It doesn’t hurt to ask

It doesn’t hurt to ask

Sign up for the weekly edition of The Currency newsletter delivered to your inbox. 📧


Don’t believe what they say: Curiosity didn’t kill that cat (their owner was well insured). As we learned from TSwift, if you ever have a question about your next financial move, it never hurts to ask.  

It’s something to keep in mind since many of us aren’t always sure of the financial rules of the road. According to the Money Talkssurvey from Empower, two-thirds of Americans say they're uncertain how much to spend on a wedding gift (67%) and more than half (56%) aren’t sure how to split the bill on a first date. And tipping is a whole other issue – more thoughts on gratuities below.  

Clarity can bring confidence, so ask away – we've got you covered on the money questions shaping how we live, work, and play.  

– The Editors


The $5 billion question: Taylor Swift was allegedly the only celebrity to ask FTX about “unregistered securities”* when the now-bankrupt crypto exchange approached her with a $100 million sponsorship deal. Good thing she passed – other stars have been named in a $5 billion lawsuit for their role in promoting the now-defunct exchange. 

BuzzKill: The news division of BuzzFeed was officially shut down* last week, resulting in layoffs for 15% of the media company’s staff. Times are tough for digital news sites;* Insider has announced a reduction of 10% of its workforce and Vox also recently laid off 7% of its team. The era of “free journalism”* –  when news sites relied on advertising dollars instead of subscriptions as their main source of revenue – may be coming to an end.  
Is TikTok the future of real estate? Citing the algorithm’s penchant for pairing people with similar interests, many renters are turning to TikTok to scout out their next new roommate.* And real estate agents report listing videos are receiving more than 1 million views on the platform from prospective buyers. With the average rent in the U.S. now $1,700 for a 900-square-foot apartment, it can pay to have someone split the bill (regardless of where they put their dishes).  


Will the debt-ceiling debate ruin the MMF party before it begins?  

Still shaken by the recent collapse of regional banks, some may consider turning to Money Market Funds (MMFs)* as a low-risk place to park their cash. Not to be confused with their FDIC-insured cousins – Money Market Accounts –  MMFs are mutual funds that invest in short-term instruments and highly-liquid assets – including U.S. Treasury bonds. 

Their returns and popularity are often tied to interest rates: With many MMFs offering a return of 4.6%,* total MMF assets have risen to  $5.21T* in recent months. 

Yet the heyday of MMFs could be over as quickly as it began. Some suspect the Fed may finally be slowing their rate increases. And while many speculate that Congress will raise the debt-ceiling this summer to avoid defaulting on government loans, the debate continues,* causing uncertainty and potentially volatility for MMF investors. 


Anyone else miss the tip jar?

Remember the simpler times when you could leave some change at the counter, before the invention of the iPad spin? 

You’re not alone if tipping on services seems to be both confusing and ubiquitous (writing as someone recently asked to tip at the checkout of a gift store). More than half of Americans (54%) in a recent Empower survey1 said they were uncertain about the etiquette of gratuities.

Vox reports that some restaurants are taking matters into their own hands by adding a service charge* to make sure their servers get tipped fairly and with every check.

But with the fees ranging from 3%-20%, there’s still room for confusion about what exactly a service fee covers and if any additional gratuity is required. While many guides* exist for whom and how much to tip, the consensus seems to be, when in doubt, aim for 20%. 


Is pet insurance worth it?  

According to Betterpet, the average emergency vet exam costs between $100-$200,* and that’s before any diagnostic tests. The visit can jump to $1,000+ if an overnight stay is required. Woof.   

While you may tap into an emergency fund to cover an unexpected pet bill, paying for pet insurance could be a way to mitigate the cost. According to the National American Pet Health Insurance Association,* the average cost of pet health insurance ranges from $130 to $583 per year, depending on breed and coverage level.   
Not all pet insurance policies are the same – some only cover injuries resulting from accidents, while others may include annual vaccinations and other routine care. It’s important to evaluate a policy before signing up so you know exactly what you’re getting with your money. We’ve gathered everything you need to know about insuring your fluffiest family member here.  

Drumroll please 🥁

More than one hundred of our newsletter readers weighed in on their Money Talker (or Whisperer) habits. Here's what they said:

In the past month, have you done any of the following?

  • Purchased a lotto ticket: 30%
  • Practiced a money conversation in the mirror: 6%
  • Talked to a financial advisor: 32%
  • None of these: 49% 

See how these results compare to our Money Talks findings. 


* Empower Retirement, LLC and its affiliates are not affiliated with the author or responsible for the third-party content provided from links to external material. 

As of April 25, 2023, EAG does not hold shares of BZFD in advisory client accounts. 

1 This survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Empower from January 3 to January 10, 2023, surveying 2,000 Americans ages 18+. 

WF-2552526-0423 RO2867489_0423

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. 

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements. 

Advisory services are provided for a fee by Empower Advisory Group, LLC (“EAG”). EAG is a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and subsidiary of Empower Annuity Insurance Company of America. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training.