So here’s a primer on Canada’s six richest cities:

    Autumn in Vaughan, Ont. (Flickr/Ryan Tir)Autumn in Vaughan, Ont. (Flickr/Ryan Tir)

    6. Vaughan, Ont. Average Household Net Worth: $1,014,562.

    You might be thinking Vaughan, a suburb north of Toronto, wouldn’t be top of your shortlist of places to move if you had unlimited resources. But if you have a

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  • Everything You Need to Know About the 2015 Apple Developers Conference

    Apple held its 26th annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco today. If you weren’t one of the 5,000-plus developers able to drop $1,600 on a ticket — and you missed both our live blog of the event and Apple’s live stream — not to worry, we’ve got you covered. While Apple did not announce a new Apple TV or any life-changing gadgets, it did unveil some new services as well as welcome improvements to its current lineup.  

    Here are the essential things you need to know.

    Apple wants you to lend them your ears

    The biggest and least surprising news from the conference was the announcement of Apple’s new subscription music service, which was described as “revolutionary” at least six times during today’s keynote.

    Like the Beats music app it is replacing, Apple Music will let you customize the app by selecting your favorite genres or artists, then offer suggestions for other music you might also like. You can, of course, stream your own tunes or pick from playlists curated by

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  • Here’s Why You Probably Shouldn't Strap A Jet Engine To A Mini Cooper

    In life, we’re told to applaud the creative. Even if what they create turns out to be useless, a pat on the back is a prerequisite for thinking outside of the box. Except in the case of the jet-powered Mini Cooper. That’s just plain stupid. 

    At Snetterton raceway in Norfolk, England, on what looks to be a delightfully British summer’s day, the man with the jet strapped to the back of his Mini lines up for his glorious demonstration run. As he approaches the first turn, gaining speed magnificently, he promptly, and rather predictably, slides wide, into — and then through — the steel barriers.

    (Screengrab via YouTube)(Screengrab via YouTube)

    “Who thought that was a good idea,” says the bemused British chap watching on. “Didn’t I say there wasn’t enough road?” 

    There is never enough road when your small hatchback boasts a six-foot-long jet engine protruding out of the trunk. It is, then, impossible to give the driver a slap on the back and say, “good on ya for trying.” The more pertinent question would probably be, “what the hell were

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  • Items you should avoid buying online

     More than three-quarters of Canadians are comfortable shopping online, according to Canada Post. A recent study by the postal office found that about 76 per cent of Canadian households shopped online last year.

    About a quarter of Canadians are "frequent" shoppers, meaning they buy online four to 10 times a year. They’re buying on the Internet four to 10 times per year, the data says.

    Canada Post also found that shoppers are buying products they wouldn't have a few years ago, including toys and games, which saw shipments rise by 37 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period the year before. 

    But there are some things that are still better bought in person at a retail outlet than via your laptop or smartphone.

    - Prescription drugs. While legitimate online pharmacies exist, purchasing pills like Viagra from Internet drugstores that do not provide a street address and a telephone number may pose serious health risks, according to Health Canada. “You have no way of

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  • Taxes in Canada: What items are you charged GST for and why?

    Tampons and pads (Thinkstock)Tampons and pads (Thinkstock)

    Beginning July 1, there will be no federal tax on tampons, a major victory for menstruating women across the country. In retrospect, it seems absurd that sanitary products were ever subject to GST in the first place. Sure, they’re “goods”, but they’re not exactly optional, contradicting the premise that essential items aren’t to be taxed.

    The recent win for Canadian Menstruators shows that tax rules are hardly straightforward.

    Generally speaking, essential items like food and medical supplies are not taxed. But ever since the GST was introduced, countless exemptions have been added and removed, proving that what’s considered “essential” isn’t always cut-and-dry.

    The Canada Revenue Agency spells out all the details in The Excise Tax Act, specifically schedule VI, which lists “zero-rated supplies”—those that are not taxed.

    There are all kinds of exceptions that will make you scratch your head.

    Prescription medications are zero-rated, for instance, but medical marijuana is not.

    Most of

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  • 5 ways to get the best cell phone deal under new federal rules

     

    If you’re near or in the third year of a cell phone contract and have been quietly steaming about the size your bill, the worm is turning for you.

    New CRTC rules that came into effect June 3 will ban phone carriers from charging cancellation fees after two years, which means that if you signed your current contract in mid-2013 or earlier, you can quit with no penalty.

     It also means that, with a few hundred thousand or more other customers in the same boat, the phone companies are facing a situation in which they could either lose a huge chunk of their customer base, or poach some market share from the competition.

     In other words, your carrier wants another dance and the other two big players want to cut in.  But even though the good deals are out there, you may still have to play hardball to get them.

     Here are five ways to make out like a bandit on your next cell phone deal:

     Make “no” the first word out of your mouth

    It can be tough to be tough, so it’s best to just make it a

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  • Student Changes Name Because It's Cheaper Than Paying Ryanair's Admin Fee

    Adam Armstrong would have had to shell £220 to correct the error, but has insisted: 'I'm not giving Ryanair a penny.'

    Adam Armstrong changed his name to Adam West to avoid Ryanair's extortionate admin charge.Adam Armstrong changed his name to Adam West to avoid Ryanair's extortionate admin charge.

    A student who made a Ryanair booking error changed his name by deed poll - because it was cheaper than the airline's £220 (about $420 CAD) 'admin fee'.

    Adam Armstrong would have had to shell out twice the price of his flight to Ibiza to correct the error made by his girlfriend's stepfather, who booked the pair onto the low-cost airline.

    Batman fan Adam, 19, had a ticket booked under 'Adam West' when his girlfriend's stepdad mistakenly used Adam's joke name which appears on his Facebook page.

    He was booked to go to the holiday island with girlfriend India Lomas, 17, next week.
    Adam and his girlfriend IndiaAdam and his girlfriend India

    When Adam realised the huge cost of fixing the error, he decided to change his name by deed poll and buy a new passport - as it would be cheaper than the Ryanair fee.

    The airline told him he would have to pay £220 - double the usual £110 fee - because his girlfriend was listed on the same ticket.


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