Archive for November, 2012

Student Loan Defaults: A Needless Tragedy

Posted on November 29, 2012 by Saldutti

For the first time on record, the delinquency rate on student loans has jumped above the rate for credit cards, car loans, or any other kind of consumer loan. The tragedy? Many of those loans will default, with stunningly harsh consequences, even though there are many good options for debt relief – deferment, forebearance, or reductions in monthly payments.  “There is actually no rational reason for a borrower to be delinquent or default on their loans,” says Mark Kantrowitz of FinAid.org.  Borrowers who are unemployed, in the military, or back in school can ask for up to three years or…

'12 Days of Christmas' Gift List Now Tops $107K

Posted on November 27, 2012 by Saldutti

Add seven swans, six geese and five golden rings to the list of Christmas gifts that cost more than they did a year ago.  And if you get all 364 items repeated throughout “The Twelve Days of Christmas” carol, you’ll pay 6.1% more this year, according to the so-called Christmas Price Index that PNC Wealth Management updates annually.  That comes to $107,300. “The rise is larger than expected considering the modest economic growth we’ve had,” said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC. He noted the government’s Consumer Price Index has risen just 2% in the 12 months before…

Don't Skip the Tip This Holiday Season …

Posted on November 24, 2012 by Saldutti

Planning for the holidays can be hectic and time consuming. While the holiday season expresses a spirit of giving, holiday tipping is always a bit confusing.  Who should be tipped?  How much should be given?  Over the past few years, consumers have set a tight budget on holiday tipping due to the nation’s frail economy.  But with consumer sentiment at a five-year high, a dropping unemployment rate and rising home prices, a number of indicators show that the economy is steadily improving.  As the nation gains a new sliver of hope, consumers are likely to be moved to spend more…

The Origins of "Black Friday"

Posted on November 20, 2012 by Saldutti

The National Retail Federation (NRF) says up to 147 million people plan to shop this Black Friday weekend, a slight decrease from the 152 million who planned to do so last year.  The “busiest shopping day of the year” is upon us … but how did Black Friday (and its spin-offs) get its name?  A century ago “Black Friday” referred to the market crash of Sept. 24, 1869, which was caused by two financiers’ failed attempt to corner the gold market. Today we associate Black Friday with marked down merchandise, unruly crowds and standing in lines as 5 a.m.  How did this happen? One…

Student Savvy: Study Up on ID Theft

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Saldutti

Young adults are among the most likely targets of this crime. More reports of identity theft collected by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission were lodged by those aged 20-29 than any other age range.  College students, in particular, are more vulnerable because of how much they relocate, how much they socialize and their extensive reliance on electronic devices. Recovering from identity theft can involve a lot of time, paperwork and effort for any victim, but for college students new to handling their own financial affairs and with helpful parents potentially very far away, it can be even more confusing. It…

As Some Skimp, The Rich Will Splurge This Holiday Season

Posted on November 13, 2012 by Saldutti

Scrooge-like spending patterns for the holidays appear to be a thing of the past for wealthy Americans, who are preparing to open their wallets this year after sitting on piles of cash.  The richest Americans, those in the top 10%, or with more than $100,000 in discretionary income, are predicted to spend more this holiday season than the remaining 90% of the country’s population, according to a quarterly survey by American Express.  While most Americans will spend less on gifts this year, the top 10% raise their gift spending by 21.9%, to $19.2 billion, up from $15.7 billion in 2011….

6 Facts About Stellar Credit Scores

Posted on November 08, 2012 by Saldutti

With the average FICO credit score estimated at 690 (the highest possible score is 850), chances are most Americans wouldn’t mind some advice on how to improve.  Of all consumers, just 25% have managed to achieve a score of 785 or higher.  Why not ask them how they’ve done it?  A new report by myFICO analyzes the habits of the country’s savviest debtors to find out just how they’ve achieved a stellar FICO score.  Here’s what they found: They’re not debt-free. On average, they carry an arsenal of about seven credit cards. But they are minimalists, only carrying balances on about four…

What the Election Means to Your Business

Posted on November 06, 2012 by Saldutti

It’s that special season that comes every four years when policy is in the air, political pundits are on the move, and campaign messages are penetrating each and every household. Election day is here once again, and it seems that at no time in recent history has an election been so captivating and so influential. Our country seems more divided than ever in the midst of our economic recovery, but one thing everyone can agree upon is that, either way the dice rolls, businesses and employees will be affected. With the unemployment rate hovering at 7.8%, it’s clear that many…

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Economic Impact & Helping Hands

Posted on November 01, 2012 by Saldutti

Hurricane Sandy has already prompted huge swaths of the East Coast to shut down – an area with a daily GDP of about $10 billion, according to Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics. But ultimately, economists expect the impact of the storm to be temporary, noting that there are ways that natural disasters tend to boost spending and spur economic growth as well as hinder it.  The negative impact on economic growth “is due to the fact that no one is working and no one is buying anything, when they otherwise might be,” says Justin Wolfers, an economist…