Study: Ansonians have lowest debt in state

Anson County residents are some of the most responsible in the nation when it comes to managing debt, according to a recent study.

The trend may help with shopping holidays coming up this week, including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

SmartAsset, a financial technology company, found that Anson has the lowest per capita debt in the state, and it ranks 354 nationally.

The study found that the income per capita is $17,091, while credit card debt per capita is $1,079. Auto debt per capita is $3,502 while mortgage debt per capita is $10,280.

Comparatively, Onslow County ranks number 91 in the state and 2198 nationally, with income per capita at $21,583 but credit card, auto and mortgage debt per capita at $2,903, $6,939 and $25,174, respectively.

Mortgage debt as a percentage of income is 60.1 percent, while it is 116.6 percent in Onslow.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING

Shopping sales may help keep that credit card debt low.

WalletHub looked at 8,000 sales from 35 of the county’s biggest retailer’s Black Friday ads and ranked the top ten biggest average discounts.

The study found that Macy’s will offer the highest overall discounts at a rate of 63.35 percent. Next up is State at 62.81 percent, followed by JCPenny with 62.79 percent offered in average discounts.

Harbor Freight, Gordmans, Kohl’s, Shopko, Fred Meyer, Craft Warehouse and Sears followed as the next best deals. Of the 35 retailers, Lowe’s ranked the lowest, offering 23.52 percent in average discounts.

“The overall average discount for Black Friday is 39 percent,” WalletHub concluded. “Consumers should aim for this discount amount or higher to avoid Black Friday traps.”

If consumers would prefer to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers than compete with crowds for the best deals, they can save their shopping for Small Business Saturday the next day.

Greg Thompson, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said that shopping at local businesses rather than big box retailers helps keep the local and state economy healthy.

“NFIB in partnership with American Express and has sponsored Small Business Saturday for about six years now,” Thompson said. “It has grown each year and in North Carolina, and nationwide, about 95 percent of businesses are considered small businesses. Look at Anson or any rural counties in North Carolina. Our counties are made up of small business owners. Those small business owners are the ones who put money back in the community. They’re the ones in high school yearbook ads, or sponsoring Little League teams or local arts program. There are numerous ways of how small business owners give back to the community they care out and live in.”

Thompson said that larger stores can also help their community, but that small businesses tend to better support their communities.

“Small business creates 67 percent of all newly-created jobs,” he said. “Small Business Saturday is a way that the NFIB tries to focus on why when Black Friday is supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year, you have tons of ads coming to you, and small business owners can’t afford to put out slick ads and mail out ads and stuff. So we follow with Small Business Saturday to encourage people to go to these boutiques and specialty shops and small businesses to buy gifts they cannot find in big box retailers, and at the same time, helping their own communities. When a person buys locally in a small business, they are, in a way, giving back to their own community.

Thompson said that Christmastime can “make or break” a small business that may rely on those sales.

The federation has about 8,000 members in North Carolina, Thompson said. The businesses include a range of single proprietors up to those with about 300 or 400 employees, but most hire an average of six employees, he said. All are independent business owners.

While shoppers can carefully select where to invest their dollar, even the fiscally-minded Ansonians can also watch how much they spend.

For those who are struggling to manage their finances, SmartAsset offered some advice.

“First, only borrow what you absolutely need,” the company advised. “Second, put yourself on a budget so that you can keep up with your monthly payments. Third, pay as much as you can — don’t just stick to the minimum payment. Lenders offer minimum payments as a guideline but they’re often calibrated to be so low that they leave borrowers paying more interest for a longer period of time. A personal loan should be a short-term solution to a pressing problem, not a long-term source of financial stress. With the proper research ahead of time to compare your personal loan rates and terms, you can ensure you pick the best option for you and your financial situation.”

Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.

Holiday sales start this week, SmartAsset advises budgeting

By Imari Scarbrough

iscarbrough@civitasmedia.com