Feature

The shrinking post-pandemic wedding

And more of this week's best financial insight

Big employers cut office spaceHaving "discovered during the pandemic that they can function with nearly all of their workers out of the office," many big employers are downsizing on expensive office space in city centers, said Peter Eavis and Matthew Haag at The New York Times. Most aren't going fully remote. But Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's CEO, said recently he expected that "for every 100 employees, the bank would need seats for only 60 on average." United Airlines is getting rid of 17 percent of its space at Willis Tower, in Chicago, while Salesforce has started subletting half its office in San Francisco. On average, "just a quarter of workers in the 10 biggest urban areas have returned to offices, a rate that has stayed the same for months."

The shrinking post-pandemic weddingThe pandemic has caused many couples to rethink how much they want to spend on a wedding, said Allison Pohle at The Wall Street Journal. In 2019, the average wedding cost $28,000, according to data from The Knot. But the pandemic wrecked nuptial plans in 2020, and, for most, the cost of rescheduling wasn't cheap. About a quarter of engaged couples surveyed by the wedding website Zola had to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 in replanning expenses. Now, "plenty of couples are looking at the financial math of a big wedding reception and saying, 'Forget it.'" The Knot still expects wedding costs in 2021 to be roughly on par with 2019, mainly because some couples postponed their plans "in order to celebrate with a larger number of guests."

The wrong way to pay for solarConsumer advocates are warning homeowners about a predatory financing program promoted as a way to make homes more energy-efficient, said Rebecca Burns in Bloomberg​. The program is called "property accessed clean energy, or PACE," and it's primarily sold door-to-door by contractors. They lure homeowners — often the elderly — into greenlighting an expensive, climate-friendly renovation, such as installing solar panels or energy-efficient windows. Instead of paying the cost upfront, the owners "pay back the balance — plus interest — via a surcharge on their annual property taxes," which can be exorbitant. One victim's "annual property taxes jumped from $300 to more than $17,000." The program is only offered in three states — Florida, California, and Missouri — but already it's been used by 280,000 homeowners.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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