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This Week In Your Wallet: Start Saving Hundreds On Groceries

For a family of four, the average monthly grocery bill can run up to $1,293, according to the USDA. Regardless of whether you’re shopping for four or for one, food is the third-largest household expense, which means grocery hacks are always appreciated. Enter Money’s 29 tips for saving hundreds on your groceries. (By following their list, the folks at Money say you can save anywhere from $1,700 to $3,900 a year.) Here, a few items to target on the list:

Americans are spending less

What has your spending looked like in recent months? According to a new report from Bankrate.com, 66 percent of Americans have cut back. Why they’re cutting back, it seems, varies by age. Senior citizens are most concerned about stagnant income. Millennials are more likely to say, “I need to save.”

For them – and the Americans in the middle – the driving force seems to be the same thing: A lack of wage growth, says Greg McBride, CFA and chief financial analyst for Bankrate. “It’s more of the same – people have the same paychecks and they’re not able to ramp up their spending,” he says. “We’re in this perpetually slow-growth economy, because the consumer doesn’t have a lot of extra money lying around.”

David Kelly, chief global strategist for J.P. Morgan, says income inequality is another factor in the mix. “It has been an unusually unequal recovery in terms of who has been getting the income,” says Kelly. “It’s been more of a recovery for people at the top than it has been for people in the middle and at the bottom. I think that accounts for why spending hasn’t really gone up.”

In fact, the Bankrate research shows more people with higher salaries citing the need to save more (compared to people with lower salaries). “Americans are still willing and able to spend, except the ones who’ve been able haven’t been willing (because they’re richer), and the ones who are willing haven’t been able (because they’re poorer),” says Kelly.

Of course, there could be another explanation….

Shoppers are scared

A new report from CreditCards.com says almost half of Americans (45 percent) will avoid shopping at stores that have been hacked. (That’s you, Home Depot, Target, Neiman Marcus and others.) Why? To put it simply, American consumers are scared to put themselves and their financial information at risk (again). This is also why 48 percent of major credit and debit cardholders plan to use cash this holiday season. (To me, those numbers sound high. We’ll have to see how they hold up.)

Does Big Rock = Rocky Marriage?

“The larger the rock, the rockier the marriage.”  At least that’s how MarketWatch’s read the new research that shows the more a couple spends on an engagement ring and wedding, the shorter the marriage. (Nuptial fact: Couples spend an average $2500 on the ring.) It was a conversation starter to say the least. Quite a few people chimed in – some joking their marriage will last, because they spent so little – and others saying the research is spot on. @KimHNorris replied: Not surprised. Need for expensive ring is shallow.

Those who joked about being frugal might be right. Michigan State University crunched the numbers and found couples who spend $20,000 on their wedding (not including the ring) are 46 percent more likely to get divorced. This risk drops to 29 percent if you spend $10,000 to $20,000. And those who spend $1000 to $5000 are 18 percent less likely to get divorced. Read more here.

Medicare mistakes to avoid

The Medicare open-enrollment period is underway and will last until December 7. Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal outlined five major mistakes people make when it comes to choosing a plan. For starters, some people simply miss the date (oops). Your initial enrollment period is based on your 65th birthday. If you or your spouse is still working at 65 – and you have qualifying health insurance – then you can postpone Medicare Part B without penalty. On the other hand, if neither of you are working, and/or the company insurance ends, then you have an eight-month grace period to sign up for Medicare Part B.

It’s also important to know that Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans are not the same. Original Medicare is a government fee-for-service program that people use with private Medicare supplement policies. Supplement plans can cover out-of-pocket costs, whereas a Medicare Advantage plan is private insurance that replaces original Medicare entirely. It operates more like group insurance, covering things like vision and wellness exams. The third most common mistake people make is giving up and winging it. Read more here so that this isn’t your next move.

Have a great week,


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