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‘They get free money’: People will receive a $600 stimulus check and $300 extra unemployment. Why is there no accountability?

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I am concerned that people are receiving another 11 weeks of unemployment benefits along with an extra $300 per week. I don’t have a problem in providing assistance to those who need it. It’s so sad to see families suffering financially.

But what about these other people who are receiving it? They are dependent on their parents, live in nice homes and are taken care of. I’ve heard of numerous situations where a young adult had a part-time summer job in the Summer of 2019, and submitted in March for unemployment.


‘I’ve heard of a family whose kids received a $6,000 check in back unemployment in July. They had been collecting unemployment since March. They live in an affluent neighborhood where houses are worth $300,000.’

They received all the benefits since March, including $600 extra a week. They’re not going to look for a job because they have free money without doing anything. There were a lot of job openings and businesses could not fill them.

Now these people are going to have 50 weeks of free money and another $300 a week unemployment. There is no accountability to prove that they are trying to get a job in New York. I’ve heard of one case where the young adult purchased a new used car with cash. Another one is approaching the $13,000 mark in savings from unemployment.

There should be a Free Application for Federal Student Aid-like (FAFSA) form to fill out outlining all financial information of dependents and parents’ income. Colleges do it. If you are a dependent and your parents make a certain amount of money, then benefits should not be allowed for those dependents.

I’ve heard of a family whose kids received a $6,000 check in back unemployment in July because they couldn’t work at a local school district. They had been collecting unemployment since March. They live in an affluent neighborhood where houses are worth $300,000.

How stupid. I would fire the New York State Department of Labor Commissioner.

What do you think?

Fed Up with the Waste

The Moneyist:My mother gave me a substantial financial gift. I gave it back. My soon-to-be ex-husband says half belongs to him

Dear Fed Up,

You’ve heard of a lot of people doing a lot of things. Mostly, it sounds to me, they’re trying to live their lives to the best of their ability. I too have heard a few things.

I’ve heard of 5.51 million people who are unemployed. That’s a low for the pandemic, and I am glad of that. I’ve heard that many of those people have run out of state benefits, however, and have shifted to a temporary federal-aid program because they still can’t find work.


‘I’ve heard of people who have not worked in years because they inherited family money that they did not earn themselves, but I have not heard anyone complain that they are cheating the system or working the system, or somehow not contributing to society.’


— The Moneyist

I’ve heard that applications for federal unemployment benefits have more than tripled since August, a sign of rising long-term unemployment that might not be easy to undo once the pandemic ends. I’ve heard that 20.65 million people have been receiving benefits from eight separate state and federal programs.

I’ve heard of many requirements to qualify for unemployment in New York. I’ve heard that some states require $1,000 in income earned over the prior base year, while others require $5,000. I’ve heard people must be laid off through “no fault of their own” to qualify for unemployment insurance. I’ve heard that some states even require proof that you are looking for work.

The Moneyist:My boyfriend’s ex-wife claimed her 2 sons as dependents on her taxes, and received their stimulus checks, but they live with us

I’ve heard that the $900 billion stimulus ‘program, which offers half the amount to millions of people than the first package, was needed more urgently due to the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases and resulting closure of businesses. I’ve heard layoffs are up and consumer confidence is down, triggering a broader slowdown in the economy.

People hear stories and see what their neighbors do or their cousins or that guy they never liked anyway have been doing since they lost their job and judge their behavior without knowing anything about what they’re going through — and, as such, decide they are undeserving or taking advantage of the pandemic. It’s the Valley of the Squinting Windows.


‘I’ve heard of friends whose businesses turned to dust overnight and who have fought valiantly to come to terms with the reality that they must let those dreams go after 30 years of hard labor, as they face mounting bills ever day.’


— The Moneyist

It’s easy to take one example of someone who is not on the street or buys themselves a car, or decides to live with their parents to save money, and not only make a call on whether they are acting appropriately or ethically, but also then extrapolate their situation to make sweeping statements about Americans working or cheating the system.

I’ve heard of Yale economists who found “no evidence that more generous benefits disincentivized work either at the onset of the expansion or as firms looked to return to business over time. I’ve heard workers receiving larger increases in unemployment benefits experienced very similar gains in employment by early May.

I’ve heard that a Chicago Fed study concluded that those currently collecting benefits “search more than twice as intensely as those who have exhausted their benefits.” Typically, unemployment benefits last six months and, on average, pay individuals approximately 35% of their previous weekly salary, it found.

The Moneyist: I earned $100,000 in 2019, but far less in 2020. Why did I not get a stimulus check? How is that fair?

I’ve heard of people who have not worked in years because they inherited family money that they did not earn themselves, but I have not heard anyone complain that they are cheating the system or working the system, or somehow not contributing to society. Nor have I heard that they are lowering the tone of the neighborhood by sitting around all day buying stuff with money they did not earn.

I’ve heard of friends whose businesses turned to dust overnight due to the impact of COVID-19 on the service industry, and who have fought valiantly to come to terms with the reality that they must let those dreams go after 30 years of hard labor, as they face mounting bills ever day, and wonder if they will ever have a business or even work again. I’ve heard of friends who have been let go, and those who have had to face their employees and tell them it’s all over.

I’ve heard a lot of things, but I try my best not to pretend to know that I have the answers or that someone is less deserving than I am. I have lived in the U.S. for nearly a decade and I’ve heard of many people telling other people what they do and don’t deserve, and how they should live their lives. It’s exhausting. Life is easier if you stop trying to police other people’s behavior.

Stop looking over the garden fence and grumbling at your neighbors, take care of your own household, and I shall endeavor to do the same.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com

Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here

Would you like to sign up to an email alert when a new Moneyist column has been published? If so, click on this link.

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I have a First World problem: I earn $500K, and have $1 million in assets. Should I buy a $30K bracelet during a global pandemic?

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I have a mundane First World problem that may or may not warrant your attention. But I read your column, and thought you could help me. It’s something that has been troubling me for some time. Should I buy a $30,000 piece of jewelry?

I have a $500,000 stable annual income, no debt, my kids have their private college tuition and retirement fully funded, and I have an additional $1 million in investable assets in various bank and brokerage accounts. My husband and I are in our late 40s, early 50s.

We have always lived a financially disciplined lifestyle. We avoid impulse buys, while spending liberally on things we truly enjoy and care about, including annual multi-week vacations for the family, organic food, home upgrades for our hobbies, and supporting our favorite charities.


‘The good news is, this particular brand of jewelry has been holding its value very well over a long horizon.’

I personally adore quality designer jewelry, and get a little thrill every time I look at them on my wrist and finger. I have never spent $30,000 on one piece of jewelry, and I feel some guilt spending that much money on something primarily for myself, not the family.

This particular piece, a bracelet, has been on my radar since 2019, and I found myself coming back to it time and again. I spent hours following online discussion threads, researching its resale value (in case my daughter doesn’t want it) and insurance against loss, etc.

The good news is, this particular brand of jewelry has been holding its value very well over a long horizon; in fact, it boasts the highest resale value in the last couple of years, according to top luxury resale and consignment sites.

However, I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger: spending almost 3% of our investable assets on a piece of jewelry just feels very excessive to me. I tell myself to reconsider in a few years when we get to a higher net worth to make the purchase easier to justify and stomach.

My husband said I should buy it sooner, and enjoy it for a few more years. I realize the jewelry aspect makes this a highly personal-preference question. I guess a more generic question could be, does a $30,000 discretionary spend sound reasonable in our financial situation?

A Bracelet Lover

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear Bracelet Lover,

Before the world and its mother comes down on you like a ton of bricks for asking this question during a pandemic — and before said world and its mother comes down on me for answering your question — I will say that I find your letter curious. Not “$30,000 bracelet” curious. But curious, nonetheless.

The reason: I don’t believe this magnificent, guilt-ridden obsession is really about the bracelet at all. The object of your desire could be anything: It could be a Tesla Model 3 or a used GT-R. It could be a Fabergé egg, aluminum siding, or even a $30,000 Hermès Kelly clutch bag.

It’s extravagant in the way a motor vehicle or kitchen reno is extravagant. Did you know the average cost of a light vehicle in the United States is over $40,000? You can’t drive a $30,000 bracelet, but you can wear one and drive a $10,000 car to get you from A to B. Who’s more mundane now?


‘The reason: I don’t believe this magnificent, guilt-ridden obsession is really about the bracelet at all. The object of your desire could be anything.’

I get it. There is a thrill in buying something so outrageously out of your price range. How will that make you feel? What kind of connection will you have to this object? Will other people notice it? Will you tell them how much it cost? Would owning it confirm any privately-held ambitions you have for yourself?

You are not just buying a $30,000 bracelet. You are, perhaps, buying your way out of an old way of seeing yourself. That may or may not last. Or maybe you truly believe that it will bring you joy as a family heirloom, and you can resell it at the same or a higher value, if a prospective buyer or the real world come knocking.

Will wearing such an item give you more confidence to sail past the snootiest members of your tennis club or the maître d’ at the most popular Michelin restaurant in town? Please know that I’m not speaking about you here. I’m talking about anyone who splashes out, during a pandemic or not.

About the pandemic. Researching this purchase may lift your spirits, and actually help you escape the mundane. It may or may not be a coincidence that you choose now to do something so bold and new. It’s a $30,000 sop to coronavirus. A million-dollar spit in the ocean during a truly difficult year.


For some people, spending $30,000 on one luxury item is a way of showing their spouse or, indeed, themselves that they are worth that much.

For some people, spending $30,000 on one luxury item is a way of showing their spouse or, indeed, themselves that they are worth that much. The diamond industry, for better or for worse, is based on that conceit. You need a rock on your finger to show the world that it’s true love.

For others, it’s about showing the world that you can’t mess with them and, like Leona Helmsley, the Queen of Mean, will show the world there are no little people, only big handbags — like this woman who sued a country club in New Jersey after a waiter spilled wine on her $30,000 Hermès Kelly clutch bag.

Would I spend $30,000 on a piece of jewelry if I were in your position? Probably not. Should you? That’s not for me to say. That’s for you to find out. The great Suze Orman would probably give you a “yay” or “nay” on the matter, but I’m not Suze Orman. That’s not my gig, nor is it my style.

I’ll tell you what is my style: A pair of chocolate brown Donna Karan trousers that I bought for a friend’s wedding in New York 20 years ago. I had traveled here from Dublin. A friend took me to Saks Fifth Avenue. I was fresh out of college, and thought, “How expensive could they be?”


You have formed an attachment to this bracelet, or at least to the idea of this bracelet. Let that go for a moment. What else you could do with $30,000?

I rolled up to the cash desk after they were adjusted three ways from Sunday, and the clerk told me they were $450. I handed over my fresh-out-college credit card and watched in horror as the cashier rung up the equivalent of one month’s rent. I was Jason, and those threads were my golden fleece.

I loved those dress pants. They moved like slow motion. I cared for them like priceless silk and, one day, I dropped them into a dry cleaners in Dublin. I noticed some lights were out that day, but I paid no heed. It was 2008. The dry cleaners went bankrupt, and padlocked its doors. I never saw those Donna Karan trousers again.

What has all that got to do with your $30,000 bracelet? Three things. 1. This piece of jewelry has something to teach you, and you don’t have to buy it to learn what that is. 2. This is a trouser- and judgment-free zone. 3. Our monetary dilemmas are rarely about what we think they’re about.

You have formed an attachment to this bracelet, or at least to the idea of this bracelet. Let that go for a moment. What else you could do with $30,000? Something different, but equally novel that perhaps could also have an impact? You don’t even have to spend the money on you.

Buy or don’t buy it. Remember this: However it makes you feel, you can feel that way without it. Whatever properties, provenance or millesimal fineness this piece of jewelry holds, your own qualities as a human being outweigh it. Whatever obsession it sparks in you, you can out-spark it.

The Moneyist: Before I give my fiancée a $7,000 diamond engagement ring, I want her to promise to bequeath it to my daughter

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The Moneyist: ‘The thought of her keeping these ill-gotten funds just chaps my behind’: My granddaughter, 7, lives with me — yet her mother received her stimulus





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My son, 18, says I should hand over the $1,400 adult-dependent stimulus. He claims it belongs to him. Who’s right?

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Dear Quentin,

We’re having a debate in our house regarding the latest stimulus payment. I claim head of household and have two 18-year-old adult dependents that I claim on my taxes. I received a $1,400 stimulus for each of us. My 18-year-old son claims that I must give him this money stating that it is meant to be given to the adult dependent.

I say it’s not meant for him, as I claim him as a dependent on my taxes because I pay more than half of his household expenses (actually all of his expenses) and this money will be used to offset the expense of raising him. If you have any information you can share to shed some light on the debate at hand, I’d much appreciate it.

I keep searching the internet for some proof that I must give him this money but keep coming up empty-handed.

Fingers crossed

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear FC,

If the money was meant for your son’s use, it would have been sent to your son. The clue is in the wire transfer. He is a dependent and, as such, the money is meant to be used for his care. They are emergency funds to be used for food, clothing, utilities, and anything else that adds to the cost of running a household and, yes, stimulating the economy.

Let’s assume your son is correct in his belief that the money is for his use, and could (or should) be used for his own expenditures — from meals out with friends to new sneakers. In that case, he should be of independent means and pay for everything else: rent, food, transportation. I have a feeling that $1,400 would be used up pretty, pretty, pretty fast.

If you have a balance on your credit card for family purchases, what reason would your son have for you not using part of the total economic stimulus payment to pay that balance off? This is an opportunity to lay bare the economics of running a household, so your son can have a bird’s eye view on how to manage a budget, and the costs of each family member.


‘The problem with putting food in the cupboards: Some kids think it appears there magically. And I don’t only mean that the food is conjured up through some act of existential bookkeeping.’


— The Moneyist

The problem with putting food in the cupboards: Some kinds think it appears there magically. And I don’t only mean that the food is conjured up through some act of existential bookkeeping, but that it actually makes its way from the supermarket bags to the cupboards without any human intervention whatsoever. It takes time to earn the money, shop and to put those groceries away.

As an adult dependent over the age of 16, your son did not qualify for the first two stimulus checks. Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, however, parents may claim their adult children as dependents. The amount is based on your income (payments fall for individuals earning $75,000 a year and up and couples making $160,000 a year or more).

The $1,4000 is not based on your son’s circumstances and, as such, the money should be used at your discretion. If you can afford it, however, I suggest talking through your son’s priorities and working with him on how he could spend all or part of the $1,400. It may be that you can help your son feel empowered to spend it on his own upkeep.

But — and this is a big “but” — if he wants you to buy necessities while he uses the money for his own enjoyment, that’s called “pocket money” not an economic impact payment, and that’s something he is given as a child or needs to earn himself. If you decide upon a potential compromise, the final answer will be determined by your son’s own financial priorities.

The Moneyist: I’m a farmer in my late 30s, live a frugal lifestyle, and my son has a disability. Should I pay extra on my mortgage — or save for retirement?

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These money and investing tips can help you decide whether to ‘sell in May and go away’

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Don’t miss these top money and investing features:

Sell in May and go away? Not so fast. These money and investing stories, popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week, can help you position your portfolio as the U.S. stock market enters its typically weaker six-month stretch — although that certainly wasn’t the case in 2020. So while it makes sense to seek out market sectors that are stronger in the summer months, it doesn’t change the fact that time in the market, and not market-timing, has been the most reliable creator of wealth.



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