Pay Day
  • A comparison between the Mars Inc. products and the off-brand ones sold by Dollarama. (Aaron Broverman)A comparison between the Mars Inc. products and the off-brand ones sold by Dollarama. (Aaron Broverman)

    Ever notice how some of the off-brand chocolate bars at Dollarama look strangely familiar?

    The packaging of Dollarama's Meteor, Titan and Island Bar chocolate bars looks very similar to the Mars, Snickers and Bounty bars made by Mars Inc. In all cases the Dollarama bars use the same colours and logo design as their more well-known counterparts. That's a violation of Mars Inc.'s trademark says John Simpson, a lawyer and registered trademark agent at Shift Law – an intellectual property and new media law firm in Toronto.

    “The Meteor Bar appears to be an infringement of the Mars trademark and copyright in the artwork and the design. It appears to be a reproduction of a substantial part of their design and I would say the same about the Titan and Island Bar,” says Simpson, who is not associated with or retained by either Dollarama or Mars Inc.

    Trademark vs. Copyright

    A trademark can also be subject to copyright because these trademarks are artistic works and since Simpson believes that

    Read More »from Why Dollarama can sell off-brand versions of name-brand chocolate bars
  • Recovery Agent Amanda Husted (R), returns a vehicle to an owner after he paid for its release. (Getty)Recovery Agent Amanda Husted (R), returns a vehicle to an owner after he paid for its release. (Getty)

    Canadians bought or leased a record 1.8 million new cars and light trucks last year, the vast majority of them financed through loans.

    Now a consumer watchdog organization is warning that the ever-longer terms on auto loans and the use of subprime loans put at least some car buyers at risk of taking a financial bath.

    A report by the Automobile Consumer Coalition produced with funding from Industry Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs says most auto-purchase financing is for terms of more than 72 months (six years), with 84-month periods (seven years) not uncommon. That’s far from the three-year loan your father’s Oldsmobile was probably financed with.

    The longer term taken to pay off a loan not only means buyers are paying more in interest but they also risk being “upside down” on the loan. Depreciation could bite them if they have to replace or dispose of the car before it’s paid off, like if the car had to be written off in an accident, or if their financial circumstances changed due

    Read More »from Increasingly longer-term car loans flagged as growing problem by industry watchdog
  • Think they look cute? Technically, they're breaking local bylaws. (Thinkstock)Think they look cute? Technically, they're breaking local bylaws. (Thinkstock)

    As a kid you’re often told you need to learn the importance of a dollar. You may have even gotten together with the neighborhood children to start a lemonade or Kool-Aid stand, a snack hut with trail mix and cupcakes, or a craft table featuring painted rocks with googly eyes and pipe-cleaner tentacles. For many children and their encouraging families, this is just a typical part of summer fun.

    But what’s a kid to do when faced with adult obstacles?

    There have been cases across Canada of children lacking support from their communities for their small business, because they were missing business permits or paperwork for their summer ventures. And that doesn’t bode well for young kids with big dreams.

    In one recent incident, three children all under the age of eleven had to stop selling worms to local fishing enthusiasts due to a bylaw in Cornwall, Ont. The three youngsters were selling the worms for $2.50 per dozen on a small table and had a sign on their front lawn.

    Related stories:

    Read More »from Kids need confidence, not slaps on the wrist, to become successful entrepreneurs
  • You just came back from summer vacation a week ago and already it feels like a dream. All those relaxed-start mornings and nights that didn’t have to end at 10 p.m. have faded into a stale status update.

    Hang on though. What if your holidays didn’t have to end? What if you worked for a business that gave its employees unlimited time off to kick back, recharge and come back to work fresher and sharper than ever?

    Companies such as Virgin Group, Netflix and Best Buy have garnered headlines over the past few years for so-called “unlimited” paid employee vacation and leave plans. General Electric has also joined the fold with a “permissive approach” to paid time off for nearly half of its 70,000 U.S. employees. Netflix recently reminded us how sweet its vacation policy is by extending the unlimited idea to maternity and parental leaves too (during a child’s first year) – for certain employees in its higher skilled jobs.

    We’re not going to see the majority of employers jumping to this
    Read More »from Extended leave not all it's cracked up to be
  • Running on treadmills next to strangers not doing it for you? Hope you read that fine print. (Thinkstock)Running on treadmills next to strangers not doing it for you? Hope you read that fine print. (Thinkstock)

    “I try to go four times a week but I’ve missed the last 1200 times!”

    For any ‘Friends’ fan, the episode where Chandler tries to quit the gym is a classic. Ross encourages Chandler to quit the gym so he no longer is forced to pay monthly membership fees. And Chandler and Ross both ended up with gym memberships and even a joint chequeing account.

    It isn’t easy to stay motivated towards your fitness goals. And when the going gets tough, it can leave some gym patrons feeling like they no longer wish to keep the gym membership they had anticipated using all the time just a few months prior. But getting out of that contract isn’t always as easy as one may think.

    Former gym user Adam Hudson felt that sting when he tried to leave a local gym because he was planning to move to an area that did not have a facility nearby. Hudson was told that unless he was injured, there was no way to cancel his membership without receiving a hefty cancellation fee.

    “I decided to inform the gym that I was

    Read More »from Cancelling your gym membership: How to navigate the complicated contracts

    For seven years, Lee Wachtstetter has been living on a cruise ship at a cost of $164,000 a year according to USA Today. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-native sold her 10-acre property after her husband died on the advise of her daughter who suggested she spend her retirement doing what she loved. 

    “The day before my husband died of cancer in 1997, he told me, ‘Don’t stop cruising.’ So here I am today living a stress-free, fairy-tale life,” Wachtstetter says. 

    Wachtstetter’s story may seem like the ultimate fairytale but for most Canadians, a permanent vacation is not the dream. 

    “Many [Canadians] now view retirement as an opportunity for career re-invention,” says a study released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). “Half [of retirees] want to launch a whole new career rather than continuing the same line of work they did in their pre-retirement years,” it adds. The same trend is happening in the U.S.

    The winemakers 

    After working in real estate for the bulk of their

    Read More »from There may be a better way to retire
  • Campfires, sandy beaches, barbeques, lots of laughter and long summer nights. It’s the summer dream for many of us, but we’re often faced with a much less relaxing reality: staff meetings, deadlines and reports as we gaze over our cubical walls, wondering what’s happening in the outside world.

    With moments like these, it’s easy to get distracted at work and lose focus on what’s happening in your office. We start to daydream about the nice weather and summer plans and forget all about that end-of-day deadline.

    “We’re all still kids at heart, waiting for school to be out for summer. It doesn’t matter what our age is, there’s a part of us that imagines everyone else is having a picnic while we’re stuck at our desks,” says employment expert and CEO of The Bagg Group, Geoff Bagg. “On the bright side, we’re all feeling we’d rather be sailing so there’s a heightened sense of camaraderie that happens in the workplace during the summer months.”

    Things can be even tougher for those that are

    Read More »from Tips and tricks to avoid the 'summertime slump' at work
  • Anyone who’s stood on the retail floor for eight hours knows it’s a tough gig. Between the near constant watchful eyes of managers and sometimes irrationally cranky customers, some days can add a little extra weight to your already sore feet. Compound that with bag checks every time you enter and leave – for break, for lunch, for the day – and you can kind of see why Apple employees are looking for a reprieve.

    Last week, a California judge gave the official go-ahead for former Apple store employees to pursue a class action lawsuit against the Cupertino, California-based company, seeking compensation for the time they spend waiting for their bags to be searched at the end of their shifts.

    Despite claims by managers that searches only take a few seconds, employees in the lawsuit, which was initially filed in 2013, say those bag checks can last as long as 20 minutes. While it’s common practice in retail to search bags before an employee leaves to ensure they haven’t accidentally (or

    Read More »from What rights do retail employees have in Canada?
  • It’s summer, and for Canadians thawing out from the harsh winter, that means taking full advantage of the great outdoors. Summer is the perfect time for travel – the kids are out of school, the roads are dry and the destinations are scenic. However travelling, accommodations and souvenirs can come at a pretty penny.

    The cost of gas, flights, food, hotels and “I love P.E.I.” t-shirts can really add up, especially for a family of four or more. So how can Canadians enjoy their summer vacations without feeling the lingering effects of the dreaded “travel-debt hangover?”

    Be Proactive - Pay Yourself First

    Wade Stayzer, Vice President of Sales and Service for Meridian Credit Union says the best thing people can do to prepare for a summer vacation is to “pay yourself first” by being proactive and saving up the funds for the vacation well in advance.

    “When we talk about being proactive that to me suggests that you’re planning far, far ahead,” Stayzer says. “If you know that you’ll be doing a

    Read More »from The secrets to successfully budgeting for a summer vacation
  • Imagine getting hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for 56 cents - and being upset about it. That’s exactly what happens when we meet Angelique, a pregnant mother profiled on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing.” Ten hours and 23 transactions later, Angelique’s abundance of coupons and store points don’t quite total her grocery bill out to zero, and it’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to her. While this example is not typical even for the extreme of the extreme, it can be exhilarating to save a few bucks of your hard-earned cash off the receipt.

    It’s scenes like these that got Lindsay Nassler, 26, interested in the art of extreme coupon savings. A self-proclaimed “rookie” of the craze, Nassler has been living the uber-frugal lifestyle for about a year, when due to student debts and aspirations to buy a house she realized she didn’t have a lot of extra money to play with. That’s when she decided to do something about it.

    “When I first started watching [Extreme Couponing] I thought

    Read More »from Extreme couponing for Canadians is possible, with a little ingenuity
  • 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

    Read More »from Gay men make less than straight men, but lesbians out-earn straight women, study finds
  • Procrastinating Canadians breathed a sigh of relief when the Canada Revenue Agency announced that the tax-filing deadline this year has been pushed back to May 5. That means that those who owe money have a little more time to earn interest on their dollars.

    It’s not the first time the CRA has flubbed up.

    This year’s blunder arose because of human error. Someone at the CRA inadvertently sent out an email indicating the deadline was May 5. In fact, that was last year’s deadline, which was extended after the Heartbleed bug forced a five-day shutdown of its electronic services.

    “Talk about proof of the need to proofread your emails before sending them out,” says H&R Block senior tax analyst Caroline Battista of this year’s mistake. “It’s an extension for the second year in a row, but I would not encourage people to get used to the idea, nor would I encourage people who were procrastinating till April 30 to wait until the 4th of May to get their paper work in order. Use this time instead of

    Read More »from Canada Revenue Agency’s blunder this year not its first
  • The results are in: if you work as a floor assembler, you have the lousiest entry-level job out there.

    That’s according to WalletHub’s 2015 Entry-Level Jobs Report, which looks at the first-timer employment landscape by comparing 109 different types of entry-level positions based on 11 key metrics, such as starting salary, industry growth rate, and injury rate.

    For high-school students getting ready to graduate, here are the top 10 jobs that will make you wish you stayed in school.

    Floor assembler: The median annual salary is $35,467, according to The job involves simple, routine, and repetitive tasks involving physical labour and the use of hand and power tools, all while working under close supervision. Ominous note: “Primary job functions do not typically require exercising independent judgment,” says in its job description.

    Sheetmetal mechanic: Plan on spending your days setting up and operating machines such as drill presses, punch presses, shears, bending

    Read More »from The worst entry-level jobs in 2015
  • Generation X and Y are advised not to bank on the wealth built up by their Baby Boomer parents to get by later in life. A new survey shows the money may not come.

    HSBC’s latest global retirement survey says Canadians are among the most likely to spend their money before they die, and are the least likely to financially support their adult children.

    It shows 27 per cent of Canadian respondents think it’s better to blow all of their money while they’re still alive, and let their children fend for themselves. That’s compared to a global average of 21 per cent, among the 15 countries surveyed, who felt it was better to spend their money and let the next generation create its own wealth.

    Only 7 per cent of Canadians felt it was best to save as much as possible to pass along to their kids. The other two-thirds plan to save some for the next generation, but also spend more on themselves too.

    The survey also shows just 11 per cent of Canadians close to retirement plan to support their adult

    Read More »from Canadians more likely to burn through retirement savings: HSBC
  • Meds by mail (Thinkstock/Ackab)Meds by mail (Thinkstock/Ackab)

    A mother in Britain is mourning the loss of her 21-year-old daughter after the woman consumed diet pills she’d purchased online.

    Eloise Aimee Parry accidentally overdosed on pills that contained the toxic ingredient dinitrophenol (DNP). A lethal dose is two tablets; Parry had taken eight.

    The tragedy prompted police to remind people about the dangers of buying slimming pills or other medicines or supplements over the Internet.  “Substances from unregistered websites could put your health at risk, as they could be extremely harmful, out of date, or fake,” Chief Inspector Jennifer Mattinson told the Guardian.  

    Diet pills are just one item to avoid buying online. Here are a few other products that you’re better off buying at a bricks-and-mortar store after consulting a qualified health professional.

    Prescription drugs without a prescription

    There are legitimate pharmacies out there, but also many that are not. Referred to as rogue websites, they may sell controlled substances such as

    Read More »from Buyer beware: The most dangerous products to order online
  • The flag of Canada at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.The flag of Canada at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

    When Mehmet Gulec looks back on the days and weeks following his family’s arrival in Canada from Turkey in December 2013, he says he’s still amazed by everything the foursome overcame in fleeing their homeland. It wasn’t just the severe ice storm that hit Burlington, Ontario, three days after they landed there that they found challenging. So too was getting settled in their new country with extremely limited means.

    “We came – four people – with $1,000 Canadian cash,” Gulec says of his wife and two sons. “We survived, and when I turn back even myself I cannot understand how we did it. It was because we were not alone: Canadians are unbelievable people.”

    Gulec, who worked for 20 years as a production manager in the automotive industry in Turkey, says several organizations helped the family get established, including the Centre for Skills Development & Training, which offers a program called Enhanced Language Training to help immigrants who are beginning their careers in Canada. Gulec is

    Read More »from New immigrants to Canada face unexpected costs
  • Canadians are reluctant to give up cash in their portfolios and see home ownership as the best investment, according to a newly released investor sentiment survey from Manulife Financial.

    The survey shows Canadians are more conservative than Americans in their investments, which makes sense given the difference in economic growth outlooks between the two nations. Canada’s economic growth is picking up, but not as quickly as many economists expect, research shows, while the U.S. economy is rebounding more strongly. Canada’s main stock index has also underperformed the main U.S. indexes over the past year.

    About one-third (34 per cent) of Canadians surveyed by Manulife said now is a good time to hold on to cash, compared to 13 per cent of Americans. Canadians aren’t avoiding equities, but the survey shows only 44 per cent said it was a good time to invest in stocks, compared to 60 per cent of Americans.

    The results are similar to a survey Manulife released earlier this year showing 

    Read More »from Canadians continue to see home ownership as the best investment: survey


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