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We may not have a financial crystal ball, but we do know what’s going on with Americans and their money.
Here’s our list of the top 15 money predictions that could affect you in 2015. If these don’t motivate you to take control of your cash, get out of debt, and save for your goals, we don’t know what will!
No matter what else happens this year, resolve to make your money count—starting now.
1. Americans will save more money
According to a survey by GoBankingRates, Americans said their top New Year’s goal was to save money. But most aren’t sure how to go about it. If you need a little help figuring out how to the ditch credit cards and save up your dollars, start with EveryDollar’s free Guide to Budgeting. Creating a plan for your money is half the battle.
2. Fines for not having medical coverage will increase
Last year, the penalty for passing on health insurance was 1% of your household income, or $95 per person, whichever was greater. This year, that penalty goes up to either 2% of your income, or $325 per person. Instead of paying steeper fines, put that money to better use by protecting your family’s physical and financial health.
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3. The job market will strengthen
If you’re looking for higher pay and work that matters, you’re in luck. There are literally millions of opportunities out there this year. According to Kiplinger’s, job gains for 2015 are expected to average about 250,000 per month—that’s 3 million new jobs, folks. Snag one!
4. Car values will go down
Think you need a new car? Think again. As soon as you drive that four-door dream off the lot, its value will plummet by thousands of dollars. And each year after that, it will do the same. That’s because cars are not an investment, they’re a necessity. So just pay cash for a reliable used vehicle and pay yourself the rest.
5. Murphy will continue to show up
Unexpected emergencies tend to happen in pairs—or sometimes whole teams. Murphy’s Law states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. So prepare for that blown transmission, burst pipe and broken leg now by filling your emergency fund with $1,000. Then, once you’re out of debt, build it up to three to six months of expenses. Sooner or later, you’ll need it.
6. More workplaces will offer financial wellness
Stressed-out employees make for less productive team members. That’s why companies are investing more time and money into the financial lives of their employees. So if you’re an employee, take advantage of your financial wellness benefit, or ask about getting the program, SmartDollar, established in your office this year.
7. The U.S. deficit will continue to grow
America has the largest debt burden in the world. But unlike the government, regular citizens can’t print more money whenever they want it. So if you’re sick of being in debt, make some drastic cuts to your lifestyle and find a way to boost your income. Oh, and stop borrowing money!
8. Social Security will be one year closer to failing
The Social Security Administration expects at least a partial shortfall in benefits by 2033. After that, there’s no guarantee how long this form of government support will last. Translation: Uncle Sam won’t be leaving you a big inheritance. So meet with your financial planner and get your investments in order. Like, now.
9. Last year’s technology will cost less (and work just as well)
You know that hot, new iPhone that came out last year? It won’t be hot for long. That’s good news because it won’t be as expensive either. The bottom line? Wait six months to a year, and you’ll land perfectly good gadgets for way less.
10. College tuition will rise
Several big-name universities have already announced tuition hikes for the 2015–2016 school year. And more are sure to follow. So if you have a child in college or heading that way, help them find ways to offset rising costs by working part-time, earning scholarships or graduating early. Student loans should never be an option.
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11. The housing market will continue to rebound
The National Association of Realtors expects existing-home sales to increase this year. So if you’ve been waiting to sell, 2015 could be your year. When you’re ready to list, find a real estate pro who can help you earn top-dollar for your home. A good agent is worth every penny.
12. Gas prices will go back up (and back down)
If you’re enjoying less than $2 per gallon fill-ups, like we are, remember these things fluctuate based on a variety of factors. So don’t be shocked if the price inches back up (and then back down) again. Make a fresh budget each month to cover shifting categories like gasoline, utilities and monthly repairs.
13. Baby Boomers will continue to rebuild their nest eggs
The Great Recession hit the baby boom generation particularly hard. So if you’re in this age bracket, be sure you’re still on track to meet your retirement goals. Not certain if you’re investing enough? Check out retirement expert Chris Hogan’s free R:IQ (Retire Inspired Quotient) Assessment at www.chrishogan360.com.
14. Individual 401(k) contribution limits will increase
Once you have your fully stocked emergency fund, you can begin to invest 15% of your pretax income into retirement savings. And thanks to higher contribution limits this year, you can now add up to $18,000 annually to your 401(k) account. That’s up $500 from last year.
15. More people will rely on digital budgeting
Millions of people are turning away from Excel spreadsheets and signing up for free online budgeting tools. These money apps make it easy for Americans to sync up their bank accounts and keep track of their spending. Sticking to a solid budget (digital or otherwise) is key to winning with your money.
Ever year has its ups and downs—this year will be no exception. But don’t let that stop you from making 2015 a personal best. You can achieve a lot with your money in 12 months!
What is your financial goal for 2015? Tell us in the comments below.