Marlene Skaff

    Marlene Skaff

    Skaff is a longtime journalist covering financial planning, investing, consumer issues and health and fitness.

  • The right way to return, exchange gifts bought online

    Have you ever bought something and later found out that it can’t be returned? It can happen any time of year and is something many of us will be dealing with now that the holidays are wrapping up. The growth … Continue reading →

  • How to get the best customer service

    Great service - from the clothing-store salesperson who outfits you in that perfect suit, to the cellphone-provider rep who quickly reverses that errant charge – can certainly win over customers, and is especially welcome when you’re shopping during hectic times … Continue reading →

  • Free Shipping Day Canada: Enough to get you to spend?

    Toronto insurance broker Sarina Schepisi loves online shopping, but hates delivery costs: precisely the consumer mentality that is driving retailers to offer perks, including campaigns like Thursday's holiday-driven Free Shipping Day Canada. Schepisi, for one, is a busy mother of … Continue reading →

  • How to resist the holiday social pressures to spend

    You've planned and saved for the gifts, but there's another potential budget-breaking aspect to the holidays – attending social functions. If you think buying gifts can be costly, think about how many times you have been invited out or wanted … Continue reading →

  • How food waste costs us all

    For Vancouver couple Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin, wasting food this holiday season when their family gathers for their annual potluck meal just isn't an option. Rustemeyer, 35, and Baldwin, 37, spent six months eating food from grocery stores and … Continue reading →

  • How to avoid gambling dangers, from slots to high-risk investing

    Gambling isn't just about playing cards, slots or the lottery - even investing can be risky, and all can amount to huge personal and financial losses. Still, it’s hard to resist stories such as the recent $40-million win by a … Continue reading →

  • Does Black Friday pay off for Canadians?

    Sherri Breaton has long been bitten by the Black-Friday discount bug, despite the chaos associated with the annual post-U.S. Thanksgiving shopping ritual, she plans to leave her job in Windsor, Ont., after her midnight shift and cross into neighbouring Detroit … Continue reading →

  • What kind of problem overspender are you?

    We've all dropped money on goods and services that we really didn't need, but seemed like a great buy at the time. Even Tina Tehranchian, a certified financial planner (CFP) with Assante Capital Management Ltd. in Richmond Hill, Ont., has … Continue reading →

  • Reasons to say hello or goodbye to a land line

    In this increasingly mobile world, there’s one grounded device that Toronto retiree Susan Charness just won’t strip from her budget: her land line. Whether calling her family in Halifax, her best friend in Toronto or business contacts from her days … <a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>

  • Gift cards: What to consider before you buy

    Gift cards seem an easy answer to what to get that hard-to-buy-for friend or family member, and are an important part of doing business – commonly used as a gesture of appreciation to employees and business clients alike. In fact, … <a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>

  • Should you hire someone to help in your job hunt?

    The economy’s jobless rate is dropping, but that’s little comfort to working or unemployed Canadians who are hitting a career wall or looking for that next challenge. With the plethora of free job-hunting resources and services (think Service Canada, community … <a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>

  • Blow-dries to hot shaves: The costly allure of convenience grooming

    No time to tame a bad hair day, so you blow into the nearest trendy blow-dry bar. Languishing at the airport between flights, you escape to a mini-manicure kiosk. Been awhile since your face was as smooth as a baby’s … <a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>

  • 5 ways to snag web travel fares and not get burned

    Deep-discount web travel fares can be a traveller’s dream, or a pain in the pocketbook. I, for example, got burned after purchasing Via Rail’s special “web escape” train fare, thinking my Detroit Tigers would have home-field advantage in pro baseball’s … <a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>