This week’s money news

This week’s top story: Smart Money podcast on the future of college debt, and rent vs. buy (with a dog). In other news: Record levels of debt, how trusts can support loved ones with mental illness, and Fed has ‘moved a long way’ but doesn’t promise rate hike pause.

Smart Money Podcast: The Future of College Debt, and Rent vs. Buy (With a Dog)
This week’s episode starts with a discussion on the future of college debt.

The Worst Inflation of All: Record Levels of Debt
Money News & Moves: Battle adding more debt, and if you’re struggling to pay bills on time, take action in days, not weeks.

How Trusts Can Support Loved Ones With Mental Illness
Setting up a loved one with a mental illness for financial stability often requires an estate planning tool like a trust.

Fed Has ‘Moved a Long Way’ — But Doesn’t Promise Rate Hike Pause
The federal funds rate level is now 5% to 5.25%.

How to use a tax refund to fight inflation

If inflation has eaten away at your budget the way waves erode a beach, then your tax refund might just provide a much-needed protective barrier.

As of March, prices are up 6% over the past 12 months, according to the most recent consumer price index. At the same time, just over half of filers (55%) are expecting tax refunds for the 2022 tax year, with an average expected refund of $2,205, according to the 2023 Nerdwallet Tax Report. Financial experts say consumers can use that windfall — which is really just a delayed paycheck that you already earned — to help offset the strain of those higher prices.

“Tax refunds are going to arrive at just the right time for many consumers this spring,” says Drew Wessell, a certified financial planner at Fiduciary Financial Advisors in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In Kimberly Palmer’s latest for the Associated Press, learn how to use a tax refund to fight inflation.

How to fight the ‘pink tax’ amid inflation

Trae Bodge, a shopping expert who lives in the New York City area, sees higher prices for products and services marketed to women everywhere: Socks, razors, shampoo and apparel are a few of the product types aimed at women that tend to cost more.

“I don’t know why brands think this is acceptable,” Bodge says. “It’s another punch to the gut as we’re trying to manage our budgets right now,” she adds, referring to rising prices across consumer goods categories due to inflation.

The phenomenon known as the “pink tax,” when products and services aimed at women cost more than their counterparts aimed at men, is well-documented across many goods and services. A 2021 paper co-authored by Stephanie Gonzalez Guittar, assistant professor in the sociology department at Rollins College in Florida, found that women pay more for deodorants and lotions, and that personal care products are increasingly differentiated by gender. For example, lotion for women cost an average of $2.97 per ounce compared to $1.86 for men.

While Equal Pay Day on March 14 focuses on the pay gap between men and women, it can also be a reminder to consider why being a woman so often comes with a higher price tag — and what to do about it. In Kimberly Palmer’s latest for the Associated Press, learn how to avoid paying the pink tax.

This week’s money news

This week’s top story: Smart Money podcast on how to leverage inflation for your benefit. In other news: Justice department sues to block JetBlue, Spirit merger, 3 tax credits not to miss when you file this year, and 3 ways to get your income and other money faster.

Smart Money Podcast: How to Leverage Inflation for Your Benefit
In this week’s episode, we’re sharing NerdWallet’s recent webinar, which was about inflation.

Justice Department Sues to Block JetBlue, Spirit Merger
On Tuesday, the Justice Department sued to block JetBlue Airways from taking over Spirit Airlines in a $3.8 billion deal.

Don’t Miss These 3 Tax Credits When You File This Year
Credits are a more powerful tax-saving tool than deductions, and common programs, such as the earned income tax credit, can save you thousands.

3 Ways to Get Your Income and Other Money Faster
To get money faster, use early direct deposit, Zelle or instant cash-out on Venmo or Cash App. But availability varies.

This week’s money news

This week’s top story: Smart Money podcast on chatGPT vs. the Nerds, and rental properties. In other news: What new for Medicare is in 2023, economy is improving, but recession risk, inflation still hover, and small-business tax changes and tips to know in 2023.

Smart Money Podcast: ChatGPT vs. the Nerds, and Rental Properties
This week’s episode starts with testing out ChatGPT’s ability to give financial advice.

What’s New for Medicare in 2023?
In 2023, there’s a little of everything: Some costs have gone down, others have increased, and there are some notable tweaks to how Medicare works.

Economy Is Improving, but Recession Risk, Inflation Still Hover
At this point it’s still uncertain whether the U.S. is in the clear or instead glimpsing a recession on the horizon.

Small-Business Tax Changes and Tips to Know in 2023
Working with a tax professional can help you understand what tax credits you qualify for and how to claim them.

Sneaky ways inflation affects your money in 2023

By now, you’re probably familiar with the more obvious ways inflation affects your finances. Your money doesn’t go as far at the grocery store, for example. Credit card and other variable-rate debt is getting more expensive as the Federal Reserve raises short-term interest rates to combat inflation. Rates are also rising, albeit more slowly, on savings accounts.

But other ways inflation helps or hurts have gotten less attention. In my latest for the Associated Press, learn some of the major changes to watch for in 2023.

This week’s money news

This week’s top story: Smart Money podcast on when your bank stiffs you, and co-signing risks. In other news: Job growth despite slight rise in unemployment, a high cost to stop inflation, and when the Fed hikes interest rates, who gets hurt.

Smart Money Podcast: When Your Bank Stiffs You, and Co-Signing Risks
This week’s episode starts with a discussion about what to do when your bank stiffs you with a low annual percentage yield.

Job Market Still Strong Despite Slight Rise in Unemployment
Job growth continues and wages remain strong despite forecasts predicting job losses in 2023.

A High Cost to Stop Inflation: Sink the Economy and Spark Unemployment
Money News & Moves: Fed interest rate hikes so far this year have been slow to move the needle on inflation.

When the Fed Hikes Interest Rates, Who Gets Hurt?
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in September that he wishes “there were a painless way” to lower inflation. “There isn’t,” he said.