✍ In a word...


For the second year running, the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year is internet slang (for those interested,* it’s rizz, a derivative of "charisma") – underscoring the ways tech influences how we live, work, and play.

When it comes to financial “rizz,” here’s a wrap on some of the top stories our readers eyed this year: 

👀 Take a peek: How much money is in people’s wallets? Many would like to know the average net worth by age in America.

🏠 Where to next: Another favorite featured the most affordable U.S. cities for working adults and retirees. 

💵 Good tip: 1 in 5 people say “cash is king” and use the bills toward gratuities. 

Now tell us: What do you want to see more of next year? 

— The Editors



🐶 Woof: In a $2.3 billion purchase* by Blackstone, pet-care marketplace Rover joins a growing list of private-equity pet industry deals. Pet owners spent nearly $137 billion in 2022, with a projected increase of nearly 5% this year. For animal lovers, it’s money well spent: 26% of Gen Z say their pets lead them to more financial happiness.    

💨 Vroom: Uber’s stock shifted into high gear* after an announcement the ridesharing and delivery company is soon to be included in the S&P 500® index. The benchmark index is tracked and mirrored by many funds, including some 401(k) plans

💰 Cha-ching: The top 1% of Americans by income now hold more wealth* than the entire middle class, with $38.7 trillion (or 26.5%) controlled by the most wealthy. With 60% of American earners slotted into the middle class, many may find themselves in the camp of HENRYs – high earners, not rich yet – who vie for rising wages. According to Empower research, many Americans say there’s a magic number for income to feel less stressed.

🔑 I'll take it: In last week's newsletter poll, 30% of readers say they'd purchase a car online (with one write-in responder saying, "Already have!"). Meanwhile, 68% think it's too big of a risk without taking it for a spin. Here are considerations for deciding whether to buy or lease your ride. 



New year, new apprenticeship 

Back on the jobs menu? Apprenticeship programs are on the rise: More than 241,000 people* joined a registered apprenticeship last year, per the Labor Department – a 9% increase compared to the previous year. 

The growing list of industries now offering apprenticeship programs might surprise (and excite) you. Whole Foods Market – which already helps employees become butchers, certified cheese professionals and bakery decorators – recently added pizza-making* to the list and plans to add two new apprenticeships annually. 

These programs typically don’t require any experience or college degree, and offer paid, learn-on-the-job positions. In an era where most Americans value having a job they love (65%), apprenticeships may open doors for many workers. 



Fashion faux pas: luxury spending slowdown

Half of Americans (51%) say the finer things in life spark joy – but the demand for luxury goods has slowed in all major regions, especially online.

While the market for designer handbags, shoes and clothes is expected to grow by 7% at constant exchange rates (down from 15% in 2022), online sales could fall as much as 2.5%, according to industry estimates.*

When it comes to affordability, a majority of Millennials and Gen Zers report having enough of a financial cushion to socialize with friends and family (75%), pay bills on time and in full (69%), and pursue hobbies and interests (59%), though nearly half (49%) admit to splurging on premium experiences or luxury items they can’t afford – compared with just 16% of people from older generations.  



Pick a side

'Tis the season to go shopping, and in a year of ongoing inflation, U.S. consumers say high prices are impacting their spending habits – and may even have some picking up a side gig.* 

In a recent Empower study, over a third of consumers (34%) say they’re trimming holiday budgets in favor of pocketing money this year. Half are cutting back on buying gifts for friends (50%), new festive clothing (48%) and holiday decor (46%). 

How much spend is just right? Let your budget be your (gift) guide. As a benchmark, here’s how giving stacks up this year:

Empower 2023 holiday spending report



As of December 11, 2023, EAG holds shares of Uber Technologies Inc (UBER) in advisory client accounts and does not hold Blackstone Inc (BX), Rover Group Inc (ROVR) or Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM). 

*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.

RO-3275283-1223 WF-3035003-1223 

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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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