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Death is a booming $1.6-billion industry in Canada

There are a growing number of low-cost alternatives for funerals, so don’t feel boxed into the traditional funeral home experience.

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The funeral services industry comes off looking just awful in an investigation done by the Toronto Star and CBC Marketplace. Exorbitant charges and high pressure sales were common, but what really stands out are the stories of people who pre-paid their funerals. Years later, their families were told they'd have to pay substantial extra charges for burial or cremation

Here are some basics on funeral planning, including tips on pre-arranging a funeral service. Some important questions to ask are what happens if you move, and does the contract include all fees? To organize a cost-conscious funeral without looking cheap, consider these tips.

There are a growing number of low-cost alternatives for funerals, so don't feel boxed into the traditional funeral home experience. And remember the Canada Pension Plan death benefit, which is a modest lump-sum payment to the estate of a deceased CPP contributor. The maximum payout for 2017 is $2,500.

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Let British-born financier Jonathan Fisher help you profit like the experts
That's the devious hook securities regulators in Alberta used to lure people to a fake investment seminar staged to highlight how cunning scammers are. A total of 22 people showed up for the session, and most seemed to appreciate the wake-up call.

Breakfast cereal confidential
Ten facts about popular breakfast cereals. Presented in case your family is like mine in consuming a lot of cereal. Now for some info on how to pick a healthy cereal.

Toronto housing humour
The Beaverton, a satirical magazine, mocks the high price of condos.

A new kind of ETF
BMO's family of exchange-traded funds now includes four bond funds with an "accumulating units" version. That means the cash distributions are reinvested into the fund automatically and not paid out in cash. An interesting option for investors looking for growth rather than income.

NHL player gets scammed
A video about Brian Berard, a onetime NHL defenceman who nearly lost everything through a fraudulent financial adviser. Mr. Berard started out with a conservative approach to building a retirement fund, but then his adviser decided to get more ambitious.

What millennials want from the financial industry
They want their financial products, cheap, fast and with no chit-chat. Works for me.

Today's featured financial tool
Spring is high season for home buying, and that means many people buy and renew their home insurance at this time of year. If you're comparing insurers, check out these consumer reviews. You'll also find reviews of credit cards and mortgages.

Ask Rob
The question:
"I have about $80,000 in my RRSP that I recently pulled out of an underperforming mutual fund. I am ready to start managing my own portfolio and have a shortlist of investments I am considering, mostly using a passive index tracking strategy. However, given the increasing talk about a market correction (timing and extent unknown, of course), would it be worth waiting for this to occur before getting back into the market given current valuations? I accept the principle that I won't be able to time the market, but am still worried about current valuations and getting in at or near the top."

My reply: "I have no idea about the timing, but the markets have had a great run and will at some point fall hard. If you're worried about this, consider this approach: Divide your $80,000 into four chunks and invest one of them quarterly over the next year. Academic research shows that a lump-sum investment beats the gradual approach in most cases. But the correction risk today is real and I think investors need to protect themselves psychologically as much as anything else. Moving into the market gradually will ease your worries about buying and then having your investments fall off a cliff."

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

What I've been writing about
- Sad but true: Prudent savers are getting hit with the highest mortgage rates

- A foreign-buyers housing tax in Toronto? Bring it on – and fast

- The 2017 ETF Buyer's Guide: Best Canadian Equity Funds (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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