Who really does have the cheaper prices?  Costco or Sam's Club - Wal-Mart & Publix?:

 

Bottom Line:  Who has time for comparative shopping for everyday retail items anymore?  If there really are consistent prices differences it would be helpful to know where you’ll generally find the best prices right?  Kelli Grant, the consumer finance guru for CNBC, found the following:

 

  • Costco and Sam’s Club have near equal prices on like items and both beat BJ’s pricing on like items by about 5% on average
  • Wal-Mart vs. Publix…  There is a clear cut winner.  Wal-Mart averages 15% better prices on like items than Publix
  • Costco & Sam’s offer an average of 44% better pricing than Publix and 39% better pricing than Wal-Mart on like items (when you adjust for quantity!

 

So that’s clearly a huge difference.  It’s also evident that as long as you will use the quantity of what you’re buying at Costco or Sam’s you’ll far and away average the best pricing. 

 

Audio Report:

 

 

 

Still rebuilding your credit score & wish you could buy a home...  You may be able to:

 

Bottom Line:  There is a potential silver lining for those who suffered through foreclosures or short sales in prior years due to the housing crisis.  After two years you have an opportunity to purchase a property again provided that you have the income, down payment and a serviceable credit score. 


The problem for many that have the income and down payment covered has been a languishing credit score that’s locked them out of many loan opportunities.  That’s now changing with one of the two biggest mortgage lenders. 

 

Wells Fargo had operated the last two years with a minimum credit score of a 640 being required for a mortgage (with a 660 generally being the minimum that they were serious about without well over 20% being put down on the property).  As of Saturday that changed. 

 

  • Wells Fargo will now consider individuals that otherwise qualify with a credit score as low as a 600

So this could be the opportunity that you’ve been looking for if you’re otherwise back on track and ready to buy a home before interest rates and home prices rise significantly higher. 

 

 

Tax refunds up over last year so far & what people are doing with them:

 

Bottom Line:

 

  • 2013 Tax refunds (reflecting the 2012 tax year) average about $2700
  • So far 2014 tax refunds (reflecting the 2013 tax year) have averaged just over $3200

So while it’s early, a $500 dollar difference over the 31 million plus refunds that have been issued by the IRS this year already, can make a significant difference economically for many Americans.  So what are they doing with the money? 

 

  • 52% Say they want to pay down debt
  • 30% Say they are saving the refund
  • 8% Say they’re investing

 

(the remaining 10% are mixed across assorted ideas)

 

So this is generally good news.  $500 more than average and only about 10% that are likely to blow the money.  I certainly agree with debt reduction and investing.  Hopefully more of the savers will be investors. 

 

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Years later Full Tilt Poker players are finally getting most of their money back:

 

Bottom Line:  It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly three years since the poker sites that enabled Americans to use real money to gamble online collapsed.  But that’s the case.  There finally is some good news for users of the 2nd largest of the poker sites.  On Friday a US Federal Court received $76 million from Poker Stars (who took Full Tilt over) to be distributed to former US users of the site.   When I averaged out what it should mean to the average former account holder…:

 

  • An average of $2763 per person should be forth coming

 

So if you had your money seized during the Full Tilt seizure keep your eye open on the mailbox in coming weeks.  The check should be in the mail.

 

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Its official - the internet age is officially mobile:

 

Bottom Line:  For most of 2013 those who owned mobile devices used them more frequently to access the internet than traditional computers.  That meant it was only a matter of time before mobile would effectively pass the traditional computer for internet usage.  Well we’re there…

 

  • In January 55% of all online traffic occurred from mobile devices in the US

That factors in even those who don’t own a mobile device.  Here’s what that also means.  Your website being mobile ready is now more important than what it looks like on a desk or laptop computer.  Yet most businesses still configure their site on a traditional computer looking at it on a traditional computer.

Every business need to ensure they have a mobile ready website configured.  It’s already more important and will only become more so in the future.

 

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The weather impact on the economy appears to now be as significant as 9-11:

 

Bottom Line:  More than 75,000 flights were cancelled by mid February in the United States in 2014.  Never had weather or any other event (save one) shut down more than 75,000 flights in two months let alone six weeks.  The only event that caused as much disruption was indeed the grounding of all air traffic after the terrorist attacks on 9-11. 

 

Audio Report: