🔄 In and out


“In and out” lists* have been popping up all over in recent weeks, and the trend of prognosticating your own personal behavior is very in.  

The latest iteration is about embracing what brings you joy and ditching what doesn’t. Along with aims like getting more sleep and being more present with family and friends, financial goals are topping people’s lists. 

Saving for a rainy day (55.7%),* retirement (52.9%), and a child’s education (52.3%) fund are in. A big out? Credit card debt in the U.S. skyrocketed 4.7% year-over-year to $1.08 trillion in the third quarter of 2023, and getting rid of it is a priority for 49.3% in 2024. 

Here’s a look at some other ins, outs, and here-to-stays making headlines. 

— The Editors


🍎 Doesn’t fall far: In a recent rally, Microsoft moved in as the world’s most valuable company at $2.86 trillion,* briefly edging past Apple after a 2-year perch at the top. Together, the tech brands represent about 14% of the market-value-weighted S&P 500. Apple continues to innovate its way into health, but a patent dispute has the company poised to pull its blood-oxygen tool from smartwatches, which account for about $18 billion* in revenue.   

🍪 Snack break: Costco announced its churro is out, and a new $2.49 cookie* is in at the food court. The small but mighty menu has served up close to $1 billion* in sales. The announcement comes on the heels of the company testing out new scanners to crack down on non-members — Costco generates $4.6 billion* in membership fees from nearly 128 million members. That’s a lot of cookies!

🛏️ Sleep tight: Empower research reveals 60% of Gen Z women are losing sleep over money worries. Meanwhile, the sleep industry is wide awake with venture capital infusions of nearly $800 million* in 2021 as sleep tech abounds. From cooling gadgets to electronic sleep-tracking devices to timed-light alarm clocks, there’s something for everyone to help catch more Zzzs. 


Looking like a million bucks at 50  
The average household net worth of Americans in their 50s surpasses $1 million,* ranging from $1.13 million to $1.44 million, based on data from the Fed's Survey of Consumer Finances. While the median net worth hovers around $300,000, swells in stock ownership and home values are driving the upsurge — that may be something to smile about for the 2 in 5 Americans (45%) who link home ownership to their financial happiness.  

What does the road to millionaire’s row look like? According to Empower Personal DashboardTM data from this month, the average net worth for Americans in their 20s comes in around $99,272; for those in their 30s, the balance is closer to $277,788; and for savers in their 40s it’s $713,796. 

Whatever stage of the journey you’re on, Empower research shows that for all generations, the top financial lessons include: How to budget and track expenses (53%), build an emergency fund (52%), minimize debt (50%), and live below your means (48%). See how you stack up when it comes to building your wealth


🌴 Staying in or getting out: Do you have vacation plans for 2024? Let us know in this week’s poll: 

  • Taking a road trip 

  • Headed to the beach 

  • Skiing in the mountains 

  • Stay-cationing at home 

Vacation is just one way to recharge. In last week’s poll, 40% said they settle back with a good book and 33% work out to reboot.



Hot diggity 
Relishing a change of workplace scenery? Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile is hiring new spokespeople to get behind the wheel: The gig pays $35,600 for a yearlong 20,000-mile* stint that includes hosting over 200 pop-up events in 40 cities across America.  

If working on the road isn’t for you, the back-to-office battle seems to be settling down, with some leaders accepting a hybrid approach as the norm. While one study shows full-time remote work plunged year-over-year from 34% to 1% in 2023,* only 4% of CEOs will prioritize getting employees back in the office full-time in 2024 and instead will focus on attracting top-tier talent. 


That’s the ticket 

A projected 16% drop in domestic airfares* to $461 round trip on average and falling gas prices may make getting where you’re going in the U.S. less pricey in 2024 than in 2023. Staying there, though, may cost you as much as 7% more in hotel rates – which may be worth it for the 31% of people who agree that travel is integral to financial wellbeing. 

A caveat for those dreaming of visiting a far-off land: Where and when you go will affect your wallet. Airfares to international destinations are expected to be 10% higher compared with last year. If Paris is on your bucket list, you may want to plan outside of the summer months: Skyrocketing hotel rates during the July Olympic Games may hit a hefty $764 a night.

Get the scoop on your money.

Stay current on planning, saving, and investing for life.

As of January 19, 2024, EAG holds shares of Microsoft Corp (MSFT), Apple Inc. (AAPL), and Costco (COST) in advisory client accounts. 

* 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.

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.

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