Time after time

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08.09.2023

Nostalgia is a powerful force – for example, remember when Amazon just sold books?  

This week the commerce giant and parent company to Whole Foods (which it acquired for $13.7 billion six years ago) announced an overhaul of its grocery business, including offering fresh-food delivery to customers who don’t have a Prime subscription. The company is also consolidating Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, and Amazon.com orders into one online shopping cart.

The U.S. grocery market is estimated to be $1.5 trillion* and Amazon is reaching for a bigger piece of the pie.  
 
Times, they are a-changing – yet many financial lessons hold true throughout the ages, according to our research. More on that in this week’s edition. 

– The Editors

MONEY

“Nones” the word on AI for Apple: Not that it's a competition, but AI was mentioned 66 times on Alphabet’s latest earnings call, 47 times on Microsoft’s, and 42 times by Meta (thanks to CNBC* for this analysis). Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, meanwhile, only mentioned AI twice – so not none, but you get the picture. The company’s execs favor the phrase “machine learning” to position the tech as a core part of its existing user experiences, like organizing their photos, sending a message that the future is now.

It's a good time for fixed debt: Just 11.1% of American households have floating debt* that carries fluctuating interest rates tied to the markets. That means that many who took out auto loans and mortgages during the recent period of historically low rates are likely locked in with fixed payments and may be less impacted by the Fed’s historic rate increases over the past 16 months. But, many Americans also hold credit cards, which do have rates that follow the market, so borrowers be advised.    
 
The right time to visit the museum: Museums across the country are raising entry fees as many continue to grapple with a drop in attendance that has not bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. The New York Times reports visitor traffic is down 26% at Manhattan’s Guggenheim Museum,* which recently raised the price of a day pass to $30 to make up lost revenue. However, Saturdays remain a “pay-what-you-wish" model to ensure artwork stays accessible to visitors of all income levels – but for how long remains uncertain.    

LIFE

Time is of the essence 
 
Oh, to be young (and that depends what you consider young)! In a recent Empower survey, Gen Z hopes to achieve financial success – defined as working for a passion and not just to pay the bills – 11 years sooner than their Millennial counterparts, by age 43 versus age 54. Age is just a number – but it matters when trying to understand how Americans approach building wealth and reaching financial freedom. 
 
Being debt-free was the top factor for building wealth according to Baby Boomers (70%) and Gen X (70%), while achieving a high salary was top for Millennials (67%) and Gen Z (67%).

Perhaps as a reflection of today’s tough real estate market, Baby Boomers were the only generation that ranked homeownership (59%) as a key factor in wealth building, compared to just 40% of Gen Z. Furthermore, Gen Z and Millennials were 72% more likely to consider not having children or dependents in order to build wealth. More room for them in the dream house, which they’re probably renting. 

WORK

Would you like a salary bump with that cheesesteak?  
 
Wages may be increasing at the slowest rate in two years, but some metros are seeing better growth than others.  
 
In a recent analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data* ranking metro areas by increases in pay, Philadelphia topped the list with a 6.6% bump in salaries over the past 12 months (that’s the biggest increase for a metro since 2006). The next closest metro, Washington, D.C., was a full percentage point behind at 5.7%. Meanwhile, some cities in Texas might be looking more appealing to professionals than others. While the Woodlands was the lowest on the list with a meager 2.6% salary growth, wages in the Dallas-Fort Worth market saw a 4.3% bump. 
 
If this makes you feel as deflated as an Eagles fan last Super Bowl Sunday (sorry, Philly, can’t win everything), there’s hope: Brush up on your salary negotiation skills with these tips on The Currency™.  

PLAY

That’s my cue to relocate 

She’s a flight attendant, astronaut, veterinarian ... and the list goes on. But no wonder Barbie has had to hold multiple jobs – real estate in Malibu ain’t cheap.

According to CoreLogic, Barbie’s dream house would be worth $2.7 million more today* than when it debuted in 1962, when a comparable house was estimated to sell for just over $77,000.  
 
Sure, Barbie could make a significant profit if she were to sell – but with California having four of the five top U.S. cities* where over half of the homes are selling for at least $1 million, is it worth it to pack up her rollerblades? Perhaps it’s time to look to Boise – which Insider* reports has one of the fastest growing income of professionals making $200,000 or more.  

With the Fed announcing another quarter point hike to interest rates* in July, it’s a tough time for anyone trying to buy a house. Brush up on your mortgage knowledge, with Empower's guide to closing costsmortgage rates, and types of loans.

 

📖 Reading time: According to last week’s poll, 23% of our readers are diving into their favorite mystery novel by the pool and 20% say self-help books make a splash at the top of their summer list. 

 

As of August 7, 2023, EAG holds shares of Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple and Meta in advisory client accounts.

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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.

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