money·4 min read

Skimm Money: Home-buying Tips, Ways to Save on Gas, and Why Prices are Going Up

May 21, 2021

Hi. ICYMI, May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. To honor it, we asked Skimm'rs and Skimm HQ'rs to share some of the best money lessons from the AAPI elders in their lives. Check them out here. Another way to celebrate: support these AAPI-founded brands.

Headlines, Skimm’d 

  • Follow the bouncing Bitcoin. After reaching nearly $65,000 per bitcoin last month, the cryptocurrency dropped to about $30,000 on Wednesday. Last price check: about $37,000 just before noon. Why so volatile? Some big names (hi, Elon) are hopping off the bandwagon. And regulators are starting to crack down. In China, financial institutions have been banned from conducting business involving crypto. And the US Treasury Department is calling for crypto transfers of $10,000 or more to be reported to the IRS.

  • Time’s up for caregiver struggles. According to about 200 businesses (including JPMorgan, McDonald’s, and Uber). Led by Time's Up (the advocacy org founded by Hollywood women), they're forming a coalition to fix caregiving in the US. What they’re pushing for: better workplace policies, gov-funded family and medical leave, and affordable child and elder care. Which they say is a key part of the economic recovery. 

  • This means (streaming) war. AT&T announced a deal to merge its content unit, WarnerMedia, with Discovery to form a new venture that could face off with major streaming players Netflix and Disney. And Amazon is reportedly negotiating to acquire MGM, which would add thousands of options to its Prime library.

Make Good (Money) Choices

If your grocery bill seems higher than usual…

Look up and down when you shop. Stores often put the most expensive items at eye-level. Scanning the shelves for better deals could potentially save you about 25%. Sad fact: food’s not the only everyday item that’s gotten more expensive lately. We Skimm’d why prices are spiking. And what you can do about it.

If you’re hitting the road on Memorial Day Weekend…

Plan ahead to avoid financial speed bumps. BYOS (snacks and sanitizer) to avoid paying higher prices on the road. Then download free apps like GasBuddy and Waze to find the cheapest gas stations near you. For extra savings, use a credit card that earns points or cash back when you fill up. Keeping your tires pumped up and driving at a consistent speed can also help you trim fuel costs.

If you're glad tax season is over...

Pay attention to what the IRS is up to in the off-season. This week, refunds started going out to Americans who overpaid taxes on 2020 unemployment benefits. And on July 15, about 39 million eligible families are set to start getting monthly payments for the enhanced 2021 child tax credit. What else is going on in the tax world? On President Joe Biden's agenda: raising capital gains taxes, eliminating tax loopholes, and cracking down on unpaid taxes. We Skimm’d what you need to know about the proposed tax-code changes here.

Tips Don't Lie

The road from "house hunter" to "homeowner" can be tough. Especially now that the supply of homes for sale in the US is low, and there are a lot of potential buyers competing for what's available. Here are three ways to stand out in a crowded market:

  1. Show sellers the money. Power combo: a strong offer and down payment. (Experts recommend at least 20%.)

  2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. You'll know how much home you can buy, and sellers will know you're serious.

  3. Go pro. Working with a trusted real estate agent who knows the market could help you successfully navigate negotiations.

Read the rest of our home-buying tips. Including what to know before offering more than a home's asking price and writing a letter to a seller.

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