Feature

The disappearing sick day

And more of the week's best financial insight

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

Price increases by another name

"Cost-recovery fees" and "supply-chain surcharges" are new ways that companies are finding to sneak around raising list prices, said David Lazarus at the Los Angeles Times. When Bob Klatskin emailed Brinks Home Security about a $1.97 "cost recovery fee" on top of his $46.60 monthly bill, he was told the fee was imposed to cover the "increased costs of providing service." It's hard to figure how that wouldn't automatically be covered by the company's main monthly service charges. Klatskin's Brinks contract states that total service costs won't increase by more than 5 percent per year, but the new fee guarantees a higher price hike. It's a dishonest practice that's on the rise: The paint company Sherwin-Williams, for example, recently added a 4 percent "supply-chain charge" onto the bill at the cash register.

The disappearing sick day

With more Americans working from home, sick days are disappearing, said Erica Pandey at Axios. A survey by OnePoll found that two in three workers "say they feel less inclined to take time off" for illness when working from home. This warrior mentality isn't necessarily something to celebrate. Working while sick has been shown to "slow down workers' recovery and prolong illnesses," contributing to a faster burnout rate. "The lack of definition around sick days" is another problem that's become exacerbated by the pandemic. Because "remote workers can't get colleagues sick," it has "raised the bar for how sick is sick enough to take the day off."

Time to buy inflation bonds?

The government is giving out 7.12 percent interest on new Series I savings bonds, said Ann Carrns at The New York Times. That's more than 14 times the average rate of a certificate of deposit today. Why the high rate? As their name suggests, Series I savings bonds, known as inflation or I bonds, are linked to inflation. Their rate is determined by a "composite" between a fixed base rate and one that varies based on the Consumer Price Index. "For more than a year, the fixed rate has been a disheartening zero." But the new composite rate is still the second-highest it has ever been, thanks to surging inflation. If the price spikes prove to be temporary, though, the composite rate on the bonds will drop The bonds are sold in an unusual way: You buy them directly from the Treasury's website, with an annual limit of $10,000 per person. You can buy another $5,000 with your tax refund.

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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