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This Week in Your Wallet: Another Day, Another Hack, Plus Interest Rates On The Move?

Jean Chatzky  |  July 30, 2019

This is how it goes in 2019… you’re just wrapping your brain around what you need to do to get some cash money from the Equifax breach that happened in 2017, and another 100 million customers are robbed of their information. This time, the hack happened at Capital One.  Social Security Numbers, account numbers, credit scores, contact info… all of that was taken, and more.  Capital One says it will let you know if you were impacted (hint: if you’re a customer, you probably were).  

Meanwhile, here’s the skinny on what you need to a) know and b) do if you want to cash in (albeit minimally) on the Equifax breach. I did it. Took five minutes. And once you’re done, (she says, sounding like a broken record), freeze your credit.  Please. Freeze. Your. Credit.  

Interest Rates Heading Down

If you’ve been watching the stock market this month, you’ve seen it heading steadily up.  Why? Because it believes — and has already accounted for — the fact that tomorrow, the Federal Reserve will lower short term interest rates for the first time since the Great Recession.  The betting is on a reduction of one-quarter of a percentage point, though it could be a half. Why is the Fed doing this at a time when unemployment is so low and consumer confidence high?  It’s a move to keep the economy churning along. Meanwhile, you’ve likely been hearing rumors that the next recession could be around the corner. As The New York Times’ Ben Casselman writes in this nicely done piece about economic indicators and why they’re so confusing, we could already be in one. We just may not know it yet.

A Self-Employed Retirement

We all know that entrepreneurship comes with its hardships, but saving for retirement should not be one of them. In a new study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 15% of self-employed Americans say they aren’t saving at all, and only 26% are actually looking forward to retirement. (On the flipside, 55% say they are saving — just not enough. The average self-employed American has only about $71,000 saved.)  But while entrepreneurs don’t have the same support as many corporate employees do, they still have options. There’s Roth IRAs that enable you to save up to $6,000 a year, or there’s Solo 401(k)s and SEP IRAs, which both allow you to save as much as $56,000 annually. Meanwhile, a Simple IRA allows you to sock away as much as $19,000 per year. The point is — you have plenty of options. You just have to choose the one right for you. And while you’re at it: Fund an emergency savings account, because it’s just as important for your business as it is for your household. Also, make sure you’re properly insured. If your business takes a blow, you shouldn’t be in a position where you have to drain your savings. 

Sweet Crisis

To me, this one’s personal (as anyone who ever took a peek inside my freezer can attest.)  There, I keep an ongoing supply of Hershey’s Bars — the same ones on which prices are headed up.  Hershey has announced their chocolate prices will increase by 2% this year, and by 9% next year. What’s behind the move? The largest chocolate manufacturing company in the world says they’re raising their prices to deal with increasing costs for labor and raw materials, and competition from new start-up companies. It’s not just my beloved milk chocolate bars on the line — Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups will be impacted, too.  Stock up while you can! 

Reaching For The Stars  

Finally, thanks so much to all of you who submitted your moon landing memories. We absolutely loved reading them all. Most of you told sweet stories of watching with loved ones, with your pajamaed feet on the couch and your eyes glued to the TV.  Some of you were watching with grandparents, while some were fervently wishing your grandparents could have lived to have seen the moment. Some of you were told “you’re going to remember this for the rest of your life,” and were then shocked to realize that you actually did. Also, if the readers of this newsletter are any indication, then lots of pizza was ordered that night. And as much as we wish we had unlimited books to go around, we had to choose just two of you — Susan Burns and Joan Hurst. Joan attributes her career and passion for science to what she saw that special night — her father smiling at the TV, and repeating Neil’s words carefully as he held her close. Meanwhile, the moonwalk taught Susan that her grandmother was more than just a domestic goddess, but also into (gasp!) science. We’ve indeed come a long way, baby! Thanks again for sharing. 

Have a great week,

Jean

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