Which States Have The Biggest Holiday Budgets?

Stats provided by Wallethub.

I live in a little town in Pennsylvania. Cost of living is low but job opportunities are also more scarce than other areas.  I sometimes watch those car commercials where the luxury car is sitting in someone’s drive way with a bow and think who does that? Well maybe it’s more common in your area.

So who are the big spenders around the US?

Cities with the Biggest Holiday Budgets
1 Flower Mound, TX ($2,761) 11 San Ramon, CA ($2,036)
2 Sunnyvale, CA ($2,575) 12 Cary, NC ($2,010)
3 Naperville, IL ($2,528) 13 Plano, TX ($2,006)
4 Mountain View, CA ($2,524) 14 Troy, MI ($1,965)
5 The Woodlands, TX ($2,444) 15 Palo Alto, CA ($1,940)
6 Bellevue, WA ($2,411) 16 Rochester Hills, MI ($1,919)
7 Sugar Land, TX ($2,321) 17 Pleasanton, CA ($1,913)
8 Allen, TX ($2,244) 18 Newton, MA ($1,888)
9 Pearland, TX ($2,238) 19 Rockville, MD ($1,870)
10 Maple Grove, MN ($2,156) 20 Shawnee, KS ($1,842)

 

 

Hmm I wonder if I have any relatives in any of these areas lol?  Seriously though, if you’re from this area do you think these stats hold true? As a family of 5 we don’t even spend as much as those in Shawnee, KS apparently does for Christmas.  I’m wondering though if those stats include things like holiday dinners, travel, wrapping supplies, and everything that goes along with that?

 

And how about these stats:

  • Cambridge, Massachusetts, has the lowest debt-to-income ratio, 17.91 percent, which is 4.2 times lower than in Menifee, California, the city with the highest at 76.10 percent.
  • Fishers, Indiana, has the lowest expenses-to-income ratio, 59.13 percent, which is 1.7 times lower than in New Haven, Connecticut, the city with the highest at 99.43 percent.
  • Metairie, Louisiana, has the highest savings-to-monthly expenses ratio, 219.41 percent, which is 2.2 times higher than in Glendale, California, the city with the lowest at 98.21 percent.

Interested to know where your town/city ranks?  You can find out on Wallethub HERE

Being a family of 6 plus buying for other family members we could get into debt up to our eyeballs if we wanted to but we don’t.  We set a budget per kid and a budget per family member that we buy for.  Hubby and I have a budget for each other too.  If it means one kids only gets one thing because they wanted a laptop while someone else get 5 things and still doesn’t hit max budget that’s ok.  It helps when they’re older and understand budgets and the value of money too.  I also save my cash back rewards and survey site rewards until about October then cash them in to help take a dent out of holiday spending too.

 


Deferred Interest: How It Can Cost You

This post is sponsored by Diamond Bloggers. Any opinions expressed are my own. Data provided by Wallethub.

The average shopper is set to spend $1,007 this holiday season.  A good chunk of that will be put on credit. It’s not uncommon for stores to push their credit cards and offer things like first time purchase discounts and deferred interest. You’ll here “yea if you open up a store card today you have no interest for a year” which sounds like a good deal but stores know what they’re doing.   82% of people are unaware of how deferred interest actually works.

WalletHub recently released it’s 2018 deferred interest survey and it’s Store Credit Card Landscape report  to help you with these retailer financing options.

Deferred interest is when a retailer advertises a low introductory APR – often 0% – and gives a consumer the chance to pay for their purchases without interest, only to slam them with interest charges (as if the regular APR had been in place from the start) if they are unable to do so. This can result in a shopper spending up to 27.5 times more on interest relative to a normal 0% credit card offer.

Retailers almost count on a consumer to not be able to pay off the debt in the time frame they offer the 0% APR.  Let’s say they offer 0% APR for 1 year, You’re paying it on time you’re doing good but maybe you’re only making the minimum payment or a little more thinking “I’ll have it paid off by the end of the year” but something happens that you can’t.  On day 366 boom all that interest they would have normally charged is sitting on your credit card now.  All that work you did to pay on time and it’s like starting from the beginning because of the interest charges.

A well-known financial expert, Chase Rubin, said “Stay on top of your finances. Don’t leave that up to others” This couldn’t be more accurate when talking about holiday spending.

So what do these surveys from Wallethub have to say?

Key Findings:

  • 85% of store credit cards with 0% intro APRs have deferred interest.
  • 82% of people do not know how deferred interest works.
  • 79% of people, who understand how deferred interest works, think it is unfair; 62% think it should be illegal.
  • 64% of people say 0% financing is a bigger draw for a store card than a first-purchase discount.
  • The average store card with a first-purchase discount gives 29% off.
  • The average store credit card has a regular APR of 28.62%.
  •  The average store credit card with a 0% intro APR has no interest for nearly 17 months.
  • All store credit cards have $0 annual fees. The average general-use credit card charges $15.88 per year.


Expert Commentary:

The cost of a happy holiday season all too often seems to be some post-New Year’s pain, as overspending catches up with us and expensive interest charges start rolling in. In the past five years, we’ve spent a total of $3.2 trillion on holiday shopping and racked up $238.8 billion in credit card debt during the fourth quarter.

A lot of times, people plan for a bit of post-holiday debt. But other times, would-be holiday savings can turn into big surprise bills due to a dangerous feature of most retailer financing plans called deferred interest. Deferred interest is when a retailer advertises a low introductory APR – often 0% – and gives a consumer the chance to pay for their purchases without interest, only to slam them with interest charges (as if the regular APR had been in place from the start) if they are unable to do so.

Although 85% of 0% APR store cards have deferred interest, fewer than 2 in 10 people even know what it is. So consumers who are unfamiliar with the term are not alone, but most shoppers are vulnerable to getting burned by this trick. One big reason for that is major retailers don’t seem to care about being more transparent. They don’t tend to list what the regular, deferred interest rate will be in large enough font or in a prominent location. And their average transparency scores are unchanged dating back to 2015, according to WalletHub’s research.

“Marketers and retailers are always trying to make money. Some will exploit consumers’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities in order to do so,” said Kelly Goldsmith, an assistant professor in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. “This has probably been true since the dawn of commerce, and it will probably never change.”

But perhaps unsurprisingly, consumers who learn what deferred interest is, how it works and how common it is aren’t happy about the situation and want change. Nearly 8 in 10 people say deferred interest is “unfair,” while more than 6 in 10 people go as far as to say it should be illegal. Indeed, it is fair to wonder why regulators would allow this type of “gotcha” pricing to persist, especially after so many other financing tricks were eliminated in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

“I think it should remain legal because it can be a good deal for all parties involved, but I think it should be highly regulated,” said Rick Scott, associate professor of finance at Saint Leo University. “Borrowers should have to sign a short, well-worded, and easy to understand disclosure that they understand that the 0% financing is temporary and that they should be on the hook for substantial interest charges if they do not pay off the financing by the end of the teaser period.”

In the meantime, there are plenty of other ways to prevent deferred interest from costing you. You could take advantage of a 0% retailer financing offer, despite the risks posed by deferred interest, as long as you’re prepared to pay your bill in full by the deadline. You could also get a 0% credit card on the Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover network, which won’t have deferred interest.

Or, you could strive to pay for your holiday purchases in full within a single billing period. Rewards can really help with that. For example, the average store credit card with a first-purchase discount gives 29% off. And several general-purpose credit cards have sign-up bonuses of $500+ for spending a few thousand dollars within a few months of opening an account.

As long as you have a plan and stick to it, there’s no reason your holiday cheer has to come to an end come 2019. Not even deferred interest needs to spoil the fun.

“The internet age has made it easier than ever before for consumers to educate themselves about the various costs and benefits associated with promotional offers, like deferred interest financing,” Northwestern’s Goldsmith said. “Consumers should take advantage of this amazing advantage they now have and use these resources to inform their decision making.”


Kellogg’s Family Rewards Program a MUST for Couponers

I’ve been a member of the Kellogg’s Family Rewards program (or KFR) for a long time.  It’s so easy to earn points. You can link up your grocery store loyalty cards or submit receipts. Every time you buy Kellogg’s products you earn points.  I have my store loyalty cards linked to it and I don’t even have to think about it.  It doesn’t take long to earn enough points for rewards.

So what kinds of rewards can you redeem?  Lots actually.  One of my fave things to use my points for as a couponer is special higher value coupons like $1 off one Pop Tart product where the newspaper or coupon printing sites might only have $1 off when you buy 4.  And yes! When you use that coupon on a Kellogg’s product you still earn your KFR reward points on the purchase.  This is just one example.

If couponing is not your thing there are plenty of other prizes like Kellogg’s swag, gift cards, toys, sweepstakes entries, digital products and more.

They also special offers at any given time.  For instance, at the time of this post, if you buy Cheez-it Grooves you get 500 bonus points, if you buy certain Kellogg’s branded products you could win college football season ticket cash, and more.

Kellogg’s Family Rewards are free to join.  You can even earn free points by signing up for KFR, reading the emails, and they sometimes release reward codes.

 

 

 


Free Credit Tool to Help with Your Finances: Credit Sesame

This post does contain affiliate links.  I will receive a small compensation for actions completed through the banner.

I’ve been using Credit Sesame for years.  To start with it’s free so there is really no loss in trying it. You can check your credit score at any time as often as you want and it won’t effect your credit score.  You can choose to get alerts either via email or app to let you know if there are changes to your credit either good or bad.

Credit Sesame has suggestions to help you try to fix your credit or maintain your good credit.

I had a divorce an bankruptcy decades ago in my history which is sort of the reason for my passion for saving money and getting my finances straight. I’ve come a long way since then.  Honestly Credit Sesame has been such an amazing tool for me in my journey to fix my credit.

There are no fees, no credit card required to join.

 


Avoid These Money Mistakes

Avoid these Money Mistakes

It doesn’t take an advanced finance degree or fancy high-rise office to understand how to manage your money. In fact, anyone can be financially savvy if they take the time to understand their own spending habits and needs. If you struggle with managing your finances, you shouldn’t get discouraged. Instead, read these common money mistakes people often make to help you avoid making similar errors in the future.

Neglecting Retirement

Many people have come to rely solely on Social Security to support them in retirement. However, what they don’t know is that Social Security only accounts for a small portion of your monthly income. Depending on what you made throughout your career, you may only be looking at 40% of your income being covered by Social Security. That likely won’t help you cover all your living expenses. Don’t use social systems such as Social Security as your retirement plan. You should put money away into a retirement account as soon as you can so you have enough money built up to sustain you in retirement. If you don’t, you could find yourself in financial trouble or unable to retire at all.

Overspending

Credit cards can be a hand tool. If you’re out of the country and have an emergency, for example, having a credit card available that works around the world can give you peace of mind and allow you to handle your emergency stress-free. However, if you’re using your card on shopping sprees and fancy luxuries, you may find yourself in more debt than you expected. Credit cards should be used sparingly and paid off as soon as possible to avoid interest charges.

Avoiding Savings

At some point in your life, you’ll likely run into an expensive emergency that needs taken care of right away. Perhaps you just bought a new home and the furnace breaks and needs replaced in the middle of winter, or you end up needing an emergency surgery that will leave you out of work for weeks without pay. If you don’t have money set aside to cover these types of emergencies, you may find yourself in hot water with your finances. Don’t let yourself be vulnerable to financial emergencies and set aside money from each paycheck to help you should something unexpected happen.

Being Uninsured

Insurance is a valuable tool, especially when used properly. If you have loved ones counting on you to support them, having insurance can provide peace of mind knowing they’ll be cared for if something comes up. Whether it’s fire, flood, a medical emergency, or even an unexpected death, having extra coverage in place to ensure they’re cared for can be priceless. Many people don’t purchase life insurance because they feel it’s too expensive, however, you can find excellent coverage for only a couple dollars a day that will give you and your loved ones the protection they need.

Keep up with the Joneses

If you’ve heard the expression about keeping up with the Joneses, then you understand that it can be a very expensive lifestyle to maintain. If you aren’t careful, your desire to keep up with the latest trends and fashions could land you in financial trouble. Instead, understand the values of investing in quality items that will retain their value and last years. You may even want to shift your line of thinking and place value on experiences over things. If you ask most people what they regret later in life, you won’t find it’s missing out on the latest gadget, but rather enjoying experiences with loved ones.

When you know what money mistakes to avoid, you can get on the right track towards being financially independent. The more you understand yours and your family’s needs, the better positioned you’ll be to make sound financial decisions that will benefit you and your loved ones.