Category Archives: investing

Household Savings Improves to only 36% Spending more than Income

After analyzing data from the 2017 Consumer Expenditures Survey (CEX) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 35.9% of US households spent more than they earned. This is the most recently available data from the BLS. Overall, 46 million out of 129 million US households are estimated to have had expenditures that exceeded their after tax income (table below).

Large Improvements since 2015

Comparing these results to the previously reported ones for 2015’s CEX survey where I reported 38.5% spending more than income, the percentage American households saving has improved significantly. Almost 2.5 million fewer households are spending more than they earn, which is a huge improvement. In addition households tended to save more than in 2015, as the $0-$10k group dropped by 1.4 million households, with large increases in households saving larger amounts of income. One of the largest shifts appears in the decline of household who spent more than $150k than they earned. Shockingly, this category decreased 54%! I suspect that the losses of this size were primarily due to investments and housing losses, and values for both of those assets have increased significantly in the past few years.

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Possible changes to Scottrade after the merger to TD Ameritrade

A month ago TD Ameritrade and Scottrade agreed to merge for $4 billion. In this merger TD Ameritrade will be buying Scottrade, and they expect to see $450 million in benefit by merging.  That $450 million will be realized through cost cutting and revenue growth.

What could this mean for you, if you have a Scottrade account?

TD Ameritrade generally has higher rates than Scottrade by as much as 43% (see below for transaction pricing differences).   Most likely after the merger Scottrade’s pricing will be increased to match TD Ameritrade.  This means that those price increases will be passed on to you to help the company “earn” the benefit from merging.  In addition, if there are TD Ameritrade branches that are nearby Scottrade branches, the merged company will most likely close one of those branches.  Read through the comparison of pricing to see if the cost differences could impact you.  If the differences are substantial for the types of trades that you do, you may want to consider moving your accounts to other brokerages.

Scottrade Pricing vs TD Ameritrade Pricing

Scottrade and TD Ameritrade do not charge inactivity fees or minimum monthly transaction fees.  So at minimum after the merger, nothing should change there.

Stocks and ETF Trades

Scottrade TD Ameritrade Difference
Online $7 $9.99 +43%
Broker $32 $44.99 +41%
Phone (IVR) $32 $34.99 +9%

One benefit that TD Ameritrade has is that they offer a wide array of around 100 ETF’s that you can trade for free.  Scottrade used to have a handful of no trading fee ETF’s but that program was discontinued.

Mutual Funds

Scottrade TD Ameritrade Difference
No Load, No Transaction Fee (NTF) $0 $0 0%
No Load $17 to sell $49.99 to sell 194%
Load $32 to sell $0 to sell -100%


Options and Contracts

Scottrade TD Ameritrade Difference
Online $7 + $0.70 per contract $9.99 + $0.70 per contract +43%
Broker $32 + $0.70 per contract $44.99 + $0.70 per contract +41%
Phone (IVR) $32 + $0.70 per contract $34.99 + $0.70 per contract +9%
Option Exercises Assignments $17 $19.99 +18%


The merger has not yet been approved by the FTC, but is it likely to be approved as there are other competing brokerages that would be larger than the combined company.