Category Archives: Personal Finance

PNC Christmas Price Index Surges 4.8 Percent In 2012

Prices for six items in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song on par with 2011, but drought causes swans and geese prices to soar 

Christmas has many traditions and one of the more recently established ones is the Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management.

The 29th annual survey reveals that an improving US economy coupled with a severe drought that caused increased feed costs for large birds resulted in a 4.8 percent surge in the 2012 PNC Christmas Price Index. Based on the gifts in the holiday classic, The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the price tag for the PNC CPI is $25,431.18 in 2012, $1,168 more than last year.

“The rise of the PNC CPI is larger than expected considering the modest economic growth we’ve had over the past 12 months,” said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management. “Despite some weak spots in the economy, consumer balance sheets are improving along with consumer confidence, which means this may still be a spirited holiday season.”

PNC Wealth Management also tabulates the “True Cost of Christmas,” which is the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song’s verses. True Loves must spend over $107,300.24 for all 364 gifts, a 6.1 percent increase on last year.

PNC Christmas Price Index 2012

Swans rose by 11.1 percent whilst six items (the Partridge, Two Turtle Doves, Four Calling Birds, Eight Maids-A-Milking, Nine Ladies Dancing and 10 Lords-A-Leaping) remained the same price as last year.

The prices for 11 Pipers Piping ($2,562.00) and 12 Drummers Drumming ($2,775.50) are up 5.5 percent

The Three French Hens were up 10.0 percent and the Five Gold Rings soared 16.3 percent.

As the only unskilled labourers in the PNC CPI the price for the eight Maids-a-Milking is represented by the minimum wage. With the US minimum wage flat at $7.25 per hour hiring the maids this year will not increase labour costs.

For those True Loves who prefer the convenience of shopping online, PNC Wealth Management also calculates the cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gifts purchased on the Internet. True Loves will pay a grand total of $40,440 to buy the items online, which is 1.5 percent more than last year and almost $580 more than this year’s traditional index.

In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of premium shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online,” Dunigan said.

The full press release is at and the index itself  is at The site includes an interactive scavenger hunt where visitors can take a trip around the world to locate the 12 gifts of Christmas.

Historical data can be downloaded as a spreadsheet from:

Cost of True Love’s christmas gifts increases by 9.2% according to PNC

PNC Wealth Management’s annual  review of their Christmas Price Index (CPI) has revealed that this year True Love will have to pay USD 23,439 for his gifts, an increase of USD 1,974 on last year’s prices.

PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index 2010

The CPI was started in 1984 and surveys the cost of the gifts given by True Love in the song “Twelve days of Christmas”. In 1984 the cost was USD 12,673.56.

James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management said:

“This year’s jump in the PNC CPI can be attributed to rising gold commodity prices, represented by the Five Gold Rings which went up by 30 percent, in addition to higher costs for wages and benefits impacting some entertainers”

PNC goes on to say:

“The PNC CPI’s surge is in marked contrast to the [US] government’s CPI, which grew a mere 1.1 percent, illustrating the difference in size of the two baskets of goods and services.”

Whilst the milkmaid’s minimum wage did not increase “the prices for birds flew higher in this year’s index, in part due to the costs of feed as well as the availability and demand for certain feathered friends that amplified several prices. The Two Turtle Doves increased 78.6 percent to $100 and the Three French hens surged 233 percent to $150. The Partridge in a Pear Tree is up 1.3 percent to $161. But the partridge alone was up 20 percent to $12 and the pear tree is identical to a year ago at $149.”

The full tab for True Love who gifts all of the 364 items according to the song’s verses is USD 96,824. Shopping on the internet only makes matters worse. True Love will have to pay USD 34,336 compared with USD 23,439 for just one purchase of the items – USD 11,000 more than this year’s traditional index:

“In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online” Dunigan said.

But that is mere pennies compared to the items that True Love has to buy in an updated version of the song composed and presented by the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

This is a difficult calculation to make as there are regional differences, for example house prices. Also, what car is True Love prepared to buy? A rock bottom of the market second hand banger or a Lamborghini? How much would assorted bling cost, assuming that True Love did not aim a brick at a jeweller’s windows? And it’s probably best not to enquire too deeply as to how much the lap dancers or a knighthood would cost. Nevertheless, after lengthy discussions with colleagues, who wish to remain anonymous, we have come up with the cost of the modern True Love’s Christmas:

One gifting of the items listed in the ‘Socks’ video: GBP 258,132 or USD 407,920

Gifting of all the items according to all of the verses: GBP 1,055,646 or  USD 1,668,214

Are your savings safe?: Full guide to protect your cash

This page on MoneySavingExpert. com provides information on the protection offered by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) for UK savers. It outlines what type of savings and investments are covered by the scheme, should your bank or building society collapse. If you are in the fortunate position of having saved more than £50,000 – the maximum amount you would receive under the FSCS should your bank go bust –  then you ought to  think about spreading your investments across more than one financial institution.

There have been so many mergers in the UK banking sector that it is easy to lose track of who owns whom. To add to the confusion, two banks may have merged but still be registered as separate institutions under the FSA.  A table shows you which banks are standalone and which are part of the same institution. Any banks shaded in the same colour (except white) are linked and share protection. If you have money in a combination of linked banks you only receive one lot of the FSCS £50,000 safeguard. For example, if you have £40,000 in Birmingham Midshires and £30,000 in the Bank of Scotland you would only receive £50,000. In contrast NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland are at present registered as seperate institutions under the FSA and treated accordingly by the FSCS. If both went under and you had £40,000 in one and £30,000 in the other you would receive £70,000 under the FSCS.

There is basic information on European owned UK banks such as ING Direct, which are treated differently, and links to relevant pages on the FSA and FSCS web sites.

Track down lost bank accounts

If you have lost track of a bank or building society account Lost Accounts can help you find it. This is a free service set up by the British Bankers’ Association, the Building Societies Association and National Savings and Investments. Together they represent most of the firms that offer savings and current accounts in the UK.

Banks and building societies are stepping up their campaigns to reunite customers with lost cash because towards the end of 2009 the Government is going to pool the £1 billion lying in dormant accounts and place the money in an FSA-regulated central reclaim fund. This fund will then be reinvested in the community, particularly in youth services and financial inclusion schemes, but if someone later comes forward to claim their money, the fund will be used to pay account holders.

The procedure for tracking down your dormant or forgotten account is very straight forward. You enter your personal details, current and previous addresses and as much information as possible about the account. Even if the original institution has been swallowed up in mergers and acquisitions, it should still be possible to find your account. The response may take up to 12 weeks but, before you can claim the money as yours, you will have to provide proof of identity.