It's been a good week for giving. On Monday, Betty White fans honored what would have been the Golden Girl’s 100th birthday by donating to animal shelters and rescues. And on Wednesday, Cardi B pledged to cover the funeral costs for Bronx fire victims.* She does, in fact, make money moves.
*PS: Not a Washington Post subscriber? Check out their exclusive offer just for Skimm’rs.
Money in the bank. Big banks — including Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo — reported their quarterly earnings this week. And while profits largely beat analyst expectations, so did rising costs (hi, inflation). Clearly, investors were not impressed. Because financial stocks are among the biggest losers in this week’s down market.
Getting in the game. Microsoft announced plans to buy gaming giant Activision Blizzard (known for Call of Duty, Candy Crush, World of Warcraft…and toxic work culture accusations). It’s the biggest all-cash acquisition ever at $68.7 billion. And regulators are likely to keep their eyes on Microsoft as it looks to grow. But the company promises to pay up (to the tune of $3 billion) if it’s decided the deal breaks antitrust laws.
Fresh outta houses. Homebuilding in the US hit a nine-month high in December. But construction projects have stalled due to pricier materials and supply and labor shortages. And with mortgage rates on the rise, many prospective buyers are rushing to get a loan ASAP. Read: get ready for another ultra-competitive housing market this year.
News to Wallet
Your vaccination status affects more than your ability to attend that Billie Eilish concert you’ve been looking forward to. It also impacts your career, your budget, and the economy. So what does it mean now that President Joe Biden’s mandate requiring private-sector employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 was blocked by the Supreme Court? As of now, about 57% of employers still require employees to be vaccinated or be tested regularly. Private insurance companies now have to cover the costs for up to eight at-home tests per month. And the federal government is sending out free tests (and masks, too). We Skimm’d what else your vax status means for your money.
Make Good (Money) Choices
If you’re missing those monthly child tax credit payments…
File your taxes ASAP.* Thanks to a pandemic stimulus package, many families got an advance on their 2021 child tax credit. Half came in the form of monthly checks or direct deposits, which ended last month. Now the other half comes when you file your taxes. Reminder: the 2021 child tax credit can total to as much as $3,600 per kid, depending on their age and your income. (That’s up from $2,000 in 2020. *Raised hands emoji*) TBD on whether an extension of the expanded child tax credit will be included in a pending spending bill.
*The IRS says you can file as early as Monday, Jan 24.
If you thought private student loans would never be forgiven…
Never say never. Last week, student loan servicer Navient agreed to cancel $1.7 billion in private debt for 66,000 borrowers to settle lawsuits accusing the company of deceptive lending practices. According to the settlement website, eligible borrowers can expect to hear from Navient by July, along with refunds for payments made on canceled loans after June 2021. PS: Some federal borrowers will see a $260 restitution check as part of the settlement, too. Eligible recipients will receive a notice in the mail this spring. PPS: Here’s what broader federal student loan forgiveness could mean for you.
If your closet rivals Carrie Bradshaw’s…
Turn your clothes into cash. The internet (and smartphones) have made it easier than ever to clean out your closet. And add funds to your bank account in the process. Marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are great options for selling secondhand goods online. But other apps and websites — like Poshmark and OfferUp — may be better based on what’s in your wardrobe. Here’s how to sell your stuff online so you can clear out your closet, earn some cash, and (bonus) keep your things out of landfills a little longer. Win-win-win.
The hot topic of the week: crypto exchanges. As in, places you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies. That is, if you're ready. And that’s a big if — especially if you’re risk-averse. Case in point: This week, one of the biggest exchanges, Crypto.com (backed by Matt Damon, btw), revealed that it was hit by a more-than-$30-million hack this month.
Which might bring up a few questions, like…
Q: Is crypto actually safe?
A: It's designed to be. Most cryptocurrencies are built on a blockchain. Aka a communally maintained database across multiple computers on the same network. Any change is automatically sent to every user, so there’s a record of everything. Which, in theory, makes it more secure and less vulnerable to hacks.
Q: Okay, so are crypto exchanges safe?
A: Hacks happen. And crypto exchanges have become prime targets as digital currencies have gained popularity. The bright side: no users lost money in this Crypto.com hack. In most cases, the platform was able to prevent unauthorized withdrawals — or reimburse affected customers.
Q: How do I keep my crypto safe?
A: Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). Yes, the same method that helps prevent your Twitter account from being hacked can help you keep crypto wallet secure, too. In this case, Crypto.com knew something was off because transactions were being approved without the required two-factor authentication to withdraw. But 2FA at the login level is your first line of defense. And always be skeptical when someone messages you about your crypto wallet.
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