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Shocking Money Facts of 2016

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    Millennials’ Money Milieu

    Millennials’ Money Milieu Just 38 percent of the millennial generation (those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s) have ever used a physical bank facility other than an ATM, according to the website BusinessInsider.com. And in the past five years, 42 percent of millennials have used such questionable financial services as payday loans, pawnshops, auto title loans, tax refund advances and rent-to-own products, says CBS MoneyWatch. This is the same cohort that the Economist recently referred to  as “the brainiest, best-educated generation ever.” Go figure.

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    A Very Unhealthy Trend

    It feels like we’re spending more money on just about everything, doesn’t it? Well, according to a study by the Brookings Institution released this year, that’s not the case. The study measured the percentage change in middle-income household spending from 2007 to 2014. For the most part, spending dropped in most categories: spending on clothing was down 19 percent, dining out dropped by 13 percent, groceries fell 8 percent, and transportation and housing both decreased by about 6 percent. Where did all the extra money go? The study showed that health care spending skyrocketed by 25 percent during that period.

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    Graduated Irony

    Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, CNBC reported this year that a college education is now the second-largest expense an individual is likely to have, second only to buying a home. But we’re trying to meet that challenge, with Fidelity reporting that 72 percent of American families now save for their children’s higher education — a whopping 24 percent increase since 2007. The irony? Also according to CNBC, tuition costs plus fees at a four-year public school have jumped by 71 percent in that time — nearly the same as the college savings rate. One step forward, one step back.

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    Not as Smart as We Think

    According to an article published this year on Bloomberg.com, Americans think they’re financially savvy, even though their financial literacy is plummeting. Every three years since 2009, Bloomberg has given a five-question quiz to gauge financial literacy. The number of respondents who answered four or five questions correctly has fallen each time, down to a low of about 37 percent. But the number of respondents who give themselves high marks for financial knowledge has risen each time, from 67 percent in 2009 up to 76 percent in 2015. As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

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    Just When You Thought You Knew Someone

    Believe it or not, 43 percent of couples in a “committed relationship” — married or living together — said they had no idea how much their partner earns, according to a Fidelity survey. When asked to guess, 10 percent were off by $25,000 or more. The survey also revealed that more than a third of those couples didn’t agree on the amount of their investable assets, and nearly half said they had no idea of how much they will need to save for retirement in order to sustain their current lifestyle.

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    Now That’s What I Call an Emergency

    CNBC reported this year that roughly 66 million U.S. adults have nothing — zero — saved for an emergency situation. And an article in the Washington Post reported that 46 percent of Americans do not have enough cash on hand to cover even a $400 emergency expense. Four hundred dollars? That’s less than the average cost of a new dishwasher.

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    The Time of Our Lives

    “Time is money,” or so the saying goes. So how did we spend our time this past year? Well, the average worker spends about 200 hours — and about $2,600 — per year commuting to and from their jobs, according to CNN.com. At the office, the website Dovico.com says that the average employee gets interrupted once every eight minutes, with each interruption lasting about five minutes

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    So That’s What You’re Doing at Work

    Speaking of interruptions at work, initial retail sales results for the 2016 holiday shopping season show that Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day ever in the United States, according to Adobe Digital Insights. Online sales were up more than 12 percent over 2015, to a record $3.45 billion. Cyber Monday, of course, is the first day back at work for many after the long Thanksgiving weekend — and the day when many bosses notice employees seem to be laboring particularly hard in front of their computer screens.

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    Keeping Up Appearances

    Almost 13 percent of Americans say they are willing to borrow $1,000 or more just to create the impression that their lifestyle is more extravagant than what they can truly afford, CNBC reported. Men are more willing than women to go into debt just to look rich, according to the website cheatsheet.com. One in 12 men, according to the site, are willing to take on more than $5,000 in debt to appear rich, compared with just 1 in 20 women. 

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    Outliving Your Nest Egg

    Failing to save enough for a comfortable retirement is a big concern for most money-smart people. Well, the Society of Actuaries reports that more than half of pre-retirees start by underestimating how long they might live. In fact, about 20 percent of them underestimated their lifespan by a decade or more. So the good news is that you may live longer than you think, but the bad news is you need to save more if you want to live well. 

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