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Your junk, their treasure: Some investors hoard offbeat collectibles from condoms to Pez dispensers

Your junk, their treasure: Some investors hoard offbeat collectibles from condoms to Pez dispensers

Finance
From duck decoys and hood ornaments to limited-edition sneakers and Pez candy dispensers, offbeat collectibles attract the eye of investors who crave tangible assets they can appreciate and that ... well, appreciate in value. Assembling a collection of rare items is as much a labor of love as an investment tactic and won't necessarily net owners significant returns. Then again, it might. "In general, these are considered speculative types of investments," said Russ Robertson, a certified financial planner with WealthCrest Financial Services. "You can get great returns, but it comes with high risk, unless you really know what you're doing."Pez aficionado Dale Pike of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who has amassed more than 1,000 of the themed candy dispensers over several decades, told CNBC.co...
More business travellers are booking their own trips

More business travellers are booking their own trips

Finance
A friend of Gulliver’s recently received some devastating news, in the form of a change to company policy. No longer would he and his co-workers be able to book their own flights and file for reimbursements. Instead, the firm would buy all employees’ plane tickets from the start.On the face of it, this is a convenient change. It saves staff time by ensuring that they do not have to fill in tedious expense forms. But many business travellers may not see it that way. A study from Phocuswright, a travel-research firm, finds that more and more employees are booking their own travel and filing for reimbursements. Sometimes doing so allows for a better itinerary: travellers can avoid annoying layovers and airlines for which they reserve particular ire. Sometimes, if they are feeling generous tow
Who will be Premier League champions? – 40 BBC experts have their say

Who will be Premier League champions? – 40 BBC experts have their say

Sports
We have seen six different champions since the Premier League started 25 years ago, but will someone different win it this time?Liverpool and Tottenham are among the teams hoping that will be the case or, at the very least, that they can finish in the top four.But will Chelsea defend their title? Can Pep Guardiola conquer England with Manchester City? Are Arsenal contenders... or will Manchester United come good?We asked 40 BBC TV and radio pundits, presenters, journalists and commentators for their one-two-three-four and an explanation of their selection.The predictions were made on the basis of how each squad shaped up on Friday, 11 August, before the opening weekend but with three weeks to go before the transfer window shuts on Friday 1 September, and the potential of further signings -...
Who should — and shouldn't — consider making variable annuities part of their retirement portfolio

Who should — and shouldn't — consider making variable annuities part of their retirement portfolio

Finance
When it comes to variable annuities, many financial pros offer a few words of advice: Use with caution.Indeed, as complex investments that are tricky to understand, variable annuities come with risks that sometimes can outweigh the expected rewards."The plain-vanilla ones aren't necessarily a bad deal if they're used the right way," said certified financial planner Colby Winslow, a senior wealth planner with WaterOak Advisors. "But sometimes the fees are so prohibitive that they don't justify using one."Nevertheless, advisors say that in some cases a variable annuity ends up being the best option for a portion of an investors' retirement money.In simple terms, these annuities are a type of investment that offers some income-stream guarantees in retirement. You give an insurance company you...
Why dogs are friendly – it's written in their genes

Why dogs are friendly – it's written in their genes

Science
Being friendly is in dogs' nature and could be key to how they came to share our lives, say US scientists.Dogs evolved from wolves tens of thousands of years ago.During this time, certain genes that make dogs particularly gregarious have been selected for, according to research.This may give dogs their distinctive personalities, including a craving for human company."Our finding of genetic variation in both dogs and wolves provides a possible insight into animal personality, and may even suggest similar genes may have roles in other domestic species (maybe cats even)," said Dr Bridgett vonHoldt of Princeton University.The researchers studied the behaviour of domestic dogs, and grey wolves living in captivity. They carried out a number of tests of the animals' skills at problem-solving and ...