Advisors Management Group

Be Smart with Your Holiday Jingle
The holidays are upon us, and the pressure is on. There is so much to do to prepare for the holiday season and the holiday bustle can leave you wondering if this is really the most wonderful time of the year. This year, the average American household plans to spend over $1000 this holiday season on gifts, decorations, travel to family and holiday meals. This, on top of normal monthly spending can make November and December some of the most expensive months of the year. Without a plan of attack, December’s holiday magic can easily turn into January’s credit card nightmare. Plan Ahead When it comes to gifts, know who you plan to buy gifts for and how much you intend to spend on them. Stick to the budget. It is easy to get trapped into spending too much especially if you overspend on someone, you may be tempted to buy more for another to make the gift even. If you determine what you are spending, you can determine what you think you’d like to buy to before you enter the store. Use a holiday savings account to save a little bit each month to avoid feeling overwhelmed when the time to shop comes. Keep the store ads with you. Many stores will price match, and this could save you a stop or help you secure an item that you are having difficulty getting at another store. Don’t underestimate how planning your shopping trip ahead can save you both time and money. Plan your route and keep your list handy. By avoiding driving all over town, and potentially backtracking, you can save money on gas and save time. Eating a healthy meal before you head out will put you in a good frame of mind and help you curve the temptation of spending unnecessary money on meals out or stopping for snacks while out and about. Avoid shopping at times that attract crowds like mid-day Saturday and Sunday. By shopping at off times, you can move through your list quickly and with less frustration. Although this one won’t help your pocketbook, time is money and piece of mind is priceless. Shop Online Using a credit card is the most secure way to shop online. It is easier to dispute a fraudulent transaction on a credit card than with a debit card. Remember not to charge anything you cannot pay off when the statement comes. Check multiple websites to make sure that you are getting the best deal. Aim to get free shipping and check for coupon codes. Avoid paying more for something than you should. Items like gaming consoles and other highly desired items are often sold brand new by private parties for a healthy upcharge to parents who are willing to pay anything just to get something that they can’t find in the stores. These items can often be purchased at a fair price after the holidays when the demand drops. Avoid Holiday Scammers and Fraudsters Be mindful of your purse, wallet and credit cards. Watch for skimming devices and be discreet about how you enter you pin number. Track packages and know when they are being delivered. Arrange to have them shipped to your place of employment or to have a neighbor pick them up off your porch. Be wary of vendors selling goods online who ask for gift cards as payment. This is a common internet scam, and it is likely that you will not receive the goods you purchased. Review your credit card statements often. Report and dispute any suspicious transactions right away. By being prepared and organized, you can save time and money so that you can focus on what really matters this holiday season. May your shopping be stress free and may your holiday season be merry and bright!   Rebecca Agamaite, MBA Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife.   Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.
Read More

Category: Debt

02 Dec 2019

Advisors Management Group

2019 Holiday Shopping Report

Even though many Americans are worried about the possibility of a recession, most are still planning to purchase holiday gifts. Check out our 2019 holiday shopping report below. Not much — including unease about the nation’s economy —  stands in the way of holiday shopping in the U.S. Over 223 million Americans (88%) plan to purchase gifts this holiday season, spending an estimated $184 billion, even as many believe we’re bound for a recession, according to a new NerdWallet survey. Nearly 2 in 5 (37%) Americans believe the U.S. is headed toward a recession. Three of 10 holiday shoppers (those planning to shop for gifts during the 2019 holiday season) — or 66 million Americans — say they’ll spend less due to their perception of the current state of the economy, according to a NerdWallet survey of 2,023 U.S. adults, conducted online by The Harris Poll. “For most Americans, the urge to spend at the holidays is strong, even in the face of economic uncertainty. But there are ways to spend and celebrate the season without creating additional financial stress at home,” says Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet. Holiday Shopping Key Findings Economic perceptions will affect holiday spending. Nearly two in five (37%) Americans say the U.S. economy is headed toward a recession, and 30% of those planning to purchase gifts this holiday season say they’ll spend less because of their view of the current economy. Higher prices expected. Nearly half (48%) of Americans believe holiday gifts will cost more this year compared with years past as a result of new tariffs on imports from China. Millions still paying off 2018 holiday debt. Roughly 48 million Americans are still paying off credit card debt from the 2018 holiday season, far more than the 39.4 million who were paying off 2017 debt when we asked last year. Planned spending up slightly. Holiday shoppers plan to spend $825 on gifts, on average, this season, a 6% increase over 2018. With 88% of Americans planning to shop for gifts, that’s roughly $184 billion in 2019 holiday spending. Credit cards and digital wallets poised and ready. Just over 7 in 10 (71%) holiday shoppers plan to use a credit card on gift purchases this year, and 32% will use digital wallet apps. Midsummer sales a big draw for early holiday shoppers. Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) 2019 holiday shoppers completed most of their holiday shopping during midsummer sales. Many Will Spend Less Due to Their View of the Economy Mixed messages about the economy lead to mixed opinions. Nearly 2 in 5 (37%) Americans say the U.S. economy is headed toward a recession, according to the survey, while 43% say the economy is currently stable and about 1 in 5 (19%) characterize it as “booming.” But perhaps more important than their perception is how it could affect shoppers’ holiday spending this season — healthy consumer spending is a boon to the economy. While over half (60%) of holiday shoppers say their perception of the economy will not affect how much they spend on gifts this year, 3 in 10 (30%) say they’ll spend less because of it. For perspective, that’s 66 million Americans who are tightening their purse strings in response to their perception of the economy. Further, many indicate they believe the money spent on gifts won’t go as far — 48% of Americans believe holiday gifts will cost more this year compared with years past as a result of new tariffs on imports from China. Women are more likely than men to believe the U.S. economy is headed toward a recession (42% vs. 32%). And female holiday shoppers are more likely to say they plan to spend less this year because of their perception of the economy (36% vs. 24% of male shoppers). Millions Still Paying Off 2018 Holiday Debt Nearly 3 in 5 (59%) 2018 holiday shoppers incurred some credit card debt during the 2018 holiday season, and 35% of those who did say they’re still working to get it paid off, according to the survey. That’s 48 million Americans still paying off credit card debt from the 2018 holiday season. Last year, when we asked the same question, 28% of 2017 holiday shoppers were still paying off debt from the 2017 holiday season. Only 24% of those who incurred credit card debt from last year’s holiday shopping paid it off with the first statement. “The fact that holiday spending is sending more people into long-term debt suggests overspending is endemic to the season. Unfortunately, it can drag down a household’s finances long after the gifts are opened,” Palmer says. Savvy Holiday Shopping Tip:  If holiday debt is an annual tradition, start a new one. Every year, begin saving for holiday shopping several months in advance, so you can pay outright when it’s time to shop or pay off any credit card transactions with the first statement. Planned Spending Still Up from Last Year Even with some saying they’ll spend less this year, overall anticipated spending is up, albeit slightly. On average, 2019 holiday shoppers plan to spend $825 on gifts this season, 6% more than last year. With 88% of Americans expecting to shop for gifts, the economy could get a $184 billion infusion. Like last year, Generation X is planning to spend the most on holiday gifts, but they anticipate spending less, on average, than last year, when they estimated they’d fork over $992. Most Shoppers Plan to Use Credit Cards Despite the fact that some 2018 holiday shoppers are still in debt from last year, 71% of 2019 holiday shoppers are poised to use their credit cards this holiday season, according to the survey. On average, they anticipate charging $660 of their gifts and estimate they’ll take 3.7 months to pay off that balance. At that rate, they’ll pay roughly $22 in interest over that nearly four-month period, according to NerdWallet analysis. If, however, they make only minimum payments on the debt, it could cost them $239 in interest and take nearly four years to pay off. Savvy Holiday Shopping Tip:  “Instead of taking on debt into the new year, use credit cards strategically at the holiday season by paying off your balance each month and accruing cashback or points to help stretch your holiday budget. You can use your rewards for holiday travel, to buy gift cards, or as cash to help fund other expenses,” Palmer says. Taking Steps to Save Fewer Americans plan on using coupons and promo codes to save on shopping, in general, this holiday season than last (48% vs. 54%), but that doesn’t mean holiday shoppers aren’t looking for a deal. Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) 2019 holiday shoppers completed most of their holiday shopping during midsummer sales, according to the survey, and about 7 in 10 (71%) Americans plan to shop on Black Friday, one of the biggest deal days of the year. Savvy Holiday Shopping Tip:  ”Tracking prices and making purchases when they dip, whether it’s months before the holidays or at the last minute, can help stretch your budget,” Palmer says. “Apps like ShopSavvy and browser add-ons like Honey can help you get the best price.” Most Will Shop Online, Some to Pick Up In-Store Though NerdWallet began asking shoppers in 2016 whether they’d be in-store or online for most of their holiday shopping, this marks the first year we asked about ordering online for in-store pickup. More than 1 in 10 (11%) holiday shoppers say they plan to order online and pick up in store for the majority of their shopping while half (50%) will order online for delivery and 37% will do the majority of their shopping in-store. One-quarter (25%) of those who plan to shop on Black Friday this year say they’ll order online for in-store pickup vs. 60% who plan to order online for delivery and 50% who will shop in-store on that day. What and Whom Shoppers will Spend On When asked what categories they’ll be spending the most on this year, the top one 2019 holiday shoppers cite is clothing and accessories (58%). Gift cards were a close second, with 52% saying they’d spend the most on gift cards and leave the gift-buying to the recipient. “Gifts cards tend to be most appreciated, and most likely to be used when they are given to a store or a restaurant that the recipient already frequents and enjoys. If you’re not sure, then cash might be a better choice, and there’s less of a chance it will go to waste,” Palmer says. Some shoppers may be busting their budget to create a special holiday season. Just 8% of those who ever shop during the holidays say they don’t splurge on anyone during the season, according to the survey.  “There’s nothing wrong with splurging a little at the holidays, but make sure that splurge fits into your broader spending plan so you start 2020 feeling more confident about your finances,” Palmer says. Source: NerdWallet