📌 Going places

06.13.2024

Oh, the places you’ll go…in an air taxi? The future is now, as electric aircrafts (known as eVTOLs) are taking flight. 

Air taxis may be in the skies as soon as this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris with aviation companies planning to launch commercial flights next year.* With liftoff on the horizon, the global eVTOL market is estimated to soar to $35.79 billion* by 2032.

The sky’s the limit: A quarter of Americans are dreamscrolling for their next vacation destination, according to Empower research.

Let’s jet off to tour this week’s money headlines.

— The Editors

Money

👣 Digital footprints: Ever wish you could be in two places at once? Zoom founder Eric Yuan is working on it — with the creation of an AI avatar (i.e., a “digital twin”*) who can attend meetings “while you’re at the beach.” The concept of cutting down “office hours” might be a key motivator: One third of workers say they wish their employer offered more flexible hours, according to recent Empower research. Zoom is amping up its AI-powered integrations and has bumped up 2025 revenue expectations to $4.62 billion.*

🏦 A step down in rates: The European Central Bank cut interest rates by a quarter* point in a step towards reversing a historic series of rate increases. The move may be a turning point in recent monetary policy, signaling that relief is on the way for households and businesses that have faced elevated borrowing costs. Some 54% of Americans say rising prices are among the top economic factors holding them back from their financial goals.

📦 Getting off the ground: Amazon is reaching new heights (and delivery speeds), after the FAA provided clearance for the digital retailer to fly its drones longer distances.* The journey to the top has been a long time coming: It’s been 11 years and billions in investments since Bezos first announced the concept of Prime Air. By 2030, the company hopes to deliver 500 million parcels per year using drones. That’s good news for the 36% of Americans who would rather pay more to get an item delivered over driving 10 minutes to get it, according to Empower data.

👰🏻 Runaway bridesmaid costs: Wedding season is underway, and happy couples aren’t the only ones feeling the financial pinch. An Empower study shows 67% of Americans are unsure how much to spend on wedding gifts — and the costs of saying “I do” to being a bridesmaid have ballooned. Online wedding site The Knot puts a bridesmaid’s budget at over $3,430* for outlays, including destination bachelorette parties, bridal showers, dresses, gifts, and other expenses that come along with walking down the aisle as part of the bridal party.

Life

Loop-the-loophole for grandparents

Financial options are expanding on the journey to higher learning: A new “grandparent loophole” allows students to receive cash support from any non-parent without affecting college financial aid eligibility. Previously, payments made from a grandparent-owned 529 plan could reduce aid awards by as much as 50%* of the distribution amount. As an added bonus, assuming all requirements are met, leftover 529 funds of up to $35,000 (lifetime maximum) can be rolled over to a Roth IRA to help beneficiaries get a head start saving for retirement.

With the average cost of college topping $36,000, and student debt levels surpassing $1.7 trillion,* scholarship opportunities provide another option for families.

If you’re navigating the student loan landscape, repayment tips and strategies can help you prepare. 

Work

The hustle and bustle of PTO

More than 2 in 5 people (44%) wish they could work part-time but can’t afford it — and some workers who are short on time have started using their PTO to clock in at a side gig. It’s a new term some have coined “holiday hustling.”

What’s fueling the phenomenon? Two in 5 human resources leaders* believe staff at their company have taken on second jobs due to pressures to combat soaring costs of living. Empower research shows that 52% of Americans have tried a side hustle to generate more income.

The U.S. jobs report was mixed for May: Hiring accelerated with employers adding 272,000* jobs, well above the expected 190,000,* while unemployment edged up to 4% for the first time since January 2022. Average wages increased 14 cents to $34.91.  

🌎 On the map: Take a look at the top domestic and international destinations that Americans want to visit this year, according to recent Empower data.

When it comes to money, some people have time-traveling dreams: Last week’s poll showed that if readers could turn back time, 38% would invest in popular stocks and 35% would prioritize saving for retirement sooner.

Play

Chasing after sales can come at a price 

Nearly one third of Americans (30%) say window shopping online helps them avoid making unplanned purchases. But what happens when you can’t resist a deal?

The habit of spending to save more, or “spaving,” could have unintended consequences on long-term goals. As of March 2024, retailers stepped up temporary price reductions by 72%,* and overall promotions by 15% year-over-year to offset slimmer margins — to entice consumers to spend more. One potential pitfall is incurring debt to snag a deal.

In the first quarter of 2024, credit card debt reached $1.12 trillion,* and the personal savings rate declined from an all-time high of 32% in April 2020 during the pandemic, to 3.6% in April 2024.

Get the scoop on your money.

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

As of June 10, 2024, EAG holds shares of Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) in advisory client accounts and does not hold Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (ZM) or The Knot, Inc. (MM).

*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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