Resources for Spending and Saving in 2017
~ By Herb White, MBA, CFP ~
Saving money is always a bit challenging, especially when it seems prices have risen every time you set foot out the door. If you are saving for retirement, it may be particularly frustrating to see your dollars being eaten up by rising expenses. What can you do?
Just being aware of costs is helpful. If you are like most people, you keep an eye on the inflation rate, concerned that rate changes, up or down, will affect your finances. You are wise to watch that rate, but you can find many other helpful guides and consumer-oriented sites online to help you keep tabs on your money. Here are just a few.
The RPPs (Regional Price Parities) List
The RPPs list is a good way to see at a glance the varying cost of goods across the country. You likely have realized that prices fluctuate depending on where you happen to live. If you think the District of Columbia, Hawaii or New York are expensive places to live, you’d be right. The lowest RPPs are found in, for example, South Dakota, Alabama and Mississippi. Another way to look at it: if a region’s RPP is greater than 100, the goods and services of that region are more expensive than the national average.
So, if you want to do a comparison of U.S. statesÑperhaps you are considering a move to another state, or you are planning a vacation or looking for a good place to retireÑcheck out the Regional Price Parities List at https://www.bea.gov/regional/pdf/RPP2016. For additional related details, read The New York Times online article, “What $100 Can Buy State by State,” published in August 2016.
Keep in mind as well, sales taxes vary within states, so be sure to check out the state you are headed to.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis
A more detailed list can be found at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, also online. It recently published a news release, “Real Personal Income for States and Metropolitan Areas.”
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Another resource is the Consumer Price Index, which publishes monthly data on changes in prices paid by urban consumers for a representative sampling of goods and services.
Even if you are not planning a move, but you are price conscious, here are some suggestions for holding on to the money in your wallet.
- For example, before you decide on the itinerary for your next trip, consider scheduling it during the off season or right before (or after) the peak tourist season. It’s called the Off-Peak season if you are headed to Europe, for instance. These times are when the best rates and discounts apply and some may be significant maybe even worth rearranging your travel schedule.
- Another good way to save, which is a practical habit that is seeing a resurgence these days, is to be a brown-bagger and pack your own meals for work. The savings will quickly add up.
- During those times when you typically spend extra for purchases, such as that designer cup of coffee, pricey workout clothes or a bouquet of fresh flowers, think: “I am treating myself.” If you stop and consider that you needn’t always buy the top of the line, these expensive purchases will become occasional treats rather than routine.
- Many grocery store items come in brand names and generic. These days most of the generic products are as good as the pricier ones. Check the labels and do a bit of comparison shopping. Also, use consumer-savings apps, like coupons.com, on your phone.
Careful planning and keeping track of expenses, large and small, will net you more savings and bolster that retirement account.
Tune in to “America’s Wealth Management Show” sponsored locally by Life Certain Wealth Strategies
Saturdays from 12 noon to 1 p.m. on news radio 630 KHOW.
Provided by courtesy of Herb White, MBA, CFP©, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERª with Life Certain Wealth Strategies, 8400 E Prentice Ave, #715 Greenwood Village, Colorado, www.lifecertain.com, (303) 793-3999. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Woodbury Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC and Registered Investment Advisor. Life Certain Wealth Strategies and Woodbury Financial Services are not affiliated entities.