Five Updates of Previous Stories

According to Consumer Report, more than 25% of all gift cards we received LAST Christmas still have not been redeemed. That’s over a year ago, and this money is still sitting in a drawer? Yes, it’s real money. Make a point of pulling out all your gift cards and a goal of using them up – sooner – way sooner, rather than later. The last thing you want to do is have them go to waste, or finding out the merchant is no longer in business.

A year ago, a new technology was just taking off called NFC – near field communication. It’s the technology behind the pay at the pump card that’s on your keychain with a number of gas stations. Well, after just a couple of years, it’s now firmly in use with smart phones, because in 2009, its first year in use, over $69 billion was paid using a phones. That amount will jump drastically, as rumour has it that Apple will include that technology in their next i-Phone, and i-Pad, due out in April.

Here is a sad reality of something we’ve talked about in the past: According to a survey by Mint.com, a great on-line budgeting and financial planning site, 72% of couples under age 30 admit that discussing finances always leads to an argument. Even worse, in terms of building a strong and trusting relationship is that 43% keep some of “their” debts a secret from their partner.

We talked about it briefly a week ago, but now there’s proof that renting doesn’t have a negative stigma anymore – at least right now. According to the National Apartment Association, 76% of people believe that renting is preferable to owning a home right now.

Here is a strange story from American Express: According to a study from Amex, last year, wealthy people increased their trips to fast food restaurants by 24%, versus an 8% increase from lower income groups. OK, that makes sense. Even rich people are feeling the pinch. But there’s a second part to the report: These wealthy people increased their spending on cruises and DOUBLED their spending on business-class airline tickets. How do you reconcile that? Save on restaurants, but actually spend more money in the big ticket areas? Does that $10 saving make sense when dropping thousands more in business class airline tickets?

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