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2013 “Cost of Loving Index” Reflects Price Increase for Valentine’s Day Gifts

2013 “Cost of Loving Index” Reflects 2.4% Price Increase for Popular Valentine’s Day Gifts

Perfume price stinks, dinner for two serves up a decrease; Five other items are lovable with no price hike

HOUSTON, Feb. 4, 2013, While cost of living benefits for Social Security recipients increased 1.7 percent this year, consumers will be spending a total of 2.38 percent more for the most popular Valentine gifts, according to the annual “Cost of Loving Index.”

Compiled by Houston Asset Management, a Houston-based investment advisory firm, the Cost of Loving Index has been tracking the price of nine popular love-expressing gifts since 1990. This year it reveals increases for three items, one decrease and a lot of stability.

Spoiling your loved one with imported Chanel No. 5 perfume stinks at a skyrocketing increase of 14.04 percent. Those fancy Godiva chocolates in a heart-shaped box are a little less sweet at a cost of 5.26 percent more than last year, while the price of a designer silk tie increases 3.45 percent.

But the majority of gifts on the list remained the same price and you can spend about nine percent less expressing your affections with a candlelight dinner for two, which represents the only price decrease on the index.

“I don’t remember another year since the inception of our Cost of Loving Index 23 years ago when the majority of gifts we track stayed at the same price points,” said Bob Frater CFP®, CEO of Houston Asset Management. “Five of the nine gifts come in at the same price and that may reflect some stability in the market. But overall, since 1990 we have seen over a two and a half percent increase in these prices. That may not be so bad for true romantics.”

According to the National Retail Federation, last year the average American celebrating Valentine’s Day shelled out $126.03, up 8.5 percent over 2011. About 36 percent of them bought flowers and the Cost of Loving Index reveals a price of $129.07 for delivery of a dozen long-stemmed roses, the same as last year.

Highlights of the “2013 Cost of Loving Index” by Houston Asset Management

  • A $250 romantic candlelight dinner for two at a fancy restaurant is back to its 2011 level and dropped 9 percent
  • The cost of two tickets to a first-run movie and a Valentine’s Day greeting card remained the same
  • A toast with a bottle of Simi California Chardonnay is constant at $25.85
  • For a personal gift, the price of a silk designer nightie for her hasn’t changed since 2011 at $68 while the designer silk tie for him increased 3.45 percent after remaining constant for several years

About Houston Asset Management Inc.

Founded in 1980, Houston Asset Management is a full-service registered investment advisory firm offering financial planning and investment advisory services. The firm works in partnership with its clients to provide prompt and efficient solutions to problems and achievement of clients’ objectives. The experience level attained by the associates at Houston Asset Management averages more than 37 years. For more information visit www.houstonassetmgmt.com. Houston Asset Management is located at 1800 West Loop S, Ste 1980, Houston, TX 77027, (713) 629-1534. Securities offered through SagePoint Financial, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Houston Asset Management, Inc. a registered investment advisor not affiliated with SagePoint Financial, Inc.

Contact:
Judi Martin
JM Group
713-299-5619
jmartin@jmghouston.com

SOURCE: Houston Asset Management Inc.

 

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Finance Financial News Information News Products and Services

Top 10 Wealthiest Italians

Italy’s Fashion Moguls Steal The Spotlight

Wealth-X Unveils Top 10 Wealthiest Italians

SINGAPORE, Jan. 24, 2013, Wealth-X, the ultra high net worth (UHNW) business development solution for Global Private Banks, Luxury Brands, Educational Institutions and Non-Profits, has just released a list of the top 10 wealthiest Italians.

Topping the list is Michele Ferrero, owner of renowned chocolate maker Ferrero, with a net worth of US$21.7 billion. Coming in second is Leonardo Del Vecchio, founder and chairman of Luxottica Group, with a net worth of US$18.4 billion. Giorgio Armani, president and CEO of Armani Group, is ranked third with a net worth of US$9.7 billion.

Rank

Name

Position

Company

Net

Worth

(US

$billion)

1

Michele Ferrero

Owner

Ferrero International

21.7

2

Leonardo Del Vecchio

Founder and Chairman

Luxottica Group

18.4

3

Giorgio Armani

President and CEO

Armani Group

9.7

4

Silvio Berlusconi

Founder and Owner

Fininvest

7.8

5

Miuccia Bianchi Prada

Co-Founder and Chairman

Prada

7.3

5

Patrizio Bertelli

Co-Founder and CEO

Prada

7.3

7

Stefano Pessina

Executive Chairman

Alliance Boots

6.1

8

Gianfelice Rocca

Chairman

Techint Group

3.3

8

Paolo Rocca

CEO

Techint Group

3.3

10

Diego Della Valle

Chairman

Tod’s

3.1

The collective wealth of the top 10 wealthiest Italians stands at US$88 billion, which comprises 40% of the combined net worth of the Italian UHNW population. In particular, fashion moguls constitute half the list and represent 52% of the combined net worth of the top 10 wealthiest Italians.

Commenting on the list, Wealth-X CEO, Mykolas D. Rambus said, “The top Italian billionaires are inextricably linked to luxury fashion. We often see that there are strong social and professional connections among global billionaires and the Italians are no exception. Understanding a UHNWI’s social capital is increasingly critical for professionals who wish to successfully engage with this ultra wealthy community.”

For the full list and supplemental analysis, please visit: http://www.wealthx.com/articles/2013/top-10-wealthiest-italians

About Wealth-X

Wealth-X provides detailed intelligence on ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals globally. The firm’s Wealth-X Professional solution is the standard for banking, marketing and not-for-profit professionals working with the ultra affluent. Wealth-X is headquartered in Singapore with offices in all major financial centres.

For more information about Wealth-X, please visit: www.wealthx.com

SOURCE: Wealth-X

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Finance Financial News Information Personal Finance Products and Services Retirement Savings Shopping

Hotwire Reveals January 2013 Travel Savings Indicator

Hotwire Reveals January 2013 Travel Savings Indicator

Shed the Winter Chill with Deep Discounts in Warmer Weather Destinations like Hawaii, the Florida Keys and Las Vegas.

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 23, 2013, Hotwire.com®, a leading discount travel site, today released the January 2013 Hotwire® Travel Savings Indicator, which features the top five cities in North America where hotel, air and car rental rates have dropped the most as compared to the same time last year. Using extensive pricing research to cover the three most popular travel products, the report helps guide travelers to the best destinations for maximizing their travel dollars each month.

“With the major holidays and conventions mostly behind us, mid- to late-January is one of the most affordable times to travel all year,” said Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group. “This slower winter season has led travel providers in warmer weather destinations like Hawaii, Daytona Beach, the Florida Keys and Las Vegas to discount more competitively in their bid to win travelers, who in turn can take advantage of the low prices to grab an affordable wintertime escape.”

Hotel Price Drops

Daytona tops the list this month with an eight percent drop followed by another popular Florida destination, the Florida Keys with a six percent drop. While January is typically a busier month for these sunny Floridian beach towns, the mild winter in the Northeast has translated into decreased demand and, in turn, better discounts. And with the weather in the Keys averaging 70 degrees this time of year, the archipelago is perfect for travelers looking to escape the winter chill.

Raleigh, returning after a brief absence from the list, comes in at the number three spot, with a price drop of six percent. More hotels in the city are beginning to offer more rooms at a big discount on Hotwire, which translates to more competition among hoteliers for the lowest prices.

Next is Las Vegas, appearing on the list for the sixth month in a row, though down two spots from December with a price drop of six percent. Travelers can expect lots of last-minute price drops on the weekends throughout early January, as well as some stellar discounts on 5-star luxury properties.

Rounding out the list is Nashville with a two percent drop. Now that the college and pro football seasons have wrapped up and the country music awards are through, the demand is low in Music City, and so are the prices.

When compared to this time last year, the top five hotel price reductions for January 2013 include:

Rank

Hotel Market

Price Drops

Example of a Current Hotwire Deal,

US$/Night

1

Daytona Beach, FL

– 8%

3.5-star

$66

2

Florida Keys

– 6%

3.5-star

$139

3

Raleigh – Durham, NC

– 6%

4-star

$86

4

Las Vegas, NV

– 6%

5-star

$107

5

Nashville, TN

– 3%

4-star

$89

Air Price Drops

This month, beachgoers are in luck because Hawaii is the hottest deal market, with nearly every island seeing a considerable drop in airfare prices. As United, Hawaiian, Delta and Alaskan airlines continue to compete for more passengers, each airline is offering more seats and better deals for visitors headed to the Aloha State. Prices in Honolulu and Kailua Kona – tied for first place – are both down 15 percent, while the prices in fifth-place Kahului are down 12 percent.

Meanwhile, Toronto returns to the list in the number three spot with a 14 percent drop due to its continued competition with U.S. border towns. Along with its hosting of the Toronto International Boat Show and Canadian Bridal show, this Canadian destination backs up its low airfares with lots of early-year activities. Rounding out the list is another Tennessean city – Memphis – down three spots to number four with a 13 percent drop.

When compared to this time last year, the top five airfare price reductions for January 2013 include:

Rank

Air Market

Price Drops

Average Hotwire Airfare

1

Honolulu, Oahu, HI

-15%

$587

2

Kailua Kona, Big Island, HI

-15%

$528

3

Toronto, Ontario

-14%

$384

4

Memphis, TN

-13%

$323

5

Kahului, Maui, HI

-12%

$512

Car Price Drops

In car rental deals, January is seeing newcomers for spots two through five, giving way to fantastic coast to coast savings. Monterey, absent from the list since this past September, took the number one spot with a 19 percent price drop, and with January being California Restaurant Month, it’s a prime time for couples looking to wine and dine their way around Central California’s coast.

Raleigh is another hot deal market this month, as folks traveling to the City of Oaks are not only able to score some great airfare deals, but they can take advantage of car discounts (17 percent drop) as well. Finishing off the list are two Midwest cities, Indianapolis (12 percent) and Columbus (10 percent), as well as a Rocky Mountain favorite, Colorado Springs (11 percent), where some of the country’s best skiing is within easy driving distance.

When compared to this time last year, the top five car rental price reductions for January 2013 include:

Rank

Car Rental Market

Price Drops

Average Hotwire Car Rental Price

1

Monterey, CA

-19%

$24

2

Raleigh, NC

-17%

$19

3

Indianapolis, IN

-12%

$23

4

Colorado Springs, CO

– 11%

$28

5

Columbus, Ohio

– 10%

$23

For over 12 years, Hotwire has worked with hotels, airlines and car rental companies to fill unsold inventory. As a result, Hotwire offers travelers amazing deals, every day of the year, across a variety of markets. Through Hotwire’s deep understanding of the industry and unique relationships, consumers have been able to save millions of dollars on all their travel needs.

About the Hotwire Travel Savings Indicator

The Hotwire Travel Savings Indicator runs results during the second week of each month. Results are calculated by looking at Hotwire booking data for select regions in the current month, and comparing prices in the current month against Hotwire prices in the same month in the prior year. Prices are compared within the same categories (e.g., star rating, class of car) for consistency, and the percent change in price for each region is generated as an overall average of the changes in those categories. The hotel prices in the charts above are examples for a particular Hot Rate® deal within that market. The airfare and car rental prices are average prices based on bookings across all car and seat classes. Actual prices may be higher or lower than the examples that are provided.

About Hotwire

Hotwire.com is a leading discount travel site with low rates on airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, cruises and vacation packages. Launched in 2000, Hotwire, Inc. obtains deep discounts from its travel suppliers to help travelers book unsold airline seats, hotel rooms and rental cars. Hotwire.com is an award-winning website and Hotwire, Inc. is an operating company of Expedia, Inc. CST # 2029030-50. NST: 20003-0209. For more information, visit http://www.hotwire.com. Hotwire.com operates sites in 8 countries worldwide: www.hotwire.com, www.hotwire.com/uk, www.hotwire.com/ie, www.hotwire.com/au, www.hotwire.com/nz, www.hotwire.com/se, www.hotwire.com/no and www.hotwire.com/dk. In addition to Hotwire, The Hotwire Group of websites includes: www.hotwire.com and www.carrentals.com.

Hotwire, Hotwire.com and the Hotwire logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Hotwire, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2013 Hotwire, Inc. All rights reserved. CST # 2053390-50.

Contact:
Andrew Reynolds
Atomic PR
(323) 648-5425
Andrew@atomicpr.com

 

SOURCE: Hotwire.com

 

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Consumers Personal Finance Products and Services Shopping

When to Buy Appliances: January, Fall Best Times to Shop

When to Buy Appliances: January, Fall Best Times to Shop

Many major retailers are advertising appliance sales right now. While most people wait until an appliance breaks to replace it, those who buy now or later this fall will get the best deal.

CHICAGO, Jan. 21, 2013,  Shopping for a major appliance in January can mean substantial savings, according to Viewpoints (www.viewpoints.com), a leading consumer reviews and product ratings website. That’s because stores are trying to clear inventory from the past year.

January appliance sales

“January is a notoriously slow month for retailers across the board, and the need to push sales this month, combined with the quickly diminishing value of anything left over, prompts retailers to hold sales and also be willing to bargain to close a sale,” says Matt Ong , retail analyst at NerdWallet.

Appliance deals again in the fall

But waiting until September through November can result in even more savings. That’s when new models come out, so stores slash prices on older versions to clear space in the showroom.

Andrew Schrage , co-owner of the website, Money Crashers, notes exceptions. Air conditioners and refrigerators should be purchased in winter and spring, respectively. And there are other strategies. “For instance, if you shop earlier in the week when stores have fewer shoppers, you can receive better service. You certainly don’t want to invest a lot of money in a new appliance without making an informed decision.”

Expect to negotiate

Another factor in getting a great price is being willing to haggle, says Schrage. For the best deal, he recommends Sears, Home Depot, Lowe’s, h.h. gregg, BrandsMart and Best Buy. Schrage also suggests signing up for email updates from websites like FatWallet, which posts appliance deals from both online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Many consumers favor new models, but Schrage advises, “Unless there’s a new feature that is simply a must-have, consumers do not miss out on much by purchasing older models on sale.”

Read reviews

Shoppers also should read product reviews before purchase. “It’s only a bargain if you get what you pay for. Viewpoints provides authentic feedback from consumers on how you can expect the appliance to work in real-life situations,” says Viewpoints Founder and CEO Matt Moog.

Viewpoints (http://www.viewpoints.com) features 480,000+ consumer reviews covering 34,000+ products, including appliances, consumer electronics, mattresses, health and beauty items and insurance. Both reviews and ratings are available free of charge and without registration.

Contact: Carol Fowler 312-656-9727

SOURCE: Viewpoints

RELATED LINKS: http://www.viewpoints.com

 

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Banking Mortgages Personal Finance Products and Services Real Estate

Bankrate: Mortgage Rates Retreat

Bankrate: Mortgage Rates Retreat

NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2013, Mortgage rates moved lower after reaching a 4-month high last week, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate retreating to 3.60 percent this week, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.36 discount and origination points.

To see mortgage rates in your area, go to http://www.bankrate.com/funnel/mortgages/.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage rate pulled back to 2.89 percent and the larger jumbo 30-year mortgage dropped to 4.04 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were lower across the board, with the popular 5-year ARM sliding to 2.74 percent and the 7-year ARM sinking to 2.88 percent.

The glow of the fiscal cliff deal is beginning to wear off, with mortgage rates now sliding back after a run-up to start the year. Although recent economic data has been pretty positive, the pace of the decline in bond yields and mortgage rates will likely pick up as nervousness about the debt ceiling debate increases. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

The last time mortgage rates were above 5 percent was Apr. 2011. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 5.07 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,082.22. With the average rate now 3.60 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $909.29, a difference of $173 per month for anyone refinancing now.

SURVEY RESULTS

30-year fixed: 3.60% — down from 3.67% last week (avg. points: 0.36)

15-year fixed: 2.89% — down from 2.92% last week (avg. points: 0.27)

5/1 ARM: 2.74% — down from 2.77% last week (avg. points: 0.31)

Bankrate’s national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

For a full analysis of this week’s move in mortgage rates, go to http://www.bankrate.com/mortgagerates.

The survey is complemented by Bankrate’s weekly Rate Trend Index, in which a panel of mortgage experts predicts which way the rates are headed over the next seven days. A little over half of respondents, 54 percent, expect mortgage rates to
remain more or less unchanged over the coming week. Slightly more than one-quarter – 27 percent – predict mortgage rates will decline and just 19 percent see mortgage rates rising over the next seven days.

For the full mortgage Rate Trend Index, go to http://www.bankrate.com/RTI.

About Bankrate, Inc. (NYSE: RATE)

The Bankrate network of companies includes Bankrate.com, Interest.com, Mortgage-calc.com, Nationwide Card Services, InsureMe, CreditCardGuide.com, Bankaholic, CreditCards.com and NetQuote. Each of these businesses helps consumers to make informed decisions about their personal finance matters. The company’s flagship brand, Bankrate.com is a destination site of personal finance channels, including banking, investing, taxes, debt management and college finance. Bankrate.com is the leading aggregator of rates and other information on more than 300 financial products, including mortgages, credit cards, new and used auto loans, money market accounts and CDs, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. Bankrate.com reviews more than 4,800 financial institutions in 575 markets in 50 states. Bankrate.com provides financial applications and information to a network of more than 75 partners, including Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), America Online (NYSE: AOL), The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times (NYSE: NYT). Bankrate.com’s information is also distributed through more than 500 newspapers.

For more information contact:

Kayleen Yates
Senior Director, Corporate Communications
kyates@bankrate.com

(917) 368-8677

SOURCE: Bankrate, Inc.

RELATED LINKS: http://www.bankrate.com