The Holidays Are About the Fa La La, Not the Moo La La

This year, we’ll collectively fork out $465 billion on holiday spending. Of all that cash, about 43% is spent on travel, and another 41% on gifts. Saving in those two areas alone can really help make a difference in your wallet.

A few things the airlines don’t want you to know

When you figure that Americans will spend more than $6 million on air travel during the holiday season, the costs can seem unavoidable. But if you follow a few simple rules, you could save hundreds.

  • Avoid buying a ticket for the Friday before Christmas
  • Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Sundays on off-peak hours
  • Search tickets for one passenger at a time—airlines tend to jack up the prices when you buy for more than one.
  • Clear your browser history, or search incognito. The more airlines learn about you, the more they learn about where your spending habits are and the more they can skew the prices based on what they know about you.

Online hacks that’ll help save your wallet

It’s a digital world. And that makes shopping a whole lot easier, but it also opens up the opportunity for huge savings.

  • Take Honey for example. It’s a Google Chrome extension that tests every coupon code available, so you don’t have to.
  • Amazon Prime is only $99/yr, and it currently gives you free shipping on a ton of things listed on the site—which has some of the most competitive prices already.
  • Deal Squad is a site that checks to make sure you’re getting the best price available—you just cut and paste the URL of the item you’re watching.

Go for thoughtful, not pricey

Putting more thought into a gift means you can spend a little less. Say your coworker loves elephants—buy him the elephant socks you know he’d never buy for himself. Same goes with magazine subscriptions. If your dad loves boating, get him a boating magazine—it’s a gift that keeps giving, year-round. Or you can gift what you’re good at—get crafty. Yeah, pecan pie bakers, we’re looking at you. Even if you’ve never tried out a DIY, it’s worth a visit to Pinterest for some inspiration. Sometimes a meaningful gift goes a lot further than one with a high price tag.

Charities need your time, not just your cash

You can give charity a hand without breaking the bank—just give some of your time. And it’s a great way to spend time with your friends and family too. You could volunteer as a group at a food shelter or soup kitchen—or you can look for local opportunities on Volunteermatch.

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Ally Bank

 

The 6 Top Airlines for Holiday Travel

 

Experience air travel at its best during the hectic travel season.

We all remember nightmarish winter travel stories from our favorite holiday movies. From rushing through crowded terminals to dealing with flight cancellations to losing luggage in transit, iconic holiday films remind us of epic travel blunders that arise during the busy holiday travel season. And while it’s tricky to dodge winter travel headaches altogether, there are some airlines that make travel during the holidays relatively smooth and pain-free. Whether you’re traveling with kids, seeking an airline with perks such as free Wi-Fi, elevated in-flight entertainment and cuisine or looking for a carrier with an easy rebooking process for weather-related delays, here are six top airlines for holiday travel.

fusulage

Delta Air Lines

In the last few years Delta has quietly done a commendable job bringing its cabins up to speed. High-speed Wi-Fi is available on nearly all of Delta’s planes. Plus, the airline has consistently delivered a high on-time performance during the holiday travel season in recent years. And Delta has made great strides to enhance its in-flight entertainment and cuisine, as well as general customer service, with added amenities such as free doughtnuts or bagels and coffee for early morning flights in most major hubs. Plus, if you hold Silver Medallion status (or higher) with the Delta SkyMiles program, when there are empty seats, you can enjoy a complimentary upgrade to a first-class seat.

traveler

Air France

If you are going to endure a long-haul flight from the U.S. to Europe over the holidays, consider flying with Air France. The carrier has invested in upgrading its planes with tech-savvy entertainment systems that provide over 1,000 hours of on-demand programming. Also, Air France has a best-in-class premium economy cabin with spacious economy seats. Even better, If you fly in a business-class seat, feature films are available in high-definition, screens are an oversized 17 inches and you can enjoy delicious meal service with cuisine options developed by the Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud.

cathay-pacific

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific offers scheduled passenger and cargo services to nearly 200 destinations in Asia, North America, Australia, Europe and Africa. Seasoned international jet-setters praise Cathay for its impeccable airport lounges, superlative kid’s menu options (you can call in advance for any dietary needs) and innovative in-flight entertainment systems. And recently, the airline elevated its culinary offerings by partnering with celebrity chef Daniel Green to develop a vegetarian menu filled with options such as seared ahi tuna, edamame, butter lettuce and sesame soy ginger vinaigrette and Thai red vegetable curry in light coconut milk and Thai sweet basil, to cater to a variety of palates.

virgin-atlantic

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin America has won many best-in-class awards for its quality customer service and tech-forward amenities, including in-flight Wi-Fi and an in-flight entertainment platform with a touch-screen TV and an on-demand menu that allows fliers to order a cocktail or snack from their seat any time during a flight. Even better, Virgin Atlantic offers guests the ability to stream Netflix, making Virgin Atlantic the only airline to offer this service. If you’re willing to splurge (or you’re traveling with younger globe-trotters with picky preferences) Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy cabin boasts a wide selection of complimentary snacks, from candy to chips to fresh fruit and other select British goodies.

quantas

Qantas Airways

If you’re heading to Australia to ring in the New Year with youngsters in tow, Qantas offers plenty of family-friendly perks. Kids have their own designated areas within airport lounges, a welcome amenity kit and their own entertainment channel. Meanwhile, adults can pick from more than 1,500 entertainment options on Qantas’ Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 planes, making the nearly 24-hour flight from the East Coast much more comfortable. Plus, Qantas offers service to Australia and the Pacific from hubs in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Honolulu. What’s more, you can enjoy a complimentary wine tasting on long-haul flights, thanks to the airline’s Sommelier in the Sky Program.

etihad

Etihad Airways

Flying with Etihad Airways during the holidays (or any time of year) affords a lavish air travel experience. You can enjoy excellent cuisine, in-flight Wi-Fi and a top-notch entertainment system, regardless of which class of service you select. Plus, you’ll have access to more than 120 movies and 300 TV shows. If you’re looking to spring for the penultimate form of holiday travel, try the three-bedroom Etihad apartment in the sky, known as The Residence. Inside the first-class suite, guests can enjoy a private living room, a bedroom and shower room, as well as the service of a Savoy-trained butler, a gourmet in-flight chef and a concierge team, among other perks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Sery Kim of U.S. News & World Report

Source: U.S. News & World Report

 

 

 

Market Update: December 19, 2016

MarketUpdate_header

  • Stocks edge up to begin quiet week. U.S. markets are slightly higher in early trading, kicking off what is likely to be a low-volume week on scattered data releases ahead of the holidays; though a speech by Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) Chair Janet Yellen this afternoon will garner attention. Friday’s session saw the S&P 500 (-0.2%) slip into negative territory for the week, as the heavily weighted technology (-0.8%) and financials (-0.9%) sectors lagged; rate-sensitive utilities and real estate both moved up more than 1%, despite only a 1 basis point (.01%) drop in the yield on the 10-year Treasury. Overnight, Asian markets were modestly lower, led down by the Hang Seng (-0.9%) after China stated it would take measures to control asset bubbles in 2017; major European indexes are near flat in afternoon trading, with the STOXX Europe 600 down 0.1%. Finally, WTI crude oil ($52.70/barrel) is slightly lower, COMEX gold ($1,141/oz.) is rising by 0.3%, and the yield on the 10-year note is down to 2.55%.

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  • 2016 calendar winding down. Although there are a few key events on tap this week (i.e., a speech by U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May on Brexit, the Bank of Japan’s final policy meeting of the year, and Vladimir Putin’s only press conference of 2016), the calendar is fairly quiet. Data on new and existing home sales, the service sector Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and durable goods orders and shipments are the key U.S. data releases. Overseas, China’s property price indices (released over the weekend) and the German IFO reading for December (released overnight) were the only key events.
  • A look back. As the year comes to an end, we take a look back at some of our hits and misses of 2016. We certainly had some of both in a difficult year to forecast equity markets. First, the year got off to one of the worst starts ever as oil prices collapsed. Then it was the unexpected outcome to the Brexit vote, which stocks largely shrugged off, followed by Trump’s upset, which was followed by one of the strongest post-election stock market rallies in history-outcomes few predicted. Among the hits, our stock market forecast and our decision to largely stay on the sidelines with regard to international equity markets. Misses included favoring large caps and growth.
  • Can we count on Santa in 2016? Since 1950, the S&P 500 historically has been flat from December 1 through 15, then rallies nicely into year end. Last week, we took a look at this bullish time of year and the well-known Santa Claus Rally. But what happens during rare years like 2016, when the S&P 500 has already seen nice gains (2.9%) as of the mid-way point of the month? Going back to 1950¹, we found there were only seven other months that were up on December 15 at least 2.75%. The good news? The rest of the month the S&P 500 gained another 1.8% on average and was higher all seven times.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • Markit Services PMI (Dec)
  • Yellen (Dove)
  • Germany: Ifo (Dec)
  • UK: PM Teresa May Makes a Statement on Brexit

Tuesday

  • Japan: Bank of Japan Meeting (No Change Expected)

Wednesday

  • Existing Home Sales (Nov)

Thursday

  • Leading Indicators (Nov)
  • Durable Goods Orders and Shipments (Nov)
  • Russia: President Putin Holds His Annual Press Conference in Moscow

Friday

  • New Home Sales (Nov)

 

 

 

 

 

 

¹ The modern design of the S&P 500 stock index was first launched in 1957. Performance back to 1950 incorporates the performance of predecessor index, the S&P 90.

Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. A money market investment is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money markets have traditionally sought to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in such a fund. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. Technical Analysis is a methodology for evaluating securities based on statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices, volume and momentum, and is not intended to be used as the sole mechanism for trading decisions. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead use charts and other tools to identify patterns and trends. Technical analysis carries inherent risk, chief amongst which is that past performance is not indicative of future results. Technical Analysis should be used in conjunction with Fundamental Analysis within the decision making process and shall include but not be limited to the following considerations: investment thesis, suitability, expected time horizon, and operational factors, such as trading costs are examples. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Welcome To The Strongest Month Of The Year For Equities Historically

The month of November is in the books. We came into the month with the longest Dow losing streak in 35 years and many concerns over the U.S. presidential election. In the end, the fears didn’t materialize and equities had a big move higher.

Here is a summary of what happened last month:

• November was a great month for equities, as the S&P 500 gained 3.4%—its best monthly gain since a 6.6% gain in March. It was the best return in November since a 5.7% bounce in 2009.
• As good as the month was for equities, it was that bad for bonds as rates spiked. The Barclays Global Aggregate Total Return Index was down 4% for the worst month on record going back to 1990.
• The S&P 500 went the entire month without a 1% drop, only the third time that has happened the past 20 years during November.
• Small caps had a huge month, as the Russell 2000 gained 11.0% for the largest monthly gain since a 15.0% jump in October 2011.
• During the month, the Russell 2000 (RUT) gained 15 consecutive days for only the fifth time since 1979, but the record of 21 straight green closes from 1988 remains safe.
• Turning to sectors*, financials gained 14.0%, for their best monthly gain since a 14.3% advance in October 2011. Industrials, energy, and materials all led as well. Utilities and real estate lagged as higher rates lowered demand for higher yielding assets. Consumer staples also lagged, as money rotated away from more defensive sectors.
• All four days of Thanksgiving week were green, something that interestingly has now happened in three consecutive election years.

December is known for many things, but from a financial point of view, the best thing might be that it has been a historically strong month for stocks. Per Ryan Detrick, Senior Market Strategist at LPL Financial, “December is the feel-good time of the year and Santa tends to come for equities as well, as no month is higher more often or up more on average. Not to mention the Dow has been lower each of the past two Decembers, and since 1896, it has never been lower three years in a row.”

12-01-16_blog_fig1

Here are some points to remember:

• December has been historically one of the strongest months for equities. Going back to 1950**, the S&P 500 has averaged a gain of 1.6% and been higher 76% of the time; both are the best out of all 12 months.
• When the S&P 500 has been up for the year heading into December, the average return in the month jumped to 2%. When the year has been down heading into the month, the average return dropped to 0.8%.
• The catch is the S&P 500 has been lower in December during the past two years for only the sixth time in history (going back to 1928). It has never been lower for three consecutive years.
• It is rare to see a large pullback during this month as well, as since 1950, the average return when the month is negative has been only -2.1%, the smallest loss out of all 12 months.
• Incredibly, since 1950, only once has the S&P 500 closed the month of December beneath the low close from the month of November.
• Going back to 1950, the S&P 500 has never had its weakest month of the year during the month of December. In fact, it has only had the 11th and 10th worst months of the year seven times.
• The last time December was the worst month of the year for the Dow was in 1916, when it dropped more than 10% during World War I.

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. *As measured by S&P 500 sub-indexes. **The modern design of the S&P 500 stock index was first launched in 1957. Performance back to 1928 incorporates the performance of predecessor index, the S&P 90. Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a nondiversified portfolio. Diversification does not ensure against market risk. Because of their narrow focus, specialty sector investing, such as healthcare, financials, or energy, will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based flagship benchmark that measures the investment-grade, U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market. The index includes Treasuries, government-related and corporate securities, MBS (agency fixed-rate and hybrid ARM pass-throughs), ABS, and CMBS (agency and non-agency). The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index is comprised of U.S.-listed stocks of companies that produce other (non-transportation and nonutility) goods and services. The Dow Jones Industrial Averages are maintained by editors of The Wall Street Journal. While the stock selection process is somewhat subjective, a stock typically is added only if the company has an excellent reputation, demonstrates sustained growth, is of interest to a large number of investors, and accurately represents the market sectors covered by the average. The Dow Jones averages are unique in that they are price weighted; therefore, their component weightings are affected only by changes in the stocks’ prices. The Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the small cap segment of the U.S. equity universe. The Russell 2000 Index is a subset of the Russell 3000 Index representing approximately 10% of the total market capitalization of that index. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC. 

 

 

Market Update: November 21, 2016

© Provided by CNBC

MarketUpdate_header

  • Stocks higher to begin holiday-shortened week. Equity markets are modestly positive this morning after gaining for the second week in a row; though the S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq each fell 0.2% on Friday. The healthcare sector (-1.1%) underperformed, led lower by biotech, while no other sector moved by more than 0.5%. Overseas, both the Nikkei and the Shanghai Composite advanced 0.8% overnight, while European markets are ticking higher in afternoon trading. Elsewhere, last week’s strength in crude oil ($47.65/barrel) has carried over as the commodity is up another 2.8% ahead of next week’s official OPEC meeting in Vienna, COMEX gold ($1214/oz.) is up 0.4%, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury is a couple of basis points lower after finishing the week at 2.34%, its highest close in over a year.

MacroView_header

  • Final earnings push to the finish line. With just a couple dozen S&P 500 companies left to report Q3 2016 results, Thomson-tracked earnings for the index are tracking to a 4.2% year-over-year gain, representing a 5% upside surprise. Excluding the energy sector’s earnings declines, earnings on pace for a solid 7.5% year-over-year gain. As impressive as the Q3 upside has been, the minimal 0.8% drop in estimates since October 1 for the next four quarters, including a small increase over the past week, has been particularly noteworthy and we think bodes well for the next two or three quarters.

earnings-dashboard-11-21-16

  • Another weekly gain for the S&P 500. The S&P 500 gained 0.8% for the week last week, but what is more worthwhile is it did this after gaining more than 3% the week before. Incredibly, this is now 10 consecutive times that the week after a 3% gain was green. Leading the way again were small caps and mid caps, as both the Russell 2000 and S&P 400 Midcap indexes closed at new all-time highs on Friday. The Russell 2000 is now up 11 consecutive days for the longest winning streak since 12 in a row back in 2003.
  • Holiday shopping preview. Although the market’s attention has been squarely on the election for the past several weeks, we should not forget how important this time of year is for the U.S. economy. Consumers are in good shape, with low financial obligations, steady job and wage gains, and high consumer sentiment measures. This, along with retailers’ back-to-school shopping increases and the solid stock market performance in 2016, suggest the National Retail Federation’s 3.6% forecast for year-over-year holiday sales growth may be doable. We do not necessarily expect these sales gains to translate into outperformance for the consumer sectors, but we do not expect them to spook markets.
  • Housing, manufacturing, and the consumer in focus this week as investors await the OPEC meeting. While a high-level OPEC meeting is set for Monday and Tuesday this week, the official OPEC meeting in Vienna isn’t until November 30. Until then, investors will digest Black Friday sales figures, which have become much less important in recent years, along with data on home sales, durable goods orders, and the Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing. The Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) will release the minutes of its November 1-2, 2016 meeting this week as well. Other than the key German IFO data for November, it’s a fairly quiet week for international events and data, aside from a speech by European Central Bank (ECB)President Mario Draghi early in the week.
  • Welcome to Thanksgiving week. Historically the week of Thanksgiving has had a slight bullish bias, as do most trading days around major holidays. Over the past 20 years, the average return during the week of Thanksgiving for the S&P 500 has been 0.8%, positive 65% of the time (13 out of 20). Looking at the day-by-day performance, Monday has the best average return, up 0.5%, although Wednesday has been higher more often, 70% of the time. Surprisingly, the best Thanksgiving week over that timespan was 2008, when all four days were green and the S&P gained 12.0%. The worst? All four days in 2011 were red and the index fell 4.7%.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • OPEC Meeting in Vienna
  • ECB’s Draghi Speaks in Strasbourg

Tuesday

  • OPEC Meeting in Vienna

Wednesday

  • Durable Goods Orders and Shipments (Oct)
  • Markit Mfg. PMI (Nov)
  • FOMC Minutes
  • Eurozone: Markit Mfg. PMI (Nov)
  • Japan: Nikkei Mfg. PMI (Nov)

Thursday

  • Germany: Ifo

Friday

  • Advance Report on Goods Trade Balance (Oct)

 

 

 

 

Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. A money market investment is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money markets have traditionally sought to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in such a fund. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. Technical Analysis is a methodology for evaluating securities based on statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices, volume and momentum, and is not intended to be used as the sole mechanism for trading decisions. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead use charts and other tools to identify patterns and trends. Technical analysis carries inherent risk, chief amongst which is that past performance is not indicative of future results. Technical Analysis should be used in conjunction with Fundamental Analysis within the decision making process and shall include but not be limited to the following considerations: investment thesis, suitability, expected time horizon, and operational factors, such as trading costs are examples. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Merry Christmas, You’re Fired: Why Holiday Pink Slips Are Less Taboo

Fired
Provided by The Street

Chelsea White’s performance reviews last December were stellar, reinforcing her belief that working as a teacher’s assistant at in a small, specialized classroom with children ages three to five was the right profession for the Orlando resident.

While enrollment had dipped slightly, the 28-year-old was not concerned and found her job to be rewarding.

“I get to work with kids, which I absolutely love, but I also get to have a job that brings some good to the world,” she said.

But the telltale signs were present — the reduction in responsibilities, for example — and the administrators at the small, private school had to cut funds quickly to pay salaries and bills. The rumors of staff cuts quickly became a reality as another popular assistant was let go days before White received her pink slip.

Being let go in December was a humbling experience as White submitted dozens of applications to both public and private schools only to be met with responses of having to wait for the winter term to resume after the holidays before they could consider any applicants.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting to be terminated, yet that’s exactly what happened,” she said. ”The holidays were right around the corner.”

Getting the ax while you’re ready to deck the halls can certainly put a damper on the tidings of comfort and joy.

Why Employers Fire During Christmas…

Firing employees during the holiday season has become less taboo as companies are not as hesitant to fire or lay off unproductive employees when they are faced with rising costs and an uncertain outlook, particularly in certain industries.

“There used to be much more of a stigma about firing or being fired during the holidays,” said Steven Rothberg, president of College Recruiter, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based career website for students and recent college grads. “It still exists, but isn’t the third rail like it used to be. Most employers today believe in the adage that you should hire slowly and fire quickly.”

While the timing might be poor, many companies have adopted this strategy, said Steve Spires, managing director of career services and an executive coach with BPI group, the Chicago-based consulting group.

“A vast majority of organizations run on a calendar year budget and year-end coincides with the need to achieve year-end numbers,” he said. “This often triggers the decision to reduce costs, including people and expenses to meet the budget.”

Most companies fire employees during the holidays to meet budgets, said Marissa Klein, a co-founder of Choice Fashion Media, a New York City-based recruiting firm, who has been laid off twice during Thanksgiving. Remembering that many layoffs are not a personal choice and lean toward being a fiscal one does not lessen the pain of the sting for former employees.

“I think it is a horrible time of year to lose a job,” she said. “My advice in a situation like this is to try and be in the moment and take the time to reflect on what is most important. Accept that your search will be quiet for a number of weeks.”

Unless an employee has committed an egregious human resources issue or severe misconduct, Leon Rbibo, the president of The Pearl Source, a Los Angeles-based pearl wholesaler and importer, makes an attempt to not terminate or downsize anyone in an effort to “keep the holidays enjoyable for our employees.”

“I’ve had the privilege of hiring many excellent and skilled employees over the years,” he said. “However, I’ve also had to let a few people go who didn’t quite make the cut.”

The company tries to stick to its mantra of keeping the holidays an enjoyable time of the year by “intentionally” conducting the majority of evaluations in the beginning of the fourth quarter, said Rbibo. If there are employees who are underperforming by not meeting expectations, then the person has enough time to correct the issue “without creating unnecessary anxiety over the holidays,” he said.

“When it comes to letting someone go around the holidays, we really try our best to avoid a situation like that,” said Rbibo. “Running a successful company does require you to make tough decisions, but I try not to let that human element escape me.”

How to Job Hunt in December

The competition for positions is lower in December, because fewer people tend to lose or quit their jobs, said Rothberg. While job hunting is always stressful, many candidates will find it to be a good time to seek jobs as companies have also determined their budgets for the upcoming year.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re the best candidate out of everyone who may apply as employers rarely actually hire the best candidate,” he said. “All that matters is that you’re the first well-qualified candidate to apply and be interviewed because employers tend to hire the first well-qualified person.”

Spires advises fired employees to take another tactic and recommends that they “do nothing at first – whether it’s just for a few days or even for a few weeks,” he said. “You need this time to take a step back and decide where you want to go as well as to process the emotions that come with a job loss.”

While ramping up a job search is not a bad idea, being proactive means some people are searching for another position before they are prepared.

“You want to be focused in your search and you don’t want any negative emotions affiliated with the layoff to come through as you’re networking or speaking with prospective employers,” Spires said. “In so many of these instances, you won’t have a second chance and the first impression you deliver needs to be the best it can be.”

White learned her lesson quickly and in retrospect confesses that she should have searched for a part-time job during December because the education field rarely hires during the last month of the year.

“Getting terminated around the holidays is a really hard pill to swallow,” she said. “If I had to do it again, I would pick up a part-time job for a couple of weeks and would wait to start my real job hunt in January.”

Written by Ellen Chang of The Street

(Source: The Street)

It Seems that Shopping has Joined Food, Football, and Family

Shopping
Pear285/Wikimedia

Did you log on and do a little holiday shopping last Thursday while your holiday feast was cooking? If so, you are not alone. MarketWatch reported consumers spent $1.1 billion between midnight and 5:00 p.m. eastern time on Thanksgiving Day. That was a 22 percent increase over the year before.

After taking a break to give thanks, gorge on Thanksgiving delicacies, and enjoy family time, consumers fired up their devices again – more than one-third of sales were made via smart phone or tablet – for round two in the online shopping arena. On Friday, between midnight and 11:00 a.m. eastern time, they spent another $822 million. That’s 15 percent more than last year. In total, Black Friday sales were expected to be about $2.6 billion.

By Friday morning, out-of-stock rates were reported to be double the level they normally reach this time of year. So, prepare for the possibility shoppers may be rabidly seeking more than one extremely popular gift item as we head deeper into the holiday shopping season.

That’s a more welcome turn of events than 1953’s glut of unsold turkeys. The Fiscal Times reported Swanson got started in the frozen dinner manufacturing business when it finished Thanksgiving with 260 tons of extra turkeys. Its solution was to package sliced turkey with trimmings on aluminum trays. In 1954, the company sold 10 million frozen turkey dinners and a new industry was born.

Since investors were concerned about weaker than expected retail sales just a couple of weeks ago, if retail spending continues to be strong in coming weeks, it could affect investors’ confidence and outlook.