Welcome to March and happy National Pancake Day, Daily Money readers. Jayme Deerwester, here with you again, telling you to warm your syrup before putting it on your short stack. Why on earth would you put cold or room-temperature syrup on hot, delicious pancakes?!? That’s just wrong.
🗞 News you should know 🗞
Russians lined up at ATMs on Monday, preparing themselves for higher prices and more economic turmoil after the U.S. and Europe imposed more economic sanctions on their country over the weekend.
Russia’s central bank sharply raised its key interest rate to 20% from 9.5% in a desperate attempt to shore up the ruble and prevent a run on banks. It also said the Moscow stock exchange would remain closed. The sanctions are affecting about 70% of Russian banks, including the top two: Sberbank and VTB, says Paul Christopher, head of global market strategy for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
The sanctions have caused a massive devaluation in that country’s currency, while the Bank of Russia more than doubled interest rates to 20% to slow runs on its banks. The ruble plunged about 30% against the dollar after Western nations announced unprecedented moves to block some Russian banks from SWIFT, a messaging network that connects financial institutions around the world and to restrict Russia’s use of its massive foreign currency reserves.
“I don’t think the Russian economy is going to collapse, but it will be a lot harder on their people,” says Ben Coates, a Wake Forest associate professor who is investigating the history of economic sanctions in the 20th century.
Meanwhile, some Americans may be wondering if our sanctions on Russia could boomerang and hurt us. So far, beyond gasoline prices – which mostly have been stoked by fear – the impact of sanctions in the U.S. is expected to be limited.
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💡 Daily insight 💡
With technology delivering so many of our basic needs, sanctions can have wide-ranging, from supply shortages at your local grocery store to power outages, says Kevin Novak, managing director of security firm Breakwater Solutions.
“So while at the moment I do not believe that private U.S. citizens should cower in fear over Russia’s capability of adversely impacting them via cyberattacks, it is reasonable to expect that their lives will be impacted in some ways by cyber retaliatory actions that result from US sanctions and other political maneuvering,” Novak said.
Warns Chris Olson, CEO of The Media Trust, a digital safety platform: “Consumers should be aware that cyber actors can target them through almost any website or mobile application.”
“Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility,” says Eman El-Sheikh, associate vice president of the University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity. We have a list of eight things you can do to protect yourself, including activating multi-factor identification on your devices, updating software to apply security patches and using stronger passwords.
💵 All taxes, all the time 💵
Tax bills can catch filers off guard. If you don’t have enough money in your savings account to cover your IRS obligation by the April 18 payment deadline, you may need to get creative in paying that bill.
In fact, you may be inclined to reach for a credit card and use it to pay your tax bill. That way, you simply settle your debt with the IRS on the spot and then pay off your credit card over time, like you would for any other purchase. But while that might seem like a good route to take, here’s why it’s not ideal.
- Using a credit card might cost you more in the form of interest and a hit to your credit score if you charge a large amount.
- You’ll be charged a fee to pay your tax bill with a credit card. That fee will generally be over 2%, which may be more than the amount of cash back your credit card gives you for transactions.
🎶 Mood music 🎶
Today’s lyrical choice, Bob Seger’s Shakedown,” is inspired by TV’s dramatic retellings of the biggest recent business and tech scandals: “No matter how the race is run, it always ends the same: another room without a view awaits downtown. You can shake me for a while, live it up in style. No matter what you do, I’m going to take you down.”
LISTEN WHILE YOU WORK: Remember, you can listen to this song and every track I’ve quoted in the newsletter in the Daily Money Mood Music playlist on Spotify.