Why Millennials aren’t feeling the boom in household wealth

Households are wealthier than ever. But if you’re a Millennial or have a low credit score, you probably don’t feel any richer.

Since the financial crisis, home equity has grown for older Americans as home prices have recovered and debt has accumulated more slowly, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Thursday.

But younger people and borrowers considered less creditworthy haven’t reaped the same benefits. Homeownership has declined for these Americans because of tighter lending standards.

The Fed study examined home equity between 2006 and 2017.

In 2006, before the crisis, Americans over age 60 and under age 45 each held about a quarter of the country’s overall home equity.

But by 2017, older Americans held 41% and younger Americans just 14%. That’s partly because of the aging population, but also because of tougher mortgage standards and higher student loan debt, the researchers said.

Related: Almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food

“Tight credit can limit the scope for renters to become owners and for current homeowners to access their equity,” said Beverly Hirtle, executive vice president and director of research at the New York Fed.

The shift in housing wealth distribution could have long-term effects on the nation’s housing cycle, the New York Fed researchers warned. It also leaves far less cushion for those younger Americans or low-credit-score borrowers in harder financial times.

In times of hardship, homeowners can use a portion of the equity they’ve accumulated in their homes to bridge financial shortfalls. Equity is the difference between the value of your home and how much you owe on your mortgage.

Related: It’s really tough to be a homebuyer in Seattle

“The distribution is important, as it reflects who will likely bear the burden when the next economic downturn occurs,” Hirtle said.

The findings were part of the New York Fed’s household debt report, which showed that American households carried $13.21 trillion in debt in the first quarter, up 0.5% from the fourth quarter of last year.

Americans are also doing a better job paying off credit card balances, and the delinquency rate of their mortgages has continued to improve, according to the report.

CNNMoney (Washington)
First published May 17, 2018: 4:10 PM ET


19 Things a New Homeowner Should Do Immediately to Save Money

By Trent Hamm
On December 13, 2017.

So you’ve just moved into your nice new home. You’ve unloaded the boxes and started to unpack your life.

Right now is the perfect time to walk through a checklist of ways to save money on your home for years to come.

Starting on these things as early as possible will allow you to start saving money sooner rather than later. Plus, some of them will be easier to accomplish before you hang pictures or get too settled in — and lose your move-in momentum.

Here are 19 things to check or do immediately that will reduce the energy and maintenance costs of your home over the long haul.


19 Things to Do Immediately to Reduce Your Home Energy and Maintenance Costs

1. Check the insulation in your attic – and install more if needed.

If you have an unfinished attic, pop your head up there and take a look around. You should see insulation up there between the beams, and there should be at least six inches of it everywhere (more if you live in the northern part of the United States).

If there’s inadequate insulation up there – or the insulation you have appears to be damaged – install new insulation. Here’s a great guide from the Department of Energy on attic insulation, including specifics on how much you should have depending on where you live. Many states offer financial incentives, up to a 75% refund for instance, to encourage homeowners to better insulate their homes.

2. Lower the temperature on your hot water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius).

This is the optimum temperature for your hot water heater. Most people don’t use water hotter than 120 degrees — indeed, water hotter than that can scald you or a child — and thus the energy needed to keep the water above 120 degrees isn’t used effectively. Lower the temperature, save money on your energy bill, and you’ll never skip a beat.

3. Toss a water heater blanket over that hot water heater as well.

While most modern hot water heaters are well-insulated, some are insulated better than others, and many older heaters aren’t insulated well at all. A small investment in a blanket for your water heater will slowly and gradually save you money on your heating bill over time by keeping the heat in the water instead of letting it disperse slowly into your basement or utility closet.

The Department of Energy recommends being “careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment.” And of course, on-demand (or “tankless”) water heaters don’t require this treatment.

4. Install ceiling fans in most rooms.

Ceiling fans are a low-energy way to keep air moving in your home. Because of the air circulation effect, you can get away with keeping your thermostat a degree or two higher in summer and a degree or two lower in winter, netting a rather large savings.

A while back, I wrote a guide to maximizing ceiling fan use. The most important thing to know is that the air directly below the fan should be blowing down on you in the summer and should be pulled upwards away from you in the winter — you can use the reversal switch on your fan to switch between the modes at the start of each season.



5. Wrap exposed water pipes with insulation.

Exposed hot water pipes lose heat as they move water from your heater to your faucet or shower. Wrapping them in pipe insulation, especially in cold basements or garages, can make a two- to four-degree difference in the temperature of the water, and also allows hot water to reach your faucet faster.

Check the pipes into and out of your hot water heater first, as the first three feet out of the heater (and the last few feet of inlet water) are key. Use good-quality pipe insulation for the job, which is actually quite simple — here’s a tutorial.

6. Install a programmable thermostat – and learn how to use it.

A programmable thermostat allows you to schedule automatic increases and decreases in your home’s temperature, saving money on cooling in the summer and heating in the winter.

They’re easy to install and easy to use, especially if you keep a fairly routine schedule. Just program the thermostat to drop a few degrees at night while you’re sleeping or off at work during the day, and set it to return to your preferred temperature just before you wake up or return home from work. You won’t notice the difference — until you see your lower utility bill.

7. Replace your air filters.

When you first move in, you almost always need to replace the air handling filter or the filter on your furnace or AC unit. Don’t worry, it’s easy to do – it takes about 10 seconds.

Go down to your air handling unit, find where the filter is (it’s almost always a large rectangle), and mark down the measurements (printed around the edges). Then, go to the hardware store and pick up a few of them. Go home and replace the old one with a new filter, and save the rest so you always have a clean one ready to go. An outdated filter not only doesn’t filter air as well, it also has a negative impact on air flow, meaning your air handling system or HVAC unit has to work harder — and use more energy — to pump out lower quality air.

8. Make sure the vents in all rooms are clear of dust and obstructions.

None of the vents in your home should be covered or blocked by anything – doing that makes your heating and cooling work overtime. You should also peek into all of your vents and make sure they’re as dust-free as possible, and brush them out if you see any dust bunnies. This improves air flow into the room, reducing the amount of blowing that needs to happen.

9. Mark any cracks in the basement with dated masking tape.

Many homes have a few small cracks in their basement walls from the settling of the foundation and the weight of the house. In a stable home, the small cracks aren’t growing at all – they’re safe. If they’re growing, however, you’ll save a ton of money by getting the problem addressed now rather than later.

How do you tell if they’re growing? Take some masking tape and cover up the end of any cracks you notice inside or outside, and write today’s date on the tape. Then, in a few months, check the tape – if you see a crack growing out of the end of the tape, you might have a problem and should call a specialist before the problem gets out of hand.

10. Hang a clothes rack in your laundry room (or better yet, an outdoor clothesline).

Even an efficient clothes dryer can really eat up your energy costs, but it’s convenient for many people. If you’re willing to battle that convenience, you can save money by hanging a clothes rack from the wall in the laundry room and using it for some items; t-shirts, underwear, towels, and pillow cases dry great on clothes racks. If you can hang up 20% of the clothes in a load on a rack, you can get away with running the dryer 20% less than before, saving you cash.

Even better: If you can, install a clothesline in your back yard and hang most of your clothes to dry outside, where a good breeze can do the work of a dryer in no time — and at no cost.


11. Check all toilets and under-sink plumbing for leaks or constant running – and check faucets, too.

Do a survey of the plumbing in your home before you settle in. If you find a toilet is running constantly, it’s going to cost you money – here’s how to easily fix that constantly-running toilet.

You should also peek under the basin of all the sinks in your home, just to make sure there aren’t any leaks. Got a leaky faucet? You should repair or replace any of those, because the drip-drip-drip of water is also a drip-drip-drip of money; not to mention the terrible interplay between mold and home insurance.

12. Install LED or CFL light bulbs.

LED and CFL bulbs can save you a lot of money on energy use over the long haul, plus they have much longer lives than normal incandescent bulbs, making them well worth the upfront investment. Consider installing some in various places — especially in areas where the lights may be in use for long periods, like the living room or kitchen, or left on accidentally, like a back hallway or basement. CFL bulbs tend to be cheaper, but LED bulbs are usually preferable in terms of performance, and have come down in cost quite a bit over the past few years.

13. Choose energy efficient appliances, even if you have to pay more up front.

Unless you were lucky enough to buy a fully-furnished home, you’ll likely have to do some appliance shopping. Focus on reliability and energy efficiency above all, even if that seriously increases the cost you have to pay up front. A refrigerator that uses little energy and lasts 20 years is far, far cheaper over the long run than a fridge that runs for seven years and guzzles electricity. If you plan ahead, you can buy it with a credit card that offers a big sign-up bonus. You’ll pay the balance off immediately and walk away with hundreds in cash or travel rewards.

14. Set up your home electronics with a SmartStrip or two.

Looking forward to getting your television, cable box, DVD player, sound system, and video game console set up? When you do it, set things up with proper surge protection (to shield your equipment from electric surges). You might also want to consider a SmartStrip, which makes it easy to “unplug” devices that aren’t in use.

A SmartStrip allows the on-off status of one device — say, the television — to control whether or not there’s power flowing to other devices (say, the DVD player or the video game console). Having the power cut automatically from such auxiliary devices can save a lot of money over time, especially since many such devices eat quite a bit of power as they sit there in standby mode, constantly draining your money.

15. Plant shade trees near your house.

Mother nature can help you save significantly on your summer cooling costs — and heating costs in winter, too.

Plant deciduous trees — the kind that lose their leaves in the fall — on the western and eastern sides of your house. The leafy shade trees will naturally cool your home during the hot summer months by reducing the amount of direct sunlight that hits your house.

In the winter, they’ll lose their leaves, allowing that same sunlight to stream through your windows and heat up the home a bit more. And if you plant evergreens on the north and northwest sides of your home, they won’t affect the sunlight, but will shield your home from cold winter winds.

As an added benefit, mature trees can increase your property value. Just make sure to plant them a safe distance from power lines and your home itself (no one wants a downed limb poking through their roof). Plant them now, and they’ll grow and shade your house sooner.

16. Change the locks and make spare keys.

One of the first things many homeowners do is change the locks on their new home. You don’t need to be particularly handy to install new door hardware, and a set of basic doorknobs and locks for your front and back door will only set you back $20-$80 or so. It may seem unnecessary, but there’s no way to know whether there are copies of your old key floating around, and who might have them if so. Investing a bit of money and time today can protect you from burglary down the road.

While you’re at it, get an extra copy of your key made and leave it with someone you trust, so you don’t have to shell out $100 to a locksmith when you inevitably lock yourself out.

17. Air-seal your home.

This isn’t such a problem in new homes, some of which are built tight as drums, but in older homes, it’s important to look for any places where air may be leaking directly into or out of your home. Common trouble spots are around doorways, windows, and even electric outlets.

These aren’t just air leaks – they’re money leaks. Thankfully, fixing small air leaks is pretty easy – here’s a great Department of Energy guide to caulking and weatherstripping, which will keep such air leaks from sucking the heat – and money – out of your home.

18. Take advantage of tax benefits and other incentives.

The energy tax credit, which was set to expire in 2014, was renewed at the last minute in December. That means homeowners who made energy-based improvements to their homes last year were eligible to receive a tax credit for 10% of the cost, up to $500 lifetime. Whether this popular credit is renewed for another year, however, is anyone’s guess. A whopping 30% tax credit toward the cost of solar energy systems, residential wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps is in effect through 2016.

Your state or city may offer even more benefits, from no-interest loans to rebates, so do some research when you invest money improving the efficiency of your home — you may save even more money than you expected.

Many states and local utility companies also provide home energy audits for free or at a discount. Someone will thoroughly inspect your home to find where you’re wasting energy. They’ll look for air leaks and uninsulated pipes, test the efficiency of your heating and cooling equipment, and even replace any older incandescent light bulbs for free.

19. Develop a home maintenance checklist, and run through it for the first time.

One final tip: Create a home maintenance checklist. This list should include regular home maintenance tasks that you’d want to do on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Then, make it a habit to run through the items on this list every so often. Doing so will extend the life of almost everything in your home, saving you buckets of money over time.

Any other tips along these lines from the readers?


This Article was originally published in The Simple Dollar.
This article has not been modified from its original version. Click here to read the article on www.thesimpledollar.com website.

How I Saved $36,000 in 12 Years by Doing This Simple Trick – by Marie C. Franklin

Pull up a chair and get comfortable because I’m about to tell you a story that may seem hard to believe — but it is the absolute truth. Around 12 years ago, I made a decision that forever changed my relationship to money: instead of spending every $5 bill that passed through my hands, I started saving them.

At the time, I had two daughters in private colleges and, to put it mildly, my husband and I were financially stressed. But I found that socking away each and every $5 bill I received as change in a cash transaction was one way I could stay in control of what little extra money I had at the time — and the strategy has paid off. The girls are out of college and both are married now. And I’ve saved almost $36,000, all in $5 bills. Wowza!

The best part about my plan is that you can do it too. All it takes to get started is a commitment to save and one $5 bill.

The number one reason most people don’t save is that they don’t have a savings plan. Not me. From the moment I wake in the morning, I’m thinking of ways to get back a $5 bill. That’s one reason I do most of my day to day living by spending cash, because let’s be honest, you can’t get a $5 back if you pay with a debit or credit card.

And once you commit to saving your fives, you’ll never look at a $5 bill the same way again. Once you see them accumulate, you won’t be tempted to spend them. It becomes an addictive habit, a fun game to see how fast you can grow your stash.

One of Warren Buffett’s ideas about investing that I really like is that we should invest in ourselves before anything else. What better way to invest in ourselves than committing to a personal savings plan?

The way I see it, people everywhere are yearning for a simple way to put aside some extra money, to pay for a wedding or a vacation, a new car or a house; to pay off school loans or help put a child through school; or maybe the ultimate savings goal — retirement. Some people throw loose change in a jar, while others are way more ambitious and disciplined, setting aside 10% of their monthly income as savings before paying their bills.

But loose change never amounts to any significant money and most people can’t save at all, much less 10% of their salary. So I started a blog to help people get started on the saving their fives idea, and hope you will become a faithful reader and a follower. For more information on my nest egg saving method, please visit Save Money Fast With Fives.


This article originally appeared on Lepenzo.com


Marie C. Franklin is a former member of the Boston Globe staff and today a journalism professor at Lasell College in Auburndale, MA. She publishes a personal finance blog at www.savemoneyfastwithfives.wordpress.com

How to Rent an Apartment Even if You Have Bad Credit – by Chad Fisher

It’s not easy, but there are ways to make it happen.

Renting an apartment with bad credit is no easy task. Many large apartment complexes owned by corporations require credit checks and will refuse applicants who do not meet their standards.

Even if you have the income to pay for the apartment, you could still be refused if your credit score is too low. Here’s how to get an apartment when your credit score is scaring off landlords.

1. Find No Credit Check Rentals

One way to get an apartment with poor credit is by avoiding credit checks altogether. Many privately-owned homes and apartment buildings do not look at credit, preferring instead to find tenants with good references from previous landlords. You can find advertisements for privately-owned rentals in the classified section of your newspaper, on sites like Craigslist and Rental.com, as well as through local real estate agents.

Many local homeowners and condo owners rent out their properties because they are having trouble selling them in the current real estate market, so you might be able to find a nice property at a reasonable rate, provided you are a good tenant and are willing to keep the place clean and orderly.

2. Get Letters of Recommendation

Getting letters of recommendation and submitting them with your applications can help convince landlords that you’re a reliable renter. Holly Johnson, a landlord and credit expert at The Simple Dollar, said, “I have rented to people with bad credit multiple times, mostly because they were able to illustrate their ability to pay their rent and had excellent references. I put references from other landlords above all else when it comes to finding a prospective tenant.”

3. Clean Up Your Credit Report

A simple way to qualify for leases is to clean up your credit report. Get copies of your credit reports and check them carefully. You can obtain copies from the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You are entitled to one free copy from each per year, and you can request additional copies at a cost.

Review your credit reports and dispute any inaccurate information. Sometimes companies report a late payment incorrectly, or you might have been charged for something you did not purchase. If you dispute a transaction, it is up to the lender or seller to prove that you were truly late with your payment or that you did not pay a bill. If the seller or lender cannot prove this, the credit bureau will remove the citation from your report, helping boost your credit.

4. Be Upfront With Your Landlord

Once your credit reports are clean, you will be better able to determine if your reports will trigger denials from prospective landlords. If you had a few late payments to a hospital five years ago, for example, you are far less likely to be turned down by a landlord than if you had an eviction in the past year for not paying rent.

If your credit has been recently affected by a divorce or another temporary bump in the road, tell your potential landlord in a letter. If you had poor credit habits in the past that might show up on your credit report, explain that you are actively working toward correcting those behaviors. In the end, honesty is the best policy.

5. Get a Cosigner

A cosigner or guarantor can help you qualify for a property that you might not otherwise be able to get. Kristie Santana, a personal finance coach with the National Coach Academy, said that if you “add a guarantor to your application that shows (landlords) that even if you do happen to fall behind on payments, you’ve got someone who is willing to spot you until you recover.”

If you have a parent, spouse or friend with good credit who is willing to sign for you, renting an apartment with bad credit is often much easier. “As long as the landlord is receiving payments on time every month, he doesn’t care much where it’s coming from, as long as it’s there,” she added. If you don’t have someone who is willing to cosign for you, you can use a guarantor service like Insurent.

6. Offer to Pay a Higher Deposit

“If you’re denied a rental due to your credit score, you could offer them more money as a security deposit to show them that you are serious about the commitment,” said Debbi King, a personal finance and life coach and owner of The ABC’s of Personal Finance.

Some larger corporations will rent to people with poor credit if they agree to pay much larger security deposits. Generally, the larger security deposit reflects how much rent you would pay during the time it takes to have you evicted for nonpayment of rent.

For example, suppose you pay $600 a month for your apartment and it takes 90 days to evict a tenant in your state. Expect to pay around $1,800 in additional security money upfront, as the landlord will want that money in escrow in case you default on payments.

7. Show Proof You Can Afford Your Rent

Landlords fear having tenants who won’t pay up. If you can remove that fear, they’ll be more liable to rent to you. King said she paid one years’ rent upfront when she was rebuilding her credit after a bankruptcy. If a years’ rent is too much for you to afford, offer to pay one or two additional months ahead of time.

You should also be upfront with your landlord about how much you earn annually. In a letter, explain your earnings and show proof of income for yourself and all other tenants. If you are a contractor or freelancer, show proof of income for the past one to two years to show your earnings are regular and reliable.

As you apply for rental properties, keep in mind that any potential landlords reviewing your application have no idea whether you are a reliable tenant. With letters of recommendation, bigger security deposits and proof of income, you can incentivize landlords to accept your application.


This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.


3 Smart Ways to Save Big on Holiday Shopping – by Jill Schlesinger

It’s all about the apps — and the timing.

We’re just days away from the heart of the holiday shopping season, and a little bit of preparation will help you save big during the season. Use these three steps to make sure you’re spending the least to get what you want for your loved ones.

1. Create a Budget

Before you hit the stores, online or off, make sure you know who you’re buying for and how much you can spend. I suggest you use one of several digital tools to keep holiday spending under control. In addition to budgeting favorites like Mint, You Need a Budget, and Wally, there are holiday-specific apps, like Santa’s Bag (iOS) and Christmas List Snowball (Android), which allow you to manage your holiday shopping budgets with a variety of breakdowns.

2. Assemble Your List

There’s an app for this, too. Check out List Ease, which allows you to invite family members to opt into holiday shopping lists, or Slice, which keeps tabs on your online purchases by monitoring your email and extracting online order details. The app also notifies you about price drops on recent purchases and helps you get a refund when possible.

3. Get the Timing Right

Research shows that shopping early can pay off. According to Adobe Digital research, online prices should hit rock bottom on Thanksgiving Day, where consumers will snag an average price discount of 27%. So if you are one of the 45% of consumers who can sneak away in between football games and family time to click away, you’ll be rewarded.

If shopping on Thanksgiving — even from home — doesn’t sit well with you, try the Monday before Thanksgiving, which has been a good time to beat the rush and still get deals.

Adobe also found that the best time to buy varies because of both discounts and product availability, especially for hot-selling gifts. In fact, this weekend is the best time to shop for toys and Monday is good for electronics.

This article originally appeared on Time.com


Tuition Due? Time to Hit Up Everyone You Know – By Andrew Blackman

Crowdsourcing allows students to raise part of the money with a little help from their friends.

When Gabriela Riquelme missed out on an expected scholarship and found herself $1,700 short on her tuition for the fall semester at University of Alaska Anchorage, she turned to an option that is growing in popularity among cash-strapped college students: crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding first became known as a way for independent artists, filmmakers and others to raise money for their projects by persuading a large number of people to make small donations through the Web. Then it caught on as a way to help launch small businesses. It is now being used for a wide variety of more personal needs, including paying for college.

Students short on tuition use crowdfunding sites to post information about their situation and blast out an appeal through social media, sometimes using tools on the site. Typically there are fees charged to the person raising the money. But each site tries to make it easy for the user to reach a lot of people at once and to manage the payments.

Indeed, with college tuition costs rising so quickly, crowdfunding has an important role to play, says Craig Lemoine, associate professor of financial planning at the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “It may not have taken a village to send someone to college in 1970, but in 2015 it does,” he says. “Having a convenient way of asking friends and family to help is very important.”

On one popular site, GoFundMe, the education category has grown to more than 160,000 campaigns so far this year, from 135 in 2010; donations for 2015 through September have soared to $27.3 million, up from $16,493 for 2010.

The crowdfunding site Indiegogo has seen such an uptick in tuition funding, says chief executive Slava Rubin, it launched a new service last December, Indiegogo Life (recently renamed Generosity), designed for education and other “personal” causes.

Ms. Riquelme, now in her fourth year at University of Alaska, didn’t have high hopes for her own campaign. “I didn’t think my situation was severe enough,” she says. “I went into this not really expecting anything. I thought it would just be a few donations from a couple of my friends and their parents.”

But with only a couple of days left to pay her tuition, she decided to create a profile on GoFundMe. She posted a photo, briefly described her situation, suggested donation amounts, from $5 to $20, then sent the link to some friends through email and Facebook.

To her surprise, the first donation was for $50. After that, things began to snowball, as former high-school teachers and parents of her friends not only donated but encouraged their friends to donate.

“Once I put it out there, it kind of took a life of its own,” says Ms. Riquelme. Even people who couldn’t donate sent messages of support. “It was really incredible to see the feedback,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting that.” She met her $1,700 goal in just two days.

Limits and Fees

For students looking to raise some tuition money on crowdfunding sites, experts advise that they realize the limits. Yes, crowdfunding can be useful to fill gaps in funding, but no one should rely on it as their primary way of paying for college. “The average campaign raises about $1,000,” says Salvador Briggman, founder of Crowdcrux, a crowdfunding information site.

There also are fees. GoFundMe charges 5% of each donation, on top of which an independent payment processor, WePay, charges a fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. So, for a $100 donation, total fees would be $8.20: $5 for GoFundMe, and $3.20 for WePay. Ms. Riquelme says that for the $1,730 she raised through GoFundMe, she paid $146.24 in fees. Users of Generosity pay only its payment processor: a 3% fee plus 30 cents per transaction.


Experts also say that getting the word out is critical, and many people are doing it wrong. “Begging is a huge turnoff,” says Mr. Briggman. “What I typically see people do with personal crowdfunding is just blast it on Facebook as an update, saying, ‘Please give me money, please share, please donate.’ That’s the worst way to do it.”

Before students even start the campaign, Mr. Briggman suggests they send individual emails or make phone calls to their closest friends and family, explaining what they’re doing and why. That way, when the campaign launches and they contact them again, they’re likely to get a solid base of early donations from their core supporters, he says.

He and others also suggest students post thank-you notes on social media to each of their supporters. When other people see those messages they’ll be reminded to check out the student’s campaign. Showing that other people are donating is much more effective than just asking for money, Mr. Briggman says.

Why not just ask friends and family directly? People tend to find it “less socially awkward” to send people a link to a crowdfunding profile than to ask for a check, says Prof. Lemoine.

Meanwhile, even when students don’t reach their goal, most sites allow them to keep whatever they raise and to leave the campaign running indefinitely. That means, at least in theory, they could use the same campaign to help with multiple years of tuition.

Ms. Riquelme, for one, says she’s unlikely to use crowdfunding again, citing donor fatigue. “People will be like, ‘Is she just relying on the community to pay for her school now?’ ”

This article originally appeared on wsj.com

Mr. Blackman is a writer living in Crete. He can be reached at reports@wsj.com.


The Best Things to Buy During the Fall Season – By Len Penzo

When it comes to getting the best deals, timing is everything.

After all, there is nothing more frustrating than buying something and then finding out later that a friend, coworker or neighbor got the exact thing for less than you did.

Because I don’t want to see that happen to you, I’ve compiled this handy dandy list of some of the best things to buy in autumn.


Patio furniture. With summer over, the demand for patio furniture drops precipitously. As an example, last October the Honeybee and I got a lone patio set from Home Depot that they were eager to move for 40% off.

Lawn Mowers. In fall, dwindling daylight leads to slower lawn growth and the eventual end of the mowing season in many parts of the country — that means sale-time for mowers.

Trees, shrubs and other nursery products. It’s no coincidence that, in addition to lawn mowers, October is also the perfect time to buy trees, shrubs and bulbs from nurseries.

Jeans. Why jeans? Because retailers typically use October to get rid of all the unsold denim that is still stuck on their shelves after the back-to-school shopping period ends.


Candy. Of course, the first day of November signals the end of Halloween. It also kicks-off a rash of deep discounts by retailers looking to unload their unsold candy inventory. Talk about sweet deals.

Home Furniture. The conventional wisdom is that January is the best month to buy furniture. However, according to DealNews, in past years: “November featured the greatest volume of Editors’ Choice offerings, as well as the most furniture deals in general.”

Cookware. DealNews also notes that November is a great time for buying all kinds of cookware including cutlery sets, bakeware, and even turkey fryers.

HDTVs. High definition television prices hit their lowest point of the year during Black Friday. How low? DealNews notes that, in some cases, the additional discount can be as much as 20%.

Aluminum Foil and Plastic Wrap. I’m not sure why this is, but I found multiple references on the web stating that aluminum foil and plastic wrap prices are lowest in November. Yes, it could be an old wives’ tale — but Snopes hasn’t debunked it. At least not yet.


Toys. If you’re like me, you’d probably be surprised to learn that, according to DealNews, the deepest toy discounts aren’t offered during the week after Christmas. You’ll actually find them during the second-to-last week before Christmas.

Bikes. DealNews also notes that the final month of the year is when you can get some of the best bicycle deals from merchants such as REI, Walmart, and Performance Bike.

Tools. The holiday season is the best time for do-it-yourself types interested in adding new tools to their collection. That’s great news if you’ve got a hard-to-shop-for handy man father-in-law like I do.

Carpet. Carpet expert and consumer advocate Alan Fletcher notes that December is a great time to buy new carpeting — as long as you do it after December 15th. Before that, demand is higher because people are getting their homes ready for the holidays.

Wedding dresses. According to Forbes the best deals can be had by those who are willing to negotiate with bridal shops after Thanksgiving, but ahead of the rush from future brides who get engaged on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Champagne. Yes, the bubbly is extremely popular during the holidays; it seems like everybody’s popping it on New Year’s Eve. So it’s no wonder Champagne prices reach their lowest point in December, as competitors vie for your business.


In addition to the items listed above, you can also generally find the best deals all autumn long on swimwear, barbecue grills, air conditioners and previous-year automobiles that need to be moved to make way for the latest models that traditionally come out in September.

Hopefully, this little list will help you save at least a few bucks this autumn buying season.

Remember, it’s one thing to be neighborly. But that doesn’t mean you have to let them get away with all the best deals.


This article originally appeared on Lenpenzo.com


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