On the edge of your seat in anticipation of Black Friday? First, let me set the stage: Last year 79 million Americans swarmed stores the day after Thanksgiving - half of them poised to fill their carts with cheer by 5 a.m., according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Epic, right?
Well, bargain shoppers, hold onto your stocking hats: This year the NRF says 138 million shoppers will venture out at some point over the long Thanksgiving weekend for a shopping excursion. Another survey commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that this Friday morning, half of U.S. adults who plan to shop for the holidays will wake up before sunrise, warm up the car, and go forth to conquer shopping centers and strip malls in the hopes of knocking off at least half of their holiday shopping list.
In fact, the NRF predicts that this season we'll shell 2.3% more than we did last year for holiday cheer. In dollars-and-cents terms, that's $447 billion. In more
Blog Posts by Dayana Yochim, The Motley Fool
On the edge of your seat in anticipation of Black Friday? First, let me set the stage: Last year 79 million Americans swarmed stores the day after Thanksgiving - half of them poised to fill their carts with cheer by 5 a.m., according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Epic, right?Read More »from How To Survive the Black Friday Shopping Mosh Pit
I usually wait until late November to roll out this article. This year, different story: I'm on top of my game. I'm warmed up and ready to get ready for the holidays. Like this article, I'm way ahead of schedule, and you can be, too!
I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who remembers last year -- standing in line 20 yards away from the cashier, swearing that next year would be different because I was going to plan ahead. (Anyone?)
Well, next year is here. This is the year that we become one of "them." You know who I'm talking about:
- They compile a list of gift recipients weeks before they get to the shopping mall parking lot.
- They don't have to fight tooth and nail on Black Friday for the last bedraggled Tickle-Me-Whatever on the shelf, because the one they snagged on sale (with a President's Day coupon) is already wrapped and hidden under the tarp in their attic.
- They don't dread January's credit-card statement, because they budgeted for holiday spending -- and stuck to
It's Saturday morning. As you slip outside to swing, you toss aside the catalogs for later, pick up a familiar-looking item -- your monthly bank statement -- and run your thumb under the envelope's adhesive.
The birds go silent. The air turns thick. An unsettling din grows louder, as a fast-moving cloud engulfs you and just as quickly recedes.
When you come to, you're shaken, yet see no evidence of the invasion... until something in the corner of the porch catches your eye: the tattered carcass of your now-empty wallet.
No one is safe from the killer bank fees!
What happens when you poke the hive
Once upon a time (as in, up until earlier this year) banks relied heavily on fee income to keep their hives thriving. Then the Credit CARD Act was passed, clipping banks' wings, and taking the sting out of the amount in penalty fees they could extract from customers:
- Strict rules now limit how much and under what circumstances banks can raise interest rates on existing credit card
It's hard enough to make time to simply read a few articles about what you should be doing with your money. But actually putting that information into action? Puhlease. Like anyone actually relishes reconciling their accounts or inventorying their belongings for insurance purposes or spending quality nap time on anything at all related to taxes.
The daunting nature of these tasks is what makes it so easy to blow them off -- for anything. Seriously, anything.
The average American spends more time sifting through the fliers for credit insurance, clocks, and "delightful" figurines depicting English royalty (yes, a real offer) than reviewing the actual credit card account statement.
So what's preventing you from taking care of your important personal finance business? I have a hunch it may have something to do with your "to-do" list. That's because most of us don't know the proper way to write one in the first place.
Mental notes are a hazard to your
- Dayana Yochim, The Motley Fool | Financially Fit – Fri, Oct 22, 2010 8:05 PM EDT
David and Wendy have been dating for three years and are considering marriage. (Their names have been changed so they don't show up in the future in-laws' Internet search results.) They're compatible on many levels -- but money's not one of them.
"Wendy questions a lot of things that I purchase -- everything from my condo to a paper shredder," David says. "She takes some of the joy out of buying things, and it's not even her money that I'm spending."
Wendy says: "I hate to spend money, and when I do, I do a lot of research to find the best buy. It's difficult for me to understand and accept how he handles his money, when, with a little work saving $5 translates to two Metro rides."
It's the classic spender-saver conflict -- and they haven't even combined accounts or traded credit scores yet.
The most important relationship saver: AppreciationRead More »from He Spends, She Stews: How To Resolve This common Couples Dilemma
If affairs of finance trigger door slamming and hand-wringing in your household, you're not alone. The
Bulk discounts, door-buster deals, two-fers, red-tag clearances, members-only events -- sales tactics or legalized pickpocketing? That depends on which side of the cash register you're on.
Even when you're the one leaving the store with a lighter wallet, it's hard to feel like you've been had when you just scored a "Super Saver! Lowest-Price-EVER! Today-Only!" bargain.
But did you really snag a bona fide deal? Or were you just played? The difference between steering your own shopping cart and having it lured into an irresistible sales pitch is so subtle you may never know.
The science of temptation
Deal or no deal? Sometimes it's hard to tell. Retailers can trick even the savviest shoppers into believing they snagged a bargain. They've got it down to a science. Literally.Read More »from 5 Retail Mind Games That Make You Spend More
Your relations may be good at pushing your buttons, but they're amateurs compared to "consumer/shopper insight specialists." It started with Paco Underhill -- a shaman of shopping
Zoning out for hours watching reruns, checking your smartphone every 15 minutes, spending a morning surfing the Web for bargains -- these are hardly behaviors that defy social norms. And, really, what's the big whoop about checking your messages or biting your nails a wee bit too much?
Nothing. Until it's not nothing, that is.
When done in excess, harmless habits morph into something far more sinister and self-destructive -- what self-help expert Judith Wright calls "soft addictions."And make no mistake: Soft addictions can run roughshod on your emotional and financial well-being.
The signs of soft addictions
Overshopping, overeating, watching endless amounts of TV, and sporting an impenetrable umbilical cord to the Internet are common soft addictions, Wright says.
The psychological signs of sufferers can be subtle, but the emotional drain is very real: They "rob us of time, numb us from our feelings, mute our consciousness, and drain our energy," sheRead More »from Do You Suffer From Costly â€œSoft Addictionsâ€?
Some money worries are like low-grade fevers -- easy to ignore because you can have them and still do the laundry, build that PowerPoint presentation, be on call for homework assistance and stuff envelopes for your best friend's fundraiser.
Who has time to put your needs first when the minor discomfort (that pile of papers to file, that nagging feeling you're paying too much for car insurance or getting too little interest on your savings) isn't that urgent?
We tell ourselves that if those smoldering personal items we put on the back burner don't fizzle away on their own we'll deal with the fallout if (or, more likely, when) they turn into four-alarm fires. For the time being, however, it's OK to blow them off because there are a few dozen other demands for our attention.
Friends don't let friends blow off their financesRead More »from Why Gal Pals Are Good for Your Finances
When a friend or loved one tells us they feel under the weather (health- or wealth-wise), we have no problem urging them to take "me" time to take care of
- Dayana Yochim, The Motley Fool | Work + Money – Tue, Aug 31, 2010 5:45 PM EDT
Bills, budgets, spending temptations, lines of credit -- across the country, newly minted co-eds are facing these adult money issues on their own for the very first time. Help your kids ace Money 101 -- and avoid graduating with a killer financial hangover (or bankrupting The Bank of Mom and Dad, for that matter).Read More »from The Real Cost of Blowing Off Class (and Other Stuff)
Ah, a college degree: You can't live in it, drive it anywhere, or sell it on Craigslist when you're done. It's probably one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make, and one of the easiest acquisitions to justify. After all, an education is worth its weight in gold, right?
As they say, college is an investment in your future. The key word here is "investment."
College is an investment - a tangible financial one, at that. Managed correctly, your degree will pay out a sweet long-term dividend (helping you qualify for better jobs and higher paychecks). Mismanage it in the short-term, and you buy yourself a money-losing investment that you'll be paying off for decades.
Bills, budgets, spending temptations, lines of credit -- across the country, newly minted co-eds are facing these adult money issues on their own for the very first time. Help your kid ace Money 101 -- and avoid graduating with a killer financial hangover (or bankrupting The Bank of Mom and Dad, for that matter).
When it comes to car insurance, youth is not an asset.
Insurance actuaries assume that everyone under the age of 25 has a lead foot and an "I Drive Like I am Invincible" bumper sticker. At least that's what it seems like when you look at what it costs to insure a young driver.
Until you age into better rates, the best way to keep insurance costs in check is to maintain a clean driving record (for at least three years), and pay for small claims out-of-pocket.
While you're waiting, though, there are ways that students can drive a better car insurance bargain.
How to earn extra credit/discounts on insurance Let your insurer know if:
- You're parking or garaging the car in a