Earlier this week we posted “Connecting the Financial Dots”. One of the requirements to connect the financial dots is to clear our lives of clutter. This leads the way to clarity. That’s why we chose the Clean Your Fridge Day holiday for this week’s subheading.
Have you ever stared into your fridge and thought, “We have nothing to eat!” when, in fact, your fridge was so packed you couldn’t see to the back? A cluttered fridge often leads to spoiled food.
Though not lacking in general news, this week was back-loaded with economic news, as both Monday and Wednesday were economic news vacuums. Monday saw a dramatic drop in temperatures nation-wide. Our home of Denver CO broke freezer temperature records not felt since 1882. That U.S.-China agreement is already proving valuable. Speaking of Wednesday and vacuums, the human race achieved a major milestone when we the Philae probe landed on a comet in space traveling 47,000 miles per hour.
Tuesday was Veteran’s Day. Thank you to all of our nation’s brave veterans.
Tuesday, also, gave us the National Federation of Independent Business’s (NIFB) October Small Business Optimism Index. As small business is the engine of our economy and the segment most burdened by Washington, this is an important index to watch. The optimism of small business increased 0.8 points in October to 96.1 from September’s 95.3 points. This increase was led mostly by gains in capital spending (business spending) plans and sales expectations. The index also indicated that, contrary to this Thursday’s Jobless Claims from the Department of Labor (DOL), current job openings overall are on the rise. The index does not, however, indicate the quality of those jobs.
This small business optimism and the forecast of a 4.1 percent increase in sales this holiday season over 2013’s holiday season, bodes well for the overall economy. Should all these expectations show up nicely wrapped with a bow under America’s Christmas tree, it could portend a prosperous 2015. Job quality, hours worked and, most importantly, wages should improve. The near-term benefit is that we will likely be rewarded with great holiday discount.
On Thursday, Bloomberg released its Consumer Comfort Index for the week ending November 9th. This index tracks American’s views of the economy, their personal finances and their propensity to spend money. It increased to 38.2 points from the prior week’s nearly seven year high of 38.1 points. While gas prices have dropped considerably, American’s propensity to spend has also decreased. This is a trend we like to see. Perceptions of personal finances remained the same from week-to-week, but concerns about flat wages also remained.
Basically, Americans feel cautiously optimistic and this is why we’ve been recommending saving and investing more than spending. We continue to recommend this.
Next on Thursday, the DOL released its JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) report. It’s reading of 4.735 million job openings on the last day of September showed a drop from the 4.835 mil-lion on the last day of August. Year-over-year job openings are up. Month-over-month, the number of hires didn’t outweigh the 4.8 million separations. This was led by the number of people who quit, as opposed to those laid-off or fired.
The job market is slowly improving, but as we eluded above, the jobs themselves, their pay and hours aren’t. If you’ve been waiting to hop back into the job market, however, now may be the time to dip in your toe. There may be decent jobs out there.
On Friday, the Commerce Department announced that October Retail Sales, despite low gas prices, increased 0.3 percent after September’s 0.3 percent decline. Excluding low gas prices, Retail Sales rose 0.5 percent. This increase was led by no particular component of the index.
Then, the preliminary November University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters’ Consumer Sentiment report suggested an increase to 89.4 points from October’s final reading of 86.9 points. This, also, is attributed to low gas prices and increased hiring. The current conditions component of this index was, also, strong and a good sign for holiday retail sales. Less downward pressure on the future expectations component helped the increase.
If you’re in need of a part-time job this holiday season, retail stores will likely be hiring. A seasonal retail job is a great way to obtain discounts from the store in which you work and, also, generate additional income during a costly season of the year.
That’s this week’s #MoneyConscious Mash Up. Come back every Saturday for a snapshot of what you need to know to be #moneyconscious and improve your personal finances.