Rockin' in the USA

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Oh, say can you see … the savings?

While the Fourth of July may be in the rearview mirror, we’re not done celebrating everyone’s aim to achieve financial freedom from sea to shining sea.  

From home runs to hot dogs, to road trips and retirement goals, this issue is all about saluting the red, white, and blue, your money, and you! So, cue the fireworks already. Let’s get this “party in the USA” started.

– The Editors



Not a Yankee Doodle dandy day: If there’s one MLB franchise that strikes out when the calendar turns to July, it’s gotta be the New York Yankees’ Subway Series rival, the New York Mets. In the baseball world, July 1 is unofficially known as “Bobby Bonilla Day.”* As the story goes, the Mets agreed to buy out the remaining $5.9 million on the slugger’s contract in 2000. But instead of giving Bonilla the cash up front, the team chose to defer his deal and pay him $1.19 million (with 8% interest)* for 25 years beginning in 2011 so they could afford signing other premier players. 

While Bonilla seems to have his retirement plan in place (until 2035), most of us will have to step up to the plate and practice a more realistic savings approach. Here’s some advice on how you can hit your retirement income strategy out of the park.  

Root, root, root for America’s national pastime: If you haven’t taken your family out to the old ballgame this summer, that may be a swing and a miss. In 2023, MLB attendance is through the roof after a recent stretch saw more than 1.5 million fans pass through the gates.* Even better, MLB tickets are often considered some of the most price-friendly in all of professional sports, helping you hit a home run with your wallet. If you’re craving some peanuts and Cracker Jack, be sure to review our winning lineup of ways you can save at the stadium this season.  

It’s a ‘free’ country: This land really is your land. If heading to the ballpark doesn’t sound like fun, maybe exploring a national park does. There are more than 400 national parks in the U.S., with sites in every state, from California to the New York island. On five specific days in 2023,* including August 4, the National Park Service is waiving entrance fees and offering free admission to everyone at all locations. It's one of many wallet-friendly destinations this summer. 



O beautiful for spacious skies … and open roads  

From the Golden Gate Bridge to Mount Rushmore to the Statue of Liberty, America is home to some of the most iconic landmarks and monuments in the world. With gas prices coming back down to earth, and the national average hovering around $3.50,* driving to some of our country’s most popular destinations is becoming much more affordable for Americans this summer. In fact, AAA projected more than 50 million* hopped in the car for a trip of 50 miles or more to observe the July 4th holiday this year. That total sped past the previous record of 49 million travelers in 2019. 

If you’re hitting the highway this summer, don’t forget to create a financial itinerary before you fill up your tank and pack your bags. It’s a must-have carryon for any vacation.



Life, liberty, and (student) loans  

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s plan to forgive student loans held by 40 million Americans. Following the ruling, the U.S. Department of Education announced payments from borrowers – which have been paused since 2020 – will be due in October, with interest resuming a month earlier on September 1. The measure would have canceled up to $20,000 in debt for eligible individuals.  

According to Empower research, nearly 55% of people believe financial freedom starts with being debt-free. If you have student debt, learn more about your repayment options here



Pass the ‘catch-up’  

Americans scarf down a whopping 150 million frankfurters every Independence Day,* thanks in part to hundreds devoured at food eating contests. Meanwhile, Americans spend a total of $9.5 billion* altogether on food for July 4th – including a not-so-weenie $450 million* on hot dogs alone. 

Of course, what’s more American than topping your dog with ketchup? Lately, the price of the popular condiment may have many people “seeing red”. Since last May, a 32-ounce bottle of tomato ketchup has increased more than $1, from $4.08 to $5.22,* which may be tough to stomach at your backyard picnic.   

If you’re searching for a type of ketchup that’s healthy for your financial future, look no further than “catch-up” contributions. (C’mon, we had to.) America’s birthday is a good time to remember that if you’re celebrating your 50th birthday (or any age older than 50) in 2023, you’re eligible to save over the annual IRS limit* in your retirement account, such as a workplace 401(k), to help you squeeze the most out of your nest egg.  


🍦 And, finally, we were ‘mint’ for each other 

In last week’s poll, we asked readers to declare their favorite flavor of ice cream. Overall, 22% of people screamed for mint chocolate chip, followed by cookie dough and coffee (tied for second place at 17%), and cookies n’ cream (15%). Special shout out to the readers who filled in their own responses - pistachio and peanut butter cup fans, we see you. 


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*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.


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.

Certain sections of this blog may contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions. Past performance is not a guarantee of future return, nor is it indicative of future performance. Investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate and you may lose money.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.