Shopping on an iPad

iPad Shoppers: More Likely to Buy?

A new study out of Boston College finds that e-shopping for products while grasping an iPad increases the feeling of ownership of that product – and may make you more likely to buy it.

The findings expand on a financial behavior issue explored in a popular Squared Away blog post about how the Internet has made it much easier to shop – and spend money. The new research distinguishes among the various technologies available to online shoppers and finds that the urge to buy may be even stronger when holding a touch screen device than when using a laptop or desktop computer.

The way this works is that the tactile experience of holding a product – whether taking it off the store rack or grasping the device that’s displaying it – imbues some sense of ownership, making it harder to give it up and resist buying it.

Here is an edited excerpt of an article explaining the research; the article appeared in Chronicle, a publication for Boston College faculty and staff. …Learn More

Focus of a camera lens

Investment Focus: Follow 5 Simple Rules

Vanguard Group Inc. founder John Bogle’s views about investing, not surprisingly, promote the indexed mutual funds that Vanguard offers.  But his views have solid support in the academic literature.

Here’s our translation of his five simple rules for investment success – sound advice for readers who want to work on their 401(k) portfolios:

  • Remember reversion to the mean. If a company’s stock or the overall market has had unusually strong performance, it’s unlikely to continue at that pace.
  • Forget the needle and buy the haystack. Invest in broadly diversified funds, such as index funds that track the market – not in individual company stocks or the money managers who try to find the best ones. …Learn More
New Year's Resolution: Save!

Resolve Amid the Financial Adversity

More than 60 percent of Americans who participate in their 401(k) retirement plans at work are adding more dollars to their debts than they’re socking away in those plans, according to HelloWallet’s analysis of recent federal data.

This shocking statistic suggests the need for some serious financial planning. Yet the vast majority of people in a recent survey said making a financial plan would not be among their 2014 resolutions.

Why not? Many said they “don’t make enough money to worry about” a financial plan, according to Allianz Life Insurance Company, which conducts the survey.

Okay. But if you feel unable or unwilling to write up a full-blown plan, perhaps you’ll consider one small step: …Learn More

Graphic: Top 10

Readers’ Favorite Stories in 2013

The blog posts that attracted the most readers this year provide a window into what’s on their minds. The 2013 articles shown below were the most popular, based on unique page views by Squared Away readers.

We’ll return Jan. 2 with more coverage of financial behavior. Please click here to begin receiving our once-per-week alerts with the week’s headlines – and happy holidays!

To find each article, links are provided at the end of the headlines:

An historical perspective on the U.S. money culture:

Oldest Americans are Lucky Generation

More Carrying Debt into Retirement

The financial challenges facing our youngest workers:

Retirement Tougher for Boomer Children

Student Loans = No House, No New Car

Help with your imminent retirement:

Reverse Mortgages Get No RespectLearn More

Spouses and Their Money: Getting in Sync

Money matters can get complicated for couples who may not see eye to eye. In a recent interview with Squared Away, Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, author of the new book, “How to Give Financial Advice to Couples,” shared her tips and insights for couples trying to meet in the middle.

Q: In a relationship, is money about more than just money?

Kingsbury: Money is often a reflection of our feelings about security, respect, love, power – it really symbolizes these things, whether we’re aware of it or not. So how a couple talks about money and manages their money is a reflection of how they relate to each other in other areas as well.

Q: Explain “money beliefs”?

Kingsbury: A money belief is a thought or attitude toward money that influences your savings, spending, investing and gifting every day. These beliefs tend to reside in our unconscious thought. Because we live in a society where money talk is taboo, we often don’t identify these attitudes. But money beliefs are formed between the ages of 5 and 15 by observing the financial behavior and attitudes of parents or people around us. And these money beliefs tend to be oversimplified, because they were formed in a child’s mind.

Q: Why is it important for husbands and wives to compare their beliefs?

Kingsbury: When couples are arguing about money, they may be arguing about which bills to pay or how to pay for a daughter’s college. But what’s really going on is they’re hitting up against their different money beliefs.

A: What’s an example? …Learn More

Photo: Gift cards

Navigating the Gift Card Thicket

Too many financial products are far too complex. The pre-loaded cards that people give as gifts during the holidays are a multi-billion-dollar example.

When buying these cards, it’s very hard to know what you’re getting and giving. The big things to watch out for are expiration dates and fees. This isn’t easy.

The federal CARD Act of 2009 covers cards issued by retailers for purchases in their stores and cards issued by banks for use in many places. The law bars these gift cards from expiring for five years after their purchase. They must also maintain their full value for a year. But after the first year, the CARD Act permits one fee per month, and a $5 monthly fee can chew up a $25 gift card’s value pretty fast.

It’s difficult to tell the difference between gift cards and prepaid cards, like Wal-Mart’s Bluebird or the RushCard, sold side by side on grocery store racks. But prepaid cards are not regulated at all by federal consumer protection law, while retail and bank cards are, said Christina Tetreault, an attorney for Consumers Union, the non-profit affiliated with Consumer Reports.

State regulations often offer further consumer protections – and add a layer of complexity for consumers. A card that works one way in a state with strong regulations, such as California, may have few protections if you mail it to a relative in Texas.

The following is just a sample of the intricacies of state regulations. …Learn More

Callout: How do your retirement plans stack up?

Compare Your Retirement to Peers

How are your retirement plans going? If you’re a conservative Generation Y investor, are you in the mainstream? Baby boomers, how many in your generation are planning to retire at the same age you do?

Compare yourself with your peers in this cool interactive quiz developed by the Boston mutual fund company, Fidelity Investments.

Click here to check it out.

As you answer each question, you can compare yourself with your peer group’s answer to that same question, based on a prior survey for Fidelity by the polling company, Gfk. Your peer group is determined by your income and your generation – baby boomer, Generation X and Generation Y. Fidelity also provides useful information and tips with each question. …Learn More

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