Tag Archive: holiday

Home Burglary Statistics: How Safe Are You?

Do you feel safe in your home? What about when you’re not there? Home security is an everyday concern for many, so it’s important that you are taking the proper precautions to protect your valuables and loved ones. To help you understand the patterns and behavior of burglars, we have a guide on burglary statistics and how to safeguard your home.

Are people securing their homes?

We surveyed 1,000 Americans about their home security and found that:

  • 70 percent of people have security measures in place to keep their home from being burglarized
  • Almost as many people lock their doors and windows when they are home (40 percent) compared to when they aren’t (46 percent) home
  • Only 22 percent of respondents indicated that they use an alarm system and 22 percent said they use video cameras
  • 24 percent of respondents said they owned self-defense equipment

graphic that shows what americans do to protect their home from a burglary

When it comes to securing their homes, respondents indicated that they are more likely to use old-fashioned techniques such as deadlocks (40 percent) on their doors rather than relying on technology such as alarm systems (22 percent) or video cameras (22 percent).

Seasonal break-in concerns

The majority of respondents (56 percent) were most worried about a home burglary in the summer. Half as many (26 percent) were concerned about winter and only 9 percent were worried about spring and 9 percent in the fall. These concerns align with seasonal burglary statistics. According to the FBI, burglaries are most likely to occur during the summer months, between noon and 4 p.m.

graphic that shows seasonal break-in concerns

Despite the tendency for people to take precautions by having self-defense equipment and locking doors when they’re inside, a majority of break-ins happen when people are not there to protect the home.

Preventing a seasonal break-ins

The most break-ins occur in the summer months. This is when Americans are most likely to be on vacation or outside enjoying a sunny day. The second most popular season for break-ins is winter. During the holidays, people take trips to visit family and are away from their homes. This is also the time of year when they have valuable presents in their homes.

To prevent holiday break-ins this season:

  • Leave lights on a timer so it looks like you are home throughout the day. Break-ins are most likely to occur between noon and 4 p.m. If you aren’t home during those hours, leave lights or music on a timer so it seems like you are.
  • Don’t leave signs that you are gone such as mail piled up in the mailbox or garbage cans out in the street for too long. The average break-in lasts between eight to 10 minutes. Leaving signs you are gone lets a burglar know they have plenty of time to steal your belongings.
  • Don’t leave boxes from your holiday gifts on the curb. Forty-seven percent of burglaries aren’t planned. Someone might be passing by and see your new TV or PlayStation box on the curb which triggers them to try to break in.
  • Avoid posting that you are out of town on social media. Eighty-five percent of burglars know their victims so they could be following your public social media account.

Burglaries statistics by state

Wondering how your state compares? The FBI has a granular look at crime rates in your state. Below are the top 10 states with the most and least burglaries per hundred thousand residents in 2018.

states with the most and least break-ins per capita

Burglary vs. robbery

It is easy to misconstrue a burglary from a robbery. While they may seem similar, they are two very distinct crimes that have different implications and investigative processes.

Burglary is classified as a property crime, whereas a robbery is classified as a violent crime.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, a burglary is an “unlawful or forcible entry or attempted entry of a structure with the intent to commit a felony or theft.” The specifics of a burglary is relative based on your state laws.

On the other hand, a robbery is classified as “taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.”

Since robberies are classified as violent crimes, if someone is convicted of a robbery they will find that it carries a more severe sentence than a burglary.

Additional burglary statistics

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that there were 1.3 million household burglaries, which was a 4.72 percent increase from the previous year. It’s important to be aware of when they happen so you can reduce your risk.

1. Burglaries are most likely to occur during the middle of the day

According to the FBI, in 2018 there were 346,312 daytime burglaries compared to 218,028 burglaries that occurred at night.

This is most likely because the daytime is when your home is left unoccupied. People have daily routines. Criminals are able to track this and take advantage of the times you aren’t home.

2. Burglaries are most likely to happen in the summer months

Seasonality can impact the number of burglaries that occur. These crimes are most likely to occur during the summer months. This is most likely due to a combination of good weather, longer days and an increase in vacations. With more daylight, there is a larger window of opportunity for burglars to break into homes.

We found that the majority of survey respondents (54 percent) indicated that they are most concerned about home burglaries during the summer months.

burglar climbing fence

3 Burglaries are more likely to occur in rural states

According to the FBI, New Mexico, Mississippi and Oklahoma have the highest burglary rate per 100,000 residents. In contrast, Virginia, New York and New Hampshire have the lowest.

4. A burglary occurs every 23 seconds

According to burglary statistics from the FBI, burglaries happen every 23 seconds. This means, there are nearly three homes burglarized every minute and 3,757 burglaries each day.

burglar stealing jewelry

5. Your bedroom is most likely to be the target of a burglary

Burglars have to be strategic with their time, and this includes targeting the rooms that are most valuable. According to the American Society of Criminology, in two-story homes, burglars will bypass the living areas and head straight for the upstairs bedrooms where they will find the most coveted items.

When scouring the bedroom for your belongings, burglars gravitate toward small, valuable items. Rather than big bulky items like TVs that are difficult to carry, they steal small items that can fit into their pockets in order to avoid unwanted attention as they exit the home.

6. The average cost of a burglary is $2,799

The cost of a burglary is steep. At $2,799 this could set apartment renters back a couple months’ rent. Many renters get renters insurance so they can recoup these losses if burglary were to happen. While it is possible to get back your monetary loss, the feeling of security in your house is harder to recover.

breaking in

7. White men are most likely to break into your home

According to the FBI, 80.4 percent of men are found to be the ones breaking in compared to only 19.6 percent of women.

When looking at race or ethnicity in 2018, the FBI found that 68.1 percent of all offenders were Caucasian, 29.4 percent were African American,1.2 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, 1.1 percent were Asian and 0.2 percent were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

8. Only 23 percent of U.S. households are professionally monitored

According to senior analyst Dina Abdelrazik at Parks Associates, only 23 percent of all U.S. households with broadband internet have a professionally monitored security system and 2.5 percent have a self-monitored system.

person looking at home security system

How to prevent a break-in

While thieves can be tricky, there are precautions you can take to prevent a break-in in your home. Here are some ways to prevent a break-in.

Install a home security system

The installation of a home security system not only will help secure your home, but it will also give you more peace of mind when you are away. Many systems include video cameras that allow you to see who is on your property at all times of the day.

Park your car in the driveway

This can be an indicator that you are home and burglars will be hesitant to break in fear that they will encounter someone. If you are on vacation, have your neighbor use your driveway as a parking spot to deter any possible burglars.

Lock doors and windows

Locking all points of entry will provide an additional layer of protection when you are away from your home. If you leave a door unlocked or window cracked it will be an invitation for any intruder looking for an easy target.

Install timers for your lights

Even if you are away from your home, putting your lights on timers can give the illusion that someone is home, which can deter an intruder from breaking in.

Be careful on social media

Social media can be a way that burglars track you. Posting that you are at a coffee shop or on vacation will let them know when your home is free to attack. Be cognizant of your social media use, especially when you are not home.

Advertise your dog

Your dog can deter a burglar even if it’s harmless. A simple “beware of dog” sign can make a burglar second guess if they should break-in.

Don’t let the mail build-up

Allowing your mail to pile up is a clear indicator that you have not been home for quite some time. This will make your home an easy target.

Hide ladders and tools

Don’t give burglars any accessories to break into your home. Hide or keep your tools in a safe place where no one can access them but you.

Now that you are more aware of the upward trend in home burglaries in the past years. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to better secure your home or apartment. It is always better to be prepared than to realize you have been the victim of a burglary.

infographic

Methodology

This study was conducted for Apartment Guide using Google Consumer Surveys. The sample consists of 1,000 respondents in the United States. The survey was conducted in November 2019.

References:

  • Safewise
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • State Laws
  • FBI 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Wiley
  • Safe At Last

The post Home Burglary Statistics: How Safe Are You? appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Your Holiday Dinner

The year has flown by, and somehow we’ve already stored our skeletons and pumpkins, and we’re ready for Thanksgiving. Time to order those stretchy pants as you bring together family and friends over one table.

But with every large event, there are safety issues that occur as you cook a big feast in your kitchen.

Did you know Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day for home cooking fires in the country, followed by Christmas? Yes, that’s more than three times as many as a regular day. Unattended cooking is the culprit for the rise in kitchen fires.

Sure, smart stove apps can help keep an eye on things and alert you, but not everyone has those on hand.

If you’re thinking of hosting this year, read on for Thanksgiving safety tips for this holiday season.

Before dinner

turkey in the oven

Preparing a large feast for your family and friends isn’t an easy feat, but it can be enjoyed with some pre-planning to save money and time. Check your smoke detectors, switch out the batteries if needed and make your grocery list.

1. Turkey safety

Timing is everything when purchasing the best turkey and the ingredients for all of your sides. If you’re buying a fresh turkey, wait until two days before Thanksgiving. We know it’s not ideal for your busy schedule, but this helps keep it fresh for your meal.

Move your frozen turkey to the refrigerator prior to the big day. The general rule of thumb is to give it about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey to thaw it completely. Place a tray under it to catch any juices and never let the turkey thaw out on the kitchen counter — frozen meat can start to grow bacteria after only two hours outside.

2. At the grocery

Start filling your shopping cart with grocery shelf items before reaching for the refrigerated perishables and frozen foods. After you’ve picked out your groceries, make sure to come straight home to make sure nothing thaws out.

As you go down your grocery list, keep all of your guests’ dietary restrictions in mind. For example, pre-basted or self-basting turkeys often contain soy, wheat or dairy, so be sure to read the labels.

3. Keep an eye for cross-contamination

Use different utensils and cutting boards when preparing meat and produce and thoroughly wash them between each use. We know it’s an extra step, but it keeps all bacteria off your prep area. Skip rinsing the turkey — it’s not necessary.

Be sure to keep the meat thermometer out to check that the turkey reaches a safe internal temperature of 164 degrees Fahrenheit. With a different thermometer, check that all hot side items reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

4. Don’t forget about the stove

With everyone catching up about this year’s work and life milestones, you can quickly get distracted and walk away from the kitchen. A fire can start in the blink of an eye.

Set a timer on your home assistant like the Amazon Echo, your smartphone or walk away with a potholder. Any of these will jolt you right out of conversation and back to the kitchen.

5. Set the table

So, it’s time to dig in — do you set up the table with name tags and formal place settings or a casual buffet? We think both a formal table and buffet are good options.

If you have room for a buffet, make sure that you set out the cold food first, so it’s the right temperature when the guests grab it. Also, set up sauces and gravy near their corresponding dishes for easy access.

If you have a formal setup, designate your turkey carver and set all sides on easy to grab platters with serving spoons.

While you eat

turkey being served on thanksgiving

First things first — as you start plating sides for the table and putting the turkey on a platter, make sure that you check every stove burner and the oven. Turn everything off.

Move all things away from the burners to make sure nothing catches on fire, and check that the oven is empty. Don’t leave anything still cooking, simmering or boiling.

After the feast

Leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving. But every year, one in six people get sick from contaminated food. Bacteria grow fast. But if you don’t want your Thanksgiving feast to become the infamous story told again and again at parties, make sure to keep an eye on your food preparation and storage.

As people start to slow down over their meals, start wrapping all leftovers, taking them to the kitchen and placing them in the refrigerator. While a few of you clean, have someone in your family be in charge of entertaining the kids so everything will go faster.

Avoid storing the stuffing inside the turkey. They should remain separate. No food should stay out for more than two hours. Skip any leftovers on plates touched by your guests.

Once everyone is headed home, pack up the leftovers in small, shallow containers. Let them know to refrigerate them as soon as they get back. Store the turkey in the freezer.

You have up to four days to make all the turkey sandwiches and fried mashed potatoes you want, then you have to toss them.

turkey safety infographic

Source: Fightbac.org

Enjoy your Thanksgiving day

Thanksgiving kicks off the ever-tiring holiday season, but with good food and people to surround you, you’ll have a good time. Cook everything at the right temperature, keep your kitchen clean, be careful when handling produce and store leftovers within two hours.

Don’t miss a good meal due to a dangerous kitchen fire. Stay safe in the kitchen this coming season.

The post Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Your Holiday Dinner appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Banquette, Baby!

I’ve been chugging along on the Hood Canal Cottage design – I know I am SO overdue for an update for you, but when you’re in the throes of design deadlines it can be really hard to find a moment to pause and recap everything. But I swear, it’s coming slowly. In recent weeks I’ve moved on from major architectural design and finish decisions into the interior design side of things. It’s been a tad overwhelming, as I haven’t decorated a space from scratch since we moved to San Francisco nearly 10 years ago (did you ever catch the tour of my first place in SF? I’m almost embarrassed to share it, but I was SO proud of it at the time).

Designing the Hood Canal Cottage is a unique situation to be in for a hobby designer like me. Usually, you move and take pieces with you, but since the cottage won’t serve as a full-time residence, I’m starting from a literal blank slate.

My focus this week has been on the dining room – or in this case dining space as the dining area sits within a great room that also houses the kitchen and living room. I’ve been shopping around like a madwoman trying to hone in on the look and feel I want to bring to life in the dining area. I want it to feel distinct and anchored – its own little zone within the larger room. And the idea I keep coming back to again and again is banquette seating.

Banquettes and built-ins have been having a moment for a while now, but I would argue for very good reason. A built-in banquette is a great space saver in a smaller space and increases the capacity around a dining table. Since I envision the Hood Canal Cottage as our hub for future Thanksgiving dinners and holiday gatherings, I definitely want to be able to cram as many people around the table as possible.

Like many of the examples you see here in this post, our dining table will also run parallel to a long wall, rather than float in the middle of the room. This actually limits the ability to pull back a dining chair. I would probably have to use a bench on that side of the table, but a banquette will allow the table to sit a little closer to the wall and not have legs you have to work around, saving precious floor space.

I also love how a banquette offers the opportunity to add big long seat cushions, back pillows, or both! Adding cushy upholstery to a dining space softens areas often dominated by hard surfaces. I love how that brings a sense of coziness, inviting you to sit and linger over your morning coffee, or pour that last little bit of wine and stay up talking. I want this home to encourage anyone who stays there to slow down and enjoy the little moments. Kinda like you’re living on vacation. That is the goal.

Adding a major upholstered piece at the dining table will also help me bridge the living room space and kitchen.

While I am obviously leaning toward jumping on the banquette bandwagon, I do have some convincing to do. Not everyone in my household is into the idea of a banquette. To add to that resistance, I’m not finding any good off-the-shelf options so it’s likely I’d have to go custom to create my vision. Custom is certainly not the most affordable of options.

So what say you? Do you happen to have a banquette in your home?? Do you like it? Have you found it comfy? Useful? Are there downsides you’ve dealt with? I think I’m pretty committed to this design choice at this point, but I would love to hear what you think! Please share in the comments section.

Catch up on the Hood Canal Cottage HERE.

Check out more design ideas HERE.

 

images vincent van duysen | home designing | mr & mrs white | danthree | amber interiors shoppe / larritt-evans design | poppy talk | nicole franzen | decus interiors / 

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Source: apartment34.com

6 Credit Card Tips to Help Prepare for the Holidays

Is it too soon to start planning your end-of-year holiday events? That may be debatable but we all know how quick retailers are to taking advantage of increased sales brought on by holiday shoppers. With Thanksgiving just around the corner most retailers are already advertising for their big shopping events and Black Friday deals. If […]

The post 6 Credit Card Tips to Help Prepare for the Holidays appeared first on Credit Absolute.

Source: creditabsolute.com

Prepare for Holiday Shopping with These Timely Credit Tips

According to a YouGov Parent Survey in 2019, a quarter of parents entered the 2019 holiday shopping seasonstill paying down debt related to 2018 holiday spending. Deloitte numbers put holidayretail salesgrowth in 2019 at 4.1% year-over-year. In 2020, Deloitte predicts growth of between 1% and 1.5% year-over-year for the holiday season.

It might be that some people no longer want to pay for holiday gifts, decorations and food a year down the road. But it’s also true that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit consumerwallets and some people might be cutting back this year.

That doesn’t mean that people aren’t shopping. Google and other thought leaders note that changes to shopping habits and the need for social distancing and other measures will likely spread the holiday shopping season out longer. Shoppers are also likely to turn to online shopping.

With a ton of shopping opportunities, a longer holiday shopping season and pent-up pandemic energy, it might be easy to overspend and create debt you’ll deal with into the future. Follow these tips to prepare for holiday shopping so you can protect your financial standing, save money and make the most of the resources you have this season.

1. Check your credit scores

Begin by checking your credit scores and reports. They tell you where you stand if you want to apply for credit. They also give you a baseline of where you are so you know if your score goes up or down later with no explanation.

An unexplained drop in your credit score can be a sign your financial information is compromised. Unfortunately, the holidays are prime time for many scammers. Using a service, such as ExtraCredit’s Track It feature to keep tabs on 28 of your FICO scores, helps you know when you need to act to protect your credit.

2. Ask for a credit limit increase

If you have existing credit cards and you’re a cardholder in good standing, the months prior to the holidays can be a good time to ask for a credit limit increase. You’re not asking so you can spend more-it’s typically advisable to keep spending in line with your budget no matter how much credit you have.

You’re asking for a higher limit so you can spend what you already planned to without hurting your credit utilization. Credit utilization is the second-most important factor in determining your credit score-second only to payment history. It’s the ratio between your credit limit and how much of that credit you have used.

If you have a card with a limit of $1,000 and you spend $300, that’s a utilization rate of 30%. But if you get approved for a credit limit of $2,000 and you spend $300, that’s a utilization rate of only 15%, which is better for your score.

3. Apply for a credit cardwith a 0% APR introductory offer

Those with good or excellent credit might want to consider applying for a card with a 0% APR introductory offer. If you qualify for such a card, you typically have one or two years to pay off purchases made during the introductory period without accruing any interest.

This can be a way to finance your entire holiday without paying anything more for the privilege of doing so. However, it’s still important to maintain your budget and not overspend just because you won’t be paying the balance off until later. Otherwise, you make this season’s holiday festivities next season’s problem.

4. Pay down debt before-and after-the holidays

Speaking of last season’s debt: If you can pay it down before you start spending this season, that’s a great accomplishment. It also frees up your credit and your budget so you can better enjoy the current holiday season. If you’re paying $100 a month on your debt, that’s $100 a month that might go toward gifts or celebrations that you don’t have to put on a card this year.

If you do use credit to pay for the 2020 holidays, have a plan for paying it down as soon as possible. That’s especially true with 0% interest cards. The longer you wait, the greater the chance you’ll miss the introductory period and potentially be on the hook for a lot of interest expense.

5. Create a holiday spending budget

Whether you’re using cash or credit-or a mix of both-enter the 2020 holiday shopping season with a plan. Take an honest look at your personal budget. If you don’t have a budget, create one before you move forward. Then decide how much you can realistically spend during the holidays.

Consider which gifts you want to buy and which events you want to host or attend. You might not be able to do everything, and that’s OK. Be honest with yourself, your family and your friends about what you can afford to do with your time and money this year.

Then make a list and assign each item a monetary budget. That can include:

  • Gifts as a total
  • Gift extras, such as wrapping and tags
  • Shipping, both for receiving items you buy and for shipping gifts to others
  • Food and drinks
  • Travel
  • Decor
  • General festivities, such as tickets to holiday events

Once you assign a dollar amount to a category, stick to it. That’s a good idea even if you’re spending with credit.

6. Align budgeted spendingwith credit cardrewards

Once you know how much you want to spend, decide how best to spend it. If you’re using credit cards for the holidays, check your accounts to see if any offer cash back or rewards points. If they do, double-check which categories or stores you can shop in to earn the most points with each card.

For example, some travel rewards cards offer 6x points when you shop at supermarkets. You could use such a card to cover the food-and-drink portion of your holiday budget and reap the biggest rewards possible from that spending. You might also be able to maximize rewards when purchasing gift cards.

7. Guard your financial information and identity

As you enjoy holiday shopping, be on guard. Don’t use debit card PIN numbers unless you have to, and shield the keypad when you enter your information. Keep a close eye on your wallet or purse, and check your credit card statements regularly to ensure all charges are yours. You can also use ExtraCredit’s Guard It feature to help keep your identity and account information safe during and beyond the season.

Sign up for ExtraCredit today!

The post Prepare for Holiday Shopping with These Timely Credit Tips appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

9 Ways to Support Small Businesses Without Breaking the Bank

We all have our favorite small businesses, including our go-to date night restaurant and favorite thrift store. These places serve more than great food and looks — they build jobs in the community, put children through school, and are the realization of your neighbor’s dream. 

These stores are built on hard work and love, and supply some of the best quality products you can find. Small businesses are a great sign of a thriving economy, but they’re also the first to suffer from economic downturns, like 2020’s COVID-19 recession. This is why it’s more important than ever to find ways to support your community’s businesses.

There are many reasons why small business success is vital. Not just for the economy but for our communities. That’s why Small Business Saturday (November 28) is one of our favorite times of the year, and why we collected these ways you can support small businesses without breaking the bank (or leaving the house!).

Shop Small Businesses

Shopping small is the easiest way to support community businesses and clear your holiday list. Shopping locally doesn’t have to drain your wallet, either.

Small businesses generate 44% of U.S. economic activity.

1. Skip the Hallmark Card and Support a Local Artist

Cards are a classic gift for any and all celebrations. They’re small, affordable, and easy to personalize. This year skip the grocery store and see what artists you can support while still getting beautiful and unique gifts for your family and friends. 

Most cities will have galleries, boutiques, and even tourist shops that display locally printed and designed cards to choose from. If you don’t have a shop near you, you can browse thousands of creators on Etsy to find the perfect design for each of your loved ones. 

2. Send Gift Cards

Gift cards are perfect for acquaintances, long-distance giving, and little acts of kindness every now and then. Instead of collecting Amazon and Starbucks cards, see what your local spots have to offer. 

Most restaurants and stores offer a gift card option, and you don’t have to waste the plastic! Send your gift via email to anyone, anywhere. So go ahead and thank your first mentor for their glowing reference with a gift card to their favorite coffee shop. 

3. Shop Throughout the Year

It’s true that handmade products can get pricey, but you’re ultimately paying for quality. If you’re already pinching pennies for the holiday season, start thinking about next year. Buying gifts for loved ones as you find them throughout the year is the best way to collect beautiful gifts without using credit. Plus, small businesses can use the boost year-round. 

Show Support From Home

Mockup showing someone fill in an instagram story template with favorite shops.

Download button for instagram story template.

Most of us have a budget that prevents us from buying a new wardrobe every month and eating out every weekday, so it just isn’t feasible to buy from all of our favorite local artisans all of the time. That doesn’t mean you don’t love them, you’ll just have to get creative to show your support from home. 

4. Share Your Favorite Products

When you do buy something new, take a photo! Sharing your favorite finds online and tagging the store is a great way to promote their products and quality to your friends and family. Even if you’re not buying, sharing a wishlist or their newest product could earn them another sale or new followers. 

“I think people forget that their voice has influence, whether they are a huge celebrity or a humble stay at home mom. It’s amazing just what one post can do for small business.” — Autumn Grant, The Kind Poppy

5. Write a Review

You should let the world know when you find a shop you love. From Google and Yelp to a company Facebook page, leave a review to let others know they’re in good hands. Positive reviews are some of the best tools businesses have to convert sales. 

“These types [local] of businesses live and die by word of mouth. Their reviews are everything to them. Now that everyone can look up the average rating of a business or service, it’s vital for businesses to collect positive, honest reviews.” — Dan Bailey, WikiLawn Lawn Care

If you do leave reviews, detailed thoughts and photos perform the best. These give the consumer plenty of information and help your review seem authentic. Plus, reviews can help platforms like Etsy and Google know the business is valued. 

6. Refer a Friend

Tell your friends when you find a new shop or service and share the love. Your friends trust you and likely have a lot of shared interests, so this word of mouth is a great way for businesses to earn customers. 

“A referral is the single best compliment to a business owner. Trust me.” — Brian Robben, Robben Media

If you have friends and family from out of town you may also want to keep your favorite businesses in mind for when they visit. Keep a list of local restaurants, cafes, services, and shops that they can’t get anywhere else and take your friends on a local tour. 

Keep in Touch

Businesses have more ways than ever to keep you in the know, so make sure you’re subscribed to keep in touch! Newsletters and social media are a good way to keep your local faves and their promotional offers top of mind. 

Mockup showing someone filling in their wishlist on instagram.

Download button for holiday wishlist instagram template.

7. Sign-up For Newsletters

Most businesses send regular emails to notify you and other customers of their store details and deals. Newsletters are great ways to find coupons, sales, and new items you’ll adore. Just subscribing isn’t enough, though. Make sure you actually read their news and whitelist the email so you never miss a thing. 

8. Follow and Interact With Their Social Channels

Social media is another easy way to stay in the know; it can also organically promote a business. When you follow a business, platforms learn more about who else may be interested in their offers. Stay active and like and comment on their posts, too, to increase their visibility and trust with other shoppers. 

9. Swing By the Shop

Ultimately, the best way to support a business is to stop by and visit. You never know when something will catch your eye, and it’s a great way to share your find with friends. You may also get the chance to talk with the owner and learn more about the business while sharing your support. 

“Drop a note to them of encouragement. Tell them why you love them and what they mean to you and the community…We’ve been absolutely floored when people have taken time out of their day to write us a note, telling us how much they like us/our product.” — Meaghan Tomas, Pinch Spice Market

No matter the product or service, small business owners will appreciate hearing that you love their shop and can benefit from your support. Tag a friend, buy a gift card, or write a review to help your favorite stores without busting your budget. 
Small Business Administration | G1ve 

The post 9 Ways to Support Small Businesses Without Breaking the Bank appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Fed: Credit card balances dipped by $3 billion in December

Credit card balances edged down in December, even as consumers engaged in holiday shopping, as uncertainty about a second round of stimulus checks extended to the latter part of the month.

Consumer revolving debt – which is mostly based on credit card balances – was down $3 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in December to $975.9 billion, according to the Fed’s G. 19 consumer credit report released Feb. 5.

In December, credit card balances were off 3.6% on an annualized basis, following November’s revised 0.8% dip and October’s 6.7% drop, which came on the heels of September’s 3.2% annualized gain.

The Fed also reported that student loan debt outstanding for the fourth quarter rose to $1.707 trillion, from the third quarter’s $1.704 trillion. And auto loan debt outstanding gained to $1.228 trillion, from the third quarter’s $1.219 trillion.

Total consumer debt outstanding – which includes student loans and auto loans, as well as revolving debt – continued to grow and rose $9.7 billion to $4.184 trillion in December, a 2.8% annualized gain.

For the entire year, credit card balances were down 11.2%.

Card balances had been growing before the coronavirus impacted consumer spending and bank lending in 2020. They dipped below the $1 trillion mark last May, for the first time since September 2017.

See related: 51% of consumers accrued more debt during the pandemic

ABA sees brighter days ahead for credit availability

The American Bankers Association reports, based on input provided by chief economists of large North American banks to its credit conditions index for the first quarter of 2021, that credit conditions (both credit quality and availability) have rebounded from their lows of last summer.

However, all three components of the index (the headline credit index, the consumer credit index and the business credit index) remain below 50, which is not a robust index reading. It indicates that while bank economists expect credit conditions to remain “soft” in the coming six months, they are less pessimistic than they were in September 2020 when the ABA  conducted its last credit conditions survey.

The consumer credit index component of the survey gained to 45.3, its highest level since mid-2019. Economists are optimistic about both the availability and quality of consumer credit compared to September. They expect credit to be more available to consumers in the coming six months, although a small majority expects credit quality to decline.

“Although credit quality is still expected to worsen over the first half of the year for both consumers and businesses, the overall outlook for credit markets has improved significantly since the summer and fall,” said Rob Strand, ABA senior economist. “As widespread inoculations against the virus and new fiscal stimulus measures help heal the economy, banks will continue to work closely with policymakers, consumers and businesses to ensure that affordable credit remains available and recovery strengthens.”

Fed reports easing of credit card lending standards in fourth quarter

According to the Fed’s senior loan officer opinion survey on bank lending practices for January 2021 (which is based on input related to the fourth quarter of 2020), a “moderate net share of banks” reported that they had eased up on credit card loans.

As a result, a “modest net share of banks” also hiked up their credit limits on credit card accounts. And a “moderate net share of banks” reported that there was higher demand for credit card loans during the fourth quarter.

As for the outlook, a “significant net share of banks” is expected to ease up on their standards for credit card loans. They are doing so in anticipation of an improvement in their loan portfolios’ credit quality, as well as a hike in their tolerance for risk.

Also, the New York Fed’s survey of consumer expectations for December 2020 finds that consumers are less concerned about the possibility of missing a minimum debt payment in the coming three months. The average perceived probability of this occurrence dipped to 10.5% for December, from November’s 10.9%.

See related: What happens when you miss a credit card payment?

Jobs edge up in January

The New York Fed survey also finds that on average fewer consumers expect the unemployment rate to be higher a year from now, with this probability declining to 38.9%, from November’s 40.1%.

While the average perceived probability of losing a job in the coming 12 months rose up a bit to 15% (mainly on account of those without a college degree), respondents were also more likely to leave their job voluntarily. However, they were less optimistic about landing a new job if they lost their current ones.

The U.S employment situation was about stable in January, with the economy adding 49,000 jobs, the government reported Feb. 5. “The labor market continued to reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it,” according to the Department of Labor’s employment report media release. The unemployment rate dipped 0.4 percentage points to 6.3% and average hourly earnings were up $0.06 to $29.96. Also, the job numbers for both November and December were revised down, with November down 77,000 jobs (to 264,000) and December losing an additional 87,000 jobs (to minus 227,000).

In his daily email commentary, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, noted, “Coupled with the -159K net revision, this is a significantly softer report than expected, at least in terms of payrolls. Bulls will cite the large and unexpected drop in the unemployment rate, but two-third(s) of the decline was due to a 405K drop in the size of the labor force – a sign of discouragement – while household employment rose 201K.”

He added that “the labor market was frozen at the start of the year, and is completely dependent on the pace of reopening, which in turn is contingent on the speed and sustainability of the fall in hospitalizations.”

Source: creditcards.com

When Is the Best Time to Buy a Car?

Best Time to Buy a Car

Timing is everything and when it comes to buying a car, that saying couldn’t be more true. Negotiating and haggling with car salesmen can reduce the price of what you have to pay for a new whip. But if you want to get the best deal on a car, you’ll need to know when to show up to the dealership. Whether you’re buying a used vehicle or a brand new ride, we’ll tell you the best time of year to buy a car. Being that the purchase of a car is rather pricey, consider meeting with a financial advisor in your area to discuss your finances beforehand.

When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Car?

If you’re on a budget, one of the best times to buy a new car is the end of a model season. New car models are often introduced each year between late summer and early fall. While you might miss out on some new features, buying a new car in August or early September may save you some money.

Waiting until the end of the year to buy a new car can work in your favor as well. Many car dealers offer year-end sales in an effort to get rid of older vehicles and make room for new inventory. Buying a new car on a holiday like Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve is another way to get a deep discount.

If you can’t wait until December to get a new car, you might want to buy a car at the end of the month or the end of a quarter. If a salesperson hasn’t sold very many vehicles in weeks, he or she might be willing to compromise and lower the price of the car you want to buy. Even if a salesman has managed to sell multiple cars throughout the month, he might want to close one last deal in order to meet a sales goal or score a bonus.

Shopping for a car at the end of the day may or may not be effective. If you stop by a dealership an hour before it’s set to close, a salesperson may be open to negotiating so that he or she can end the day on a high note. But if he or she is used to working long hours, your sales associate may not be that flexible.

The Best Time to Buy a Used Car

Best Time to Buy a Car

A recent study from iseecars.com ranked the best times to buy a used car. At the top of their list are holidays including Black Friday, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Columbus Day. The months of November and December are also considered good times to purchase a used car.

According to the study, the months of April, May and June are some of the worst times to buy a used car. Specifically, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are bad days for used-car buyers. But the No. 1 worst day to purchase a used car is the Fourth of July.

When Not to Buy a New Car

Generally, one of the worst times to buy a new car is in the spring. During this time of year, you’ll see more people on car lots looking to soak up some sun and cash in their tax refunds. Other bad times to shop for new cars are whenever a particular vehicle is popular among consumers and whenever a new car model has been released.

Some people seem to think that buying a car on a rainy day is a good idea. But that approach usually doesn’t work. In fact, you can expect car dealerships to be filled with people when there’s bad weather simply because people tend to believe that they’ll find great deals on rainy days.

Bottom Line 

Best Time to Buy a Car

The best time of year to buy a car ultimately depends on your personal preferences and how much you’re willing to spend on a vehicle. If you’re rolling in dough and you want your car to have top-of-the-line features and amenities, you might want to buy a car as soon as a new model comes out. But if you’re trying to shave hundreds of dollars off your purchase price, experts say that it’s best to head to the dealership at the end of a period in the fall or winter, like the end of the month, quarter or year.

Our advice? When it comes to buying cars and getting your way at the dealership, it helps to know what you’re looking for. Doing plenty of research and knowing the make and model that you want your car to have can make it easier to figure out when to purchase your new vehicle.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Finances

  • If you find yourself having some financial struggles, perhaps it’s time to have an outside resource step in to help you out. Financial advisors typically have extensive experience in a number of important areas of finance, like tax planning, retirement planning, budget planning and more. SmartAsset’s advisor matching tool can set you up with as many as three suitable advisors in just 5 minutes. Get started now.
  • The best way to manage your money on both a short- and long-term scale is to create a firm budget. SmartAsset’s budget calculator can help you figure out exactly where you’re overspending.

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Source: smartasset.com