For many people, Mardi Gras is all about the three B’s: beads, booze and the Big Easy. But this multi-week carnival, which runs from Epiphany through Fat Tuesday every year, isn’t confined to New Orleans or the tawdry pursuits of partygoers.
Mardi Gras actually has a Christian foundation, dating back to 17th century Europe, as a time for festivities before the fasting and sacrifice of Lent. It was first celebrated in the United States in what is now Mobile, Ala. And it has become an economic force, generating more than $1 billion for the New Orleans and Mobile areas each year.
Americans are known for being big spenders…sometimes, too big. With an average household credit card balance of more than $8,200, many people now cannot keep up with the payments on their debt. In a nationally representative survey conducted by WalletHub, nearly 16 percent of respondents said they believe they will miss at least one credit card due date in 2019. That works out to about 40 million Americans.
Missing a credit card payment can start a chain reaction of negative events. First off, there are late fees of up to $28 for a first offence and $39 for another within six months. In addition, cardholders not already carrying a balance between months will lose their grace period, and interest will start accruing immediately on both new purchases and the unpaid balance. There might also be a high penalty APR on new purchases, depending on the issuer, and this rate can be applied to all balances after the cardholder is 60-days past-due on payment. Lastly, if the credit card issuer reports a late payment to the credit bureaus after it’s 30 days late, it will cause damage to the cardholder’s credit score. This can lead to higher costs and fewer borrowing opportunities in the future.
Oscar turns 91 in 2019. And like many seniors who came of age in a different era, this golden guy has had a tough time adapting. Hollywood’s biggest bugaboos – racial and gender equality – are far from resolved. But the movie industry’s stars say time’s up, and much of the fanbase echoes that sentiment with a chorus of me-toos – partly why the ceremony has no host for the first time in 30 years. The nominations for the 91st Academy Awards also include a record number of women.
Whom Oscar goes home with remains to be seen, of course. The same also goes for whether PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 85th time tallying the votes will produce another Moonlight-esque switcheroo. But you don’t have to wait to get in the Oscars spirit. There are lots of great movies to catch up on, plus plenty of interesting Oscars stats to dig into.
Whether you love it or loath it, there’s no denying that Valentine’s Day is a big deal. We spend billions of dollars on the occasion each year. And there’s a lot riding on what we do (or don’t do) in Cupid’s name on February 14, to the extent that it could affect whether some people wind up filing joint or individual tax returns come April.
To learn more about exactly how consumers are approaching Valentine’s Day 2019, WalletHub conducted a nationally representative online survey. We asked about everything from what people plan to buy and how much they plan to spend to financial turnoffs and how money problems affect relationships. You can check out the complete results in the infographic below.
Lovesick shoppers shell out more than $20.7 billion in Cupid’s name each year. That makes Valentine’s Day the third-largest consumer holiday in the U.S. But love might not be the only motivator. Roughly 44% of people expect their Valentine to spend at least $50 on a gift, according to WalletHub’s 2019 Valentine’s Day Survey. More than 4 in 10 people also would break up with their significant other if he or she spent irresponsibly. So fear is a factor, too.
Whether you love or loath his holiday, there’s no denying St. Valentine’s impact on our wallets. So WalletHub examined V-Day from all angles in the hopes of helping people embrace their loving feelings without hurting their finances.
Atlanta is where the players play, and this year they’ll be doing it for the title of Super Bowl LIII (53) champion. The 2019 version of the NFL’s big game will feature plenty of familiar faces and traditions. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are making their third straight run at the Lombardi Trophy in their eighth Super Bowl appearance since 2003. Millions of people will tune in on television, as usual. And we’ll again consume more than a billion chicken wings while watching billions of dollars’ worth of commercials with a bit of football mixed in.
Lurking behind the standard hoopla, however, are a relatively unfamiliar setting, some young, newly relocated upstarts and an unanswered question. Atlanta is hosting the Super Bowl for just the third time, in the 4th big game held in a retractable roof stadium. The Los Angeles Rams are set to make the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl appearance overall and their first since moving back to Los Angeles from St. Louis in 2016. And everyone wants to know whether the Rams’ youthful quarterback-head coach combo, with an average age of just 28.5 years old, can dethrone the NFL’s elder statesmen from New England (average age of 53.5).
The holiday shopping season is over now, and many Americans are seeing the impact on their credit card bills and bank statements. During the holidays, people often make a lot of large purchases, and sometimes max out their cards in order to do so. In a nationally representative survey conducted by WalletHub, 34 percent of respondents say they worry about maxing out their card with a large purchase.
That’s certainly a legitimate concern, considering Americans’ tendency to rack up credit card debt. After all, we hit over $1 trillion in total credit card debt for the first time ever in 2018. And while people with high incomes and stable employment may have no trouble putting large purchases on a credit card, reaping rewards, and paying them off quickly, it’s a different story for Americans with less stable incomes. When it comes to non-essential large purchases, they may be better off saving up and paying in cash. “If they don’t pay bills monthly and carry a balance with a high interest rate, relying on cash is a good discipline,” says David Laibson, a professor of economics at Harvard University.
Just because the holidays have come and gone does not mean the holiday shopping season is over. Its final act is actually just beginning.
Many people have unwanted gifts they’d like to return, which can lead to more shopping plus a fair amount of frustration. We also have holiday debt to deal with and financial resolutions we’re trying to stick to.
Roughly 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each January, according to research from the University of Scranton. We are, it seems, taken by the spirit that led Benjamin Franklin to advise: “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.”
We all have our fair share of vices and room for improvement, especially when it comes to money. So it’s unsurprising that financially-themed resolutions are among the most popular made each new year. But the fact that less than 10% of resolution-makers achieve their goals is not a good sign for hopes of improved money management.
Foresight leads to preparedness, and being prepared really pays off when it comes to personal finance. So to help you get ready for the months to come, WalletHub’s editors surveyed a panel of economics experts, analyzed big-bank projections and Federal Reserve forecasts, and produced a list of financial predictions for 2019.
Below, you can check out WalletHub’s projections for everything from GDP growth and stock market gains to credit card debt and credit scores. And that’s followed by additional commentary from our expert panel.
Countries all around the world have their own unique New Year’s traditions. Many places feature customary cuisine, such as lentils (Brazil and Italy), suckling pig (Austria) and grapes (Spain). Others get a bit more creative. The Danish, for example, smash broken china on friends’ front doors, supposedly in a sign of affection. But you obviously don’t need to go global to learn a lot about New Year’s.
We have plenty of customs right here at home, from watching a giant crystal-covered ball drop in Time’s Square and drinking sparkling spirits at midnight to eating black-eyed peas and making resolutions on Jan. 1. But there’s still a lot to learn about even the most famous New Year’s traditions. For instance, did you know that the Time’s Square ball weighs nearly six tons , or that 360 million glasses of sparkling wine are consumed in the U.S. each New Year’s Eve? The fact that New Year’s Eve is the busiest night of the year for celebratory gunfire may come as a surprise, too.
With that in mind, WalletHub went hunting for the most interesting factoids about America’s fourth-favorite holiday, New Year’s Eve/Day, to help people better understand and enjoy the occasion. You can check out our findings on everything from eating, drinking and spending habits to travel plans, midnight prayers, DUIs and hangovers in the infographic below. Make sure to also read the Ask the Experts Q&A that follows to see what our panel thinks about different aspects the big day.
To gain a deeper understanding of everything that makes New Year’s so special (plus potential pitfalls to watch out for), we posed the following questions to a panel of experts specializing in retail, hospitality, public safety and terrorism. You can check out their bios and responses below.
What tips and tricks do you have for people trying to make a new year’s resolution they can actually keep?
How can local authorities promote safety and reduce alcohol related accidents on New Year’s Eve?
Do you find any of the attached statistics surprising? Why?
In the 1980s, at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, more than 59,000 Americans lost their lives to this brutal disease. The $146.6 billion that federal funding have contributed to the battle against AIDS, just since 2012, is paying off. But the fight is far from over.
AIDS still claims far too many lives. And HIV is still far too costly, increasing the average patient’s healthcare costs by roughly 20%. So to help build awareness for this important cause, WalletHub put together an infographic filled with HIV/AIDS factoids and consulted a panel of experts about the disease’s various costs. You can find everything below.
WalletHub conducted a nationally representative survey of American consumers to see what people are planning to buy this holiday season, how much they’re going to spend, how they’re going to pay and more. You can find the results in the following infographic.
Settlers of the Plymouth Colony and their Wampanoag tribe predecessors kicked off a grand tradition way back in 1621. And for that we should all be thankful, if for nothing else than a day off from work and school. But the Thanksgiving we celebrate today is a lot different than that first festival in honor of a particularly bountiful harvest.
Sure, we still eat turkey, potatoes and pumpkin. And we continue to use the occasion to reflect on the things we cherish most, such as friends and family. But a pair of additional F’s – football and Friday – has become just as important to some. The NFL’s three-game Thanksgiving slate earned nearly 68 million combined viewers last year, and we spent more than $5.03 billion on Black Friday online shopping – on top of the billions we spent preparing for Thanksgiving itself. So, if it isn’t tryptophan that puts you to sleep this Thanksgiving, it might be 12 hours of pigskin or an early wake-up call for a day of deal hunting.
However you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday shopping season, we’ve got you covered. WalletHub took an in-depth look at Thanksgiving’s humble roots and how it’s evolved over time in preparing this report. The infographic below is filled with fun facts on every aspect of Thanksgiving, from how much we spend to how much we eat. And the Ask the Experts section that follows features a panel discussion on Thanksgiving money-wasters and dining tips.
In search of a deeper understanding of Thanksgiving’s multi-faceted role in modern life, we posed the following questions to a panel of experts in consumer studies, history and economics. You can check out their bios and responses below.
What are the biggest Thanksgiving money-wasters?
What are the most cost effective days/times to fly around the Thanksgiving holiday?
What are the most cost effective ways to put on a feast for friends and family without breaking the bank?
Diabetes costs the U.S. economy over $327 billion per year, making it the country’s most expensive disease. But the damage obviously extends well beyond dollars and cents. It’s the 7th most deadly disease in the U.S., claiming over 80,000 lives per year and becoming a daily concern for millions more.
Yet the roughly 9 in 10 Americans who don’t have diabetes probably don’t understand the full extent of the struggle, either. The same can also be said of the nearly 1 in 4 people with diabetes who don’t know they have it.
So to help spread awareness, WalletHub assembled an interesting infographic exploring the impact of diabetes as well as what folks are doing to fight back. We also surveyed a panel of diabetes experts about issues ranging from personal finance to public policy. You can find everything below.
WalletHub conducted a nationally representative survey of over 500 Americans to see how much people are planning to spend on Halloween festivities as well as what aspects of personal finance frighten folks the most. You can find the results in the following infographic.
Each October, brisk autumn days at the ballpark give way to hot-stove winters, and America’s national pastime adds another season to the record books with a World Series. It’s been that way since 1903. Sure, some things have changed. Everyone’s a lot richer now. Games are played under the lights, often into the early hours of the morning. And TV cameras pitch all the action, plus a lot of ads, to viewers worldwide.
But the bases are still 90 feet apart. The pitcher’s mound is still 60 feet, six inches away from home plate. And there’s no shortage of intrigue and excitement surrounding this year’s matchup, as the Boston Red Sox square off against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 114th World Series.
So as we wait for the boys of summer to play ball in the Fall Classic, why not take a closer look at everything that makes the Series such a special event? WalletHub crunched the numbers to collect the most interesting World Series facts and figures we could find. You can check them out in the infographic below, followed by an Ask the Experts discussion with predictions and commentary on the business of baseball.
Excitement is running high right now, but how healthy is the business of baseball, and what does the future hold for its stature as America’s pastime? We asked those questions and more to a panel of esteemed sports business experts, and their responses figure to make for some interesting reading as the World Series cedes to the Hot Stove and, ultimately, a brand new season.
How is the business of baseball doing? What trends/issues do you expect to be most important on the corporate side of things over the next 5-10 years?
How has playoff baseball fared against encroaching college and professional football schedules, in terms of television ratings and overall fan engagement? What kind of ratings do you expect for this year’s World Series?
Does the MLB playoff format need further changes?
Do you still consider baseball to be the national pastime?
What type of economic impact do you expect for the host cities?
It’s the spookiest time of the year, when superstition runs rampant and treats always come with the potential for a trick. But like with anything else, the more you know about Halloween, the less scary it seems. Did you know, for example, that ringing doorbells and lighting candles are thought to ward away witches, ghosts and evil spirits? And how frightening can haunted houses really be when charities operate 80% of them?
Even if you’re not prone to spooking, there’s always something interesting to learn about Halloween. For instance, 18% of people plan to put costumes on pets, and 72% of parents admit to stealing candy from their kids. And that’s just the beginning. To ease your fears and help you gain a new appreciation for this hallowed holiday, WalletHub explored Halloween from all angles.
Below, you can find an infographic filled with the best Halloween facts we could unearth. That’s followed by an Ask the Experts panel discussion on the economics of Halloween. And finally, you can see where your hometown ranks in our report on the Best Cities for Halloween.
For a different, more serious take on Halloween and the cottage industry that revolves around it, we posed the following questions to a panel of experts. You can check out their bios and responses below.
What are the biggest Halloween money-wasters?
What measures should parents take to ensure their kids are safe when trick-or-treating?
What are some healthy treats or nontraditional goodies that kids might actually enjoy?
As a licensed private investigator and a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist, I’m naturally well aware of identity theft and the various other crimes that accompany it. But I’m perhaps even better acquainted with these matters because I was actually a victim before I dedicated my professional life to helping others protect themselves from fraud.
‘The aggravation and stress was beyond belief.’
I was 20 years old when I used my credit card at a New Jersey gas station, where, by law, the attendant must pump the gas for you. He or she then takes your credit card to process and pay for the order. Well, several days later, I realized a substantial amount of money was missing from my available credit. I was devastated, confused and didn’t know what to do. At that time credit card theft was on the rise, but not as common as it is nowadays.
I called the number on the back of my card, and the plastic was immediately canceled. The following morning I went to my bank and was told to file a police report. Once that was done, my bank started an investigation. It took two weeks to recover my money; the aggravation and stress was beyond belief.
The police ultimately discovered that the gas attendant was responsible for what they referred to as a “skimming” theft. Within a single week, over 500 people in my town had the same thing happen to them. The gas attendant fled the country, and the police never caught him.
How Skimmers Operate
Skimmers gain access to bank accounts and credit cards by equipping a ATMs and point-of-sale machines with a device that can copy a card’s information. Once the card is inserted, the skimmer reads its magnetic stripe and can later precisely duplicate that card.
Restaurants and retail establishments where customers hand over their cards for payment are quite popular among skimmers. For example, a worker has ample opportunity to swipe the card through the actual payment terminal and their own “skimmer.”
Skating Past Skimmers
With the new chips on credit cards being introduced in the U.S., long after they have been effective in Europe, we can feel a bit more protected, as the information is harder to duplicate.
But if a consumer suspects that their credit card was skimmed, they should notify the credit card issuer immediately to report the potential compromise. The issuer will put your card on hold or cancel it and send you a new one. It is frustrating and time consuming, especially if that card was used to make regular monthly payments, but there really is no alternative in this day and age.
I also recommend notifying the police, just like if any valuable belonging was stolen, as well as “freezing” your credit reports and going on a credit monitoring program. Retrieving your credit report and monitoring it for changes or any unusual activity is the best way to protect yourself against this type of fraud.
Whether a victim of credit card fraud or not, everyone should check their monthly statements on a regular basis to determine whether a card has been compromised without their knowledge. Yes, technology has made it is possible to recover details of a credit card remotely while it is in your pocket or handbag!