🐤 Making them pay

Your smartphone could probably replace your wallet, but would you ever let it happen?

Tuesday | November 14th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Tuesday, chirpers! The writers' strike ended weeks ago and now actors are back to work, but that doesn’t mean Hollywood can expect to simply get back to the status quo and start raking in the dough.

At least that seems to be the lesson of a pretty dreadful opening weekend for The Marvels, which is the 33rd (yikes!) installment of the superhero film franchise. It brought in just $47 million from U.S. theaters, which is the lowest of any Marvel movie.

-Chris Agee

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*Market data for this issue is from November 13th, 2023 at 6:54pm EST

🏦 Markets: It was a mixed, but generally uneventful day on Wall Street to start the week. Modest gains by the Dow Jones gave that index its highest close in nearly two months, but the other two major indexes finished the day slightly down.

So why were things so quiet yesterday? It’s probably because investors are collectively holding their breath until the latest inflation data drops today.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Giphy

🚓 Protect and serve: U.S. Secret Service agents assigned to protect President Joe Biden’s granddaughter, Naomi, responded to a tense situation in D.C. over the weekend. According to reports, three individuals attempted to break into a parked SUV that belonged to the agency. No one was inside the vehicle at the time of the attempted break-in and agents opened fire shortly after the suspects broke one of its windows. Authorities don’t think anyone was injured.

🛢️ Crude moves: You might have noticed some much-needed relief upon filling up your gas tank lately, and that is due in large part to the recent decline in the cost of a barrel of crude oil. While there are several likely factors behind the 10% drop over the past two months, an uptick in Russian exports is one of the key contributors to the trend. With both supply and interest rates up, industry insiders say relatively low prices ($85 a barrel or so) are likely to stick around for a while.

💪 Sound mind, sound body: It’s no secret that taking care of one’s mental and physical health is important, but new evidence suggests that the two are even more closely related than previously thought. A recent study found that individuals who are living with serious forms of mental illness are nearly twice as likely as the general population to also have physical ailments including high blood pressure, cancer, kidney problems, epilepsy, and gastrointestinal disorders.

📡 Radio signal: President Biden has recently unveiled his administration’s multi-agency plan to increase the radio spectrum range in order to provide more reliable and faster tech service within the communications sector, the space exploration industry, and more. A White House spokesperson noted that “the spectrum is crowded” and “demand is growing fast,” touting this program as “a way to break through the limitations of today.”

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Smartphones Replace A Lot … But Americans Aren’t Getting Rid Of Their Wallets Just Yet

It's becoming a lot more common in some other countries, though.

Smartphones Replace A Lot … But Americans Aren’t Getting Rid Of Their Wallets Just Yet

If you’re old enough to remember a time before smartphones (or you’ve just heard your share of “back in my day” stories from your parents), you’re probably keenly aware of the ways that these gadgets have cleaned up a lot of clutter.

They’ve consolidated cameras, address books, flashlights, music players, gaming systems, GPS, alarm clocks, and so much more into just one handheld device. Oh, and we suppose you could also make phone calls with them.

But a substantial number of people — particularly in the U.S. — haven’t yet made the switch from plastic cards and paper money even though digital wallets are ready and willing to replace them all.

Let’s look at the numbers

Pollsters recently asked respondents whether they have used their phone’s digital wallet over the past month and more than one-third of Americans said they hadn’t.

The numbers become even more telling in response to a question regarding frequent use. A paltry 13% of U.S. respondents reported having used their digital wallets during the previous 24-hour period, suggesting that even though a majority of Americans use theirs, they don’t do so frequently.

Then there’s the elephant in the room. PayPal is far and away the most popular choice, reaching nearly 70% of those who use any sort of digital wallet. That makes it more than twice as popular as a number of its closest rivals. Among Venmo, CashApp, Zelle, Google Pay and Apple Pay, none of them cracked the 40% mark.

Wallets around the world

While many Americans are reluctant to ditch their physical wallets, those living in some other countries are far more receptive to the idea.

China and India are the clear leaders, according to the poll: 95% and 93% of adults, respectively, said they’d used a digital wallet within the previous month.

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Want To Expand Your World? Try Being Generous With Those Party Invitations!

From old friends to complete strangers, some folks are letting everyone attend.

Want To Expand Your World? Try Being Generous With Those Party Invitations! Giphy

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you might be selective about who's on the guest list of any shindig you happen to be hosting. This could be due to the cost of inviting a bunch of people or you might have concerns about whether guests will mesh with one another.

But there’s an emerging trend that might help offset all the loneliness and isolation that has become so common in our modern society.

Identifying the upside

Although it might seem strange to extend an open invitation — perhaps even including total strangers — to a gettogether, that’s exactly what some folks are doing these days. And after they get through the initial awkwardness that comes with violating preconceived norms, the benefits soon start to become apparent.

Formal studies and anecdotal evidence reveal a few common advantages to opening up a party to pretty much anyone who wants to attend.

  • You’ll probably find that more people get along with each other than you thought.
  • The mix of disparate groups can lead to more engaging and interesting conversations.
  • Hosts and guests can reconnect with people they haven’t seen in a long time.

As psychology professor Lara Aknin explained: “People are much more reluctant to reach out to old friends than they should be. It’s surprisingly hard to get people to move the needle on this.”

Some things to consider

Before you start sending out your RSVPs, be sure you have the right space and activities planned for a large group. An intimate game night, for example, probably isn’t the right venue.

It’s also good to invite folks from various demographics so specific individuals don’t feel conspicuous. And don’t forget to communicate expectations, such as COVID precautions.

But with a little planning, you can pull off an event that everyone enjoys.

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Homeschooling Is On The Rise — And Here Are Some Key Reasons Why

It spiked during COVID, but the trend doesn't seem to be reversing.

Homeschooling Is On The Rise — And Here Are Some Key Reasons Why Shutterstock

Although public, private, and charter school enrollments still make up the vast majority of educational options for American parents, there’s another alternative — homeschooling — that’s slowly gaining a foothold.

But why are so many parents suddenly interested in teaching their own children? The evidence points to a few factors.

  • Health: After the pandemic forced many parents to take on the role of ad hoc educator, a number of them decided to stick it out in part to protect their kids from the spread of COVID or other illnesses.
  • Culture: Whether it’s conservatives worried about political indoctrination or minority families concerned about racism, there are many different reasons that parents might choose to keep their kids out of traditional schools.
  • Safety: With the troubling rise in school shooting incidents and the ever present danger of bullying, some parents believe that homeschooling is a safer option than sending their children to a classroom.
  • Special needs: From developmental issues to learning disabilities, a number of parents believe that schools don’t have the resources to meet their children’s individual needs.

There are other reasons that parents opt for homeschooling, and the proof that it’s a growing trend can be found in the numbers. While it became more popular in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19, the pandemic-era increase remained obvious throughout the most recent school year.

Homeschooling is the fastest-growing educational alternative in the U.S. and estimates indicate as many as 2.7 million American kids are currently being taught at home.

A common thread runs through all of the parents who endorse this method, according to homeschooling advocate Jen Garrison Stuber.

“Being able to tailor the education to the individual child is one of the things that is extremely personally persuasive for people to come to homeschooling and then decide to stay,” she said.

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

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