Skimm Money: Escalating Sanctions, Rising Inflation, Donating Crypto

5 min read|Mar 4, 2022|fbtwitteremail

War continues in Ukraine, and over 1 million people have fled the country since Russia invaded. Governments are continuing to leverage economic consequences to deter Russia’s advance, and big-name companies are also taking action. Tech giants like Apple, Meta, and Google, automakers (think: Ford and BMW), and financial institutions like Visa and Mastercard announced plans to pull back from Russia. Adding to the financial sting of sanctions. But it’s not just Russia dealing with the financial fallout from the conflict…

News to Wallet

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked political, humanitarian, and economic crises around the world. Sanctions against Russia — and select Russian banks being removed from SWIFT — contributed to the value of the ruble tumbling earlier this week. As the conflict continues, the US is bracing for disrupted supply chains and limited resources (think: wheat, oil, and natural gas), which could drive already-high inflation even higher. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Stay the course with your investments. Big swings are likely to continue as the war unfolds. The best course of action? Staying invested for the long haul and allowing your balance to build over time.

  • Drive less, spend less. Using apps like GasBuddy and Gas Guru to compare prices and driving less (when possible) could help keep your budget in check.

  • Help refugees and people on the ground. Consider paying it forward if your financial situation allows. We’ve compiled a list of verified resources that you can use to support the people of Ukraine.

Here’s theSkimm on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could impact the US economy. And the smart money moves you can make to protect your budget and portfolio.  

Crypto, Decoded

Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock

As countries put economic pressure on Russia, crypto has become an unlikely weapon in the Russia-Ukraine war. Russians are turning to crypto as a safe haven to store value while their own currency, the ruble, collapses under international sanctions. For Ukrainians, the appeal is in crypto’s immediacy and relative stability compared to its national currency (hryvnia), as foreign donations can be solicited and received in seconds. Crypto investors have sent over $50 million worth of cryptocurrency to the Ukrainian government. 

From skirting sanctions to soliciting donations, here’s how both sides are leveraging crypto in this conflict. And what you need to know about buying and donating crypto.

Headlines, Skimm'd

  • US status update. President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night. At a noticeably unmasked event, Biden’s speech highlighted many of the ongoing economic issues created or exacerbated by the pandemic. Inflation stole the show (and the wiggle room out of your budget). But POTUS says getting prices under control is his top priority. Especially for things like prescription drugs, energy, housing, and child care. Not mentioned: student loan forgiveness.

  • Supreme history. Last week, Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to join the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman to sit on the nation’s highest court. Though her addition wouldn’t change the political leaning of the court, it would bring us a step closer to one that’s more representative of the people it serves. And her perspective could be critical for future Supreme Court decisions — including those that matter for your wallet.

  • Job gains…for some. The US added 678,000 jobs in February. Beating some experts’ predictions and reflecting the country's economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But many of these new jobs went to men. The unemployment rate for women barely changed from last month. In particular, professions like nursing and teaching are still struggling to find workers.

Make Good (Money) Choices

Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock

If you’re prepping to do your taxes…

Know your forms. It’s extra important this year because the IRS is dealing with a major backlog of 2020 tax returns. Which could mean waiting a little longer to get your refund, especially if there are errors in your filing. Plus, pandemic aid like the expanded child tax credit and economic impact payments (hint: stimmies) mean some additional paperwork should have come your way. Letter 6475 will really come in handy if you missed out on some stimulus money. Check out all the tax forms you need for filing this year ahead of the April 18 deadline.

If you’re wading into the housing market this spring…

Bring a pre-approval. That means applying for (and essentially securing) a mortgage before you start hitting open houses. It’ll help you know how much house you can afford, let sellers know you’re serious, and allow you to compare mortgage rates. Which may be more important than ever. Some industry pros predict home prices will continue to rise. So bidding wars could make a comeback even though mortgage rates are expected to tick up this year (hi, federal funds rate). High prices and high rates could make it even harder for economically disadvantaged groups to buy homes — challenges that have hit Black homebuyers especially hard. Put yourself in the best position with our tips for buying a home in a crowded market.

If rising health care costs are giving you a headache…

Play defense. It’s no secret health care comes at a stiff price in the US. And it’s getting more expensive. While Biden is trying to bring down prescription drug prices and health insurance costs, one way to save money on medical expenses can be to comparison shop. Before you make an appointment, shop around for medical providers using a comparison site like Clear Health Costs or Fair Health to get an idea of how much you could end up owing. In your daily routine, taking steps to care for your physical and mental health can also wind up saving you cash in the long run. 

PS: Join our next Skimm U Well session for tips on investing in your health.

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Skimm’d by Liz Knueven, Kamaron McNair, Marie Schulte-Bockum, Megan Beauchamp, Dae Cason, Niven McCall-Mazza, and Stacy Rapacon