Skimm Money: It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day

Published on: Jan 22, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
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Hey. We made it through another historic week in America. We can officially no longer say there's never been a woman – or Black American or person of South Asian descent – sworn in as VP. Or a Vermont senator who looked like he was passing through the inauguration on his way to the post office. So many firsts. Now let's climb that hill.

Headlines, Skimm’d

  • Not your regular first few days at work. President Joe Biden has already signed more than two dozen executive orders and directives. Including one on Wednesday to keep federal student loans paused through September. (Psst...we Skimm'd what that means for you.) Today, he's expected to sign more EOs – focused on raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hr and boosting food and financial assistance for low-income families.

  • 98 days and counting. In his first 100 days in office, Biden wants to pass an economic rescue plan that could boost GDP growth to nearly 8% this year, by one estimate, and cut child poverty in half. Also on the agenda: distributing 100 million vaccines and reopening schools safely. 

  • Janet Yellen: 'Hey, big spender.' In her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Biden’s Treasury secretary pick showed support for more stimulus to save the economy. What she says can wait: less gov spending and more taxes. Keeping it practical.

  • How it started vs. how it's going: econ edition. Some key stats to rate the past four years under the Trump admin: the unemployment rate went from 4.7% in January 2017 to a 50-year low 3.5% last February. Then the pandemic left it at 6.7% last month. Over the same time period, the Dow Jones jumped up about 55%. And the national debt went up by almost $7.8T.

Make Good (Money) Choices

If you want to keep Monday’s day of service going…

Honor MLK by doing good year-round. Besides your time, you can also give your skills, stuff, and yourself. Literally. Donating plasma is especially helpful if you’ve recovered from COVID-19. Another idea: do good for the planet by unplugging appliances when you’re not using them, air-drying your clothes, and walking or biking instead of driving when you can. (PS: you might even earn some rewards points for being eco-friendly.)

If you don't have V-day weekend plans yet...

Make a date with Uncle Sam. The IRS starts accepting 2020 tax returns on February 12. The sooner you file, the sooner you could get a refund, if you're expecting one. Your homework between now and then: making sure you know all the tax deductions and credits you can claim.

If you get some of your best ideas from TikTok...

Be skeptical of the money tips. (But go crazy with the mini waffle maker recipes.) Turns out, some personal finance accounts have been spreading money misinformation. Like the idea that shorting stocks is the best way to invest. (The truth: it’s a high-risk move even for advanced investors.) Or that the Federal Reserve has a secret, $1M bank account for each American. (Sadly, no.) There are still a lot of helpful money tips on the platform. But do a little extra research on your own. And only make moves that fit your unique financial situation.

Asking for a Friend

Q: How do I turn $10 into $10 million?

A: Buy a lottery ticket. Kidding. But if you're serious about making money, the stock market is where you’re likely to get the biggest wins...with better odds and less risk than Powerball. (Though all investing involves at least some risk.) Historically, stocks overall have always increased in value over the long term. Somehow even through the pandemic. And you can invest just $10 (or less) at a time. It might not get you to $10 million. But getting started ASAP and investing regularly can help you create a habit of putting money away for the future. And give your portfolio more time to hopefully grow into a fortune.

Got a Q you want us to answer? Or a money story you want to share? Email us at money@theskimm.com.

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Skimm'd by: Ivana Pino, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus