New personal finance books jostling for your attention

December 26 2012 by Ellen Roseman

My book, Fight Back, is finally published. You can buy the ebook at Amazon or Kobo. Of if you prefer to get the softcover version, you can order it from Amazon or Indigo or pick it up in bookstores in early January.

Mine is one of the few Canadian books focusing on consumer issues, such as telecommunications, travel and retailing. It has a fabulous foreword from David Chilton, author of The Wealthy Barber Returns and newest member of CBC Dragons’ Den.

Two well-known TV personal finance personalities are weighing in with new volumes, Gail Vaz-Oxlade with Money Rules (at almost 500 pages) and Kevin O’Leary with The Cold Hard Truth about Men, Women and Money.

Two books I’ve read and liked are Gordon Pape’s revised guide to the tax-free savings account (TFSA) and The Real Retirement by Fred Vettese and Bill Morneau, chief actuary and executive chairman (respectively) of retirement consulting firm Morneau Shepell.

Unlike the gloomy retirement books written by some authors, The Real Retirement tries to make you feel better about not having saved a nest egg equal to 70 per cent of your working income.

“You likely will not need as much money in your retirement years as many experts have suggested,” they say. “Yes, you will require more health care and other attention, especially as your age advances, but their costs will not threaten your financial security.

“Given some basic planing (a paid-off mortgage, zero major debts, no dependents at home), you should be able to live fairly comfortably with retirement income representing 50 per cent of your pre-retirement earnings.”

Back to my book, Fight Back, I will give away several free copies to readers who post comments (below) about how they recognized and resisted corporate trickery.

So, please send your personal stories and best tips. I’ll contact you if you win a prize.

9 comments

  1. Alya

    Dec 26 2012

    My father and I had issues with one of our computers and got nowhere with HP.

    We googled about the issue and found a site that offered to ‘send us’ what we needed – a copy of the software to re-format the computer. They even had a 1-800 number.

    It looked iffy to me and I didn’t want us to give any information away. My dad called their number after blocking ours — and one of the first comments we got when they answered the phone was that our number was blocked.

    That was a warning sign. I felt this site (and company) was not legit. We tried getting more information, but were hit with roadblocks along the way.

    After experiencing credit card fraud on one of my own credit cards, I was very hesitant to have my dad give his credit card information out to a site that we didn’t know much about.

    My dad was about to order when I got a notification on my computer that there was a virus stopped on the computer – it was from their site. After seeing this, I knew it was best that we did NOT go with them.

    Why would a company not give any information to potential customers if they are there to help the customer and get a sale?

    So my advice is this: While Google MAY have all the answers to your problems and questions, it is also best to go with your gut.

    Going with your gut will never lead you astray, whether it’s making a purchase, seeking financial advice or something else.

  2. Dexter

    Dec 27 2012

    Bad experience with BELL.

    1. When they offer you product, you can get it from one representative (bundle, phone, internet, tv). But if you have to cancel it, you have to cancel it one by one.

    2. Bell and Rogers would only accept 30 days’ notice. They would not accept notice that is more than 30 days, but will ask you to call back.

    3. One time, a Bell representative on the phone gave me an offer and when the bill came, I had to pay more than the agreed on offer. Luckily, I was able to write down all the details of our call (name, time, date and package) and have them cancel the service.

  3. Potato

    Dec 27 2012

    A quick quibble: “The Real Retirement tries to make you feel better about not having saved a nest egg equal to 70 per cent of your working income.” Should likely say “…not having saved a nest egg large enough to draw funds equal to 70 percent of your working income…”

    As for corporate trickery? The example that comes to mind first is Bell’s Usage Based Billing, sending a written submission to the CRTC committee against it.

    In a more personal and direct anecdote, I got my dad a Rogers rocketstick a few years ago so he could have internet access at the cottage. It works on the cell networks, and though it is not actually a cell phone, for technical reasons it has a phone number associated with it (so to some part of the system, it appears to be a phone). That means that people can send text messages to it, even though there’s no phone to receive them.

    Now of course, my dad doesn’t know what that number is (and I’d have to dig through some documentation to find it), so no one is legitimately sending text messages to this device. Yet every month, Rogers would try to bill us for 45 or 60 cents for a few spam messages that were “received” (and the scare quotes are there because again, it’s not actually a cell phone).

    I would call to complain, they would reverse the silly charges, promise to put on text message blocking, and yet again the next month I’d find a charge to receive what was obviously spam or texts to a wrong number.

    It took 8 months for the block to finally stick — after several reps noted that the messages kept coming, despite seeing in their systems that a block was in place, and me pointing out that it must be costing them way more than a few cents for them to have a rep manually fix the error every month.

  4. Bogdan@bankowe

    Jan 5 2013

    The Real Retirement looks like an interesting read, defying the conventional wisdom we might have been bullied to embrace.

    We are told to save, save, save for retirement and smacked on our heads with standard calculations, but most people would be better off thinking hard about how they want to live and what other values than money will play a part.

  5. canadianmaple007@gmail.com

    Jan 7 2013

    I was charged a $300 deductible amount by Budget Car Rental for no reason by their collision and repair department.

    1) The damage (small scratches) was already there before renting the
    car. Because of bad weather (rain) and our hurry the day before,
    we did not inspect and sign off on the damage while renting the vehicle.

    2) We were not told about $300 deductible. The agents at Avis-
    Budget said that the full insurance covers just about everything, so we
    didn’t bother to inspect the vehicle before renting.

    3) After returning the rental vehicle, we were asked to fill out the incident report. We were told to write down anything like “hit the curb” even though it was not our mistake.

    Aince it was my very first rental after immigrating to Canada from the USA, I did not question them. They said you are fully covered with Budget insurance & they’ll take care of the scratches.

    Somebody in the office even wrote down the $300 amount on the form without our knowledge (it can be proved it was written by someone
    else and was not our handwriting).

    I wouldn’t have agreed to fill out the incident report form if they
    had written $300 in my presence.

    4) The repair cost (around $700) seems unreasonable for such a
    small scratch. I would like Budget to send us the photographs of damage and proof that it has been fixed for the cost stated as $700. I would also like to talk to the body shop where the repairs were done.

    5) While searching on Internet, I came across disturbingly similar incidents reported against Budget car rental in Canada, just last month, where customers were charged without any reason and were equally frustrated.

    http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/11/budget-rent-a-car-accused-of-cheating-customers.html

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/11/02/bc-budgetrepairs.html

    My request to them was to fully reimburse the $300 charges to
    amicably resolve my nightmare experience with Budget and maintain
    good relationship in the future.

    When I asked for photographs of the damage, they provided a “doctored” photo with scratched paint on the rear left side of bumper.

    On the other hand, the drawing I had provided in the report was having
    two marks:

    1) a small mark on the front right side bumper and
    2) a small mark on the middle of the rear bumper.

    They have provided a false photo. which is the upside down version of my
    markings in the report. I found this disturbing and unprofessional
    as well and wanted to bring it to your attention.

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