🔄 Full circle


In a full circle moment, the U.S. stock market now operates as fast as it did around 100 years* ago: Under a new SEC rule, trades will settle in one day, cutting the standard transaction time in half. (If that sounds paradoxical, lower trading volumes in the 1920s meant the process moved quickly, despite being done manually.) 

Some 44% of Americans say they’re looking to put more money into stocks this year, according to Empower research, with many planning to change their portfolio mix (64%). 

The fast-track change comes when 14* out of the world’s 20 largest stock markets have hit all-time highs in recent months, including the S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow Jones.  

Check out more money news coming ‘round this week. 

— The Editors


💲 It’s a match: Survey data from Plan Sponsor Council of America shows 64%* of companies with a 401(k) plan automatically enrolled workers in 2022. It’s still a hot topic for savers: According to recent Empower research, 71% of Americans say retirement plan matching is an important employee benefit and over half (54%) wish their job automatically enrolled them into a 401(k) plan. A little can go a long way, especially when time is of the essence: Putting away even 1% more can add up for retirement savings. 

💵 A cash comeback: More merchants are offering discounts to consumers who pay with cash rather than their credit card – welcome news to the third of Americans who like to keep bills on hand, according to an Empower study. While only around 3%* of all cash payments include a discount, that number is up 60% from 2015. With the summer road trip season approaching and gas prices 14%* higher since the start of the year, it’s a good reminder that typically paying with cash at the pump can save you up to 10 cents per gallon. 

⭐ Curb appeal cycle: After grossing $285.7 million* at domestic box offices, the “Home Alone” movie from 1990 became a holiday hit. Now, the 9,100-square-foot property made famous as the McCallister family’s house has been listed for $5.25 million.* It may be a fit for the 1 in 5 Americans who “dreamscroll” for their ideal house, according to Empower research. Real estate prices in Chicago have increased by 8.7%* year-over-year with the median home price sitting at $370,000* last month.  

🎮 Game on (again): Nintendo has sold more than 141 million* of its popular Switch consoles since its launch in 2017, and the company is poised to announce the next generation by March 2025. Its first handheld gaming system, the Game Boy, was released in 1989 and became an instant hit. Gaming still pulls big numbers, as people spend an average of $72 each month on video games, and the worldwide market is expected to level up to $583.6 billion by 2030.  


Back to bleisure  

Business travel is taking off again: U.S. airlines reported hefty revenue increases* from corporate accounts during the first quarter, with industry experts projecting business travel spend will surpass pre-pandemic levels of $1.4 trillion* this year and expand to nearly $1.8 trillion by 2027.  

As “road warrior” mode returns, more employees are tacking on travel time for themselves. The opportunity to blend business and leisure trips, known as “bleisure” travel, is taking flight, with the market poised to reach $731.4 billion* by 2032. 

Adding on personal getaways to scheduled work trips year-round could help travel enthusiasts save: To help offset inflation, a third of Americans are opting for off-season travel, when prices are typically lower (34%).  


As the wheel turns 

U.S. drivers are holding onto the steering wheel longer, with the average car ownership reaching a record 12.6 years,* which is a two-month increase over last year’s figure.  

One reason could be the price of new vehicles, which cost about $45,000. Auto insurance premiums have increased 22%* over the past year and maintenance and repair costs rose 8.2%. In total, the average annual cost of new car ownership runs more than $12,000,* according to AAA. 

Planning ahead for variable expenses in your budget can help you avoid bumps in the road on your financial journey.  


A nod to nostalgia 

According to new research,* consumers love the nostalgia economy, and shoppers are giving a warm welcome (back) to old-school items. Thanks to Adidas’ strong sales of retro-inspired Samba and Gazelle sneakers (which date back to the 1950s and 1960s, respectively), the company scored a net profit around $182 million* through the first three months of 2024.  

Abercrombie & Fitch has made a comeback with shoppers, too: Shares of the retailer jumped 24%* after the company reported $1 billion in quarterly sales, up 22% from last year.  

Apparel across the ages continues to cycle onto wish lists: Empower research found that clothes, shoes and accessories are top of mind for 49% of people thinking about their dream purchases.  

💫 Flashback: If you had a time machine, which financial change would you prioritize? 

  • Start saving for retirement sooner 

  • Pay down debt 

  • Invest in popular stocks 

  • Maintain a budget 

Get the scoop on your money.

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

As of June 3, 2024, EAG does not hold shares of Adidas AG - AGR (ADDYY), Nintendo ADR (NTDOY), or Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) 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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