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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 16 money predictions that could affect you in 2016. 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 SKOUT, 92% of respondents want to save more money in 2016. But most aren’t sure how to go about it. If you need a little help figuring out how to ditch the credit cards and save up your dollars, start with EveryDollar’s free Guide to Budgeting.
2. Fines for not having medical coverage will increase.
Last year, the penalty for passing on health insurance was 2% of your household income or $325 per person—whichever was greater. This year, that penalty goes up to either 2.5% of your income or $695 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 unemployment rate will drop.
If you’re looking for higher pay and work that matters, you’re in luck. Some forecasters predict the national unemployment rate will be down to 4.8% by the end of the year. That’s down a slight bit from the end of 2015. If you’re in need of a job, now’s a great time to find it. So, go 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 putting a $1,000 emergency fund in place. Then, once you’re out of debt, build it up to three to six months of expenses. Sooner or later, you’ll need it.
Related: A Quick Guide to Your Emergency Fund
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.
9. Last year’s technology will cost less (and work just as well).
You know that hot, new iPhone 6S that came out in 2015? 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. The new president will affect the stock market.
No matter who gets elected, the market will respond in some way. If things go south, don’t freak out. The stock market is just like a roller coaster—and those who don’t jump off won’t get hurt. It’s election year, so you’re guaranteed to see some highs and lows!
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11. College tuition will rise.
Every year, many universities across the country hike their tuition. You can count on it. 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.
12. 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, 2016 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.
13. 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.
14. 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 and preorder his new book Retire Inspired.
15. Individual 401(k) contribution limits remain steady.
Once you have your fully stocked emergency fund, you can begin to invest 15% of your pretax income into retirement savings. Contribution limits remain the same this year, so can still add up to $18,000 annually to your 401(k) account.
16. More people will rely on digital budgeting.
Millions of people are turning away from Excel spreadsheets and signing up for online budgeting tools. These money apps make it easy for Americans to sync up their bank accounts and keep track of their spending. EveryDollar is an awesome new online budgeting tool that helps you do just that.
Ever year has its ups and downs. This year will be no exception. But don’t let that stop you from making 2016 a personal best. You can achieve a lot with your money in 12 months!
Make financial freedom your money trend of 2016. For tips on getting out of debt, check out Financial Peace University.