A surge in 'surge pricing'

And more of the week's best financial insight

An Uber.
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

Why contractors' bills are rising

"The cost of almost every single item that goes into building a house in the U.S. is soaring," said Marcy Nicholson at Bloomberg. A number of factors are contributing to the materials crunch, including supply-chain delays and shortages. But the simplest explanation is that "there is just too much demand" from homebuyers. For a 3,031-square-foot home in Boise, Idaho, the price of concrete for the foundation has gone up 104 percent compared with the same-size project two years ago. The lumber costs $104,899, a 262 percent increase. Prices are even rising for basic materials like drywall (26 percent), piping (49 percent), and paint (68 percent). All told, the buyer for the finished home will pay "about $950,000, up 61 percent from 2019."

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A surge in 'surge pricing'

Uber and Lyft rides are in a state of perpetual surge pricing, said Mariella Moon at Engadget. "In the event that the demand outstrips supply, ride-hailing services typically resort to surge pricing," using an algorithm to raise fares to entice more drivers to service a certain area. But "surge pricing has been more common recently" as more people start to return to their old routines and the companies struggle to find drivers. The number of active drivers on Uber's app is down 22 percent from a year ago, and the company has "vowed to spend $250 million in payments and incentives to get drivers back on the road." In the meantime, some trips are costing passengers "as much as a plane ride."

How to discuss investing and risk

In a volatile market, joint financial decisions can be challenging for couples with different risk tolerances, said Anne Tergesen at The Wall Street Journal. Some couples try to eliminate tension by splitting their portfolio, to allow each other to mind "their own piece of the pie." This is obviously easier if each partner has a similar-size retirement account. Couples could also consider dividing their portfolio into "buckets earmarked for specific goals, such as paying off a mortgage or retirement." One way to understand your partner's risk tolerance is to ask how he or she felt last March, or in the financial crisis of 2008. People who "bailed out of the market" then, says one adviser, should have no more than 50 percent of their savings in stocks. Keeping a substantial cash reserve can also make a conservative partner feel more at ease.

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