Consumer Catch-up: Spending cutbacks, mortgage rates climb, boosting financial well-being

Spending dips to kick off 2018

Spending dropped last month, in the biggest decline in 11 months. Americans cut back in January, holding off on purchasing cars, furniture, and other items.

The change pushed down retail sales by three tenths of a percent. It's the largest setback since a half a percent fall in February of 2017.

The slowdown comes after three months of robust spending from September through November, which fueled the best holiday sales in a decade.

Mortgage rates climbing

It is getting more expensive to borrow to buy a home. Mortgage rates jumped this week to the highest level in almost four years, at the prospect of higher inflation.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said average rates on a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage rose to 4.38% this week. That's the highest since April 2014.

On a 15-year, fixed rate loan, rates rose to 3.84%.

Higher wages and rising prices are worrying some investors about inflation picking up. That led to the higher interest rates.

Community helps financial well-being

Being involved in some type of community may help you feel more secure financially.

That's according to a new study from life insurer MassMutual. The study surveyed 10,000 Americans.

The findings show that more than half of people involved in a community, 53%, helped out someone else during a tough financial time. Three in five people who said community involvement was important to them, also said they are confident in their financial future.

Almost half - 48% - of those surveyed said they believe that communities improve their finances.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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