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15% of Americans worse off a year into pandemic

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15% of Americans worse off a year into pandemic

While most Americans have weathered the pandemic financially, about 38 million say they are worse off now than before the outbreak began in the US.

Overall, 55 percent of Americans say their financial circumstances are about the same now as a year ago and 30 percent say their finances have improved, according to a new poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But 15 percent say they are worse off.

The problem is more pronounced at lower-income levels: 29 percent of Americans living below the federal poverty line say their personal finances worsened in the past year. Roughly that many also find themselves in a deepening financial hole, saying they struggled to pay bills in the past three months.

Britney Frick, 27, is among those whose finances have taken a hit. She worked as a substitute teacher before the pandemic but her role was eliminated. Initially, she found a telecommunications job that allowed her to work from home, but the hours began to dwindle then dried up altogether.

Frick ended up unemployed for six months but was able to get by using her savings, reduced rent and help from her parents.

“I am slowly getting back on my feet but am nowhere near where I was before COVID,” she said.

Frick got a job at a daycare in March and the steady work is helping her rebuild her financial picture.

“I am still living paycheck to paycheck but at least the paycheck is covering the bills,” she said. “But I am happy to be back at work honestly and happy that things are kind of returning to normal.”

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy — the United States still has 8.4 million fewer jobs than it had in February 2020, just before the pandemic struck.

The government has passed three major relief bills in response, which included direct economic relief payments to individuals. That has helped ease the suffering of some.

The latest round of government payments — $1,400 to individuals — were sent out beginning last month. Households, on average, are using, or plan to use about one-third of the money to pay down debt, about 25 percent on spending and put the rest into savings, according to a report released last week from the New York Federal reserve. That closely mirrored spending of prior relief payments.

Overall, the Impact Genome/AP-NORC poll found 52 percent of Americans say they were able to save money for most of the past three months, while 37 percent broke even and 10 percent were short on paying bills. Among Americans living below the poverty line, 29 percent say they struggled to pay bills recently, while just 16 percent have saved. By comparison, 61 percent of those living far above the poverty line say they have been able to save.

There also are wide racial disparities, with 57 percent of white Americans, 47 percent of Hispanics and just 39 percent of Black Americans saying they have saved recently. Black and Hispanic Americans are about twice as likely as white Americans to say they have come up short on bill payments.

Andrew Holland said his family’s finances were fairly steady for most of the pandemic. The California resident worked as a hospice nurse and case manager and his wife kept her job with a refinery. But the stress and isolation of the pandemic led him to reconsider his work.

Unlike before the pandemic, he had no in-person interaction with colleagues or friends to relieve some of the pressure of his job. So he quit and found a new job in hospice care with fewer hours. His wife also got a new job with better pay.

While their family finances took a temporary hit and they spent some savings, he expects to recover. Holland and his wife have started tracking their spending more closely and are now planning for an earlier retirement.

“This really made me look at what do I want to do and when do I want to do it,” Holland, 35, said. “I feel incredibly lucky that the worst that happened is I lost a month’s of wages and got a job with fewer hours.”

The poll found many Americans — nearly a third — had not had investment or similar long-term savings accounts set up even before the pandemic. Another 19 percent say they have been able to add more to investments like a 401(k) or a college savings plan and 38 percent say the amount hasn’t changed compared to last year.

Holland said he is disheartened by the inequality of how the pandemic has played out for people and is concerned the imbalance will never be corrected.

“I am glad that it gave me the push to look at my finances and plan a little bit more for the future,” Holland said. “I definitely wish it had come at a much lower cost for the world as whole.”

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Living

Harry Winston’s 2021 floral jewelry collection wows

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Harry Winston's 2021 floral jewelry collection wows

Give the gift of forever love with blossoms of baubles.

Harry Winston’s perennial Forget-Me-Not collection now radiates with its first-ever marriage of diamonds and rubies.

While the jeweler has previously offered its signature florals in a dazzling array
of gemstones, ranging from diamonds to blue sapphires, this new pairing leaves us
blushing.

Adorned with round brilliant, pear-shaped and marquise diamonds, it’s offered in five silhouettes: earrings, a pendant, a bracelet, a ring and a lariat necklace.

The feeling you’ll have upon plucking one of these beauties?

Unforgettable.


Photographer: Chris Coppola; Stylist: Anahita Moussavian; Prop Stylist: Trina Ong.

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Boy’s botched Amazon order leaves him with $2,620 worth of Spongebob Squarepants popsicles

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Boy's botched Amazon order leaves him with $2,620 worth of Spongebob Squarepants popsicles

That’s one way to freeze a bank account.

A 4-year-old cartoon fanatic from Brooklyn went a little overboard by buying nearly $3,000 worth of nonrefundable SpongeBob SquarePants Popsicles on Amazon.

However, an understanding Samaritan has set up a GoFundMe page Monday to help cover the chilling cost.

According to the crowdfunding page, the “truly adorable” SpongeBob diehard named Noah “managed to purchase $2,618.85 worth” of the pop-pelgangers from Amazon and “had them sent to his Auntie’s house.”

“In case you are wondering, that’s 51 cases, containing 918 popsicles,” Katie Schloss, a New York University student and social-work intern, wrote of the tot’s frozen-treat fiasco.

The predicament may seem adorable on its face. However, as Amazon will not refund the Popsicles, Noah’s mom Jennifer Bryant was feeling the (freezer) burn and thought she’d have to foot the bill herself.

This presented a major SpongeBob-stacle for the mother of three, who studies social work at NYU, and didn’t know how she was “going to be able to pay this off, in addition to student loans and all of her family’s other expenses,” Schloss wrote.

The Post reached out to Bryant and will update this post if we hear back.

However, it seems that Noah’s Popsicle debt has already been more than paid off. As of Wednesday morning, kind-hearted donors have already contributed a whopping $3,675, eclipsing the fundraising goal of $2,619.

“Thank you so much for your mind-blowing generosity,” wrote Noah’s grateful mother on the page. She added that the surplus donations will go towards education and additional supports for her son, who reportedly suffers from autism.

This isn’t the first time an opportunistic tyke has gone on a surreptitious spending spree. A Connecticut woman was apoplectic after her 6-year-old amassed over $16,000 in credit card charges for the video game, “Sonic Forces.”

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Giant moth so chunky it struggles to fly discovered

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Giant moth so chunky it struggles to fly discovered

Mothra surfaces in Australia.

An Australian worker realized every entomophobe’s worst nightmare after encountering a moth so huge that it struggled to fly.

The Mount Cotton State School in Queensland, where Mothra was discovered, shared a Facebook photo Sunday of the behemoth bug on the end of a saw blade.

It was reportedly the “size of two fists put together” according to the school’s principal, Meagan Steward, who said the mondo moth was released into the woods unharmed.

Queensland Museum entomologist Dr. Christine Lambkin has since identified the animatronic-evoking creature as a “wood moth,” a species that reportedly resides all along the Eastern coast of Australia. While not exceedingly rare, this chonky critter is not commonly sighted in the country, Lambkin told the Independent.

And it’s certainly not because it’s too small to spot. With a maximum weight of just over an ounce, the female wood moth frequently struggles to achieve liftoff — despite boasting a whopping 9-inch wingspan.

“They fly very, very poorly,” said Lambkin. “In most cases, when the females emerge, they just crawl up a tree or stump of a fence post and wait for the males to find them.”

Needless to say, fans on the Mount Cotton State School Facebook page were awestruck by the colossal creepy-crawly.

“Love it! Never leaving the windows open ever again though,” wrote one aghast gawker.

“We’ll just add it to the list of wildlife….wallabies, owls, snakes, echidnas, giant moth,” wrote another of Australia’s infamous plethora of unusual creatures. “Life is never dull at MCSS!”

One jokester quipped, “How cool. Gotta say if it flew near me while I was gardening I would probably do a karate freakout!”

Thankfully, wood moths don’t pose a threat to humans. Perhaps it could even help relieve this extra-shaggy Australian sheep of its 77 pounds of matted wool.

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