🧊 Just chill


After an inflation hot streak, the latest Consumer Price Index brings a cool breeze of relief for consumers: The rate rose just 0.3%* in the month of April, slowing for the first time this year.  

According to Empower research, top economic factors putting a chill on people’s outlooks include concerns about rising prices (54%), ability to save money (29%), and growing debt (21%). Still, a majority (65%) are optimistic about being able to make their dream purchases. 

Kick back and relax with this week’s money stories. 

— The Editors


❄️ Brrrr: For those who could use a little more chill, cold plunges are seeing a rise in popularity with influencers, and even gaining steam at corporate retreats. Demand for ice baths is estimated to take the cold plunge market from $350 million* to a cool half-billion by 2030. There’s some science behind the trend, with studies showing chilly water can release endorphins and increase productivity.  

🐧 Tip of the iceberg: Many homeowners are benefiting from a jump in property values since the pandemic, but some are also finding they owe taxes on their gains. New real estate data shows 8%* of home sales last year were subject to capital gains (with windfalls over the $500,000 exemption limit), more than double the share from 2019. California leads the way with 28.8% of home sales qualifying, followed by Hawaii (23.8%) and Washington, D.C. (22.1%). When it comes to filing taxes, knowing the rules for capital gains can make a difference. 

⛸️ Skating ahead: Carvana, the online preowned vehicle retailer, posted its best financial results in the company’s history with a first-quarter net income of $49 million* and total revenue of $3.06 billion. The performance was driven by efficiency gains, including increasing its ability to inspect and prepare vehicles for sale by roughly 60%.  

🍦 A cool treat: There’s an app for that, even for tracking your neighborhood ice cream truck. All summer long, sweet treat enthusiasts can enter their zip code* and view how close they are to a Mister Softee ice cream truck, using the brand’s app to map out where its 625 trucks are driving around the country. Now you never have to rely on hearing the jingle to catch your favorite flavors. Ice cream companies reportedly scoop up $13 billion* in revenue every year.  


See you on social 

5.17 billion* people are on social media, and Pinterest is gaining more of those users. In March, the platform surpassed the half-billion user mark (518 million) for the first time. Pinterest’s revenues also rose 23%* in the last quarter, beating projected revenues by $40 million.  

Pinterest users can still find their favorite recipes or the latest fashion trends, but they may have also noticed how much easier it is to buy items from the platform. Pinterest has invested heavily in AI and its digital advertising business to help drive sales on the platform. And with 43%* of consumers browsing social media to find goods and services, Pinterest is also investing in what it calls “shopability.” 

The social media company is especially popular with retailers trying to reach younger consumers. Gen Z now makes up about 40% of its users. 


Cooling enthusiasm for job switchers 

Did you switch jobs during the Great Resignation? Data shows that workers who did during the pandemic were less satisfied (59%*) with their jobs last year than those who stuck around (65%).  

Four in 10 Americans say work satisfaction comes from being rewarded for loyalty and longevity at a company, according to Empower research. In the year ahead, more workers plan to increase their contributions to their retirement savings in 2024 (34%) than quit to find a higher paying job (14%).  

Sticking to it may be the move, for now. The April jobs report came in below estimates: 175,000* new jobs were created (vs. 235,000 expected), and the unemployment rate also nudged up slightly to 3.9%. 


Gourmet tastes, lower grocery bills 

Grocery prices have risen by more than 25%* between January 2020 and April 2024, and shoppers are shifting to store brands to help offset food inflation. There’s a new option on the table for those looking to save while enjoying the finer things. 

Walmart is rolling out a new line of premium food items – Bettergoods – to appeal to those who want affordably priced gourmet food options. Its largest private brand food launch in 20 years* includes more than 300 upscale products ranging in price from $2 to $15, with most under the $5 mark. Walmart is currently the largest grocer in the nation, with more than $264 billion* in net sales from 4,600 U.S. stores.  

According to Empower research, one in four Americans are keeping an eye on shrinkflation as it relates to how far their money goes at the grocery store. 

🛒 Battle of the brands: When grocery shopping, do you prefer private label food brands or national brands? 

  • I’m a loyal national brand shopper 

  • I prefer private label food brands 

Get the scoop on your money.

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

As of May 15, 2024, EAG holds shares of Walmart Inc (WMT) in advisory client accounts and does not hold Carvana Co (CVNA) and Pinterest Inc (PINS). 

*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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