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The Money Minute - December 2011 

In this Issue

 

How Much Are You Spending this Holiday Season?

During the month of November, Apprisen asked its web site visitors how much money they were planning on spending this holiday season. You can see the results of the poll and find where you fit into this year's spending crowd.

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What Are You Purchasing this Holiday Season?

Are you curious to see how others are spending their hard earned cash for gifts and holiday celebrations this year? With the holiday spending season in full swing, Apprisen thought it would be interesting to see what consumers are spending their money on.

Read the entire article.

 

Save More. Spend Less. Make Savings a Priority

As 2011 is coming to a close, you may be thinking about the things you want to change or improve in the New Year. A popular resolution is to save more money.  But how are you going to accomplish this?

Read the entire article.

 

How would you like to retire with one million dollars in the bank?

Sounds good doesn't it? The problem is that nobody know when to start or how much to save. The answer is to start now and save as much as you can. If your new year resolutions include starting your retirement savings, Apprisen has some resources that might help you out.

Read the entire article.

 

 

 

How Much Are You Spending This Holiday Season?

During the month of November, Apprisen asked its web site visitors how much money they were planning on spending this holiday season. Of the 230 people responding, thirty-four percent indicated that they were planning on spending less then $250, while thirty-two percent were planning on less than $500.  Those numbers send a strong signal that in spite of record breaking Thanksgiving weekend retail sales, $52.4 billion, a significant number of people lack enough confidence in their financial future to spend a significant amount this holiday season. 

The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently conducted their Christmas Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey to make predications on holiday spending.  The results of their survey indicated that consumers were planning on spending $515.94 on holiday gifts, $46.73 for decorations and $96.75 on extra food costs.  That is a total of $659.42, which is what only thirteen percent of our respondents indicated that they would spend.  Twenty-one percent of the people taking our poll indicated that they would spend more than $750.

No matter how much you end up spending this holiday season, make sure you have a plan in place to pay off your holiday debt as quickly as you can.  Over 14 million Americans are still paying off their debt from last year! This is also a good opportunity to go through your receipts and your statements to figure out how much you spent this year and start saving for next year’s holiday season. Many financial institutions offer Christmas Club accounts to help you with this goal.

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What Are You Purchasing this Holiday Season?

With the holiday spending season in full swing, Apprisen thought it would be interesting to see what consumers are spending their money on.  We reached out to DealTaker.com which reviewed facts and trends for this holiday season. Here is what they came up with:

  • Gift cards, such as American Express, iTunes, Target  and more are expected to be the number one gift this year. They provide the recipient with the ability to buy whatever he or she really wants, and the gift giver an easy out on finding that "perfect" gift. 
  • Consumer electronics are still high on everyone's list. The new Kindle Fire and iPad are big for adults, while many kids are asking for an iPod or iTouch in addition to the usual games and gaming systems.
  • Americans will purchase approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees and 17 million artificial trees during the holiday season, which you can now purchase online and have shipped for free to your front door. 
  • Despite a growing number of people sending electronic holiday cards, American families still mail an average of 28 cards each year. Many cards are ordered online through stores like Christmas Cards Direct, Minted, and The Gallery Collection.
  • $220 million worth of poinsettias are sold during the holiday season and represent over 85% of the potted plant sales during the same time period.
  • Nearly 2 billion candy canes will be sold world wide in the four weeks leading up to Christmas.
  • For those needing to ship their holiday gifts, the United States Postal Service expects to handle 16.5 billion cards, letters, and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. FedEx expects to handle 260 million packages during the same period.

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    Save More. Spend Less. Make Savings a Priority

     
    As 2011 is coming to a close, you may be thinking about the things you want to change or improve in the new year.  A popular resolution is to save more money.  How are you going to accomplish this?  You vow to create a budget with savings as a priority.  You start the new year with your plan in place. But then reality hits, and life happens. You rationalize your thinking, “I really need that new pair of shoes.  I know it isn’t in the budget, but I can start that next month,” or “January is only 11 months away. I’ll do it then.”  Sound familiar?  This year can and will be different if you learn to identify who or what is influencing your decisions, and remove those distractions.

    According to the book ”Influencer: The Power to Change Anything”, many people are blind to the many sources of influence that are shaping their choices.  It is important to be honest and recognize the role you play in the current situation. The first step to gain clarification is to identify all the different sources of influence that are undermining your good intentions. Here are three questions to help you generate some specific answers:

    1. What visual images in your home get you thinking about spending rather than saving? (Hint: Do you longingly browse shopping pages on the internet? Do you have a Library of Congress-sized stack of catalogs by a comfortable reading chair?)
    2. How do your interactions and conversations with friends or family affect your thoughts, plans, and actions toward spending? (Hint: Is shopping a social event?)
    3. What sources of influence keep you from immediately counting the cost of your spending choices? (Hint: Do you buy with cash? Checks? Credit cards? Do you have "one-click" purchasing enabled on favorite Web sites?)

    When you are done with your list, change as many sources of influence you can to support your good intentions. Get rid of those sources you know are encouraging your indulgence. Create positive influences that will keep your goal of savings in the forefront of your mind, make it easier, and help you feel rewarded for following through.
    For example, you could:

    1. Make it a game. Create a progress chart for your savings goal. Keep it visible. Make a ritual of posting progress as a couple and generating the "completion endorphins" that come when you color in the next progress bar.
    2. Banish temptation. Change your home page, delete tempting web pages, toss out magazines and catalogs or other "triggers" of spending impulses. Make no mistake—shopping generates dopamine in the same pleasure centers of the brain that cocaine does. You're fighting a pleasure-driven habit and your best defense will be to minimize the temptations.
    3. Make spending harder. Eliminate any structural enablers of mindless spending. For example, research shows people spend far less if they have to fork over cash than if they can simply slide a credit card through a slot. You might try carrying nothing but cash with you for six months. You'll find this one physical change will profoundly affect your choices. You may also choose to undergo "plastic surgery" by cutting up your credit cards.
    4. Change an accomplice into a friend. If shopping and spending are social activities, you'll need to identify your accomplices. For example, if you and a girlfriend enjoy a regular outing at a mall, you'll need to change that relationship. Eat some humble pie and let her know you are in desperate need of change. Ask for her help. If your husband is the accomplice, find a substitute activity you can do together. You won't succeed by simply eliminating social activities; you'll need to generate new ones. Our research shows that changing habits almost always involves engaging the help of at least two trusted friends.
      These ideas may or may not be the right ones for you. But if you'll examine your situation carefully, you'll realize the problem is out there. There are many sources of influence working against you—and until you recognize and reverse them, you'll continue behaving in a way you don't want.  Make 2012 the year that your saving resolution comes true.

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    How would you like to retire with one million dollars in the bank?

    Sounds good doesn't it? The problem is that nobody knows when to start or how much to save. The answer is to start now and save as much as you can. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to set your retirment savings plans in motion. If your new year resolutions include starting your retirement savings, Apprisen has some resources that might help you out.

    Our new infographic, “How much does $1,000,000 cost?”, shows you how important it is that you start as early as possible. Through the magic of compounded interest, that $1,000,000 will cost you a lot less if you can start at the beginning of your career.

    Apprisen also has some helpful calculators that will show you how much money you need to fund your retirement, how you can personally save a million dollars, and much more.

     

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