Since it’s Valentine’s Day I decided to pop into the Bernard Callebaut chocolate shop (under new ownership after the original business, named after Bernard Callebaut himself, fell into receivership a few years back) yesterday to pick up a treat for my wife.  As I checked out the selection of rich and decadent delights I paused to look at the price and was stunned to see those mini heart-shaped boxes going for $45 to $75 each!

Needless to say I left in a hurry and headed next door to use my two-for-one coupon on a takeout dinner at Quiznos.  I’m all for spoiling my wife on special occasions but in this case it was the thought that counts, right?

The best reward is a cash reward

Travel rewards cards have been in the spotlight as all the banks and credit card companies fight for a share of your wallet.  These cards can be lucrative if you spend a lot and travel frequently.  However, rewards programs like Aeroplan and Air Miles have been a major source of frustration for customers who just want to redeem their points when they want without restriction.

Related: Why I gave up on Air Miles

That’s why I maintain that, for most people, cash back rewards beat travel rewards when it comes to getting the best and most convenient return on your spending. Here on my Rewards Cards Canada blog I compared the 7 best cash back credit cards on the market and looked at the pros and cons of each card.

Weekend Reading

Now let’s take a look at some of my favourite personal finance articles from around the web this month:

Market Watch looked at the defining characteristics of debt-free people.  Besides the obvious habits of spending less than they earn and automating their savings, they also take care to research and understand all aspects of their finances.

The Globe and Mail’s retirement blogger regrets moving from her sprawling suburban home into a downtown condo.  Downsizing can be a difficult decision for many seniors.

Mark Goodfield of The Blunt Bean Counter blog continues his retirement series titled, How much money do I need to retire?  Heck if I know or anyone else does!  In it he explores the standard 4% withdrawal rate and whether it is safe or too aggressive in retirement.

DIY investor Barry Choi shows up in a new magazine called Blend to explain how to get the most out of your RRSP.

Michael James on Money explores the gap between the financial advice people need and what they actually get.  “If you think the main job of a financial advisor is to choose investments, then you’ll likely pay a very high price for a fairly simple service.”

Speaking of advice, Dan Bortolotti of the Canadian Couch Potato blog wonders if robo-advisors, or online services that design and manage your investment portfolio for a fraction of the cost of a human advisor, will ever catch on in Canada.

Kyle Prevost at Young and Thrifty looks at the insanity of RRSP season and laments the fact that we don’t pay more attention to RRSPs year-round.

The Million Dollar Journey blog wrote a comprehensive guide to cutting the cord – cancelling cable in favour of cheaper on-demand streaming content.  This is something I’ve been contemplating but I feel like it would be too much of a work-around solution.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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