Founders of Three Arrows Capital pitch platform for crypto bankruptcy claims

FTX logo with crypto coins with 100 Dollar bill are displayed for illustration. FTX has filed for bankruptcy in the US, seeking court protection as it looks for a way to return money to users.

Jonathan Raa | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The co-founders of a now-liquidated cryptocurrency hedge fund are courting investors for a new trading marketplace that aims to capitalize on a growing volume of bankruptcies related to digital currency.

Kyle Davies and Su Zhu are listed under the founding members slide of a pitch deck obtained by CNBC for a distressed debt marketplace called GTX. Davies and Zhu founded Three Arrows Capital, a Singapore-based cryptocurrency hedge fund that was ordered to liquidate by a British Virgin Islands court.

The deck noted Three Arrows Capital “went bust in 2022.” It was previously considered one of the most prominent crypto hedge funds that once managed about $10 billion in assets.

Followers of technology and financial exchanges have grown increasingly interested in how bankruptcies and fraud within the crypto space will be handled following the collapse of FTX. Davies and Zhu are part of a group arguing that the so-called crypto “claims” market, in reference to bankruptcies impacting holders of digital currencies, should have a public marketplace.

It aims to appeal to the more than one million FTX depositors that are now involved in a bankruptcy proceeding, a slide in the pitch deck said. Many of those FTX clients are selling claims at about one-tenth of their value for immediate liquidity as they try to avoid what could be a years-long wait for repayment, according to the deck.

They cited a “clear need to unlock” the claims market — one they value at $20 billion and believe GTX could “dominate” within two or three months. GTX said in its pitch that, once scaled, the platform could fill a “power vacuum left by FTX” within crypto trading and move into the securities lending market.

GTX is raising a $25 million seed for the platform, with a goal of coming to the market by the end of February at the latest, according to the deck.

Mark Lamb and Sudhu Arumugam, co-founders of crypto trading platform CoinFLEX, are listed alongside Davies and Zhu as founding members. Representatives from CoinFLEX and Three Arrows Capital did not respond immediately to CNBC’s request for comment.

Beyond the four founding members, the deck lists Kent Deng as GTX’s CTO, Leslie Lamb as CMO and Ewelina Mielecka as chief digital officer. GTX has a team of more than 60 developers, according to the deck.

— CNBC’s MacKenzie Sigalos contributed reporting

Tori Dunlap of Her First $100K shares tips to build wealth

Tori Dunlap wants to remind you: personal finance is personal. In order to achieve financial success, you have to do what’s best for your own situation — not someone else’s.

Dunlap gained a following blogging about her journey to save $100,000 by the time she turned 25. When she accomplished that goal three months after her 25th birthday, she quit her job and turned the blog into Her First $100K, a financial literacy brand that aims to help women fight financial inequality and take control of their money.

Most recently, Dunlap, now 28, published her first book, “Financial Feminist,” already a New York Times bestseller. 

Along the way, she’s learned a few tips that can help anyone aiming for financial success, whether that means retiring early, starting a business or fulfilling another dream. Here are the three biggest lessons she says to learn before you can achieve financial freedom, whatever that means to you.

1. Getting good with money takes practice, and you might be on a learning curve

Good money management doesn’t come naturally to everyone. For many, it’s a skill they have to learn, often later in life.

“I think we come out of the womb expecting to be magically good at money, but we don’t expect ourselves to be magically good at anything else,” Dunlap tells CNBC Make It. 

She considers herself lucky that her parents instilled good financial habits in her from a young age, but acknowledges that not everyone has the same foundation. And even if they do, without consistent effort it’s easy to fall out of practice and into financial turmoil.

You need to practice and get into the habit of learning about money before you can really master using it effectively, she says.

“Just like anything else that’s new, whether that’s playing the tuba or learning to speak Italian, you’re going to be bad at it. It’s not going to work out for you for a while,” Dunlap says. “That doesn’t mean you stop trying, it means you give yourself a lot of grace.”

2. Identifying your values makes all the difference

Before setting your specific money goals, you need to understand your personal values, regardless of what everyone else is doing.

“We really need to understand what our values are,” Dunlap says. “We have to get our brains on board to care about anything. And that’s not a willpower thing.” 

Plenty of people aspire to goals like homeownership or early retirement, but if your values are more aligned with the flexibility renting offers or the joy your career brings, then those don’t need to be your goals.

“You need to attach a ‘why’ and your values behind your financial goals as opposed to just ‘I was told I should buy a house by my parents, maybe I should do that,'” Dunlap says. “If you don’t want to do that, don’t do it. That’s OK. You need to find things that actually reflect your values.”

3. Your emergency fund should always come first

How a 31-year-old U.S. Navy dentist making $157,000 a year spends her money

China should set aside political issues on vaccine imports, CEO says

China needs to set aside political issues on vaccine imports: Serum Institute of India CEO

China needs to move past political considerations and look at importing Covid-19 jabs to end the pandemic globally, according to the chief executive of the world’s latest vaccine manufacturer.

“They need to open themselves up to healthcare and vaccines from the West and set aside any political issues or things that are holding them back,” Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

China has experienced a massive spike in Covid-19 cases and fatalities after abruptly ending its zero-Covid policy, which imposed strict lockdowns, mass testing and quarantine on arrival into the country.

China’s full Covid vaccination rate is nearly 87%, according to World Health Organization figures, which show 54% of the population has also been inoculated with a booster jab.

The main Covid vaccines approved for use in China are from Sinovac and Sinopharm. These jabs are less effective against the Omicron variant than are other mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and BioNTech’s, several studies have found.

Poonawalla said China’s pandemic reaction of 2020 — which included building hospitals and infrastructure and taking precautions — showed that Beijing could respond rapidly.

He stressed China’s decision not to import vaccines from the U.S., India and elsewhere, which have been “very effective.”

“I think they may have to really seriously look at doing that now, as a booster at least, and take vaccines which have proven, real-world data and efficacy,” he told CNBC. “Otherwise the alternative is that a lot of people in China are going to continue to get infected and we just hope — we wish them the best of luck in trying to manage that crisis and come out of it as soon as possible.”

Here's what lies ahead for China after zero-Covid failed

He added that this also represents a global issue, given the number of people who want to travel to China for business or leisure, as well as the number of Chinese nationals who would be travelling overseas.

“We really need to end the pandemic and infection in every country, because we all need to be safe,” Poonawalla said.

“They’re [China] still making up their minds on which way they want to go and I hope it all ends quickly.”

The Pune-based Serum Institute of India produces more than 1.5 billion vaccine doses annually for various diseases. Poonawalla said that the company would be interested to provide vaccines to China, but that discussions with Beijing officials had been unsuccessful so far.

CNBC has contacted a Chinese government representative for comment.

How to leverage ‘quiet hiring’ to get a pay raise

In 2022, seismic shifts in workplace culture were often reduced to buzzwords. 

People weren’t just leaving their jobs at a historic rate — they were partaking in “The Great Resignation.” “Boomerang employees” returned to companies they once quit when their new gigs didn’t work out. 

Now, a new catchphrase has entered the chat: “Quiet hiring.” 

Sometimes, it means hiring short-term contractors, but in most cases, it means reassigning current employees to different positions or asking them to take on additional responsibilities to fulfill an acute, immediate business need ,says Emily Rose McRae, who has led Gartner’s future of work research team since its 2019 inception, focusing on HR practices.

Quiet hiring isn’t an entirely new concept, but more companies are learning into this trend to fill jobs given the ongoing talent shortage and fears of a potential recession, McRae explains.

About 80% of U.S. workers say they have been “quiet hired,” according to a recent Monster survey of more than 1,000 respondents. What’s more, 63% of workers view quiet hiring as an opportunity to learn new professional skills. 

Even though it might seem like companies stand to gain the most from quiet hiring, employees can leverage this trend for their own benefit — you might even secure a raise or promotion for yourself. 

Understand where the opportunities are 

Some companies might make an announcement about needing employees to pivot roles, but oftentimes, quiet hiring happens at a lower level.

Managers tend to approach employees directly about changing job responsibilities or moving to a different team, says Ned Philie, global leader at organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry. 

But you might need to seek out these opportunities yourself, Philie says. To better understand what your company’s immediate hiring needs are, start with the internal jobs board. If there are multiple open roles in a certain department, that’s a clear indication of where a company is focusing its recruitment efforts. 

You can also ask your manager or a trusted colleague in the human resources department what the company’s hiring goals are for 2023, and how you might help the company meet those goals, Philie adds. 

If no opportunities are immediately available you can still get ahead in your career by seeking out online learning courses or volunteering for projects that will help you develop skills that are perennially in-demand, especially during a recession, Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, recommends. 

This list includes soft skills such as communication, leadership and collaboration as well as hard technical skills, if applicable to your job, like video editing or cloud computing. That way, when your company is looking for people to take on more responsibilities or fill a new role, you’ll be a more competitive candidate.

Negotiate before committing 

If you’ve been given extra work or asked to join new meetings, chances are, you’ve been participating in the quiet hiring trend without even realizing. 

But if you are taking on more work than usual, or temporarily switch roles, talk to your manager about a promotion or raise — ideally before you make a long-term commitment to either arrangement. 

McRae recommends submitting the request in writing, so you have a record of the conversation and can hold your manager accountable to what they agree to. 

“You lose a little bit of leverage if you start doing the work without asking for anything in return, so you should have this conversation as soon as possible,” she adds. 

Ask how the new responsibilities will help you meet your career goals. “Say, ‘I’m happy to do this, but first I would love to talk about what this means professionally,'” McRae suggests.

She continues: “Especially if you’re doing work that would otherwise be higher compensated, be direct and say, ‘I understand that taking on these functions would save the company this amount of money or it would cost this amount to hire an additional person to take on this job as we normally would, how would these numbers factor into my compensation?'” 

If you’re hoping for an internal promotion instead, the same advice applies: Ask your manager or HR representative how taking on new responsibilities will be considered in your next performance review, or if the company would consider updating your job title to better reflect the work you’re doing. 

Ultimately, however, it’s important not to burn yourself out whilst pursuing a raise or promotion. 

“Be honest and upfront with your boss — and yourself — about what you can realistically achieve,” McRae says. “There’s only so much work one human can do.”

Check out:

‘Quiet hiring’ will dominate the U.S. in 2023, says HR expert—and you need to prepare for it

10 ‘recession-proof’ jobs that will be in demand even during a potential economic downturn in 2023

Turns out companies are deflating their public salary ranges, so you still have to negotiate for top dollar

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Bringing in $144,000 a year as a female truck driver

Manchin & Sinema attend Davos luncheon with CEOs

People communicate with each other at the Congress Center for the World Economic Forum WEF Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 15, 2023. 

Lian Yi | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

DAVOS, Switzerland – U.S. lawmakers quietly took part in a private ritzy lunch atop the World Economic Forum on Monday featuring dozens of influential business leaders, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Lawmakers in attendance included members of the U.S. congressional delegation taking part in the annual confab for the elite and wealthy in Davos, including Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Chris Coons, D-Del., Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. and a few members of the House of Representatives, these people explained. Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also attended the event, one of the people said.

Coons, Manchin, Sinema and Kemp are among the U.S.-based officials scheduled to participate in panel sessions at this year’s conference. These private events on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum often serve as meet-and-greets between CEOs, billionaires and government officials.

Coons and Manchin each separately addressed the crowd of corporate leaders at the lunch, said an attendee, who declined to be identified speaking about a private gathering.

Coons discussed U.S. aid being given to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion while Manchin, who is the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called for American energy independence, this person noted. Congress passed $40 billion in additional aid for Ukraine last year.

The private lunch was held at the Hotel Schatzalp, which is primarily accessible by riding a funicular, or tram, up the property, those with knowledge of the gathering explained. An attendee said the gathering took place at the hotel’s Belle Epoque restaurant, with salmon and a beef dish served to participants.

The business leaders came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Antonio Neri, Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum and the heads of a variety of non-governmental organizations, among others, this attendee said.

Coons told CNBC on the sidelines before the lunch that members of the congressional delegation were heading to the lunch “with about 50 CEOs.” He didn’t say which executives were scheduled to attend.

A Hewlett Packard Enterprise representative confirmed Neri’s attendance. Representatives for the lawmakers mentioned in this story didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

The Hotel Schatzalp first opened as a luxury sanatorium for wealthy clients in 1900 by Dutch entrepreneur Willem Jan Holsboer, according to the property’s website.

The modern Art Nouveau structure, perched above Europe’s highest town at 1900 meters above sea level, was converted into a hotel in 1953.

Members of the U.S. congressional delegation in Davos, Switzerland for World Economic Forum

Brian Schwartz | CNBC

Why is bitcoin (BTC) rallying in January?

A number of factors are behind bitcoin’s New Year rise, according to analysts, including an increased probability of interest rates being lowered and purchases by large buyers known as “whales.”

Filip Radwanski | Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Bitcoin has begun 2023 on a positive note, with the price of the world’s largest digital token up roughly 26% since the start of January.

On Saturday, bitcoin’s price rose above $21,000 per coin for the first time since Nov. 7.

It’s still a far cry from the $68,990 record high bitcoin notched in Nov. 2021. But it has given market players cause for some optimism.

The month-to-date rally follows a grim 2022, which saw major insolvencies and scandals in the crypto industry, including the collapse of FTX, and a sharp pullback in the broader market linked to central bank actions.

Analysts say that a number of factors are behind bitcoin’s New Year rise, including an increased probability of interest rates being lowered, as well as purchases by large buyers known as “whales.”

New Year, new monetary policy?

Inflation is cooling down, and economic indicators suggest slowing U.S. economic activity. That’s made traders optimistic the Federal Reserve could reverse, or at least soften, its rate hiking strategy.

FTX's collapse is shaking crypto to its core. The pain may not be over

Last week, fresh U.S. inflation data showed a modest retreat, with the consumer price index decreasing 0.1% in December on a monthly basis, in line with Dow Jones estimates.

“Bitcoin looks to have recoupled with macro data as investors shrug off the FTX collapse,” James Butterfill, head of research at digital asset management firm CoinShares, told CNBC by email.

“The most important macro data investors are focussing on is the weak services PMI and the trending down of employment and wage data. This coupled with downwards trend in inflation has led to improving confidence, while it comes at a time when valuations for Bitcoin … are close to all time lows. The prospect of looser monetary policy off the back of weaker macro data and low valuations is what has led this rally.”

The Fed lifted borrowing rates seven times in 2022, forcing risky assets such as stocks — and tech stocks, in particular — into a tailspin. In December, the benchmark funds rate increased to 4.25%-4.50%, reaching its highest level since 2007.

Bitcoin has been caught up in the market drama around lending rates, as it is increasingly viewed by investors as a risky asset.

Backers previously talked up bitcoin’s potential as a “hedge” to buy in times of high inflation. But bitcoin failed to achieve that aim in 2022, instead slipping more than 60% as the U.S. and other major economies grappled with higher rates and living costs.

Yuya Hasegawa, crypto market analyst at Japanese crypto exchange Bitbank, said in a Jan. 13 note that this was “brewing a hope amongst market participants that the Fed will further slow down on the pace of rate hikes.”

The Fed is likely to keep interest rates high for the time being. However, some market players are hopeful that central banks will start easing the pace of rate rises, or even slash rates. Some economists predict a Fed rate cut could happen as soon as this year.

That’s as the risk of a recession is also playing on central bankers’ minds.

Some two-thirds of chief economists surveyed by the World Economic Forum believe a global recession is likely in 2023, according to research released by the Davos organizer on Monday.

The U.S. dollar has also sagged, with the greenback down 9% against a basket of currencies used by U.S. trade partners in the last three months. The majority of bitcoin trades against USD, making a weaker dollar better for bitcoin.

“We are seeing the dollar put in a top, inflation easing, interest rate hikes slowing down – all pointing to markets getting more risk-on over the next few months,” Vijay Ayyar, vice president of corporate development and international at crypto exchange Luno, told CNBC.

‘Whales’ buying BTC

Larger purchasers of digital coins known as “whales” may be leading the latest rally in bitcoin, according to Kaiko.

The crypto data firm said in a series of tweets Monday that trade sizes had climbed from an average of $700 on Jan. 8 to $1,100 today on the crypto exchange Binance, indicating renewed confidence in the market by whales.

Wintermute CEO says he is writing off $59 million after FTX collapse

Bitcoin mining difficulty rising

There are other factors at play, as well.

Several bitcoin miners have been flushed out by the drop in prices. Bitcoin miners, who use power-intensive machines to verify transactions and mint new tokens, have been squeezed by the slump in prices and rising energy costs.

That’s historically a good sign for bitcoin, according to Ayyar.

Further pain ahead for crypto but bitcoin has been resilient, VC Bill Tai says

These actors accumulate massive piles of digital currency, making them some of the biggest sellers in the market. With miners offloading their holdings to pay off debts, that removes much of the remaining selling pressure on bitcoin.

More recently, however, bitcoin’s network “difficulty” has been increasing, meaning more computing power is being deployed to unleash new tokens into circulation.

Mining difficulty reached a record 37.6 trillion on Sunday, according to BTC.com data, meaning that, on average, it would take 37.6 trillion hashes, or attempts, to find a valid bitcoin block and add it to the blockchain.

“Bitcoin mining difficulty is a measure of how difficult it is to create the next block of transactions,” said Marcus Sotiriou, market analyst at digital asset broker GlobalBlock, told CNBC.

“Bitcoin mining difficulty fell 3.6% before the last update, after a winter storm led some miners to shut down. However, now miners appear to have come back online, with new and more efficient machines.”

2024 ‘halving’

Meanwhile, events further down the crypto calendar could give traders cause for some New Year cheer. It is still a year away, but the so-called bitcoin “halving” is an event that often leads to excitement for crypto investors.

The halving, where bitcoin rewards to miners are cut in half, is viewed by some investors as positive for bitcoin’s price as it squeezes supply.

“There are signs this could be the beginning of a new cycle with Bitcoin, as it typically does around 15-18 months before halving,” Ayyar told CNBC. 

The next halving is slated to happen sometime between March and May of 2024.

However, Ayyar cautioned, “At this point, we’re in overbought territory with Bitcoin and hence could definitely see a dip.” Prices could go for a dip if bitcoin closes below $18,000 in the next few days, he added.

Longevity can have a greater impact on retirement money than inflation

Tips for mapping out your retirement plan

Given today’s ongoing high inflation, many Americans worry they may not have put away enough money for retirement. They fear that sharp increases in food and energy prices and transportation and medical care costs could significantly affect their retirement savings.

Yet there’s another important factor to consider: your life expectancy.

A new report from the TIAA Institute and George Washington University reveals that more than half of American adults don’t know how long people generally tend to live in retirement, which given their possible longevity could have them failing to save enough money to last as long as they themselves do. 

‘Longevity literacy’ needed in retirement planning

Studies have shown financial literacy among women consistently lags that of men, yet the report found the “longevity literacy” of women is greater than men, with 43% of women demonstrating strong longevity knowledge, compared to 32% of men. 

It’s a “striking result,” said George Washington University economist Annamaria Lusardi, director of the school’s Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center. “We might actually need to provide help to women, because they are aware, for example, of the fact that they live long but they might not know about how to deal with their living long.”

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In consequence, greater education about retirement planning will be especially important for women, she said.

On average, American men and women retire in their mid-60s. Yet many of them may not realize that at age 60, on average, men may live another 22 years and women could live 25 years longer, according to the Social Security Administration’s calculations. 

To make your retirement money last, it is important to use a three-pronged approach, said Surya Kolluri, head of the TIAA Institute. “Some combination of Social Security, a guaranteed lifetime income [product], and then investments on top of that” might be a good way to hedge the risk of inflation and rocky financial markets, he said. 

Inflation adjustments up 401(k), IRA contribution limits

Natalia Gdovskaia | Moment | Getty Images

Here are the key ages in retirement planning

Uncertainty in markets is stressful, but these moves can prepare you

Hillary Kladke | Moment | Getty Images

Before looking forward to 2023, we should pause to reflect on 2022.

The following quote from Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal sums up this very difficult year for investors: “Investing isn’t an IQ test; it’s a test of character.” Indeed, the most successful investor is not necessarily the smartest person in the room but the one with the most patience and self-discipline.

Our investing character was certainly tested throughout 2022. It was a dismal year for investing, with both stocks and bonds down — by 19% and 13%, respectively. The result was one of the worst years in history for the traditional balanced portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, which lost nearly 17% for the year.

Looking forward to 2023, the team here at Francis Financial reviewed several outlooks from major Wall Street firms, including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Barclays and others, to help answer the question of what to expect in the next year.

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2022 was the worst-ever year for U.S. bonds

As you might expect, there is a wide array of estimates for what markets may look like in 2023, but there seemed to be consensus on a few key items:

  • With the U.S. Federal Reserve raising rates as aggressively as they have, most expect a minor recession for the country’s economy.
  • Earnings results for companies are likely to come down more than analysts currently estimate.
  • Inflation will continue to decline, allowing the Fed to slow and ultimately stop further rate increases around the 5% level.

The current economic uncertainty is leading to substantial variability in market forecasts, with firms estimating stock returns will be anywhere from flat to up 10% by the end of the year. The only agreement is that getting there will be a bumpy ride, with many ups and downs.

However, there is more optimism with the bond markets, with intermediate-term bond yields now above 5%, providing hope that we will see a much stronger 2023 on the bond side.

Rest assured, that outlook is about as solid as your holiday Jell-O salad.

Market forecasts are an interesting exercise in learning about potential future outcomes. As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Here's why some fund managers expect a bond resurgence

Regardless of how certain the prognosticators sound or how much logic they cite to support their predictions, they will be wrong. Until we build the DeLorean from “Back to the Future,” no one knows what will happen with markets in 2023. That uncertainty can feel out of control, but there are things you can control and steps you can take to make sure you are ready for whatever 2023 may bring.

1. Assess where your portfolio stands

An annual check-in with your financial advisor about your portfolio is a good practice, mainly because our lives change. As we age or as life circumstances evolve, we should reevaluate our risk tolerance. Taking stock of the previous year’s happenings is key. For example, a new child, a new job or a change in retirement plans may necessitate a change in your investment strategy.

It’s also essential to analyze the portfolio from a tax-efficiency perspective. Over the coming months, investors will be reminded how important a tax-efficient investment strategy is for their portfolio.

Investors will start receiving 1099 forms tallying taxes due to the IRS for investment income and capital gains in 2022. Holding your investments in the most tax-appropriate type of account can enhance your savings plans by helping to reduce or even eliminate taxes.

Taxable accounts, such as brokerage accounts, are best for investments that produce less in taxable gains or income. Candidates include tax-managed or index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Brokerage accounts are also a good home for municipal bonds.

Tax-advantaged accounts, such as individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans, are best for investments that produce significant taxable returns. Candidates include actively managed mutual funds and ETFs. Retirement accounts are also a good home for taxable bonds and real estate investment trusts. 

2. Conduct a cash-flow review

Thianchai Sitthikongsak | Moment | Getty Images

Tracking your spending and savings is one of the most important steps to building a sound financial plan. Be sure to review your projected saving and spending targets for 2023. An excellent place to start is by revisiting where your money went in 2022.

Most credit cards will send you a year-end credit card expense report with your total spending for this last year neatly categorized for you. These reports typically arrive in mid-January, but you can often log into your account online to get your report sooner.

Search your credit card spending summary for saving opportunities. Are you being charged for monthly subscriptions you no longer use? Can you uncover other potential money leaks, such as excessive restaurant or take-out charges, taxi or rideshare costs, and impulse and unplanned purchases? Sometimes we spend mindlessly, and over time, this can make a big dent in our wallets.

Once you have plugged any holes in your budget, turn to your emergency fund. Building your emergency fund is the most important investment in keeping your budget on track. The general advice is to have enough saved in this fund that you can pay all expenses for three to six months. A well-cushioned emergency fund is the best defense against unexpected costs that can leave you financially vulnerable.

At my firm, we recommend accumulating six months of expenses, particularly if you have one source of income, income that fluctuates or less job security than is ideal. If your expenditures increased this year, because you took on a larger mortgage or for some other reason, reassess to determine whether you still have an appropriate emergency fund.

The best way to make that assessment is through careful budgeting and monitoring of expenditures. If you are struggling to build that emergency fund, you may need to take a hard look at some of your other discretionary expenses and consider eliminating them until you reach the target fund balance.

3. Make sure you’re saving enough to meet your goals

Morsa Images | Digitalvision | Getty Images

Knowing if you are contributing enough to retirement accounts is crucial.  One rule of thumb for a starting point is the 4% withdrawal rule. This formula states that in retirement, you can withdraw up to 4% of your final account balance sustainably. Sticking to this withdrawal rate gives you a high probability of not outliving your money during a 30-year retirement.

For example, if you accumulate $1 million, you can withdraw about $40,000 for your first year of retirement. If the balance is $975,000 on the second year, you can only safely take out $39,000. Financial advisors recommend having extra cash on hand to dip into for those times when your investment portfolio does not grow enough from capital gains, dividends and interest income to make up for the previous year’s distribution, therefore reducing the amount you can take out the year after.

Once you have your financial goals identified, use all the tax-advantaged accounts available to you. Retirement plans, educational savings 529 plans and health savings accounts can help you minimize taxes and efficiently save for the future. Contribution limits increased for all three of these savings vehicles this year, as well.

For 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, the 2023 contribution limit will increase to $22,500, up from $20,500 for 2022. The catch-up contribution limit for employees ages 50 and over increased to $7,500, up from $6,500. Sometimes companies change or add to their retirement plan investment options, so review those to ensure you are invested in the most solid investment choices available.

While the IRS does not levy federal contribution limits on 529 plans, most parents contribute only up to the annual gift tax exclusion so as not to incur gift taxes. The annual gift tax exemption for 2023 rose to $17,000, up from $16,000 in 2022.

Know that friends and family members can also get in on the action by contributing to your kids’ 529 plans. Even better, these contributions do not eat into your annual gift tax exclusion or ability to fund the 529 educational plan.

Savvy college savers also have the option to super-fund a 529 plan. Super-funding lets you invest a lump sum contribution equal to five times the annual gift tax exclusion. This contribution is treated as if it occurs over a five-year period for gift tax purposes.

If parents are flush with cash in 2023 and want to make significant headway saving for college, each parent can contribute $85,000 (5 x $17,000) per child. If both parents use their super-funding option, they can double the contribution to $170,000 per child in 2023.

If you have a high-deductible insurance plan, HSAs allow you to save pretax dollars for medical care now and in retirement. The HSA contribution limits for 2023 rose to $3,850 for an individual and $7,750 for a family, up from the 2022 limits of $3,650 and $7,300, respectively. Those 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000 as a catch-up contribution, as well.

One of the easiest ways to increase your retirement, education or HSA contributions is when you receive a raise. Rather than adjusting to spending the extra income, boost your contributions to increase your savings painlessly.

According to Willis Towers Watson, the average U.S. pay increase is projected to hit 4.6% in 2023. Employers are paying more due to high inflation and tight labor markets, which gives you an effortless opportunity to bump up your savings.

4. Consider charitable giving

5. Share other concerns with an advisor

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German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht resigns amid Ukraine war backlash

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on Monday formally tendered her resignation.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on Monday tendered her resignation, amid scrutiny over Berlin’s response to the war in Ukraine.

“Today I asked the Chancellor to be released from the role of defence minister,” Lambrecht said in a statement, according to a CNBC translation.

Her stepdown comes as Germany mulls whether to approve an increase in military support to Ukraine in order to help Kyiv’s armed forces prevail against the Russian onslaught.

“The focus from the media over months on my person hardly allows for objective reporting and discussion about the soldiers, the armed forces and the course for security policy in the interest of Germany’s citizens,” Lambrecht said.

“The valuable work of the soldiers and the many motivated people in the industry needs to be at the forefront. I therefore decided to make my post available,” she added. “I thank everyone who engages themselves for our security every day and sincerely wish them the best of luck for the future.”

Lambrecht, a senior lawmaker in German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, had faced sustained pressure over her credibility to lead the country’s armed forces.

Multiple media outlets reported over the weekend that Lambrecht’s resignation could be imminent, following a series of missteps.

It is not yet clear who will succeed Lambrecht as defense minister.

A government spokesperson said Germany’s Scholz had accepted Lambrecht’s resignation as defense minister, according to Reuters, with a successor to be proposed soon.

German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported, citing government sources, that Lambrecht’s successor would be announced on Tuesday. Some of the possible contenders, Reuters reported, include Germany’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Hoegl, junior defense minister Siemtje Moeller, SPD party head Lars Klingbeil and Labour Minister Hubertus Heil.

Controversial New Year’s video

The defense minister was sharply criticized for a New Year’s Eve message posted on social media. In a minute-long video, she talked about the Ukraine war and appeared to reflect on personal encounters, while struggling to be heard over fireworks in the background.

Opposition lawmakers condemned the message as inappropriate in the context of Russia’s nearly year-long war.

Serap Guler, an opposition Christian Democratic Union lawmaker, at the time named Scholz accountable for “every additional minute” in which Lambrecht retained her post. Guler has since welcomed Lambrecht’s resignation, saying via Twitter on Monday that the move was in the interests of the country and of Berlin’s armed forces.

Lambrecht had previously faced media criticism for Germany’s response to the war in Ukraine.

Last year, Lambrecht provoked international outcry after announcing Germany’s offer to supply Ukraine with 5,000 helmets, at a time when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration was calling for heavy weapons to defend itself against Russian forces.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko dismissed the offer as “a joke” at the time, telling the German newspaper Bild that the gesture had left him “speechless.”

“I think that Germany deserves praise for what it’s done in support of Ukraine. I think the European Union as a whole deserves praise for our solidarity with Ukraine. And I don’t mean the institutions, I don’t mean politicians,” Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, told CNBC’s Dan Murphy today. He declined to comment on Lambrecht’s departure, but stressed Berlin’s strategic importance in EU defense efforts:

“We’re being challenged,” he said. “And we need to make sure we are strong. And Germany is one of our most important partners in that respect. So I’m sure [the] German government will be up for that. And I’m sure it will be strong enough to make sure that all of us, as Europeans, feel safe.”

— CNBC’s Sophie Kiderlin contributed to this report.

Russian gas will eventually return to Europe as nations ‘forgive and forget,’ Qatari energy minister says

On Friday, Russian energy supplier Gazprom said it would not resume its supply of natural gas to Germany through the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline, blaming a malfunctioning turbine.

Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters

The European Union’s rejection of Russian energy commodities following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine won’t last forever, Qatar’s Energy Minister said during an energy conference over the weekend.

“The Europeans today are saying there’s no way we’re going back” to buying Russian gas, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, energy minister and head of state gas company QatarEnergy, said at the Atlantic Council Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.

“We’re all blessed to have to be able to forget and to forgive. And I think things get mended with time… they learn from that situation and probably have a much bigger diversity [of energy intake].”

Europe has long been Russia’s largest customer of most energy commodities, especially natural gas. EU countries have dramatically cut down their imports of Russian energy supplies, imposing sanctions in response to Moscow’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Gas exports from Russian state energy giant Gazprom to Switzerland and the EU fell by 55% in 2022, the company said earlier this month. The cut in imports has dramatically increased energy costs for Europe, sending leaders and oil and gas executives scrambling to develop new sources of energy and shore up alternative supplies.

“But Russian gas is going back, in my view, to Europe,” al-Kaabi said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has so far taken tens, if not hundreds of thousands of lives, destroyed entire cities, and exiled more than 8 million people as refugees. Russian missiles and drone strikes regularly hit and decimate residential buildings, schools, hospitals, and vital energy infrastructure, leaving millions of Ukrainians without power.

A residential building destroyed after a Russian missile attack on Jan. 15, 2023, in Dnipro, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Europe has managed to avert a major crisis this winter, owing to mild weather and substantial stocks of gas amassed over the last year. Energy officials and analysts warn of a more precarious situation in late 2023, when these supplies run out.

“Luckily they [Europe] haven’t had a very high demand for gas due to the warmer weather,” al-Kaabi said. “The issue is what’s going to happen when they want to replenish their storages this coming year, and there isn’t much gas coming into the market until ’25, ’26, ’27 … So I think it’s going to be a volatile situation for some time.”

Later during the conference, CNBC spoke to the CEO of Italian energy company Eni, Claudio Descalzi, who pushed back on the Qatari minister’s comments.

“I think that the war is still there, and it is not easy to forgive anybody when you kill innocent people, women and children and bomb hospitals,” Descalzi told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. “And so I think that more than forgive, we have to understand the sense of life for our words. For our modern war, because that is [what is] happening there. So, when we talk about energy security, we talk about financing how you allocate your money, how much in the gas, how much in the renewables, and you think that people are killing close to you or far from you… That is the priority, that is the thing we have to solve.”

In 2023 the priority is Ukraine, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi says

“Otherwise,” the CEO added, “there is a big elephant in the room. We hide to ourselves this kind of stuff, and when we hide something [it] is coming back bigger and bigger. If you’re forgiving, it means you are not looking at that, you are not thinking we have to solve this kind of issue.”

Descalzi said that the war in Ukraine and energy security are front of mind for him and his industry. Italy has dramatically reduced its reliance on Russian gas by replacing it with energy sources from alternative producers, such as Algeria. On Sunday, Eni announced a new gas discovery in an offshore field in the eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Egypt.

“Honestly, energy security is a big problem… but I think that, in 2023, the priority is Ukraine,” Descalzi said. That’s from my point of view. It’s Russia. It’s the relationship with China.”

“I’m not a politician,” he added, “but I think you cannot manage and talk about money and talk about energy and industry — it’s clear that, if you are not looking at that, a lot of people are going to suffer. But from the other side you talk about freedom, democracy, and people that are dying.”

"This year is going to be about the war" in Ukraine, says presidential advisor Amos Hochstein
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