Let it bee

06.22.2023

Sometimes, we just need a break – on inflation, rate hikes, and hidden fees – to rest our gaze on ... swarming bees? 

When a hive of the flying insects* swathed a New York City block in black and yellow, all we could do was stare (slash run). With a $1 billion catalog, that same buzzy feeling goes for the “last Beatles record*” set to be released later this year (with a little help from AI, of course). 

Hey, June – way to take a sad swarm and make it better. And busy bees, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers. 

— The Editors  

MONEY

Take a load off: Inflation fell to 4%* in May – the lowest rate in more than two years, and down from a peak of more than 9% in June 2022. Inflation remains above the Federal Reserve’s 2% goal, with the costs of rent and used vehicles as the largest contributors. Following the news of (relative) low-flation, the Fed paused its interest rate-hike campaign* for the first time in 10 months but hinted at two more increases this year. 

OOO: While remote work rages on, office vacancies hit their highest level in decades*, with $80 billion in office building loans coming due* this year. Pump it up: This road trip season is looking less costly (validating news for the 1 in 5 Americans who told us they’re planning trips within driving distance this summer). Empower data shows that monthly gas expenditures dipped to $213 in May – a 16% decline from the same period last year. What’s the average fuel price in your state? Find out

WORK

Two scoops or one? 

As consumers resume pre-pandemic activities like ice cream outings and matinee marathons, teens are churning up earnings at their summer gigs. 

Teenagers are expected to make up nearly 1 in 5 summer hires* this year, with a national average wage of $14.89 per hour. 

Employers reported 10.1 million job openings* in April, outweighing the 5.7 million unemployed job seekers. Some 20% of the roles were in entertainment, food service and retail. Meanwhile, job postings for summer internships were down 14.7%* in May from a year earlier, as hiring has slowed in tech and other business sectors. 

What to do with the earnings? A thoughtful balance of saving and spending can help set people up for long-term success. One investment option is a Roth IRA, a tax-advantaged retirement account savers can contribute to as soon they have earned income. What may make this account appealing is its flexibility: Contributions can be withdrawn at any time, and earnings may be withdrawn without an early withdrawal penalty to fund big life purchases, such as a first-time home down payment or education expenses like college tuition. (Remember that taxes will still be due on any earnings withdrawn before retirement.) 

Finfluencer Andy Hill employs his kids as podcast cohosts and pays them a fair hourly wage. They get their fun money and also store some in a Roth IRA for lessons on saving and compounding. Check out his latest post for The CurrencyTM.  

LIFE

Summer loving, had me a blast 

Though inflation is laying low this season, there’s a rise in infla-dating*, a trend to go on cheap dates over spendy rendezvous. A picnic and free outdoor concert is music to the ears of budgeters.

More than 3 in 10 adults report being uncoupled*. Individuals in Minnesota – roughly the middle state* for cost of living – pay about $5,500 more per year* on living expenses (and more in costly states). One estimate found* that unmarried people may pay over $1 million more than coupled counterparts over the course of their lifetimes. We’ve got tips for overcoming the financial challenges of single savings. 

Solo or partnered, consider taking yourself on a money date, a time to review your finances, check on progress, and set goals. 

Dating aside, how much money would you happily spend this summer on a dinner with a friend? 

a. $30 or less – we'll eat light b. $50-$100 – another round, please c. $100+ – we're going big d. $0 – I cook at home 

Take this week's poll to weigh in.  

PLAY

Tossing out the fees

Live Nation Entertainment, Ticketmaster’s parent company, agreed to more transparent pricing after their handling of ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour reached a boiling point* with fans. Ticketmaster announced* it would display the final price for venues it owns and give customers the option to see all-in cost for other venues. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed* capping credit card late fees at $8, down from $30, saying it would save Americans up to $9 billion annually. Additionally, 15 of the 20 largest banks have said they would eliminate overdraft fees*

Pocket-change payments are one matter; investment fees amassed over time are at another level. For your investment portfolio, you can use Empower’s Investment Checkup tool to spot high fund fees and learn how they may be impacting your overall portfolio. Another way to know all of your fees? Ask a financial professional. 

*Third-party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Empower cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness, or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third-party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement, responsibility, or approval by Empower of the contents on such third-party websites.

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The Currency editors

Staff contributors

The CurrencyTM, a publication from Empower, covers the latest financial news and views shaping how we live, work, and play. We keep you current on ways to plan, save, and invest for life.

The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. No part of this blog, nor the links contained therein is a solicitation or offer to sell securities. Compensation for freelance contributions not to exceed $1,250. Third-party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Empower cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third-party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement or approval by Empower of the contents on such third-party websites. 

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