Amid this year’s deluge of holiday-spending surveys by companies trying to grab some attention, several other recent polls and studies are addressing arguably more important issues, such as financial bullying, money spent on financial literacy and whether “Made in USA” is better.
Here is a sampling.
Money bullies: One in 10 Americans classifies their spouse or live-in partner as a “financial bully,” according to a survey by Credit Karma and Harris Interactive.
Perhaps the finding isn’t so important as the concept that one partner can be domineering when it comes to spending and debt.
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Financial bullies intimidate and manipulate their partners by controlling household finances. They might make their partner feel guilty about shopping, force them to show receipts, dole out an allowance or restrict credit-card access.
Perhaps a surprise in the survey is that the percentage of men and women who report being financially bullied is almost equal.
Bullying is not when one spouse or partner regularly handles all the routine bill-paying. Opposites attract, and often one person is more detail-oriented and tends to handle that.
But both should monitor online accounts and be involved in strategic decisions with spending, debt and investing.
Unfair fight? Financial-services marketers, such as banks promoting credit cards, outspend financial-education efforts 25-to-1, according to a recent study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“When consumers receive the vast majority of their financial information from companies that are trying to promote an image or sell products, consumers have very little unbiased information,” said bureau Director Richard Cordray, who called the difference in spending “staggering.”
The report found that the financial-services industry spends about $17 billion a year marketing financial products and services to consumers, but only $670 million is spent annually to provide financial education to consumers.
“Consumers are seeing financial marketing everywhere they turn — online, in their mailbox and in their family room on the television,” Cordray said. “By contrast, very little of the money spent on financial education efforts is put toward any type of advertising.”
Where to go for unbiased financial information to educate yourself? There are many resources, including books and some blogs. A well-regarded general book, for example, is “Personal Finance for Dummies” by Eric Tyson.
“Made in USA” myth? People might assume that products made in America tend to be more costly, but are superior in quality.
But a recent study, which was more anecdotal than scientific, found no evidence of either.
Cheapism.com, which looks for value among lower-priced brands within product categories, sent a researcher into a Walmart, which has been touting its “Made in USA” offerings, to buy and test several items made domestically against imports.
Items included socks, towels, skillets, light bulbs and kitchen mats. The findings? The cost was about the same: U.S.-made items cost a total of $57.50, while imports totaled $55.46. But quality varied, with no clear winner.
Of course, many people prefer American-made products for philosophical or political reasons more than value reasons.