Feature

Less free coffee with those donuts

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

Bigger COLA, bigger risks

The biggest cost-of-living adjustment to Social Security since 1981 will put more money in retirees' wallets, said Alan Rappeport in The New York Times — and put more strain on the program. The Social Security Administration announced a COLA, which is based on the inflation rate, of 8.7 percent for 2023, boosting retirees' average monthly payments by $146. However, rising benefits mean the program will be "under even more pressure to sustain itself." Annual reports in June showed that the Trust Fund used for paying benefits is ticking down toward depletion by 2034; that date will come sooner if COLAs continue at similar levels. If that fund — the result of years of surpluses — is depleted, Social Security will need to be funded by incoming payroll tax revenue, "unless Congress intervenes." That covers just 77 percent of payouts.

Less free coffee with those donuts

Some chains are discovering they've been too generous with their customer loyalty programs, said Laura Reiley in The Washington Post, but retracting them is bad business. Last week, Dunkin' Donuts infuriated many of its most faithful customers after it "revised its 8-year-old DD Perks program and released a new Dunkin' Rewards system that many said devalued their points." When customers learned they now must "accrue more than twice as many points" to obtain the same freebies, Dunkin' devotees flooded social media with angry posts. "What idiot do you think I am, Dunkin? I did that math," one former Perks member wrote. In August, Chili's said the company would have to "rein in free food giveaways" after concluding that "37 percent of customer checks had some kind of discount offer applied."

Goldman, Apple expand accounts

Apple and Goldman Sachs introduced a high-yield savings account for users of the Apple Card, said Steve Dickson and Sridhar Natarajan in Bloomberg. The account "builds on the existing credit-card partnership between the two companies." Apple didn't announce an interest rate, although it said the accounts would offer a rate that is competitive; Marcus, Goldman's existing savings account, "currently gives users an annual percentage yield of 2.15 percent." Apple is relying heavily on services to "help fuel growth in coming years" and has been steadily expanding its financial offerings. It has a "buy now, pay later" installment plan service in the works.

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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