Skimm Money: Rent Increases, Oil Prices, and the Expanded Child Tax Credit

Published on: Jul 9, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round

Hey hey.

In case you didn’t get the memo, July is (unofficially) Disability Pride Month – a chance to celebrate uniqueness as a “natural and beautiful part of human diversity.” And to raise awareness about ableism, which contributes to America's wealth gap. Here's what else is going on in money news this week.

Headlines, Skimm'd

  • No more M-F. Iceland tested out four-day workweeks (without cutting pay) between 2015 and 2019. And researchers are officially calling it an “overwhelming success." Think: better work-life balance (bye bye, burnout) with the same or higher levels of productivity. Bonus: men in hetero relationships reported taking on more household responsibilities.

  • Landlords flip it and reverse it. While rental prices fell during the pandemic, the national median climbed back up 9.2% in the first half of 2021 – with further hikes expected.

  • Digital war-flare. While Americans got ready for 4th of July fireworks, software company Kaseya was targeted by a ransomware attack, compromising the info of up to 1,500 companies. Attackers demanded $70 million to unlock victims’ files.

News to Wallet

Oil Barrels
Design: ML Howell, Credit: iStock
How Rising Oil Prices Can Affect Your Wallet

Earlier this week, after a meeting set to discuss production strategies was called off, oil prices briefly jumped to a six-year high. Reminder: oil demand fell hard during the pandemic. So OPEC+ (hint: that's the energy alliance between oil-producing countries that aims to regulate the world's oil supply) agreed to slash oil production through April 2022. Now, while demand for oil is rising with the economic recovery and supply levels remain uncertain, prices are volatile. Here's what that could mean for you. Spoiler: yes, expect to pay more at the pump.

Make Good (Money) Choices

If your little ones put a big dent in your budget...

Enjoy the extra (tax) credit. Thanks to Stimulus 3.0, taxpayers with dependents age 17 or younger may qualify for an expanded child tax credit in 2021. It’s worth up to $3,600 per kid (up from $2,000 in 2020). Half will be paid out in six monthly installments, starting next week. The other half comes in 2022, when you file your taxes. Exactly how much you qualify for depends on the age and number of your dependents and your modified adjusted gross income. For every $1,000 you earn above the AGI limits (Skimm'd below), the extra amount above the original $2,000 credit decreases by $50. Use this calculator to crunch your own numbers.

Child Tax Credit amounts
Design: ML Howell, Credit: iStock
If streaming costs have you missing your cable bill…

Pause and regroup. Because a lot of new platforms have entered the streaming war, and some oldies have raised prices in recent months. Start by tallying up how much you pay each month for each platform. Then consider cutting ones that don't get enough play. Or ask family or friends to split a multi-user deal. You can also consider downgrading your package, which could mean watching extra ads in exchange for more savings (and time to go to the bathroom).

If a name change is in your future…

Tell some VIPs in your life: HR and Uncle Sam. Wedding season is in full swing (congrats, Gwen and Blake). And while no rule says you have to change your name after marriage, if you decide to, prepare for lots of paperwork. First, get a certified copy of your marriage license. Heads up: there's usually a fee. Next, apply for a new Social Security card. Then go to the DMV for a new ID. Oh, and update your passport after any upcoming travel plans. You'll want to make sure your ID matches your itinerary. Others to notify: banks, insurers, doctors, the post office… If this feels like too much, services like HitchSwitch or NewlyNamed can help. 

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