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

    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.
    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

    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
    New England Patriots players warm up during practice Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. Mark Humphrey—AP

    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.

  • Watch Now

MONEY Insurance

The $300,000 Reason You Should Shovel Your Walkway ASAP

Shalonda Earvin clears the sidewalk in front of her Union St. home in Norwich, Conn., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. Earvin said this was her fourth time out shoveling since it started snowing.
Shalonda Earvin clears the sidewalk in front of her Union St. home in Norwich, Conn., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. Earvin said this was her fourth time out shoveling since it started snowing. Sean D. Elliot—AP

Your municipality may have laws on snow removal, but you'll pay an even bigger price if somebody slips and falls on your property.

Find that shovel, snow blower or your neighbor’s kid if you’re in the Northeast. Thanks to winter storm Juno, your driveway and walkway are likely topped with a lovely coat of white snow that could cost you a pretty penny if you don’t clear it quickly.

“Property owners face legal obligations to keep their property clean, safe, and ice-free,” says Loretta Worters, vice president of communications for the Insurance Information Institute. “If you fail to shovel your sidewalk or other public walkway, and someone slips and falls, you could potentially face a lawsuit. In some states, you may have broken the law, too.”

You’re responsible not just for snow and ice on private walkways but also public ones that abut your land. If you fail to keep your premises safe, those who are injured on your property could sue you, says Worters. “If someone slips on ice because of a poorly positioned downspout, it is considered negligence,” she adds.

Some places like New York City and Bridgeport, Conn. have also enacted laws that make landowners responsible for keeping public sidewalks clear of ice and snow. Those who fail to follow the law can be fined. In New York, you could have to pay up to $150 and be subject to up to 10 days of imprisonment.

Often, places that have snow clean up laws will also have a time limit for when pathways need be cleared. “Some jurisdictions say that a property owner can wait a ‘reasonable amount of time’ before clearing, which is nebulous,” says Worters. “But in Boston, property owners have three hours after the snow falls to shovel.”

While it is a good idea to check directly with your local municipality to find out if snow clearance laws apply for your town and state, the safest route is to simply shovel your area within a few hours of the snowfall’s end so you can avoid both fines and litigation. After all, even in places that do not legally require you to clear the snow, such as Ohio, you can still face a lawsuit.

Since even the most vigilant shoveler may miss a spot, Worters also recommends having liability insurance coverage to pay the cost of your legal defense and any court awards (up to the limit of your policy) should someone slip on your property and sue you. Liability limits generally start at about $100,000, but the Insurance Information Institute advises that you purchase at least $300,000 worth of protection.

MONEY

Last-Minute Tips Before the Storm Hits

On February 9, 2013, people dig out their cars in the Huron Village neighborhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, after winter storm Nemo hit the area. Winter storm Nemo dumped nearly 30 inches of snow on the region.
M. Scott Brauer—Demotix/Corbis

Not quite prepared for the great Northeast blizzard? Here are 8 things you can do right now to get ready.

Before winter storm Juno blows through the Northeast on Tuesday, there are a handful of things you can do right now to make sure you’re fully prepared for whatever she may throw at you.

1. Don’t Panic—but Do Get the Essentials

We’re already seeing reports of panic hoarding at supermarkets and grocery stores. A lot of it, as consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow explains, is overblown and irrational behavior. But that said, you still need to lay in a few essential supplies. You’ll want to have enough clean drinking water and nonperishable, easy-to-prepare food on hand for at least three days. Each person in your family will need about a gallon of water a day according to FEMA, but you may want to store a little more for washing and food preparation. (Don’t forget to buy a non-electric can opener, if you don’t have one, so you can dig into those cans of beans.)

2. Prepare to Be Without Power

Don’t struggle to stay connected during or after a storm-induced power outage. Make sure all your cell phones and other mobile devices are currently charging, especially bigger devices like laptops that can then be used to power up cellphones if necessary. You may also want to invest in an external battery pack or cordless charger if you’re making a last-minute run to Walmart.

Lengthen your gadgets’ lifespans by getting news from an old-fashioned hand-crank or cordless radio and by actually using a flashlight instead of the flashlight app on your phone. Just don’t forget to stock up on extra batteries.

3. Hit the ATM

If the power gets cut off in your area, you won’t have access to ATMs to get cash, so consider taking out $100 to $200 in small bills to use should any unforeseen emergency need crop up, or to pay the nice kid down the block who offers to shovel your walk.

4. Fuel Up

Though you’re likely to stay off the roads once the storm begins, fill up your tank at the last opportunity before severe weather sets in, especially if you park your car on the street. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing in blizzard temps, advises the Red Cross.

5. Get Your Pharmacy Refills

You’ll want to have at least a seven-day supply of any necessary medications on hand as well as any medical items you might need, such as extra hearing-aid batteries or backup contact lenses and a fully-stocked first-aid kit, recommends FEMA.

Consider replenishing stores of sanitation supplies like hand sanitizer and wet wipes to use if your water resources become limited.

6. Turn on the Tap

To help keep your pipes from freezing in the cold weather, allow a tiny amount of water to drip from the tap.

7. Buy a Long Extension Cord

You could die from carbon monoxide poisoning if you use portable generators indoors, in attached garages, or too close to the house. And to use one safely outdoors, make sure you have a long enough extension cord to keep it at least 20 feet from any door, window, or vent. You should also avoid the temptation to use any outdoor heating or cooking equipment like a grill, camp stove, or propane heater indoors, or to try to heat your home with the stove.

8. Gather Your Personal Documents

Before the storm comes, make sure you know where all important documents are kept, such as the deed/lease to your home, passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies; better still, gather them in a secure place. That way you can access them quickly in case of a medical emergency or post-storm to file an insurance claim. You should also write down important phone numbers in case you can’t access the contact list in your phone.

MONEY ID Theft

7 Ways to Keep Your Tax Refund Safe From Thieves

black glove holding US Treasury check
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Getty Images (glove); Dan Sullivan/Alamy (check)

To make sure your hard-earned money doesn't fall into the wrong hands, protect your identity this tax season.

The tax season officially opened on January 20, meaning it’s time for that dreaded (but inescapable) annual job: filing your tax return.

One group isn’t putting off that task. Identity thieves may have already filed a return in your name—and made off with your refund check.

In 2013, the IRS mistakenly paid out more than $5 billion worth of refunds to identity thieves, according to the Government Accountability Office. The agency estimates it stopped another $24.4 billion in attempted fraud, and the problem may be even bigger than that. Considering that most refunds are for a few hundred to a thousand dollars, that’s a staggeringly large number of false returns.

And despite the IRS’s efforts to fight fraud, tax-and-wage-related identity theft still made up a third of ID-theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission last year.

One reason this kind of fraud can happen is that the IRS processes refunds as quickly as possible, typically within 21 days, and matches up the verifying information later. That way you don’t have to wait six to nine months for a refund.

When you file early, the IRS might not even have everything it needs to verify your information. Your employer must send you your W-2 income statement by the end of January, but it doesn’t have to file that information with the government until March. The IRS often doesn’t even begin checking returns against W-2s until July, meaning it can take a year or longer for the IRS to spot the theft, the GAO report found.

You can reduce you odds of becoming a victim by making these seven smart moves.

1. Be the First to File

“You’ve got to beat the crooks to the punch,” says CPA Troy Lewis, chairman of the American Institute of CPAs’ tax executive committee. “Since January 20, it’s been open season, and they know that the first filer wins.”

Once the IRS receives a return with your Social Security number, the agency will reject any duplicate filings. So even though your return is the legitimate one, if it is second you will have to go through a verification process with the IRS.

If you owe money and want to delay paying as long as possible, file early anyway. You have until the April 15 filing deadline to mail you check regardless of when you submitted your return.

2. Eliminate the Paper Trial

Elect to have all tax documents delivered electronically, including your W-2 and 1099s. If e-delivery isn’t for you, opt for a P.O. Box or locked mailbox. “Toward the end of January is prime time for this,” says Lewis. “Thieves know that’s when W-2s are sent out.” Be sure to destroy extra copies or old tax paperwork as well. All thieves need is your date of birth and Social Security number to file in your name.

3. Put A PIN On It

The IRS is piloting an initiative, available to taxpayers in the tax fraud hotbeds of Florida, Georgia, and D.C., for a single-use, identity protection personal identification number.

To get the six-digit number, you need to register and verify your identity online. This PIN must be on all tax forms for your return to be processed, giving you an extra layer of security. Anyone who has had their identity stolen and reported it to the IRS will automatically receive a PIN annually.

The downsides: It’s another piece of information to remember and guard, and once you’ve opted into the service you can’t opt out.

You can sign up for a PIN on the IRS website.

4. Secure Your Network

This step is easy: Never file electronically over public wi-fi or a network that’s not password protected. Keep your antivirus software up to date and use a firewall.

5. Hang Up

Be wary of email or phone calls claiming to be from the IRS. An unexpected email from the IRS, notifying you about an outstanding refund or a pending investigation, say, is always a scam. The IRS will never initiate contact via email to request sensitive information.

If you do receive an email that appears to be from the IRS or the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, forward the message to phishing@irs.gov. Don’t click any links within the email, even if the URL appears to be connected to the IRS website.

You should be equally suspicious of out-of-the-blue phone calls purporting to be from the IRS. Scammers typically say you’re entitled to a huge refund, or they may threaten you with arrest to get you to reveal personal information.

More sophisticated scammers may know the last four digits of your Social Security number and use that to win your trust, warns the IRS. Other scammers imitate the IRS toll-free number on your caller ID.

The best thing to do if you get a call: hang up. If you think the IRS may have a legitimate reason for contacting you, call them back (800-829-1040).

6. Pick a Preparer Carefully

Three in five taxpayers will get help preparing their taxes this year, the IRS reports, but not all help is equal. Some shady preparers set up shop to snag your personal information or make off with your refund. And no matter who prepares your return, you’re responsible for what is on it.

First, check that the pro has a preparer tax identification number. All paid tax preparers must have one. That’s just a start. “Some people may try to pass their tax preparer identification number off as a license, but it’s just an ID from the IRS. It’s not a sign of authenticity or knowledge,” says Valrie Chambers, a CPA and Stetson University accounting professor.

Ask what professional organizations the pro belongs to. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been lodged against him or her. Make sure licenses are up to date and whether any disciplinary actions have been taken—this IRS guide lists which agencies supervise different kinds of pros.

“You want someone with a license, a reputation, a permanent shop,” says Chambers. “You’re giving this person all your information: your Social Security number, your bank routing number.”

7. Have Less to Lose

If you’re expecting a big refund this year, you have a lot of money at stake. By adjusting your tax withholding so that you get a small refund or even owe a small sum, any fraud-related delay won’t cause you as much financial hardship. “You don’t want to be dependent on this money,” says Lewis.

MONEY Super Bowl

The 5 Best Deals If You’re Not Watching the Super Bowl

"The Book of Mormon" on Broadway at Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City
"The Book of Mormon" on Broadway at Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City Stephen Lovekin—Getty Images

Lower prices and shorter lines await those who skip watching football on February 1 in favor of other attractions.

If the only hawks you care about seeing Super Bowl Sunday have wings and feathers, there’s a good chance your wish can come true—for cheap, no less.

Thanks to the one-third of the U.S. population that will be parked in front of their TVs watching football on February 1, it will be easier for the rest to snag discounts at zoos, ski resorts, spas, and other attractions—not to mention score seats at otherwise unavailable shows and restaurants.

Here are five suggestions for Super Bowl-skippers in search of good deals.

1. Take in a show

Super Bowl Sunday is a great time to see musicals and other popular shows that are normally hard to get into. For example, as of January 21, $99 evening tickets to perennially sold-out Broadway show “Book of Mormon” were still available for February 1 directly through Telecharge. And even if tickets to a hit show are all sold out at the box office, you’re still likely to get a discount on the resale market: Tickets on Stubhub for the same February 1 “Book of Mormon” performance are $40 cheaper than those for the following Sunday.

To look for theater performances near you, check Ticketmaster.com.

2. Finally eat at that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try

While everyone else has to settle for mediocre tailgate snacks, you have a much better shot than usual at scoring an enviable meal at some of your city’s hottest eateries. Restaurant reservation site OpenTable.com typically seats only about half the number of bookings on Super Bowl Sunday as on the Sunday before or after.

Some cities offer even better odds. In Philadelphia, reservations are typically down 60%, OpenTable found. But even major markets like New York City and Boston experience a pronounced dip: 30-40% fewer people will dine out in those cities on February 1.

A word to the wise: Even though your chances improve dramatically on game day, “some of the hottest and most acclaimed restaurants can still be tough to get into,” says Tiffany Fox, a spokeswoman for OpenTable. “So people shouldn’t wait to the last minute to book if there’s a special spot they’ve been dying to get into.”

3. Enjoy zoos and theme parks without the crowds

While Disney World spokespeople claim the event has no impact on park attendance, Disney vacation planning sites like EasyWDW.com and TheMouseForLess.com recommend visiting the parks on Super Bowl Sunday because you can expect far less company.

The game “keeps many locals away and is usually a great time to tour the parks,” notes TheMouseForLess.com, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios was “virtually dead on Super Bowl Sunday each of the last three years,” according to EasyWDW.com.

If you’re not going to be in sunny California or Florida come game day, try your local zoo or wildlife park. The Nashville Zoo, for example, is offering a “Zooperbowl Deal” this year that cuts admission by half. And last year the Virginia Zoo offered 50% off to anyone wearing merchandise from a Super Bowl participating team.

4. Hit the slopes

Skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes instead of the sofa over Super Bowl weekend are in for a treat: Lift lines will be scant, and many ski resorts plan to roll out deep discounts that day.

The average booked savings on Liftopia.com during last year’s game day was 29% off window rates, making it the best value of any Sunday during the regular ski season. Prices are expected to drop similarly this year, but you will need to book in advance to take advantage.

The Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in Colorado, for example, has cut lift tickets to $57 this year, or 33% off, according to Liftopia. Utah’s Snowbasin slashed rates by 29% to $63. And in Vermont, Okemo Mountain is offering tickets for $73, or a 21% discount.

5. Have a spa day

If you’d literally rather stare at the ceiling than watch football, you can do exactly that—while getting a discounted massage or facial. You’ll find deals all across the country as spas promote their services for so-called Super Bowl widows (and widowers).

“If you don’t see a special at your favorite spa, just ask,” says Beth McGroarty, research director at spa directory site Spafinder.com. “Bookings may be lighter, and under-the-radar deals may be available—especially group discounts.”

If you don’t have a particular spa in mind, browse ratings on sites like Spafinder and Yelp and make calls to compare prices. Some examples of Super Bowl spa deals currently available include 15% off regular services at Clay Health Club + Spa in New York City; 25% off services at Kohler Waters Spa in Kohler, Wisconsin; and $50 off massages at The Palms Spa in Miami Beach, Florida.

MONEY Shopping

Why Teens Hate Shopping at ‘Teen’ Clothing Stores

Paper covers the windows at a closed Wet Seal store on January 7, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Wet Seal, a teen clothing retailer, announced that it has closed 338 of its retail stores and will lay off nearly 3,700 employees.
Paper covers the windows at a closed Wet Seal store on January 7, 2015, in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Teen retailers are suffering for not paying enough attention to the shifting taste of their target audience.

Expect to see more blank storefronts at your local mall—that is if you even go to the mall anymore. Teen clothier Wet Seal announced this week that it will close 338 stores after years of slow sales.

The once popular teen clothing store Delia’s filed for bankruptcy in December with plans to shut down entirely, and yet another apparel specialist targeting teens, Deb Stores, slid back into bankruptcy that same month. The struggles of youth-oriented retailers don’t stop there. Aeropostale lost $141.8 million in its most recent fiscal year and shut 120 stores last year. Rival Abercrombie & Fitch fared little better, while American Apparel has posted net losses of more than $300 million since 2010.

At the same time, sales are booming at shops like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21. The latter plans to double its number of stores in the next three years.

So what happened? Why are teens no longer shopping at the stores that were once the hallmark of “cool”?

1. Individuality Trumps Logos

Thanks to social media—in particular the popularity of searching “outfit of the day” or “OOTD” posts on Instagram—teens now can view hundreds of different products and looks to help them figure out what they want to buy and how to style it. They don’t need a store or brand to help dictate their look for them and aren’t relying on a single brand’s cachet. Instead, millennials favor individuality and shop accordingly. They’re less attached to brands and more willing to mix and match to create their own style, surveys by Nielsen, the Boston Consulting Group, and others have found.

Even Abercrombie, whose name and moose logo were signature design embellishments for every shirt, has realized this. A spokesperson acknowledged to Reuters: “They no longer want to be a walking billboard of a brand. Individualism is important to them, having their own sense of style.” To that end, Abercrombie has shrunk its well-known logo and increased the assortment of offerings in an attempt to better appeal to teens who don’t want to look like store mannequins (or each other).

Abercrombie isn’t the only company that has taken note and been busy “de-branding” designs, notes the Intelligence Group, which found in a study on millennials that they also favor more durable purchases, not flash trends, like classic dark plain denim jeans that can be worn for several years. Retailers that have been more successful with teens of late such as H&M and Forever 21 tend to focus more on selling clothes that seem brandless and still trendy, without prominent logos.

2. “Faster” Fashion Dominates

Stores like Zara, H&M, and Forever 21, which have much shorter waits between when clothing is ordered and when it goes on sale than traditional teen retailers, can roll out new clothing options each week, not each season, meaning they can quickly adopt trends from the catwalk and rapidly bring them to a sales floor. They can also better capitalize on cuts and patterns that are trending well with teens, giving them exactly what they want, faster than ever.

These “fast fashion” shops typically sell clothes at low prices—ideal when your clientele doesn’t have much money—and an ever-changing roster of products lures teens back into stores (or websites) again and again to see what’s new. It’s easy to see how this trend snowballs and hurts the competition, with teens having less time or inclination to look at other shops selling the same 14 sweaters they were a month ago.

3. Malls Are No Longer a Hangout

Remember Clueless, that movie that Iggy Azalea replicates in the “Fancy” music video? In it, privileged 1995 teen Cher’s default retreat is the mall. It’s where she goes to find comfort and break in her new clogs, and where a major popularity restructuring happens. Such a plot point wouldn’t be happening today, and I don’t just mean about the clogs.

Twenty years later, Cher’s counterpart’s default hangout could be at a fast-casual restaurant or at home in front of a screen of some sort. Basically, anywhere but the mall, which has seen a drop in foot traffic across all age groups, but among young people in particular. Strict “parental supervision” policies, like the one Ford City Mall announced this week, make it impossible for some teens to hang out at the mall even if they wanted to, with requirements that anyone under 18 be accompanied by a parent on Friday or Saturday evenings. Roughly 80 other malls have implemented similar policies, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Add in the fact that in 1990, about 3 million retail jobs were held by 16-to-19-year-olds, vs. about 1 million today. When someone works at the mall, they’re more likely to shop there simply as a matter of convenience. Plus, isn’t part of the fun of going to a mall getting to annoy your working friend by unfolding all the shirts or pretending to be interested in smoothies so you can spy on your Jamba Juice crush?

Oh, and young people today are less likely to have driver’s licenses or own cars than prior generations, so it’s just plain more difficult for them to get to the mall. Assuming they wanted to go there, of course.

4. Budget Cuts

Clothing simply isn’t the top spending priority for teens it once was. In 2003, teens spent nearly 30% of their budgets on clothing. Nowadays, that figure has dropped to 21%. Of course, teens in 2003 didn’t have the newest iPhone 6 and its accompanying data plan to pay for or selfie sticks to buy. The best a 2003 teen could hope for was a pink Motorola Razr, if they got a cellphone at all. But the point is that today’s teens and millennials are likely to spend less on clothing and more on electronics and eating out at restaurants like Chipotle.

5. Yoga Pants, Yoga Pants, Yoga Pants

Skinny jeans? Flare? Colored? Forget them all. No teenage girl wants to buy new denim each season when she can slip on the modern uniform involving some variation of yoga pants, leggings, or upscale sweatpants. Sales of these “athleisure” offerings, embodied best by retailer Lululemon, have soared this past year as millennials swap their jeans for bottoms that can do double duty at the gym and school. Sales for activewear topped $35 billion last year and now make up 17% of the total clothing market, according to market-research company NPD Group.

With leggings offering greater wardrobe versatility at a lower cost than a typical pair of denim, teens just aren’t feeling the urge to buy those artfully ripped jeans in 10 different washes that still dominate the offerings from American Eagle Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch. And though AEO and Aeropostale have tried to break into the leisurewear market with new offerings, they’re having a hard battle for attention with established players likes Lululemon and Athleta.

MONEY Ask the Expert

Why You Might Want to Take Student Loans Before Using Up College Savings

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

Q: “My daughter will be starting college this fall. I’m estimating the tuition will be about $25,000 each year. I’ve got about $45,000 put aside in a 529 for her. When should I tap that money?” —Henry Winkler, Colorado

A: The first thing you and your daughter should do is fill out a FAFSA, the federal financial aid application. Even if you think your household income will be too great to qualify for aid, it’s worth applying just to be certain, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Edvisors.com, a website that helps people plan and pay for college. “I have seen many cases where families assume they won’t receive any aid, but actually do qualify based on the number of children they have currently attending college or because the high costs of the tuition resulted in a lower than expected family contribution amount.”

Don’t worry that the savings you currently have in your 529 will hurt her chances for aid either. Federal aid will be reduced by no more than 5.64% of the value of the account and account distributions are not considered income, Kantrowitz says.

Next, she should apply for the most available in federal direct student loans. In her first year, she can borrow $5,500. In her second year, $6,500, and any of the years following up to $7,500. Because you only get to borrow a certain amount in these direct federal student loans—which have much lower interest rates than Parent PLUS loans or private loans—it’s worth borrowing the max each year and accruing that interest rather than waiting and trying to borrow the full cost of college her third or fourth year, says Kantrowitz.

If you have other savings accounts you can draw from, Kantrowitz recommends setting aside $4,000 a year from such an account for your daughter’s college education so that you can take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

With this credit, you get 100% of the first $2,000 you spend on tuition, fees and course materials paid during the year, plus 25% of the next $2,000. The credit is worth $2,500 off your tax bill. Also, 40% of the credit (up to $1,000) is refundable, which means you can get it even if you owe no tax.

The caveat: You will need to have a modified adjusted gross income of $80,000 or less, or $160,000 or less for married couples, a year to get the full benefit. If you earn more than $90,000 or $180,000 for joint filers, you cannot claim the credit.

You cannot use any of the funds from your 529 to qualify for the tax credit since that plan is already a form of tax-free educational assistance. If you do not have an additional $4,000 a year to put toward her education, you can also qualify for the credit by using the student loan amount she received—but just know that you may not be also able to claim the student loan deduction on that amount since you’ve already received a tax break on it, says Kantrowitz. (Right now you can claim both, but Kantrowitz says that could change in the future.)

After deducting any grant aid, her student loan sum, and the $4,000 from another savings account, pay the remaining education expenses with funds from the 529 plan.

“Under this plan it is likely your 529 will be exhausted after her third year of college, or sooner if you don’t put aside that additional $4,000 for the tax credit each year,” says Kantrowitz.

To make up the difference you’ll need to secure another loan. If you own a home, consider home equity financing before PLUS loans, since the latter currently carry a 7.21% interest rate and come with an “origination” fee of about 4.3% of the principal amount you borrow.

If you must take the PLUS, you might be tempted to try to lock in current interest rates by borrowing to cover the first two years’ worth of expenses. But you’d end up having to borrow more since she’ll be getting less federal loan money those first two years, and you’d have to pay two more year’s worth of interest. Even with possible rate increases, you’re still better off taking the PLUS loans in her last two years.

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MONEY salary negotiation

New Study Reveals the Odds You’ll Actually Get the Raise You Ask For

Your boss's decision to grant—or deny—your request could be influenced by a lot more than your performance.

Perhaps you’ve resolved to make 2015 the year that you finally get a big bump up in pay.

If so, you’ll first have to clear the biggest hurdle standing in your way: You.

Less than half of working Americans ever even ask for a raise and close to 30% are uncomfortable negotiating salary, according to a new study by Payscale.

It may help you feel more confident to go after what you want if you know the odds are generally in your favor. Of people who have put themselves out there to request better compensation, three quarters saw their paychecks go up: 44% received the amount they asked for and 31% got an amount that was less than they asked for. (Hey, that’s still something!)

That Payscale study also broke down the likelihood that those who ask shall receive based on annual salary, job, degree level, college major and state of residency.

You’ll have the best shot if you…

 

  • …Already Earn a Decent Wage

    Once again, it’s good to be rich. The higher your annual salary, the more likely you are to have asked for a raise and the more likely you are to have received the raise you requested.

    Individuals earning $150,000 or more a year were the most likely to see their employer match the exact raise they requested, with a 70% success rate. Only 8% of these high-earners saw their request for a raise go unfulfilled.

    Meanwhile, only 25% of those earning between $10,000 and $20,000 saw their incomes increase by the amount they asked for, while 51% had their request for a pay raise denied entirely.

    Somewhere in the middle? The good news is that if your annual income tops $70,000, you have at least a 50% chance of getting the pay raise you request.

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  • …Wear a White Collar

    Unsurprisingly, those who work in higher-paying jobs also have a better shot at having their compensation wishes granted.

    Chief executives were 76% successful in getting the exact pay raises they wanted. First-line supervisors in the construction trades had their requests granted 62% of the time. Other high-wager earners such as financial analysts and electrical engineers rounded out the top five professions most likely to receive a requested raise.

    Those with jobs that commanded lower annual salaries tended to have their requests for raises denied more frequently. Nursing aides and orderlies have the worst chance of getting the raise they want followed by security guards and cashiers. Below are the top five and bottom five occupations for getting a wage increase.

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  • …Went to Law School

    While the level of education a person has obtained didn’t have much impact on their willingness to ask for a raise, it did affect the likelihood that their wish would be granted.

    Those with post-graduate degrees were most likely to be successful in their requests, though success rates were highest for those with an M.B.A. (55%) and a law degree (59%).

    Go figure that attorneys are good at negotiation.

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  • …Got a B.S. in Social Work

    Surprisingly, English language and/or English literature majors were the most likely to have asked for a raise (51%)—call it their way with words. Their requests paid off 49% of the time.

    Those who studied public administration and social services were the most lucky in terms of receiving, getting what they wanted 56% of the time

    Those whose college majors tended to land them jobs in the public sector, such as homeland security, law enforcement, firefighting and other protective services were least likely to have asked for a raise—perhaps because these jobs typically have set pay structures. Workers who came from these majors who did ask were only met with a yes 18% of the time, giving them the lowest success rate.

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  • …Live in Juneau

    Alaska residents are the most likely to push for a raise, with 53% of the population having requested one (and they’ll need it to offset those heating bills). Residents of Rhode Island come in second with 51%, followed by Oregonians and West Virginians, with 48%. Dwellers of Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Idaho tied for fifth with 47% advocating for a raise.

    South Dakotans were least likely to ask for a pay increase, (31%), followed by residents of Arkansas (34%), Nevada (37%) and Nebraska (37%).

    Alaskans’ assertiveness pays off, apparently, as they are also the state residents most likely to receive the pay increase requested. Delawareans were the least successful in their requests with only 32% getting the amount they were after. Below are the top six and worst six states for getting a raise request approved:

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    More from this series on Money.com:

MONEY Savings

The Financial Resolution that 62% of Americans Really Ought to be Making

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Jonathan Kitchen—Getty Images

A new Bankrate study finds that most of us are missing a key piece of our financial well-being: emergency savings.

It’s not just your body you should be resolving to get fit this year.

Look beyond the mirror and into your savings account. If it’s as lean as you wish your figure was, know that you’re in a troubling majority.

Only 38% of Americans have enough money in their savings accounts to pay for unexpected expenses such as a $1,000 emergency room visit or a $500 car repair, according to a report by Bankrate.com released Wednesday.

Who’s Prepared and Who’s Not

Unsurprisingly, the Bankrate report found that the likelihood of having savings increased with one’s age, education level, and income.

Only 33% of millennials surveyed had sufficient savings to pay for either of the expenses noted earlier, compared to 44% of senior citizens. Another study, released Monday by GOBankingRates, also found that Gen Y-ers were the least likely age group to be saving for an emergency.

In the Bankrate survey, those with household incomes above $75,000 were most likely to have sufficient savings to cover unexpected expenses, with 62% prepared.

And according to the GOBankingRates poll, women are 16% more likely than men to be saving for emergencies.

What’s especially troubling about the Bankrate results is that for many Americans the $1,000 and $500 figures in the survey are far less than the minimum of three to six month’s worth of living costs financial planners recommend people have in emergency savings. That means that even more than 62% of people are unprepared for a big crisis like a job loss.

Will You Shore Up Your Reserves in 2015?

Many Americans seem to have overlooked this vital part of their financial health when setting goals for this year.

Less than a third of us even made financial resolutions for 2015, according to a study by Fidelity. Of those who did, saving more was the top goal, but most intended those increased savings to be funneled to retirement or college savings accounts.

While saving for longer-term goals is important, it’s even more important that you have enough squirreled away so that if you face a financial hardship you don’t have to go into debt—which is why building emergency savings should be among your top priorities.

Luckily, fattening up these savings will require less sweat than losing weight.

First step: Set up an FDIC-insured savings or money-market account independent of your regular checking and savings for your emergency fund so that you avoid the temptation to spend those funds. (Finding an account that pays above average interest can help you grow your savings faster, so check out Money’s Best Banks for our picks.)

Start with a goal of putting away three months’ worth of non-discretionary expenses, such as health insurance, utilities, rent or mortgage, and food. Divide by 12 and automate that much to be transferred from your checking to savings each month.

Depending on your type of job, your household expenses, and whether you are the sole breadwinner, you may need to increase the amount in your account to cover six to nine month’s worth of costs.

But don’t stress about that for now; that’s what 2016 is for.

Need help finding more in your budget to save? See our guide on how to make saving easier.

More on resolutions from Money.com:

MONEY Shopping

How to Get Cash for Your Unwanted Gift Cards

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Tom Hahn—Getty Images

Fortunately, you aren't stuck with that gift card to your great-aunt's favorite store. Here's how you can dump it for something you actually want this holiday.

Now that Christmas has passed and the piles of wrapping and ribbons are cleared, you have a good view of the duds in your holiday haul.

For items like that hideous sweater from your cousin, see our guide to returning and exchanging gifts. But if the unwanted present is a little rectangle of plastic redeemable at a store you’ve never heard of or would never willingly wander into, it may seem like you’re stuck with it—or whatever item you find least offensive in that shop.

That’s if you use it at all. This year alone, American consumers will leave more than $1 billion in store credit unused, according to CEB TowerGroup, which tracks gift card trends. Rather than leave that card to languish in your wallet, consider these options for swapping it for something you do want.

Trade It In

There are a number of websites that let you get cash back for your card or swap for another you’re more likely to use, but don’t expect to recoup the full value. These vendors will take a small percentage, meaning you’ll pay a price for your swap.

To make sure you get the most for any trade, try giftcardgranny.com. This online gift card aggregator lets you select the merchant of your card and then easily compare offers from 15 reseller sites, including cardpool.com and giftcards.com, to figure out who will offer you back the highest percentage of your card’s value. Since each gift card reseller uses different fees and payment methods, it’s worthwhile to do this check first and then go to the site offering the most for your unwanted plastic.

Not included in this price comparision site is a new offer from Walmart that’s good if you have a lot of love for the big-box retailer. Walmart will trade store credit for gift cards from more than 200 different retailers, restaurants, and airlines through its own online exchange website, Walmart.CardCash.com. Certain merchant cards will get you up to 95% of the original card’s value, or about 3% more than most reseller websites, which usually top out at 92% of a card’s face value. Others will get you 85% back, and some as little as 70%.

Sell It

If you don’t want to make your swap online, you can visit certain Coinstar kiosks (yes, those same machines you dump a year’s worth of spare change into). These yellow boxes accept gift cards from more than 150 retailers and restaurants, as long as they have a balance of at least $20. It will make you an offer for the card, and, if you accept, will provide you with a voucher you can then redeem for cash at the register of the shop the kiosk is located in.

If you don’t want to have the value of your card dictated by a reseller, use raise.com. Through this site, you can set your own price for the gift card in a marketplace similar to eBay, without the bidding. You can list any e-card for free on the site and a physical gift card for $1, but when you sell it, the company will take a 15% cut, meaning that even if you sell it for full value you can still end up recouping the same or less than a site that pays a lower percentage outright, plus you won’t have to wait as long to get money back.

Donate It

If you’d rather keep another service from profiting off your gift card or don’t find the exchange worthwhile, contact your favorite charity organization and ask if they accept donated gift cards. You could also use a site like Gift Card Giver, which distributes donated gift cards to certain approved nonprofit organizations. Giving the card away could lower your tax bill and extend that holiday generosity even more.

Who do you side with in the Great Gift Card Debate?
Why gift cards are the only present that makes sense
Why gift cards are a crime against Christmas

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