Your Financial News Roundup
February 22, 2023
1. Economy: More Americans are using their savings to pay for basic expenses; transportation-related costs drive inflation.
2. Tech: Apple’s move to disable ad tracking on iPhones has hurt data-heavy tech firms; TikTok pivots to help creators monetize more.
3. World: North Korea continues its missile testing in response to joint military drills by the U.S. and South Korea; the head of the World Bank is stepping down early.
Personal Finance Concept [Part 4/8]: A Primer on Stocks
📉 Dipping Into Savings: 54% of Americans are breaking into their savings to pay for basic expenses, while 64% live paycheck to paycheck. Wage increases have not kept pace with inflation, leaving many less financially stable than a year ago. Due to rising interest rates, the amount people spend on debt payments has increased to pre-pandemic levels — a key recession signal. With credit card rates at 20%, having excess debt makes a downturn sting even more. (CNBC)
Our Take: To reduce your spending and avoid debt:
- Review your bills and cancel unused subscriptions.
- Make a balance transfer to a 0% APR credit card or take out a low-rate personal loan to reduce interest on existing debt.
- Build up an emergency fund of 3-6 months of basic expenses.
- Find ways to reduce your grocery bill.
- Cut back on heating and AC.
- Use the GasBuddy app to find the cheapest gas stations in your area.
- Redeem cash back from your rewards credit cards.
❓What’s Behind Inflation?: Transit prices (i.e. gas, airfare, and vehicle expenses) went up in January’s inflation report. Though gas prices rose by 2.4% last month, the pace of price increases in gas, new cars, and used vehicles is slowing after a year of large spikes. The biggest price increases over the past year are airfares (26%), vehicle repairs (23%), public transit (17%), and vehicle insurance (15%). Key drivers are strong travel demand, higher costs for vehicle parts, and higher accident rates. (CNBC)
Our Take: Disinflation can be likened to easing off the gas pedal in a car, as it indicates that inflation has peaked and is slowing down. The hospitality sector’s hiring spree aligns with the rise in travel demand, as it hired the most of any sector in January.
🍎 The App Tracking Transparency Recession: Following Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy launched in 2021, tech companies are still scrambling to recoup from lost ads revenue. As more iPhone users opt out of certain forms of digital ads, major tech companies like Meta, Snap, and Twitter must revamp their existing business models to accommodate the changing environment. Meanwhile, Google is poised to get rid of third-party cookies on its Chrome browser, which will make it harder for companies to set targeted ads. (Bloomberg)
Our Take: It’s unlikely targeted ads will go away. But, users want more control over their data, which will weaken the ad-based nature of the Internet and force companies to get more creative with generating revenue (hint: think more subscriptions).
✨ TikTok Launches Revamped Creator Fund: TikTok launched the beta version of its “Creativity Fund,” which gives creators more earning opportunities. The program is currently invite-only and its selection criteria is unknown, though some think the minimum requirement is 100K followers. With the launch of the new fund, TikTok is acknowledging creator complaints about low payouts while positioning itself to take on YouTube. (Engadget)
Our Take: As competition in the creator economy grows, TikTok will need to design better ways to reward its existing creators and maintain the platform’s dominance.
North Korea Threatens Retaliation: Over the weekend, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that flew 560+ miles and landed in the Sea of Japan. State media claims it was a test to display the country’s ability to retaliate against hostile forces like the U.S. and South Korea. This missile test follows Pyongyang’s largest display of ICBMs during a military parade with leader, Kim Jong-un, and his daughter, Kim Ju-ae. (BBC)
Our Take: North Korea’s flurry of missile tests likely serves to showcase the country’s nuclear arsenal while placing pressure on the global economy, particularly the U.S.
🗺️ New World Bank Leader Needed: World Bank President, David Malpass, will be stepping down from his position by June. Following his early departure, the next World Bank leader will have to navigate a world that is facing increasing political instability due to rising systemic inequality and climate change. While the World Bank can’t solve everything, the new leader should have a strong track record of addressing these problems and getting buy-in from developed countries. (Forbes)
Our Take: This new opening gives President Biden an opportunity to pick a new WB president who is climate-friendly and has other progressive beliefs to lead the organization.
Finance Concept of the Week
What’s This Asset? — A Primer on Stocks [Part 4/8]
A Series Exploring Different Asset Classes and How to Invest in Them
The stock market is a collection of markets where investors can buy and sell shares of publicly traded companies, such as Tesla, Costco, and Apple. Stocks, or equity, represent partial ownership in these firms. Investors profit either by earning recurring dividends or selling the stocks at higher prices than they bought them for.
- High Chance of Positive Returns: Using the S&P500 (a stock market index that tracks the 500 largest U.S. companies) as a benchmark, your stocks should grow in value by an average of 7% annually. The longer you invest, the greater your odds of getting positive returns.
- Save For Larger Purchases: If you plan on purchasing a home or saving for retirement, putting your money in the stock market can potentially cut down the amount of time it takes for you to reach your goals.
- Reduce Your Taxable Income: Investing in stocks through a tax-advantaged account, such as an employer-sponsored 401(k) or a Roth IRA, reduces how much taxes you owe the government.
- Earn Passive Income: If you invest in companies that give dividends to shareholders, you can see regular income from your stock investments on a quarterly or annual basis.
- Volatility is Unavoidable: Unfortunately, the stock market fluctuates on a daily basis and goes through bear and bull cycles. Sometimes the market will drop to new lows, while other times, it reaches new highs.
- Not All Stocks are Valuable: There are thousands of stocks you can invest in, but not all of them are worth your time. You have to do your own research to sift through them and find companies that can generate returns for you.
- Easy to FOMO: If you blindly follow certain investors’ strategies, it’s easy to lose money. Avoid jumping into investments you don’t understand simply because everyone else is investing in them.
How to Make the Most of It:
- Consider Your Goals: Our relationship with money is shaped by our financial goals and understanding of how investing enables us to reach our objectives. Before making any investment decisions, define your goals.
- Learn the Terms: Investing in stocks can be overwhelming, but a good place to start is to understand some key terms:
- Choose an Investment Style: There are many different ways to invest in stocks. You can day trade or swing trade, which involves making frequent trades. You can buy and hold stocks for years or decades. How much effort and time you want to put into investing is entirely up to you.
- Conduct Due Diligence: The easiest way to lose money is to invest in assets you do not understand. Do research on stocks you are interested in before making the investment, including understanding the company’s product or service offerings, their market position, growth potential, etc.
- Diversify Your Portfolio: By investing in different stocks, you can spread your risk across various assets and ensure that your portfolio doesn’t tank from a single stock.
Risk Level: Medium to High; the risk depends on the type of stocks you invest in and your investment style.
Common Accounts to Use:
- Individual Brokerage (i.e. Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Webull, etc.)
- Roth IRA (i.e. Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab)
Tip of the Day
💵 There are 2 strategies to payoff your debt. With the avalanche method, you tackle the debt with the highest interest rate first and make minimum payments on the rest. In the snowball method, you pay off your smallest debt first, then move onto the next.
- Belarus to Fight Ukraine if Attacked (BBC)
- U.S. Interest Rate Hikes Hurt Other Countries (DemocracyNow)
- Bitcoin Now Accepting NFTs (TechCrunch)
- Financial Advice From Founding Fathers (Kiplinger)
- A Simple Guide to a $20,000 Wedding (Finance Futurists)
Personal Finance Resources
🚀 We recently launched a curated collection of personal finance resources on Gumroad, featuring both free and paid options! Visit us for all your personal finance tracking needs, including:
Stay tuned for updates! In the meantime, if there’s any other product you’d like to see, feel free to suggest it here.
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