MONEY Banking

The Easiest Way to Reduce the Bank Fees You Pay

Where to find free checking
James Worrell—Getty Images

Shift your money over from a big bank to a credit union

Looking to avoid those annoying—and expensive—monthly fees on your checking account? You might want to take your funds to a credit union.

A survey released Thursday by Bankrate.com found that 72% of America’s largest credit unions still offer standalone free checking accounts. And another 26% waive fees if customers meet certain requirements, like accepting e-statements or opting for direct deposit.

Credit unions look ever more attractive compared to the nations biggest retail banks—only 38% of which now offer free checking, down from 65% five years ago.

Even when credit unions do levy checking fees, those charges are typically between $2 and $3, about half of what traditional banks will deduct.

Prone to overdrawing your checking account? You’d do better at a credit union on that count, too. The average overdraft fee at unions is $26.78; the average for banks: $32.74.

In spite of the potential savings, however, a credit union isn’t right for everyone. Find out if you could benefit from becoming a member by checking our guide. And find a credit union that offers free checking with this list compiled by Bankrate.com.

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MONEY Ask the Expert

This Formula Can Help You Figure Out How Much to Save for College

Ask the Expert - Family Finance illustration
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: “My husband and I have been saving for our kids’ college since they were born. They are now 4 and 6. Our initial plan was to just throw what we could into a savings account, then we moved that money to a 529. We make small monthly contributions, and also contribute some money whenever we get a bonus or they get a birthday gift from grandparents. However, we still don’t have a number in mind for what we actually need by the time they start school. How much should we be saving for them each month?” —Ryan Phelan

A: Congratulations for starting the saving process early and taking full advantage of compounding in that 529 account. That’s less money you’ll have to borrow later.

Now for the bad news: By the time your eldest child enters college, four years at an in-state public school will cost an average $130,000 and a private-school education will run $235,000 if prices continue rising at the rate they have for the last five years.

Footing the full freight will be unrealistic for most folks, especially those like you who have more than one child to put through school. Besides, you should also be saving for your own retirement—since you can’t fund that stage of life with loans as you can your kid’s education.

Mark Kantrowitz, author of Filing the FAFSA and senior vice president of the Edvisors Network, offers a more reasonable goal: Try to save a third of your kids’ expected college costs by the time they’re on campus. The next third can come from income (plus grants and scholarships) at the time tuition needs to be paid, and the final third you or your kid can borrow.

The idea is to spread the cost out over time to make that staggering price tag more manageable, says Kantrowitz. You’re putting together past income (what you’ve saved), current income (while the child is in school), and future income (yours or your child’s to pay back the loans).

So in your situation, a good goal would be to put away at least $43,000 or $78,000 for your eldest child, depending on whether you’re aiming to pay for public or private school.

You can estimate a savings number for your younger child—and anyone else can figure it out for their own kid—by figuring out the full cost of an average college education the year the child was born, since college costs increase by about a factor of three over any 17-year period, says Kantrowitz.

For help translating the big number into what you need to save each month—based on your state, income, children’s ages, and current 529 savings—use this 529 college savings planner tool from Savingforcollege.com.

More from Money 101:

Where should I save for college?

How much should I save for college vs. retirement?

What’s the best 529 plan for me?

MONEY Law

How Being a Juror Is Worse Than Working at McDonald’s

Jury
Image Source—Getty Images

Performing your civic duty as a juror on a lengthy high-profile case could earn you less than minimum wage.

At the start of this year, two high-profile mass-killing trials began selecting their juries. Neither has a complete set of jurors and alternates yet.

In Boston, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is standing trial for assisting his brother in planning and executing the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and in the suburbs of Denver, James Holmes is being tried for the killing of 12 people in a 2012 shooting spree in an Aurora movie theater.

Both trials present a difficult task for the judges and lawyers involved: finding an impartial jury. In Boston, more than 1,300 people have been called, while in Colorado, a record-setting 9,000 have been summoned.

Even with such a large pool, the federal judge overseeing the trial in Boston has found only 61 of the 70 people needed for a suitable jury. That success rate is a large part of Tsarnaev’s attorneys’ last-ditch attempt to move the trial to a more neutral city, such as Washington, D.C.

But impartiality is not the only hard screening tool in large-scale jury selections. Money can be just as big a problem.

Jurors who are selected for these high-profile trials will devote nearly half of the year to deciding the fate of the defendants, all while being paid near-poverty wages.

Boston’s federal court pays jurors $40 for a seven-hour day—or about $23 less than Massachusetts’ minimum wage would get them for the same workday—and reimburses them 56 cents per mile for travel expenses.

Considering that the average Massachusetts worker earns $21 an hour and works eight hours a day, a juror would lose $128 for each day served, assuming he or she does not get paid for work after jury hours, reports MassLive.com.

In Colorado, employers are required by law to pay employees at least $50 for up to three days of jury service. If the trial goes longer, the state then pays jurors $50 per day. That works out to an annual salary of $11,700, or $30 above the federal poverty line for a one-person household, The Denver Post found.

Yet those rates are generous in comparison to the little as $4 a day you could earn as a juror in Illinois, or the $6 a day you could earn in Missouri. (Check your state’s rate at the National Center for State Courts.)

Even serving on a federal jury won’t boost your paycheck: Federal petit jurors earn $40 a day, then $50 a day after serving 10 days. Grand jurors don’t get bumped to $50 a day until after their 45th day.

At rates like that it’s not just jurors on months-long trials who could suffer financial hardships for doing their civic duty. Even a trial lasting more than a week could cause some families to tap their emergency fund if they have to rely just on wages from the court.

While federal law prohibits an employer from firing an employee for serving on a jury, it does not require an employer to pay an employee for the time they spend on that jury.

Many companies do continue to pay employees their typical wages while they are serving; 62% of workers reported that they had paid jury leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unsurprisingly, full time workers, high-salary earners, and employees of companies with 500 or more workers were the most likely to receive this compensation.

Only about a quarter of the lowest-income workers reported having paid jury leave, vs. 87% of the highest earners. And less than a third of part-time employees got this benefit, compared with 72% of full-timers. So low-wage workers, part-timers, and the self-employed are among those most likely to face a severe financial crunch if they serve.

Judges, of course, will excuse any juror who faces “undue hardship,” though interpreting that is up to each individual judge. Any worker who doesn’t receive compensation from her employer can try to claim this excuse. The longer the case, the more powerful the hardship claim becomes, since judges know most people can’t afford to live for long off the pay the court offers.

Some states have attempted to address this problem by creating “lengthy trial fund” programs to help jurors recover lost wages. By using other court fees to generate the revenue for the fund, Oklahoma can pay its jurors up to $200 a day after the tenth day, and Arizona can pay up to $300 a day after the fifth day.

If more states created such funds, juries for long trials could include a broader and more diverse range of citizens. And given the career and emotional tolls serving on high-profile cases like the ones in Boston and Colorado will take on a juror, shouldn’t our government compensate them at least somewhat fairly for the job?

MONEY Pets

It’s Not Just Westminster Dog Owners Who Spend Crazy Amounts of Money on Their Pups

An Irish Setter is prepped backstage at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 17, 2015 in New York City.
Spencer Platt—Getty Images An Irish Setter is prepped backstage at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 17, 2015 in New York City. The show, which is in its 139th year and is called the second-longest continuously running sporting event in the United States, includes 192 dog breeds and draws nearly 3,000 global competitors. This year's event began on Monday and will conclude with the awarding of 'Best of Show' on Tuesday night.

This year Americans are on track to spend some $60 billion on their animal companions.

More than 3,000 pampered pooches will take over Manhattan (and your television) Tuesday night for the final day of judging at Westminster Kennel Club’s 139th annual all-breed dog show.

While dogs from 192 different breeds and varieties will compete for Best in Show, to be a serious contender a dog needs to have first run a successful campaign—or “an exhausting, time-consuming, and very expensive gantlet of dog show wins, buttressed by ads in publications like Dog News and The Canine Chronicle,” the New York Times reported in 2010.

Yes, ads: Some competitors said they spent as much as $100,000 annually to showcase a dog’s recent victories—and cute face—in the hopes of swaying future judges. Add in the cost for a professional handler, plane tickets, and other expenses for traveling to roughly 150 shows a year, and campaigning for a top dog can easily break into the hundreds of thousands.

Of course, most dogs, even those with $300,000 budgets, rarely win the title after only a single year of competing. Because it takes time to build a dog’s reputation, these campaigns typically last a few years. One handler whose pup won best in show at Westminster in 2006 told the Times that the three-year runup to the victory cost around $700,000.

That kind of travel purse has top Manhattan hotels rolling out the plastic turf, padded armchairs, dog treadmills, and canine treats to attract Westminsterites, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Think that’s over the top? Well, while most of us don’t shell out a small fortune to raise award-winning pets, we still lavish quite a bit on Fido all the same.

In 2013, Americans spent a record $55.7 billion, or about the equivalent of Croatia’s gross domestic product, on puppy chow, cat litter, grooming, toys, vet visits, and all other matter of indulgences, according to the American Pet Products Association. The estimates for 2014 reach even higher: $58.51 billion, keeping pace with the industry’s steady 4% to 6% growth a year since record-keeping started in 1996.

Two decades ago, Americans’ total spending on pets was $31.1 billion, adjusted for inflation. Last year, Americans spent an estimated $22.6 billion just on pet food.

Those figures break down to each U.S. household spending a little more than $500 a year on their pets. That’s more than we spend annually on alcohol ($456) or mens’ clothing ($404) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So clearly, owners of dog show stars aren’t the only ones willing to make sacrifices for their pets.

MONEY Food & Drink

Where to Get a Free Bagel This National Bagel Day

bagel and coffee
Lauri Patterson—Getty Images

Bagel shops are offering tasty deals on this "holey" holiday.

Get your favorite shmear ready. It’s National Bagel Day, and several restaurants are offering this chewy breakfast staple for free or at deep discount.

Einstein Bros. Bagels is offering customers a free bagel and spread with any drink purchase with this coupon, or 20% off the cost of a baker’s dozen bagel box with this coupon. Both expire on Feb. 23.

Make a purchase at Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. on Monday and you’ll get a free order of their Bagel Tasters, which includes 10 bite-sized bagels with cream cheese.

Buy a coffee, hot tea, espresso drink, or hot chocolate on Feb. 9 and you’ll receive a free bagel at participating Palm Beach County and Broward County, Fla. Panera Bread restaurants.

Manhattan Bagel in Chalfont, Penn., is giving away free bagels topped with cream cheese to anyone who purchases a coffee. To claim this offer you’ll need to visit the store’s Facebook page.

Bagels and Brew will offer free bagels on Monday at its three Orange County, Calif., locations.

If you crave lox with your bagel, stop by Bagel Grove for $3 off a Bagel & Lox sandwich on Monday.

What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of National Bagel Day? Brush up on all of your fake food holidays here, and never miss another freebie.

 

MONEY Workplace

Why America Should Follow Japan’s Lead on Forcing Workers to Take Vacation

Japanese woman on beach
Getty Images/Flickr

Japan has plans to legally require its workforce to take a break. If only the U.S. would be so kind.

A law forcing you to take vacation days? Sounds like a bureaucratic gift, but in Japan, it’s meant as a workaholic intervention.

Legislation will be submitted in the country’s current session of parliament that will make it the legal responsibility of employers to ensure that workers use their holiday time. Japan has been studying such legislation since 2012, when a consensus concluded that the health, social, and productivity costs of Japan’s extreme work ethic were too high.

While it may seem crazy to Americans to require a person to take a vacation, we suffer from more than a touch of workaholism in this country.

In Japan, 22% of workers toil for more than 49 hours a week; in the U.S., it’s 16%. But in France and Germany, only 11% of the population puts in that many hours, according to data compiled by the Japanese government.

And when it comes to unused vacation days, we are second only to Japan among developed nations. The average Japanese worker used only 7 of the 18 vacation days allotted each year, or 39% of their annual paid leave, a survey by Expedia Japan found. According to a study by Oxford Economics, U.S. workers who had paid time off typically left 3 vacation days on the table. And if you look just at the 41% of U.S. workers who said they did not plan on taking all their vacation, the average number of unused days jumps to 8.

We’re also similar to Japan in another way: the percentage of workers who don’t take any vacation at all. A whopping 17% of the Japanese workforce does not take a single day of paid vacation, compared with 13% of Americans. Both of those figures are startlingly high in light of the fact that there wasn’t a single Australian in the Expedia Japan survey who didn’t take off at least one day in the past year.

Trending in the Wrong Direction?

While Japan is working on decreasing unused days, America seems to be heading the other way. Use of vacation days are at their lowest point in the past four decades, the Oxford Economics study found.

Fears of keeping your job, being passed over for promotions or lead projects, coming back to a staggering pile of work, or feeling like you’re the only one who can do your job all push Americans to stay at the office—or, when they do actually take a holiday, to do some work remotely. Employment website Glassdoor found that 61% of us have logged on while we were supposed to be logged off.

This shift can hurt us big time when you consider that employees who use more vacation days end up with better performance reviews, according to internal research by audit firm EY. Increased vacation time has also been linked to increased worker productivity, other research has shown.

Japan has another key piece of legislation that the U.S. lacks: It guarantees workers 10 paid days off a year.

Unlike most other countries with advanced economies, “the United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation time and is one of only a few rich countries that does not require employers to offer at least some paid holidays,” noted a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank. Nearly a quarter of Americans receive no paid days off at all.

Considering that workers in the European Union enjoy—and use—a minimum of 20 paid vacation days and as many as 13 paid national holidays, it seems Japan isn’t the only country that could use a little legal help taking a break.

Read next: How to Disconnect From Work (Without Getting on the Boss’s Bad Side)

MONEY Ask the Expert

Why You Shouldn’t Drop Other Insurance if You Have VA Health Benefits

140603_FF_QA_Obamacare_illo_1
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: “How do I go about dropping my Medicare Part B plan? I have health care through the VA so I really don’t need it.”—Jerry Breier

A: Wait! Don’t drop that coverage…

“If you are eligible for Medicare, you should not rely solely on VA benefits for your health care needs,” says Medicare Rights Center spokesperson Mitchell Clark.

The VA also states on their website that they “strongly encourage you to keep your health insurance.”

The two coverages are complementary.

Because VA health care is a benefit and not insurance, you can only receive care—for free or for a small co-payment, depending on your priority group—through a VA facility.

Your Medicare Part B insurance, meanwhile, helps pay for doctors’ services, outpatient care, and, most importantly, emergency room visits outside the VA.

Part B will come especially in handy if you have an emergency and need to be taken to a non-VA hospital. The VA will cover some non-VA emergency room care, but certain requirements must be met. The VA will also only pay to the point of medical stability and all claims must be filed within 90 days from the last day of the emergent care.

Also keep in mind that certain VA hospitals and facilities may not be able to perform all procedures you may want due to equipment restrictions. In that case, they may cover the cost for treatment outside the VA’s network, or if there is an alternate remedy to your problem that they can perform at the VA, they will cover that procedure instead. So if there are several treatments to an ailment, you may have to go with whatever the VA can provide rather than choosing from among all possible solutions as you could with Medicare.

If you’re still really set on dropping Part B, check the VA’s list of service facilities to make sure there are locations near your home and other places you frequent, like your child’s home or a favorite vacation spot. You should also consider the types of services you use and will likely need to use in the next several years to determine whether you’ll be okay only receiving care from a VA facility.

To drop this coverage, you only need to contact Medicare (1-800-633-4227) and let them know your decision.

Should you decide you want to be reinstated, however, you will have to wait until the following January. Keep in mind that you will also likely incur a Part B premium penalty of 10% for each 12-month period you are without the coverage, warns Clark. Any savings you may have racked up from not paying Part B before could be eaten up by the higher premiums.

Let’s say, for example, your current Medicare part B premium is $104 a month, as it is for most people, and you drop coverage now but then decide to re-up in two years’ time. Your new premium could be $125.84, says Brentwood, Tenn. financial planner Gary Ward.

Can’t afford the Part B premium? You may qualify for assistance through the state-run Medicare Savings Program. You can visit Medicare’s website to find out which agency in your state runs the program.

Read more from Money.com:

MONEY Estate Planning

3 Things We Can Learn From Robin Williams’ Estate Battle

Susan Williams, Robin Williams and Zelda Williams attend the "Happy Feet Two" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 13, 2011 in Hollywood, California.
Jeffrey Mayer—WireImage Susan Williams, Robin Williams and Zelda Williams attend the "Happy Feet Two" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 13, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

The actor's loved ones are feuding over his personal items, but you can spare your family the same battle when you move on.

Six months after comedian Robin Williams’ death, his widow and three children find themselves in an all-too-common situation for families dealing with loss: fighting with each other.

What should be a time to grieve and heal instead has erupted into a legal dispute over the actor’s estate. His widow and third wife, Susan Schneider Williams, is fighting with his three children, Zak, Zelda, and Cody Williams, over cherished belongings, including clothing, collectibles, and personal photographs. Both sides want to keep items—such as his bicycles, collections of fossils, graphic novels, and action figures—as personal reminders of the man they loved and his active imagination.

At the time of his death, Williams had an updated will and estate plan, including specific trust agreements, and a prenuptial agreement in place. But even that wasn’t enough to spare his heirs the unpleasantness he no doubt hoped to avoid.

That’s because when we write up our estate plan we tend to focus on the big-ticket items: the house, the bank accounts, the investments. But often it’s the personal mementoes and cherished items that cause the most contention.

Personal possessions usually can’t be distributed equally to more than one heir. You can’t split a painting in thirds the way you can a pot of money. Then too, you’ve got to factor in the emotional attachment, which can make the division process even thornier.

To avoid having your estate end up the subject of family squabbles, follow these steps.

Decide What’s Important

Any piece of nontitled property can become a bone of contention if the item has any sentimental or monetary value. And while you can’t possibly make provisions for every single item you own, try to identify the possessions that mean the most to you and your family legacy and make plans for who inherits them, advises Mark Parthemer, a Palm Beach, Fla., lawyer who specializes in estate planning.

Consider what you hope to accomplish with the bequest. Do you want your exhaustive movie collection to go to a film buff? Are there family heirlooms you want to ensure your child inherit rather than your second wife?

Ask your heirs which items they’d like as well, recommends Marlene Stum, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota who is an expert in the field of families and inheritance. You may be surprised at what actually holds sentimental value and how many family members may covet the same objects.

Devise a Fair System

Focus on connecting the goals you have for your bequests with what’s fair in the context of your family. You don’t have to split everything evenly to be fair, you just need to be thoughtful and consistent about the division process you use, Stum advises. You must also be very clear about who will be involved in the decision-making. “The more complex your family dynamic is, the more ambigious it becomes about who has a say at the table,” Stum says.

For example, consider whether your oldest child gets to pick first, or if gender should play a role. Parthemer likes a rotation system, where each heir draws a random number and selects one item at a time in order. “It helps to have an executive decision maker or final arbiter outside the family to help make tough decisions if two people want the same thing,” he says, “though in that case it may be best to sell the item and have them split the proceeds.”

Here too, invite your potential heirs to share their input about how they think personal items could be evenly divided.

Let Your Wishes Be Known

Once you’ve created your plan, tell your loved ones not just what you’re leaving to whom, but why. “The more transparent you can be about how you reached your decision, the better,” says Stum, who recommends telling your heirs as a group to avoid any he said/she said squabbles. They might not be happy with your decision, but at least they’ll know your desires and understand your motives, making disagreements less likely.

Write down all your wishes, sign and date the list, and attach a copy to your will. In most states you can revise such a document without going to the expense or effort of updating the will itself, says Parthemer. Be sure your will contains a provision explicitly mentioning the list’s existence, otherwise your wishes will not be binding.

You’ll also want to be detailed as possible when describing specific objects on your list to avoid confusion over, say, which painting you’re referring to, says Stum. You could even take a photo of each object and include that with your written list to eliminate such a problem entirely.

For more help in figuring out how to smoothy pass on your personal possessions, visit the website Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?

MONEY Shopping

Girl Scouts Raise Cookie Prices

Ashley Rubin, 9, holds a sign during Girl Scout Troop 582's cookie training session at Beach Vineyard Church in Panama City Beach, Florida, 2015.
Heather Leiphart—AP Ashley Rubin, 9, holds a sign during Girl Scout Troop 582's cookie training session at Beach Vineyard Church in Panama City Beach, Florida, 2015.

Stocking up on your favorite Thin Mints and Samoas could put a bigger dent in your wallet this year.

Five bucks for a box of Thin Mints? That’s how much Girl Scout cookie fans will pay in some regions of California, up from $4 a year ago. In parts of the South, prices will rise to $4 a box from $3.50.

As cookie-selling season gets under way, Girl Scout councils in San Diego, Orange County, and Greater Los Angeles are hiking prices for the first time in a decade. The increase will bring more money into local scout troops—about 27% more per box by their estimates, the WSJ reports. Each council sets prices in its own region (in the New York area, prices are staying at $4.)

In March, the Girl Scouts announced that they were taking cookie sales online. It also introduced three new flavors for 2015. This latest change is attributed to increased prices charged by the baker (up 19%) and higher operating costs (up 28%), according to a statement from the Greater Los Angeles Council.

Price hike or no, the Girl Scouts say you’re still getting a bargain. At the local rate of inflation, a box of cookies should actually cost $5.84.

MONEY Sports

The Super-Size Numbers Surrounding the Super Bowl

How many wings will we eat this Sunday? Who's watching just for the commercials? How much money have people bet illegally on this game?

Click through the gallery for answers to all of the above, as well as other fun facts about what people are eating, drinking, and spending come Sunday.

 

  • $30 Million

    Fans outside the University of Phoenix Stadium before the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 25, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.
    Christian Petersen—Getty Images

    The amount Arizona will spend to host Super Bowl XVIX. That figure is low, though, compared with the $50 million San Francisco, the host for next year’s Super Bowl, estimates it will need to spend. Last year’s hosts, New Jersey and New York, spent $70 million.

  • 36%

    Seattle Seahawks' Chris Matthews (13) and DeShawn Shead celebrate after overtime of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Seattle.
    Elaine Thompson—AP

    Proportion of Americans rooting for the Seattle Seahawks to win the game. The Patriots hold only a little less of the public’s support, with 31% rooting for them, but more people (33%) simply don’t care who wins, the Emerson College Polling Society found.

  • $119.95

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's jersey on the rack at the Olympia Sports store. The Patriots will face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.
    Charles Krupa—AP

    The price of a New England Patriots’ jersey bearing star quarterback Tom Brady‘s name. A similar jersey for Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson sells for $20 less on NFLshop.com.

  • 158 Million

    150129_EM_SBNumbers_Avocados
    Getty Images—Getty Images

    The number of avocados Americans will consume around the championship game. After all, when you’re eating 11 million pounds of chips, you need a lot of guacamole. Don’t forget those beloved chicken wings: We’ll order up 1.23 billion of them on game day. And how will we wash all this food down? With 325 million gallons of beer, of course.

  • 2,400

    table of high calorie fast foods
    fStop Images—Alamy

    The number of calories in the snacks the average person will consume during the game. That makes this Sunday the second biggest day for gluttony after Thanksgiving, according to the Calorie Control Council.

  • $3.8 Billion

    Super Bowl proposition bets are displayed on a board at the Westgate Superbook race and sports book Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Las Vegas.
    John Locher—AP

    The worth of all illegal bets the American Gaming Association expects to be made on this year’s game. That figure is 38 times greater than the $100 million that will be bet legally.

  • $4.5 Million

    Bud Light 90-second "Coin" Super Bowl Commercial
    Anheuser-Busch Bud Light 90-second "Coin" Super Bowl Commercial

    Cost of 30 seconds of air time during the Super Bowl, up $500,000 from 2014. Another big change: More of this year’s commercials will be paid for by companies you’ve never heard of. But no matter who is behind the ads, only 5% of people find them bothersome. The vast majority of viewers, 77%, find them entertaining.

  • 111.5 Million

    Denver Broncos fans watch their team play the Seahawks during the first half of the Super Bowl, inside Jackson's, a sports bar and grill in Denver.
    Brennan Linsley—AP Denver Broncos fans watch their team play the Seahawks during the first half of the Super Bowl, inside Jackson's, a sports bar and grill in Denver.

    The record-breaking number of people who tuned into last year’s game, when the Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos. About seven out of 10 households watched, according to Nielsen.

  • 19%

    Victoria's Secret Super Bowl advertisement featuring Victoria’s Secret Angels playing football
    Michael Seto

    The percentage of people who say that the commercials are the most important part of the Super Bowl. Another 9% tune in for the halftime show, while 12% value getting together with friends. Only 36% of people said the actual game was most important. The remaining 24% planned to skip the game all together, the National Retail Federation reports.

  • 25.3 Million

    150129_EM_SBNumbers_TweetsSent
    Kacper Pempel—Reuters

    Tweets sent out during the course of last year’s game by the 5.6 million people who logged on to share their thoughts, according to Nielsen.

  • 26%

    150129_EM_SBNumbers_SBParty
    Lund-Diephuis—Getty Images

    Proportion of people who plan to attend a Super Bowl party this Sunday. Another 18% will host their own parties.

  • $78

    refrigerator of beer
    Simon Battensby—Getty Images

    Average amount people who will watch the Super Bowl plan to spend on food, beverages, and team merchandise, up from $68 last year, according to the NRF.

  • $69,241,725

    New England Patriots players warm up during practice Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. The Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks in NFL football Super Bowl XLIX Sunday, Feb. 1, in Glendale, Ariz.150129_EM_SBNumbers_Payroll
    Mark Humphrey—AP New England Patriots players warm up during practice Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz.

    Payroll total for the Seattle Seahawks this year. The Patriots “only” spent $53,952,046 on salaries this year.

  • 26%

    goalposts with light flare from sun
    iStock

    Percentage of people who say that God plays a role in determining the outcome of a game, the Public Religion Research Institute found.

  • $92,000

    Superbowl Ring
    Elaine Thompson—AP

    The salary bonus each player on the winning team received last year, because, you know, a diamond-encrusted title ring and lifetime bragging rights aren’t enough. Players on the losing team got a $46,000 consolation bonus, Sports Illustrated reported.

  • $7,114

    A general view of the exterior of MetLife Stadium as a fan holds his Super Bowl XLVIII ticket prior to the Super Bowl XLVIII game between the Seattle Seahawks against the Denver Broncos in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, February 2, 2014. The Seahawks defeated the Broncos 43-8.
    Scott Boehm—AP

    Price of the cheapest Super Bowl ticket on secondary market ticket sale site TiqIQ as of Thursday afternoon.

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