Entries in Spending (44)


June Retail Sales Up 0.1%

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales increased 0.1 percent last month, bolstered by an unexpected increase in the sales of automobiles, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

While the increase was better than most economists had predicted, the relatively small jump signals that consumers remain somewhat reluctant to spend.

Bloomberg News reports that as unemployment remains high, some major retailers are bettering discounts in hopes of bolstering overall sales.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Consumer Spending, Personal Incomes Rise 0.4% in April

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- American consumers spent more and earned more in April, but the numbers are not as good as they may look. Both spending and incomes rose 0.4% last month and if it wasn't for inflation, that would be a reasonably strong gain. But the Commerce Department says most of the increase was eaten up by higher gas and food costs. Because of this, there's little left over for increased spending on other products.

The savings rate was unchanged in April, now at its lowest average in two and a half years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Billions in Stimulus Funds Paid to Tax Delinquent Contractors

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Critics of the $800 billion in taxpayer money that made up the Obama administration's so-called stimulus package have more ammunition, as it has been revealed the federal government awarded $24 billion in Recovery Act funds to contractors and vendors who owe hundreds of millions in unpaid taxes. This, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

The nonpartisan watchdog agency reported Tuesday that at least 3,700 recipients owed more than $750 million combined in unpaid federal taxes as of Sept. 30, 2009.  They represent 5 percent of all recipients of the so-called stimulus funds.

"For many years now, we've known that a small percentage of federal contractors and grantees who get paid with taxpayer dollars shirk their responsibility to pay their taxes," said Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan. "Now the executive branch should get on with it and actually debar the worst of the tax cheats from the contractor workforce."

Levin, who chairs the Senate Permanent Investigations Committee, was to hold a hearing on the report Tuesday.

The GAO said their report likely underestimates the total amount of unpaid taxes owed by stimulus recipients.  Federal law does not require government agencies to check the tax compliance of prospective grantees.

When pushing for the Recovery Act, President Obama promised the taxpayers' money would be watched carefully, even deputizing Vice President Joe Biden with overseeing the stimulus operation, because, as Obama put it, "nobody messes with Joe."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Survey: Rising Gas Prices Squeezing Budgets, Stressing Consumers

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- High gas prices are putting a squeeze on many family budgets and it's starting to take a toll on consumers, according to a new survey by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

John Gannan, who works for FINRA, says the survey shows that many people are stressed.

"Sixty-one percent of our survey respondents reported basic difficulty covering monthly expenses and paying bills," Gannan says.

Gannan advises that a weekly spending budget can ease consumers' troubles, adding that "everyone can find something that they can cut."

"People need to look at how much they're spending versus how much they're saving and make some tough decisions about things they can cut out of their monthly expenses and bills," he says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Consumer Spending Picks Up in February

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Americans didn't spend like never before last February, but as least they spent more than they have since last October.

Unfortunately, much of their disposable income went into their gas tanks.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that consumer spending increased by 0.7 percent in February, representing the eighth consecutive month of gains.

However, when the numbers were adjusted for inflation, particularly for a whopping increase in the cost of gasoline, consumption was actually closer to 0.3 percent.

Still, higher prices at the pump didn't deter Americans from going shopping, thanks in a large part to the extra money they saw in their paychecks due to Congress slicing the Social Security payroll tax.  This has provided a cushion enabling consumers to endure the extra cost of driving to and from their favorite stores.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Keep Tabs on Spending Using Your Smart Phone

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of Americans who do their banking online has more than doubled in the past five years and now, many people are banking with their smart phones.

One of the best ways to control your spending is to know exactly what's in your account and smart phones can make mobile banking easy.

"As you're out and you're shopping and you're buying and you're paying for things you've got a better understanding of how much money you've got," says technology executive, Mike Upton at Bank of America.

Upton adds that people can also check their balances and schedule bill payments using their phones.

Moreover, at a growing number of gas stations, convenience stores and fast food restaurants, customers can now pay with their phones by simply waving it at the cash register.

"You wouldn't have to use the card, you could just use the phone," says Upton.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


February Retail Sales See Best Gains In Four Months

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales increased 1 percent last month, according to a government report released Friday.

Higher gas prices helped push sales toward their eighth straight month of gains and the biggest overall jump in four months.

Sales last month -- which totaled $387.1 billion -- ranked 8.9 percent higher than the same period in 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Americans Spend 15 Percent of Income on Unnecessary Expenses

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Americans work hard for their money, but a new survey reveals we spend at least 15 percent of our income to satisfy vices or keep ourselves amused.  According to 24/7 Wall St., an American household with an income of $63,000 spends, on average, more than $8,000 annually on goods and services it doesn’t actually need.

The study by 24/7 Wall St. identified ten categories of unnecessary purchases:

1. Food Away From Home
Annual amount spent per household: $2,619
Percent of total annual expenses: 5.3 percent

2. Gifts
Annual amount spent per household: $1,067
Percent of total annual expenses: 2.2 percent

3. Television, Radio, and Sound Equipment
Annual amount spent per household: $975
Percent of total annual expenses: 2 percent

4. Pets, Toys, Hobbies, and Playground Equipment
Annual amount spent per household: $690
Percent of total annual expenses: 1.4 percent

5. Lodging, Vacation Homes and Hotels
Annual amount spent per household: $672
Percent of total annual expenses: 1.4 percent

6. Fees and Admissions
Annual amount spent per household: $628
Percent of total annual expenses: 1.3 percent

7. Alcohol
Annual amount spent per household: $435
Percent of total annual expenses: 0.9 percent

8. Entertainment Equipment and Services, Nonessential
Annual amount spent per household: $400
Percent of total annual expenses: 0.8 percent

9. Tobacco
Annual amount spent per household: $380
Percent of total annual expenses: 0.8 percent

10. Apparel Products and Services
Annual amount spent per household: $249
Percent of total annual expenses: 0.5 percent

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fourth Quarter GDP Revised Lower to 2.8%

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The economy grew at a slower rate at the end of last year than previously estimated.

Output rose at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, less than the earlier figure of 3.2 percent.

Cuts in spending by state and local governments were bigger than expected and are one reason for the fall in output.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Retail Sales Up 0.3% in January

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales rose 0.3 percent in January, the government said Tuesday.

Last month’s rise follows six straight months of gains in retail sales. Though the increase is less than economists had expected, the number is significant because of the severe winter conditions that plagued much of the country throughout the month.

Grocery and gasoline sales helped push the figure into positive territory. Demand also rose at department stores, electronics stores and auto dealers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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