Money·7 min read

Skimm Money: Stock Market Volatility, Lisa Cook, and Renting vs. Buying

accessibility, financial anxiety
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Getty Images
May 13, 2022

It’s Friday the 13th. And the stock market is having plenty of bad luck (looking at you, Nasdaq). With FAANG stocks struggling (hint: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and the company formerly known as Google),investors are turning to oil. Even as some of the tech giants announce new plans like NFTs coming to Instagram and ads debuting on Netflix.

Headlines, Skimm'd

New Fed-ly Faces

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Lisa Cook will be the first Black woman to serve on the Federal Reserve board of governors. Despite Republican opposition, the Senate confirmed the economist this week with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.And with Philip Jefferson’s confirmation, this marks the first time more than one Black person will be on the board at once.  

Cook served on both the Obama administration’s White House Council of Economic Advisers and Biden’s transition team. Her research has explored the effects of racial discrimination on the economy. And during her confirmation hearings, she said she specializes “in managing financial crises." Jefferson’s research has covered monetary policy and wages, poverty, and income distribution. Read: Their experience couldn’t come to the Fed at a better time. 

Psst…not new to the board, but finally confirmed for his second-term: Jerome Powell.

Let’s Talk About…

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Renting vs. Buying

Started at the bottom…now we’re at 5.27%? Yep, that’s the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage today. Which is up from a record low of 2.65% in January 2021. Because ICYMI, inflation is high (see above). And the Fed is trying to bring it down by raising rates (hey, higher mortgage payments). So you might be rethinking whether or not buying a home is worth it right now. 

The answer? It depends. Partially, on where you live. Data says it’s cheaper to rent in pricey cities like Austin, Texas, San Francisco, California, and Seattle, Washington, but cheaper to buy in lower-cost cities like Birmingham, Alabama, St. Louis, Missouri, and Cleveland, Ohio. But it also depends on your lifestyle, financial situation (hi, down payment and emergency savings), and goals. 

We Skimm’d four questions you should ask yourself to make the decision that’s right for you. 

Make Good (Money) Choices

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If money worries are keeping you up at night…

Take control to get your financial feelings in check. Spoiler: Money can take a toll on your mental wellness. And beyond stressing about going over budget, financial anxiety can manifest in other ways. Like obsessively saving or feeling crushed by debt. And it can lead to larger health problems. Think: high blood pressure or migraines. Get to know the signs of financial anxiety and how to deal with it.

PS: May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which aims to fight stigma and educate the public on mental illness. Here’s what you need to know.

If you’re in spring-cleaning mode…

Don’t forget your money. Dusting off your budget can help you make sure your money habits are aligned with your bigger financial goals. And the recent surge in prices (thanks, inflation) may have you rethinking your spending. Hint: Is it time to negotiate a better deal on your phone bill? Read up on five simple ways to spring clean your finances. Because seasons change. So should your money moves.

If rising prices are financially holding you back…

Join the club. In a recent survey, more than half of Americans said inflation could negatively impact their long-term financial goals (bye, new house). And inflation worries + stock market volatility = shrinking portfolios (retirement, wya?). But playing the long game means you have time to adjust your strategy and get that W (aka wealth). Here are seven things you can do to protect your finances from inflation.

Crypto, Decoded

Crypto investments are sometimes seen as risky business…because they are. But that doesn’t fully explain why the crypto gender gap is even wider than in traditional investments (think: stocks, bonds, and mutual funds). Sign up for Future-Proofed: Closing the Crypto Gender Gap, our free, virtual panel discussion on Tuesday, May 17 at 7:30pm ET with crypto experts Laura Shin, Maggie Love, and Mags Kala. Mark your cal and RSVP to join.

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