The Inflation Reduction Act – Part 2

Our 2 Cents – Episode #110

The Inflation Reduction Act  – Part 2

Gabriel and Steve are back at it again to review The Inflation Reduction Act now that it’s been signed into law, they deliver a Pop Quiz on household health, and wrap up with a listener question! Listen now for a great new episode!

  1. The Inflation Reduction Act:
    • Key provisions to pay attention to as they may impact you and we’ll share when the changes will begin.
    • Prescription drug benefits, premium tax credits for the ACA, hiring more IRS staff, and more.
    • Changes to Medicare Part D such as out-of-pocket costs cap and “smoothing,” premium increase limits, and other benefits to Medicare recipients.
  2. Pop Quiz!:
    • What cleaning supplies contain VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)?
    • What percentage of households typically do spring cleaning every year?
    • What area of the bedroom did researchers find contains more germs than a chimpanzee bed?
    • Which of these cleaning activities does not reflect the calories burned by a 150-lb person for one hour of the activity?
    • Which household products are not recommended as safe cleaners by the Environmental Protection Agency?
    • When people do “spring cleaning,” what part(s) of the house do they typically prioritize?
    • Researchers have found how many types of bacteria on a kitchen sponge?
  3. Listener Question:
    • “I have a financial advisor who has done a good job for me, but my brother always tells me I could be doing better. Should I listen to my brother or tell him to leave me alone” – Pete

Tune in now to join us for this discussion!

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Podcast Transcript

Announcer: You’re listening to Our 2 cents, with the team from SGL Financial, building wealth for life. Steve Lewit is the president of SGL Financial, and Gabriel Lewit is the CEO. They’re here to discuss all the latest in financial news, trends, strategies, and more.

Gabriel Lewit: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Our 2 cents. Gabriel here, Steven here. And we’ve got a very special guest for you today. Not actually a guest, he’s not going to speak on the show, but we’ve got producer Joe back today.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, man. Welcome back, Joey.

Gabriel Lewit: Because producer Katie’s out today.

Steve Lewit: Yes, she is.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. So we’re very excited to have him back. If you don’t know, he was the original producer, Joe, and then producer Katie took over, so he’s back for one day.

Steve Lewit: Joe got stuck with child to Schoolville.

Gabriel Lewit: I do know what that’s like, because my childs are going back to school as well.

Steve Lewit: Yep, absolutely.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s that time of the year, folks. Well, probably not kids, maybe kids, but kids, grandkids are going back to school. We do have younger clients with kids.

Steve Lewit: My kid’s going back to school.

Gabriel Lewit: College, all sorts of happenings. Buses are back on the road, so watch out for them because they’re everywhere.

Steve Lewit: Creating traffic.

Gabriel Lewit: Yep. Exactly. And so hope you’re doing great. We’ve got I think a fun show lined up for you today, but first things first, we’re going to talk about specifically the drug aspect of the new Inflation Reduction Act that was passed. So we did talk, I think it was two episodes ago, about the Inflation Reduction Act, about the fact that it was its going to be voted on, and certainly enough, it was voted on and approved.

Steve Lewit: Well, it was voted on, it’s like half of the Senate voted plus, and the other half, it was a party line vote.

Gabriel Lewit: It was, yes.

Steve Lewit: I just don’t get politics, Gabriel.

Gabriel Lewit: Who knows? We try not to get too much into that, but-

Steve Lewit: Who would vote against lowering drug costs? The bill’s not perfect, but-

Gabriel Lewit: Well, there’s good things in there, which we’ll talk about, that Republican, Democrat alike, you’ll probably be pleased to know you’ll save money on drug costs, which we’re going to go into details of that. So how that impacts your retirement planning? It’s going to save you money, one way or the other.

Steve Lewit: What else are we covering today?

Gabriel Lewit: We’re going to cover some listener questions.

Steve Lewit: Oh good. I like those.

Gabriel Lewit: We’re going to also do a quiz, so get your pens and pencils out. It’s not a financial quiz, actually, it’s a quiz about your health. We care about more than just your money here, so stay tuned for that. We’re going to do that in just a minute.

Steve Lewit: Can they fail the quiz?

Gabriel Lewit: Of course not. Well, technically, actually they might, depending on what they’re doing in their homes, because it’s related to your homes and cleaning.

Steve Lewit: Interesting.

Gabriel Lewit: But I digress.

Steve Lewit: Sounds like fun.

Gabriel Lewit: All right. So, first things first, Inflation Reduction Act.

Steve Lewit: Yes.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, we talked about it before, so we’re not going to go into the nitty gritty of all the provisions here, but I thought I’d give a quick recap. Now, one thing I notice about the Inflation Reduction Act is the politicians love to give their acts acronyms, like the SECURE Act. This one would be called the IRA, which is incredibly confusing, right?

Steve Lewit: That’s right.

Gabriel Lewit: Because there are things called individual retirement accounts, so I feel like they could have done a little bit better on that front, first and foremost, because I keep wanting to give this thing an acronym.

Steve Lewit: Like I said, I don’t understand politicians.

Gabriel Lewit: And this one I can’t give an acronym to, so I’m going to call it the Inflation Reduction Act because if I say IRA, I’m going to confuse the heck out of you guys.

Steve Lewit: They probably had 20 people for two days getting the name of this act agreed on.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, not getting political here, that was one of the biggest, I don’t know, knocks against this thing, is it’s called the Inflation Reduction Act but very little inside of it, and we talked about it on our last episode when we were discussing, it’s not actually designed to lower inflation for a number of years.

Steve Lewit: Exactly.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s not really an immediate Inflation Reduction Act, they just piggybacked on the current environment, but whatever. That’s why we just said we don’t understand politics. Okay, so what was in this thing? Of course, there was some drug benefits, which we’re going to cover, so I’ll get to those in the second. There was money that’s going to go to pay down the deficit.

Steve Lewit: Yes.

Gabriel Lewit: There is a reduction or elimination of the cliff for ACA plans, so if you want premium tax credits, there used to be a cliff, that got extended to a phase out during the pandemic, and they’ve decided to keep that phase out, which is also really good. We’re not going to get into that today, but a very positive thing. They hired I believe it was 87,000 IRS agents, or are going to, authorized the spending to hire.

Steve Lewit: Not so sure that’s a good thing.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, if you do tax preparation like we do in our business, you’ll realize that the IRS, if you ever try to call them, is massively understaffed. You can’t get through. There’s way too many, hundreds of millions of people relative to the number of service agents, so these aren’t all enforcement agents going out, they’re knocking on your door. Some of these people are customer service, they’re technology support. I read a statistic that the IRS is using some computer code that was last updated in 1961 and is still actively being used in some of their systems, so a good portion of the funding is also going to go to technology and things like that. So I do think, given that everybody has to pay taxes every year, it’s just one of those things. Chances are, you’re not going to get audited, don’t worry about that. But amongst the most important things that were in here, of course, is the caps and the limits on how much you may have to spend for your Medicare Part D.

Steve Lewit: Very important.

Gabriel Lewit: And that’s what we want to talk about here today.

Steve Lewit: Why don’t you summarize for us, Gabriel?

Gabriel Lewit: Okay. The summary is you’re going to save money on your Medicare Part D, starting in 2025.

Steve Lewit: You already said that.

Gabriel Lewit: I’m kidding, I’m kidding. All right. So what are some of the key provisions here? Most importantly, I think, you’re going to have a limit on your out-of-pocket payments for certain drug costs, and an overall drug costs. So there is certain people out there that have a lot of medications, and the amount that’s covered under their current plans, it depends on the exact medications, it’s called your formulary. It changes every year, different provider by provider, so it’s very complex, but there are some people out there that pay a lot of money every year for their copayments on their drugs.

Steve Lewit: Because there is no limit on that now, right Gabriel?

Gabriel Lewit: There isn’t a limit, and there’s a weird period called the donut hole, and a catastrophic coverage period and other things that we don’t want to get too off track here today, but yes, prior to this, there was no limit on how much somebody could pay in a given year for their drugs. And certain people out there got hit pretty hard by that, and they had to make tough decisions like do I pay my rent or my mortgage, or do I pay for my drug costs? And that’s a very hard decision for someone to have to make. Right?

Steve Lewit: Oh, I’m with you. Medicare, you’re really the expert on this more than I am, so I’m deferring for you. All I know is that I went through a period where my drug wasn’t listed in the formulary, and it cost me a fortune. So I don’t know if they’ve made any adjustments. What I’m saying is this is great for drugs that are in the formulary, but my complaint with Medicare is that there are a lot of drugs that aren’t in the formulary that I think should be in the formulary.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the entire bill.

Steve Lewit: I’m just wondering-

Gabriel Lewit: I haven’t seen a summary on that particular question yet.

Steve Lewit: Let’s take a look at that, because I think that’s really important.

Gabriel Lewit: That’ll be interesting. Okay. The first thing to know is, again, this doesn’t start yet until 2025, so it’s not going to happen this year, 2022. Not going to happen next year, and it’s not going to happen in 2024.

Steve Lewit: It’s not a phase in?

Gabriel Lewit: It’s a little ways away. In 2024, there’s a few little benefits that start to trickle in 2024, but really, it’s going to start in 2025, so we’re a couple years away. And basically, it’s you get your drugs through a prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage with a prescription drug plan included, also is MAPDP. See? Everyone loves their acronyms.

Steve Lewit: Love it.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. This what’s going to be impacted, are those two types of plans.

Steve Lewit: So, you could have an MAPA-

Gabriel Lewit: Well, you could have an MA, which is a Medicare Advantage, or you could have an MAPDP, which is a Medicare Advantage with a prescription drug plan.

Steve Lewit: So, the IRA-

Gabriel Lewit: Most people have those.

Steve Lewit: So, the IRA takes care of your MAPDP.

Gabriel Lewit: You’re going to confuse the heck out of people. Yes, the Inflation Reduction is going to impact your Medicare advantage Plan with a Prescription Drug Plan.

Steve Lewit: So, in my IRA, I have a prescription drug plan, Gabriel? Is that what you’re saying?

Gabriel Lewit: No. Stop, stop.

Steve Lewit: Okay, I’ll stop.

Gabriel Lewit: You’re going to really throw people off.

Steve Lewit: All right. Folks, IRA stands for the Inflation Reduction Act.

Gabriel Lewit: No. Actually, that’s specifically why I wasn’t using it, because IRA in the way most people use is-

Steve Lewit: All right. I’ll let it go.

Gabriel Lewit: … A retirement account. Okay. Now, the amount of the cap could change over time. So Medicare Part D, if you start increasing the prices over the years, you might see some increases to the cap. We don’t have that data yet. And the out-of-pocket cost includes your deductible, so if your deductible’s $100, you’re going to be capped at $2,000, you just have to spend another $1,900. And they’re also going to do something called smoothing, and smoothing means that you have a certain number of drugs maybe that you get filled throughout the year, but maybe not every month. I don’t know the specifics of how they’ll do this just yet, but they’ll smooth or average those costs out over the year so you don’t have a big payment due in one month and then no payment in another month, because not everybody takes drugs every single month.

Steve Lewit: It could be quarterly; it could be for six months and then off for six months. Absolutely.

Gabriel Lewit: Correct. It’s kind of like when you have your oil bill, some people pay that, or gas bill, natural gas, you pay that averaged out over the year, instead of big chunks in the winter.

Steve Lewit: That’s correct.

Gabriel Lewit: Similar to that.

Steve Lewit: Interesting.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. So overall, this is I think a very good thing because I’ve not encountered many of my clients from a financial planning perspective that would’ve ever been unhappy with paying less drug costs when I’ve run their Medicare advantage and prescription drug plans for them.

Steve Lewit: And they’ve gotten the ability to negotiate drug costs, which if you think about, why didn’t they have that ability all along? Why can’t a company that is providing you with drugs negotiate the cost of the drugs?

Gabriel Lewit: Yep. So that’s another part there. There’s going to be drug negotiations now. The goal of all of this, again, is to bring those costs down. So maybe you don’t even cap out at $2,000 either way because of the new lower prices, you just pay less than you would’ve before.

Steve Lewit: Hope so.

Gabriel Lewit: That’s good, too. So a couple other things. We’re not done. There’s more. But wait, there’s more.

Steve Lewit: I can’t wait.

Gabriel Lewit: Starting in 2024, continuing through 2029, your Part D premiums are not going to increase by more than 6% a year.

Steve Lewit: That’s a big deal. That is a big deal, because you could have a COLA increase in your social security, a Medicare increase equivalent to the COLA increase, so you really got no increase.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, and look, the dollar amounts here are astronomical. An average Part D plan costs $33.37 cents a month, so capping that at 6% means you’re going to pay $2.50, $2.

Steve Lewit: I see, where you’re saying dollar-wise, it’s not that much.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s still good. It saves you some money. For certain people out there, all the dollars matter. And then there’s also going to be some changes to the pricing of insulin, so they’re going to be capped at $35 copays for insulin for a 30-day supply. Currently, it’s not capped at that number. So there’s lots of different things that are going on here, and ultimately, one more. Vaccines. Certain vaccines are going to be free as well. I’m sure that has partly to do with the pandemic or flus and things like that, but the CDC will have certain vaccines that if you’re on Medicare, you’re going to get those for free.

Steve Lewit: Okay. Now, Gabriel, I have a question for you. Are there better drug plans and worse drug plans when you have Medicare Part D?

Gabriel Lewit: There are, depending on which drugs you’re on. At least currently, what happens is you’ve got a formulary, which is your list of drugs and prescriptions and dosages and frequencies, and every year, the companies that provide the PDP, prescription drug plans, can change those formularies, which means it gets a little confusing because you could sign up for a plan thinking that one drug is covered because it is, and then the next year it may not be covered, and you have to then switch to another company that will provide coverage, or provide it at a cheaper price. So this system, I don’t believe, is fundamentally changing. I think all those things are likely to continue, is what I understand, but the certain costs, again, out-of-pockets and certain things are going to be much lower.

Steve Lewit: So, should a person like me who has a Medicare supplement, I honestly don’t know what I have because you’ve bought it for me, and I think it’s probably pretty good.

Gabriel Lewit: I don’t remember. You don’t take very many prescriptions either, I don’t think, so we don’t change that around every year.

Steve Lewit: Fortunately. But should a person shop the Medicare market every year to see if there’s a better deal out there?

Gabriel Lewit: Usually what I find is if your drug plan hasn’t changed much and still covering all the same medications, most people don’t shop that around. But certainly, even if that’s the case, it doesn’t hurt every now and then during open enrollment period to do that.

Steve Lewit: Kind of like your car insurance.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. Exactly.

Steve Lewit: Okay.

Gabriel Lewit: So that’s the high-level scoop, guys.

Steve Lewit: And you can help people with that.

Gabriel Lewit: We can. Well, I have a team that does it, but yes, we can help people.

Steve Lewit: I just gave Gabriel another job, folks.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. No, we have a team that works with you and helps get those all quoted out no problem.

Steve Lewit: But you look over that, right?

Gabriel Lewit: Well, I run the team. Yeah.

Steve Lewit: See how he said that? “I run the team.”

Gabriel Lewit: But if you’re Steve’s clients, you talk to him first.

Steve Lewit: Oh no, and I’ll send them to the team.

Gabriel Lewit: Don’t call me first, call Steve first.

Steve Lewit: You know what’s interesting? There’s some topics, this is one I have very little interest in, which is probably why I don’t know much about it.

Gabriel Lewit: You probably shouldn’t even say that.

Steve Lewit: Well, no, I’m honest, because I know enough about it-

Gabriel Lewit: I like it. I think it’s interesting.

Steve Lewit: I know enough about it and we get the job done, but it’s like-

Gabriel Lewit: It’s very detailed. Medicare is complex.

Steve Lewit: Doesn’t float my boat.

Gabriel Lewit: If you get into supplement plans, the alphabet soup as I call it, the A, B, C, D, E, F, G, it gets a little nutty, but most people just need a Plan G and a PDP.

Steve Lewit: That’s it?

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. Pretty much.

Steve Lewit: All right, folks. That’s the scoop-

Gabriel Lewit: That’s the scoop-aroni.

Steve Lewit: … On the Part D.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes. All right. Now, we said we were going to surprise you with the quiz.

Steve Lewit: Okay.

Gabriel Lewit: Not a Medicare quiz, don’t worry. So get your pens and paper handy. Well, you may not need to write anything down, but just be ready to answer in your head. And so this particular quiz, as I mentioned, not money-related.

Steve Lewit: This is the first, folks, that I’m hearing about this quiz, so I have no idea where Gabriel’s going with this.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, the printout I gave for you that you’re looking at actually shows the answer on it, but I’m going to ask you. Maybe you should answer before you look at it.

Steve Lewit: Yeah I don’t want to look.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. And then I’ll give you the answers, so don’t cheat over there, Mr. Lewit.

Steve Lewit: No, I’m not going to cheat. No, I’ve got my thumb over the answer.

Gabriel Lewit: Now, this is a household health cleaning quiz, because as I mentioned, we care about more than just your money. In fact, if you don’t remember, our motto is building wealth for life. The goal of that, of course, is that your money supports a happy, healthy, fruitful, fulfilling life, and we care. We actually have four dimensions of wealth as embodied by our four colors in our logo, which are family and friends, meaning and purpose, health and wellbeing, and of course, money and finance. And so part of our mission is to give you tips for a healthy life as a whole.

Steve Lewit: Absolutely.

Gabriel Lewit: So this is one of those, and it’s just a little bit of a change of pace from all money all the time.

Steve Lewit: And this is perfect timing for Joe, because this is right up his alley.

Gabriel Lewit: With producer Joe here.

Steve Lewit: Producer Joe is a cleaning nut.

Gabriel Lewit: He likes things clean.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. Right, Joe? He said, “Absolutely.”

Gabriel Lewit: Now, funny enough, this particular article mentions the spring cleaning a few times, but we’ll just talk about cleaning in general. All right? Okay. So some cleaning products release, if you didn’t know this, VOCs. This is acronym day, I think. Volatile organic compounds, which if you didn’t know, these are gases that can be toxic or that can interact with other VOCs from other chemicals that you may use to clean. Okay. So, first question of the quiz is what cleaning supplies does the American Lung Association warn may contain VOCs or other toxic substances? And you might have these in your house. Okay. So the options are, don’t cheat over there-

Steve Lewit: I’m not cheating. I’m really not cheating.

Gabriel Lewit: Aerosol cleaning products, air fresheners, and air freshener sprays, rug and upholstery cleaners, furniture and floor polish, oven cleaners, or all of the above?

Steve Lewit: Ooh. I think all the others do, the one I wasn’t sure about is aerosols.

Gabriel Lewit: Air freshener?

Steve Lewit: Air fresheners.

Gabriel Lewit: Or aerosol cleaning products?

Steve Lewit: I guess I’m leaning to all of them, even though I’m not sure about that one.

Gabriel Lewit: You snuck a peak, didn’t you?

Steve Lewit: No, I didn’t. I really didn’t.

Gabriel Lewit: All right. You are correct.

Steve Lewit: I just think all these things are bad for you when you inhale them, that’s all. I don’t know what what’s in them, but it can’t be-

Gabriel Lewit: Spray away from your face, first and foremost, if you do use these. Yeah. So that’s correct, all of the above. So these all contain VOs, and so that’s why they’re starting to see a market out there for organic, non-VOC cleaning products, things like that.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. Except they don’t clean. That’s the problem with them.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, so if you do use the other ones, these are some of the things to be aware of, if you happen to use the ones that contain more traditional chemical ingredients. Okay. Question number two. And these aren’t in order, so actually, my sheet says question seven, but I’m going to say question number two for you. What percentage of households, again, it’s not spring, typically do spring cleaning every year? And the options are 84%, 60%, 27%, or 78% of households.

Steve Lewit: Doesn’t everybody? 84%. Everybody does spring cleaning.

Gabriel Lewit: 78%.

Steve Lewit: Really? What are the other-

Gabriel Lewit: I didn’t even know this was a thing. There’s an American Cleaning Institute.

Steve Lewit: Of course. It’s called the ACI.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes. Acronym day. ACI’s 2022 survey said 78% of households do spring cleaning.

Steve Lewit: What do the other 22% do, they don’t clean their house? Everybody cleans. That’s like a tradition.

Gabriel Lewit: Why? I don’t know.

Steve Lewit: You take a garage, you put everything out in the driveway.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, there’s a question about it. Hold on, you’ll see. And sorry folks, I probably didn’t give you enough time to think of the answer. I got to give you two moments though.

Steve Lewit: He was quick to tell me I was wrong. Did you see that?

Gabriel Lewit: I was very quick. Yeah. I was jumping ahead there. Okay. Next question. What area of the bedroom did researchers find contains more germs than a chimpanzee bed, a bed that a chimpanzee lives on?

Steve Lewit: Somebody did this for a living?

Gabriel Lewit: This is part of the quiz.

Steve Lewit: Somebody calculated chimpanzee germs-

Gabriel Lewit: Bedrooms.

Steve Lewit: Bedroom germs?

Gabriel Lewit: Yes, correct. That’s someone’s job.

Steve Lewit: I want that job. I bet it pays good, too.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay. The options are laundry hamper, mattress, window sills, sock drawer, or all of the above? Okay. I’ll give you two shakes, guys. Laundry hamper, mattress, window sills, or sock drawer?

Steve Lewit: Well, it’s not all of the above because the sock drawer is usually clean.

Gabriel Lewit: Maybe.

Steve Lewit: What was the other one?

Gabriel Lewit: Laundry hamper, mattress, window sills.

Steve Lewit: All right. Not window sills. So it’s between laundry hamper and mattress. Whoa. Mattress.

Gabriel Lewit: You’re correct.

Steve Lewit: I am?

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah.

Steve Lewit: Wow.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. This was a 2018 study published in the Royal Society of Open Science-

Steve Lewit: Oh, the RSOS, RASOS.

Gabriel Lewit: No, that was correct. RSOS. The chimpanzees maintain cleaner sleeping environments, with just 3.5% of bacteria coming from their skin and saliva, compared to more than 30% in human beds.

Steve Lewit: Live like a chimpanzee, folks. I want to see everybody hopping around.

Gabriel Lewit: All right. Next question.

Steve Lewit: These are pretty good.

Gabriel Lewit: Like most activities, cleaning burns calories. Which of the answers below does not reflect the accurate number of calories burned by 150 pound person for one hour of the activity? So you’re trying to find out the incorrect answer. Dusting for 136 calories, mopping or scrubbing floor burns 273 calories, sweeping burns 245 calories, washing dishes, 136, or washing windows, 273. Which of those is incorrect?

Steve Lewit: Are you kidding?

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. Dusting, 136, mopping or scrubbing, 273, sweeping, 245, washing dishes, 136, and washing windows, 273.

Steve Lewit: Sweeping.

Gabriel Lewit: You’re correct.

Steve Lewit: No, really?

Gabriel Lewit: Oh, you’re crushing it today. Yeah. Sweeping only burns 136 calories per hour.

Steve Lewit: So if I dust my apartment or my house, how many calories is that?

Gabriel Lewit: Well, if you spent an hour dusting, it would be 136.

Steve Lewit: So let me see, is this a new fitness program, called the Cleaning Fitness Program.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, apparently, if you clean for an hour every day, you could burn between 150 to 250 calories.

Steve Lewit: So we could market that under CFP.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, sure. Whatever you want. Also, this was a study done by the Calorie Control Council, the CCC.

Steve Lewit: Oh, the CCC did it.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. Exactly.

Steve Lewit: I think we’re getting a theme here.

Gabriel Lewit: All righty. Next question. Which household products are not recommended as safe cleaners by the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency? Bleach plus ammonia for cleaning clothing stains, vinegar and water for a greasy stove, Borax plus lemon juice for stainless steel sinks, or baking soda and water for scrubbing toilets.

Steve Lewit: How am I supposed to know this, from the EPA.

Gabriel Lewit: Which one is not recommended as a safe cleaner?

Steve Lewit: Could you read them again?

Gabriel Lewit: Bleach plus ammonia, vinegar plus water-

Steve Lewit: Bleach plus ammonia.

Gabriel Lewit: You’re correct.

Steve Lewit: I’m doing well here.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. You’re flying along.

Steve Lewit: I’m going to buy a lottery ticket today.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes, correct. Bleach plus ammonia, never do this-

Steve Lewit: Because ammonia stinks.

Gabriel Lewit: It’ll generate toxic chloramine gas.

Steve Lewit: Wow.

Gabriel Lewit: So don’t do that. Bad news. Okay. Next question. I’ve got a couple more here. No, we’re going to skip that one, because that’s kind of gross. Joe will read that one. Okay. When people do spring cleaning, which parts of the house-

Steve Lewit: When 78% of the people do spring cleaning.

Gabriel Lewit: When people do spring cleaning, which parts of the house do they typically prioritize?

Steve Lewit: Garage.

Gabriel Lewit: Bathrooms, garage, basement or attic, kitchen, bedrooms, family room, or closets?

Steve Lewit: Garage.

Gabriel Lewit: Final answer?

Steve Lewit: Final answer is garage.

Gabriel Lewit: Kitchen.

Steve Lewit: No, really? Spring cleaning in the kitchen?

Gabriel Lewit: Yep. 64% of people prioritize cleaning their kitchen, and 61 do bedrooms, and 59 prioritize bathrooms. Garage was not even number one, two, or three.

Steve Lewit: Man. I’m surprised at that, because in the spring, when you drive around the neighborhood, you always see everything out on the driveway. People sweeping away and taking in the sun and the fresh air after the winter, and so on. It’s like a little vacation.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes. Well, exactly. Okay. We’re getting close to the end here. It’s often said the kitchen sponge is one of the germiest things in a home. Researchers have found how many types of bacteria on a average kitchen sponge? The options are 362, 1,722, 32 types of bacteria, or 278. Joe? Joe’s shaking his head over here.

Steve Lewit: Come on, Joe. How many are on?

Gabriel Lewit: 5,000.

Steve Lewit: Buy a new sponge.

Gabriel Lewit: 362, 1,700, 32, or 278?

Steve Lewit: 32.

Gabriel Lewit: No. Incorrect.

Steve Lewit: Got two wrong.

Gabriel Lewit: 362 different bacteria.

Steve Lewit: On a sponge?

Gabriel Lewit: On an average kitchen sponge.

Steve Lewit: But you wash the sponge with the stuff after you finish using it.

Gabriel Lewit: No. This was the 2017 study from the Furtwangen University in Germany, the FUIC.

Steve Lewit: The FUIG. The FUIG is on top of it.

Gabriel Lewit: Oh gosh. Yeah. 362 different species of bacteria, and 45 billion bacteria per square centimeter on sponges. It also says a 2022 study from Duke University found the sponges are better incubators for bacterial growth than Petri dishes.

Steve Lewit: But you wash your sponge. I don’t get it.

Gabriel Lewit: You maybe need to use the ammonia and the whatever, the chloramine gas on it. Right?

Steve Lewit: So Joe, do you wash your sponge? Every day? He gets a new sponge once a week.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. And that was our quiz, folks.

Steve Lewit: A new sponge. I should do that. A new sponge.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, they say when the sponge starts smelling, that’s because of the 100 billion bacteria in there.

Steve Lewit: My sponges don’t smell. I wear them out. The rough part gets smooth.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. That means there’s 20 trillion bacteria on there probably, at that point.

Steve Lewit: I should be dead. I can see it in my obituary, his sponge killed him.

Gabriel Lewit: Killed by sponge.

Steve Lewit: Killed by sponge.

Gabriel Lewit: KBS.

Steve Lewit: KBS.

Gabriel Lewit: Sorry, too many acronyms.

Steve Lewit: Too many today.

Gabriel Lewit: All right. Hopefully, you don’t mind us having a little fun there. All right. We do have time for a listener question or so, so back to financial topic. Folks, I hope you found that A, fun, but B, entertaining/informational, I was going to try to combine those, but informational. Take care of your health. Throw out the sponge, create chlorine gas. Watch out for VOCs. I guess clean your kitchen instead of your garage for spring cleaning, but mostly just pay attention to what you use, and it all impacts your health.

Steve Lewit: The other alternative is not to clean at all, and then you don’t have to worry about that.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes. Just ignore that completely.

Steve Lewit: Just ignore it.

Gabriel Lewit: All right. So we got a listener question here. We might have time for one of these, but I think we had a couple that came in. I’m going to go with Pete. You wrote in, you said I have a financial advisor who’s done a good job for me. My brother always says I could be doing better. Should I listen to my brother, or tell him to leave me alone?

Steve Lewit: Pete, do you love your brother? Well, that’s a hard one. I don’t know why he’s saying that. I have a financial advisor who’s done a good job over the years. I guess the brother, a lot of people always say, “Well, my advisor’s better than your advisor,” or, “You should be doing better,” but they don’t know what you’re doing.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, it’s similar, but a little different. I had a client the other day that said, “My brother said that he earned 21% last year,” and this client wasn’t with us yet. They were talking to us, and she said to me, “Well, my brother said I earned 21% last year and you earned a lot less than that. You should have been doing a lot better.”

Steve Lewit: So, the question-

Gabriel Lewit: I guess what’s the problem? Pete, in general, the issue is how we compare these things.

Steve Lewit: Well, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. What matters to me is Pete, are you reaching your investment goals? In other words, when you made that investment, what was your goal? If your goal was to make 6% compounding, are you making it? And then it doesn’t matter what your brother did. Now, if you’re underperforming your goals, then that’s something you got to look at well.

Gabriel Lewit: Or if you’re vastly underperforming the market or other benchmark portfolios, that could be a different story.

Steve Lewit: Well look, if you have a very conservative portfolio, you’re going to underperform the S&P. A lot of folks use the S&P as the measure of success and failure, so the S and P goes up 18% and you earn in your conservative portfolio 8%, and your brother looks at you and says, “Well, the S&P,”-

Gabriel Lewit: That is terrible.

Steve Lewit: “Oh God. That is just the worst thing.”-

Gabriel Lewit: Even though your conservative portfolio has an eighth of the volatility of the S&P fund.

Steve Lewit: And it’s a much safer portfolio. So that’s a tough question. I would ask my brother, “Well, can you be more specific?”

Gabriel Lewit: Right. Can you explain to me what part?

Steve Lewit: What part are you saying?

Gabriel Lewit: It’s the age old make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. If you say my apple taste is better than your orange, well, you’re comparing apples and oranges.

Steve Lewit: Exactly.

Gabriel Lewit: If you have an apple and the other person has an apple that’s mushy, maybe that’s a different story. And

Steve Lewit: Well, it’s really hard to look at somebody else and say, “You should have done better,” because that’s just like, “Really? How do you know?” They know nothing about how you’re invested, so I don’t know, I would discount that.

Gabriel Lewit: So folks, if you have questions about how you’re doing compared to anything, brothers, markets, benchmarks, you name it.

Steve Lewit: Sisters.

Gabriel Lewit: Sisters, fathers, sons, give us a call.

Steve Lewit: Kramer on TV.

Gabriel Lewit: (847) 499-3330. Go to, click contact us. Let’s schedule a time to talk.

Steve Lewit: Sure.

Gabriel Lewit: And of course, if you’re a client of ours already, you ever have any questions, give us a call. So that’s our show. We’re going to wrap here for today. Thank you so much for tuning in. We love having you. You’re our favorite thing to do, is talk to you guys on our show here. We love giving you advice. And thank you for the kind words and feedback we continue to hear from you. Make sure you share us with your families and friends. Just click the forward button, send it to their emails, tell them to start listening in, or send us an email if you have anyone you’d like us to add to our subscription list, by all means. We’re actually taking a more proactive goal lately of trying to grow our listenership even further, just because everyone’s tells us we should.

Steve Lewit: You going to go home and clean?

Gabriel Lewit: Yes. Throw out that sponge.

Steve Lewit: Folks, today is cleaning day. Thank you all.

Gabriel Lewit: All right guys, thanks so much. Have a great rest of your day.

Steve Lewit: Thanks, everybody. Stay well. Bye-bye.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to Our 2 cents with Steve and Gabriel Lewit. For any questions about your finances, give SGL a call at (847) 499-3330, or visit us on the web at, and be sure to subscribe, to join us on next week’s episode.

Prerecorded Voice: Investment advisory services are offered through SGL Financial LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor. Insurance and other financial products are offered separately, through individually licensed and appointed agents.