For the seventh year in a row, a report fubbed Hong Kong the city with the worst housing affordability. Yiu Yu Hoi/Getty Images Looking for a cute little house that's centrally located and doesn't cost a lot? You're probably not going to find one in Hong Kong. Once again, the Chinese metropolis has achieved the dubious honor of having the worst housing affordability in the world, according to the 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. Hong Kong has topped the list every year since being added seven years ago. The survey looks at 92 major housing markets in nine nations — the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore, in addition to the China-owned island of Hong Kong. The survey provides housing affordability data on 406 markets total. To figure out what type of bang people are getting for their real estate buck, the survey calculates the "median multiple," which is a fancy way of saying … [Read more...] about What’s the Least-affordable City for Housing in the World?
Budgeting & Saving
Precision can be effective when it comes to negotiating prices. But there is such a thing as too much precision, researchers have found. Goir/Thinkstock/Steve Gordon/Getty Images Say two people want to buy the sweater off your back. One is cold. The other likes sweaters. Just go with it. One says, "Listen, pal, I'll give you $12.90 for that sweater." The other says, "Hmm, I'll give you ten bucks." You're probably going to go with the higher bid because you're no dummy. But do you also think the person who offered $12.90 might know more about sweaters than the $10 person, especially if you happen to know that the sweater is for sale on eBay for $12.85? (Don't question why you're looking for a sweater you already own on eBay.) You might. Researchers publishing in the journal Psychological Science have found that extremely exact bids — as in, "I'll offer you $4,614.18 for the car you're selling" — can be useful if you're negotiating with a novice, but an expert is probably … [Read more...] about I’ll Give You $12.90 for That Sweater — or How Precise Bids Can Pay Off
A lot of people give gift cards as presents during the winter holidays. Starbucks, for example, sold almost 2.5 million gift cards in the U.S. and Canada on Christmas Eve in 2014. Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images The Wall Street Journal revealed on June 1 that Starbucks holds as much money for its customers as a bank — and not even a small bank. Starbucks gift cards and mobile debit accounts stored $1.2 billion in customer funds during the first quarter of 2016. According to Shane Ferro on the Huffington Post, "that amount of deposits would make it a respectable midsize institution." Industry numbers put it somewhere between The Bancorp ($2.68 billion) and Mercantile Bank ($680 million). Starbucks has pretty much mastered the prepaid realm. On Christmas Eve 2014, Starbucks sold almost 2.5 million gift cards in the U.S. and Canada alone. The company says one in seven Americans received a Starbucks card for the holidays that year. It's "Starbucks' secret sauce," writes … [Read more...] about The Secret Life of the Gift Card Industry
When you're in a hurry, waiting in the checkout line is the least of your worries. Is there a surefire way to know your odds of getting out of the grocery store in a jiffy? Picturenet/Thinkstock People can spend a staggering two years or more waiting in line over an entire lifetime, so it's no surprise that everyone is eager to reduce their wait time and get moving as quickly as possible [source: Martin et al]. If a fast checkout experience is important to you, the very best thing you can do is be choosy about where you shop. Skip stores with multiple lines and choose places that have combined all the lines into one long queue, like the ones you see in most banks. Known as a serpentine line, this type of setup leading to a set of three cashiers is about three times faster than the same number of individual lines [source: Smith]. Of course, even if you're willing to switch stores for the ease of checking out via one of these lines, you may have trouble finding a store that's … [Read more...] about How do you pick the shortest checkout line?
There are several ways to save money that don't involve forgoing your daily latte — assuming you have one. Greg Paprocki/Getty Images Are you looking to save money and reduce debt, but tired of hearing the same money-saving tips? (Don't buy Starbucks coffee; make your own. Don't go out to lunch at work; brown bag it.) Then check out these five clever strategies suggested by experts from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. 1. Cut the Cord on Cable TV Almost all of the financial planners we contacted advise clients to cancel their traditional cable TV subscriptions. Cable TV prices have skyrocketed 53 percent since 2007 to reach an average price of $100.98 a month in 2017. Over that same period, streaming video services have reshaped the entertainment landscape for a fraction of the cost. Yes, you still need to pay for internet service, but that will run you an average of $60 a month, or less if you choose a lower-bandwidth package. Netflix recommends … [Read more...] about 5 Ways to Save Money (Besides Giving Up Lattes)