Skimm Money: Mo' Gov Money Problems, Bulk Buying, and Open Enrollment

Published on: Oct 1, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round

Hey there. 

What a week to end the fiscal year in the US. Turns out, budgeting, spending, and repaying debts can be hard for anyone, including the gov. Someone tell Uncle Sam to sign up for Skimm Money

Headlines, Skimm'd

  • Debt ceiling: best (raised) by October 18. That's when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the US will run out of cash. The debt ceiling = the max amount of money the US can borrow to pay existing bills (not spend more later). Unless Congress raises or suspends the ceiling before then – which Senate Republicans said 'nope' to doing on Monday – the US will default on its debts for the first time. Which could have big economic consequences.

  • Infrastructure speed bumps. Yesterday, House leaders hit pause on a planned vote to pass the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that would invest in America’s roads and bridges, broadband, electric grid, and an EV charger network. But some Dems won't say 'go' without a second bill set to fund health care, education, climate change initiatives, and other social spending programs. The problem: not everyone likes the $3.5 trillion price tag. Negotiations continue today.

  • Feeling the burn(out). Confirming what we already knew, a recent study showed that burnout is still a big deal at work, especially for women. Forty-two percent said they were often or almost always burned out this year vs. 35% of men – up from last year. PS: we Skimm'd how burnout hurts your wallet.

News to Wallet

On and off switch
iStock | Design: theSkimm
What a Government Shutdown Means for Your Wallet

Short answer: maybe more than you think. Lawmakers barely avoided a shutdown yesterday by passing a short-term bill to fund the gov – until December 3. If a shutdown happens later this year, nonessential gov offices – from ones that report economic stats to the agencies that process federally-backed mortgages – will have to hang up their 'sorry, we're closed' signs (again). Essential employees, like air traffic controllers and law enforcement, will still go to work, but they may not get paid until the shutdown ends. And it won't just be gov employees who feel the impact.

Make Good (Money) Choices

If you put ketchup on your ketchup…

Stock up. One study found buying in bulk could save you 25%, on average. But not always. Pro tip: check the per-unit price vs. the sticker price to see whether a bulk deal is worth it. And keep in mind that foods with a shorter shelf life may wind up being a waste of money (even if they're cheaper) if they go bad before you finish them. Non-perishables like paper towels, freezer bags, batteries, and peanut butter can offer big bulk savings without the risk of spoiling.

Bulk buying ketchup
Photo: iStock | Design: theSkimm

If your health insurance isn't cutting it…

Revisit your policy. Open enrollment starts for the gov's marketplace (and many company plans) on November 1. That's when you can sign up for or change your coverage. Heads up: the enrollment period only goes until December 15. After that, you need to experience a qualifying life event (like getting married, having a baby or losing your employer-based coverage) to switch things up. Oh, and remember that opting for the plan with the lowest premiums could cost more in the long run, depending on your health needs. So pick your plan carefully.

If you can't get a raise right now...

Ask about other ways to get paid. Think: more vacation days, a flex schedule or stock options. That last one lets employees buy shares of company stock at a certain price in a given time period. So if the market value rises, you can still buy shares at the lower price and sell them for a profit. Surprise, there's a pay gap here. One report showed that 24% of male employees hold company stock or stock options vs. just 17% of working women. And in 2018, the average value of employee shares held by men was $104,902 vs. $26,361 for women. Be sure to take stock if you have the option.

Skimm Her Career

Dania Matos
Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small | Design: theSkimm

Meet Dania Matos, Vice Chancellor of Equity & Inclusion at UC Berkeley. Here's what she had to say about...

Landing a role in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: One of the great things about these roles is that there is not just one path to landing one. That is, all degrees are welcome. Also, experience is not just ones you get paid for. So get involved in spaces that center DEIBJ [diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice], even if they are not currently a part of your job. What matters most is a track record of authenticity, commitment, and achievement in DEIBJ.

Skimm more about Dania's day to day, how she fights burnout, and the most rewarding part of her job. 

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Skimm’d by Sagine Corrielus, Ivana Pino, Casey Bond, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus