money·5 min read

Skimm Money: Game(Stop) Review, Labor Strikes, and Equal Pay

Photo: iStock | Design: theSkimm
Oct 22, 2021

Hey hey.

In this episode of 'we really need something to celebrate': One report says Americans plan to spend more than ever ($100+) on Halloween this year. Trick-or-treat yo'self.

Headlines, Skimm'd

  • Post-Game(Stop) review. A 45-page SEC report released Monday confirmed that January's headline-stealing investing drama was basically Wall Street biz as usual. As in, regular investors did not beat pros at their own game. And investing app Robinhood – often credited (or blamed) for helping make meme stocks happen – did everything by the book. Okay then.

  • Labor market flight or fight. Millions of Americans have been exiting the workforce, including more than 300,000 women in September alone, the most since September 2020. And hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike for similar reasons. Think: to demand better wages, benefits, and quality of life. Those on the picket line lately include labor unions repping Kellogg Co., Deere & Co., Kaiser Permanente, and Hollywood production workers.

  • The princess and Pete. After taking time off to welcome home newborn twins – and drawing criticism for it – Transportation Sec Pete Buttigieg argued that every American should have paid leave. The Duchess of Sussex made a similar plea on behalf of the Marshall Plan for Moms. But paid family leave is one item being trimmed in infrastructure package negotiations. So you might still have to DIY your own leave for now. 

Let's Talk About…

Illustration: Michele Rosenthal

Why We Still Don't Have Equal Pay

Sad facts: Overall, women aren't getting paid as much as men. And many BIPOC women earn even less. Various "Equal Pay Days" have been established to bring attention to the range of inequality. Like Latina Equal Pay Day, which was yesterday. Because that's how long into 2021 Latinas had to work, on average, to earn what non-Hispanic white men did in 2020. We Skimm'd why this is still a thing and what could fix it. (Psst...the gov and employers are on the hook for this one, not women.)

Make Good (Money) Choices

If you're debating office life vs. WFH vs. a mix of both...

Weigh the pros and cons for your wallet. Workers heading back to the office reached a pandemic high this month. If you still have a decision to make (and you control your own destiny), here are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • Team 'stay home': no commute and sad desk salads = more $$$ in your budget. But some companies are slashing pay for people who opt to WFH in a different state than their HQ.

  • Team 'pants that zip': when people see you IRL, they're more likely to consider you for projects and promotions. But you could have a lot less flexibility than you may have gotten used to.

Read the rest of our guide to give yourself the best chance of finding the right fit.

If you noticed everyone's (extra) crazy for crypto…

Meet the US's first Bitcoin-focused ETFs (tickers: BITO and BTF). After years of anticipation, the SEC said 'fine' and allowed them to begin trading this week. Exchange-traded funds are (typically) low-fee investments that group similar assets into one fund. Having some for Bitcoin gives crypto more (Wall) street cred. But red flag: both ETFs track Bitcoin futures, which are bets on where prices could be headed. That means the ETFs may not deliver the same results as Bitcoin itself, which hit a new high this week. Before you consider investing in an ETF vs. Bitcoin directly, make sure you're ready to get into the crypto game at all.

If you're ready for a change...

Check in on your student loans. By the end of the year, about 16 million federal borrowers will have new servicers. Servicers handle billing, customer services, and other admin on behalf of lenders. And have been accused of harassment, misleading borrowers, and mismanaging repayment programs. The Department of Education says the switch-up is meant to help borrowers as payments restart after the pandemic pause. Your move: make sure your contact info is up-to-date, so you don't miss important announcements. Then grab your loan details (balances, interest rates, and monthly payment amounts) from your current servicer. Double check with if you're not sure who that is.

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