I hope that everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. The publicity around it that I found to be the most interesting was that, while the National Retail Federation estimated that consumers would spend $23.6 billion on Mother’s Day, it estimated that consumers would spend only $14.3 billion on the upcoming Father’s Day.
There are a number of actual and anecdotal reasons for that spending difference, which we can all probably come up with from our own personal experiences. They include, from thestreet.com, more people buy gifts for their mother (46 percent) than their father (30 percent), and fewer parents buy gifts for their sons, who have their own children, on Father’s Day, than they do for their daughters on Mother’s Day. Also, gifts for mothers in many categories, like spa visits, electronics and clothing, tend to be more expensive than the comparable items for fathers, and that’s not even talking about jewelry, flowers and candy. In addition, retailers have more promotions for Mother’s Day.
One reason that I had not thought or read about until someone mentioned it, but which is a reality, is that women have a longer life expectancy, so they enjoy more Mother’s Days.
i hope that you will keep all of this in mind as we prepare to celebrate Father’s Day on June 18.
On a different subject, at a recent CARE presentation, when we were discussing one of the Top Ten Lessons — “Don’t make wants, wishes, luxuries and conveniences into false needs” — the discussion turned to conveniences, and the justification that you so often hear for sometimes spending more on them — “time is money.”
Let me make it clear, I personally have nothing against wants, wishes, luxuries and conveniences. The purpose of the lesson is to point out that, in our hyper consumer society, where debt is too often thought of as OK, many Americans have blurred the lines between them and “true needs.” The problems with that occur when those non-needs, like conveniences, drive you into, or keep you in, high-interest debt, like credit card debt, or otherwise prevent you from attaining the important financial goals that you have set for yourself and your family, like educating your children or retiring with dignity.
When it comes to conveniences you often hear the most amazing justifications for why it is ok to spend more for them, like that phrase, “time is money.” I always thought that it meant that you didn’t want to waste time, so that you could work harder and longer, and earn more money. Today it seems that for many it can be a quality of life issue, like spending more time at my children’s activities or the gym. For others, shopping at that high-end grocery store can mean shorter lines, getting everything at one place, and easier parking. Besides, “it’s only a few extra dollars,” like that doesn’t add up. By the way, did you see the results of the recent Market Force Information national survey, where Wegmans received some of the highest marks, but ranked 14 out of 15 for value?
Again, my bottom line, when I talk about these non-needs, like conveniences, is for people to be able to honestly identify them, so that if they find themselves not living within their means, carrying high-interest debt, or not meeting their financial goals, they can make better and smarter choices, and eliminate or minimize their non-needs spending. You only have to spend some time in a bankruptcy court, listening to how many things debtors have convinced themselves were “needs,” to understand how the lines have been blurred.
On a final subject, we have several upcoming weddings to attend, and from talking with the families involved, it seems that the costs continue to rise, making it more important than ever to visit the many websites that we have talked about in the past with suggestions on how to save money.
I recently heard two things on television about weddings that got my attention. First, some couples getting married on the same day at the same church are sharing the cost of the flowers. If the color schemes work, why not? The other report was that in a recent survey by Bankrate.com, 42 percent of Americans said that knowing someone’s credit score could affect their interest in dating them. That could account for some weddings that never happen.
John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo