Canadians Have no Plans to Cut Holiday Spending

Love or hate holiday shopping, Canadians are showing little sign of cutting back on spending this holiday season. The vast majority of Canadians (86 per cent) plan to be as generous, or more, this year versus last year, with an anticipated average holiday spend of $570, according to a recent poll by Ebates.ca.  Those planning on taking advantage of holiday shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, anticipate getting roughly one-third of their holiday shopping finished on these days (36 per cent on Black Friday and 33 per cent on Cyber Monday).

“Canadians may not be spending less, but they are leveraging pre-holiday sales to save money and stretch their dollar further,” said Belinda Baugniet, director of marketing and resident shopping expert at Ebates.ca. “Our survey indicates that convenience is increasingly important to their shopping habits and decisions.”

2017 shopping trends
Parents are anticipated to be the big spenders, shelling out an average of $710 compared to $489 for those without kids, while dads say they plan to spend more than moms ($803 versus $638). Despite 22 per cent of Canadians who still plan on being last-minute shoppers, more Canadians are shopping early this year, with 31 per cent saying they have most of their holiday shopping done before the winter season starts, up from 28 per cent last year. These shopping keeners are more likely to be under the age of 35 (37 per cent), and/or parents of preschoolers (45 per cent). Those who do at least some shopping online (34 per cent) are also more likely to have their holiday shopping wrapped up early than those who don’t (18 per cent).

Some people dread going anywhere near a mall during the holidays, and they are not alone; Canadians increasingly cite shopping for gifts at the mall as their least favourite part of the holidays (62 per cent), up slightly from last year (59 per cent). The majority (82 per cent) of Canadians are turning to online shopping to avoid the chaos and plan to dedicate 38 per cent of their holiday spend online, versus 36 per cent last year. Accordingly, convenience is cited as the top benefit of online shopping (26 per cent), followed by the ability to find things not available in stores (21 per cent).

Speaking of convenience, a whopping 87 per cent of Canadians say they typically purchase gift cards as holiday gifts and just as many say they are happy when they receive gift cards. In fact, only 21 per cent say they are a little disappointed to get a gift card, and just 36 per cent feel a little guilty giving one. By far, the majority of Canadians feel gift cards simplify their holiday gift shopping (84 per cent) and nearly three quarters (73 per cent) feel they are a thoughtful holiday gift. The most popular type of gift card is for restaurants/coffee shops (49 per cent) followed by multi-purpose ones such as Visa gift cards (38 per cent).

Smart strategies
Regardless of where they shop, Canadians strategize ways to stretch their holiday shopping budget. Two-thirds redeem loyalty program points to purchase gifts and 59 per cent make a point of shopping with retailers that offer loyalty points, while 47 per cent make a point of shopping with retailers that offer cash back. Other strategies include:

  • 38% use social media to help them find deals (39% in 2016)
  • 31% use social media to recommend products (31% in 2016)
  • 32% use mobile apps or mobile payment (up vs 28% in 2016)
  • 30% use store mobile apps to make purchases (up vs 27% in 2016)
  • 22% use social media to complain about products (22% in 2016)

About the survey The Ebates Canada survey was conducted online in October 2017 with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Canadians. A sample of this size is accurate to within +/-3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About Ebates Inc. The Ebates brand supports a strong community of millions of savvy shoppers around the world. Ebates.com was founded in 1998 and has paid over $300,000,000 in cash to its global members. In 2012, Ebates began international expansion with the launch of Ebates Canada, specifically designed by Canadians for Canadians. Ebates.ca membership is free. To earn cash back, online shoppers log in to Ebates.ca and click through to a partner retail site to complete their purchase. Ebates.ca then tracks the purchase and offers back in cash a percentage of everything bought. Every quarter, Ebates.ca sends members their cash back account balance in the form of a #BigFatCheque or #BigFatPayment through PayPal. Members also have the option to send their cash back to a designated charity.

SOURCE Ebates Canada

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Launches Network Security & Privacy Liability Insurance in Canada

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) today unveiled the Professional FirstTM Network Security & Privacy Liability Policy in Canada, a solution that combines cyber liability and breach response coverage with risk management resources for commercial enterprises and financial institutions.

“We are excited to round out our Executive and Professional Lines offerings with this flexible cyber solution, backed by BHSI’s commitment to service and unparalleled financial strength.”

“Our new policy simplifies the complex endeavor of managing cyber exposures for both our business partners and our customers,” said Michael Densham, SVP, Executive & Professional Lines, BHSI Canada. “We are excited to round out our Executive and Professional Lines offerings with this flexible cyber solution, backed by BHSI’s commitment to service and unparalleled financial strength.”

The Professional First Network Security & Privacy Liability Policy is designed to deliver multi-faceted coverage and crisis management services for large commercial enterprises and a wide range of financial institutions, including credit unions, banks, asset managers, and insurance companies.

Policy highlights include:

  • Coverage for both first and third party exposures resulting from data security and privacy breaches, including regulatory investigations, fines and penalties.
  • Breach expense and extortion threat coverage, addressing the direct expenses an Insured incurs to effectively respond to a breach or extortion threat.
  • Media liability coverage, which responds to traditional media exposures (e.g. through a company’s website) arising from electronic content.
  • Business interruption coverage to pay lost income and related expenses incurred as a result of the Insured’s partial or full business interruption due to a network security failure.
  • Online access to eRiskHub® tools and resources to help policyholders understand cyber exposures, establish a breach response plan, and prepare to mitigate the impact of a breach on their organization. eRiskHub is provided via NetDiligence, a leading cyber security and e-risk assessment firm.

BHSI policyholders also have access to legal experts to help them manage their obligations following a breach, forensic IT services to identify and contain a breach, and public relations and credit monitoring firms to manage the reputational damage that can accompany an incident.

For more information, contact Geoffrey Kendrick at Geoffrey.kendrick@bhspecialty.com for commercial risks and Andrew Knight at Andrew.knight@bhspecialty.com for financial institutions risks.

BHSI’s new Network Security & Privacy Liability Policy is the latest addition to its Professional First suite of professional liability products, which are designed to provide clear, current and customizable coverage for financial and commercial firms.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (www.bhspecialty.com) provides commercial property, casualty, healthcare professional liability, executive and professional lines, surety, travel, programs, medical stop loss, and homeowners insurance. In Canada it underwrites on the paper of National Liability & Fire Insurance Company, a part of Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity group of insurance companies, which hold financial strength ratings of A++ from AM Best and AA+ from Standard & Poor’s. Based in Boston, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has offices in Atlanta, Asheville, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Irvine, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, San Ramon, Seattle, Stevens Point, Auckland, Brisbane, Düsseldorf, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London, Macau, Melbourne, Singapore, Sydney and Toronto. For more information, contact info@bhspecialty.com.

Court orders PayPal to give business account details to CRA

Business customers who used service between 2014 and last Friday are affected

By Pete Evans, CBC News

The Federal Court of Canada has ordered U.S.-based PayPal to hand over details about its business account customers to Canadian tax authorities.

The court order, obtained by the Canada Revenue Agency, forces the U.S.-based payment processing firm to release information about Canadians with PayPal business accounts who processed transactions between the start of 2014 and last Friday.

PayPal must hand over the names, dates of birth, contact information and — in some cases — social insurance numbers of any business account holders in Canada. The court order was issued last Friday, and the company has until Dec. 25 to comply. PayPal says it has already contacted affected customers about the order, but has not yet handed over the data.

The company has millions of Canadian customers. The majority have personal accounts, which are unaffected by the court order, the company told CBC News in a statement.

In the U.S., PayPal already submits information on any customers who either processed $20,000 US over the network, or made more than 200 transactions in a given year, to that country’s tax authorities. But the company hasn’t been obligated to do the same in Canada.

PayPal also notes: “This is a one-time disclosure of information to the CRA for Canadian PayPal Business Account holders that sent or received a payment between 2014 and 2017. This is not an ongoing request for information.”

Hamilton tax lawyer Craig Burley said in an interview that the court order is a watershed moment in Canadian tax circles.

“They went on a fishing expedition,” he said. It’s common for tax authorities to request information on individual tax filers under investigation, “but this is different,” Burley said. “This is: ‘give us all your customers.'”

By going after what’s known as “unnamed persons” through the courts, the tax agency is taking a much wider comb in trying to find unreported taxable income

“This will almost certainly prove to be the largest CRA information dump that they have ever gotten with this method,” Burley said. “Anyone who has not been fully disclosing income has a real problem here.”

In a statement to CBC News, the CRA said the move is part of the tax agency’s ongoing crackdown against the underground economy.

“The information obtained through the unnamed persons requirement will allow the CRA to ensure that these corporations comply with their tax obligations under the Income Tax Act,” the CRA said. “The CRA has … considerably stepped up efforts to identify individuals and businesses that do not file tax returns and to settle their files.”

Jonathan Farrar, an associate accounting professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, says it’s the first time he can recall the CRA going after unreported tax income in such a major and comprehensive way.

“It’s a more aggressive approach,” he said in an interview. “It’s a big net, and they’re saying, ‘Let’s see who we can catch here.'”

Source: www.cbc.ca/news

 

Why are gas prices in Canada suddenly so damned high?

Excerpted article was written by

Tristin Hopper | National Post

All of a sudden, Canadian gas prices are reaching heights not seen since the release of Sharknado. Even in a cheap fuel haven like Alberta, prices are peaking as high as $1.26 per litre in Edmonton and $1.28 in Calgary. In B.C., the average price is an incredible $1.38 per litre, breaking $1.40 in Vancouver.

So, the National Post called up Dan McTeague with GasBuddy.com and a semi-obsessive expert on all things petroleum. Below, the surprisingly complex backstory to why your Honda just got way more expensive to run.

Blame it all on a production slowdown in the U.S.
Despite our oceans of oil in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada still gets much of its gasoline from U.S. refineries. ExxonMobil just slowed operations at its Joliet, Ill., refinery to carry out some seasonal maintenance. Same deal at a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind. Then a Texas-to-Oklahoma fuel pipeline sprung a leak, necessitating a temporary shutdown. All of these events barely merited a mention in the news, but they’re collectively costing consumers millions in pricier gas. Much of the Canadian gasoline market is subject to the Chicago wholesale price for gasoline. At the beginning of October, it was $0.56 CDN per litre. Now, it’s shot up to $0.65 CDN. And, of course, the end cost is significantly higher for Canadian drivers once taxes, transport costs and profit are all tacked on.

The Americans have been particularly thirsty for gasoline lately
A leaky pipeline and some routine maintenance are “relatively mundane factors,” as GasBuddy noted in a blog, but they’ve been helping to spike prices for the simple reason that Americans suddenly need a lot more gas. U.S. consumers are demanding 257,000 more barrels of gasoline, per day, than this time last year. The country’s economic growth is at three per cent and unemployment is continuing the plunge it began in 2010. It all makes for more cars and trucks on the road, and greater stress on the U.S. fuel supply. This time last year, the U.S. Midwest had 49.5 million barrels of gasoline on hand. Now, it’s down to 45.5 million barrels. “This is the lowest we’ve been in a very, very, very long time,” said McTeague. The result is that the U.S. is similarly getting hammered by higher gas prices, although not nearly as badly as in Canada. Right now, California is home to the highest gas prices in the United States. Still, if Leonardo DiCaprio knows where to look, he can fuel up his Range Rover for the equivalent of 91 cents CDN per litre.

Canadian dollars can’t buy as much gas
One month ago, a Canadian dollar bought as much as 80 cents of a U.S. dollar. By the beginning of November, that was down to as low as 77 cents. Naturally, a devalued currency means it costs Canada just a bit extra to bring all of its gas and diesel over the border. Although, according to McTeague, the absolute maximum effect this would have at the pump would be to raise prices by four cents; a fraction of the 16 cents on average that Canadian prices have risen since early October.

Unfortunately, things probably won’t be getting any better
U.S. production will eventually catch up. That ruptured pipeline mentioned earlier is already fixed, and major refineries will soon wrap up their seasonal maintenance. However, this is all happening just in time for consumers to get hammered with the effects of higher global prices on crude oil. Demand everywhere is on the upswing, and it doesn’t help that Saudi Arabia is currently threatening war with both Lebanon and Yemen. On Halloween night, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude went for $54 USD ($69.02 CDN). As of press time it’s at $57.24 USD ($73.16 CDN).

Happier During the Holidays?

More Than One-Third of Canadian Workers Surveyed Jollier on the Job During the Holiday Season; Similar Numbers Are Also More Stressed

  • Balancing year-end festivities and work obligations biggest stressor for workers
  • More flexible work schedules, higher year-end bonuses top professionals’ wish lists

TORONTONov. 6, 2017 /CNW/ – ‘Tis the season to be jolly – off and on the clock. In a recent survey of Canadian professionals from staffing firm Accountemps, more than a third (36 per cent) said they are more cheerful at work during the holidays. But many are also busier, with 30 per cent of respondents saying they are more stressed on the job this time of year.

What makes workers weary during the most wonderful time of the year? Professionals polled cited balancing holiday events and work obligations (33 per cent), having fewer people on the job to help (20 per cent), and trying to take time off and coming back to heavy workloads (17 per cent) as the most stressful aspects of the holiday season.

As for the gift that would bring the most cheer, professionals cited allowing more flexible work schedules (30 per cent), higher year-end bonuses (27 per cent) and additional paid vacation time (23 per cent).

Workers were asked, “Which single aspect of the holiday season is most stressful for you on the job?” Their responses*:

Balancing holiday events and work obligations

33%

Having fewer people available to help with workload

20%

Trying to take time off and coming back to heavy workloads

17%

Attending office holiday events

13%

Buying gifts for coworkers/business contacts

8%

Other

10%

101%

*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

Workers were asked, “What would you most like your company to do to help alleviate stress during the year-end holiday season?” Their responses:

Allow more flexible work schedules

30%

Give higher year-end bonuses

27%

Provide more paid vacation time

23%

Bring in temporary staff to help with workload

11%

Other

9%

100%

“Preparing for the holidays and juggling year-end responsibilities at work can make this a busy and stressful time for employees,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps. “To ensure business continues to run smoothly, employers should consult their teams to see how they can alleviate pressure, and consider providing additional resources to cover for vacations, or allow for flexible work schedules.”

As the holidays approach, Accountemps offers the following tips to prevent on-the-job fatigue:

  • Make a list and check it twice. Before leaving work, write down top priorities to accomplish the next day. Keep a separate list for personal to-do’s. This will help you manage priorities, improve productivity and reduce stress during the holidays.
  • Look for helpers. If you’re buried with too many projects, speak up. Meet with your manager to discuss possible solutions to alleviate the pressure you’re feeling, such as adjusting deadlines or delegating.
  • Give yourself the gift of time. Plan for time out of the office, and help your boss prepare for your absence so all important projects are covered. Think about ways you can minimize your stress level, such as leaving a little early to get holiday shopping done.
  • Eat, exercise and be merry. It’s impossible to enjoy the holiday season if you don’t prioritize your physical and mental health. Take regular breaks during the day to refuel, rest or stretch.

About the Survey
An independent research firm surveyed more than 550 workers from Canada to determine employee happiness during the holiday season, as well as the impact of holiday stress.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has 325 offices worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the company’s blog, can be found at roberthalf.ca/en/work-with-us/our-services/accountemps. Follow us at @RobertHalf_CAN for additional workplace news and hiring trends.

SOURCE Accountemps

Liz Weston: 4 Steps to Disaster Proof Your Finances

By Liz Weston

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mother Nature could be excused if she wondered, “How much more prompting do you people need?”

This year delivered epic wildfires, devastating hurricanes, massive floods and some pretty horrific earthquakes. Yet many people still haven’t taken a few critical steps to protect their financial lives from such disasters.

Consider setting aside a few hours this week to take care of these four essential tasks:

REVIEW (AND BOOST) YOUR INSURANCE

Most renters don’t have renters insurance, but they need it since their landlord’s policy won’t cover their stuff.

The vast majority of homeowners do have homeowners insurance, but often not enough especially if their policies haven’t been updated regularly to reflect rising construction costs or improvements. Ask your insurer to rerun the numbers to ensure you have enough coverage to rebuild your home completely. United Policyholders, an advocacy group for insurance customers, recommends adding as much “extended replacement cost” coverage as you can afford. This add-on boosts the policy’s coverage limits by 20 per cent to 100 per cent if costs run unexpectedly high, as often happens in disaster zones when rebuilding costs soar. Another smart addition: “building code upgrade” or “ordinance coverage” to pay the higher costs of rebuilding to current standards.

Other key points:

_Homeowners insurance typically doesn’t cover floods or earthquakes, so consider buying those policies if your home may be at risk.

_You want “replacement cost ” coverage for your home’s contents, not “actual cash value,” which will pay only pennies on the dollar to replace your stuff.

_You may need extra coverage if you have certain valuables, such as jewelry, collectibles, guns or computers and other home office equipment. Policies typically limit coverage to $1,500 to $2,500 for each of these categories.

_Opt for generous “loss of use” or “additional living expenses” coverage, since that will pay your rent and other costs while your home is uninhabitable. United Policyholders recommends having at least two years’ worth of additional living expense coverage.

If you’re concerned your coverage limits are too low and your insurer won’t let you upgrade, shop around for a better provider.

SCAN IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS INTO THE CLOUD

You may be away from home or not have time to grab your bug-out bag in your scramble out the door. Keeping documents or copies off site is one solution, but anything in your safe deposit box or lawyer’s office could be compromised by the same disaster that wrecks your home, says financial planner Leonard Wright, who evacuated his family from their San Diego-area home during the 2007 wildfires.

“You want it out of the area,” says Wright, a certified public accountant and personal financial specialist who contributed to a detailed disaster guide that the American Institute of CPAs created with the American Red Cross and National Endowment for Financial Education.

Wright uses DropBox, a file sharing and storage site, for family pictures and Box, a similar site known for its security features, for financial documents. Other cloud services include Microsoft’s OneDrive, Apple’s iCloud and Google Drive. Documents can be scanned with mobile apps or desktop scanners, which typically cost $200 to $400.

Disaster survivors say the following documents can be particularly important, according to United Policyholders:

_Insurance policies

_Passports and birth certificates

_Family photos

_Tax and loan documents

_Stocks and bonds

_Wills and trusts

_Home blueprints or surveys, if you have them

DO A QUICK HOME INVENTORY

This can be as simple as walking around your home, inside and out, recording your stuff with your smartphone’s video camera and storing that video in the cloud. Or you can use an app, such as Sortly, MyStuff2 or United Policyholders’ UPHelp Home Inventory to photograph and itemize your possessions.

ADD EMERGENCY ACCESS TO YOUR PASSWORDS

Security experts recommend using a password manager to securely store unique, hard-to-remember logins for each account while only having to remember one master password. Password managers also can help a trusted person to take over for you if you die or become incapacitated _ but that person needs access to the account. Some password managers let you offer emergency access to others. Another option is to keep copies of your passwords, or your master password, with your estate planning documents. Services such as Everplans and Fidelity Investments’ FidSafe offer online storage with secure sharing options.

Finally, make a note on your calendar to do all this again next year so all your important documents are kept up to date. Investing a few hours each year can pay off in an easier recovery if disaster ever strikes, and peace of mind even if it doesn’t.

_______

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet .

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