Your weekly money scoop: January 13, 2017

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Your weekly money scoop: January 13, 2017

By JENNIFER WILLIAMS

We're serving you our weekly bite-sized roundup of the stories you need to know. This week, read about the cost of raising a child in the U.S. and which airline is providing free in-flight Wi-Fi.

It costs about $233,610 to raise a child in the U.S., according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. The estimate includes the cost of food, housing, transportation, clothing, education (excluding college) and child care up to the age of 17. More specifically, this reflects the cost for a child raised in married-couple, middle-income families with two children The USDA estimates that lower-income families will spend less and higher income families will spend more. The author of the report suggests that since siblings can share bedrooms and hand-me-down clothes, the cost of raising a child may go down, up to a point, the more children a family has.

Online sales rose eight times faster than in-store sales over the holidays. National holiday spending was up 3.6 percent in November and December, thanks in part to higher wages, lower gas prices and a strong stock market, according to First Data. But notably, most of the boost came from online shopping. Some analysts estimate that Amazon purchases made up 30 percent of all online sales. But it's not all good news for retailers: Department stores such as J.C. Penney and Sears, experienced lower sales during the holidays.

JetBlue is now offering free Wi-Fi on all its planes. According to the airline, which made the announcement on Wednesday, it's now the only airline to offer free high-speed Wi-Fi, live TV and movies across its entire air fleet. And if you're cruising with JetBlue, you have access to Wi-Fi as soon as you step on the plane, unlike with some other airlines when you can only get on the network when you reach a certain altitude.

These side gigs will pay you for being you, no experience necessary. Have some extra time and need some extra money? You can find some side gigs to supplement your regular income, or maybe even make a living. One writer at Grow from Acorns tried out some side gigs including being a live audience member and befriending someone visiting from out of town. The bottom line: while these gigs don't require any special expertise, it could take a while for your earnings to really add up, depending on the task. Before you start, think through whether you're willing to invest the time and also make sure you're comfortable with what you're doing (for example, does being a paid friend work for you?).

Don't know where to start with retirement planning? In a nutshell -- start saving early. For millennials, contributing to your retirement plan now can mean more time for your savings to accrue interest. The New York Times spoke to five 20- to 35-year olds and had two financial planning experts assess their approaches to retirement planning. Though each individual situation varied, the experts were able to offer a couple suggestions that tend to apply across the board: Consider opening Roth retirement funds, through which you make contributions after tax -- so earnings and withdrawals are tax-free -- and contribute as much as your employer will match in a retirement program.

And that's the scoop this week -- see you next week for more.

About the Author: Jennifer Williams is a QA Specialist in Member Support at Credit Karma. She has her MFA in Fiction, and puts her skills to use helping members and training new hires. When she's off the clock, she can be found editing her novel, playing guitar, or hiking with her dog in the hills.

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