My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

Black Friday weekend has come and gone, and I hope you didn’t break the bank. Recent media reports have shown that more consumers waited until Cyber Monday to shop for online deals, or are waiting until later in the month for retailers to mark down the items on their wish lists.2016 Holiday Shopping Guide

Check Attorney General Pam Bondi’s product recall guide to make sure you’re not buying a gift that’s been recalled for safety reasons and might do more harm than good. This is particularly important when buying for infants or young children.

While it’s a joy to watch family and friends open the latest and greatest toy or electronic device, it’s important that you don’t overspend trying to keep up with the Joneses. Set a limit and stick to it. Start by looking at what you spent last year and go from there.

Speaking of calculating holiday expenses, don’t forget to include your holiday travel. Plane tickets, rental cars, fuel costs and even eating out can add up quickly, so keep these costs in mind. It can be difficult to track everything that goes into a family vacation, so use our travel tool to help you.

Another way that many people choose to give during the holiday season is by donating to charities or non-profits that represent causes that are important to you. If you wish to make a donation, that’s great, but please take steps to ensure that your money ends up where you want it to go.

It’s a sad truth that some will create fake charities that sound awfully similar to ones you might commonly donate to, hoping that unsuspecting consumers will fill their pockets with cash. Don’t fall for it: search online for a website or look for other signs of an online presence to help establish legitimacy.

Commissioner Adam Putnam offers a Check-A-Charity tool that allows you to verify that a charity is registered and allows you to look through the organization’s financials.

I know it’s a lot to keep in mind, but a small amount of research up front can save you a ton of hassle and heartburn later.

Enjoy your shopping experiences and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or need any help.


Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Florida's Bottom Line: Florida’s Economy

Jerry D. Parrish, Ph.D., is the Chief Economist and Director of Research at the Florida Chamber Foundation.Learn about Florida's economy in an in-depth column written by Jerry D. Parrish, Ph.D., the Chief Economist and Director of Research at the Florida Chamber Foundation, in the recent edition of Florida's Bottom Line. Here is an excerpt:

Over the past 5 years, Florida’s economy has both strengthened and changed. If Florida was a separate country, we would have the 16th largest economy in the world. Florida has one of the fastest growing state economies, now producing more than 1 in every 10 jobs in the U.S. Few people realize that Florida has been doing that since around the beginning of 2014. However, the path to the recovery of the Florida economy has not been an easy one.

My research on state business cycles has shown that Florida’s most recent recession started earlier and lasted longer than the U.S. recession. My calculations show that Florida’s recession lasted 35 months, compared to the U.S. recession which lasted 18 months. The U.S. recession was labeled as the worst since the Great Depression and Florida was hit harder than average states. Who can forget the 2007 Wall Street Journal article "Is Florida Over?"

Recovering from any economic downturn is difficult, especially one that was so deep. Fortunately, Florida’s leaders made decisions and took action to set up Florida for future success. They showed that the state of Florida could be run responsibly even while making substantial investments in transportation infrastructure without taking on a substantial amount of debt. It was during this past 5 years that the new headline from the Wall Street Journal was “Has Florida Found the Secret to Saving the Economy?” That article talked about how Florida had become a place where private capital could be invested because businesses felt comfortable with the direction and the business climate of the state.

Read more from Dr. Parrish about Florida's economy in Florida's Bottom Line, CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine, focused on providing you with the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's financial and economic health.

Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart Workshops

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Operation S.A.F.E.Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors
  • How to Fight Identity Theft

Feedback from seniors who attended a Be Scam Smart workshop:

“Savored every moment of this workshop. The information was needed and vital for seniors’ and consumers’ financial survival.” - West Palm Beach

“Presentations were great & well timed. Excellent information we all need to know.” - Pensacola

“Every senior in the city and state should attend the Be Scam Smart Workshop.” - Jacksonville

“Thank you for alerting us to the scam we as seniors are exposed to.” - Brandon

Find out more about us in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event, including the following workshop:

  • Wednesday, December 14th – Jacksonville
    12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
    Jewish Community Alliance
    8505 San Jose Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32217
    Register | Directions

This is the last workshop for 2016, but there will be many more in 2017. Please let us know if you would like to request a workshop in your area.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida’s housing prices rise while sales fall
In October, the median sales price of homes rose 11.7 percent over the year, to $220,000. Additionally, more than 20,000 homes were sold in Florida, down 5.3 percent from this time last year.
Source: Florida Realtors

Florida’s consumer confidence up in November
Consumer confidence rose in November ahead of the holiday season. Of the five components that make up the index, three increased and two decreased.
Source: Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida