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Black Friday Deals Are Mostly Dead. Here’s What You Should ― And Shouldn’t ― Buy.

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Imagine leaving the Thanksgiving dinner table at 6 p.m., still strung out on tryptophan, to hop in line at the mall and wait until midnight to buy a big-screen TV you don’t really need. Ask me, and I’d tell you it sounds like my worst nightmare. But for thousands of Americans, it’s a highly anticipated holiday tradition.

However, Black Friday isn’t exactly the mega-savings shopping holiday that retailers would have us believe. In fact, thanks to the proliferation of year-round deals and a shift from in-store to online discounts, Black Friday has been dying a slow death in terms of value.

But that hasn’t stopped millions of shoppers from shelling out record amounts of money anyway.

“The deals on Black Friday are not significantly different from any other time.”

Black Friday Isn’t Dead (Yet)

Spending on Black Friday had a meteoric rise from $26 billion in 2005 to $67.6 billion as of 2015.

However, competition among retailers and an oversaturation of deals mean ads are leaked increasingly earlier, discounts have become less competitive, and Black Friday has become more like Black November. In fact, the best deals aren’t actually on Black Friday. With the addition of Cyber Monday, Super Saturday and pretty much every other day of the year you can find deep discounts, Black Friday deals aren’t as compelling as they once were.

“Retailers have conditioned the consumer to believe everything’s on sale every day, which means the deals on Black Friday are not significantly different from any other time,” Steven J. Barr, consumer markets leader for PwC, told The Washington Post last year.

After years of competition prompted stores to extend holiday hours and open their doors earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving day, they’re beginning to reverse the trend. According to BestBlackFriday.com, more than 75 retailers plan to stay closed on Thanksgiving, including H&M, Nordstrom and TJ Maxx.

Some are blatantly rejecting the concept of Black Friday altogether. REI, for instance, will remain closed through Black Friday for the fourth year in a row and is encouraging shoppers to enjoy the outdoors instead via its #OptOutside campaign.

Consumers are catching on, too. Last year, 4 percent fewer shoppers hit stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday than in 2016. But that means 77 million people still did. And overall Black Friday sales hit an all-time high, with online spending accounting for $7.9 billion.

The Worst Black Friday Deals

So let’s face it: Black Friday isn’t what it used to be. But there’s a good chance that despite your best judgement, you’ll open your wallet on Nov. 23 (I will, too).

If you do, make sure you aren’t totally duped by Black Friday marketing magic. According to Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot, there are a handful of items you should steer clear of on Black Friday.

Furniture: “You may find ads for doorbuster deals on furniture from your local department stores or retailers, but don’t give in to the hype,” Skirboll said. Black Friday isn’t the time to buy these items. “Indoor furniture prices are lowest in January and July through August, while the best discounts on patio furniture happen between August and September.”

The latest gaming consoles: Although you might find some savings on the latest gaming consoles during Black Friday, you should hold off. “These sales are usually just bait and you’ll actually find the best deals the week before Christmas as a last-minute push,” Skirboll said. And don’t worry about them selling out ― there’s plenty of inventory on these items this year.

Spring airfare: Contrary to popular belief, buying airline tickets far in advance does not always get you the best price, Skirboll said. She suggested waiting until after January to purchase airline tickets for travel in April and beyond. “The optimum window to lock in airfare for this time of year is about six to eight weeks out.”

Gift cards: They might make good stocking stuffers, but avoid purchasing gift cards on Black Friday. “Gift cards are usually cheaper in December, leading up to Christmas,” Skirboll said. For example, iTunes has offered $100 gift cards for $70 to $80 in December.

Toys: According to Skirboll, buying toys is a catch-22. “You want to make sure that you have the toy that you need and it doesn’t sell out, but if you’re really looking for the best deal on toys, those deals are going to come later in December, about two weeks before Christmas.”

Black Friday Deals Worth Considering

So where are the best deals? Fortunately, mostly online. “If you’re not up at 4 o’ clock in the morning on Black Friday, don’t worry about it,” Skirboll said. “You can still find deals all week long from the comfort of your couch.”

Regardless of whether you shop in-store or online, if you’re going to drop some cash on Black Friday, here’s what to buy.

Electronics: Skirboll said that electronics will sell out the fastest on Black Friday weekend. “If you see a good deal on TVs, computers or phones, pick them up immediately,” she said, noting that electronics will be heavily discounted, up to 40 percent.

Appliances: Appliances are also one of the best things to buy on Black Friday. “This is because retailers make more mass orders than they usually stock, and prices drop 40 to 50 percent lower than normal retail,” Skirboll said. Look for deals on items such as coffee makers, electric skillets, slow cookers, toasters, deep fryers, blenders and rice makers.

Winter apparel: This is something that gets discounted around this time of year, according to Skirboll, who says you can expect to find discounts upwards of 40 percent off.

Sneakers: “Blame it on slow sales in September and October,” said Skirboll, “but sneakers tend to take a price dive in November, making them one of the best things to buy during Black Friday.” You can expect to find 20 to 30 percent off prices.

Designer handbags: Skirboll said that in the past, the most common reduction bracket for Black Friday in this category was 30 to 40 percent off. “Shoppers scored an average of 34 percent off top brands like Stella McCartney.”

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4 things kids need to know about money

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(NC) Responsible spending includes knowing the difference between wants and needs. Back-to-school season, with added expenses and expectations around spending, is the perfect time to not only build your own budget for the year ahead, but also to introduce your own children to the concept of budgeting.

The experts at Capital One break down four basic things that every child should know about money, along with tips for bringing real-life examples into the conversation.

What money is. There’s no need for a full economic lesson,but knowing that money can be exchanged for goods and services, and that the government backs its value, is a great start.
How to earn money. Once your child understands what money is, use this foundational knowledge to connect the concepts of money and work. Start with the simple concept that people go to work in exchange for an income, and explain how it may take time (and work) to save for that new pair of sneakers or backpack. This can help kids develop patience and alleviate the pressure to purchase new items right away that might not be in your budget.
The many ways to pay. While there is a myriad of methods to pay for something in today’s digital age, you can start by explaining the difference between cash, debit and credit. When teaching your kids about credit, real examples help. For instance, if your child insists on a grocery store treat, offer to buy it for them as long as they pay you back from their allowance in a timely manner. If you need a refresher, tools like Capital One’s Credit Keeper can help you better understand your own credit score and the importance of that score to overall financial health.
How to build and follow a budget. This is where earning, spending, saving and sharing all come together. Build a budget that is realistic based on your income and spending needs and take advantage of banking apps to keep tabs on your spending in real-time. Have your kids think about how they might split their allowance into saving, spending and giving back to help them better understand money management.

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20 Percent Of Americans In Relationships Are Committing Financial Infidelity

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Nearly 30 million Americans are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their spouse or live in partner, according to a new survey from CreditCards.com. That’s roughly 1 in 5 that currently have a live in partner or a spouse.

Around 5 million people — or 3 percent — used to commit “financial infidelity,” but no longer do.

Of all the respondents, millennials were more likely than other age groups to hide financial information from their partner. While 15 percent of older generations hid accounts from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were financially dishonest.

Regionally, Americans living in the South and the West were more likely to financially “cheat” than those living in the Northeast and Midwest.

Insecurity about earning and spending could drive some of this infidelity, according to CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman.

When it comes to millennials, witnessing divorce could have caused those aged 18-37 to try and squirrel away from Rossman calls a “freedom fund”.

“They’ve got this safety net,” Rossman said. They’re asking: “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”

As bad as physical infidelity

More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believed that financial infidelity was just as bad as physically cheating. That’s including some 20 percent who believed that financially cheating was worse.

But despite this, most didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

Over 80 percent surveyed said they would be upset, but wouldn’t end the relationship. Only 2 percent of those asked would end the relationship if they discovered their spouse or partner was hiding $5,000 or more in credit card debt. That number however is highest among those lower middle class households ($30,000-$49,999 income bracket): Nearly 10 percent would break things off as a result.

Roughly 15 percent said they wouldn’t care at all. Studies do show however that money troubles is the leading cause of stress in a relationship.

That’s why, Rossman says, it’s important to share that information with your partner.

“Talking about money with your spouse isn’t always easy, but it has to be done,” he said. “You can still maintain some privacy over your finances, and even keep separate accounts if you and your spouse agree, but you need to get on the same page regarding your general direction, otherwise your financial union is doomed to fail.”

With credit card rates hovering at an average of 19.24 percent APR, hiding financial information from a partner could be financially devastating.

But, Rossman adds, it’s not just about the economic impact but also the erosion of trust.

“More than the dollars and cents is that trust factor,” he said. “I think losing that trust is so hard to regain. That could be a long lasting wedge.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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7 Examples Of Terrible Financial Advice We’ve Heard

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Between television, radio, the internet and well-meaning but presumptuous friends and family, we’re inundated with unsolicited advice on a daily basis. And when it comes to money, there’s a ton of terrible advice out there. Even so-called experts can lead us astray sometimes.

Have you been duped? Here are a few examples of the worst money advice advisers, bloggers and other personal finance pros have heard.

1. Carry a balance to increase your credit score.

Ben Luthi, a money and travel writer, said that a friend once told him that his mortgage loan officer advised him to carry a balance on his credit card in order to improve his credit score. In fact, the loan officer recommended keeping the balance at around 50 percent of his credit limit.

“This is the absolute worst financial advice I’ve ever heard for several reasons,” Luthi said. For one, carrying a credit card balance doesn’t have any effect on your credit at all. “What it does do is ensure that you pay a high interest rate on your balance every month, neutralizing any other benefits you might get from the card,” Luthi explained. “Also, keeping a 50 percent credit utilization is a surefire way to hurt your credit score, not help it.”

Some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of the card limit, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Keeping your balance as low as possible and paying the bill on time each month is how you improve your score.

2. Avoid credit cards ― period.

Credit cards can be a slippery slope for some people; overspending can lead to a cycle of debt that’s tough to escape.

But avoiding credit cards on principle, something personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey push hard, robs you of all their potential benefits.

“Credit cards are a good tool for building credit and earning rewards,” explained personal finance writer Kim Porter. “Plus, there are lots of ways to avoid debt, like using the card only for monthly bills, paying off the card every month and tracking your spending.”

If you struggle with debt, a credit card is probably not for you. At least not right now. But if you are on top of your finances and want to leverage debt in a strategic way, a credit card can help you do just that.

3. The mortgage you’re approved for is what you can afford.

“The worst financial advice I hear is to buy as much house as you can afford,” said R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner who founded the blog The Ways to Wealth. He explained that most lenders use the 28/36 rule to determine how much you can afford to borrow: Up to 28 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward your home, as long as the payments don’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly debt payments. For example, if you had a credit card, student loan and car loan payment that together totaled $640 a month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $360 (36 percent of $1,000 in total debt payments).

“What homeowners don’t realize is this rule was invented by banks to maximize their bottom line ― not the homeowner’s financial well-being,” Weiss said. “Banks have figured out that this is the largest amount of debt one can take on with a reasonable chance of paying it back, even if that means you have to forego saving for retirement, college or short-term goals.”

4. An expensive house is worth it because of the tax write-off.

Scott Vance, owner of taxvanta.com, said a real estate agent told him when he was younger that it made sense to buy a more expensive house because he had the advantage of writing off the mortgage interest on his taxes.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. A deduction simply decreases your taxable income ― it’s not a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill. So committing to a larger mortgage payment to take a bigger tax deduction still means paying more in the long run. And if that high mortgage payment compromises your ability to keep up on other bills or save money, it’s definitely not worth it.

“Now, as a financial planner focusing on taxes, I see the folly in such advice,” he said, noting that he always advises his client to consider the source of advice before following it. ”Taking tax advice from a Realtor is … like taking medical procedure advice from your hairdresser.”

5. You need a six-month emergency fund.

One thing is true: You need an emergency fund. But when it comes to how much you should save in that fund, it’s different for each person. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone. And yet many experts claim that six months’ worth of expenses is exactly how much you should have socked away in a savings account.

“I work with a lot of Hollywood actors, and six months won’t cut it for these folks,” said Eric D. Matthews, CEO and wealth adviser at EDM Capital. “I also work with executives in the same industry where six months is overkill. You need to strike a balance for your work, industry and craft.”

If you have too little saved, a major financial blow can leave you in debt regardless. And if you set aside too much, you lose returns by leaving the money in a liquid, low-interest savings account. “The generic six months is a nice catch-all, but nowhere near the specific need of the individual’s unique situation… and aren’t we all unique?”

6. You should accept your entire student loan package.

Aside from a house, a college education is often one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. Often loans are needed to bridge the gap between college savings and that final tuition bill. But just because you’re offered a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to take it all.

“The worst financial advice I received was that I had to accept my entire student loan package and that I had no other options,” said Gina Zakaria, founder of The Frugal Convert. “It cost me a lot in student loan debt. Now I tell everyone that you never have to accept any part of a college financial package that you don’t want to accept.” There are always other options, she said.

7. Only invest in what you know.

Even the great Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the best investor of all time, gets it wrong sometimes. One of his most famous pieces of advice is to only invest in what you know, but that might not be the right guidance for the average investor.

In theory, it makes sense. After all, you don’t want to tie up your money in overly complicated investments you don’t understand. The problem is, most of us are not business experts, and it’s nearly impossible to have deep knowledge of hundreds of securities. “Diversification is key to a good portfolio, and investing in what you know leads to a very un-diversified portfolio,” said Britton Gregory, a certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial. “Instead, invest in a well-diversified portfolio that includes many companies, even ones you’ve never heard of.”

That might mean enlisting the help of a professional, so make sure it’s one who has your best interests at heart.

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